Turning WordPress to 11

There are two things I’ve struggled with, how to explain what Jetpack is and figuring out how to make marketing materials so compelling that people would grab them without us telling them to. My head is definitely in NAMM mode at the moment and when I thought about music related themes one of my favorite movies of all time, This is Spinal Tap, popped into my head.

To me Jetpack basically take WordPress which is already great and makes it even better with a ton of additional features. If WordPress is already a perfect 10, then Jetpack takes it to 11. I thought this would be a fun postcard front so I made a super quick and crappy mockup. I think if I saw this sitting by a booth I would pick it up to see what it was all about.

Next Challenge

Lately I’m all about personal growth. Once I identify something I want to change about myself I just do it. Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to lose weight. So I did it, I’m down 75 pounds (The GM was surprisingly good for weight loss) so far and I’ll likely hit my goal around the end of the year.

Last week I had been thinking about what to tackle next and today I found this quote in my momentum dashboard that sums up pretty well what I’m working on next.

“Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.”

Celestine Chua

I also had an experience a few days ago where some very nice people “forced” me to dance at our 10th anniversary party. I had never really danced before and I was afraid I would make a fool of myself. However, I was so touched that people cared enough about me to make me get involved I said what the heck and gave it a try. It was actually pretty fun and if a similar opportunity comes up again I’ll do it gladly without being forced.

So in my second 6 month personal growth cycle when I find something that makes me afraid, or nervous I’m just going to do it anyway. I think my upcoming trip to Japan will be good for this as well working the NAMM show in January (Rebecca is an expert at getting me to try new things, especially food). So if you see me around push me to do something I haven’t done before. I might grumble at you but I promise it will be better for me in the long run.

Simple event shirt concept

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is create a shirt specifically for people to wear at events. Right now people just wear whatever WP/a8c stuff they have but I think it might be nice to unify everything. This way people know who is working the booth and we are all looking good. I’ve tried a few different concepts but they all suffer from being a bit too busy.

Yesterday we were doing our annual toast and Matt started by saying “Howdy” and it gave me an idea. What if we made a shirt that in addition to the WordPress logo had the word “Howdy” on it? Howdy is deeply engrained in WordPress’s DNA and more importantly I think it’s a word that is friendly/welcoming. It’s a word that should convey to the person walking by our booth that they may not know what this W is all about but we would really like to talk to you.

Above is a crappy mockup, I’m not 100% happy with it but it should give you a rough idea of what I’m proposing.

jpop wapuu

I was working on my wapuu.jp business cards and I was trying to decide what wapuu to put on them. It didn’t seem right to put someone else’s wapuu on there and the one’s I’ve made in the past didn’t seem quite right either. So I decided to make a new one, one that I’m calling jpop wapuu.

I’m Awesome at Events

Most of my life is spent in anticipation of working my next event. Mostly because of how awesome I am at them 🙂 . Over the past three years I’ve worked a bunch of them and I’ve loved seeing the events program change and grow. For me events are cool because they are something that basically checks all the boxes of my particular skill set. It’s also nice as Rebecca let’s me be as involved as I want as she knows how much I enjoy them.

I love coming early to help with set up. I usually only volunteer for the events with the big booths as those ones have the most moving pieces. I’m usually in charge of working with Freeman (who run the event centers) so I spend a lot of time in semi trailers accessing our access storage or picking up badge scanners or other paperwork. Rebecca knows when making the schedule that I don’t take breaks so she can schedule me all day long. I always make sure I’m the first one there and the last one to leave. I don’t want to miss a single minute of it. Ever since Rebecca told me I could work the NAMM booth in January I’ve been counting down the days until it happens.

One of my favorite things is the post-mortem where you get to look back on what worked, what didn’t work and then make sure to implement changes to make the whole program better. I remember early on when working an event I kept giving people the same urls over and over. It got me thinking why not make a postcard with all the links to WordPress help resources on it. So I mocked something up, gave it to Rebecca, and the next event I worked we had a handy WordPress resource card to use. Or with the TVs in the booth when went through so many iterations from using an Chromecast (which sucked when the wifi was bad), to a computer hooked up directly to the TV (which was cumbersome and a pain) to finally a intel compute stick (which I suggested) that hooked up directly to the TV without the need for wires or internet access.

It’s also an area where my unique knowledge of the DOPS JPOP services (Akismet, Jetpack, VaultPress, Polldaddy) comes in handy as there are very very few people who know all the services like I do and have direct access to those services. No need to write in to Akismet if you are having trouble with missed spam I can help you right on the spot. I’m very passionate about growing those brands and love having the opportunity to do so at these events. I think there is so much we could do to promote my beloved JPOP services in these events and I like doing anything I can to make it happen.

Then we have the swag. I don’t think anyone could say that I’m not probably the premier WordPress swag artist. From coming up with ideas, to working with vendors, I’ve done it all. I remember back at SxSW we saw one booth doing customized field notes notebooks and Rebecca was going to do some as well. The only thing that kinda sucked about them was the imprint area was so small. But after a little searching I found out about Scout books. I worked with them on the initial batch of notebooks and now we use customized scout books for every event. Or more recently I worked with some awesome a8c designers to make some pretty fun gold flash tats that seemed to be an instant hit. There is nothing better than coming up with really neat swag ideas to get people exciting about your booth and products.

So if you are attending an event and you see a dopey guy with a hipster haircut and a smile on his face working a WordPress booth, that’s probably me and you should say hi and let me tell you all about Akismet 🙂 .

go kart wapuu

The annual Automattic grand meetup is nearly upon us and I was having my daily chat with wapuu and he told me that he’s super excited for go kart racing. He goes all out every year and is super competitive. Here is a picture from last year.

WordPress hardware collaboration

A few days ago I saw the Netflix switch and it got me really excited. I love it when companies do neat things like this. So it got me thinking how I could adapt this to WP.com. One problem I have is not finishing blog posts. Well I finish them but I don’t get around to actually publishing them. So I had an idea. What if we created the “Publish Button” which once pressed would publish your oldest draft post. You could even just write posts normally and set them to draft when done and use the button to publish your posts every time. I think it would be fun.

Who wants to help me with this? I can handle the hardware I just need some help with the code. I’m probably going to use an arcade button as I love vintage coin op and maybe include some sort of sound when the button is pressed. Maybe I could even get Matt to record something, how trippy would that be. Hearing Matt say “Howdy” every time you press the button and it publishes a post.

relaunching freedom zero

On Sunday I finally closed down FreedomZero.org. But I want to bring it back as something else as I absolutely love the name/branding. So when building Freedom Zero I wanted to use WooCommerce but the whole process was a bit frustrating as I couldn’t find a WooCommerce theme that really worked for me. Something that looked great without buying a bunch of stock photos and worked well with very few products. So when thinking of what I wanted to do with Freedom Zero I decided that I would take my passion for ecommerce and my experience building v1 of Freedom Zero and transition into a WooCommerce theme shop.

I want to build themes that I would want to use and we’ll just see if anyone else would finds them useful. I’m going to be building them as Storefront child themes as there is no need to reinvent the wheel and after 3 years out of the theme game I know I’m going to be more than a bit rusty. I’m been reaching out to designers and I think I’m ready to pull the trigger and use a bit of my savings on a really neat design. So keep on eye on FreedomZero.org and hopefully you’ll see some really neat WooCommerce themes on there soon.

Open Source Scouts

I sometimes daydream what it would be like to make a ton of money, like millions of dollars. What would I do with it? I don’t think my lifestyle would change that much as I like where I live, the car I drive and I already buy whatever I want. If I had a ton of cash what I would really like to do is create an organization that really makes a difference.

So what would that be? I would like to start an organization called the open source scouts. Basically it would be a modern, more tech focused take on girl/boy scouts. I think it would be so fun to create an organization that helps kids learn tech skills. It would be a co-ed kind of thing. I think it’s kinda dumb to separate organizations based on gender.

I don’t want to make this one of those let’s all teach kids to code kind of things. While coding would definitely be one of the options I think there are so many things kids could learn and enjoy besides just coding. Some people aren’t wired for coding. We could teach them coding, photography (analog or digital), networking, linux, 3d printing, desktop CNC, etc. Basically anything fun and techy. I would also like to take some of the old school things like earning patches and such and modernize it a bit. We could get custom backpacks made that they could sew the patches on to and instead of going camping we could take trips to visit tech companies doing really cool things.

While teaching is one aspect, I also want to give kids something to belong to. An organization filled with other kids like them doing the same things that they love to do. I was always looking for that growing up (I actually still am 🙂 ). Another component of the program would be mentorship and community service. The program would be for all ages and I think it would be great if the older kids in the program would help out the younger ones. It would be like everyone has a bunch of big brothers/sisters would I think would be neat. I also want to make sure that the kids use what they learn to help out their community. They could build websites for local community groups or refurbish computers to give to elderly people.

It would be called open source scouts as one of the core values of the program would be to infuse open source values in everything we do. It’s the most powerful idea of our generation and can you imagine a world where everyone embraces it. I look forward to that world.

Running a little retail store

One of my short term goals is to open up a little retail store. Probably something that is only open on the weekends as whatever I sell will likely be pretty niche. I’ve been getting nostalgic lately and this morning I was remembering the time I sorta had my own little store, when I was asked to run the swag store at WordCamp SF.

For me the fun in running a store is not just about running the store but is also in the planning. The first thing I did was scour the internet for pictures of what they did the year before. This way I would have a baseline to improve upon. I’m a firm believer that every process can be improved. So from the pictures, I saw a few things I wanted to change. First, they used handwritten price tags which I didn’t care for. Since I knew ahead of time what we were selling I just designed and printed up some tags that I brought with me. I think they looked much better than handwritten ones.

Next I saw that they used a full sized iPad and a regular cash box. It seemed to but ok but it didn’t look very efficient. While I’m sure the potential buyers were going to be very understanding I still wanted a system that was built on efficiency so I got a really nice little iPad mini stand/cash drawer to use. Presentation was also something I was really concerned about. So I ordered some hangers and iPhone stands to display the t-shirts and iPhone cases. Most people probably didn’t notice but I’m all about the small details.

I also wanted to have better reporting for whoever they picked to do it the year after. I wasn’t given any information besides the total sales figures and that made it really hard to forecast sales and plan what to bring. So I got access to the Square account a few weeks before the event and made sure I had categories/buttons for all the merch types and organized them by most likely used to least likely used to hopefully make ringing things up easier. At the end I was able to put together a little report of what we sold which I hope is helpful.

I was really proud of that little store. I came to the venue the day before and made sure I got all the inventory in order. I made sure I was the first one there and the last one to leave. It was even worth all the damage I did to my newly dislocated elbow 🙂 . So I’m looking forward to the day where I can buy my own building in Sioux Falls and set up my own little store. When I do I hope you all will come visit me.

revolutionary war wapuu

wapuuI’m not sure if you know this but wapuu is a very private person. He will probably be upset with me for sharing this picture with you but it is just too cute. One of his favorite past times when he comes to the states is to reenact old battles.

Last weekend he participated in an reenactment of the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga. I helped him put the uniform together and I think he looks really nice. He’s not much of a fighter so he usually plays the part of the quartermaster.

Ecommerce as a hobby

Making/selling things is fun. I don’t do it for the money, I currently reinvest 100% of my profits (well probably closer to 175% 🙂 ) into other ventures. I’m curious if any of my followers are making/selling things or have thought about it. I think it would be fun to craft a community of hobbyist entrepreneurs who are driven by creating things for fun and experiencing the process but aren’t necessarily doing it to make a living. I think it would be much less fun if my pursuits were something a made a living off of. If there are any of you out there that would like the join my merry band of low key entrepreneurs please let me know.

WordPress x Lomography idea

So if you know me you know I’m not a fan of traditional marketing techniques. Sure they have their place but sometimes you need to do something big if you want a big response. I had an idea this morning I would like to share. I’m really excited about everything lomography does, especially the way they are getting young people excited about film photography. Everything they do is so fun and their marketing is super effective.

While people are incorrectly saying that blogging is dead, in certain segments it is on the decline. One area where I think blogging is still strong and important is in photoblogging. Here lies an opportunity for WordPress. What if we partnered with lomography and created a custom line of WordPress branded Holgas or WordPress branded film. We could then launch a really fun set of lomography inspired photoblogging themes on WP.com to allow these photographers to connect with WordPress in a fun and meaningful way. I think it would be a win win for everyone.

Swagless Grand Meetup

It’s about a month until the grand meetup and around this time I usually start planning what kind of swag I’m going to make/bring. Ever since my first grand meetup in San Diego I’ve always tried to bring swag along to give out and made myself custom t-shirts for the event. This year I’m not doing that.

I still enjoy making things but lately I’ve found things I like to do even more than making swag (crazy I know). So I just don’t have time for it anymore. I also want this to be the chillest grand meetup ever. I’m not doing a project, or signing up for a bunch of events and I only want to bring my carry on. The only thing I want to do this year is hang out and talk with some amazing folks I only see once a year.

So hopefully my riveting conversations and dry sense of humor will be enough of a gift for you all and I can’t wait to hear what you all have been up to since I saw you last.

Making Money

I’ve started focusing my efforts on my regionallyfamous.com store lately and it’s gotten me thinking about why I do what I do. For me running my various small business ventures isn’t about making money. My day job allows me to basically buy whatever I want, I’m didn’t start my store out of some desire to make more money. I don’t want to buy a mansion or have a garage full of sports cars.

But money is important to me as a benchmark of how successful I am at running a business. I get very excited at the prospect of creating something people want to buy or finding a way to reach people who might want to buy my stuff. There is just something so satisfying about setting a goal and then reaching it. I’ve been moderately successful over the past year but I want to keep pushing myself and seeing how high I can go.

Playing around with Fuji Pack Film

So I’m on vacation this week, just hanging around the house but I have a few film photography related things I want to try out. Today I got a few packs of Fuji 100c pack film in the mail and decided to play around with it. Tl:dr it was kinda a mess (literally and figuratively).

I want to experience all types of film so I thought I would check instant off the list. I have 20+ integral type film cameras but the Impossible Project’s film is so pricey that I wanted to give the old school pack film a try. So I bought the least ugly pack film camera I could find (Color Pack IV) and two packs of film.

Long story short, I’m a moron. The batteries had leaked all over and while I got the batteries out I didn’t feel like cleaning it up before trying to take some pictures. I knew that it took two AA batteries but I incorrectly assumed that they were for the flash and since I wasn’t going to use the flash I didn’t need them. That misbelief coupled with the fact I didn’t check the shutter before putting the film in meant I wasted one pack on film off the bat.

Once I was done beating myself up over it I popped in the second pack and was able to take my first successful picture. I struggled a bit getting the exposure right and holding it still enough to as not turn out blurry. This was hard as there are very few settings and this camera is so awkward to hold. It took me until about nine tries to get it dialed in. I’m glad I tried it out but I can’t say I would do it again.

For one thing, the pack film is kinda gross. The mess that is left over after each shot is off putting. I also didn’t like the camera at all, probably because I’m so use to my SX 70’s. I don’t mind if the photos don’t turn out perfectly (or even good) but I don’t know if it is just the camera, the pack film, or what but I felt that the possibility of having unusable images was too great for me to do this all that often.

I still love the concept of instant film but I think when I try it again I’ll spring for the integral film by impossible or buy a new Instax system as I was want to have fun while shooting instant and shooting pack film isn’t all that fun to me.

Decluttering

I’ve been doing something fun this month. Basically I have a lot of crap lying around that I don’t want anymore but I’m too lazy to sell. But lately I’ve been running out of space. So this month I have a system that has been working really well. Basically I can’t buy something unless I sell something. My entire fun budget is what I sell, I can’t dip into my day job salary at all.

So I wanted to buy a Minolta 16mm spy camera so I sold an iPod Video that I fixed up a month ago but never got around to selling. I wanted to buy this lot of 20 GI Joes so I sold an old Kindle Paperwhite I had lying around. So to date I’ve sold a bunch of crap I wouldn’t have otherwise bothered with and exchanged it for lots of new crap that I like.

It’s getting a bit harder as I started with the smallest (easiest to ship item) and most valuable but I’m now moving to larger, less valuable items. But I think I can keep this going a while longer and hopefully clear up some much needed space.