I went to Utrecht as planned a few weeks ago for my first international speaking gig at WordCamp Nederland 2016, which is basically an opportunity for people who love WordPress to get together and share their knowledge, skills and passion, and it went really well.
Lots of people turned up for my talk – ‘How WordPress Saved My Life’ – so that was my first fear put to bed, and I got some great feedback from people in person, on Twitter and via email. I’ve had three enquiries about work and one lady contacted me that evening to say she hopes that she’ll be able to quit her job and work for herself too, and that I’ve spurred her on to make the leap.
And that’s what it was all about. I wanted to show people that thanks to tools like WordPress it’s possible to work for yourself (with no contacts, money or web development skills), set up your own website and start marketing your small business.
What I hadn’t realised when I applied to speak was how much I’d get out of the weekend (and how excited I’d be about having access to a ‘Green Room’ as a speaker!). I met lots of really switched-on, inspiring people from the Netherlands, Bosnia, the UK, Belgium, Germany, and all over the world. Luckily everyone spoke brilliant English as I don’t think the four words of Dutch I picked up would have got me very far.
I went to several of the talks and learnt how to build SaaS (Software as a Service) with WordPress, how to grow a business on the platform, and how charities and not-for-profits are using it to increase sponsorship and donations, among lots of other things. And thanks to all the people I met from Yoast I’ve come home with a much better insight into SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and a to-do list of things to sort out on my own website.
The weekend didn’t go completely without a hitch… The first plane we were put onto at Birmingham airport had a fault and it took the airline (who shall not be mentioned. It was flybe) 2 hours to find another plane to get us to Amsterdam. But, as we all said to each other at the time on one of those rare occasions when you actually speak to your fellow passengers, we’d much rather they found the fault before we took off than afterwards!
WordCamps in 2017
If you’re a fan of WordPress I’d really recommend going to a WordCamp (there’s more info about them here). The big one – WordCamp Europe 2017 – is in Paris from June 15th to 17th next year but you don’t have to go that far if you don’t want to, you can find a WordCamp near you instead. They are brilliant learning and networking opportunities – and really good fun too. True to form I was dancing right ’til the end on Saturday night. Some things never change!
P.S. Can I say a massive THANK YOU to Pam Edwards of Pitch Perfect Presentations who helped me prepare for the talk. She was so generous with her time and gave me heaps of advice on the content and images to use, how not to fidget, rush or mumble my way through the entire 30 minutes, and even shared some breathing and CBT techniques to stay calm and focused. Please contact Pam if you need help with public speaking of any sort, she is very very good at what she does.