Category Archives: WordCamp

#WCTO2013 – WordCamp Toronto 2013

Lots of learning and happy typing at WordCamp Toronto!
Lots of learning and happy typing at WordCamp Toronto!

Another fantastic WordCamp has happened, this time in Toronto, Canada!

Wait, what’s a Β WordCamp?

You may be asking, “Meagan, What are these WordCamps you keep talking about?”

A WordCamp is a fun, friendly, accessible, and affordable unconference where one can learn pretty much everything about using WordPress to create websites. From technical support through to marketing advice, and everything in between – if it’s related to the web, you’ll find it at WordCamp!

Each WordCamp is different based on the needs of each city’s community. Check out the Official WordCamp Website for a more detailed explanation and to see a list of the known upcoming WordCamps around the world. And check back often, as WordCamps are always being created!

#WCTO2013

This past weekend I spoke at WordCamp Toronto 2013, aka #WCTO2013. This year it was a 2 day event, jam-packed with great speakers and hands-on workshops. As a result of the ever-growing Toronto WordPress community, Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus became the venue host. And what a lovely location indeed – take a look at how gorgeous and happy this Happiness Bar was:

That's one happy Happiness Bar! #wcto2013

A post shared by Meagan Hanes (@mhanes) on

Happiness Bars are one of my favourite WordCamp features. The sheer Happiness that comes from people finding a solution to a long-standing problem, or having an answer to a question that has bugged them for months, is so very inspiring. Taking a picture of that exact moment is a challenge for even the most skilled photographers, but I encourage you to explore the Flickr pool and see those moments of happiness for yourself!

This year, 4 concurrent tracks were offered for Day One: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Watusi (a grab bag for those hard-to-classify offerings). One is free to attend any session they desire – you do not have to stay in one track all day. In fact, you can learn quite a bit by diving into the deep end and attending a session completely foreign to you.

As is tradition, the Afterparty was filled with engaging discussion, entertaining dancing, and enjoyable company. Did I mention the adorable snacks? They had those too! You know what they say – never leave a WordCamp without at least making an appearance at the Afterparty πŸ˜‰

The real magic happened on Day Two, a day filled with interactive panels, workshops, and classes of all kinds. As most of you know I’m a big fan of interactive communication, so it was with great pleasure that I joined my fellow WordPress speakers on the Marketing and Blogging panel. Not only was the discussion engaging and entertaining, filled with tips and tricks of all kinds, but many laughs and smiles were shared as well! Following this, Β Ruth Maude of Dandelion Web Design and I hosted the Drop In Website Clinic, where audience members submitted their website and received constructive feedback from those in the room. With such great diversity in website designs/purposes/audiences, every participant walked away with ideas and inspiration for taking their own projects to the next level!

Slides, Handouts, Et Cetera

The slides for my talk, “DIY Or Have It Made? Here’s How To Decide!” are available here on Slideshare. This presentation offers an overview of the entire website creation process and lists the many roles and responsibilities involved. Of course, not every site needs every role and responsibility, but it’s a good list to pick from when starting your own project.

Sidenote: the slides mention a handout – it’s a limited-print zine (you know me, I was feeling creative!). Thankfully there are 30+ people with it in their hands, if you really want the handout, find one of those people and ask nicely for a copy! (Hint, try using the #WCTO2013 tag on Twitter.) As a bonus, I guarantee that by doing this, you’ll make a great WordPress friend, quite possibly even an accountabilibuddy πŸ™‚

Sadly, you can’t get a copy of our little WordPress Ukelele Jam. That was a very limited-time performance for those in the room that day… or at least I didn’t record it!

What’s Next?

And with our little community song left playing in my mind, my Ontario WordCamp Tour 2013 draws closer to an end. But fret not, my Pressy friends! Planning for WordCamp Ottawa 2014 is already underway, and I’m pleased to be contributing my skills in bringing it to you next year. Connect with the WordPress Ottawa Group on Facebook to stay in the loop!

I hope to see you there, at many other WordCamps around the world, and online with blog posts and other communications! Remember – while WordCamp might end, the friendships you make and inspiration you gain can live on forever, if you believe and keep the spirit alive πŸ™‚

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#wcmtl 2013 – WordCamp Montreal

What do you get when you combine a beautiful town with inspired and passionate WordPress users and lovers?

You get a #WordCamp!

Have you been to one before? Share which one and a link in the comments below for the world to explore πŸ™‚ If you haven’t, head on over to WordCamp Central to find one near you, you won’t regret it!

Here’s the story of my experience at my first WordCamp Montreal πŸ™‚

WordCamp Stats for Fun

Total WordCamps Attended: 2
Cities: Ottawa, Montreal
Countries: Canada
Roles: Volunteer 1, Speaker 1

Presentations I saw
  • Plugins, a Double-Edged Sword by Yannic Lefebvre. Great talk about the consequences of plugin use. Loved the line, “most plugin creators don’t test for UNinstalling the plugin” – really made me reflect on installing them casually!
  • SEO and Content Marketing with WordPress by Brian Rotsztein. Interesting insights into the philosophy of content marketing. Will have to review the slides and my notes such as in my pictures above to fully digest the info!
  • Professional WordPress Deployment with Rami Sayar. Great information, made me level up my game indeed!
  • Priming Your WordPress Canvas – Essentials for a Solid Foundation by Elida Arrizza. A fantastic introduction to starting things off right, covering backups and other particulars you may never have thought of. I highly recommend attending her talks!
  • How Video Can Boost Your Traffic with Richard Martin. Valuable insight into the power of video with great case studies. I loved his chat, and tweeted many interesting quips, including the fact that you can replace Youtube’s auto-captions with your own transcript.
  • WordPress Hack Fest with Dion Hulse et al. I’m not at all a Core hacker, but just being around these guys inspired me to contribute back to the WordPress community in the ways that I can, and I’m glad to say I’ve already begun doing so wholeheartedly! Thanks for the inspiration, friends πŸ™‚
  • Steps to Securing WordPress by Victor Granic. Covered many other elements I hadn’t considered, such as the concept of using .htaccess to block comments NOT made directly on the site. Genius!
  • My own talk πŸ˜€ Read on!
  • 3.5 Ways to Make your Life Easier by Michael Corkum – As my friend Al knows, my mind was BLOWN during this presentation. Michael has so many timesaving development tips and techniques, it’s guaranteed you’ll level up by attending this talk! A+ will listen to again πŸ™‚
  • Easy Responsive Themes in WordPress with Zurbs by Brendan Sera-Shriar. Not only is Brendan a charismatic presenter, this talk contained a fantastic level of insight into the Responsive design challenge. The simple thought of optimizing phone design for thumb position had never occurred to me, but makes total sense! Another superstar.
  • Keep your Code Organized! Templates, functions.php and Custom Plugins by Jeremy Clarke. Jeremy’s passion is what inspired me to come to Montreal, so I owe you big for that my friend! It was a delight to hear his passion for best practices and tips for WordPress development, such as using editor-style.php to load the site’s CSS into the WYSIWYG editor, a feature I know I’ll love setting up!
  • Matt Mullenweg’s Montreal 2013 Town Hall.Β This was fantastic in every sense of the word. I can’t wait to revisit the video and experience it again, because for me, I was so captured by that moment and energy in that room. I’m grateful to have been able to express my gratitude for him having followed his dream and to have asked what was the most unexpected outcome over the past decade. His answer will delight you, as it did me! Matt truly cares about WordPress and the WordPress community, that is plainly clear. I was left with nothing but excitement and passion for what will happen in WordPress’ future!
My Own Talk

This year was the first event in which I’ve spoken in this context – on stage, as an authority, offering advice and insight I’ve learned over the years. My talk was entitled The <a><b><c>s of HTML and at 10am on Sunday was well attended considering the afterparty on Saturday night! I was pleased to hear the audience open to asking questions. For me, the most valuable part of this experience was seeing the spark of inspiration in 6 people’s eyes, hearing people say and tweet about how they were finally going to learn HTML. Believing that one can do something, then doing that thing, is the most powerful force in this world, and I am honored that I could inspire others to taste the passion that’s led me to where I am today. Thanks to everyone who attended and who is viewing my presentation and slides online!

Inspiration Abound

I don’t want to sound cliche here, but this weekend changed my life.

Prior to this weekend, I hadn’t thought I had anything unique or special to give back to the community, so I didn’t. I didn’t attend Meetups, I didn’t engage in any community, I just didn’t. By fate, I attended Christine‘s talk in Ottawa about giving back to the community… And a switch flipped. Immediately I realized what I could offer, applied for Montreal, and the rest is history!

Thankfully this is only the beginning of a fantastic adventure. I’ve already reached out to the Ottawa WordPress Community to help make #WCOttawa 2014 a resounding success. I have a few ideas regarding local initiatives to connect and form greater WordPress communities. And I’m looking at speaking at a variety of WordCamps around the world! Have any recommendations? Let me know below πŸ™‚

A big THANK YOU to everyone who I connected with over the past week. I am so grateful to be your friend, and look forward to many happy memories in the future!