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Ray Mitchell is a down-to-earth and genuine creator. He is the owner of Made for You Media, and the author of the recently-published book, Magical Websites for Coaches: The Independent Coach’s Guide to Planning and Building a Highly Effective Website, a passion project spurred by his work both as a coach and with coaching clients.
|What is your job title?||Marketing Consultant and Owner|
|What is your company name?||Made for You Media|
|What do you do with WordPress?||Build attractive and effective websites for local businesses and nonprofits as the foundation of their online presence.|
|Describe the WordPress community in just a few words.||Great place to learn and develop new skills while creating lifelong friends.|
[00:00:00] Speaker A: Welcome to WPCoffeeTalk with your podcast barista Michelle Frechette. Special thanks to our sponsors WS Form and Beaver Builder. If you’re interested in joining WPCoffeeTalk as a guest or a sponsor, please visit our site wpcoffeetalk.com. And now on with the show.
Welcome back to WPCoffeeTalk. I’m Michelle Frechette, your podcast barista, serving up the WordPress stories from around the world. And today, my guest is Ray Mitchell from Made For You Media. The owner, and I’m guessing the head creative as well at Made For You Media. Thank you so much, Ray, for joining me.
[00:00:38] Speaker B: Oh, Michelle, more than people realize, I’m really happy to be here this morning.
[00:00:44] Speaker A: Well, I’m so glad. Thank you for getting up on a Saturday morning.
Sometimes I record in the evenings, but I do keep some Saturday appointments for people who evening appointments don’t work for. But still, it feels, like, really weird to get up and work on a Saturday and be talking to people. So I appreciate that you’ve done that and taken the time to meet with us today. So thank you so much for being here.
The first question I have for you is your elevator pitch. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
[00:01:12] Speaker B: Okay, well, the WordPress communities are kind of insider, so I can talk about it a little differently.
I tell people I’m doing now what I wanted to do in eigth grade, I had a lot of different things, but definitely I’m older than maybe a lot of people in the community.
So in eigth grade, they had a track for people who were interested in what was then called commercial art. Now it’s graphic art, but that was the mechanicals and paste ups and learning how to do silk screen work and lay out the newspaper.
Thought I’d do that in 8th grade. Got interested in other things, a lot of different things. Most of my career was actually in financial services, but I started a business in 2009, coaching. And for that business, I built my first WordPress site.
Yeah, I built a hand coded site first, and that didn’t work out. And I heard about the thing WordPress and built a WordPress site. And that’s how I immersed myself in the community.
The date 2008. 2009 is important because that was not a good time to be starting new businesses.
But everybody asked me about the website, and that’s when I started thinking I should start building websites. And that’s how really I started getting into it.
[00:02:38] Speaker A: That’s pretty cool. And where are you located in the world?
[00:02:41] Speaker B: All right, originally New Yorker, but I live in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
And actually, at this point, I’ve probably spent more of my life here than anywhere else.
[00:02:52] Speaker A: Okay. What part of New York were you in?
[00:02:55] Speaker B: Born in Brooklyn, lived in the Bronx, but graduated in high school from Bayshore out on the island. So that’s really where you’re from, wherever you graduate high school there.
[00:03:05] Speaker A: You like, I’m a New Yorker, but I’m a western New Yorker. When you say you’re a New Yorker. You are a New Yorker. New Yorker from Downstate.
[00:03:14] Speaker B: Well, no, I think we’re all New Yorkers because we all hate the Cowboys in one way or so.
[00:03:19] Speaker A: There you go. And if you are from western New York and you’re a Bills fan, then it’s the Patriots that you must.
[00:03:29] Speaker B: I lived in Canada for a while, so definitely I follow the Bills for a good part of the time since I was so close.
[00:03:35] Speaker A: There you go. I used to be a Pats fan because I grew up in New England, but my daughter says that’s not allowed anymore. I must be a Bills fan now that she lives in Buffalo. So since I’m not really a sports person, I’m like, yeah, I’m fickle it’s. Okay.
So I ask everybody to have a mug, and you are no different. So you have a mug. Show us your mug.
[00:03:55] Speaker B: Yeah, I’m drinking coffee, and this is the more practical mug, which I got at a conference that I volunteer with. But I did bring a special one just for the occasion. It’s not every day I’m invited to such an illustrious podcast and told to bring a mug. So I did bring my full time, full scale coffee drinking make sure it’s on camera so people can get the scope. But it’s one that I’ve had for many years and tend to bring out for special occasions. And this is definitely a special occasion.
[00:04:25] Speaker A: And if you are listening to this podcast and not watching it on YouTube, he just picked up a mug that’s I think larger than his think it.
[00:04:33] Speaker B: Probably holds about two gallons of liquid.
[00:04:36] Speaker A: You can fill it, but you can’t lift it. That’s the thing. It’s huge. And I must find one because I think I need that in the background of every episode. Now, going forward.
I will be searching Amazon later today just to give you an idea. And you said you’re drinking coffee. Let me show you. So when you have a podcast called Coffee Talk, everybody sends you mugs and cups and things like that. So I have a huge collection, and I just got another one for my birthday was last week, so I got another one. I’ll show it to you here. It says, Sometimes you forget you’re awesome. So this is your reminder.
And I’m drinking hot coffee with caramel macchiato creamer. International delight. Caramel macchiato. It’s my second cup of the day. I will be buzzing off the walls by the end of our conversation.
[00:05:25] Speaker B: Ray well, just make sure they know that it’s International Delights caramel Macchiato. That way. International Delights.
[00:05:33] Speaker A: Maybe they’ll sponsor me.
[00:05:35] Speaker B: Exactly.
[00:05:36] Speaker A: I have my doubts about that, but you never know.
[00:05:39] Speaker B: It’s coffee theme. It came out naturally.
[00:05:42] Speaker A: This is true. This is true. The truth is, it could be generic, and I would still drink it, but that just happens to be what’s on the desk right now.
[00:05:50] Speaker B: See, but now you lost your sponsorship.
[00:05:52] Speaker A: Because they were coffee.
[00:05:54] Speaker B: The only creamer I recommend is International device cream.
[00:05:58] Speaker A: Yeah, I don’t think my viewership is big enough for them to want to sponsor, but that’s okay. It’s just not about that. So you give us a little bit of a kernel of how you got started in WordPress, but tell us a little bit more about how you got started and how did you go from I’m not assuming you don’t still coach. But how did you pivot from having a coaching blog or coaching site for yourself and to coaching other people to like, hey, yeah, I’ll build your website. How did that start?
[00:06:22] Speaker B: Yeah, so I worked for American Express almost 20 years, and they spend a lot of time developing their leaders and developing everybody from entry level staff all the way into management and executive staff. They spend a lot of time in development. And I was at the point where I was getting ready to leave the company and figured that starting a coaching business to help other smaller businesses get some of the same kind of grounding and some of the skills that I’d received would be a good thing. My wife is very dutiful, and she followed me when I moved from place to place to take a job. And she always worked at smaller a lot of times inefficiently run companies. So I thought it would be a great idea to work with smaller companies and give them some of that training. So I was still working at Amex. I’d get off in the evening and would start working on my own stuff in anticipation of starting the company.
Did that. Built my first website.
Hand coded it, but it always seemed to have issues, and that’s when I transitioned to using WordPress. And as I said, the coaching business did not work out because people were more interested in making payroll than coaching people on soft skills like leadership. What is this leadership thing?
But people liked the website that I built, and that caused me to start a company in 2010, building sites for local businesses. The same people I wanted to serve as a coach did not have access to good websites at the time. If you think about that time frame, the web was still fairly new. Websites were in the 1215 $20,000 range for a website back in 2010. Money, even a small business website, could easily be $6,000. And I didn’t have it starting a company and a lot of small business didn’t have it. So I was able to deliver sites for small companies at a reasonable price. And I’ve been doing that since 2010.
[00:08:30] Speaker A: I love that. That’s great and it’s nice. People used to ask me, because I used to freelance, I was what did I call myself, an agency of one, because it sounded more substantial than freelancing, where people hear freelance, they’re like, oh, a fly by night or whatever, which we all know is not the case. But when I started doing that, people had asked me, what’s your niche? And I was like, I don’t really have a niche. If you need a website, I’ll build a website for you. Right? But it turned out that I started to gravitate more towards small businesses as well.
I never got into enterprise level anything, right? And it’s just like the local restaurant needed a website. Yeah, let’s talk. And sometimes I did it in exchange for running a tab at their restaurant. So making things affordable, but also still being able to pay my bills too. So I totally get that.
[00:09:18] Speaker B: Yeah, it’s still a need. There’s still a lot of I can talk about some of my fears. When I started early, I worked at home. I stayed at home and worked from home. Television was always on. And you may remember there was a time where every other commercial watching news, every other commercial is, we’ll build your website for free.
We can build your website in an hour. I won’t name the brands, but literally that commercial ran, and everybody thought they could, one, build their own website because it only takes an hour or two. It’s free. Why are you charging me the princely sum of $500 at that time to build a small business website? So I figured I’d only be doing this two or three years because it was already seeming like a commodity. But quite quickly, I realized that there is a difference. And I’m not really selling the website, but really selling how the business begins to position itself and how they can actually reach the customers they need in order to be successful.
[00:10:19] Speaker A: Yeah, and that’s a really good point, because I think that’s very true.
I had people come to me in the past, and they needed a logo. And so I’m not a graphic artist, but I would create the best logo I could for them, and they would sometimes bring me commercial did. It doesn’t exist anymore because the business doesn’t exist anymore. But Lily’s Poop Patrol was a business I built a website for, and it was a man who would go clean up the dog dew in your yard for you. And he had a dog named Lily that had passed. And so he was naming the business after her. And he shows up, and he’s like, so we were thinking we could use one of these as the logo. And it was Scooby Doo, and it was Snoopy, and it was know, commercial art that was already trademarked and registered and belonged to somebody else. And I was like, well, unless you want a lawsuit, we should not do that. And I was able to take a photo of Lily the dog and turn her into the logo, which he was even happier about. But people don’t know, right? They don’t know what should or shouldn’t be on a website, and they don’t know what should or shouldn’t be their logo. And so that’s where somebody like you comes in and says, let me help you understand how to get started as a brand, and this is what you should do. Which I think is great.
[00:11:30] Speaker B: Yeah, I think that’s really, whether you’re a freelancer or a large agency, that’s our value to smaller businesses.
I heard someone say that every business owner should have their own personal board of directors, regardless of the size of the business. You can’t know it all and you can’t do it all. So you got to have people around you that can teach and show you that. And for those who are, like me, not great graphic designers and not great developers coders, there’s that niche for you in the WordPress community and that niche for you in the business community that really allows you to provide value to the people you work with and the people you serve.
[00:12:14] Speaker A: Absolutely.
So when you think about all those websites and I usually think back to my earlier websites, when I didn’t know as much as I know now, but when you look at websites across the board today or in your own past, what is something that you think that we, as web designers, developers, web builders don’t focus enough attention on? That actually makes a better experience for a site visitor.
[00:12:38] Speaker B: Yeah, there’s a whole lot and we get in the habit of joking about the size of logo and things like that when customers want that logo. But again, it gets back to this thing about using the benefit of your experience to help your clients achieve their goal. So a lot of the times my first question in really asking the question is, why do you want a website? Everybody has a website, but why do you want a website? What do you expect to do or expect to get from this website?
Understanding what that purpose is really drives everything on the website. Because if it’s just to let people know who I am, you don’t need a lot of call to actions. If you want to set appointments, you got to have call to actions that are effective and built to kind of capture people. And if you’re selling a product, it has to be set up. So really starting the build and starting the process, really trying to work at the end, what are you hoping to achieve from spending this money on the website that you scraped together the money to have built and can’t afford to have it done twice, what do you really want to achieve? So working with your client or instructing the client, think about it and building the website to suit too many websites still don’t have contact forms or contact forms that are meaningful if you are asking for information, a clear call to action, that’s important. One clear call to action, not several. So those are things that I’ve kind of learned over the years.
And of course, being a student over time, studying design and learning what’s more effective and pulling those things together. But to directly answer your question, understanding the purpose of the website and then building towards that purpose.
[00:14:33] Speaker A: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. And you reminded me with the form thing. The first website I ever built for myself as a web builder was back in it was either 2001 or 2002, and there were no forms. Like literally, you just put an email address out there and hope that people would find it and email you to have a new website because it was so early on in the game.
And now the thought of putting an email address on a website is terrifying because it’s going to get scraped and you’re going to get spammed. So it’s changed a lot in the last 23 years, for sure.
[00:15:06] Speaker B: Yeah. So you talk about embarrassing early experiences and that kind of stuff. I remember I was so proud of my new website business that I did the graphic design for the website, did the graphic design for the business card, and left the actual website address off of the web design business card. So it shows that there’s room for improvement regardless of where you are in business.
[00:15:32] Speaker A: We always learn for sure what’s something that you wish you had known earlier in your WordPress journey.
[00:15:40] Speaker B: It’s one of the things that when I do speak at WordPress and we’ve gone through different stages in how we actually administer the conferences. But like I said, I’m not really a designer, I’m not really a developer. I really focus more on the business aspects of it. And my talks typically, or whenever I talk to somebody who’s kind of early in the game, is pricing, understanding the value of what you’re doing. Because WordPress is accessible to everyone. I mean, accessible in terms of available to be used and available as a tool to actually start a business. We figure we can get into it and start a business because we can build a site, but there’s a little bit more that goes into it. And the key thing is how you price your service and understanding that whatever you’re charging, it’s too low regardless of where you are in your beginning of the business. So if I had known, I definitely would have charged more than I did early.
Not because of the whole trading for time thing.
And I talk about it. And when I market to people I talk about, your website is the only employee that works for your company 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Well, that’s an employee that works 24/7. You should be paid for delivering an employee that works twenty four, seven and bring that into it. So if there’s a lesson for everyone that listens or watches this, the next customer you speak to the next person you quote, you can probably raise your prices 10%. And if you don’t blink, they’ll just figure, well, that’s the cost, and that’s the way you improve your revenue, by 10%.
Charge appropriately is one lesson I wish I’d learned earlier.
[00:17:32] Speaker A: I really like that, and that’s a really good lesson for people. I’ve talked about in the past, how the first websites I started building, I was charging, and this was back in 2012, I was charging $300 for a whole website. And I was talking ecommerce and things like that, of course, but just the brochure website, five to ten pages, whatever, and people wouldn’t blink. And I was like, Why? Must be that must be just priced right? I could do five websites in a week and be making $1,500 a week and blah, blah. It doesn’t work that way. Instead of that, I was so overworked and underpaid.
[00:18:05] Speaker B: It takes that time. And then what we typically don’t count is the time when we’re not actually working. We don’t have a client that’s still time. So realistically, you should be billing four or five times the amount of websites that you can build, because a lot of that time, you’re not actually building websites.
[00:18:24] Speaker A: Yeah, for sure. And just a little side note, the people who pay the lowest for your prices for websites are the ones that are the neediest customers. So you will pay for that website over and again in your time and frustration.
When you think back over WordPress events that you’ve been to, meetups other conferences and word camps, of course, tell us about a moment or a time that was really pivotal or inspirational to you. I like to joke and say, the angel sang and the sky opened up and the sun shone down, but it doesn’t have to be that earth shattering. But something that happened that you can tell us about that was inspirational to you.
[00:19:08] Speaker B: Yeah. So there are several, and definitely a lot of them came in early days, but one that sticks out to me and kind of really showed me community and the power of WordPress and whole thing. It was a WordCamp Raleigh, probably 2012, maybe.
Chris Jean from at the time Items was speaking, and he was speaking about a product they had just recently released, Loopbuddy. And this is getting into the deep, dark, historical WordPress days, but I barely understood the concept of WordPress. I understand the difference between the theme and the content and different posts, but he was explaining this thing that would allow you to incorporate aspects or incorporate content from the WordPress loop into the website other than in the post section. And I was pretty much hypnotized by this thing I did not understand, but I had to buy it because he was just so convincing about it, and it just displayed this absolute power that you can do all these things with. You know, chris had done other plugins that I’d used, but the fact that it had the cape. I was going to build nothing that called for this plugin. But you see, that meme where it’s fry from futurama take my money.
I was definitely fry, right? So that was one pivotal moment and it encapsulated a couple of things. I was at a Word Camp, and Word camp is truly community. You get to know people and you’re sitting next to somebody who’s brilliant, but he’s taking time to talk with you and people who don’t even know what WordPress is, and they kind of stumble in because somebody said they should go to this $25 event that will teach them something and they know absolutely nothing. And here I am. I built one or two sites or whatever the number was at that point, learning from people who are doing things, who are absolutely giving.
And I think that is part of the reason why stick and stay through all the ups and downs and things that go on, why I’m immersed and willing to give in the community in the ways that I can.
[00:21:36] Speaker A: Yeah, I love that.
I think Word Camps for me are very much that I grew up going to summer camp for the church that I used to belong to and we used to call that week like the mountaintop type experience, right? Where everything comes together, you’re with the people that get you all of those kinds of things, and then the next week you’re, oh, that was awesome. But I miss it, right? And that’s how I feel about Word Camps is almost every single one of them, whether it’s a one day camp or I’ve traveled over to Asia for a whole week. Those are those mountaintop experiences. And they keep me going too, because the in between times can feel a little bleak sometimes. But being able to know that you’ve got this group of people who not only understands because you’re in tech, but gets it because you’re in like, that’s pretty cool. And then the slack channels that you can just DM people and ask questions or reach out to or be like, hey, have you ever had a week like this? Or what would you do in this case? Or, hey, does anybody know a plugin that does XYZ? Those, I think, make our community a little bit different, for sure.
[00:22:43] Speaker B: Yeah, it’s definitely one of the things that I enjoy. I go to a Christian men’s fellowship that meets weekly and I talk about it as kind of your battery being depleted and you go back to a men’s fellowship and get a recharge and you’re good to go for another week. It’s kind of a similar circumstance with Word Camps. You get itchy when you haven’t been to one in a while and then you’re down a dead battery saver line, which is 15% 15%. So you end up on the Word Camp site to see what’s coming up and what’s nearby. And then you go and you charge it up for a little while, and then it kind of fades as you go out, and it’s time to go for another. Yeah. It becomes important.
[00:23:25] Speaker A: Yeah. One of my top WordPress moments happened when you were on stage at WordCamp US.
And Maestro complimented me. I wasn’t even in the room, but I watched the replay afterwards. He says we all know Michelle. You know she’s white, right? But she’s got a little black in her.
[00:23:47] Speaker B: Well, that’s the thing. I mean, you get to know people and you develop relationships that I think you don’t have a lot of opportunities outside of the WordPress community. I mean, you really have to look for them in order to see somebody maybe once a year at a regional ward camp or if you’re on the circuit, like some people are, you see them regularly and you meet each other in the airport and you have dinner before the event. You see each other regularly. To have that kind of drop in friendship, there’s few institutions or a few institutions that I’ve been exposed to that have that kind of kinship and affinity.
I’m not a military person, but I imagine in the military, finding somebody who was in your same division in the street, you have that resonance and that kind of pre made relationship.
But it’s not necessarily common if you haven’t been in that type of environment. WordPress allows you to cultivate that environment. So even if you’re going to your local New Jersey WordCamp or your local New Mexico WordCamp, seeing those same group of people year after year, it is a little bit of community, and you feel good about it when somebody recognizes you, hey, weren’t you here last year? Or, hey, I heard you spoke. Oh, yeah, I remember you. You asked a question, and you have that connection that you may not think or talk about this person until the next year’s work camp, and you fall right back into it, which is great.
[00:25:20] Speaker A: Yeah, I love that. Let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing on the day to day. You did tell me you just published a book also, so tell us a little bit about Made For You Media. Tell us the book and we will include a link to purchase the book. Let’s see if we can get you some book sales in the show notes.
[00:25:37] Speaker B: Well, definitely. I appreciate that.
So made for you media and you talked about freelancing. For the majority of my WordPress career, I was a freelancer, and then you said agency of one, and then I definitely have that. And actually, even in my presentations, I would call myself a distributed agency because it’s me, your local contact. But I have a large network of WordPress professionals that will be able to help and assist on your project because they’re not fully employed as part of my staff. This allows me to offer you a product with the right professionals at the right time. That does not cost you a lot of money. It’s that thing. I did get to the point where I hired a very talented designer, and he does most of the builds at this point for us named Zach Rouseno. Zach’s actually located in the Philippines, but we work fairly closely on all the projects so that my day to day is actually working with the customers to help get to the core and the crux of solving their business problem.
I was talking to my daughter, who is at the point of thinking of starting a business, and I said, you only get paid for solving problems. McDonald’s gets paid for solving the problem. I need something quick to eat that I like. Right? But that is a the power company solves the problem of darkness because you’re able to turn on the light. So, really, working with my customers to help them solve the problem of getting people to come to their store or promoting their nonprofit, working to get more donations and volunteers, those are the problems on a day to day basis I try to solve using their website and other digital marketing.
[00:27:30] Speaker A: Makes sense. Yeah. Love that. And what about the book? Tell us about the book.
[00:27:35] Speaker B: Yeah. So I talked about starting business after I left Amex as coaching business, and that business failed for a number of reasons the economy. But most corporate people don’t know how to operate a business. They know their little faction. I used to joke about Amex having a vice president of men’s room toilet paper because their responsibilities were different from the vice president of ladies room toilet paper. And everybody knew their job pretty well, but they didn’t necessarily know all of it. As a small business person, you need to do all of it.
Somebody who’s a coach, which is the career or the path that I tried to do, needs to know all of it.
And you have to have a good website.
But their expertise is coaching. I wanted to write a book that would allow them to position themselves in the right way, build a website that’s effective based on my expertise, but build it really to meet the needs of coaches. So I’ve been working on it while and Michelle added me there and let everybody know it’s available. Although I don’t know that I’m really ready to publicize. But the book is magical. Coaching Websites independent Guide for Coaches to Build an Effective Website And it’s really short, but it takes them through step by step how you would actually build and conceive of a website to promote your business and attract customers that need your services, customers that you can actually solve a problem for, and build a website that allows them to know that you’re the one that has the answer.
[00:29:19] Speaker A: I look forward to reading it. I will definitely be getting a copy.
[00:29:23] Speaker B: I’ll. Make sure you get one. I’ll make sure you get one.
[00:29:26] Speaker A: Yeah, next time I see you’ll have to sign it. So I have an autographed copy.
Yeah, it’s funny, I have a book that’s been on Amazon for a while. It’s probably starting to feel out of date for some people, but every time somebody says will you autograph it for me? I’m like, well yes, of course I will.
[00:29:42] Speaker B: Well.
[00:29:45] Speaker A: Pseudo celebrity.
[00:29:47] Speaker B: Yeah. When that actually happens to me, I’ll probably have to ask for the book back just so I can keep it. And somebody actually asked me for my autograph. This is the book.
[00:29:56] Speaker A: Can I take a picture of you with my autograph book? That kind of thing? For sure.
Well, let’s move into our rapid fire questions. I always say I ask them rapidly, but you take the time that you need to answer them.
But here we go. What are two or three must have plugins that you would recommend to somebody building their own website?
[00:30:19] Speaker B: Gravity Forms definitely is the one that comes to mind first.
I pretty much use that one on every site even though it may be overkill for a basic site. The fact that you can do so many things and particularly, especially if you’re a small business person who has an interest, it solves the contact form problem. But if you have an ecommerce product, you can actually use Gravity Forms to accept the payment because you can add the plugins that will do a simple form. You can have people pay to download your recording or your booklet or your instructional guide. I use it with a lot of my nonprofits who may not have the ability to invest in some more sophisticated solutions.
They may not be able to afford some more sophisticated solutions to actually allow them to accept their donations and even do the calculation that allows them to recoup the credit card fee. So it’s just a really powerful plugin for designing a site.
Another one that’s maybe another one I use on all sites, although it may be a little bit of vanity, is Login Press.
It allows you to customize the WordPress login so instead of just having the default blue w you can actually dress that up specific to the customer. I talk about it as kind of being vanity because most of our customers and clients never see the WordPress login because we’re always maintaining the site for them and we do the updates, we add content and do that other. But it’s always dressed either in the corporate branding or something that represents the company just on the off chance that they may ask for a login. And we just add that little extra piece of care to it. So it’s not necessarily a big functionality thing. If you want, you can actually hand code those changes yourself, but that’s a plugin that allows you to do it as one of the closing kind of bow on the package, we’ll design that login page for them as well.
[00:32:41] Speaker A: Yeah, I especially like that on, like, a membership site or something where that login is branded, for sure.
At any point in your WordPress journey, have you had a mentor, whether it was an official mentor or not? Maybe somebody you look up to, somebody you tried to emulate or learn from as far as how to run your WordPress business?
[00:33:02] Speaker B: All right, so I talk about myself, or I talk to people, or I talk about being a WordPress evangelist.
I talk about being WordPress because there’s no site building or no CMS greater than WordPress, and everybody should follow and share the passion of WordPress.
But I did get the beginning of that passion community. And I’m not the most active person in the WordPress community. I’ll go to a camp when I can, but my WordPress experience comes from a couple of people.
I went to my first WordPress, I think, Word Camp in 2011, and I had a good time. And at the end of that Word Camp, I helped fold chairs.
And I went back to Word Camp, Raleigh 2012, and Steve Mortar, boy from all in One at that time, I was one of the organizers, and he recognized me as being there last year, helping the full chairs and said, we need somebody to run one of the cameras during the presentation. Would you do that? And that was back in the days where they’d send you cameras and didn’t have staff. And you did it.
I did that. And one of the presenters at that camp, I think it was 2012, was a woman named Amy Hendrix.
She’s a developer, and she talked about all the different ways you could get involved in the WordPress community and her presentation. I talk about her as being my mother in WordPress because her presentation at that point really said, regardless of what you can do, you can do that little bit in the community. And I kind of learned that by folding chairs and by just standing up and taking. All I had to do is press the button to start the camera and stop it when they finish speaking. But that was my contribution. But she laid out this whole 45 minutes presentation of all the different ways. Regardless of what your skill and your interest was, you could and should be contributing to WordPress. And that stuck with me. So I will forever hold her as my mentor and my inspiration in WordPress.
There’s other people who have come and gone.
There’s a guy that I think about, or definitely was another person, and he worked for the theme that should not be mentioned, which was the first theme I used in WordPress because it was everywhere back in the late 90s, early 2000s. But as part of their support, philip Barron was a black guy. And if you know anything about Tech and even our field, our community, black people in Tech and in WordPress are a small percentage, but he was part of their support, and he was a guy who’s very given in terms of supporting and kind of helping me early in the process and code snippets and working out CSS problems in a forum. And we never met, but we had Twitter exchanges and things like that. We even shared recipes because he had a blog that had recipes and said, well, go here and get this.
Again, it’s just this demonstration of community and seeding of obligation because you’ve had it done to you, you have no other choice but to fulfill your obligation of sharing with other people.
So between Amy and Are, and there are many other people who have influenced my yeah, I won’t say anything else or name any other names for fear of leaving people out.
But, yeah, there are many people over the years who have contributed to my individual success, my personal comfort in WordPress through their sharing in their spirit.
[00:37:27] Speaker A: Well, I’m going to put you on the spot even more, because the next question is, who is somebody that you admire in the WordPress community and why? And you can’t mention anybody you already mentioned.
[00:37:38] Speaker B: See, I know that, and you’re going to be a little pissed at me, but I admire you as one because, again, you’re very giving. And again, I don’t know when we first met, but you’ve always got a high you’ve always got something good to say in that spirit.
I admire there’s a lot of people admire, but those friendly faces that come out, I admire Chris Lemma. Right.
We spoke at a Word camp at some point together, but he was presenting about content, and I asked him a question on stage, and he called me out, said, you do this, you speak, you ask questions. You said you mentioned you have a blog. Well, that’s content, why aren’t you doing more with it?
And I remember that because, again, he wasn’t doing it to be hurtful. He wasn’t doing it to be mean. He wasn’t even really doing it to underscore the point in his presentation, but he was doing it as an exhortation to do better and be better. Ray, you do better. You be better.
[00:39:01] Speaker A: Yeah.
[00:39:03] Speaker B: So I admire his willingness to do that, and Chris didn’t have to do it in the spirit of helpfulness, but he does. Right. So those are people, and he’s had success in our community for that reason, his spirit of helpfulness. Right.
[00:39:18] Speaker A: Yeah.
[00:39:21] Speaker B: If you want to be admired in the WordPress community, help people. Don’t be a dick. Help people.
[00:39:27] Speaker A: I like that. I think that’s really good. For sure. Well, what’s something that you’d still like to learn in WordPress that you haven’t tackled yet?
[00:39:38] Speaker B: Yeah.
They say you can’t teach a dog new tricks. I used to argue that, but you really can’t teach a dog new tricks.
Although that was kind of a mandate issue a couple of years back, right? Or a hardy learn it deeply. Yes.
Didn’t quite happen. I think that would be helpful.
All of the things that trip full time designers up probably would be helpful. Mastering Flexbox, that would be helpful.
Thankfully, I have talented Zachary working with me at this point, so I don’t have to do some of that stuff. But those are kind of important.
Yeah, a little technical things like that tripped me up.
[00:40:44] Speaker A: Yeah, you’re not alone.
[00:40:45] Speaker B: Partly because I was educated at the school of continue ed at the School of Google is my plan.
[00:40:56] Speaker A: Yep, I hear you. Well, what is one of the biggest mistakes that you’ve made in WordPress and what did you learn from it?
[00:41:05] Speaker B: Somehow the biggest mistake I learned in WordPress, I always went back and forth between hosting sites for clients, well, not hosting sites for clients, making them get their hosting and then launching the site on theirs. Came back and said, well, I’m leaving money on the table, maybe I should charge hosting and bring the hosting in and then go back and forth. Well, I decided I would bring it in, but I made the mistake of separating hosting and maintenance as two different products.
So I had a client that hosted but did not have me do maintenance, and they did not do maintenance, and their site got hacked and infected all the other sites on my shared hosting.
So that was probably the earliest and big mistake because no one plans to get hacked, no one sets aside. Yeah, this Thursday I’ll deal with hacked sites, but you come in, realize that’s the issue, and then you are working nonstop to try and deal with it. So that was my big epic WordPress mistake that I can’t say that I have totally learned because over the years I’ve managed to have other problems.
But yeah, that was the at least now I understand that that’s a problem and avoid that kind of stuff as much as possible.
[00:42:38] Speaker A: I’d love to say I’ve never done that, but I have been there and done that as so what’s one of your biggest proudest WordPress accomplishments?
[00:42:52] Speaker B: Getting selected to speak at US.
The first time I had the opportunity to speak at a couple, which I’m very thankful for, but yeah, I’ve had the most tragic history in terms of WordPress because I’ve had a couple canceled at literally the week of either for illness or something’s come up. So I wanted to go to the inaugural US in 2015 and was really there, anxious to go and like the Wednesday or Thursday before something came up that I ended up having to cancel. Fortunately, it was streamed as well, so I was able to stream it the following year, though, I got to speak at the second one in Philadelphia, and that was a good moment for me.
At some level, it was an I’ve made it moment, but at the same time, I was happy to be able to do that, and I was even happy that people thought the talk was worthwhile, and that was even more important than actually getting to the stage that people thought it was helpful.
[00:44:03] Speaker A: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s the best feedback is when somebody says, I really loved your talk, and it meant something to me. I learned something from it. Absolutely.
If you weren’t working in web or tech, what’s another career that you might like to attempt?
[00:44:20] Speaker B: Okay. Yeah. Good time for a different commercial.
So back in Ford, at one point, I thought I mentioned that I wanted to be a graphic designer in junior high. When I got older, I wanted to be a physician. Obviously I’m not a physician, but I’ve kind of always kind of been around that environment and thought about it and probably refining a little bit more.
In the black community, there is a stigma a lot of times on with regard to mental health, and that’s not just the black community generally. There’s a stigma around mental health.
So I thought about maybe going back to school for counseling, and that’s kind of a different path than a long path. But this thing about trying to address the issues in the black community environment, mental health and mental health in general has been plaguing me for the last couple of years.
I had a volunteer opportunity with the crisis text line, which allows people to text in and talk to somebody when they’re in need.
You can text home to 741741 in the US. And you’ll get connected with somebody who can talk to you. It’s like the pound nine, eight, eight on the phone. You’ll get connected.
That’s where I am at the moment, and I try to spend time doing that.
So I probably would probably get back into some sort of medical field if I wasn’t doing this. But in the meantime, I think that’s where I am, and I would encourage anybody who is listening if they are struggling to find someone to talk to.
[00:46:16] Speaker A: Yeah, I echo that, for sure.
What’s something on your bucket list.
[00:46:25] Speaker B: I don’t have, or I have not really. There’s lots of things that I would love to do. I don’t have any one specific bucket list item.
I don’t think I have a specific bucket list item.
[00:46:43] Speaker A: You’ve already done what’s on my bucket list, which is I would love to speak at WordCamp us someday, but I have to stop organizing it in order to be able to.
[00:46:55] Speaker B: See. But I think that you would be a great speaker that people would learn a lot from.
Maybe take a break on that so that you can share some of your other talents with the rest of us.
[00:47:14] Speaker A: Maybe a place you’d like to.
[00:47:21] Speaker B: Mean I would enjoy going to Italy with my wife.
[00:47:25] Speaker A: I used to travel Word camp Europe and Torino next year.
[00:47:29] Speaker B: That’s right.
[00:47:30] Speaker A: Saying you can write off your half of that ticket as a business expense.
[00:47:34] Speaker B: Yeah, that would be an interesting event.
I enjoyed Rome when I went to Rome, so that would be something to share with her.
Rome would be an interesting place.
Greece would be an interesting place and just missed that opportunity.
[00:47:53] Speaker A: That was pretty awesome.
[00:47:55] Speaker B: I guess some of the countries in Africa, I got friends from Kenya that would be really cool to see where they came up and grow.
[00:48:05] Speaker A: That’s pretty cool. Yeah.
Show us or tell us about a hidden talent that you have that the WordPress community might not be aware of.
[00:48:16] Speaker B: Well, here’s my advocacy. I think this last US WordCamp, US, would have been so much greater an event if under the big elephant in the atrium, we had the karaoke stage and be able to sing karaoke in the Smithsonian. That would have made it an iconic event.
[00:48:37] Speaker A: All right, so your hidden talent is you’re a good singer. I guess you like to do karaoke.
[00:48:44] Speaker B: I enjoy karaoke and has actually sang karaoke in probably 13 countries around the world.
[00:48:49] Speaker A: Oh, that’s kind of fun. I love that. Well, I’m going to have to look for any video evidence of that so I can hear you sing.
[00:48:55] Speaker B: I don’t know that there is much video evidence, but yeah, there is evidence.
[00:49:03] Speaker A: Is there anything else that I failed to ask you today that you would love to share with us?
[00:49:10] Speaker B: No, but I’d love to share how much this has been enjoyable. Michelle, I’ve enjoyed your friendship over the years. I appreciate the opportunity to come talk with you on a Saturday morning.
[00:49:19] Speaker A: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that as well. And for anybody who’s interested, how do they get in touch with you?
[00:49:26] Speaker B: Yeah, I’m on Twitter.
The handle for the company is Made for You Media, which is pretty straightforward.
You can find me on Twitter for the time being at Raymond Mitchell, R-A-Y-M-U-N-D Mitchell. I will tell you, that’s pretty much me being angry, left wing, political, so take that with the warning that you may need or as a kindred spirit. You know where to find me.
[00:49:57] Speaker A: There you go.
[00:49:57] Speaker B: Yeah, those are the easiest places to get in touch.
[00:50:01] Speaker A: Fantastic. And your website is madeforyoumedia.com?
[00:50:04] Speaker B: That’s correct.
[00:50:05] Speaker A: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for spending some time with me today and getting to know people. If people are listening and you are interested in following up with Ray or on any of the links that we’ve mentioned, they will be in the show notes. Go to wpcoffeetalk.com. Look for Ray’s episode, and all of the information and a transcript of this episode can be found there. Thank you. Thanks for spending some time on a Saturday with me, and we look forward to seeing everybody in the next episode of WP Coffee Talk. Have a great day.
[00:50:31] Speaker B: All righty. Take care.