Hey! I’m Marissa, a freelance web designer and digital marketer. I love working with clients to take the overwhelm out of getting their business online. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog!

WordCamp Edinburgh 2018


This weekend I attended my first WordCamp in Edinburgh! It was such a great experience, I wanted to post up a blog about it to encourage others to try it out and get along if it’s something you think you’d find interesting.

I recently discovered WordCamp (luckily right in time), grabbed a ticket last minute and decided to try and make it to both days of the event. To be honest, I’m pretty introverted and normally struggle to get along to social events like this by myself. It was immediately clear as soon as I arrived that I didn’t need to be nervous about anything. Anyone that’s into the WordPress community will know that it is such a welcoming, inclusive and easily accessible environment for everyone.

I had a really great weekend and met lots of new people, as well as meeting a few people that I’ve chatted to through some online freelancing groups. I think there can be so much negativity about social media these days, but seeing it manifest in these ways is awesome! It was so cool to meet and put a face to some of the people I see popping up in my Twitter feed and Facebook groups.

Talks on Day 1

There were two different rooms with a variety of speakers on over the weekend; a community track and a development track. I was tempted to move around but ended up spending the whole weekend in the community track, though it was really hard to choose between some of the talks.

Saturday morning kicked off with probably my favourite session of the whole weekend. Kenda MacDonald of Automation Ninjas gave a talk all about behavioural and buyer psychology and WordPress. Honestly, this talk blew my mind so much I’m not even sure I’ve totally digested everything she had to say yet! She spoke a lot about current trends in consumer behaviour and psychology, and how we as businesses get to a place that consumers want to be while still building on business needs. She also delved pretty deep into creating quality content to position your brand as well as how to make the most of marketing automation. There was so much to take in here, and I’m really looking forward to getting into their content to take it all in a bit more. I also had a quick chat with Kenda about how their company started and how they work, which left me feeling really inspired.

Next was a great talk about improving UX on WordPress sites by Neil Scott. I’m really interested in UX and have been thinking of looking into some training in this area so was looking forward to taking his talk in. Neil co-founded the monthly UX Glasgow meetups, and he gave a really great talk with tons of real world examples demonstrating general rules of good UX on WordPress sites. He was kind enough to have a quick chat with me afterwards and answered a few of my questions too. I’m definitely planning on getting along to their meetups; it looks like another great place to learn some more about UX and get advice.

After a quick coffee break, Claire Brotherton spoke about the user experience and accessibility of Gutenberg followed by a talk by Jeremy Davis about how to choose a plugin. Claire’s information and insight about Gutenberg was really interesting. I confess I’m late to the party here and actually haven’t looked at Gutenberg yet! It’s on my list to look at before it’s release in a coupe of weeks. The interface appears (to me) a little off-putting at first, but I imagine just as anytime a new version is released on a much loved platform, with time it will feel more normal. Jeremy’s talk was full of good, practical advice about choosing plugins too, and had lots of information about important points to keep in mind when you’re trawling through endless search results in the WordPress plugin section.

The last two talks of the day were by Ross Steedman and Steven Jones. Ross has worked with WordPress for years, and runs a design agency in Edinburgh. His talk was giving practical advice on WordPress after 10 years in business. It was filled with lots of great bits of advice on life and project lifecycles in an agency, and things that anyone who works in WordPress should know. Finally, Steven spoke about how to kick a WordPress project off the right way. This focused a lot on project scope as well as understanding a business’s requirements properly to be able to build them the perfect solution. His measured and exact approach definitely left me with lots of aspects to try and incorporate into my project management process and initial client work. As a freelancer, it’s also so cool and inspiring to hear from someone who’s been freelancing for so long.

At this point I had to skip the lightning talks at the end of the day and head home for a break before day 2!

Talks on Day 2

Day 2 kicked off a little later, and first up for the day was a practical workshop all about making a website given by Kayleigh from 34sp.com. This took us from the very beginning of how to set up basic settings, themes and plugins in WordPress. Definitely a great refresher to make sure you’re doing things right!

After lunch there was a panel discussion with Kenda MacDonald, Kayleigh Thorpe and Colin Gray about how to create amazing content on WordPress. I am all about the importance of quality content creation and marketing, so this was right up my alley. There was lots of great chat about how vital it is to create good, high quality long form content for your brand, as well as how popular good quality micro content is becoming. It’s so hard to keep up on something like marketing which feels like it’s changing all the time, and this panel about content covered a ton of bases and was really interesting.

The day finished up with an hour long Happiness Bar, where we got to discuss any problems we were having or questions we wanted to ask. I had a couple of problems on sites that I needed help with, and it was great to get someone to take a look with me. As a freelancer, it can get pretty lonely working on my own and solving all of the problems with anything on my own. Aside from that, it’s hard not having anyone to bounce any ideas off of and talk through things with! So it was really good to be able to talk to other designers and get some advice. I think heading along to monthly WordPress meetups would be great for this as well.

I’ll be back!

All in all, my first WordCamp experience was such a positive one. I learnt so much and had such a fun time geeking out about all things WordPress all weekend, I can’t wait for the next one! I’m feeling excited, inspired, and totally shattered. Worth it for a great weekend! I’ve got a ton of notes and recordings to get through now, but I think I’ll leave it until later in the week once I’ve had time to let it all sink in a bit.

Have you ever gone to a WordCamp or WordPress meetup? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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