Minnebar 8 -- a wrap up

On April 6, 2013 I attended my second Minnebar conference at Best Buy HQ in Richfield. Last year, I gave my first Word Nerd presentation and this year I had the privilege to present Word Nerd 2.0: Where to find content and what to do with it. While I *wasn’t* presenting, however, I was excited to take in all the knowledge flying around with 1,000 tech, design, software, start-up and other disparate geniuses in attendance. Here’s what I learned:

David Skarjune – 101 Ways to Publish Content

Word & Image’s David Skarjune covered Publishing 101 and had some great examples of local artists, musicians and authors breaking through the old rules of publishing. His philosophy is digital first, then print and everything else can can follow. He also talked a bit about how it’s important to retain all rights to your work, including digital rights, whenever possible. And I learned that smart publishers are becoming hybrid publishers. And a note to aspiring e-book authors: EPUB is the universal standard for e-book content, so use it.

Photo courtesy of David Skarjune

Photo courtesy of David Skarjune

Jason Sprenger – What to Look for When Hiring a Communications Professional or Agency

Jason very comprehensively covered the pros and cons of hiring freelancers vs. hiring agencies when it comes to communications and public relations work. He’s coming from an agency perspective and I’m coming from a freelance perspective, so I didn’t agree with all of his points, but I found myself vigorously nodding my head in agreement when he said, “If you’re going to do marketing and PR, you need to have a clear vision and commit.” Preach it! Jason recently started his own small communications agency, so we are on the same page here: When it comes to ad, marketing and PR agencies, bigger is not always better.

Toby Cryns — Building Awesome Online Communities with WordPress

I had no idea WordPress could have essentially the same functionality as your own personal Facebook community, but it can! Toby covered a few
essential plugins required to turn your WordPress site into an internal social network — Buddy Press and BBPress. One of the many benefits of
having a WordPress community? You own all the content, you make the rules and it can be locked down and opened only to those you choose. He
also noted that there is no SEO value in a walled off community you create for yourself.

His advice for starting a WordPress community was to start with nothing and build up, not to get too enamored of the tools and possibilities and
be unable to follow through. Lots of gears were turning in the room and my thoughts immediately turned to this being a valuable tool for opening
up a private social network for key industry or brand influencers and virtual focus groups and being able to offer rewards for participation. 

Photo courtesy of Toby Cryns

Photo courtesy of Toby Cryns

Mykl Roventine — The Non-Designers Guide to WordPress (Making Your Site Look Awesome)

Mykl Roventine is a self-proclaimed “designer of things” and he specializes in WordPress. I know a bit about WordPress and utilize it for several blogs, but I don’t do much when it comes to their design, so Mykl’s resources were helpful! For instance, who knew there was a WP Google Fonts plugin?! Actually, it turns out, many people know this, but I did not. There is also something called Color Scheme Designer that I will undoubtedly spend hours and hours playing around with.

According to Mykl, if you do nothing else to customize your WordPress design, make yourself a distinct header. That is advice I will certainly be taking. I will also be looking more into Creative Commons and the PhotoPin.com resource.

Photo courtesy of Mykl Roventine

Photo courtesy of Mykl Roventine

Thanks to all the volunteers, speakers and sponsors who make Minnebar an awesome, strangely organized free-for-all of a conference filled with nerds of many stripes — including word nerds like me!