I recently had the pleasure of speaking at WordCamp Buffalo. It was the last leg on a trip that brought me to WordCamp Chicago, my small hometown in Michigan, and finally back to the beautiful State of New York. Although I knew many people at #WCBUF, I had never been to Buffalo or knew much about the local WordPress community. I was not at all surprised at the awesome people and knowledge being shared, as those two things come standard in an Open Source Community like WordPress.

Keep reading if you’d like to know exactly why I think these people and the sessions I attended were so great!

Organizing Team and Venue

#WCBUF was held at the University of Buffalo’s Center for the Arts building. It was a beautiful location featuring a large auditorium to hold a crowd of 200+ attendees, and other session rooms with ample space for people to use their laptops to take notes. Each seat even offered its own electrical outlet. A must-have when spending all day using our devices to document all we were learning and of course, tweeting the “knowledge nuggets” being shared by the speakers.

The Sessions

As is the case with all events I attend, it’s physically impossible to attend each session as there are usually three tracks with three speakers every hour. I wish I could have attended every single talk in Buffalo, but I had to pick and choose. The good news about missing some sessions is that they’re almost always available on WordPress.tv not long after the event.

Here are a few of the sessions I was able to attend.

Getting Started with Child Themes

Nick Adams kicked off his talk with a definition of what a Child Theme actually is, and what it is not. If you’re not familiar with the term Child Theme, you should know that it doesn’t mean a theme designed for kids 😉

Nick expertly walked attendees through the benefits of using child themes to completely customize your WordPress site without the worry of your changes being overwritten by an update to the parent theme.

A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, called a parent theme. Child themes are the recommended way of modifying an existing theme.

Creative Commons Scavenger Hunt

I’ve known Shanta Nathwani and Matt Graham for some time now, and their passion for Open Source software never ceases to impress me. They also advocate the importance of “not being a jerk” and to give credit where credit is due, which was one of the points they made with this fun session.

They also aimed to demystify copyright, fair use, and creative commons. In other words, what you can use on your website and when, be it images, videos, audio or text. They did this by playing a game where they asked attendees to find images based on certain copyright or Creative Commons criteria, like a maple leaf that is CC that you are able to edit, or an image of Star Wars free of copyright.

Spoiler Alert: Someone did get all of them 🙂

Using Finance Feasibility to Build a New Department

Jason Knill is a Partner at WordImpress, the company behind several WordPress products like the popular Give donation plugin. In this business-focused session, he described what financial feasibility is and why it matters, especially to existing and would-be WordPress plugin business owners.

As the WordPress software and community surrounding it has grown over the past fifteen years, so has the opportunity to build successful businesses while still adhering to the “spirit of Open Source”.

This session wasn’t just informative, but also inspiring. It’s clear that Jason and his team have found what works for them and that their process can be applied elsewhere. Many people I spoke with afterwards are talented developers with great coding skills, but no experience in building businesses. They came away inspired with a clear path forward to finding financial success.

3 SEO Strategies for Building a Bigger Online Community

Amanda Gorman gave one of the more interesting talks about SEO I’ve ever heard. She started by using the “tending to your garden” analogy. The garden being your website structure and the content that “grows” within it. This resonated with me and will be the way I explain the importance of SEO to anyone who will listen 🙂

She also included her three main simple to understand SEO strategies for people not familiar with Search Engine Optimization.

  • Keyword Research & Organization
  • Leveraging Competitor Insights
  • Writing Content that Resonates.

Making Security Make Sense to Clients

I presented this session aimed directly at web development freelancers. My focus was to show freelancers how to build website security into their web development work from the very start. I communicated the many benefits of being a security-focused provider, including peace of mind for them and for their clients, and more revenue opportunities for their business.

I provided simple recommendations such as prioritizing the discussion of security upon first contact with a potential client, and educating them on why and how websites get hacked.

If you’d like to learn more check out my blog series, Making Security Make Sense right here on this site.

4 ways to Monetize Your WordPress Site

I first met Eric Nagel at the Type-A Parent conference last year and was immediately impressed with his knowledge and skill in creating “passive income” online. I was happy to see him speaking and showing others how to achieve the same success he’s experienced over the years.

Too often I see the phrase “affiliate marketing” used with a negative connotation, but he refreshed it to be a straightforward discussion of what affiliate marketing is, how to start, and how to succeed with earning commissions from brands by writing about the products you already use and love.

In Summary

WordCamp Buffalo was an awesome event and one I’m certain to attend again. Did you attend #WCBUF too? I’d love to hear about your experiences there!

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