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Announcing The CFP Report

Dear Reader,cfp_report

I want to talk about a new project I have called “The CFP Report” and invite you to join.

Definition: C.F.P. – Call for Papers (a.k.a Call for Speakers, or Call for Presentations)
An invitation by a conference for potential speakers to submit abstracts of talks they would like to present. In the lives of speakers and people who want to be speakers, these are important events not to be missed.


A few months ago, I was chatting with my good friend Brandon Savage when he posited an idea. “What if we setup a mailing list for people who wanted to know about open CFPs?” As Brandon and I do often, we chased the rabbit for a while before getting back to work. (Everyone should have a friend like Brandon , he is part idea generator, part bullshit screen.)

The more I thought about it, the more I kinda liked the idea. I did some research and yes, there are other good services that are doing similar things. However, I couldn’t find anything that would do the job I wanted done. Specifically, I wanted not only to know about CFPs, I wanted to know if they were CFPs to which I would want to submit.

So I sat down and started thinking about exactly what I needed to know before I would submit. Surprisingly, my personal criteria is pretty short.

  • Am I already committed during the dates?
  • Do they cover travel?

Other people wanted to know more though, so I added a few more fields. I know some developers that are only interested in speaking at community conferences. Others will only speak at conferences with a Code of Conduct. So we – the Lovely and Talented Kathy & I –  gathered together everything we thought that a speaker would need to make a decision on speaking at a conference, and we built a system around it.


The CFP Report is mostly a mailing list, except not quite. I like to think of it as a push notification service for web developers who want to share what they have learned.

Push Only

The CFP Report will only be delivered by email. We don’t make the information available on a webpage (there are good services doing that already) and we don’t tweet them out to you.(Again, being done, and very well) We send you an email once a week with everything we have found that is still open.

Web Developers Only

As soon as we launched, we were asked if it would include:

  • Design conferences
  • Mobile conferences
  • IoT conferences

These are all great things, but no, that is not our focus. We focus on web and developers. So currently we are only listing CFPs that are of interest to developers who use:

  • PHP
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Ruby

Sharing Only

We are focused on developers who really want to share what they know. Honestly, if you aren’t passionate about sharing, why would you signup in the first place? This isn’t for every developer, it is for every developer who wants to help other developers. We understand that not every developer wants to share. We are fine with that. However, for those that do, we want to make it easy for you to decide where to share.


If you understand that you know something other developers haven’t yet figured out, the the when is simple, now! Don’t wait, sign up now. As soon as you do, we send you your first email. Then we send you one every Wed morning, that’s it. One email a week to help you figure out how to share, and share more.

Start a Habit

We want Wednesday morning to become “Conference Morning”. We want you to get in the habit of receiving  the email, scanning it, and figuring out if there are any conferences you want to submit to. Then we want you to take that one final step and submit a talk. We want you to do this every Wednesday morning. We want it to become a habit. We want you to get in the habit of sharing what you know, sharing what you have learned. When you share, all of us get smarter, including you.

How Much?

Inevitably, the conversation turns to “How much is this gonna cost me?”. I can say with all sincerity that I have absolutely no plans to ever charge developers or conferences for access to “The CFP Report”. I don’t plan on making premium features. I don’t plan on giving conferences a way to “buy the top slot”. Doing either of these would – in my opinion – create a caste system. Big conferences get preferential treatment, speakers with the budget could get better access. Nope, that is not why we made it. It actually goes against why we made it.

The CFP Report is free for developers & conferences.

If you are not the customer, you are the product

Yes, we are selling your attention. We sell the ads in the email. There is one at the second position (right after the first CFP) and then one every 4th position after that. That is what we sell, that is how we pay someone to find and research the CFPs. I am not in any way ashamed of the fact that this is a for-profit service. If you want more information, check ou our Privacy Policy. If you still have questions, ask us.

Become a Sponsor

Looking to attract the attention of developers? Specifically developers who like sharing what they know, advertise with us. (Unless you are a conference, we won’t accept you if you are.)

What are you waiting for?

Even if you have never spoken at a conference before, join The CFP Report and see what is available to you. While you are at it, bring one friend with you.

Share what you know, help us, help yourself.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

It Works for Me

calDear Reader,

In 2015, I will speak at 11 PHP related events. One of the reasons I speak at so many is my reputation as a speaker. The fun part is that to build a reputation as a speaker, you have to speak at a lot of events. See the vicious circle? So how did I get where I am?

Part of it was just dumb luck. Zend needed someone to go speak and I was the one with the date open. A very small amount of it was skill. Over the years I have gotten better because of practice. Most of it however, is persistence. After my first speaking engagement for Zend it was probably a year before I got another one. Between the two engagements, I could have wallpapered a room with the rejection notices. Yet, I kept at it. I kept applying to CFPs, I kept emailing user group leaders and asking if I could come speak. I even pestered local non-technical groups to come let me talk to them. I would go anywhere I could afford and talk on any topic I knew something about. “No” was not in my vocabulary when it came to the question “Can you come speak to us?”. In the past 10 years, I can count on one hand the number of speaking engagements that I have turned down and I regret each one of them.

I get asked my advice for people trying to break into speaking. So I have put some thought into how *I* got into speaking, what I do, how I prepare, and everything I can think of to share with speakers, new and old alike. I am going to share it with those who want to know in a new project I call “It Worked for Me”.

“It Worked for Me” is a one hour on-line meeting where I will explain what I have learned, and then answer any questions that may arise.

In this session I plan on covering:

  • Why do you want to speak?
  • Titling Your Talk
  • Crafting an Abstract That Gets Noticed
  • Ok, You Got Picked, Now What?
  • My Process
    • The Idea
    • Crafting the Code
    • Creating the Slides
  • “Day of” Preparation
  • Post Talk Duties

When:  September 16th, 2:00 PM EST
Where: Online (

“It Worked for Me” is open to anyone, kinda. At the bottom of this page is a form to fill out. If you want to participate, fill out the form. I will review it. If you are selected I will send you an email with a link where you can purchase your ticket.

That is the other thing, it’s not free. “It Worked for Me” is $20 per person. The $20 is to make sure you attend. This won’t be recorded and I am only interested in those who actually want to attend the event live. To prove this isn’t about the money, those that do attend the event will be eligible for $20 discount on anything else I do. (DC4D, Nomad PHP, my books, etc)

Seats are limited. To keep this event small and intimate, I will only be accepting 20 applicants.

Those who pay but do not attend forfeit the $20. Period. Full Stop. If I do a second round, you will have to pay again if you want to attend.

A provision will be made for hardship cases. For most of us $20 means we skip coffee for a couple of days one month. However, it is a significant amount of money for some  people. No one will be turned down simply because they can’t afford to pay.

Will what worked for me work for you? I have no idea. However, I am willing to share what I have learned over the years in the hopes that something will speak to you and help you.

So, want to know what has worked for me? Fill out the form.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

  • Name? First Name? Handle? I don't really care what you put here but I WILL call you this for the entire meetings. Let's stick with names, ok? :)
  • This won't go on any mailing list. Feel free to use a spam catcher as long as you can check it, to retrieve the instruction on how to get your ticket.
  • Why do you want to attend "It Works for Me"?
    No one will be turned away because they can't afford the $20 entry feel. Check this box and if chosen, I will send you a link to participate for free. I will not ask why, this is based on the honor system. I assume that if you check the box, you are being honest about it.

Airfare and Two Nights in the Hotel

Dear Reader,

This is a rant, feel free to skip it. Also, I am talking about myself in this rant. There are a lot of other speakers who fall into this bucket with me, but everything I’m saying here applies to me.

The Problem

PHP conferences are changing very slowly, and not in a way that I like. I blame myself. As a frequent speaker I am getting lazy. I get caught up in the excitement of the CfP, I write up 5-10 abstracts and shotgun them into the CfP system hoping that something hits the mark. I’ve not actually written these talks. In most cases, I’m pretty sure I can get 45 minutes on the topic, but I don’t know for sure because I’ve not bothered to write it yet. Adam Culp talks about this very thing in his post “Are Conference Talks Getting Too Soft?“.

The problem is that I’ve lost my focus. My focus should be the cool thing am I dying to share with other developers.  Instead, I’m chasing that “Airfare and two nights in the hotel”. I know this because my focus is writing abstracts. That and abstracts that don’t get accepted, I never bother to write. This is backwards. I should be so excited about sharing something that I write it up anyhow. I should blog about it, prepare the slides, and contact my local PHP User Group and see if they will allow me to present it. The local PUG is the lifeblood of our great community. It is important to me that I support them first, then conferences.

Being the Change I Want to See

To help me refocus, I have set myself two goals for 2015.

  1. I want to present at 5 local PHP User Groups in 2015.
  2. I will not submit to a conference any talk that I have not written and presented at a local event. (The exception I am making is keynotes because some conferences I speak at ask me to write a new keynote.)

I am refocusing my speaking efforts on talking to the local level. There are probably 5-6 PUGs I can reach by car and can speak at. So as I come up with an idea for a talk, I will first submit it to any and all PUGs that will have me. Then, if that talk seems solid and is helping people, I will submit it to conferences.

This is not to say that I won’t be submitting talks to major conferences, but I will not be submitting talks that I’ve not already written and presented at least once locally.

Looking to Others for Help As Well

I am privileged enough to be asked to help score talks for several of different PHP conferences. in 2015, I will start be a lot more picky in the talks for which I vote. I will look for – and up vote – talks where the presenter makes a note that they have given this talk at a local event already.

Wrap Up

So next time you are starting at a CfP, don’t brainstorm a lot of talks, submit them all and write the ones that get accepted. Look at the talks you’ve done for your local PUG, and submit them. You know they exist, you know they work, and you know you are supporting your local PUG.

Wouldn’t it be great if PHP User Group leaders had to start scheduling talks 6 months out? I’ll take that problem any day of the week. :)

Until next time,
I <3 |<

p.s. If you are considering writing a talk and need some help with your abstract, let me help.

BarCamp Nashville 11 Tips for the day you speak

Dear Reader,

Hello BarCampers! If you’ve never visited my blog, let me say Welcome to my little corner of the world. Feel free to wander around and click on stuff. Who know, you may find something you like.

My entry on the BarCamp Blog Tour is an audio file I recorded a couple of years ago. I’ve been involved in conference organization for around 7 years now. Along the way I’ve picked up a few pointers from speakers far better than me. While this was recorded with technical presentations in mind, all the tips work for speakers at conferences like BCN.

Crafting a conference proposal

Dear Reader,

Recently on twitter, @johncongdon asked me about proposals for conferences. Specifically, he asked if I had any examples that I can share because he was considering submitting to a conference. While I don’t have any examples to share, I can give you some advice on the topic.

First things first

Read Tips on how to get accepted as a speaker at a PHP conference, if you haven’t already. The process of getting accepted starts a lot earlier than the proposal, you need to lay the groundwork first.