What an amazing weekend in Boston! I am a little late to make this post, but it has been a very busy few weeks. Three weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at Boston University for WordCamp Boston 2015.
The speaking role was a surprise to me. Both my wife and I had applied to speak and my wife, Sandy, was selected to speak a few weeks prior. Since I had never been to Boston, I decided to travel with her and we wanted to head up a little early to enjoy the city. The morning of our flight, I received an email from the WordCamp Boston organizers asking if I would be in Boston and if I could fill in for some last minute cancellations. I was both excited and a little worried, but I responded yes, planing on putting together my presentation on the flight.
Thursday – Flight and First Night
Sandy and I arrived at Orlando International Airport, flying JetBlue straight through to Boston. We had no issues getting through security and a small delay on our flight, about 30 minutes. It seems the plane could no longer communicate with the positioning satellites, which obviously is not something you want to leave unfixed. The flight was nice with perfect WiFi, however, due to space constraints, I was unable to use my 15 inch laptop and build my presentation. We arrived late in Boston, almost 11pm. Rather than trying to figure out the transit system, we took Uber, our first time using it. Our driver was very friendly and told us how jealous he is in the winter of Orlando’s warmth!
Friday – Tour the City
Sandy and I love history and our goal for Friday was to get out and about and see the City. Our idea was to start at Quincy Market, in the heart of Boston and venture out from there. We arrived mid morning and went to visit Faneuil Hall, the building where Samuel Adams and others gave speeches to encourage patriots to seek independence from the British. It was amazing being in the presence of so much history.
After lunch, we took a cruise of the Boston Harbor. From here, we were able to get some of the photos of the Boston skyline and view other amazing sites.
We spent the rest of the day traveling around town, viewing many other historical sites. We visited the U.S.S Constitution and signed our names on the copper plating being added to the hull of the ship. Our names will be a part of that ship for the next 20+ years! We walked the Freedom Trail and ended our day at Bunker Hill.
That evening, we returned to the hotel, grabbed some pizza from a local pizza shop with great reviews and worked on our presentations. While we buttoned up a few last minute changes, we engaged with a few others that had arrived in town for WordCamp looking to grab some drinks and hit up the town. We met up with Christian and James from Pressable and had some drinks right out side Fenway Park! It was amazing. We had a great time networking and getting to know each other.
Saturday – WordCamp Day 1
The time had arrived for WordCamp Boston! We rolled out of bed, grabbed an Uber and headed to Boston University to start the first official day of WordCamp Boston 2015. Check-in did cause a slight scare. Both Sandy and I went to checkin as speakers, however, since I was a last minute speaker, I was not listed as a speaker for checkin. We were able to quickly find my information and head into the event. As we arrived, we ran into old friends and new friends alike. We ran into one of our local Orlando speakers, David Parsons and vendors we have made friends with at other WordCamps such as Mendel from GoDaddy.
Sandy and I skipped the opening keynote since she had one of the first talks and worked to get her setup and ready to go. First talks are always scary since you are the one that will find out if things are missing, such as power strips, AV cables, etc. Sandy did an amazing SEO talk, focusing on the Yoast SEO tool. After her talk, one of our friends, David Parsons was starting his talk. We rushed to answer questions out in the hall and then rushed to hear David’s talk followed by lunch.
After lunch, I was up. This was my time to shine. I was nervous, as I had just put finishing touches onto my presentation that morning at the hotel. I had to tell myself that I was covering something I do on a daily basis. I just needed to get up and speak about what I know and I would be fine. When the time came, I got up to speak and totally forgot I was giving a talk, but rather, conversing with a few friends about how to do conversion rate optimization. I talked about AB testing and shared some amazing results. I even shared my favorite test where adding a fake beard increased conversions by 49%. I had a blast! My pocket was buzzing like crazy as tweets rolled in. Here are just a few:
— Brian DiMattia (@kenmorebrian) July 18, 2015
— Myrna Greenfield (@myrnagreenfield) July 18, 2015
— Stephanie Scholte (@SSScholte) July 18, 2015
— NYTO Group (@nytogroup) July 18, 2015
— Natalie (@natheawesome) July 18, 2015
After my talk, I was stopped by several in the hall to talk more in depth about the topic of conversion rate optimization. Several mentioned it was a talk they had not heard before and really enjoyed. This did make me feel so much better, as I was nervous heading into this talk.
Saturday Evening – The After Party
The day had finally come to an end and it was time to head over for the After Party. We shared an Uber and headed over to the Holiday Inn, the location of the After Party. We arrived much earlier than we had planned, however, we kicked the party off. The after party went on for about 2 hours before dying down.
While at the afterparty, we met a Boston native who knew all the places to eat. She suggested we get a group together and head over to The Publick House in Brookline, MA. Christian and James from Pressable joined in and we headed out. Let me tell you, this place had the best, THE BEST, lobster mac & cheese. We were in heaven. After bar hopping and a few drinks, we decided to call it a night, found an Uber, went back to the Marriott and went to sleep, much later than we had originally planed on.
Sunday – WordCamp Day 2
After such a late but amazing night, we decided to skip the speaker breakfast and sleep in. We arrived back at Boston University in just enough time for the first couple of sessions. I attended “How being a musician made me a better developer” by Ryan Kanner which was short but turned into a great conversation about how the WordPress community can give back and help further educational programs for children to learn how to program.
I then headed over to the Happiness Bar to help others with WordPress questions. I spent about 2 hours helping and really had an amazing time. One of the best parts of WordCamps is being able to give back to the community. I was able to help someone with their website who was having some issues with the CSS in the multi-tiered Genesis menu. At first the issue was a little challenging and took a few minutes, but then, as with most CSS issues, we were able to find one line that was conflicting with the rest. Removal of this one line brought the site back to life and helped the owner of the site move one more step to making this site live.
After one more session, WordCamp came to a close and it was time to part ways. We decided to end out the night with a quick dinner with our friend, David Parsons, a walk around the Boston waterfront and then back to the hotel to prepare for our last day in Boston and the flight home. It was a great camp and a great time, and we did not want to leave, but all good things must come to an end.
Sharing Our Memories
I will leave you with some photos from our trip and adventures around Boston.