SchwagWordCamp 2007 is really the first “geeky” sort of conference I’ve ever been to. It was strange being in the same room with some people whose blogs I’ve been reading for years, but at the same time it was extremely exciting and inspirational!

I had the opportunity to hear a lot of really great speakers and, even cooler, meet a lot of awesome people! Saturday kicked off as User Day – basically how to cultivate a community around your blog, how to draw traffic, and how to monetize it. Although all of the talks were incredibly informative, my favorites of the day were Lorelle’s, Jeremy Wright’s, and Matt Cutts’.

Lorelle’s talk, Kicking Ass Content Connections was really helpful in making me realize some key features missing on this site and how I can make it better and more enjoyable for me to write and for you to read. Look for some changes around here (although the majority of what I have in mind will be behind the scenes and not completely obvious) and please let me know what you think of them!

Jeremy Wright’s was a talk I wasn’t sure I would benefit from, but even though I don’t monetize this blog, it got me thinking about what I was doing here and what else I can bring to the table. Particularly, he said “there’s nothing worse than being a blogger alone in the desert.” Yeah. No Kidding. At one point during the talk he did have me convinced that I should maybe try to monetize this thing some how. After all, I am a college student who could use a few extra bucks, but I don’t think I’m quite at that point yet. Maybe if I find something that’s minimally invasive (read: not Google AdWords) then I’ll consider it. For now, though, I’ll be funding this out-of-pocket.

Matt Cutts’ SEO (Search Engine Optimization) talk came at the very end of the day. Given that the chairs were probably military torture devices in their former lives, I was NOT happy to have to sit through another talk. Also given that my first internship last summer was doing SEO, I was just about ready to get up and leave. However, Matt’s talk was definitely one worth sitting through. Although I didn’t learn much about SEO itself, I did find out about a lot of useful resources for tracking stats and things like that. I’ve been using Google Analytics for a while now, but I had no idea about Google Webmaster Tools. He also brought a good deal of energy and humor to the table which was particularly necessary at that point in the day.

Other than that, the first day was about mingling, schwag (more on that coming soon), and just enjoying the immensely creative and energizing environment. It was also about a really bad lunch, but I won’t go there.

Stay tuned for a recap of Day 2!