WordCamp US 2016- What An Adventure

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A week ago today I was attending day 2 of WordCamp US. It was quite an adventure getting to Philadelphia but I made it there! I am so glad I attended the biggest WordCamp in the United States. It was definitely worth the rearranging of schedules, long plane rides, sleep deprivation, and the anxiety of the unknown.

How It All Started

I attended WordCamp US 2015 via live stream. It is a good way to attend a conference if you aren’t able to go in person. I knew after it was over I definitely wanted to go in person for 2016.

I kept on the look out for the announcements and really wanted to go. However, it just didn’t look like it was in the cards for me this year. Little did I know that would change in an instant.

I was on Facebook in early November when my friend Sarah Pressler said she had a free ticket to WordCamp US 2016 since she had decided not to go. This post was the catalyst to changing my ability to go this year.

Next thing I know another friend Jen Miller asks If I am going. I respond that it just wasn’t in the cards for me. Jen says “Take Sarah’s free ticket.” in a comment and I reply “It’s not the ticket. It’s the hotel.” Next thing I know Jen is offering to share her hotel room with me!!! At that point I knew the universe was telling me I need to go to WordCamp US 2016! That night I booked my flights with my Alaska Airline miles, the next day I verified with Sarah about the ticket and with Jen about sharing her hotel room. Everything was set!

My Journey to WordCamp US 2016

My journey to Philadelphia begins on November 30th. I got up REALLY early to catch my 7:30 am flight at the Portland airport. All went well with check in and I boarded my flight on time to head to Salt Lake City. I was excited and nervous. I was traveling alone, heading to a city I had never been to, and meeting my roommate for the weekend for the first time.

I took selfies on the way to Philadelphia to document my travels to WordCamp US 2016. This was an important trip for me. I was putting caution to the wind and faith in the universe that everything was going to work out.

WordCamp US 2016 - Selfie

I arrived a little later than expected in Philadelphia, caught a Lyft ride to the hotel in downtown Philadelphia to meet up with Jen. We met in the lobby and we immediately hit it off! We stayed up until the whee hours of the morning talking and getting to know one another. It was great!

WordCamp Highlights

Meeting People

WordCamp US was filled with meeting so many new people including my friend Bridget Willard! It had been over a year since we started our friendship online. Finally meeting her in person was just a great as I had hoped it would be. It was as if we had known each other for years. We had such a great time together hanging out.

I spent a lot of time in the hallway track meeting all sorts of people from the WordPress community. Another great moment was meeting Sherrie & Cheryl LaPrade. We just recently became friends online and they were there in person for their very first WordCamp! We took a selfie together to capture the moment.

I met so many people that day it’s hard to name them all but here are a few: Andrea Middleton, James Tryon, Brian Rotsztein, Paul Oyler, Jason Knill, Ben Meredith, Kevin Hoffman, Jason Lemieux Carl Alexander, Matt Cromwell, Adam Silver, Devin Walker, Rachel Carden, Angelina Simms, Adam Warner, Tara Claeys, and Kathy Drewien.

Sessions

My favorite session was Joost DeValk from Yoast – WordPress and SEO in 2016. We sat up in the second row which gave me the opportunity to take some great photos of the slides and of Joost! He had some really great advice to share with us about SEO.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“SEO is hard work.”

“Not having a mobile friendly theme is like taking a knife to a gunfight.”

“Create quality content over quantity.”

“No matter how good your content is. You will not rank without links.”

I even got to take a photo with Joost! It was a fantastic way to start off day number 2!

Swag

I came home with ton of tshirts, stickers, notebooks, reusable bags, Wapuu stuffed animal, and Wapuu pins! Thank you to all of the sponsors! Very cool swag!

Give/Media Temple After Party

Went to my first after party hosted by Give and Media Temple. It was standing room only but a lot of fun! Good food, drinks, and conversation.

State of the Word

We ended the day with Matt Mullenweg at the State of the Word. Matt went over WordPress accomplishments with facts, figures and some humor. It was very informative. He also made some big announcements about releases, the twentyseventeen theme, WordPress 4.7, and Rest API. Watch the State of the Word for yourself.

The After Party

The after party was at the Academy of Natural Sciences! This was an epic location! We saw dinosaurs, butterflies, wild animals, and did I mention the dinosaurs? It was fantastic to hang out and talk as well take in everything at the museum. Great pick for the venue!

Contributor Day

Last day of WordCamp US 2016 was Contributor Day. This is where people from the WordPress community come together to volunteer their time and their skill sets to help with WordPress. I joined the marketing group to work on projects for the WordPress community.

Getting together with Bridget Willard, Jen Miller, Marc Benzekein, and so many others to start helping with the marketing efforts for the WordPress community was exciting. We brainstormed about ideas before the lunch break and really started making some progress. I had to leave during lunch to visit with my in-laws. I wasn’t able to help out in the afternoon but I am looking forward to helping with the marketing project in the future.

Heading Home

The best part about heading home was meeting up with Jen Miller, the Give team, and other WordCampers heading home from the Philadelphia airport. It was a nice little reunion before we all headed back home. We all got to hug and say goodbye one last time. A good way to end the weekend.

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