I’m Speaking at WordCamp Raleigh!

Image of text "WordCamp Raleigh 2015"
Image mercilessly screengrabbed from the WordCamp Raleigh website.

Last year’s experience at WordCamp Raleigh was in many ways a watershed moment for me. I was in the midst of a bunch of developers for the first time, and got a glimpse of what the community really looks like. The one thing I kept thinking was “most of these amazing people live near me!”

Shortly after WordCamp last year, I developed my second WordPress plugin, which took off in ways I was not altogether prepared for. I found myself adding features writing power user guides, and getting a first-hand look at what it is like to support a product. I even fielded a call from someone looking to acquire my plugin (for not-enough-money, it turns out)!

While I still struggle with imposter syndrome from time to time, I have begun feeling like a real developer this year. My plugin has picked up (and retained) new users at a rate of about 500/month, and I’ve added new clients to monthly backup and maintenance plans.

This year, I’ve leveled-up my WordCamp involvement as well. This past week I met with Steve Mortiboy, one the organizers of WordCamp Raleigh, and he invited me to help as a speaker liaison this year, and in the process also invited me to speak at this year’s conference! I am very excited to talk to my fellow developers about how to get 5-star reviews, and turn support for free products into revenue.

The conference is October 10th and 11th, at the NCSU school of Engineering on the Centennial Campus. The great part about the conference (in addition to the low cost of $35 that includes a t-shirt and lunch on Saturday) is that no matter your tech skill level, there are tracks for you.

You can read about my session here, and get a ticket here!

*Update* I have now posted a promotional blog post about myself over at the WordCamp site. It was fun promoting myself. Gifs were involved. You can read that here.

We Didn’t Finish Homeschool Math, But I Did Learn a Lesson from the Crane in my Yard.

The other day, as I was about to start the math portion of 2nd grade homeschool, I looked out the front door and there was a crane in the front yard.

These are not the type of things that 2nd graders (or their preschool little brothers) miss out on, so we went outside.

Turns out that our landlord had ordered for a tree to be removed, and the local tree removal company had opted for the heavy artillery to dispatch the heavy topiary.

Crane in the front yard
The crane in the yard and in their necks to take it all in. The to-be-removed tree is right behind us.

The astounding thing for me was how fast they took care of the tree, which was a relatively large beast. In fewer than 15 minutes from knocking on my door they had the tree shredded into low-grade mulch in a covered trailer.

As he walked up the driveway once it was all done, the tree man said “Yeah, any time I have to get out the crane, it’s a minimum $2,000 charge, but [your landlord] has a monthly retainer.”

So, let me get this straight: Jimbo McCustomer has large tree in the yard, and you’ll remove it for (say) $1,000 if I opt to go the non-crane route. That’ll involve hours of work to ensure that the tree doesn’t fall on the house, and the workers stay safe.  Or if Jimbo has larger budget, you’ll spend 15 minutes to take down the tree with your better equipment.

What an absurd thought. If you have a crane, and the job will go faster with the crane, use the crane.

Don’t charge based on which tool you use, or by how long it’ll take you. Charge by how long it’d take your customer (without your tools or experience) to do it, with an eye toward your competition and what they’d charge/be worth.

It takes you a month. It takes me 30 minutes and mine's better, faster, and more secure #NoHourlyRates Share on XThat goes for us web developers, too. The fact that I can deploy an SSD cloud server with your site on it in 25 minutes doesn’t make it worth any more or less valuable to you than if it took me three days or two weeks. It still would have taken you a month to get the site up—and my site is better, faster, and more secure. Those are the factors I’m going to use to determine my rates.

The speed at which I work doesn’t even enter into the equation, nor do my tools.

Let me be clear: a 25 minute turnaround is extremely valuable to a client. If you want it turned around that fast, you’ll have to pay some major coin. But I’m not going to use a slower or older tool to intentionally slow myself down if you don’t pay my rush fee.

I’m just not going to be in your yard with a crane this afternoon, in that case. It’ll have to be next week.

The tree is now in the front yard halfway into the chipper.
But when I do show up in your yard, I’ll finish the job fast enough to have your kids still marveling.

Build Your Business, or Learn To Code: Pick One

I have moved this post and lots of other WordPress posts over to my new site at <a href="https://wpsteward This Site.com”>https://wpsteward.com, where I will continue publishing helpful tips for website owners going forward.

Still Processing how great WordCamp Raleigh 2015 was for my first time pseudo-organizing and helping out. You can expect a post about that soon. But here’s a bit of a rant that I drafted before the conference.

I see too many DIY WordPress folks trying to do these four things:

Read the rest of this post over at the brand-new WP Steward Blog

WordCamp Raleigh 2015: An Unsuspecting Organizer’s Wrapup.

I have moved this post and lots of other WordPress posts over to my new site at https://wpsteward.com, where I will continue publishing helpful tips for website owners going forward.

image of WordCamp Raleigh 2015 Organizer badge.
Code is Poetry, and WordCamp is a poetry slam where everybody wins.
We just finished WordCamp Raleigh 2015, and I wanted to take a few minutes to verbally process what went down.

First, I was not an organizer, and feel like the height of an imposter when I call myself one, but my name tag did say “Organizer” right there on the bottom, so I suppose I was indeed an organizer.

But to be clear, there’s a process involved with becoming officially an organizer that includes being interviewed by someone with the authority to make you an organizer, and I was not.

Steve Mortiboy, who is in all senses an organizer and has been since the beginning in something like 2009, made me an off-books organizer for my role in wrangling and managing speakers/the speaker’s dinner, some AV issues, and other miscellaneous pre-conference communication on the blog.

I’d love to officially help organize next years. Here’s my high level recap with some shoutouts.

Read the rest of this post over at the brand-new WP Steward Blog

Something that Always Offends Me Just When I Need It.

standing up to offense-culture.
Perhaps a prioritized list is in order?
The current internet user is offended by something about every 15 minutes. Quick, go scroll through your Facebook profile and count how many people are ranting about something. I’m not above it. I find myself offended by something pretty regularly.

I have a proposal: next time you are tempted to be offended by something, try instead to focus on you. If you’re anything like me, there is plenty to be offended by without having to leave the confines of your own mind. Like a Pharisee dragging a woman caught in adultery into the town square, I’m often way too fixated on the problem outside of me.

My favorite part of that story (it’s in John 8:1-11 in the Bible in case you aren’t familiar) is that Jesus starts writing with his finger in the ground, and the oldest pick up on it first, and wisely leave.

Next time you're about to contribute to the 'I'm offended' chorus, first, use this filter. Share on XI’d love to know what he wrote there, but I’d imagine it was an “encouragement” toward introspection. Whatever it was, it made the accusation of caught-in-the-act adultery seem un-prosecutable.

I’d be willing to bet that whatever it is you are offended by will look different in the white-hot light of your biggest current failure.

Before you contribute to the noise about what that politician said, or what that celebrity didn’t say in that interview, or how those people are getting offended by the wrong offensive thing, perhaps take a step back. If you legitimately can’t find anything in your own life about which to be offended (which is a red flag that you need a wise third-party to weigh in), then by all means throw some rocks.

The rest of us will be working on ourselves. I personally have about enough to be offended by for the next 30 years or so, just working through my own backlog.