A new fraternity for T&T bloggers on WP

Above: Imanuel Gittens speaks to bloggers and developers at the first WP meetup. Photo courtesy WebGold.

BitDepth#1052 for August 2016

Last week, Imanuel Gittens hosted his second WordPress meetup, following guidelines set forth by the WordPress community for managing informal groups of bloggers and developers interested in using the platform (Read more about that here).

“I think that the last two meetups were well received, and everyone I’ve talked to has given me very positive feedback so far,” Gittens said of the experience.

The second meetup had to be moved from the offices of WebGold, where Gittens works, to the Hotel Normandie after it became clear that interest was growing fast.

More than thirty people came to Thursday’s meetup, across a range of experience and at widely varying stages in their development of a website (I gave a brief presentation about this website).

There was a quiet but palpable hunger at the event for more information about the blogging platform, a popular content management system (CMS) that powers websites that can look like traditional blogs but can also be engineered to look dramatically different.

WordPress underpins 45 per cent of all blogs globally and is often used for more. Imanuel Gittens began working on the platform when he arrived for work at WebGold three years ago, straight out of UWI.

He’s now the E-Commerce Manager at WebGold, handling sites that need the functionality and participated in the company’s work on a WooCommerce based WordPress plug-in (and another for Magento) that solved problems with local financial transactions on the web.

I’d missed the first meetup, but the second remained firmly moored on first principles, explaining the difference between developing a self-hosted site and using the WordPress.com domain.

Some discussions circled the “making money with a blog” trope and one useful presenter discussed, in broad terms, the value of inbound marketing for building an audience, but at three minutes per discussion, things zipped along briskly and tended to skate along the surface.

Which wasn’t a bad idea at all a group of more than 30 people of widely varying ages and experience, some of whom seemed keen but a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of what they were getting into.

“A lot of them couldn’t even believe that it had something like this in T&T,” said Gittens.

“I think people see a value in it however, I’d eventually like for a few members to step up and start organizing these events as well. It’s not restricted to me or WebGold.”

“Everything is in the interest of building the community. I’d also like to have a meetup in south Trinidad and one in Tobago as well so that no one is left out.”

WebGold sponsored the first two meetups, but Gittens is in the process of looking for sponsors for the project as well as more practitioners experienced with WordPress willing to join in and share at the sessions.

It’s a bit of a loss leader for WebGold, who cannot advertise or promote at the sessions under the terms of a WordPress sanctioned meetup, and if sponsors can’t be found, a small fee is likely to be introduced to cover refreshments and event space costs.

The next meetup is scheduled for August 25 and you can find out more here.