2018 Automattic Grand Meetup, Orlando, Florida

What a week! From the guest speakers to an advanced development class to meeting new people to Harry Potter world to playing Pokémon to touring Disney Springs, it’s hard to say what was the best part of this year’s Automattic Grand Meetup.

I tried to split my time between my new team and my old team when I wasn’t attending class or various presentations and sessions. These events have gotten so huge that it takes some serious effort to find and hug every person I know over the course of the week, let alone have meaningful conversations.

I made new friends raiding in Pokémon Go, and spent most of my downtime wandering around Disney Springs. I had a great one-on-one with my new squad lead at the Star Wars VR experience, and now I think all one-on-ones should involve shooting Stormtroopers. XD

Automattic arranged a special event dinner at Harry Potter World at Universal Studios mid-week. That in itself was impressive, but the afterparty remained my favorite. Epcot fireworks, the ever-present photo booth, and the Automattician-powered band was a great way to round out the week. Just when you think your colleagues couldn’t get any more brilliant, they get on stage and blow you away with musical talent.

And of course, there are the pictures; my favorite souvenirs:

Dotcom Design in San Diego, May 2018

Remember how I said I was poised at the tip-top of the proverbial roller coaster a few weeks ago?

Well, I’m finally at the bottom of the ride. I came home from our meetup on Sunday afternoon and promptly crashed for several hours of much-needed sleep. Thankfully I had the foresight to take a couple days off to recover. Monday was spent in a time-zone-befuddled daze, and yesterday was spent in Bangor for appointments.

…okay, maybe I’m not entirely at the bottom of the ride, but I’m getting there.

Most of the meetup itself was spent planning and thinking and brainstorming, which explains the relative lack of pictures this trip. Sticky notes lose their visual appeal after one or two photos.

The kids struggled with my absence more than usual, and I’m feeling the sharp divide between work and motherhood. Pulled in multiple directions, it’s hard to know if I’m doing enough on either front. But it was good to spend time getting to know my team, and I enjoyed working against the backdrop of ocean air and spring sun.

I met up with my aunt and cousins for lunch on my last day, and a late flight out afforded me the chance to have some alone time in the city. I wandered around the San Diego Zoo, taking pictures of the animals so I could share them with the kids.

All in all, a successful meetup, but I’m glad to be home!

“How can I get more views to my blog?”

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At work, we were recently asked to examine a common problem among bloggers of all types: how to get more views.

As someone who has been blogging since before it was called “blogging”, web traffic is still a bit of a black box to me. Any success I’ve had has been the result of persistence and longevity, and I’ll admit to feeling like an imposter writing about the subject.

That said, looking at past traffic stats for my personal blog, I’ve picked out some of the things that have helped increase my readership over time. Here’s what I recommend based on what I’ve learned:

  • Post quality content, frequently. I notice I get more traffic during months where I blog at least once a week, and I try to make at least one new post each month, minimum.

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  • Offer freebies. Wallpapers, themes, step-by-step tutorials, code, or a coupon; make the reader feel they’re getting something tangible for their time. The most popular posts for any of my blogs are how-to guides. For example, one of my most popular recent posts is a comparison of print-on-demand services I’ve used, with the intent of helping other potential print-on-demand customers.

  • Get involved in an existing community centered around your topic of interest. For example, when I wanted to get into WordPress themes, I joined the Theme Review Team. When I wanted to promote my fanfic, I started interacting with more fan blogs on Tumblr. This allowed me to make new friends and connections, which leads me to…

  • You get what you give. Promoting others’ work can often help draw attention to yours (and it’s just plain nice!) Ask to interview someone who works in a related field and post the interview on your blog, or write a review of a piece of work you admire. I wrote a brief post highlighting the artists I chose for my fan art wall project; it felt good to spread the word about other fan artists, and the post got several views from the fan community.

  • Use word of mouth. Ask your friends and family to have your back. A genuine request for help is usually answered favorably, and your friends may have connections you didn’t know about.

  • Promote your work.. This is obvious, but don’t be shy about promoting yourself via email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, or other relevant social networks. Utilize your blog’s sharing tools (tips: Jetpack | WordPress.com) to cross-post to different audiences for more views. An example tweet from my blog:

https://twitter.com/sixhours/status/950765782945976321

  • Remember, quality over quantity. Views are only one metric of success. Comments, sales, connections, and a sense of community; all of these things have value and contribute to the long-term picture.

Finally, swarms of views rarely happen overnight. Be genuine, write quality content that interests you, connect with others, and you’re sure to find your audience grows bit by bit.


This was cross-posted to A8C Design Flow, one of our official Automattic Design team blogs. Check it out!

Gallery

Whistler, BC, 2017

The Theme Team and our poop, less one Richard.

The week before last I met up with 570-ish of my Automattic colleagues in Whistler, British Columbia for our annual Grand Meetup — and what a Grand Meetup it was! I’m still tired and I should have posted this a week ago, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

Photo booth shenanigans with the Theme Team

Five Years at Automattic

Yes, my current job title is “Theme Mama”.

It’s pretty hard to believe it’s been five years since I wrote this post announcing my start with Automattic.

In many respects, I feel like I’m still new, still learning the ropes. It’s rare that I look at my work as a “grind”; it’s a challenge, and there are definitely times when it’s more stressful than others, but most days I wake up, don my work outfit (ahem sweatpants), and face the day with excitement.

The company has grown so much since I first joined (to the tune of about 380+ people!) but I still feel particularly close to my team, and for that reason I’ve been sheltered from many of the “growing pains” that come from a company’s rapid development from startup to bigger business. It’s not always easy, but we keep it light, and keep on keeping on.

Every five years, Automatticians have the option to take a 2-3 month sabbatical, which is what I’m doing in a couple weeks! It’s a great benefit, and one of the many reasons I love working here, but I can’t help but think of how much I’ll miss the people I work with, and how weird it will be not to think about my job for several weeks.

Here’s to the next five years! 🙂