A recap of WordCamp Kent

Many hands pointing at laptop overhead

This past weekend I attended WordCamp Kent. WordCamp Kent was the very first WordCamp I attended two years ago in 2017. It made a HUGE impression on me and I was really excited to go back this year.

Here’s a recap of all the great people I met and things I learned.

Day 1

Michelle Ames gave the keynote — The Care and Feeding of the WordPress Community: Me, You, & Us. Since I’ve been to a WordCamp before, I expected that the keynote would probably be less about WordPress and more about individuals and the community. There was one attendee who raised his hand after the keynote and remarked that he wasn’t sure what he had gotten himself into! (I talked with him later the next day and he seemed to be enjoying the conference.)

My presentation on Freelancer Finances was next. I’m happy with how it went — I kept good time and the audience seemed interested and engaged in the topic. Check out my slides, resources AND a recorded version of the presentation on my blog.

After my talk was over, I was free to enjoy the rest of the sessions! I sat in on Nathan Ingram’s talk — What I WISH I’d Known About Freelancing. I’ve heard Nathan speak before and really enjoyed it, so I knew I would get a lot of good information from this talk, too. My favorite parts were:

  • There are seasons in freelancing; don’t waste the slow times
  • Keep a someday list to work on when client work is slow
  • Enjoy it! Don’t let the stress of not being busy prevent you from enjoying the time
  • Is the mark of success leisure time? Sadly not any more, but it can be!
  • The purpose of productivity is to create margin in your life to do more of what matters to you, not to get more done
  • One great client leads to another; great clients are out there and you can find them
  • Consider HUBS as a recurring business model — hosting, (software) updates, backups and security; all clients need this
  • When you stop learning, you stop earning
  • He also suggested checking out the summary of The Checklist Manifesto

Up next was Lee Drozak talking about Being a Company of One in an Agency World. My big takeaways were to master one thing, do what I do best (which serves my client best), know when enough is enough (yes, this includes income, too) and to implement systems and processes. I was so inspired that I created my first onboarding document for care plans and hope to add more in my next 12 week year (Q3).

Another awesome tidbit from Lee was how she uses social media. She spends about 15 minutes per day using the 50/20/5/1 strategy:

  • She uses lists to connect with 50 posts or tweets — liking, retweeting or sharing
  • Then she engages further with 20 people, commenting on posts or tweets
  • She reaches out to five additional people, asking open ended questions
  • And she asks one additional person to get virtual coffee so she can get to know them better

Next was Paul Oyler and his talk, You CAN Have a WordPress Business and NOT Be a Designer or a Developer. Paul talked about the services he offers that aren’t specifically design or development, including care plans and copywriting. I loved hearing about all of the tools that he uses and how he structures his business.

I skipped the last talk so I could record my talk for my blog and hit the hotel gym.

Day 2

The first talk I attended on day 2 was How to Use Value-Based Pricing to Sell Web and Marketing Projects by Michael Temple. Michael is a fan of author Alan Weiss and his thoughts on value-based pricing. Some of the highlights of Michael’s talk were:

  • Spend time at the beginning getting to know your client and the problems that they have
  • Create value by helping clients generate more leads, create more sales or reduce time spent elsewhere (like on support calls)
  • Content is a huge pain point; offer to write content for your clients if they don’t have it ready for you by a specific date
  • Include three options in your proposals so that clients can choose the services that make the most sense for them
  • Add the goals at the top of the proposal and the deliverables at the bottom
  • If you haven’t heard from a lead or client in awhile, write and ask, “Have you given up on this project?”

I sat in on Nathan’s other talk — Dealing with Problem Clients — Fencing in the Friendly Monsters. He talked about setting up a consistent system that was efficient, effective and profitable. He mentioned four fences — clarity, commitment, communication and documentation and elaborated on each. I loved how he makes sure he gets content from clients before doing any design or development and how he trains his clients on how to make changes so that they can make them themselves.

He shared another gem called the Friday email strategy. On Fridays, he sends an email to each client about the past (what he did the previous week), the present (where the project stands) and the future (what’s next). And speaking of email, I heard more than once that many people check their email twice a day (that’s it!) and I love this idea.

I know that the hallway track is a great way to get to know people, but I really enjoy going to the sessions and then interacting with people before/after and at lunch. Kent had a great arrangement where we broke into networking groups around a specific topic (SEO, WP101, Dev Stuff and Freelance & Business) for lunch on the second day.

I went with the SEO group!

After lunch I attended WordPress SEO for Startups and Small Business by Josh Gellock. He offered great advice like:

  • Noindex your category and tag pages
  • Add structured data (with Merkle and Header/Footer Scripts)
  • Use a custom structure that includes keyword-rich permalinks
  • Don’t leave custom post types at the root level
  • Don’t have orphan pages
  • Use Google Tag Manager to consolidate analytics and pixels

Lastly, I sat in on Bill Rice’s talk about Proven Steps to Make Any WordPress Site a Lead Generation Platform. Bill is another one who spends a lot of time getting to know his potential clients and their businesses before he offers any solutions. He showed some example sites with some basic calls to action peppered throughout pages and posts (including in some hero sections). His approach allows people to convert wherever and whenever they’re ready. The CTAs are also conversational and comfortable — “Ask Us a Question” or “Schedule a Demo.” These reduce friction, making it easier for the visitor to reach out.

Bill is also a big fan of video (which multiple people mentioned this weekend). Videos and images let your site come to life, which allows people to get to know you and helps them become more comfortable. He’s also really concerned with page speed and likes Page Speed Insights from Google. Another cool trick he does is use the AJAX Load More plugin to show the next post below the existing post, increasing their page views.

I skipped the last session of the day so I could get home at a reasonable hour and decompress before the start of the work week.

Final Thoughts

I met a ton of awesome people this past weekend — Sarah Yoder, Amanda Calvin, Michelle Ames, Mark Geyman, Kim Grunwell, Adam Lapsevich, Elise Nester and Dawn Nocera to name a few!

After WordCamp, it’s a good idea to follow up with everyone and connect via email or on social media. I’m also trying out this idea of a recap post to review and remember the key takeaways.

Lastly, there was something that struck me this weekend. When you ask people what they do with WordPress, so many people add in a qualifier. “I do X, Y and Z with WordPress, but I’m not a developer.” I’m not sure where the idea that WordPress = developer-land came from. Design, content creation, SEO, marketing, implementation, support, maintenance, you name it — ALL of these are completely valid and are in no way less than the work that developers do. So next time someone asks you what YOU do with WordPress, be proud and confident to say what you do (and leave out the part about not being a developer).

Have you ever been to a WordCamp? I highly recommend it. Check out the schedule for an upcoming camp near you.

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