A first-timer’s experience of WordCamp Europe – Berlin 2019

By Ehron Ostendorf

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know that Wildheart Media is a remote business. This is why WordCamp Europe 2019 was an extra special event for the Wildheart team. It was the first time that Guy Anderson, Hannah Moss and I (Ehron Ostendorf) all met in person.

As a first timer to WordCamp Europe, I highlight some of the talks and workshops we went to and give you some top takeaways from each. I give you my overall impressions on the event and also share my feelings about spending time with the Wildheart team at the end, so read on if you’re curious what each of us are like in ‘real life’.

What is WordCamp Europe?

WordCamp Europe is a yearly conference all about WordPress, a free open-source content management system (CMS) also referred to as a website hosting platform. Over 30% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress.

WordCamp Europe takes place in a different European city each year and this year, Berlin saw the largest number of attendees to date (about 3,000). In order to not have too many people crammed in one space, there were simultaneous conference slots throughout the day with topics ranging from content and SEO to design and coding. Below I highlight the conferences we went to as well as a workshop we attended.

The big, bad content planning workshop

On the first day of the conference (Friday 21st June), the Wildheart team participated in a workshop with limited space. I was the last person to get a spot for this workshop, so you can imagine how special I felt! Our workshop leader was Vassilena Valchanova (Vassy for short), a communications specialist from Bulgaria.

Highlights from this workshop

  • Learning tips for Facebook Insights and AdsManager
  • Studying Google Analytics
  • Gaining knowledge on new tools to use, such as:
  • Creating customer personas (which we’re also familiar with)
  • Great content ideas

Takeaways from this workshop

Through Facebook Insights, we walked through Vassy’s PowerPoint presentation and practised creating our audience based on location, age and sex, interests and other pages they liked. Google Analytics was similar, but it was interesting to learn the differences between the two.

We also took time to create customer personas so that when we write content we can aim it towards this type of potential customer.

The new tools Vassy shared with us were fascinating — Hotjar is a user feedback and behaviour analytics service that allows you to add different tools to your website, such as polls, a heatmap (to see where people go on your site), visitor recordings (which takes no personal info), and many other tools like surveys and feedback forms.

Hotjar Screenshot

AnswerThePublic is a great way to help you form content. I searched ‘yoga’ as an example. What’s fascinating is that you can see how certain searches are more popular than others, e.g. you can see that ‘yoga vs pilates’ has a much larger search volume than ‘yoga vs massage’, which can help you decide on topics for  your next blog post.

AnswerThePublic Screenshot

AnswerThePublic only gives you a few free searches per day, so you can also use Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. This is a less advanced tool and similar to AnswerThePublic, but you get unlimited searches.

SimilarWeb gives you the tools to research your competitors and see what keywords are working for them, how their website ranks and what brings people to their sites. SimilarWeb can also help identify trends to help with your SEO strategy and blog writing.

Matt Mullenweg

After lunch we saw Matt Mullenweg, a web developer, entrepreneur and most importantly co-founder of WordPress. He gave everyone a warm welcome and discussed the launch and upcoming changes to WordPress’s newest page builder, Gutenberg.

Matt Mullenweg WCEU 2019

Variable fonts: The future of web design

After Matt’s talk, I saw a conference on ‘Variable fonts: The future of web design’. The big takeaway from this talk was that using heavy text throughout your site (imagine if everything was in bold on your site) will actually make it load slower than if the text was thinner, i.e. Roboto ‘thin’ vs Roboto ‘black’.

Understanding what makes a website landing page convert

I ran to another building to catch the next talk, ‘Understanding what makes a website landing page convert’. This showed us how we need to create a customer persona and then take that persona on a journey through our site. For a yoga website, this would mean creating a landing page with text and specific pictures to reach a particular type of audience.

Semantic content in a block editing world

The next talk was on ‘Semantic content in a block editing world’ which focused on the WordPress Gutenberg plugin. The speaker discussed the need for websites to be more interactive and to keep the content structure distinct from its presentation. So, formatting our text to make it easier to read, not simply shoving all the content into one, large text block.

How better performing websites can help save the planet

On Saturday, we started the day off strong with a talk on ‘How better performing websites can help save the planet’. This taught us how the internet as a whole leaves a CO2 footprint larger than most countries. If that statistic got your attention, then keep an eye out for Hannah’s upcoming blog post that covers this talk in detail and gives you tips on how to reduce your own website’s carbon footprint.

Get things done! 7 tips to save time

I watched ‘Get things done! 7 tips to save time’, which mostly reminded me of processes I already follow and tools I use. The speaker mentioned using online organisational tools like Trello to keep track of your tasks, following a regular routine, and allowing yourself micro breaks to check your email, walk around and stretch, etc.

Copywriting tricks, techniques, and CTAs for bloggers and marketers to improve conversion rates

The last two talks were wonderful back-to-back content talks. The main takeaways from ‘Copywriting tricks, techniques, and CTAs for bloggers and marketers to improve conversion rates’ were: find a strong headline for your blog post (question, call to action, address concerns, etc.), and pair that with a striking image, because images and strong headlines will draw people in.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle — 7 ways to repurpose content and maximise your efforts

The takeaways from this talk about recycling content were:

  • Seasonal cleanups — taking an audit of all your blogs, updating posts, getting rid of irrelevant posts, etc.
  • Content splintering — chopping up content into smaller pieces to share on social media.
  • Content stacking — combining blog posts into larger pieces like an ebook.
  • Media swaps — taking blog posts and making a video out of them and vice versa.

My summary of WordCamp Europe 2019

The whole event was tiring, yet energising and invigorating. These talks and the whole conference gave me the tools, knowledge and confidence to take all the information and actually turn it into actionable goals. I think WordCamp is a very useful and well-organised event and I look forward to going again.

So, what’s the Wildheart team like?

I clearly saved the best for last. The team had a wonderful time visiting the sites of Berlin from walking the streets around the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) to taking a boat tour along the Spree river. I also had an amazing time at a shared co-working space called Space Shack where the team discussed the future of Wildheart and worked together on some projects.

But that’s just the surface stuff, I’d rather share something more authentic. Before I left for Berlin, I had a whole approach to the trip figured out. I was prepared to be professional and business-like, yet courteous and polite. We all have certain ways we think we should act around certain people, right? Although we did accomplish work and attend a professional event, I was immediately made welcome and within the day, our barriers melted away and we had deep, meaningful conversations. I had dinners and outings with Guy and Hannah and if I could explain the Wildheart dynamic, it would be as if we were friends, siblings, and coworkers to each other all at once.

This was highlighted further during the WordCamp after party, which was ‘80s themed — one of my favourite moments was dancing with my team, having fun and being able to be myself.

I’ve worked remotely before and I’ve had the opportunity of working for different kinds of people with many different temperaments. This has been nice ‘world experience’, but from my perspective, getting closer to those businesses wasn’t successful for me. So, I had grown to be more cautious and skeptical while I was at work.

Spending time with the Wildheart team was the first time I could legitimately say  that I felt part of a team — somewhere I belonged. As yogis, I’m sure you understand what I mean when I say that I’ve found a tribe that I vibe with, a place where I feel respected, where I can contribute something meaningful.

The Wildheart team also got to hang out with Russell Hrachovec from Make It Red, a design agency in London, and Nick Schäferhoff, a freelance blogger and online marketer based in Berlin. They both made great companions and we had a lot of fun together!

WCEU Berlin 80s After Party

Thanks for reading my in-depth overview of my WordCamp experience. If you’ve thought about getting more knowledge on improving your site and business, consider attending WordCamp Europe 2020 in Porto, Portugal — we’ll see you there!

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  • Russell says:

    Nice article. It was a fun time. You might get more clicks if you put that picture of me closer to the top though #justSaying.

    • Ehron Ostendorf says:

      Maybe we should crop just you out of the photo, blow it up, and then put you front and center — maybe even make the text wrap around your picture, photoshop a crown on your head? This could really boost our reach. Loving it.

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