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WordCamp Portland: How WordPress Changes Lives

WordPress EventsWhen I was asked to speak on how WordPress changes lives at WordCamp Portland in September of 2008, I was faced with a dilemma. While WordPress does change lives, blogging changes more lives. How do I connect the dots between WordPress and the life changing experience of blogging?

I didn’t realize that the WordPress Community would give me the answers I needed to that question. Their inspirational answers led to the following video on how WordPress changes lives, and the creation of the WordPress Fairy Blogmother.

WordPress changes lives because of the community. Over and over again, people told me that WordPress changes their lives because of the people it brings into their lives. While it doesn’t really matter what blogging platform you may use, it’s the community that supports and encourages fellow WordPress users that makes the difference. Without the , the incredible free WordPress Themes created by imaginative and altruistic fans, the powerful WordPress Plugins created and shared by those who saw a challenge and found a solution, and the support and willingness of WordPress users to educate others on how to use the program and make it work better – there would be no community.

WordPress has inspired many to learn about coding, design, web development, marketing, but also how to be a part of a community. WordPress fans are the definition of the social web. With the passion that comes with learning and sharing WordPress tips, tricks, and techniques, they’ve founded a grassroots community, which led to WordPress meetups and social gatherings, and now to WordCamps around the world.

When I attend the many business and professional conferences to speak and present programs, it’s fairly serious. I’m there for business. They are there for business. It’s serious stuff.

When I walk through the door of a WordCamp event, I’ve found family. We’re instantly friends. We all know each other, and if we don’t, we will within a few moments. We’re risk takers and yet communal spirits, sharing the risk together. When one person pushes WordPress, we all benefit from the results.

As I interviewed people and asked the WordPress Community for help in discovering how WordPress changes lives, I knew I had to put faces on the many people who’ve had their lives transformed by their involvement in WordPress. In the first half of the video, I honor those whom I’ve known for several years since early in the development of WordPress, as well as a few new friends. Many of these people have gone from interested enthusiasts to friends of WordPress to employees of , the parent company of WordPress. By using WordPress and being involved in the community, they’ve built their businesses and reputation as WordPress experts, and in turn, powerful forces on the web.

Sure, any blogging platform can do that, but there is something about Matt Mullenweg and his vision for WordPress and blogging in general that brings people together to achieve more than they could alone. This is what changes people’s lives. Together, we’re stronger with WordPress than without.

Enjoy all the inspirational reasons WordPress fans offered for how and why WordPress changed their lives. And don’t forget to check out Glenda Watson Hyatt: How WordPress Changes Her Life Daily, the video made especially for the finale of my presentation.

Video of How WordPress Changes Lives

There are two versions of the video. The YouTube version is low resolution and a smaller file size. The Viddler version is higher resolution and 138.5 meg file size. The video is ten minutes long. The transcription of the video is below.

YouTube Version of How WordPress Changes Lives by Lorelle VanFossen

Transcription of How WordPress Changes Lives

I haven’t found an easy way to add subtitles or captions to this Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum v9 program. Any help would be appreciated. Until then, this is the transcript of the video.

Fairy Blogmother: Hey, is this thing on. Hey. Is this on?
Is it working? It’s not working.
Bang! Bang! Hello, are you working.
Ah, there we go.

* Instrumental Music “When you wish upon a star” from Pinocchio *

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are.
Anything your heart desires will come to you.”

“If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.
“When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do.”

“Fate is kind. She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing.”

“Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through.
“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”

Featured WordPress Community Members:



WordCamp Portland 2008, taking over the streets of downtown Portland, Oregon, with the Fairy Blogmother

WordCamp Portland 2008, taking over the streets of downtown Portland, Oregon, with the Fairy Blogmother

Fairy Blogmother: Hello! Is this working?
It’s stop working again, dang it.
What’s going on here? Okay, wait, wait.
Bang! Bang! Ah, there.

Barbara Rozgonyi: Hello, my name is Barbara Rozgonyi with, and Lorelle, thank you for interviewing me in the bathroom. How has WordPress changed my life? I can’t tell you everything in 15 seconds but I can tell you that it’s really made me into the person I’ve always wanted to be. Now, I can be an author, I can be a person who really influences lives. And boy, it’s so interesting to see what readers have to say. To see them take just a little piece of information and take it and make it huge that will help so many people. And I get to hang out with cool people like Lorelle in the ladies’ room.

John Hawkins: Hi, this is John Hawkins from WordPress. WordPress changed my life how. Let’s see. I’d say I’ve met some amazing people through WordPress. I Twitter and I answer people’s questions, and you would be amazed at the amount of people who are just dying to connect with you through WordPress. Go WordPress!
Hey, come to WordCamp Las Vegas on the January 10-11, 2009. See you there!

Stace Baris:
My name is Stace Baris with And WordPress has changed my life because it is open source, lots of great Plugins for doing SEO getting my content out there, lots of widgets I can use and also made affiliate marketing really easy with great Amazon Plugins and all sorts of things. If you are serious about blogging, WordPress is the way to go and Lorelle is the person to get your info from. She’s great.

Susan Patton: Hi, I’m Susan Patton the Marketing Eggspert from How WordPress has changed my life? Besides getting me interviewed in the bathroom at Blog World Expo, the height of experiences, it makes it really easy. I have some tech experience but I love the creative side. So I don’t want to deal with the hard stuff. WordPress makes it easy to do what I want to do. There are Widgets for everything. There are template for everything. It’s easy. And I can worry about everything else and not my blog.

Kim Woodbridge: WordPress has changed my life by giving me confidence in my abilities and helping me earn money. I’ve found that I love
working on it. Plus, I’ve met so many interesting and talented people online.

This sounded so much better in my head but it didn’t come out quite right 🙂 Well, I hope it gives you the idea. Thanks! Kim Woodbridge [Via email]

Naked Bones: I would say WordPress has changed my life, and it has made it easier. It gave me the room to empty my mind of the everyday stuff we all go through. [Via blog comment]

Wendy Piersall: Hi, I’m Wendy Piersall. I’m CEO of the Looking back I was remembering when I first started my brand. I kicked it off with WordPress. WordPress made it absolutely easy for me with little-to-know tech experience whatsoever to create a powerful brand that is now rocking the blogosphere. I tell everybody now to just start with WordPress. It’s brain dead easy and it’s extremely just brilliant and I don’t know how we could function with out it. We owe a lot to you WordPress. We love you.

Owen Cutajar: [from Twitter] WP means I can build a great new website, secure and loaded with functionality, all b4 breakfast. Good Luck at #wordcampdx.

Heather Rasley: Hi, my name is Heather Rasley, the deputy at Automattic. I made the switch to WordPress after discovering that all my favorite awesome bloggers use it. I’m very happy to be working for Automattic and making other people happy, too.

Jane Wells: Hi, I’m Jane Wells and I’m the user experience person with Automattic. WordPress has changed my life by exposing me to a kick ass community of open source developers and allowing me to work with the best guys in the world.

Karen Jackie and Dana Rockel: I’m Karen Jackie partner of Content Robot and Dana Rockel from Content Robot. WordPress has changed our lives because it has actually given us an entrepreneurial spirit and we produce WordPress blogs for clients all over the world. WordPress is a great platform. We started out as a blogging company and moved to WordPress and we don’t do any other platforms right now. WordPress is it.

Nathan Moller: My name is Nate Moeller from Without WordPress I don’t know where I would be in the blogging community. What else is there. Blogging is WordPress.

Fairy Blogmother: Oh, no. Not again.
They must be redesigning the interface. Sigh.
Can’t they leave anything alone. They keep messing with things.
It was just fine the way it was. Why do they have to keep changing things?

At WordCamp Portland, I surprised the audience from behind, wearing my WordPress Fairy Blogmother outfit. I spoke about the points mentioned at the beginning of this article, and asked the audience to come forward with their “testimonies” on how WordPress changed their lives. I was stunned at the number of people wanting to share their stories, nearly bringing the audience, and myself, to tears.

You can see the video of part of the presentation by Dale Chumbley streamed live from Cubespace in Portland, Oregon.

The end of the program featured Glenda Watson Hyatt: How WordPress Changes Her Life Daily, a video on how this woman uses WordPress to blog only with her left thumb. Because WordPress continues to be the most accessible and disabled-user friendly blogging platform around, she has opened up her sphere of influence and network of relationships around the world as her blog allows her to “speak out” when her body won’t.

As we design and develop WordPress Themes, Plugins, and code, the WordPress Community needs to remember that Glenda is an important representative of our users.

Thank you again to everyone who helped me put this together, everyone whose lives have been touched my WordPress, and everyone who has helped changed my life with WordPress.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted October 5, 2008 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    You presentation at WordCamp Portland was great, Lorelle. Thanks for posting it online! 🙂

  2. Posted October 6, 2008 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the bathroom interview! It was fun.

  3. Posted October 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    @ Susan Payton:

    You were a joy and it was a lot of fun. Thanks for letting me ambush you. I ambushed Wendy, too. 😀

  4. Posted October 6, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    GREAT pics. One of these days I have to make one!

  5. Posted October 7, 2008 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    spread the joy with wordpress :D.
    I hope one day, it will be on my country Indonesia.

    Thanks for wordpress developer and its beloved community 😀

  6. Posted October 10, 2008 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle for the mentions. I feel honored to be part of this list and what an inspirational video by Glenda Watson.

    “I’m the fairy blogmother!” Internet history!

29 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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