Meet Tony Perez, WordPress Expert

tonyperezTony will be presenting during the  Security for Developers session, which you can watch LIVE on May 31. During his presentation, Tony will walk us through how to professionally clean a site after it has been hacked.

Check out his interview answers below.

Where can we find you on the internet?

You can find me at @perezbox on Twitter, and find insights at the Sucuri Blog: http://blog.sucuri.net

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

I got started with WordPress in 2010, I was introduced to the platform and its community by my brother-in-law, Dre. At the time I was in Technical Architect designing enterprise systems for the Department of Defense (DoD). Working on a specialized technology known Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

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

When I want to learn something I turn to my technical advisor, Google, and as of late I have been turning to to Twitter as well. When it’s WordPress related I go to websites like WPBeginner, WP101, and how could anyone not go to Chris Lema’s website.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

I like how easy to use WordPress is, it’s actually why in 2010 I opened a design / development shop with Dre, CubiTwo. Having worked for years on closed systems I knew first hand how hard it was for clients to adopt web applications and usability and ease of use was key. When I saw how easy WordPress made this for the end-user I knew it was a step in the right direction.

What sparked your interest in web security? How did you get from there to here?

Interestingly enough, I first got into Web Security in 2008 / 2009 with DoD when I was tasked with putting together security documentation for our applications. I actually hated the entire process, but if you have ever worked with the DoD you understand why – it’s red tape hell. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2011, when I was invited to join the Sucuri team that I gained a much deeper appreciation for website security specifically. The challenge with things though was that I was going from one industry to another, for those that have ever done that, you know how challenging that can be. Unlike school though, it’s amazing how much you learn and absorb when you’re really interested and passionate about something. While not a developer, I quickly got into the domain of testing proof of concepts, leveraging toolsets, and really working to understand attackers and their tactics. Somewhere in this process I was so acclimated with the entire process that it became second nature, it’s really unclear at what point that was.

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

In terms of giving advice on how to become an expert, my number one recommendation is not to work to be an expert. Work to learn your trade, the best experts are those that don’t categorize themselves as an expert, instead aim to learn their trade and work to produce something of value for the world. This can happen in months or years, stick to it and have more confidence in yourself than anyone else.

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

I’m a pretty adamant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and love to compete when possible.


Thanks, Tony!

If you want to see Tony present on how to clean a hacked site, get your event ticket today!

Meet Glenn Ansley, WordPress Expert

glennGlenn will be presenting during the  eCommerce for Developers session, which you can watch LIVE on April 19. During his presentation, Glenn will walk us through the best way to develop add-ons for iThemes Exchange.

Check out his interview answers below.

Where can we find you on the internet?

Twitter: @glennansley
Work: iThemes.com

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

Been working with WordPress since 2004 when I stumbled into web design during grad school.

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

Google, books.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

I enjoy the hooks API the most. I think the hook API is what sets WordPress apart and made it so popular… even though most users don’t it exists.

What is your favorite Exchange feature/aspect?

It’s modularity and the simplicity that creates in the admin screens.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned about ecommerce over the past 5 years?

eCommerce encompasses a ton of niche areas that you wouldn’t expect at first glance and making all those work together is very complicated.

What is the one tip you would give anyone considering to add ecommerce to their site?

Make a list of the features you need and find the solution that works best for you. If multiple solutions work, make sure you pick on that supports its customers well

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

If you’re already a PHP developer, find time to read every line of the core WP source code in the evenings when you would usually spend time reading. Familiarity with core will be your tipping point.

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

I have a wife and 4 kids. I constantly have to remind myself that work is the distraction and not them.


wpsession10_thumbThanks, Glenn!

If you want to see Glenn present on developing for iThemes Exchange, get your event ticket today!

Meet Daniel Espinoza, WooCommerce Expert

Daniel EspinozaDaniel will be presenting during the  eCommerce for Developers session, which you can watch LIVE on April 19. This is actually Daniel’s second appearance on WPSessions (read his first interview). This time around he’ll be talking about building extensions for WooCommerce.

Check out his interview answers below.

Where can we find you on the internet?

I blog at http://daniel.gd
I’m on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/d_espi
And Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+DanielEspinoza1/

What is your favorite WooCommerce feature/aspect?

I love how easy it is to setup and get selling.  Also, I like the one page checkout.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned about ecommerce in the last 5 years?

I’ve learned that people should focus on product and customer first. I built several ecommerce sites for customers between 2008 and 2011 who focused mostly on the custom design, but they are no longer in business.  The ones that focused on what they were selling and who they were selling to are still going strong.

What is the one tip you would give anyone considering to add ecommerce to their site?

For physical products spend money on great product photos. Whenever I buy online I want to see what I’m buying clearly and from many angles. Also, if available in your country use Stripe as your gateway!

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

My wife and three young kids are moving toward being nomadic. We sold our house and are traveling around the world, currently two months in Europe. We still have an apartment in Texas, but may not renew our lease and become totally nomadic.


wpsession10_thumbThanks, Daniel!

If you want to see Daniel present on developing for WooCommerce, get your event ticket today!

Meet Andrew Munro, WordPress Expert

andrewmunro-240x240Andrew will be presenting during the  eCommerce for Developers session, which you can watch LIVE on April 19. I invited Andrew to speak about building add-ons for Easy Digital Downloads because he has written over 20 of them.

Check out his interview answers below.

Where can we find you on the internet?

Twitter: @sumobi_
PS, @sumobi, if you’re reading this, I’d really like to drop the underscore on my Twitter handle.

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

My first foray into WordPress was in 2010 when WordPress 3.0 had just been released. Up until that point I had been using ExpressionEngine (EllisLab) as my CMS of choice for client websites. I started by using the Genesis Framework (StudioPress), which was excellent, but I discovered it shielded me from knowing how a lot of things work in WordPress. Not to say it’s bad of course, but I wanted a deeper understanding of WordPress.

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

wordpress.stackexchange.com has always been immensely helpful when I’ve been either stuck or wanting to learn something new. I haven’t needed to post a question in a very long time, guess I’ve learnt a lot!

By far the best resource has been other developers’ plugins. Scouring through the code of another plugin is fascinating. Not only do you always learn something new, but you discover a more efficient way of doing something that you can then apply to your own plugin development.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

I like to get my hands dirty so for me it’s the extensibility that WordPress provides through action hooks and filters. Provided that a plugin developer has added sufficient hooks/filters inside their plugin, they provide immense power to anyone wanting to extend the functionality of that plugin. They’re also very easy to learn!

What is your favorite Easy Digital Downloads feature/aspect?

Again, the extensibility of the plugin and the clean, well-structured code. Easy Digital Downloads recognises the need to be extensible whilst focusing on doing one thing right: selling digital downloads. It has a plethora of useful hooks and filters, and at the time of writing there are well over 200 add-ons available, all built on top of Easy Digital Downloads.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned about ecommerce over the past 5 years?

If you intend to sell products online, be prepared to get extremely cozy with your chosen e-commerce platform. Suggest features and ideas to the developers, help other customers in the forums, contribute bug patches and write plugins if you can. I honestly believe that the strength of the e-commerce platform directly correlates to how well your online store does. The e-commerce platform is what helps you put your products in front of your customers, and ultimately how your customers will pay for your products.

What is the one tip you would give anyone considering to add ecommerce to their site?

Do your research and choose your e-commerce platform wisely. Spend time with it to make sure it can do everything that you need it to do. If it can’t, make sure it has add-ons that can, or there are developers who can build it for you. An e-commerce platform with great technical support will also be crucial to the success of your business.

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

Study the inner workings of your favourite WordPress plugins, the ones you trust and use for every project. Try to extend their functionality to do something unique for your purpose. If you happen to find a bug, try and fix it yourself rather than opening up a support ticket. You’ll be amazed at how fast you learn, not to mention that warm fuzzy feeling when you give something back.

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

I’m glad you didn’t ask for a “non-computer related” fact, as this answer would be empty! As much as I love to code, designing websites and logos is also a passion of mine. Being able to take a project from start to finish is exciting. I also like to dabble in 3D modelling, which I find fascinating. I even have one of those fancy 3D mice and a drawing tablet. I’m proud to say I haven’t used a standard computer mouse in 14 years.


wpsession10_thumbThanks, Andrew!

If you want to see Andrew present on developing for Easy Digital Downloads, get your event ticket today!

Meet Benjamin Bradley, WordPress Expert

benjaminBenjamin presented in the  eCommerce for Site Owners session, which is available for immediate replay right now. Benjamin gave us an incredible walkthrough on using iThemes Exchange. If you think there’s no such thing as a simple solution to ecommerce, you clearly haven’t heard enough about iThemes Exchange.

Check out his interview answers below.

Where can we find you on the internet?

You can find me just about anywhere.  But like the cobbler’s children never getting new shoes, my sites are not updated unless I’m testing new code or trying something out.  I’m the man behind the microphone at WebDesign.com, so you can normally find me there.  I’m also at http://www.benjaminbradley.com and http://b.enjam.in.  On Twitter: @benjaminbradley.

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

I’ve been involved with WordPress since the code was split from the b2 blogging system.  It has come a LONG way since then and is fascinating to watch the expansion.

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

I’m a trial and error kind of guy.  I’m always trying new things and discovering new ways to break the internet and my computer.  I’m a big believer of learning as you grow.  So I’ll jump on Google to research an idea and then just run with it… learning while I grow.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

My favorite aspect of WordPress is the extensibility.  Using WordPress as the base or “foundation of the house”, the end result can be constructed to do just about anything.  We used to do a fun type of class at WebDesign.com where members would find a function or type of site that exists on the internet (not powered by WordPress) and I would reproduce that functionality or look USING WordPress.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned about ecommerce over the last 5 years?

The most significant thing I’ve learned about ecommerce is that it is like an iceberg.  It looks simple on the surface but the moment your site/boat gets closer you realize how much larger that iceberg is under the surface.  There are tools that can help “simplify” the ecommerce process but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of confidence.  I’ve always told freelancers that the moment a client requests an ecommerce site, just triple your rate your were going to charge them.

What is the one tip you would give anyone considering to add ecommerce to their site?

My biggest tip for anyone wanting to add ecommerce capabilities to their OWN personal site would be to use what works for you.  Just because “everyone uses X” or “my co-workers 12 year old ‘webmaster’ son says Y is the bomb” doesn’t mean it will work for you.  Try things out, read about different systems, and find something that YOU like to work with.  Because at the end of the day, only you are going to be working with the code… not that 12 year old and not everyone else.  Also, you might want to know your “restrictions” or “limitations” before you begin your search.  If you absolutely must use a certain payment gateway, well your decision making process may already be made up for you.

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

Get involved in the WordPress community.  Sort of like how Smokey the Bear says that “Only you can prevent forest fires.”  Well… Only you can make yourself become a WordPress expert.  Nobody else is going to give you that crown.  Read all you can, experiment with code, do ACTUAL client development, write articles, review themes/plugins, attend WordCamps and speak at them, hang out in the “Happiness Room” at a WordCamp, get involved in a WordPress community.  Only you can do it.

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

I’m a firefighter/paramedic here in the Washington DC area.  And a few years ago when I was doing a live training event at WebDesign.com (which the Global Broadcasting Studio is in my house), I heard a massive explosion that shook my house.  I told everyone on the live training that we were going to take a short break and I ran outside to see my next door neighbors house had exploded into a massive fireball (boiler exploded).  I spent the next few minutes providing “first due” engine feedback to dispatch and removed the older couple from the house.  Ten minutes later, I hop back on the live training call and let everyone know that during the break, I rescued a family and their cats from a burning building but its now time to get back to learning Custom Post Types.  (We have a lot of funny stories at WebDesign.com).


wpsession9_thumbI have to say, none of my “we need to take a quick break” stories are even remotely as intense as that. Thanks, Benjamin!

If you want to see Benjamin present on using iThemes Echange, get your event ticket today!

Meet Patrick Rauland, WordPress Expert

patrickPatrick presented in the  eCommerce for Site Owners session, which is available for immediate replay right now. In his presentation, Patrick walked through installing and using WooCommerce in great detail. Hands-down, it is the best demonstration of WooCommerce I have ever seen.

Check out his interview answers below.

Where can we find you on the internet?

The best place to find me is SpeakingInBytes.com. I like to blog about whatever I’m learning at the moment. There’s a lot of WooCommerce goodness there and plenty of other tech & WordPress posts. You can also follow @BFTrick on Twitter.

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

I used to do a lot of customer PHP work right after college. Worst. Thing. Ever. Don’t do it. By the time you’ve coded your 3rd or 4th login page you quickly start to look for prebuilt solutions that handle all of the common content management system problems. WordPress was the easiest to setup so I went that way.

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

Honestly, Twitter is the best source of news out there. I follow specific people who are leading the way in their industry and they supply me with the best articles about that industry.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

Pfew – big question! I would say the customization. Everything is open source so if you like the way something works but want to tweak something you can do that! With hosted e-commerce solutions you don’t have that opportunity. You can be locked in and I like the freedom to change things if need be.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned about ecommerce over the last 5 years?

E-commerce can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. I’ve seen successful stores who just run WooCommerce, a couple free plugins, and a free theme. I’ve also seen customers with 50+ WooCommerce plugins who appreciate every bit of value they can get out of these extensions. They send customers follow up emails, they subscribe them to newsletters, they have fancy table rates for shipping, etc. E-Commerce doesn’t have to be complex. You can start out with something simple and add on more features over time.

What is the one tip you would give anyone considering to add ecommerce to their site?

Start with the basics. Don’t plan out an entire e-commerce experience without first installing a plugin and seeing how it works.

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

I’m very much a go-getter, so you just have to jump in! If you want to learn something, you do it by getting your hands dirty. Everyday try to learn something new. Push yourself to learn more and more about WordPress. If you learn some (small) thing new every day in a year you’ll know a ton.

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

I love acro yoga! Being able to trust and communicate with another person while you’re suspending them in the air or visa versa is an amazing experience.


wpsession9_thumbThanks Patrick!

If you want to see Patrick present on using WooCommerce, get your event ticket today!

Meet Justin Sainton, WordPress Expert

justinJustin will be joining us for the eCommerce for Site Owners session, which you can watch LIVE on April 11 and 12. Justin will be teaching us about setting up an WP e-Commerce shop, which is especially great because he is the lead developer for the project.

Where can we find you on the internet?

zao.is is our business site, @JS_Zao on Twitter.  Those are the best places to hit me up 🙂

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

Started back in 2007 building a couple non-profit websites using WordPress as a CMS.  Back then, WordPress was this brave, new world to me.  I had zero experience with it, but I pitched it as the “Future of CMS” to the clients, and they bought it.  Happily, both non-profits are still running smoothly along on WordPress 🙂  Once I got my feet wet on those projects, I never looked back.

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

It depends – I feel like I’m always in some state of learning – whether it’s with WordPress, running my business, eCommerce specifically, etc.  When it comes to WordPress, I find following core development on Trac to be one of the best ways to stay fresh and always be learning something new.  I also have a ton of great colleagues who are über-smart that I hit up from time to time.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

There’s so much!  I think, as a developer, one of my favorite areas in WordPress is actually the HTTP API.  I’ve been using it for 5+ years and I actually still learn new things about it when I dig through it.  It’s such a helpful tool, especially in eCommerce.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned about ecommerce over the last 5 years?

That it’s hard.  Really, really hard 🙂  When you’re building a platform intended for usage all around the world, it can be very tricky to ensure that you’ve built something that works in all jurisdictions, across all industries, while still being a usable piece of software.  Also, taxes are just as hard in eCommerce as they are in real life 🙂

What is the one tip you would give anyone considering to add ecommerce to their site?

Don’t use PayPal.  If you can, use Stripe.  Hire a professional, because reasons (See #5).

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

Open up WordPress in your favorite IDE, get a cup of tea, and get to know it.  Really spend some time in the source code.  If you’ve ever wanted the magical ability to be able to tell the future, follow along in Trac!  It’s a fantastic (albeit intense and at some times overwhelming) way to stay on top of where WordPress is headed.

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

One of my favorite things in the world to do is to play the piano.  I’m not that great at it, but man, I REALLY enjoy it.  Also, I have an incredible wife and three beautiful kids – all of whom make me varying degrees of crazy. 😀


wpsession9_thumbThanks Justin!

If you want to see Justin present on using WP e-Commerce, get your event ticket today!

Meet Mika Epstein, WordPress Expert

mikaMika will be joining us for the eCommerce for Site Owners session, which you can watch LIVE on April 10, 11 and 12. Mika will be teaching us about setting up an Easy Digital Downloads shop and sharing from her personal experience of running an ebook store.

Where can we find you on the internet?

Personally: http://ipstenu.org

WordPressily: http://halfelf.org

Everywhere I am, I’m ipstenu 🙂 It means Epstein.

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

Around 2007, seriously. Before that, I used WP 1.5 and played with it, but 2.1.2 was the first version I seriously used for more than just blogging. Basically I’d broken my old script, and needed a way to cross-post to livejournal.

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

I usually learn something new out of necessity. I need to do something, I can’t, I learn. I’m very haptic, though, so I learn by doing and breaking and blowing up. I call it the Ms. Frizzle style of learning, because I know I’ll make mistakes, but I feel like I understand everything better in the end. I read a lot of examples too. I’m the person who thinks the “Hello World” examples are perfect.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

Extendability! I love that the basic system works, and I can add what I want. When I started using WP, I had been using MediaWiki and a couple other systems. I was always turning things off because I didn’t need them or want the overhead. The lean and mean WordPress install was magical.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned since creating an ecommerce shop?

People WILL pay for products, even if you offer them a free option. And they’ll pay more often than they would if you give it away and let them pay later. Basically people are way more honest than DRM seems to think.

What is the one tip you would give anyone considering to add ecommerce to their site?

SSL is for everyone, even if it’s hard. You make your mark by being trustworthy, and HTTPS means (generally) you’re safe. Except for the Heartbleed thing. I’ll talk about that in my session!

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

Have fun. I never set out to being an expert, I just wanted to write and post news. I became an expert in the things I did because I’m good at them. But you don’t HAVE to code like Helen to be a WordPress expert. Find what you’re good at and enjoy, embrace it.

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

I’m a member of the SCA – Society for Creative Anachronism – which means I spend my weekends playing pretend with my friends and it’s totally awesome.


wpsession9_thumbThanks Mika!

If you want to see Mika present on using Easy Digital Downloads, get your event ticket today!

Meet Drew Strojny, WordPress Expert

drewstrojnyDrew will be joining us for the Building a Membership Site session, which you can watch LIVE on March 29. Drew will be joining Chris and Shawn in a panel discussion, answering your questions about the ins and outs of running a membership site. Drew has a particularly unique vantage point because he has run his own successful sites AND also runs an incredible membership platform called Memberful. Don’t miss this opportunity to ask him questions!

Where can we find you on the internet?

The Theme Foundry: https://thethemefoundry.com
Memberful: https://memberful.com
Twitter: @drewstrojny
Github: dstrojny

When and how did you get started with WordPress?

Back in 2008 most of our small business clients needed a website they could manage themselves. They certainly didn’t want to be paying us every time a change needed to be made. I had been using WordPress for our own site and I figured it would be easy enough to teach them how to use it too.

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

I’m very much a do it yourself learner, and I’m lucky there is so much great information available on the internet for do it yourself learners. I usually dig into the subject matter at hand and try to find some experts in the field to research and look up to.

What is your favorite WordPress feature/aspect?

I can’t name a specific feature (lots of great features to choose from), but I love the extensibility and flexibility of WordPress. It gives you the power to do so many things quickly and easily with your website. It’s also very reassuring to know the software is continuously being improved by the WordPress.org developer community.

What is one piece of advice you have for someone building a membership site?

Don’t wait! Planning a complex strategy isn’t a good use of your time. Your most avid supporters and readers are going to sign up anyway, even if you offer them nothing in return. They’ll pay you because they want to support your work. Nothing more. If you already have an audience, every day you wait to start your membership site is costing you money.

The first step is to get some simple membership software like Memberful set up with your website, and announce that option to your loyal supporters. Use the announcement post to plan out what you’ll offer and solicit some feedback from your community. Most importantly, this will get you selling right away. It will also lay the groundwork for offering some paid content in the future.

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

Learn by doing and watching others in the community. Contribute to WordPress is some way and start attending WordPress events. The WordPress community is accepting and friendly, so find a mentor to help you get more involved.

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

I played football at Duke University and was a 2 time captain of the football team. I was then picked in the 2004 NFL draft and spent 3 years bouncing around the NFL as a journeyman lineman with a handful of teams. It didn’t end up working out as a career choice, but it was an amazing life experience. I got to watch Super Bowl XXXIX from the sidelines in 2004 and have an NFC Championship ring to show for it.

Meet Chris Lema, WordPress Expert

Chris Lema Chris will be joining us for the Building a Membership Site session, which you can watch LIVE on March 29. During his presentation, he will walk us through a multitude of excellent tools, platforms and services for running membership sites. By the end, you should know precisely which setup will be best for your needs.

How and when did you get started in software?

I started working with software as a database and systems analyst in 1994. It was at Berkeley Lab and we were just starting to play with the Internet and browsers and what we could do with them.

What compels you to try so many new and different tools?

A lot of people are really good at using the tools they know. But I find the real value – for others – is when you’re aware of which tools are best of the job – which is less a function about knowing one really well, and more about knowing the differences between them, so that you can make the best decision possible.

What is one piece of advice you have for someone building a membership site?

Start simple and small. Make sure you solve non-technical issues like attrition before investing tons of money into software solutions.

You seem to have a lot of great advice. Where else can we read your opinions on membership sites and software and other things?

I write regularly at chrislema.com

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

I wrote my first software application when I was seven – copying hundreds of lines of code out of a magazine.