Liz shares some of her take-aways from WordCamp US 2018 in Nashville, including what she learned from the founders of the Yoast SEO plugin, how she might re-vamp her digital campaigns, and more.
Take-Aways from WordCamp US 2018
Sandro: [00:00:06] Welcome back to Liz and Sandro’s Marketing Podcast. We are the podcast that helps your small business grow through advice and information on search engines, email marketing, social media and more. Recently Liz went to WordCamp US over in Nashville. Today Liz is going to give us an overview and some takeaways of her time there.
Liz: [00:00:26] Yes, I will admit, as soon as Sandro mentioned that the conference was in Nashville I was like, ‘I’m in!’ Because I love Nashville. And I knew I wanted to take a ‘treat yo-self day’ early and then, and then jump into the conference stuff. Which I did. It was awesome. If you haven’t been to Nashville, definitely check it out. And a little bit of background for some of our new listeners. Sandro and I went to WordCamp Kent here locally in Northeast Ohio back in June of 2018. And we had a great time. We met some great people, heard some great speakers and I was like, you know it can only go up from there. If, you know, that was a local event and I thought, okay, at the national level this is probably going to be pretty good. And it was!
Sandro: [00:01:09] There were a lot more people I presume at the US one?
Liz: [00:01:11] Yes. I think, let’s see, I was kind of trying to roughly count.
Sandro: [00:01:17] There were about 80 at WordCamp Kent. Yeah I. . . no, I think at the very last State of the Word speech I think he may have said there was about 2,000 people there. So yeah, good turnout! Which is interesting because it’s still only a fraction of the people that actually use or develop WordPress websites.
WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg Release Night Before
Liz: [00:01:40] The conference started on Friday. Thursday night or Thursday they released 5.0. And I think some people were like, oh crap, you know we were kind of like scrambling because we weren’t expecting it. And he pointed out, Matt pointed out that the majority of WordPress users weren’t in the room or here in Nashville so that’s why they pushed it out when they did. By the way, I’m referring to Matt Mullenweg who is the founder, or I’m sorry, the co-founder of WordPress who gives a State of the, who gives a State of the Word address at the very end of WordCamp US. So yeah, I really enjoyed my time there.
Liz: [00:01:59] I think my biggest takeaway would be, and this is why I think you go to any conference, it’s the networking, it’s to meet people. I think this is, well, this is not true of every conference, but with with WordCamp specifically, you know, Sandro bought a ticket where he could stream, uh stream the different sessions live. So you don’t have to go. You don’t have to take the time and the added expense to physically be there. But I wanted to go and chat with people, I think there’s so much benefit in that. And yeah, I met some really great people.
Uber Driver Story
Liz: [00:02:40] I think I told Sandro one of my, one of my favorite people that I met was actually an Uber driver. It was just so random. He is developing essentially a competitive app to Yelp. Which I think is desperately needed because I can’t stand Yelp, so I’m rooting for him. We connected on LinkedIn. But I did meet some other great people actually at the conference.
Sandro: [00:03:16] Do you remember the name of the app?
Liz: [00:03:17] I don’t. I’d have to go, I’ll have to go back and look. But yeah, I met some other agency owners, I met some people who were, you know, very much in the development space, just a variety of people of all ages. Kids, people in their 70s, I mean it’s a whole, whole spectrum of people that attend the conference, so.
Sandro: [00:03:38] Conferences are usually hundreds and hundreds and thousands of dollars. How much was this conference?
Liz: [00:03:42] My ticket was 40 dollars. Which is awesome!
Sandro: [00:03:45] Every WordCamp seems to be 40 dollars.
Liz: [00:03:47] Yes. Which, I just so appreciate that. I’m not going to mention names. There is a conference here locally that I’m like, oh I would love to go and then I look at the price of the ticket and I’m like, no. I just don’t see the value. So at any rate, I wanted to share some of my takeaways. I will say first off that one of my favorite talks was a talk on security, which sounds so boring but the speakers were really engaging and they took an approach to it that I wasn’t expecting. Got me thinking a little differently.
Liz: [00:04:17] So I really enjoyed it. I’m going to actually go back and re-watch that speech and make some notes and share some more detailed takeaways because, yeah we’ve been so focused on GDPR and I think they took a bigger picture approach. And like I said, got me thinking differently about how security and data protection can fit in a company here in the U.S. So that was a great speech and I’m going to talk more about that in a separate episode.
Liz: [00:04:49] The other speech that I really enjoyed was from the founders of Yoast. And if you are a WordPress user you know that Yoast is a plugin, they have a free version, they have some paid versions. I did not realize that they were a husband and wife team or that they were a Dutch company. And it was great to hear some background on the company. He started it in his attic. You know, he had some pictures up on the screens and he said, you know, just outside of the photo is my washer and dryer, stackable washer and dryer. So he literally started it, you know, it his attic or basement or wherever.
Liz: [00:05:40] And it was, it was kind of struggling, or not struggling but know, just kind of plodding along there for a while and then I think it was his wife who finally said, alright, you know, we’ve got to, we’ve got to make this work. If we’re going to put time and energy into this, like, let’s make it work. And they are now a 10 million dollar company. So that’s pretty cool to see that they started out homebase and now they’re huge. They were super funny, super engaging. They were big advocates of WordPress. You know it’s a collaborative community, and giving back and they were really calling for more of that to happen. I think they were actually arguing for a percentage of time that, the number escapes me, but that was really interesting.
Sandro: [00:06:09] A percentage of time?
Liz: [00:06:10] Yeah allocating… I don’t think it was 20 percent but maybe it was 10, maybe it was five. I should go back and look.
Sandro: [00:06:18] But allocating it to do…
Giving Back to WP Community
Liz: [00:06:20] Allocating it to, like giving back to the, to the WordPress community. So yeah, whether that’s developing something open source, whether that’s participating in a local WordCamp, training people, whatever it is. That’s a, that’s a big part of their company. And you know, they have to be mindful of that too. Not, they’re a for profit company so they can’t just be giving away tons and tons of time. So it’s, it’s something that they juggle and struggle with but… Yeah, yeah that was, that was interesting.
Sandro: [00:06:45] I love their YouTube channel. I’ve watched all their videos because they’re really short, usually 90 seconds and they give you some great facts.
Liz: [00:06:51] Very actionable advice.
Sandro: [00:06:53] Yes. Like they don’t spend 30 seconds to intro and there’s no outro.
Liz: [00:06:58] They get right to it.
Sandro: [00:07:00] Three second intro and they’re right on it. Yes, awesome.
Free vs Paid Plugins
Liz: [00:07:02] Yeah. And the other thing that I appreciated from their talk from a business perspective was, so they have the the free version of Yoast, which truthfully, that’s all I have ever used is the free version. They were just talking about how when you look at where you actually make your money, the paid, the premium service is really where the bulk of the money comes from. You know, and that’s true. I think they said that’s true of Magento, that, which is a separate website platform, but they did mention that.
Liz: [00:07:40] Yet Magento makes most their money off of their premium service, so making sure that that is a really good product, that it works really well. And just a good reminder from a business sense like, yeah, you need your B and C clients but your A clients, that’s probably where you’re going to make the bulk of your revenue. So, great talk from them.
Importance of Site Speed
Liz: [00:07:52] A couple other things, just notes that I jotted down that I thought were interesting. Business revenue goes up 20 percent if you improve site speed. And this was, I cannot remember what talk it was from and like, I wrote that down really quickly and I was like, really, is that true? But then I kind of stopped for a minute and I’m like oh, it probably is. If someone comes to my website and can’t fill out the contact form to get in touch with me, that could be a five or ten thousand dollar project gone. If you are a restaurant with an online ordering platform and it’s taking forever to load and you lose order after order after order that can very quickly add up to 20 percent.
Liz: [00:08:20] So, I thought that was interesting and a good argument to make sure you have good hosting, which we have talked about and yeah, just make sure everything loads quickly.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
Liz: [00:08:39] Another talk I went to spoke about accelerated mobile pages. Their argument was responsive is not the future, AMP and PWA is where it’s at. And I know Sandro, you’ve explored this a little more than I have. And there are some downsides to AMP, right?
Sandro: [00:09:00] Correct. Yeah, AMP is a Google specific coding, they’re really pushing this. It is meant to speed up the Internet. It’s very fast. If you look at a news site on your phone from Google, if you Google ‘The Bachelor,’ the new TV show, and you want to read the latest news on the Bachelor, well, you click on the news site, generally they’re made now in AMP, and they’re really fast to load and they’re really quick. They do have some ads but they load also pretty quickly. But generally the knock against it is, so much of it is hosted by Google or hosted somewhere else. It’s not your own website, so people can’t really maneuver to, like say a different page.
Liz: [00:09:35] Yeah, there’s some downsides to that.
Testing Campaigns & Landing Pages
Sandro: [00:09:37] Yeah, there’s definitely downsides. And PWA is progressive web apps. It’s kind of the new trendy thing. I’m not 100 percent certain what it is or how it works. But I know things seem to be moving that way.
Liz: [00:09:49] Yeah, for sure. So I thought that was an interesting takeaway. I went to another talk about marketing and he was sharing some insight about how they test campaigns and it got me thinking about how I might want to switch up how we do some of our test campaigns. I like to do test campaigns with new clients just because it gives me a sense of how they might be as a client long term. How they work, do they pay on time, like, things like that. So I’m actually a big fan of project work. Anywho, changing some of how we do test campaigns. You know, he was arguing building 20 different landing pages and taking three weeks to test them because, you never know, you just don’t know how something is going to perform.
Liz: [00:10:40] And I feel like specifically with a lot of Facebook campaigns we’ve been, you know, we’ve been getting a good response, we’ve been getting clicks and things do seem to be kind of falling flat at the landing page. And the way that my pricing structure is, that’s kind of, you know, that’s, we build a landing page, but my recommendations are always, this is, this is an area, you know, that’s going to need more attention should you choose to continue doing this type of, any kind of digital campaign. You know, that’s kind of where I leave it. But maybe I should build a little bit more testing of the landing page into, into our test campaign. It just got me thinking.
Sandro: [00:11:08] Yeah people are usually used to AB testing but you’re, and he, or that speaker whatever is saying ABCDEFG.
Liz: [00:11:14] Yeah this is a whole other level. And it makes sense. I also attended a great session on leadership, jotted a few notes down about that. Leadership is the ability to recognize what’s going on within me, you know, and kind of responding accordingly. Managing thoughts and actions to have a greater impact on your team. I thought this, this woman’s speech about leadership was, was really good. So good mix, it was a good mix of technical talks, some of which I attended and were totally over my head. Others were more kind of keynote-ish and inspirational which were great. And then some of them got into more marketing nitty gritty stuff like, you know, building 20 landing pages and taking the time to test them. So it was a good variety of speaker. I was, I was impressed with, with all of that.
Sandro: [00:12:06] And then, Gutenberg was released. WordPress 5.0.
Liz: [00:12:09] Yes.
Sandro: [00:12:11] Gutenberg was released one day before.
Liz: [00:12:13] Correct.
Sandro: [00:12:13] So there probably wasn’t much talk because people were still trying it out or still working on it. I’m sure this year’s WorkCamps, there’s going to be a lot of talk about Gutenberg.
Find a Local Wordcamp!
Liz: [00:12:22] Definitely. Yeah. And I think that’s the big call to action for, for you as a listener. If you are a WordPress fanatic, I highly recommend finding a local WordCamp, attending it, meeting some other WordPress enthusiasts. If you don’t have one nearby, start one. It’s a great way to meet people, give back to the WordPress community. All good stuff. Next year, well actually so 2019 and 2020 WordCamp US, they will both be in St. Louis. I think they go to a city for two years and then they move. It just probably makes planning a lot easier. Which makes sense. So yeah, 2019 and 2020 WordCamp US will be in St. Louis. Which is not that far from us and Southwest flies direct, so.
Sandro: [00:13:13] And in November this 2019.
Liz: [00:13:14] I, well this past one was like the first week of December. I’m assuming it’s around the same timeframe. Which actually was a really great time to travel. Airfares were still cheap and it was before the craziness of the holidays, although I got home and it was the craziness of the holidays so, it is what it is. Yeah, it was good.
Sandro: [00:13:35] I just looked it up. November 1st through 3rd, 2019 St. Louis. So early November. Yeah they moved it up a month. Yeah, and actually, and even if you’re not familiar with WordPress but want to learn WordPress. I learned it all at WordCamp 2017, WordCamp Kent. They had a whole track for beginners. It was like 8 hours of learning the very, very basics of WordPress. So even if you’re new to it, it was still worth checking out a WordCamp in your area.
Liz: [00:14:05] Yeah and I have, at both the local WordCamp and the WordCamp US everyone was super friendly, willing to share ideas. If you are a newbie, it’s a great place to learn.
Sandro: [00:14:16] It’s great for everyone.
Liz: [00:14:17] Yeah. So those are my takeaways, and like I said I’m gonna, I’m gonna do a separate episode going into more detail about the security talk because I liked that one the best.
Sandro: [00:14:27] Thanks so much Liz and thank you for joining us. You will find us where you find your favorite podcasts. As always, if you like what you heard we’d love a review on iTunes since we just found out you can’t do reviews on Google or Spotify. We are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. we’ll also leave our email address in the show notes. We’d love to hear any feedback you may have. Thanks again for joining us. We will see you next time.