People raise their hands during the opening announcements of WordCamp Asheville 2018

WordCamp Asheville 2018 recap

WordCamp Asheville 2018 is a wrap! It was the fifth WordCamp Asheville and it might be favorite so far. Here are a few of my favorite moments and takeaways from the weekend.

What: WordCamp Asheville, annual WordPress conference
Where: AB Tech Conference Center
When: August 18-19, 2018

Themes & Takeaways

Never Stop Learning

Rachel Cherry’s keynote was a great reminder to never stop learning. Take time each week to read articles, watch relevant videos, or listen to podcasts. Create a block each week to take a deeper dive into a subject, like exploring a new tool, skill, or framework. These deep dives have always been hugely important to me as a freelancer, but I have to admit I’ve let this habit slip the past year. I let myself become busier and busier – sometimes working hard but not working smart – and forgot how much I love exploring articles and learning new tricks.

Tiffany Kutcha’s CSS Grid IRL talk got me excited to take a look at this new layout system. I’ve already spent time this week to learn more about it, and have scheduled a deep dive into this on my calendar!

Just Start

It’s so important to just start instead of waiting for everything to be “perfect.” As a careful and risk-averse person I tend toward analysis paralysis. I let myself get caught up in wanting everything to be just right before starting something new. The fact is, we all start out a new thing a little rough around the edges, and it’s ok to appear unpolished. In fact, people seem to relate and respond well to this “realness” especially on social media. Emily Breedlove’s talk A Roadmap to Social Media Sales Funnels emphasized to get started and then re-evaluate whether you like a certain social media medium. Does it work for your target audience? Do you actually enjoy doing it? Are you good at it, or can you delegate it to someone else?

Aisha Adams told us that it’s ok to take a stance on social issues on social media in her lightning talk 5 tips for increasing engagement via Social Media. I always thought this might turn people off or scare others away. But if done well it can actually bring the right people closer to you.

Take Care of Mental & Physical Health

Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed more speakers getting real about work/life balance and talking about the importance of taking care of mental as well as physical health. A particularly powerful talk is this one from Cory Miller about his own personal challenges and finding support.

In Alisa Herr’s session, Winging it: Starting a WordPress Agency, she talked about starting her own agency with a strong mission and set of principles. She mentioned that among other business challenges like finding the right people for your team and maintaining your values, there’s also the challenge of your own negative self-talk that can come with depression and anxiety. One way she’s made progress is by flipping the perceived negatives into positives: I’m not stubborn, I’m determined. I’m not slow, I’m methodical. I’m not lazy, I find creative solutions. Positive self-talk is something I’m also looking to practice more, and it seems like it keeps popping up everywhere, like this recent video from Daniel Pink.

Along similar lines, John Hornsby’s talk on Sales for the Introverted Designer really struck home in a great way. John covered some great ground rules for customer service, like avoiding “mutual mystifications” — such as using vague wording like “I’ll call you later” or “as soon as I hear back from so-and-so, I will do xyz.” Creating more clarity in our communication, following up, and having a gameplan for how to handle difficult situations like an upset customer is key. Beyond this he talked about how to approach sales in a way that results in you and your client teaming up instead of facing off, and how this creates a win-win for both parties. I love this metaphor and message! I highly recommend checking out his slides.

Apart from the great sessions, we fulfilled one of my WordCamp dreams – donuts for breakfast! My husband is a super volunteer (as are some of the other organizer spouses) so he was tasked with picking up coffee and donuts on Day 2 of the Camp. My friend Lex helped set out food and helped with registration as in years past.

5 Years of WordCamp Asheville

Group of WordCamp organizers stand smiling in front of 2018 banner

The 2018 Organizing Team

As always, getting to be part of an amazing organizing team is the real joy of WordCamp for me. For me, this year was a different, more relaxed experience since I was no longer lead or co-lead organizer. I’m eternally grateful to Laurel Scherer for taking over the lead role! Last year, I felt it was time to let go of the lead and put my focus back on my business, and Laurel stepped right up. The result for me was that this WordCamp was the least stressful and sleep depriving of any prior :). I got to attend Camp without my head spinning full of tasks or stressing about the details. But, the fact that I can still be involved as part of this team means the world to me!

I could ramble on about WordCamp Asheville all day, and if you’re still reading you’re probably thinking “you just did!” This is truly one of my favorite times of year and I’m so grateful to be in this supportive WordPress community.


View all the slides from the sessions I mentioned here:

View Sessions

The Buncombe County Master Gardener Volunteers website screenshot

Buncombe County Master Gardener blog recognized by NC State Extension award

One of my favorite non-profit projects of 2017 was rebuilding the Buncombe County Master Gardener Volunteers website. I was able to refresh the site’s look from a very outdated generic look to a fresher, more garden-y feel. Working with the wonderful women of the master gardeners has been rewarding in many ways, especially the ability to always ask them “What is this plant?!”

The blog is such a valuable resource for area gardeners. It is maintained by a small team of extremely dedicated volunteers who write detailed posts like clockwork. The volunteer writers explain everything from pest management, composting, weed identification, gardening on slopes, pruning trees, and everything else you can think of related to gardening in Western NC. The blog has gained thousands of subscribers over the years thanks to the hard work of the volunteers and their high quality, timely content.

This year, the blog was awarded in the Innovative Project category of the 2018 NC Extension Master GardenerSM (EMG) Search for Excellence!

Congratulations to the dedicated women and men of the BCEMG, especially Barbara Hayes and Beth Leonard, who have made the blog such a huge success over the years.

Here’s an excerpt from the award:

Congratulations! The Buncombe EMGV Blog placed 1st in the Innovative Project category of the 2018 NC Extension Master GardenerSM (EMG) Search for Excellence (SFE).

The EMG SFE is designed to recognize outstanding educational, group projects that result in significant learning. The team that reviewed applications felt the Buncombe EMGV Blog was extremely well-done, provides valuable and timely information to gardeners in western NC, and truly embodies the mission of Extension and the EMG Program.

Visit the Blog

Online Tools to save Time and stay organized

Here are a few tools that have saved me time, effort, and in many cases, sanity.

LastPass (Password Management)

If there’s one tool everyone with an internet connection should have, it’s a password management system. And no, I’m not talking about the notebook where you scrawl down your latest account login or even the massive spreadsheet you’ve been keeping since 1999. A password management tool like LastPass not only saves passwords for you – it can auto-fill them and even auto-fill forms so you never have to write out email address again. LastPass has been saving me oodles of time for over 6 years, and it’s free.

Ublock (Ad Block)

This does just what it says – blocks ads on webpages. Mosto f the time ad block is smart enough to block the bumper ads on YouTube. Want to support a certain site by viewing their ads? Disable ad block on that particular page.

OneTab (Browser Tab Management)

If you spend much of your day on a computer, chances are you have a bit of browser tab buildup. That’s right, I’m talking about the 87 tabs currently open in your browser (oh, maybe that’s just me!). Don’t lose your tabs ever again and keep them organized into groups, or tuck them away to clear the clutter. This little browser extension has made a big difference in my workflow!

I’m always looking for little web helpers, and I’ll be sure to share them here. I hope these tools are useful for your online workflow!

WordCamp Talk on WordPress.tv

My lightning talk from this year’s WordCamp “Email Marketing in a Flash” is now live on WordPress.tv. The talk is about 15 minutes with some Q+A at the end. If you’re curious about the basics of email marketing and what can make it so successful for business, watch this and tell me what you think.

Watch the recording

View/Download the slides to my talk here.
The cute icons I used throughout the slides are from The Noun Project, a great resource for icons!