In April, I had the incredible opportunity to speak at my first WordCamp in San Diego, California. In case you don’t know, WordCamps happen all over the country, organized by locals. WordCamps are conferences where people can to go to attend different sessions about web design, developement, blogging, advanced and beginner techniques, and everything WordPress (publishing software for websites). Each one is unique with different speakers, themes, venues, attendees, and more. Anyone can go to a WordCamp whether your new to WordPress or a long term professional.
The theme for WordCamp San Diego was “A Salute to Our Troops” because the city has plenty of military history. The tracks were named accordingly, the signage, the, website, and the awesome swag matched the theme perfectly! My talk obviously didn’t match and neither did everyone’s, but mine was awesome either way!
As a speaker, I had to send in my author bio which was super cool because I had never needed to send in something like that before and it made me feel professional. My bio, along with a description of my talk was posted on the WordCamp website for people to see. As a speaker, I also got to go to the speaker dinner and got some awesome speaker only swag!
Only a limited number of people get to actually speak at a WordCamp because there are limited spots. I was SUPER EXCITED to receive the email that told me that my talk on Starting A Blog And Finding My Groove was chosen for the National Guard track on Sunday. I have been blogging for almost five years now, so having an opportunity like this because of my blog was amazing!
Preparing for my talk at WordCamp was a lot of work, but pretty fun. I had to actually write my talk and then make slides to go along with it. My session was 50 minutes long including a Q&A at the end… that’s a lot of time to fill! Luckily, I knew what I was talking about, so the only part that was a little hard was remembering everything I wanted to say.
I practiced it A LOT and made sure I had it down. I was pretty nervous considering the only public speaking I had done in the past were school presentation and speaking at my 8th grade promotion, but I am comfortable speaking in front of people. That part is the most fun!
At The Event
The speaker dinner was my first impression of WordCamp San Diego and it was awesome!
The actual event was a memorable experience for me and I couldn’t have asked for a better first WordCamp. I got to network and meet TONS of new and incredible people, attendees, and speakers. I felt so “adult” meeting new people and talking about what we each do. It was super cool to hear what other people do with WordPress, too. There was this one person, whose name I sadly do not remember, who I met who publishes comics with WordPress!
The sessions were super cool, too! I went to a couple that actually helped me a lot and that I really enjoyed. As a teen blogger who doesn’t really isn’t a part of the design, development, or sales sides of WordPress, I didn’t know if there would be talks for me… BUT there totally were! Here’s the top two that impacted me:
- Matt Cromwell’s talk on How to Prepare Your Site for for WordPress’s New Block Based Editor: Gutenberg, was a great one for me because I write my posts in the visual editor and learning how the new update will impact my blog prepared me for what’s to come! I also learned a lot of cool things about Gutenberg.
- Even though I’m not a designer, Jennifer Bourn’s talk on Website Design Principles to DIY Like a Pro, was an awesome one for me because it improved and taught me about typography, major dos and don’ts, plus a lot more all enclosed in her talk.
These speakers and their talks are just A FEW of the amazing ones at WordCamp San Diego. I only went a handful of sessions, but the ones I did go to were great!
My Talk: Starting a Blog and Finding My Groove
I spoke on Sunday at 1:00 pm. I had plenty of time to practice, but I still felt nervous! Luckily, my talk went like I wanted and turned out great! My audience was bigger than I had hoped (which was awesome), they laughed when I had expected, and had amazing Q&A questions. After WordCamp, they even put my talk on WordPress TV for everyone to watch! It did end a little short because I talk faster when I’m nervous, but it still turned out great! Some people said my slides were awesome and could be seen perfectly! It helped to write out my talk and I published it to my blog!
Feedback From My Talk
One of the most amazing and coolest things was all of the wonderful and thoughtful things people Tweeted about me! Seeing each and every one of those made me feel AMAZING inside and made me feel so happy that people thought it was good and liked it so much. They lit up my face and made me blush and smile. These Tweets made me even more inspired than I already am to apply to speak at more WordCamps.
Overall. WordCamp was one of my favorite experiences that I will never forget! Thank you to the WordCamp San Diego organizers for allowing me to have this AWESOME opportunity!