Meet Carl Hancock, WordPress Expert

Carl will be joining us for WPSession #2: Building a WordPress Busness on July 13th, 2013.

Where can we find you on the internet?

Carl HancockI do not currently have a personal site or blog as I do not currently blog. As far as social media goes I can be followed on Twitter as @carlhancock and Facebook at You can find my company site at although our primary web site is the Gravity Forms site at

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

I got started with WordPress in 2008. I primarily used it to build client web sites while I was doing custom web design and development for clients. We began development on Gravity Forms at the beginning of 2009 and launched it at the end of the summer in 2009.

What resources to you turn to when you want to learn something new about WordPress?

I keep up to date about what is new about WordPress a variety of ways.  Twitter is one huge resource.  Follow the right people on Twitter and you can gain a lot of knowledge even in as little as 140 characters.

I also browse great sites like (glad Jeff’s back up and running),, WPMU’s blog at, Brian Krogsgard’s, and ManageWP’s fantastic blog.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

Far and away it’s extensibility. The hooks and filters that allow you to mold WordPress and bend it to your will. It’s what allows companies such as ours to exist.

What is your favorite business-related book and why?

I don’t read a lot of business related books. Most of what I read is non-fiction, but not business related. However, a few business related books I did enjoy 37Signals REWORK, Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness, and Richard L. Brandt’s One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of

You asked favorite, but i’m going to mention one business book that I don’t like. Tim Ferriss and his The 4-Hour Workweek. It’s great for getting you excited and pumped up to do something. But not so great at helping you figure out what that something is or how to successfully go about doing it. It was written specifically to sell books, hence the catchy title. I hate the ecosystem it has spawned with the legion of 4HWW devoted “lifestyle designers” and “digital nomads”. Building a REAL business is hard work. It’s not the vacation that The 4-Hour Workweek makes it out to be.

What advice do you have for others looking to become WordPress experts?

Be open to taking advice AND criticism from people within the WordPress community that are successful. They are successful for a reason. Don’t discount what they have to say, because they’ve been there and done that. I’ve seen a lot of that going on.

You need to be able to take negative criticism and learn from it instead of fight it. Some people seem to think they are already experts when they really don’t know a damn thing. Don’t just jump out there and think because you’ve built a theme or plugin or two that you are not a WordPress expert or that you are ready to sell themes or plugins commercially.

There are far too many people selling themes and plugins that have no business doing so and the code quality and problems they create are a testament to that. WordPress low barrier to entry is both a blessing and a curse in that regard.

Bonus Question: What is one interesting non-WordPress-related fact about yourself?

I used to work in the professional wrestling industry. Obviously not as a wrestler. Primarily internet related work, ringside photography, and at times helping with booking… or writing story lines. Although I did act as a referee for a few matches on one show and was involved in an angle at the ECW Arena, which any wrestling fan would know, which saw me dragged into the ring and basically used as a prop for the finish of the match.

I don’t miss the wrestling industry at all. It’s the worst industry you could ever work in. What they put their bodies through, including the drug use most inevitably succumb too is not worth the rewards they receive. Not to mention the politics and the constant worrying that a co-worker or friend may stab them in the back to move up the pecking order, which means more money. They usually end up broke, both physically and financially.

I was friends and acquaintances with many big names in the WCW, ECW and WWF during the late-90’s and the very early 00’s. Tragically that includes being close friends with Chris and Nancy Benoit.

The movie The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke was so accurate in it’s depiction of the industry that it could have been a documentary and not a fictional film. It really is exactly as it’s depicted in that movie.

Meet Chris Lema, Business Expert

Chris will be joining us for WPSession #2: Building a WordPress Busness on July 13th, 2013.

Where can we find you on the internet?

 Well, it’s pretty easy to find me if you know my name. I tweet using the handle @chrislema and I write a daily blog over at So those are the two places to hear what I’m thinking on a regular basis. Of course you can also get my thoughts in your email (daily at 7 am PST) if you subscribe using this link.

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

I started using WordPress around 1.5 – when it introduced Pages. Once WordPress had pages and posts, it had everything I needed (at the time) to use it as more than a blog, but as a simple CMS for customers who needed quick sites that they could manage. Until that point, I’d been using a .NET open source product called DotNetNuke and it was painful. So I was glad to make the switch. Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been eight years, but it has.

What resources do you turn to when you want to learn something new?

My approach to learning is pretty specific. The first thing I do is try to do things on my own without any instruction whatsoever. I do this on purpose to fail. But what I’m actually doing is creating experiences that real knowledge can then hang on. Without it, the real info won’t have any way to “stick” in my brain. So from there, I move to online resources where people write tutorials. I’m able to better understand them because they’re showing me where my ways were wrong, and what I didn’t understand (contextually) the first time. As for the actual tutorials, I’ve read Smashing magazine and wptuts+, along with links I get from sites like

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

When done right, I think my favorite feature is the ability to easily change themes. I’ve not made substantial changes to my site in a year, but before that, for several years, I would change it at least once a year. I don’t love the feature for aesthetic reasons, so I love great design like anyone else. Instead, what I love about changing the theme is that you can adjust the interface as you increase the content. I now have 300 or 400 posts, which makes navigating thru them very different than when I had 30. I have several ebooks to sell, plus presentations and videos of my public speaking that ought to be easy to get to. So from an information architecture perspective, having an easy facility to adjust the interface as content and experiences need to change – without tons of additional migration work – is pretty amazing.

What is your favorite business-related book and why?

Roger L. Martin is an incredible individual who writes and currently is the dean of the Rotman school of management. He’s single-handedly trying to change how MBA programs are run. His book, The Opposable Mind, is one of my all-time favorites because it challenges how we think. I don’t mean it challenges us to change our position. Instead, it challenges the approach we take when thinking about competing tensions. It’s an introduction to integrative thinking that I think everyone should read.

What advice do you have for others looking to become WordPress experts?

First, I think if someone seriously wants to become an expert at anything, they ought to be very clear that it will take time, discipline and energy. To be a student of anything is neither simple nor quick. So I’d tell them to prepare themselves.

Now, with that said, I find that a lot of people don’t want to become WordPress experts, but instead simply want to leverage WordPress to earn a living. That’s a very, very different thing. You can do that in a matter of weeks or months, I suspect.

In that case, what I recommend is simply this:
If you want to learn WordPress well enough to make a living, look to those who are already doing it. Find ways to engage them and learn from them – be it reading their blogs, buying and reviewing their products, or helping them out.

Bonus Question: What is one interesting non-WordPress-related fact about yourself?

I was born in 1970. In those days, a child born three months early was given little chance to live. I was one of those children and I was lucky – because we happened to be living near a research university that had the equipment to keep me alive. I spent the first several years of my life going to a doctor weekly to see if I was brain-damaged, which they predicted and prepped my parents for. I didn’t fully grasp all of it then, but I sensed I was being evaluated. I have lived an entire life with the “impostor syndrome” and for the most part, it’s worked out for me. So I’ve worked hard every day. Proving to myself (before anyone else) that I could learn, work, and deliver. I still work hard, though I take time to play hard too.

Join us for Building a WordPress Business on July 13, 2013

In our second session we’re diving deep into the world of business development. Not all of the topics here are strictly specific to WordPress businesses, but all of them are applicable to WordPress businesses.

Our experts for Building a WordPress Business are Chris Lema, globe-trotting super blogger and VP of Software Engineering at Emphasys Software, Cory Miller, founder and CEO of iThemes, and Carl Hancock, co-founder of Rocket Genius (creators of Gravity Forms).

About the Session

With the experience that can only come from starting and running five start-ups, Chris Lema is going to tackle the challenges of growth, particularly when it comes to growing the internal team. Whether you’re a solopreneur looking to hire #2, or a small team of engineers looking to hire your first marketing person, his tips, strategies and lessons learned (mistakes) will help.

Cory Miller will introduce us to his passion of being a great leader, and running a successful company. Cory loves his team like a family, and he wants to teach you to do the same. When you view your team like a family, a profound and powerful thing happens: it helps you to go farther together than you ever could individually.

After this we’ll open the session to a panel discussion featuring all three experts, Chris Lema, Cory Miller, and Carl Hancock. We have a few primer questions to get the conversation rolling, but the balance of the time will be available to attendees to ask their pressing questions. This is a tremendous opportunity, and one you’ll almost certainly want to experience live.

Topics Covered:

  • Creating your first Startup
  • Making your first hire
  • Growing your team from 1 to 2, to 3, to 5, to 10, to 20…
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Empowering your team
  • Narrowing your focus
  • Cultivating good clients and customers
  • Selling WordPress Products
  • Supporting a growing and demanding customer base
  • Pricing your products and services
  • Plus a panel discussion with all 3 presenters!

A bit about your experts:

Each of our speakers brings with them sage wisdom from years of hard-won business experience thanks, in part, to WordPress.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema is the VP of Software Engineering at Emphasys Software, where he manages high performers and oversees product development and innovation. He’s also a blogger, ebook author and runs a WordPress meetup in North County San Diego.

Follow Chris on Twitter

Cory Miller

Cory is a former newspaper journalist turned full-time web entrepreneur. In January 2008, he founded iThemes in his home, fulfilling a lifelong dream of running his own company. Now iThemes has grown to over 20+ team members, hundreds of products and thousands of customers worldwide.

Follow Cory on Twitter

Carl Hancock

Carl Hancock is one of the co-founders of Rocketgenius, Inc. A premier provider of WordPress plugin solutions and the creators of one one of the most successful commercial WordPress plugins: Gravity Forms. He loves building innovative solutions for WordPress, and is a devoted father, loving husband, amateur photographer, startup founder and travel addict.

Follow Carl on Twitter

Don’t miss out

When you join us live you’ll have a very rare and coveted opportunity to ask these great minds any question you like. I don’t think I can stress enough just how incredible this opportunity truly is. To get a single hour with any one of these experts will cost some serious (well spent) cash, and thanks to WPSessions you can get an hour with each of them for only $25. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better investment.

Secure your seat today!

News Roundup: WPSessions in the Press

WPSessions in the NewsWPSessions is now a month old, and I can hardly believe it. Below is a list of all the places (that I know of) where WPSessions has been talked about around the web. If I missed an article, please drop a note in the comments!

WPDaily – Learn WordPress from the Experts with WPSessions!

PostStatus – WPSessions: Learn from experts

Chris Lema – WPSessions – A Virtual Classroom

Daniel Espinoza – WPSessions: Online WordPress Education

WPTavern – Introducing WPSessions By Brian Richards

WPDaily – WPSessions: Learn How To Build a WP Business

Meet Pippin Williamson, WordPress Expert

Pippin will be joining us for WPSession #1: Building WordPress Plugins on June 22nd, 2013.

Where can we find you online?

Pippin WilliamsonMy personal tutorial site at and on twitter as @pippinsplugins

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

I started working with WordPress around version 2.7. Unlike many, WordPress wasn’t something I instantly fell into favor with. I actually strongly disliked it when I first started working with the platform. My brother was running his personal website on WordPress and wanted me to learn it so I could modify some of his theme template files for him. It was a real struggle for me to force myself to dig into the code and figure out how everything worked. Tweaking the site header was pretty far beyond me. I don’t know exactly when the shift happened, but at some point after working on my brother’s site I realized that I loved WordPress and just wanted to learn more, and more, and more.

What resources to you turn to when you want to learn something new?

WordPress core itself is my number one source. There is so much you can learn about the inner workings of WordPress (some of which you wish you could unlearn even) by just exploring the source code. Looking at the source code of well-built plugins is also just as valuable. Tutorials are great, but no tutorial will ever teach you to truly understand how something works. Start with tutorials to get a grasp of the concept, then dig into the source for real understanding.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

Custom post types by far, followed perhaps by the $wpdb class. Following closely in third is probably the rewrite system for building custom URLs.

What is your favorite WordPress plugin and why?

Post 2 Post. There is no single plugin that can be applied to so many different scenarios and handle every single one of them beautifully. I’ve used it for building education course systems, related post widgets, even connecting product pages to their appropriate support forums.

What advice do you have for others looking to become WordPress experts?

Explore the core source code and the source code of successful plugins. Discover how they did things that worked really well and also how they did things that failed. Learning how not to do something is just as important or more as learning how to do it right.

Bonus Question: What is one interesting non-WordPress-related fact about yourself?

I have mad skills on the pottery wheel.

Meet Daniel Espinoza, WordPress Expert

Daniel will be joining us for WPSession #1: Building WordPress Plugins on June 22nd, 2013.

Where can we find you online?

Daniel Espinoza My personal website is and on twitter as @d_espi

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

I started freelancing five years ago after leaving a job in a bank IT department. My first projects were building ecommerce sites using Magento. A WordPress blog was usually an add-on for the projects I worked on so my first experience with WordPress was building themes to match the stores. Then a few years later I started building plugins for fun and profit.

What resources to you turn to when you want to learn something new?

For non-WordPress related stuff I’ll go through a Tuts+ tutorial as time allows for things that look interesting. Most of my learning with regards to WordPress is task or project related. I’ll learn something new in the process of solving a problem for a plugin idea I’m trying to flesh out. This will usually involve reading through the codex, WordPress Answers on Stack Exchange or working with existing plugins from respected developers to see how they do things.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

Does the WordPress community count? 🙂 I really love the group of people that I’ve had the chance to meet and interact with through the WordPress community.

If I can’t count the community then I’m going with the famous 5 Minute Install.

What is your favorite WordPress plugin and why?

I’m a big fan of WooCommerce since I spend most of my waking hours building plugins for it and supporting users. And yes, I was a fan before hiring on as a WooNinja.

What advice do you have for others looking to become WordPress experts?

I’d suggest to read, write and repeat:

  • Read code of plugins and themes. Write your own plugins and themes using the techniques you’ve observed.
  • Read through tutorials and the codex. Write code using what you learned to solve real problems.
  • Read support questions on Write helpful answers to the questions.
  • Read through open issues of projects on GitHub. Write code that fixes the issues and offer pull requests.

Bonus Question: What is one interesting non-WordPress-related fact about yourself?

I’ve eaten a live scorpion on purpose without being dared to do so. I would not suggest doing it. Frequently asked questions: No, I didn’t get stung. It didn’t have any flavor other than dirt.

Meet Topher DeRosia, WordPress Expert

Topher will be joining us for WPSession #1: Building WordPress Plugins on June 22nd, 2013.

Where can we find you online?

At and on twitter as @topher1kenobe

TopherWhen and how did you get started with WordPress?

When WordPress first came out I looked at and didn’t like it at all, and decided to make a competitor. I did, and my personal blog still runs it, but I quit advancing it in 2004, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone not named Topher. 🙂

I got pulled into a WordPress job right before 3.0 came out, and still didn’t really like it as a CMS, but then when 3.0 came out, and custom content types became a serious thing, it changed everything. I very quickly fell in love with the power of custom content types and pretty much didn’t take any non-WordPress jobs after that.

What resources to you turn to when you want to learn something new?

It depends on whether I know what I want to learn. If I know I want to learn how to use a specific function, or a process based on several functions it’s always the codex. I love the codex.

If I just have an idea, and I want to know how other people have done it I’m about 50/50 between google and asking Smart People.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

Custom Content Types, far and away. I don’t think I’ve ever used WordPress to make a blog, so the flexibility to twist it around to do whatever I want is really really valuable.

What is your favorite WordPress plugin and why?

That’s a tough call. I really like Pippin’s Easy Custom Post Types, but I always feel guilty that I’m not making them by hand. I also really like WP Super Cache. The engineering of caching fascinates me.

What advice do you have for others looking to become WordPress experts?

Build stuff for yourself, even if it’s already been done. Even if you throw it away as soon as you’re done. Try to use as many different functions as possible, just so that the process of using them is in your head. Then someday you’re going to be working on something and think “Hey, I once used that function to do this other thing, we can use that here”.

Build build build.

Also, ask questions. There’s a fine line between annoying leach and growing rock star. That line is different for every person you’re going to ask questions of, so create relationships with Smart People. Once they know you they’re much more likely to either take time to answer your question or tell you nicely that now’s not a good time, come back later.

Most of the people I’ve come in contact with are very happy to help you understand whatever it is you’re dealing with.

Also remember that just about everyone has knowledge you don’t. Look in more places than Rock Stars for advice. I know lots of people with far less general experience than I have that have done lots of specific things that I haven’t, so for that exchange, they’re one of the Rock Stars for me.

Bonus Question: What is one interesting non-WordPress-related fact about yourself?

I grew up in a house off the electrical grid, and learned to read by kerosine lamp, just like on Little House On The Prarie. Not kidding.

Have any questions for Topher?

Ask them here in the comments and we’ll try to get them answered either now or during the session!

Join us for WordPress Plugin Development on June 22, 2013

Happy Monday! Our first session is under a week away, and I’m not sure I could be any more excited! To help you prepare, and get excited too, here’s a bit more about what you can expect.

For this session, each presenter will be bringing a greater level of understanding to the plugin development process, ranging from beginner/introductory topics all the way up to advanced development techniques. Whether you’re just getting into WordPress development, of you’ve been developing years, you stand to learn something from this dynamic speaker lineup.

The topics we will cover:

  • Understanding the basic plugin architecture
  • Determine whether code belongs in a theme or a plugin
  • Activation and deactivation hooks, uninstall.php
  • Importance of function namespacing
  • Understanding and Using Hooks and Filters
  • Preparing your plugin for language translations
  • Registering admin menu items
  • Creating a Settings page
  • Data Validation and Sanitization
  • Using wp_remote_post() and wp_remote_get()
  • Releasing your plugin on
  • and more…

An a bit about your presenters:

These guys are the real deal, with decades of development experience between the three of them. I’m personally excited to learn something new from each of them.

Pippin Williamson
 Pippin is a WordPress plugin developer from Hutchinson, KS. He’s been working with WP for over 5 years and has written more than 50 plugins. Pippin also serves as a member of the plugin review team. You might also know him from his ecommerce plugin, Easy Digital Downloads. Follow Pippin on Twitter

Daniel Espinoza
 In 15 months Daniel went from zero plugins and no product income to 20 plugins and over $7K per month in sales. Whether you have premium plugins in development or are just thinking about building them, Daniel will share valuable lessons on how to design, build, support and sell your plugins. Follow Daniel on Twitter

Topher DeRosia
topher Topher has been a web developer since before Netscape 1.0. He started using PHP/MySQL soon after PHP 2.0 came out, but didn’t really fall in love with WordPress until WP3.0. Since then he’s developed dozens of sites with WordPress, stretching the CMS metaphor at every opportunity. Follow Topher on Twitter

Space is Limited

In order to help things run as smooth as possible, I’ve limited the live session to just 60 attendees. I’ve done this so that everyone attending has ample opportunity to ask their questions and be heard, and to limit the potential number of technical difficulties we could face. If you’re not among the first 60, don’t fret: your ticket will grant you access to the entire session recording immediately after the live portion is over.

Buy your ticket now, and join us for WordPress history in the making!

Update: Watch this session for FREE If you don’t have the $25 to invest in this first session, WebDevStudios is giving away FIVE tickets to the event, you can enter to win on their blog.

Hello World!

Just another WordPress training site? I’ll let you be the judge…

I’ve spent almost five years preparing for the journey that I’m inviting you to join on June 22.

Since 2007 I’ve been learning and growing as both a WordPress designer and developer while also meeting with so many incredible people throughout our community. In that time I’ve also been forging and building some incredible relationships. You could say that I’ve known for quite some time that I’ve wanted to do something just like this, but it wasn’t until about a month ago that I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

What is it?

In May the idea finally struck me: hire my expert friends to teach me cool new things about WordPress. After mulling the idea over for a few days I took to Evernote and started writing down all the relevant information I could think of in order to get started. I put together a list of about 44 experts who I thought would make great presenters and contacted 27 of them right away. Every single one of them said, “yes!” Two days later I designed, built and launched

How will this work?

WPSessions are basically a hybrid between WordCamps and WordSesh, but focused on a single WordPress topic. These will be a monthly event, so you can get your WordPress fix all year long!

Each session will feature three separate presenters and each presentation will be about an hour long, with roughly 40 minutes allotted for slides/demo and 15 minutes for Q&A with the experts. These presentations are broadcast live and we have a chatroom embedded beside the video so everyone can interact and participate. Each session is also recorded, so you can watch it later if you miss the broadcast, and then again and again.

What can you expect?

When you sign up for a session you can expect one thing for sure: you’ll learn WordPress tips and tricks from WordPress experts with real-world experience. You can also expect a warm and inviting environment, where you can feel comfortable asking questions and confident that you’ll get the best answers.

Does it get any better?

I’m pretty excited to get started, and I have lots of plans to build and grow the content of this site. One part I’m most excited about is that every session will be released for FREE on after a few short months. This means that every time you join me for a session, you’re personally helping fund high-quality, informative WordPress videos that benefit the greater WordPress community.

The only way all of this works, though, is if enough people show interest in attending and watching these sessions. The first few are just a test run, so I need all the help I can get filling seats. A tweet of encouragement that I’m on the right track wouldn’t hurt, either. You can find WPSessions on twitter as @WP_Sessions, and you can find me as @rzen.

What do you think?

Enough about what I have to say, what do YOU have to say? Do you like the idea? Is there a specific WordPress topic you would like to know more about? Let me know in the comments!