Highlights of Day 2 of WCAVL from a Local Front-end Web Developer and Digital Marketing Strategist

by Megan Jonas

We had a great second day at WordCamp Asheville with great speakers and interesting talks. Here is just a selection of the talks from today.

Morning Talks

bill-gadlessFreelancing VS Building an Agency with Bill Gadless

Over on the business track, Bill Gadless of emagine started the morning off with the steps of starting an agency once you’ve decided to scale up from being a freelancer. He spoke about the importance of having confidence in your business, creating a sales strategy, and making time to change your mindset from technician to business owner. While much of this talk focused on scaling up an agency and having multiple employees, the information on finances and marketing and having confidence in your agency to push both of these things was extremely valuable.

cliff-seal-designerUser Experience with Cliff Seal

Also this morning, the design track had a last minute schedule addition, Cliff Seal talking about Meaningful UX That Scales. Seal discussed how to talk to non-designers about the importance of good design. A well-designed application or website, he said, can make people’s lives a little bit easier, but explaining this to the parts of your company that are not design-focused can be challenging. “Focus on making people awesome instead of making the tools we sell them awesome,” said Seal. You can do this by reverse engineering your product from the expected outcome, rather than building from assumptions of persona and actions.

alicia-murraySocial Media and Podcasting Learning at Lightning Speed

Wrapping up this morning with a series of lightning talks on the business track, Sarah Benoit talked about best practices and good plugins for integrating social media with WordPress, Alicia Murray dove deeper into Pinterest with 15 tips in 15 minutes, and Tony Zeoli explained how he uses WordPress to podcast and live stream.

Afternoon Talks

cliff-seal-developerWordPress Admin Tips for Developers with Cliff Seal

After lunch, Cliff Seal was back for a talk on the Developer Track on creating friendlier, safer WordPress Admin areas. He has created a plugin that developers can use to pull code that will allow them to remove unnecessary admin menu links, adjust what user roles have access to features, remove the notices that some plugins automatically generate, and hide certain plugins or plugin metadata. If you do all of these things correctly, you can empower your users to love WordPress.

julienEmail Best Practices, Tips on How to Stop Being Lazy, and How the Internet Works with Emoji’s

In the final session of this year’s WordCamp, a series of lightning talks on the all users track included Lydia Roberts on the best tools and tricks for email marketing, Russell Fair on 10 (actually 13) lazy mistakes we all make and how to stop, and Julien Melissas on the very simple, easy to fit in 15-minutes topic of how the Internet works, explained with emojis. If you didn’t catch the last one, definitely look for it on wordpress.tv soon.

Final Celebration Tonight at The Wedge

Join us right now at The Wedge to continue the conversation and celebrate a successful WordCamp Asheville 2016! Come make new friends, introduce yourself to the organizers, speakers and sponsors and let us know how you plan to spark, create, and collaborate over the next year. See you in 2017!

About the Author

Megan Jonas is currently working as a freelance front-end web developer and digital marketing strategist in Asheville, N.C. Her areas of expertise include WordPress, Social Media strategy and implementation, content strategy and creation, and email marketing. In her free time, Megan enjoys reading, hiking, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing. She lives in Fletcher, N.C. in a barn… no seriously… there are pigs and cows and a donkey and everything. Learn more about her work at www.meganmjonas.com.

WordCamp 2016 – Thoughts and Views from a WordPress Newbie

by Alicia Sisk-Morris

STUDIO 828 PHOTOGRAPHY- ALICIA-9657WordCamp Asheville is NOT just for Techies!

Today I spent my very first day at WordCamp Asheville 2016. It’s actually my first experience of continuing education of this type. Unlike a lot of the people who attend WordCamp, I am not a web designer, SEO optimizer or social media content manager. I am a Certified Public Accountant and entrepreneur. When I decided to start my own firm, I knew that having an online presence would be crucial to my success. Having always been a fairly hands on person, I decided to develop my own website. My website was a total boot strap setup where I learned as I went along by asking lots of questions on the internet and watching a lot of YouTube videos. Google was my instructor.

The Value of PreCamp

Today, new developers do not have to rely on Uncle Google. All they needed to do was join WordCamp Asheville’s Friday pre-camp. This day the attendees were given some really grass roots start up tips and techniques. Ones that had I heard them years ago, would have saved me hours and hours of hard work and research. Having such a hands on “show and tell” experience created an atmosphere where even a new comer to blogging or website development could walk away feeling like they had skills that would really serve them well.

Day 1 of #WCAVL

On Saturday, the day was full of a rich variety of sessions and speakers on topics ranging from “Not Your Father’s SEO “with Rich Owings to “Taming the Beast-How to Use Facebook Effectively to Promote a WordPress Website or Blog” with Sarah Benoit.  The sessions were broken out into four tracks 1) All Users 2) Business 3) Design/Front-End and 4) Developer. As an attendee, you could participate in as many classes as you wished and in any category that interested you. Having the classes broken out into these tracks helped everyone choose speakers that had presentations that would have been tailored to our areas of interest and to our level of experience.   Every speaker I heard spoke passionately about their subject and showcased their extensive experience. I witnessed so much knowledge being shared freely with everyone. It’s not often that professionals of this caliber are willing to share their secrets of the trade but this group proved to be both informative and generous with their time and talents.

Teamwork and Planning Make WordCamp Asheville Remarkable

When any organization has an event of this magnitude there is always a team of people that work long hard hours organizing and coordinating. The WordCamp Asheville team did an amazing job. The speakers were on time and on topic, the registration process was painless and the event space at UNC-Asheville was excellent. Oh and the food, we cannot forget the food. Coffee flowed freely along with a large variety of healthy and fun snacks and lunch options. They tastefully provided for everyone’s dietary needs without anyone having to ask. That takes exceptionally thoughtful people who are skilled event planners. My final praise goes out the folks who planned our swag bag. What a treat to find a beautifully designed t-shirt, pint beer glass and coaster. Asheville is Beer City USA so it was a perfect nod to our host city.

I wish to thank to everyone who worked hard to put this event together. I have learned a lot today and I am looking for to Sunday’s presenters. WordCamp 2017 is already on my calendar for next year. It’s a “don’t miss” event.

About the Author

Alicia Sisk-Morris is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with over 20 years’ experience with offices in Asheville and Weaverville, NC.  Her firm services individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit clients as they seek to make–and keep–more money.   Her firm’s clients range from solo-entrepreneurs to artists, alternative and traditional medical professionals, construction firms, architects, engineers, real estate professionals, schools, business executives, and start-ups.  Additionally, Alicia is an instructor for Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, Small Business Administration workshops, and the Western Women’s Business Center, as well as an accomplished public speaker and trainer.   She regularly addresses accounting, tax, and other topics related to contemporary business challenges, solutions and opportunities.  Besides her CPA credential, Alicia holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and a Master of Entrepreneurship Degree from Western Carolina University, where she was a Jacob Spencer Medford Scholar, a WCU Distance Graduate Scholar, and honored as the Outstanding Master of Entrepreneurship Student of the Year award recipient.  Learn more at:  www.siskmorriscpa.com.

Featured Silver Sponsor: GoWP


WordCamp Asheville 2016 is about to begin and we could not have planned such an excellent event without our sponsors. Our sponsors not only believe in supporting WordPress’s open source community, they also believe in sharing ideas, supporting one another, and making WordPress the very best it can be. GoWp is one of these companies and we were lucky enough to get one of their staff to share some information about GoWP’s story.

Q. What is your name?

A. Brad Morrison

Q. What does GoWP do?

A. GoWP provides complete subscription WordPress support, including a white-label plan for agencies. For a low monthly fee, you get automated WP core and plugin updates, regular backups, security monitoring and help from real people. They can keep your site secure, up-to-date and provide WordPress support, assistance, and guidance when you need it most.

Q. Why do you do it? What is your vision and mission?

A. After 10 years of running a traditional web agency, we decided to simplify things in early 2014 and focus solely on support. Our team was a little worn down with managing all of the pieces of project work. Support was always a positive experience — our clients loved it when we helped them solve painful issues and we loved seeing them happy. We retooled our entire business with the mission to “create happiness by delivering exceptional WordPress support.”

Q. Who are your ideal customers?

A. (1) Digital agencies who are looking for a white-label support service and (2) small businesses who need support for their WP site.

Atlanta, Georgia downtown aerial view.

Q. Why do you support WordCamp Asheville? What do you hope attendees gain from participating?

A. We’re nearby in Atlanta and want to help grow the WordPress community in Asheville and across the region. I hope attendees see how special the WordPress community is and also take away ideas to improve their site or organization.

Q. How do you use WordPress or how do your clients/customers use it? Why is WordPress important to you?

A. We support WordPress sites across many industries so we see it used in a lot of ways: memberships sites, e-commerce, lead generation, lifestyle blogs and more. WordPress is important to us because it’s community-driven software that is always improving.

Q. How can people learn more about what you do?

A. Visit our website www.GoWP.com.


What is a Lightning Talk and Why Should I be Excited about Them?

Spark – Create – Collaborate

Every year at WordCamp, we feature innovative and experienced people from the WordPress community who share their knowledge with us in 45-minute talks across different tracks. WordCamp attendees can choose to follow a track through the whole weekend or can jump from track to track based on speakers and topics. Either way, you’ll get a wealth of WordPress knowledge.

We Are Proud to Announce this Year’s Addition of Lightning Talks

This year at WordCamp, we’re adding an exciting new series of 15-minute lightning talks, featuring new and returning speakers. These shorter talks take place across tracks and allow attendees to hear about a wider variety of topics each day. Some of our lightning talks are on topics that can be easily digested in a short period of time. Others are introductions to larger concepts that attendees may choose to dive into at later WordCamps and WordPress meetups.

On Saturday afternoon, Business track attendees will hear three short talks. Asheville’s own Boomer Sassmann (owner of Big Boom Design) will talk about using Asana for team collaboration. Adam Walker will explain what he learned from building 48 websites in 48 hours. And Leah Quintal (Director of SEO at JB Media Group) will address the important question “Do Keywords Still Matter?” The Developer track will feature lightning talks on WP CLI, server profiles, and post types.

On Sunday, all four tracks get a set of lightning talks. The Business track features talks on integrating social media, using Pinterest, and podcasting. Developers will hear speakers on plugin development, using WordPress as the backend of mobile apps, and MU Plugins. Later in the afternoon, the All Users track will include talks on email marketing, bad web habits, and one called “how the internet works,” while the Front-end/Designer track features talks on Page Builders, Flexbox, and Child Themes.

No matter which track you choose, these new 15-minute lightning talks are a great way to get a lot of information on a lot of different subjects in a short time. We hope you enjoy this new format as much as we do.

You can see our complete schedule of events on the schedule page. Check out the lightning bolt icon for our shorter lightning talks.

Jack Lenox

Jack Lenox to Deliver Keynote at WordCamp Asheville 2016

We are thrilled to welcome Automattician Jack Lenox as our 2016 WordCamp Asheville keynote speaker! Jack is a design engineer and a frequent WordCamp speaker. He lives in Keswick, in the English Lake District, and he’s also a world traveler, vegan, humanist, and a co-organizer of last year’s ThemeConf, a conference in the UK for themers, designers, and front-end developers. 

For the past few years, Jack has been experimenting with new approaches to theme development, specifically with how to use the REST API to create seamless, super fast loading  single-page applications.

For his keynote, Jack will adopt a broader, less technical vantage point and talk about the power of the open-source community, in which WordPress is proudly entrenched. Jack describes his talk, “The Power of Open,” as such:

“On September 27, 1983, Richard Stallman announced to the world his intention to create a complete operating system from the ground up. He called it GNU, which stands for GNU’s Not Unix. This also marked the launch of the free software movement. Now, more than 30 years later, we gather at one of many hundreds of WordCamps, that occur throughout the world, every year. And we represent just one small segment of a much grander pie.

“When I made my first steps into this community in 2008, I took a lot of the freedoms we have for granted. Since then, I have learnt a lot about freedom (both with an upper and lower case F), and I can’t help but find the ubiquity of open source software (and hardware) awe-inspiring. This talk will include a number of the most inspiring things I have learned about during my time in our industry, and will hopefully underline the importance of this year’s theme: Spark. Create. Collaborate.”

Jack will also deliver a developer track talk to relay his experiences working with the REST API and what the future holds for theme development. 

You can find Jack on Twitter and at https://jacklenox.com, you’ll find some of his travel logs and general musings on life.

Meet Our #WCAVL Small Business Sponsors

We’re extremely grateful for the small business sponsors that make WordCamp Asheville possible. These sponsors are important members of the Asheville WordPress community and we thank them for their support!

WordCamp Asheville could not succeed without your support!

JB Media Group is an internet marketing firm that focuses on strong digital strategy, content, social media and public relations to help businesses tell their stories. They also offer training for marketing professionals and business owners to learn how to create their own digital marketing plan. This Asheville-based group focuses exclusively on internet marketing to deliver results for your business.

FacetWP is an advanced filtering plugin that allows users to create faceted search for ecommerce, directories, resource libraries, and more. The plugin works with any theme and integrates with tons of popular plugins. If you are looking for a search filtering plugin that gets your users to what they want faster, check out Facet WP.

Open Door Design Studio is an Asheville-based design studio with expertise in branding, collateral and website design. ODDS approaches each project as a collaboration between their designers and the client to create award-winning design that will make your business shine.

Lydia Roberts Design builds responsive website and email designs for business and nonprofit clients. She works exclusively in WordPress and is an active member of the WordPress community here in Asheville. She specializes in website design and development that helps her clients shine, and integrating those sites into an email marketing plan.

Treetop Interactive is a web and mobile development agency based in Asheville, with a focus on websites and mobile apps. They are experts in WordPress and WooCommerce, and their software engineers prioritize creating systems that their clients can use and maintain long after the website is launched.

If you or your business want to support Asheville’s WordPress community, sponsorships are still available, and are a great way to get your business in front of a highly engaged developer community. Visit our Become a Sponsor page to see our sponsorship options.

Meet Our Bronze Sponsors!

WordCamp Asheville could not take place each year without the support of our wonderful sponsors. In addition to supporting our Asheville WordPress community, these Bronze sponsors have WordPress baked into their core values. We are so grateful and proud to introduce the following companies:

MyGeek Technologies

MyGeek Technologies provides IT support services to small and medium sized businesses and nonprofits. They also support and host WordPress sites in a PCI/HIPAA compliant datacenter. According to Adam Sewell, “We do what we do to help others. It’s a passion. As part of that idea, we strive to help our clients become productive with the technology they own and find new technologies that fit their businesses and workflows without breaking the bank. Which often includes a lot of open source technologies like WordPress.” MyGeek Technologies was built from the founder doing WordPress freelance development work therefore they have strong ties to the WordPress community still to this day. The reason they support WordCamp Asheville is so they can help others follow their passion and dreams.

SiteLock Security for Small Business

Sitelock is currently protecting more than one million WordPress sites, SiteLock delivers a patented 360-degree website security solution to find, fix and prevent malware and other threats from affecting websites and their visitors. Services include malware scanning and vulnerability detection, automatic malware removal, an advanced web application firewall (WAF), PCI compliance and website acceleration powered by a global CDN. SiteLock provides phone support, available 24/7/365.

SiteLock has been protecting websites since 2008, with a varied team that continues to grow every day. Our diverse backgrounds allow us to better understand and meet customer needs with a culture focusing on respect, positivity and fun. And with leadership that is committed to the team, that commitment is passed along to our customers. Above all else, we are dedicated to customer success. Whether it be your online portfolio, business site or blog—fighting malicious activity, protecting your website and helping you through the process when something happens is why we are here.

SiteLock is very excited to be supporting WordCamp Asheville this year! WordPress brings together an exceptional community of people committed to learning from each other and bettering the platform. We want to continue to support that growth and innovation. Our hope is that attendees at WordCamp Asheville walk away with new knowledge, ideas and connections that will improve their WordPress experience.


WPML.org is “The WordPress Multilingual Plugin” and makes it easy to translate WordPress sites into multiple languages. WPML falls under the umbrella of onTheGo Systems, a global company with 79 members coming from 35 different countries.WPML comes in over 40 languages. You can also add your own language variants using the languages editor. WPML offers two versions to fit any size website, from a blog to a complex corporate site. If you’re looking for a simple, powerful plugin to translate every aspect of your WordPress site, check out WPML.org. Created by onTheGoSystems, the team also offers the awesome Toolset plugins and a translation service. Toolset is a suite of plugins to manage custom types in WordPress sites. With Toolset you can build custom WordPress sites, without writing PHP. The ICanLocalize Translation Service provides translation for websites, iPhone apps, Android apps and software. According to Laura de Figueiredo, WPML works hard to develop great plugins because they LOVE WordPress and want to make the lives of the WordPress community easier. “WordPress is an amazing community, in which OnTheGoSystems loves to play an active part by supporting it as it grows,” states Figueiredo. “Attendees at #WCAVL will not only learn, but also share their ideas. You can meet a great developer, an agency owner, or just a WordPress beginner, it doesn’t matter, everyone is there to participate and contribute,” she continues. Visit the onTheGoSystems website to learn more.

Status Forward

Status Forward is a small design and development team focused on helping businesses, organizations, and individuals develop brands that connect with people in a digital world. WordPress plays a fundamental role in all of their web projects. A website is often what makes the first impression on a potential client or customer, and as such, it is a vitally important part of any brand. They specialize in clean and effective design and custom development that makes the most sense for our clients and helps them stand out from the crowd. Founder Laurel Scherer told us, “We do what we do because – well, we like it – and it helps pay the bills too. We enjoy the diversity of the clients we work with. Every business has something unique to say and we like figuring out what that is and how to best communicate it in everything we do when partnering with a client.” “We enjoy being part of the WordPress and Asheville communities, both of which foster collaboration and mutual support,” she continues, “This is key to our success, and we want to contribute to the continued growth and well being of these two great communities. WordCamp is the perfect opportunity to do this as a sponsor, speaker, and of course, at the Happiness Bar.” Visit the Status Forward website to learn more.

Craft Peak

Craftpeak, a digital creative studio in the heart of Downtown Asheville, offers web design and development services, as well as classes in coding. Founders Julien Melissas and Corey Bullman are highly involved in the Asheville WordPress community. Their work focuses on collaboration and storytelling to build exceptional web and application experiences.  Learn more at craftpeak.com.

dreamhostDreamHost, a web hosting company that hosts over 750,000 WordPress installations across their shared and dedicated servers. They also offer domain registration, and cloud services for a wide variety of business needs. With 24/7/365 technical support, they are a great option for hosting your WordPress website. Come for the great hosting and support, stay for the quirky newsletters. Learn more DreamHost.com.

plesk_logo_positive_rgbPlesk, a WebOps platform to run, automate, and grow applications, website and hosting businesses. Plesk is used by many of the top hosting and cloud providers around the world, and has WordPress specific implementations of its OS-agnostic platform, including the ability to install and manage all of your WordPress installations from one login, and a robust security interface. Visit Plesk.com for more information.