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 WordPress.org 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.