PressNomics Seen Through the Eyes of a WordPress Engineer


At the beginning of March, I attended my first PressNomics in Tempe, Arizona – a conference for people who run a WordPress business (hosting companies, agencies, theme and plugin developers, freelancers … me).

And unlike Jean Galea suggested in his podcast, I went there unprepared. My bad.

Anyway, as you can see from the title of this post, I’m writing about PressNomics as seen through the eyes of a WordPress Engineer (you can find more about what I do here if you’re curious).

Unprepared for PressNomics

Literally the night before my flight to Tempe, I stumbled upon a podcast episode by Jean Galea and James Laws, where they discussed the topic of “getting the most out of a conference.”

Jean recommended a handful of useful things. Chief of which, creating an agenda … listing the people that you want to meet, and writing down the questions that you want to ask them.

I had none of that. And with my flight just in a couple of hours, I wasn’t able to do much. But I will certainly be more prepared the next time around!

How was PressNomics different?

Over the past two years or so, I have attended various WordPress conferences, including WordCamp Europe last year in Seville. But this time, the whole experience seemed different… I felt different.

Some of the top players in the WordPress business game were there, and it very much appeared as if they were more focused on talking with each other, rather than interacting with the attendees.

But hold off on that thought for a minute. Let’s focus on something else for now. The following are the things that I found interesting and helpful at PressNomics.

There were three talks in particular that I found really interesting, and I want to share them with you:

PressNomics -- GoDaddy

My top 3 PressNomics talks

The first one was by Cory Miller (founder of iThemes). Cory shared the story of his life, including not only the good moments, but also the difficult ones.

I really admire his courage. What I learned from his story is that everyone has their battles, even when they don’t show it. From the outside, we tend to see only the things that we want to, the things that we like, and don’t focus on the struggles all that much.

If you want to learn about Cory’s story and how he achieved his success, read this article on his blog.

Another interesting story was that of Pippin (WordPress plugin developer), about how to be a little selfish.

Your intuition is probably that being selfish isn’t such a good thing. Mine was too. I couldn’t understand the idea at first. But I assure you that if you are the opposite of selfish then it’s perhaps even worse. And I get that from experience. I’m in that category (I seem to care too much for others), and many times I have felt unhappy because I put other people before myself.

I’ve always thought that if the people around me are happy then I’ll be happy too, but that’s often not the case.

So the lesson is to just care more about yourself and be a little selfish every now and then. It pays.

Last but not least, we have Brian Krogsgard with “The State of WordPress Business.” He talked about several interesting topics, but I’m just mentioning one because it reminded me of a funny moment.

Brian talked about how working with a good agency can cost you between $8,000 and $40,000 per project, while working with one of the top agencies can be between $15,000 and $100,000 for the same project. The funny thing it reminded me of was when around two years ago, we received an email from a customer at CodeinWP, calling us “rats” because our prices were allegedly too high. It’s hard to please everybody, I guess.

Anyway, I really appreciate what Brian is doing. His work has saved me a lot of time!

(He is the founder of PostStatus, where he keeps all his readers in touch with the WordPress industry’s latest news via his newsletter.)

The ups and downs of PressNomics

Back to the topic – I was excited to make new friends, and to talk with people about business, life, travel, and so on.

Each party I attended – and there were plenty – and every pause between presentations was an opportunity to meet someone new. What I really liked about all that was that I never saw a person on their own for more than 2 minutes! Everyone had someone to talk with, and that was incredible.

However it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

From my point of view, if you are not that well-known, it is very hard to get through to someone important and have a chat. I mean, to discuss serious things, not a “Hi, how are you today?” kind of interaction.

And I know that this is not their fault. Basically, everyone wants to talk to them about something, and they naturally don’t have time for everyone, so they are selective (or maybe that’s just my opinion).

For example, there was a few times when I wanted to talk to someone, but because they were already having a conversation going, I couldn’t just jump in and start talking about what I wanted to discuss. I’m not the type of guy to interrupt someone else’s conversation. Perhaps I should be more forward (selfish?) and have more courage.

In conclusion… I’m mad at myself because I was unprepared for the conference, and I’m sure that I could do better.

This will be my main focus before the next conference I attend. I will create a list of people I want to talk to, and write down a minimum of one question per person. That way, even if I have just 3-4 minutes to talk with someone, I will still make the most of it. No excuses!

Lastly, I recommend everyone from this community to go to PressNomics at least once. After your first conference, you’ll know if you want to come back or not. I personally want to go again, most definitely!

I hope that you’ll find all this helpful, and that it’ll make preparing for your next conference easier. Or perhaps you were at the conference and have a different opinion? Feel free to share.

2 thoughts on “PressNomics Seen Through the Eyes of a WordPress Engineer”

  1. Madalin, thanks for this post and also your kind words about my talk.

    From my perspective alone, having been to every PressNomics and in the WP community for around 9-10 years now, I’ll say, I don’t mind it at all. If those conversations need to be private, I find a quiet place to sit down. That would be different.

    But anyone with a kind smile, interest in everyone’s opinion and ideas and story, next year I’d love for you to just join those conversations personally. 🙂

    So glad you got so much from PN and recommend it. It’s something I look forward to every year.

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