People like us, they really like us!

It’s been a little over a week since we all said our goodbye’s (for now!). A few folks took some time to share their experiences from WordCamp St. Louis with us all. Have a read and reminisce.

Taylor Bartley from UMSL shared a nice recap of the event.

Attendee and frequent writer at WP Tavern, Jeff Chandler shared his adventures.

Speaker Brian Goldstein’s round up is quite nice.

Our own organizer and speaker, Lucas Lima, wrote about his experiences as well – in Portuguese.

Neal Jenney’s review has the best quote from a 9 year old WordPresser.

Here’s some notes from Dan Holloran.

Jason Yingling, a speaker and local WordPress person, had some nice things to say as well.

new-animatedThe folks at the Web and New Media Blog at Missouri State put together a Storify of the entire event!

new-animatedOur friend Evan Young over at Integrity put up a nice review of his favorite session.

new-animatedPippin Williamson had a few nice things to day in episode 36 of his podcast apply_filters.

And I, your humble co-organizer, put some photos up on Flickr.


Have a review or recap you’d like to share? Drop us a note in the comments!

Thank you!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I know i said it at least a million times over the weekend, but I am so grateful for every single person that was a part of WordCamp St. Louis in any way.  I had a wonderful time and I hope all of you did as well.  We’re still working on a wrapping up a few things and hope to have links to all of the speakers presentations posted in the next few days.  Additionally, we’ll get the presentation up on as quick as we can so you can watch any of the presentations you weren’t able to attend.

If you’re in the St. Louis area, we hope to see you at one of our upcoming Meetups and don’t forget to follow the St. Louis WordPress community on Twitter or visit us at

Once again, thank you all so much.  We’ll see you next year.

Community Day- Happiness Bar

We just want to let you know that on March 15th,2015, is Community Day, and aside from our Kid’s Camp, Give Back to Core Kid’s Camp, we will have the Happiness Bar in Room 300, which is the auditorium.

This is YOUR opportunity to get those WordPress questions troubleshooted. We even answer SEO, Social Media, and Blogging questions that can tie into WordPress. We will have some of the speakers in and out of the Happiness Bar eager to help.

Examples of some help that we can provide:

  • Troubleshooting the white screen of death where you can access your website… it’s just a blank screen
  • Having trouble figuring out how to change a color or image?
  • Your site is showing some fatal error or some kind of error.
  • You can’t get your Social card or Twitter card or Open Graph to pick up your image for your blog so your social posts look nice.
  • If you need some ideas for a WordPress related project, but not sure what direction to take.
  • If you need a little SEO advice.
  • If you’re still really new to WordPress and can’t seem to understand what you could do with your website. Sometimes a brief brainstorm can clear up the confusion and get you fired up.

We’ve got enough knowledge of WordPress under one room that an answer can be done.

It would really suck if you went home early and have tons of answers still left. It was a lot of information to take in and process. While Happiness Bar won’t build your website for you or fix a theme or plugin if it’s broken, we’re here to help you help yourself by learning how to use WordPress better.

On Twitter? Use #WCSTL for WordCamp St. Louis (and bonus!)

As the title says, if you’re on Twitter, please use the #WCSTL hashtag for WordCamp St. Louis. It can be used for people to follow on HootSuite, Twubs, or Tweetchat. It’s also great for some of us to use to retweet and live blog.

Please don’t get panicky if you see me retweeting people like crazy under my own handle. I will also be handling the WordCamp St. Louis Twitter handle during the event, so please follow us at @wordcampstl.


Anyone from the WordCamp St. Louis event who tweets using the hashtag #WCSTL during WordCamp St. Louis will automatically be entered to win some Yoast Premium plugins or ebooks. Joost de Valk at Yoast (who is one of our sponsors) has generously given us quite a few plugin licenses and ebooks to hand out. In fact, it’s 31 total… including bundled plugins!

However, if you tweet the following during the event, you can earn 2 extra entries to win.
There are 2 more ways to gain an entry! So, I’ll list them all:


  • Merely using the #WCSTL hashtag when tweeting during the event.
  • Retweet our tweets about thanking sponsors (any of them.)
  • Where’s Yoast? (like Where’s Waldo?) Look at the St. Louis WordCamp header banner on this website and find the Yoast wrench. Go show Nile Flores, which she will usually be in the Happiness Bar. (The wrench looks like the image to the right, but in blue.)

P.S. – You have to be an attendee of the event to qualify for the giveaway. Winners will be called out publicly on Twitter, and need to follow our handle so we can DM you to get your details so we can get Team Yoast to send you your prize.

Again, please remember to please follow us on Twitter at @wordcampstl, and also use the hashtag #wcstl. Thanks! We really hope you enjoy WordCamp St. Louis. We have over 300 attends this year- a record!

Speaker Interview: Heather Acton

One of our next speakers, Heather Acton is from the Chicago area. She’s taken some time right before traveling to St. Louis to take a part in our Speaker Interview Series.

You can find out more about Heather in her speaker bio. Heather will be presenting Financial Business Planning for Freelancers.


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

HEATHER ACTON: Back in 2008 I wanted to build my first website – a venue to share pictures and stories about our family with extended family members around the US. I taught myself HTML and CSS and got rolling, but kept running into information about this thing called “WordPress”. It turns out that it was the perfect tool for my project, so I went full force into learning more about it and building my family site with it. It was “love at first use” for me, and I haven’t looked back since!

NILE FLORES: What is the most interesting WordPress-related project you’ve worked on?

HEATHER ACTON: Recently we built a site for Attachapack (, a startup venture that sells customizable backpacks for kids. We built a custom WooCommerce extension that allows a user to “build” their own backpack right on the site – visuals and all. Users and the client love it and it’s helped launch Attachapack to a new level.

NILE FLORES: Name 3 WordPress plugins that have always been on your MUST install list, and why.

HEATHER ACTON: WordPress SEO by Yoast – a must have for generating an XML sitemap, optimizing social posts, and giving the client a spot to edit the search engine title and meta description.

Gravity Forms – we all need at least one form on our site, and GF works great for simple forms and even more complex applications like quizzes, user registration, and contests.

Advanced Custom Fields – an efficient way to add custom fields to pages and posts is imperative even for some of the simplest sites, so this gets installed on almost all of our projects. We’ve also used it to do some cool stuff with modular page layouts – it’s more powerful than meets the eye.

NILE FLORES: What is something interesting about you that the WordPress community doesn’t know?

HEATHER ACTON: That I’m actually more introverted than I seem. At WordCamps and other community events I typically am talking to folks the whole time. And while I enjoy it, it’s not entirely comfortable for me. After a long day of chatting it up with all of these smart people, I like to take a couple quiet hours to myself to recharge and process all that I learned.

NILE FLORES: In regards to new WordPress users, what one or two pieces of advice would you give them that could be very helpful?

HEATHER ACTON: First, stick with it. WordPress is known for being “easy”, but truth be told it’s not so easy to be a really solid WordPress user or developer. Many folks hack through it, but to do things right and well takes time.

Second, take advantage of all of the learning opportunities you can. Go to WordCamps, meetups, read books, Google lots of things, spend time with others that do what you do…and soak it all in.

Please don’t be shy in asking Heather questions at the event, or down in the comments below. 🙂

Speaker Interview: Cameron Barrett

Long time blogger, Cameron Barrett is up next on our Speaker Interview series

You can find more about Cameron on his speaker bio. Cameron will be talking about SaaS CMS to WordPress for 70+ School Sites.


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

CAMERON BARRETT: I was a heavy Drupal user back in 2003-2004, building large blog networks and online community sites for presidential campaigns and snowboarding magazines. I was aware of WordPress because I’d met Matt at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention in 2003. I was using Moveable Type for own blog. I stopped blogging in 2005 and didn’t pay much attention to WordPress for a few years.

Somewhere around 2010 or so I started looking into WordPress again, as well as Expression Engine. I was very impressed by how far WP had come. With the very long release cycles of Drupal, I realized that WordPress was quickly outpacing Drupal in features and functionality. Also, I was sick and tired of waiting for Drupal 8. I started working in WordPress and never looked back.

NILE FLORES: What is the most interesting WordPress-related project you’ve worked on?

CAMERON BARRETT: I just finished migrating a large school distirct (70+ schools) from a proprietary vendor-controlled SaaS to WordPress multisite. The challenges were great the solutions exciting. We’re using WordPress as a CMS in this instance but know that we can turn on BuddyPress and some other tools so that teachers and students can use WordPress as an online communication tool is exciting. It takes some careful planning due to laws around student information and giving students login access.

NILE FLORES: Name 3 WordPress plugins that have always been on your MUST install list, and why.

CAMERON BARRETT: Events Manager: We’ve extended this wonderful plugin to aggregate all events in our district across 70+ schools. This gives our school district a “master calendar” that includes all events across all schools.

FacetWP: We’re using this plugin to build a Video Library for instructional resources. Having the ability to filter down content based on custom taxonomies is truly amazing.

Memphis Documents Library: We love, love, love this plugin. It’s still pretty new and has some rough edges, but it’s fantastic. We are using it to manage large collections of PDF and Word documents on our enormous district web site.

MailPoet: Another amazing plugin. We replaced our expensive MailChimp account with this plugin. We can build as many newsletters as we want and distribute them for a very low cost through a SendGrid account. We are exploring the possibility of letting our teachers build and send newsletters to the parents of each class they teach.

Advanced Access Manager: This is a beauty. It gives us the very tight access control we need over just about every piece of functionality in WordPress (and its installed plugins).

NILE FLORES: What is something interesting about you that the WordPress community doesn’t know?

CAMERON BARRETT: I am an identical twin. My brother is in charge of a 1:1 laptop program at a private school in Northern NJ. Our parents were world-traveling schoolteachers and somehow, despite years of experience in the tech industry, we both ended up working for schools.

NILE FLORES: In regards to new WordPress users, what one or two pieces of advice would you give them that could be very helpful?

CAMERON BARRETT: Install plugins and test them out. If you find an issue, report it. Most plugin developers love feedback and will fix an issue if you ask nicely.

Be on top of the security exploits that target WordPress and its plugins. I use the WPScan Vulnerability Database ( If you’re hosted with WP Engine or another host that handles a lot of the bigger exploits automatically, then you have a lot less to worry about. if you’re with a smaller host or are self-hosting, you really need to pay attention and check your plugin updates on a daily basis.

You will be able to leave comments or questions below, or catch Cameron at WordCamp St. Louis. Don’t forget to purchase your ticket!

Speaker Interview: Chris Carter

Only a few speakers left to feature in our Speaker Interview series. This interview was with Chris Carter.

Chris is a part of the St. Louis based full web design company called 314media. He’ll be presenting on Lessons from the 314 Team.


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

CHRIS CARTER: WordPress was the best CMS of the bunch when I first started this wild ride. It was easy for clients to learn and easy for me to build things on top of. It made the most sense – it tooks less time for me to make and show people how to use = more time for me to focus on new business.

NILE FLORES: What is the most interesting WordPress-related project you’ve worked on?

CHRIS CARTER: Anything that brings leads or new business to clients. I love hearing the tales of phones ringing about the new website. That’s my reason for doing this.

NILE FLORES: Name 3 WordPress plugins that have always been on your MUST install list, and why.

CHRIS CARTER: 1. Akismet – because spam comment notifications are no fun.

2. Custom CSS plugins – why create a child theme for 2 simple fixes?

3. Wordfence – watching bots attack things is fun (especially for those that have not seen this type of traffic before)!

NILE FLORES: What is something interesting about you that the WordPress community doesn’t know?

CHRIS CARTER: I’m a professional pyrotechnician & life long Cardinals fan. I may have closed a few support tickets high atop Busch Stadium (only during rain delays and the top half of innings).

NILE FLORES: In regards to new WordPress users, what one or two pieces of advice would you give them that could be very helpful?

CHRIS CARTER: Be as hands on as possible and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The number of tutorials and information online is astounding – and it’s also amazing to me that there are a ton of ‘non-technical’ people who are great at using the platform.

At 314media, I routinely train administrative and other non-technical support staff to use WordPress – someone in one of your circles probably knows more about WordPress and would love to help you out (over coffee of course). Call me if you’re buying…

If you wish, you can leave comments or questions below, or catch Chris at WordCamp St. Louis 2015. Don’t miss out – purchase your ticket!

Speaker Interview: Michele Butcher

Michele Butcher is the head of the Southern Illinois WordPress Meetup Group, and another person on our Speaker Interview Series.

Michele is from the Carbondale, Illinois area, and loves to teach. You can read more about Michele in her speaker bio.

Michele will be presenting on Intro to Security.


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

MICHELE BUTCHER: I got started as a user with WordPress. I wanted to write my own personal blog which is still active but there is not much added to it these days. At the time I was a preschool teacher. The more I learned as a user, the more I wanted to change directions and to make my career WordPress based.

NILE FLORES: What is the most interesting WordPress-related project you’ve worked on?

MICHELE BUTCHER: My most interesting WordPress project I have to say would be my first one. I helped with content writing and plugin support for Bit 51 and Better WP Security (now iThemes Security). The learning that I received while helping Bit 51 until their buyout by iThemes still helping me to this day. It made my passion for WordPress grow to the point that I exclusively wanted to make money by using WordPress and for that I am ever grateful.

My most interesting website was one that I did for a city government. It was very colorful and informative. They wanted to incorporate every style design they would find and somehow we got it all to work.

NILE FLORES: Name 3 WordPress plugins that have always been on your MUST install list, and why.

MICHELE BUTCHER: My top 3 plugins are:

1. iThemes Security: I like that it gives me all of the simple security best practices all in one plugin

2. Jetpack: My favorite multi-tasker plugin. It just makes my life simpler

3. Akismet: Because no one likes spam.

NILE FLORES: What is something interesting about you that the WordPress community doesn’t know?

MICHELE BUTCHER: I have been a teacher in some fashion since 2001. I started out as a preschool teacher but left that to pursue the geek life. Now I am a 4-H Youth Leader, Volunteer, Educator and an instructor at John A Logan College. In my free time I am also a photographer and an avid reader.

NILE FLORES: In regards to new WordPress users, what one or two pieces of advice would you give them that could be very helpful?

MICHELE BUTCHER: My first piece of advice is nothing is ever permanent as long as you make a backup. So many new users are afraid of breaking the site or doing something wrong that they do not really get into what they could do with WordPress. Play around and get your hands dirty. It is the best way to learn in WordPress. Just remember to make a backup before your changes and have an extra copy of your theme on your PC.

My second piece of advice is learn how to use the forums. They will be your best friend when trying to fix an issue but can be very fretful if you do not know how to look for the answers. Also, do not be afraid to reach out and make your own tickets or answer tickets that you do know the answer to. The WordPress Community is how we have gotten as far as we have from the new users to the advanced developers, everyone plays a part.

If you’re not familiar with how to secure your WordPress site, you may want to get the basics from Michele in her talk. In order to do that, you gotta buy a ticket. 😉

Don’t forget that you can ask Michele questions if you see her at the event, or in the comments below.

Speaker Interview: Michael Cain

As part of our Speaker Interview series and the other half of Cain & Obenland in the Morning, we’re now interviewing Michael Cain.

Michael is an Theme Wrangler. He’s also from Maine, and recently joined the WordCamp Maine 2015 organization team.


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

MICHAEL CAIN: Blogging and then later, employment. I had played around with WordPress a few times previously, but when my wife and I moved to Maine from North Carolina after college, I wanted to start a blog to keep our friends and family updated about our new travels. I spent time exploring both and Blogspot, and sadly (and now ironically) settled on the latter because of their better theme selection at the time. Then as I grew my freelance web development business in Maine, I started exploring content management solutions to offer my clients, and had a hard time justifying any other solution – WordPress was easy for clients to grasp, cheap for me to implement, incredibly flexible, and community supported and developed.

NILE FLORES: What is the most interesting WordPress-related project you’ve worked on?

MICHAEL CAIN: Having to build anything for millions of users – from a theme with which they directly interact, to a plugin that runs behind the scenes – opens up a whole realm of possible issues. A good example of this in the theme world is that we have thousands and thousands of users, each with their own unintentional unit tests of content, that switch themes multiple times a day. Helping minimize their headache makes you think critically about even the smallest of design and development decisions. On the plugin/functionality front, as essentially one massive multisite install, the smallest of mistakes can cause huge performance issues, or can result in downtime. Fortunately, we have an amazing team of talented developers that are constantly on the lookout for shoddy code like my own.

NILE FLORES: Name 3 WordPress plugins that have always been on your MUST install list, and why.

MICHAEL CAIN: VaultPress: For automatic backups and security monitoring, VaultPress is unbelievably easy. Sign-up, give them some server information, and watch the magic happen. The peace of mind is worth the nominal price.

WP Super Cache (or W3 Total Cache): A caching plugin is an absolute must-have for any site that’s not running on a WordPress-optimized server environment (and even sometimes for those too).

Jetpack: Haters gonna hate, but the free, bundled functionality of things like an image CDN, elasticsearch-powered related posts, universal commenting, and easy social sharing, far outweigh the increasingly weak bloat arguments one hears. They’re actively working to make it faster and easier to use, while also adding new, amazing features.

NILE FLORES: What is something interesting about you that the WordPress community doesn’t know?

MICHAEL CAIN: I built a few wooden kayaks and a wooden fishing boat back in college with my dad and a good friend. When this internet fad ends, I’ll probably make a go of building boats professionally.

NILE FLORES: In regards to new WordPress users, what one or two pieces of advice would you give them that could be very helpful?

MICHAEL CAIN: For bloggers, find your own voice and blog about something that you really care about. The best way to grow your blog is to keep creating content, and unless you’re getting paid off the bat, the only way you’ll do it regularly is if you truly care about the subject matter.

For developers, ask questions, follow established developers, and share your work. The WordPress community is its strongest asset, there are resources and documentation galore, and even the best developers had to start somewhere, so don’t be afraid to read something, try it, ask for feedback, rinse and repeat.

If you need to ask questions, Michael will be somewhere around the event. If you can’t find him, feel free to ask in the comments area too. 🙂

Speaker Interview: Chris Koerner

On the docket for our Speaker Interview series is Chris Koerner, who co-organizes the St. Louis WordPress Meetup Group.

He’s a St. Louis local who works for Mercy healthcare system. Chris is an excellent presenter and knows how to talk about code in a manner that makes it interesting and easy to learn. (Note: I added that in because he gave the best talk in the past on CSS that I’ve ever heard in a while.)

You can find out more about Chris in his speaker bio. He’ll be presenting on How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Update Button.


NILE FLORES: What got you interested in WordPress?

CHRIS KOERNER: About a decade ago I wanted to create my own site and at the time I had limited technical knowledge. Today, I’ve gained 10 years of experience and consequently have about .05% more knowledge. The idea that anyone can create a site to share their “thing” is one of the tenants of the philosophy behind the World Wide Web. That WordPress is so successful and till holds itself to this core belief is something amazing. I’ve stuck with WordPress not only for it’s technical chops as it’s grown from a blogging software to a web platform, but also because of the great community of people from all walks of life that come together to do their “thing” with WordPress.

NILE FLORES: What is the most interesting WordPress-related project you’ve worked on?

CHRIS KOERNER: From a technical and collaborative side it would have to be my work with Dynamic Edge Dance Center. I really dug in with Advanced Custom Fields and setup the site to be easily managed by the dance staff. They’ve really ran with it over the last few years.

It feels really good when your clients are excited and empowered to update their own content.

From a, “Heck yeah, this is awesome!” I’d have to say building the site for the non-profit pet rescue my wife founded. But, you know, I could be a little biased.

NILE FLORES: Name 3 WordPress plugins that have always been on your MUST install list, and why.

CHRIS KOERNER: Custom Post Type UI – Makes managing custom post types independent of your theme’s functions.php and easy to administer.

Advanced Custom Fields – Along with custom post types, ACF makes WordPress a really robust CMS for pretty much any use. It’s actively maintained, and like all essential WordPress plugins has a thriving ecosystem.

WP Super Cache – If you don’t cache your site, you’re going to have a bad time.

NILE FLORES: What is something interesting about you that the WordPress community doesn’t know?

CHRIS KOERNER: I’m an avid photographer and don’t work with WordPress as part of my day job (Scandalous, I know!).

NILE FLORES: In regards to new WordPress users, what one or two pieces of advice would you give them that could be very helpful?

CHRIS KOERNER: Start out slow. You’re going to get too frustrated and quit far too early if you try to build on your first go around. Take baby steps, read, read, read. Break things. Figure out why it broke. Read some more. Then you’ll be ready.

Also, always use a development environment. Never edit a live site without having tested everything in your dev setup first and with a solid backup.

Please feel free to approach Chris and ask questions. Also, feel free to thank him for all the dedication to helping the St. Louis WordPress community thrive through the meetups.