WordCamp Asia 2024 - Featured Image

As I write this, I am just now getting over the jet lag from returning home from Asia. A 16-hour time difference is no joke! So please be sure to excuse any typos. That said, my trip to Asia to go to WordCamp Asia 2024 brought me joy, wisdom, and revitalization.

Here’s my take on the #WCAsia 2024 experience.

WordCamp Asia 2024 in Taipei, Taiwan

This was my first time attending WordCamp Asia. I have been to Southeast Asia once before, in 2014, to visit a friend in Hong Kong. I was excited to return to that side of the world because the last visit was a great experience.

Arriving in Taipei, Taiwan

My flight route started with San Diego to San Francisco and a long-haul flight to Taipei. It took about 18 hours door-to-door, which I learned was convenient compared to some of my WordPress friends’ travel itineraries.

The flight went well, and it turned out my buddy, Devin Sears (aka “Devin the Lesser” 😉🤣 inside joke), was on my flight from SF to TPC:

Me about to board the flight from SF to Taipei City
Me about to board the flight from SF to Taipei City

Robert Jacobi, another WordPresser, was also on the flight. This WordCamp was already starting on the right foot!

The flight was uneventful and quick, exactly how you want them to be. Upon landing, us two Devins shared a ride to the official WordCamp hotel, the Grand Central Hyatt Taipei.

The hotel was excellent, and I’ve learned that staying at the official hotels for WordCamps brings you more chances to connect with the Community and a better overall experience. They usually tend to be pretty nice, as well!

Pro tip: If you can, stay at the official WordCamp hotel to get the whole WordCamp experience.

Here’s me being silly in the hotel lobby:

The hotel had an art installation featuring a security guard, which I decided to have some fun with.
The hotel had an art installation featuring a security guard, which I decided to have some fun with.

Pre-WordCamp Networking and Hangouts

After I got settled into the hotel, I connected with my teammates via our internal Slack channel to see if they had all arrived safely and started synchronizing the schedule we created. I’ve found Slack is an effective way for companies that make team trips to WordCamps to stay connected during the event.

Pro Tip: If you have multiple teammates coming to a WordCamp be sure to set up an internal Slack channel for the event to stay connected.

I arrived early in the morning on the day before Contributor Day, which we planned as basically an “arrive and get settled” day. So, once I settled, I hit up one of my best WordCamp friends, Raquel Manriquez, to see what she was up to. It turns out that she was planning to head to the top of Taipei 101 with a few folks.

Side note: Raquel, thanks for always letting me tag along to all the cool things you do! You’re such a good friend. 🤗

Top of the City: Taipei 101

The WordCamp venue and official hotel were next to the Taipei 101 center. This includes a giant luxury shopping mall and, of course, the iconic tower.

Raquel, Devin the Lesser, myself, and other awesome folks from Bluehost and Automattic joined up to head to the “Highest Cafe in Taiwan” on Level 88 of the tower:

Coffee and Cakes at Simple Kaffa Sola

This was a great way to see the view, get energized after the long flight, and connect with friends.

It was a little foggy, but it was still a fun time seeing the view.
It was a little foggy, but it was still a fun time seeing the view.

Community Over Competition

I have to give credit to my friend Devin, when we were talking about the WordCamp Community compared to other conferences and communities in tech that we’ve experience he mentioned one major difference he’s noticed is “WordCamps are about community over competition”

WordCamps are about community over competition.

Devin Sears, Bluehost

This really stuck with me throughout the camp, and still does weeks later as I write this post. Now, I’ve definitely seen and experienced the essence of this quote for years but never really heard it boiled down to as simple as concise as this before.

All that to say… Day 1 in Taipei was a good day.

WordCamp Day 1

After the first day in Taipei, I had all the intentions of waking up and attending Contributor day. Unfortunately, due to jet lag, I couldn’t do it.

The time zone change caught up, and I needed time to recoup 😵‍💫. So, I decided to forego contributor day, catch up on some Zzzs, and work to be refreshed for the Speaker Sponsor Dinner.

Speaker and Sponsor Social

We sponsored this year at StellarWP (more on that later). Luckily, I was able to attend this social event. They had a live band, beer towers, and plenty of smart WordPress community members to go around. Not to mention the food, that was great too!

This event is one of the exclusive perks for organizing, speaking, or sponsoring a WordCamp. Not all of them have an event like this, but if you get an opportunity to attend one I highly recommend it.

I returned to the hotel after this event to rest for Day 2.

WordCamp Day 2

Thankfully, due to my rest on day 1, I was up bright and early on day 2 of the conference and ready for WordCamp to begin.

WordCamp Day 2 Begins
WordCamp Day 2 Begins

One of my goals for this WordCamp was to attend at least a few sessions on the calendar. The last few years, I’ve mainly stayed in the “Hallway Track” at WordCamps which is essentially hanging out at our sponsor booth and in the sponsors hall meeting and chatting with people.

While the Hallway Track is excellent, I wanted to get back to seeing some presentations and supporting the speakers.

Check out the WordCamp Asia 2024 Schedule for a peek at the schedule. Here are a few presentations that stuck out to me:

Noel Tock – The Future of WordPress

This presentation struck a chord with me. As Noel puts it: “With turbulent years hopefully behind us, we have a lot to look forward to on the web, especially with regards to WordPress.”

Noel is a smart and experienced person, as well as an excellent presenter. What got us here with WordPress for the last 20+ years, won’t get us there in the future. We have to be nimble and change with the times, especially with the seemingly recent market stagnation.

Noel dove into this head first and I highly suggest checking it out below:

Here is one of the most visually impactful slides he presented:

Noel Tock on The Future of WordPress
Noel Tock on The Future of WordPress

After the WordCamp, the discussion has been ongoing on Twitter:

Rich Tabor – Design is: An Expedition of the Multifaceted Nature of Design

Great design is more than just arranging pixels in a pretty pattern. As Rich puts it:

Design is more than the way things work; it’s the essence of purpose, intention, and human connection.

Rich Tabor, Automattic

I’ve looked up to Rich and his designs for a long time. He puts a lot of thought and originality into his design work, which speaks to me. His presentation explored the subtle nuances of design that often go overlooked.

It was a truly valuable presentation that was also highly attended. You couldn’t find a seat in the house!

Rich Tabor Presenting "Design is: An Expedition of the Multifaceted Nature of Design"
Rich Tabor Presenting “Design is: An Expedition of the Multifaceted Nature of Design”

For more goodness from Rich, check out his website, you won’t regret it.

Lunch with Bryce Adams from Metorik

Bryce is a very talented developer, designer, and business owner. I haven’t seen Bryce in many years so it was great to spend some quality time with him and touch base. We just get each other and have very common interests and understandings.

I was able to hang out with Bryce through out the event, however this 1-on-1 lunch in particular was meaningful.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t snap a selfie of us during lunch, but I got one right after with Bryce, and Vikas from InstaWP (another very talented person.)

Me, Bryce from Metorik, and Vikas from InstaWP
Me, Bryce from Metorik, and Vikas from InstaWP

Meeting Matt Mullenweg for a 1-on-1

Matt Mullenweg is the Co-founder of WordPress and the CEO of Automattic. Connecting with Matt has always been a WordPress bucket list item for me.

Like me, this was his first WordCamp Asia. I am grateful that I could meet him and chat about our recent work collaborating on fundraising for illuminate.org and briefly touch on a broad array of topics related to WordPress.

Meeting Matt Mullenweg at WordCamp Asia 2024
Meeting Matt Mullenweg at WordCamp Asia 2024

After Day 2 wrapped up, it was time to get an hour or two of rest and head out to a few parties.

Day 2 Evening: Freemius and Woo Parties

Attending the Freemius Makers Party thrown by Vova Feldman is always a fun experience and a great time to meet fellow WordPress product owners and makers.

Thanks for the invite Freemius! If you’re a plugin or theme author looking for an excellent way to monetize your product, check them out.

Woo Party

I haven’t attended many Woo parties, but this one impressed me. They rented out an entire restaurant and had excellent attendance, great food, and cool giveaways.

I had a chance to make new friends and connect again with friends I hadn’t seen for years. Ibrahim is one such person whom I haven’t seen or talked to in many years. He helped build many parts of our first 1.0 version of GiveWP.

Connecting with Ibrahim at the Woo Party
Connecting with Ibrahim at the Woo Party

After the Woo party, it was late at night and time to get rest in preparation for Day 3.

Day 3: The Last Day of WordCamp

It’s important to pace yourself as much as possible during WordCamps. I’ve found that if you go too hard the first few days, you’ll regret it during the last days of the event.

So, after a very eventful Day 2, I allowed myself some time to sleep in a bit before the first session that I wanted to catch.

Mina Tamang – Beyond Keywords: User-Centric Approach to Product-Led SEO

We have been thinking a lot about SEO and its ever-changing landscape at StellarWP. I’m a product person, so the “Product-Led” portion of this talk title stuck out to me.

I didn’t know anything about the presenter, Mina, before the discussion, so it also allowed me to hear a new voice.

Mina gave an excellent presentation, and I learned how to bring our authentic selves into our SEO tactics and grow our rankings through more natural and less robotic tactics.

Mina Tamang presenting "Beyond Keywords: User-Centric Approach to Product-Led SEO" at WordCamp Asia 2024
Mina Tamang presenting “Beyond Keywords: User-Centric Approach to Product-Led SEO” at WordCamp Asia 2024

Michelle Frechette – What Does Underrepresentation Mean? What Is Allyship? And Why Does it Matter?

Michelle gave her presentation right after Mina’s talk, and I wanted to hear her speak about this very important topic. She’s put so much time into helping various communities in WordPress. Additionally, she is also a long-time teammate who I wanted to support.

Michelle did an excellent job, and it reinforced in me that:

StellarWP Sponsoring WordCamp Asia

We are proud to be a sponsor for this year’s WordCamp Asia. Drew Griswold is our Head of Events, and he pours his heart into the sponsorship by ensuring we represent our brand the best it can be during the event.

Drew, with the help of teammates, handles everything from our table presentation, swag, and pitch process to all the logistics leading up to and during the event. He even makes some cool buttons for giveaways.

Thanks for all the hard work, Drew, and the entire team! Our table was consistently trafficked, and I’m optimistic we’ll be back next year.

Reconnecting and Meeting New Friends

We all live busy lives. We have families at home, work, and everything that goes on in our personal lives. One of the best parts of WordCamps is getting the chance to meet new people and connect with all the friends I’ve made over the years.

Here are a few quick highlights:

Wrapping Up WordCamp Asia 2024 with Dinner and the Afterparty

Closing out Day 3 was a Q & A Session with Matt Mullenweg, which was just OK. There were perhaps 2 or 3 questions that I found interesting, to be honest.

After the final remarks, we learned that WordCamp Asia 2025 would be held in Manilla, Philippines. That’s cool! I’ve never been to the Philippines. However, I know there is a lot of WordPress talent there.

Dinner and the Afterparty

I was invited to a Michelin-star restaurant before the WordCamp Asia Afterparty by Joe Guilmette from Soflyy. It was very interesting to try authentic Taiwanese cuisine. We had a fun-filled dinner and ate, drank, and unwound from a long WordCamp week.

Thanks for Dinner Joe and Soflyy
Thanks for Dinner Joe and Soflyy

The Afterparty

The after-party was in a large park about 15 minutes away from the hotel and venue. By the time I got there I was already tired. However, I ended up staying for a few hours.

They had multiple talented musicians on stage and had cordoned off an entire area in a really hip part of Taiwan. It was good to sit down and talk for a while, listen to music, eat, and then wind down.

Unfortunately, I decided to leave a little early because I was leaving for Vietnam the following day. I caught a ride back with Rich Tabor, who I saw was looking to head out at the same time. Despite being tired and over talked we had a good chat on the way home. I hadn’t had a chat with him much until then.

That’s a Wrap WordCamp

Thank you WordCamp Asia 2024
Thank you WordCamp Asia 2024

Overall, this trip was enriching and valuable. I didn’t get a chance to write down everything that happened during the journey; there was so much that happened in such a short amount of time.

To all the folks I met and to the community: Thank You!

I’ll see you in Asia again very soon.

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