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Blog World Expo 09 wrapup

Blog World Expo 2009 is in the books. The parties have all ended and most people in attendance are either home already or heading in that direction. I’m one of the lucky ones who lives right here in Las Vegas, so my trip home is quite a bit shorter (20 minutes) than most. I do not envy those that have to spend today or tomorrow traveling back to your families. While it great to be at events like Blog World, no matter how you slice it, traveling sucks. I wish you all a quick & safe trip home with no delayed flights!

As for the show itself, I’m going to need to write two different posts to cover it all. This one will focus more on Blog World as a whole. I’ll write a follow-up chronicling my experience as the organizer and track leader for WordCamp Las Vegas.

I have now been to all 3 of the Blog World events, and I had attended one of the New Media Expo event a while back. I seem to remember there being at least one or two more aisles of vendor booths at last year’s event. This is not really a surprise as all conventions in Las Vegas have seen a drastic reduction in vendors and attendees as the economy has been in the crapper. Even still, there was a decent collection of booths and I enjoyed walking the aisles and checking out their wares.

Since I started recording the Weekly WordPress Podcast a couple months back, I was really looking forward to checking out some of the hardware and software vendors in that space. I was really hoping to find a company that had mixing boards on hand that I could get an idea how they may solve some of my technical issues I’m having. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one to be had. I think the podcasting community has such great potential and I would like to see more involvement in that community at Blog World.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a WordPress junkie. So it should be no surprise that I was quite bummed to hear that the Automattic team, as a whole, would not be on hand for the event. I understand that they have a yearly retreat where the entire company works together from one location for a week, but, the timing of it is pretty darn incredible. I can’t help but feel that there is some sort of “office politics” that kept them from being on hand this weekend. The biggest problem I have with them not being there is that it robs the Blog World attendees of the opportunity to walk up and say hello to Matt and thank him for the amazing contributions they have made to the blogging world. I know it means a lot to Matt to hear a heart-felt story of appreciation for the product that he loves and I also know, from experience, how nice it is to say thanks, in person, to one of the people who makes it all possible.

OK, that’s enough complaining. With those two negatives aside, I really did have a great time at the event. A huge part of that is getting to speak face-to-face with people that I’ve met over the past 3 years of Blog World and all the WordCamp events I’ve been to this year. The networking opportunities this weekend were abundant! Before the start of the day, between sessions and at the after parties on Thursday, Friday and Saturday… Although it makes for a very tired set of feet and vocal cords when it’s all over, it is absolutely 100% worth it and I’d do it again next weekend if I could!

Since I was running the WordCamp event, most of the show content that I was able to hear was from those presentations. I think I can safely say that I took more notes and got more actionable items out of this weekend than I did at last year’s Blog World or any of the WordCamps I’ve been to this year. Not taking ANYTHING away from those other events, it’s more a function of being able to actually sit and listen! Since the Blog World team was in charge of all stage, lighting, projector, etc…, it meant I could introduce the speakers and, for the most part, have a seat and listen. It was a great experience!

It has been an extremely fun and informative weekend (can you call Wednesday afternoon through Sunday at 1am a ‘weekend’) and I am already looking forward to next year’s event. Big thanks to the organizers who spent countless hours putting this together! Rest up. You get to start planning again in a few weeks. ;)

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WordCamp Las Vegas @ Blog World Expo demystified

WordCamp Las Vegas

WordCamp Las VegasLast night on the Blog World Expo website they announced that WordCamp Las Vegas would be part of the Expo this year. Based on some of the responses I read about the news today on Twitter, it became obvious that there was some misunderstanding with regards to how much it would cost to attend WordCamp Las Vegas as part of Blog World Expo. So let me attempt to get all the mystery and confusion out of way once and for all!

WordCamp Las Vegas @ Blog World Expo will take place in the exhibit hall on Friday and Saturday, October 16th and 17th. To attend WordCamp, you need to be a registered attendee of Blog World Expo.

Blog World Expo Packages
There are 4 different packages you can purchase for Blog World Expo that range in price from $75 to $895. No matter which package you choose, they will all grant you access to the exhibit floor, the keynote speakers and WordCamp. Visit the Blog World Expo site for descriptions of each package.

WordCamp Discount
When you register to attend Blog World Expo, use promo code WordCampVIP to receive a 20% discount on your registration. You must use the code at the time of purchase and you need to register before September 14th to take advantage of the discount.

Hopefully that answers any questions you might have had about WordCamp Las Vegas. If not, you are more than welcome to contact me directly and I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

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Blog World Expo 2008 – Day 2 Recap

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Day 2 of Blog World Expo started off exactly as I suspected… late. I don’t know that I have ever been to a conference where the final day has started on time. Especially a conference held in Las Vegas. I think the only way to have a final day session start on time in Las Vegas is to make sure the final day doesn’t start until noon.

The keynote today wasn’t so much a speech as it was a dialog/Q&A with Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week and Mike Shinoda, singer from Linkin Park moderated by Rohit Bhargava. They talked about building your personal brand and how it pays to be more interested than interesting. Rohit asked them the best question I had heard all weekend: How important to your success has it been to not be an asshole?” This headed the conversation towards how it is important to be nice to people you may think are non-important at the time. You never know which person is going to have the connection or cause you to be in a certain place at the exact right time. Tim also spoke about setting goals but know what the goals give you when you get there. He also suggested to “Talk to your readers like you would talk to your friends after 2 beers.”

The first session of the day I went to was called “My Blog is a Business? Building a Foundation that Can Help You Grow Your Blog Past the Hobby Stage” The panel consisted of Chris Brogan, Rob McNealy, Jeremy Wright and Nina Yablok and was moderated by Jim Kukral. The panel for this session was pretty amusing. Definitely a bunch of characters here. Nina forced them all to give their top keys to becoming a business in less than 5 minutes.

Chris made the following points: Be helpful in your space, write from your customer/reader’s side of the fence, don’t do a sales pitch.

Jeremy said he has 3 simple rules: think less, plan less, do more stupid shit. Don’t get caught up in trying to make things perfect. Of course, he didn’t mean that you should throw any crap together and expect to make money. But I think you get the idea.

Rob pointed out the following: professional bloggers work their asses off 80+ hours a week. Embrace the hard work to be successful, and, if you love what you do and are passionate about it, it doesn’t really seem like hard work.

The next session was called “Beyond Adsense: Exploration of Practical Monetization Streams“. This panel had David Berkowitz, Jason Billingsley, Michael Buechele and Matt Hulett and was moderated by Angel Djambazov. This session had a lot to do with tools each use for making money on their blogs. Mostly ad networks, affiliate links, software to display ads on WordPress blogs, etc. For me this session was mainly review and didn’t have a lot of new content, but there were several people in the crowd frantically taking notes, so I was definitely in the minority there.

Next was the Networking Reception on the Show Floor. During this time I made one final trip around the show room floor. I grabbed a couple more business cards and flyers and broke my rule from yesterday and collected 2 new T-shirts (thanks, Lijit). I drank a couple Jones Sodas (cream soda, yum!) and I picked up these two bottles that I think I’m going to go ahead and save for a while. I had some chicken fingers and chips and then I spoke with a few people about WordCamp:Las Vegas. By the time I was done, there was still another hour left before the next session started. I realized that my recent travel schedule plus the marathon day yesterday had left me wiped out. I decided to pack it in and head on home.

I had a great time at BlogWorld once again and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. I hope to see you all there!

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Blog World Expo 2008 – Day 1 Recap

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the last Blog World Expo. I have been looking forward to this event for quite a while and I’m glad to say that at the end of day 1, I was not disappointed.

The day started off with the “State of the Blogosphere Adress” & Opening Keynote. Richard Jalichandra from Technorati started out by giving some really interesting numbers related to blogging and how blogs are changing the face of media. For example:
- 4 of the top 10 entertainment sites are blogs (OMG, TMZ, Asylum, Perez Hilton)
- 7.4 million blogs posted in the last 120 days
- 1.5 million in the last 30 days
- 2/3 of bloggers are male
- 50% of bloggers are 18/34
- 70% have college degrees
- 72% of blogs publish in English

There is a bunch more and Technorati is set to release the results of a huge study they’ve been doing. Be sure to check out their site on Monday for the full update.

After Richard, Chris Aldren and Anil Dash from Six Apart took the stage. They spoke about the power of blogs and where blogging is headed and they asked the question what should blogging 2.0 be? They spent a lot of time talking about the products available from Six Apart (Movable Type, Type Pad, Vox, Blogs.com, BlogIt, etc.) which didn’t go over really well with the people I was sitting near (myself included.) Though, I will say that I’m quite interested in checking out BlogIt which is a tool for managing your blog from your iPhone. If it works better than the WordPress iPhone app, I’ll definitely switch to using it until the WP app catches up.

The first breakout session I went to was Making Money Online with a Blog. This panel contained John Chow, Brian Clark, Zac Johnson, Darren Rowse and Jeremy Schoemaker and was moderated by Jim Kukral. In this session they talked about which forms of advertising made them the most money (direct ad sales being #1, affiliate links being #2 and google adwords being #3, except in the case of CopyBlogger where he makes his money by selling information products and subscriptions), they talked about tools they use for selling ads automatically and the biggest point they tried to drive home is that you need to be passionate about what you blog about. If not, it’s going to show in your content and you’ll likely never make any real money.

During the session they had people come up to the mic and tell them their URL. They would pull it up on the screen and they’d take turns telling the person ways to improve their site in order to make money. Even though I didn’t go to the mic, I was still able to apply the things being said to my own site. There are changes coming soon.

After lunch I went to the Power Widgets to Amp Your Blog session. As a breakout session, I’m on the fence about it still. But, that being said, I got a fantastic look at Lijit and am glad I got to see it. Sure, I could have gone for a demo on the show floor, but I’m stubborn and thought I already knew what Lijit had to offer. The other presenters were WidgetBox, OutBrain and PicApp. All of which had something cool to offer. Widgetbox has 135,000 widgets for you to use on your site. They can also create a widget of your blog content that can then be added to other sites. I especially liked the idea of creating a content mashup widget. I’ll have to research that a bit more this week. OutBrain is a widget that creates a “you might like:” section at the bottom of each of your posts and links to other posts that have similar content. You can have it pull in content from the web, from a selection of sites you provide, or you can lock it down to just your own blog. And finally PicApp. This app gives bloggers access to photos from sites like Getty Images without having to purchase them. Instead, they add a box underneath each image that they monetize for the photographer who took the shot. The nice part is, you can have access to high quality images without running the risk of getting sued for using unlicensed content.

The final session of the day for me was Creating Customer Loyalty with Social Media. This was, by far, the best attended session. Every seat was filled and there were people standing along the back and both side walls. The panel consisted of Toby Bloomberg, Tony Hsieh, Brian Solis and Frank Eliason and moderated by Becky Carroll. The main point being that people build relationships with people, not with companies. Companies that try to control all the messaging that is put out by the company are doing there customers, and themselves a great disservice by acting in this way. Comcast’s policy for web content is this:
- disclose that you work for comcast
- if you have access to private information, don’t make it public
- use your best judgement

Tony from Zappos expanded on that by saying that your company culture has to revolve around proving good customer service. By not letting your employees have an online voice, you’re basically saying that you don’t trust your employees. (I’m also happy to say that after seeing this post about Tony giving Bunny Ears to people like Bill Gates, Serena Williams and Penn Jillett, I now have my very own bunny ears shot with Tony!)

Aside from the sessions, I made several great connections with people who I’ve been looking forward to meeting in person. I think I may have secured another couple of speakers for WordCamp:Las Vegas in January and have laid the ground work with a few companies who may sponsor a portion of the event as well. More on that in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow I’ll write about my experience in the expo hall and a recap of day 2. Stay tuned.