A Tool chest for WordPress: Welcoming Tony Zeoli to WordCamp Raleigh

These are the type of notes you might expect to take during Tony Zeoli's WordCamp Raleigh Talk.  Creative Commons Image Attribution
These are the type of notes you might expect to take during Tony Zeoli’s WordCamp Raleigh Talk.
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So I sent out a request to some of the speakers to help me understand their talks so that I could write a promo blurb for them.

What I got from Tony Zeoli made me gaze frustratedly at the schedule, because I’m speaking (in a different track) at the same time on Saturday.

His talk is one I will have to catch on WordPress.tv after the fact. It’s gonna be a good one.

I can tell you that if you are a power user, comfortable with themes, plugins, and some basic code, Tony’s session is going to give you a digital set of tools like none other to speed up your workflow, get you on the same page as your team, and give you the rails to run (in several directions) as you take your WordPress game to the next level.

Bring a notebook, and scribble some good notes for me, would ya?

Grab your ticket today!

Creating Branded WordPress Sites Without the Use of Hot Coals

Cattle Brand on hot coals
We’re not going to cover this type of branding at WordCamp.
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Just getting started out with WordPress, and looking for how to create a branded site? Where do you start? What are the things to look out for? How do you make the site stand out from other sites?

We’ve got what you need at WordCamp Raleigh this weekend!

We’re excited bring Ava Blade, a digital brander using WordPress to build branded sites to our beginner’s track.

Her talk will cover the elements you need to build a branded site, as well as walk you step-by-step through doing it with WordPress.

Grab a ticket today!

Praying for Rain Means Carrying an Umbrella: Scaling your Site for Traffic.

child with a frog umbrella
It seems silly to pray for rain, and not carry an umbrella. What will you do when your site gets that flood of traffic you’re building toward?
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You’ve set up all the sales funnels, tweaked the copy on the home page, and gotten everything in line for your site. The last thing you need is the flood of traffic you’ve been wanting and even expecting to come to spell the end of your shared hosting and an “ERROR CONNECTING TO DATABASE” welcome mat on the day of the big marketing push.

Or let’s say you run a well-attended annual event—so you have some major server needs running up to and during the event, but not the rest of the year. How do you set up your hosting environment to handle it?

What if you get an email from the managing editor at Huffington Post letting you know that your site (on $4/month shared hosting) is going to be linked on the home page a week from this Thursday? How do you get it on more stable ground—with minimal downtime—without breaking the bank?

Well first, it’s a good thing that WordCamp Raleigh is happening before next Thursday (but congrats on the HuffPo feature!) because Charlie Harper of WooshData.com is going to be able to help you out.

Scaling a hosting environment, especially for irregular spikes in traffic, doesn’t have to be confusing. Let him walk you through the minefield, pointing out where not to step.

If it’s time to scale your site’s hosting, it’s time to come hear how this weekend at WordCamp Raleigh. Today is the last day to secure a free T-Shirt.

Grab a ticket today

Hiring WordPress as Your Star Salesperson: Welcoming Lisa Arrington To WordCamp Raleigh

Old school cash register image with 'Paid Out' and 'No Sale' buttons
Your WordPress site is often the difference between cashing in and No Sale.
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Your site is often the difference between cashing in and missing the sale. Like a brick and mortar store, your website must entice the customer to “walk in,” versus pass you by. If you aren’t treating your WordPress website as a serious business development asset, or if it’s cluttered, hard to navigate, or flat out fails at the “customer experience,” your prospects are long gone before you even had a chance to sell to them.

This year, on our shiny new business track at WordCamp Raleigh 2015, we want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. We’ve invited Lisa Arrington to join us and share from her experience. As someone who works with business owners on a daily basis, she helps transform WordPress-powered websites into finely-tuned sales machines.

In this business track session, we’ll cover:

  • Shifting your mindset to match the customer (and how this translates into more leads)
  • Best practices for making your website your #1 salesperson
  • Using WordPress to your advantage to answer, “WIIFM?”
  • Bad Examples: What NOT to do

Join us October 10th and 11th! Get your ticket today!

OpenShift And WordPress: Welcoming Michael McNeill to WordCamp Raleigh

Developers, this one’s for you. If you’re looking to streamline your development workflow, you’d do well to check out OpenShift. If, like me, you’ve briefly looked at OpenShift and still don’t have a clear picture of how it could save you time and pain, Michael McNeill will help at this year’s WordCamp Raleigh. But first, here’s a video from the folks at OpenShift:

Michael is a WordPress developer, consultant, and service provider who has worked with numerous companies ranging from the smallest startups to large corporations. He’s currently a solutions engineer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (author’s note: Go Heels!), helping to manage various critical campus applications, including two massive WordPress Multisite installs, which collectively host over 10,000 total sites.

Come learn the ins and outs of OpenShift as it applies to WordPress, and how it can improve your development lifecycle.

Get your ticket today!

SEO for Startups and Beginners: Welcoming Rob Delory to WordCamp Raleigh

Crossstich image with a robot holding flowers and the text "I'm a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm." No Really.
This came up in a Creative Commons image search for “SEO” and was by far the most entertaining image. So here it is.
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If you’re just getting started in WordPress, the problem is not necessarily that you have bad content, it’s that people have no way of finding you. Whether you are a DIY blogger or a startup company, your biggest barrier is obscurity.

You’ve likely heard of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) but what do you do to implement a strategy for SEO that will work for you?

For starters, get a ticket to WordCamp Raleigh, and come listen to Rob Delory as he walks you through precisely that.

Rob spends all his working time talking to clients about how to get a web strategy (including SEO) that fits them and helps them to reach their goals online. Using two fictional case studies developed from those years of experience, he’s going to walk us through how we should navigate this popular topic.

Grab your ticket today!

What’s a Beginner to do: Choosing the right theme for WordPress

Macro image of barbed wire
Choosing a theme can have some hidden barbs. Don’t let that stop you: get a guide!
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If you are just getting into the WordPress game, you might not know this: every theme is not created equal.

I’m not trying to scare you, but let me propose a hypothetical situation (which I guarantee will sound familiar to our power users and developers):

  1. Find a theme that looks great.
  2. Install (or worse, purchase) and activate the new theme.
  3. Spend days or weeks tweaking the settings, learning the theme, and getting things situated in a way that looks (sorta) like the demo you were initially attracted to.
  4. Immediately find a theme you like slightly better which promises to be “easy to set up,” and start again at step 2.

What if you had someone to walk you through how to pick the right theme the first time around, and could steer you around pitfalls common to popular themes.

Well, if you’ve got a ticket to WordCamp Raleigh this year, we’re bringing in a coach for exactly that purpose. We are excited to welcome back Kelly Phillips to this year’s conference.

Kelly makes it her business to help beginners and business owners pick the right theme and plugins to reach their website goals. She’ll be speaking to our beginners track this year.

Grab your ticket today!

Playing Well With Others: Welcoming Jordan Cauley To WordCamp Raleigh

a group of men jumping rope.
This is what it looks like when a team of developers are all working on the same project. What could possibly go wrong?
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Have you ever gotten the pre-conference advice “choose sessions based on the speaker, not the topic”? As a first time speaker this year myself, I hope you disregard it. But as your faithful speaker liaison, I have to admit that it’s good advice.

Last year (at my first WordCamp) I spent much of the time sitting in the developer’s track just watching concepts fly over my head. But one of the more memorable talks was on Gulp.js, by Jordan Cauley.

We are excited to welcome Jordan back this year, and take it from one who sat in his session last year: no matter what he’s talking about, if you’re a developer you’d do well to be sitting in on his session.

This year he’s talking about how we can work better together, technically speaking. If you’ve ever had an intern try out git push --force on the live site, and experienced that call from the client where they are steaming from the ears, this one is for you.

He’ll walk us through how to set up processes both from a code perspective and a project perspective so that we spend less time preparing to work, and more time producing results for the client (and also avoiding the client ear-steam)

And like I said, developers will do well to come hear Jordan talk, even if he was planning on reading an EULA. He’s good at what he does, and I’ll guarantee you’ll walk away with something.

Grab a ticket today (free T-shirts included for anyone who registers before October 2nd).

Building a Plugin: The Best Way to Smoke That Particular Brisket

beef brisket on a smoker
Learn to Make a Respectable Brisket Plugin at WordCamp Raleigh
Image courtesy Ryan Duff
When you want a good smoked brisket, do you cruise down the Lowes Foods aisle looking for a pre-cooked, vacuum-packed, Arby’s-brand ArBrisket™, or do you go with the recommendation of an expert?

Well, it depends on the type of party you want throw.

If this is a late-night just-you Netflix marathon, the ArBrisket™ might be OK. Nobody will judge you*.

If you’re planning on inviting a bunch of friends over, it might be worth figuring out how to smoke a respectable brisket.

But we are talking about WordPress plugins, right?

When it comes to building a WordPress plugin, there’s a way you should do it, depending on what type of plugin you are trying to write.

Writing a just-for-you-Arbrisket™ plugin is simple. Writing a good plugin is a bit of an art. There’s a “WordPressy” way of doing things that a new developer (or a developer more familiar with other platforms and languages) would do well to learn, especially if the plugin is being written for mass consumption on GitHub or the WordPress.org repository.

It’s a good thing we’ve got Ryan Duff coming to help us learn exactly that. Coincidentally, if you want to stick around after the session, he’s also pretty well-versed in Brisketology, as well.

Come learn from the grill-master how to do things the right way when coding your plugin.

Get a ticket today, before they sell out.

*Ryan will actually probably judge you.

What A Beginner Needs to Know: Welcoming Dylan Ryan

Fail written in white on red.
It’s OK. No really, it is.
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When you are just starting out with WordPress, whether it’s as a developer or as a blogger or as a tinkerer, there are important things to learn. But before all the learning, there’s a mindset that will serve you well: It’s OK to fail.

While it’s a nice thing to print on a coffee mug or a motivational poster, “It’s OK to fail” is much more difficult to actually live out in the real world. I’d go so far as to call it impossible without a community. We need someone to rally us and both show us and tell us that it’s OK to fail, to launch projects which go nowhere, and to have wildly unsuccessful products, websites, and blog posts.

There’s no better forum than WordCamp for this type of “Freedom To Fail” environment. This year at WordCamp Raleigh we’re thrilled to have Dylan Ryan come and share from his experience how starting with a “fail first” mentality is the key for success.

Dylan is a Senior at NCSU, and when he’s not busy passing classes he works for WP Valet as a support rep. He’s also released both successful and unsuccessful plugins on the WordPress repository.

Do you feel like you’re doing something wrong with WordPress? First, join the club, and then grab your ticket to come and be encouraged by Dylan.