WordCamp Baltimore 2015



WordCamp Baltimore was my first traveling foray into the world of WordPress enthusiast user groups. I’ve been to many conventions and helped to host user groups, but WordCamps are in a class all their own.  WordCamps are held worldwide and can vary from a small group of people to a large group numbering in the thousands.  This Baltimore trip was more in the size of a smaller group but it was still a great event to attend. It was the first opportunity for the Community Support team to travel together as well.  Our group of six included a member of our sales team (Danny), and most of the Community Support team from Virginia Beach – John Paul, Scott, Tim Sisson (Tim S.), Tim Elsass (Tim L.) and myself.  Our manager, Tim S., was the chauffeur for the trip graciously putting up with a bunch of restless guys in the five hour trip there and back. Continue reading “WordCamp Baltimore 2015”

WordCamp St.Louis 2015

Now that I have caught up after missing my connector Sunday forcing travel into Monday, thank you American Airlines; I now have time to write about how my first WordCamp went in St. Louis. I chose St. Louis for two reasons; one is that it is where I grew up and I have friends and family in the area I was able to stay with, and two was that it is one of the bigger WordCamps with over 300 people in attendance this year. I was one of the more than 175 newbies or first-timers to a WordCamp. WordCamp St. Louis 2015 was hosted on the campus of Washington University. This was nice because it allowed me to relive my youth around UCity and for attendees to see more eclectic parts of St. Louis. Continue reading “WordCamp St.Louis 2015”

WordCamp Lancaster Just Got Real

This was my first WordCamp. I’ve been to plenty of business development conferences over the years and really expected this to be much of the same. Let me go on record… I was wrong! WordPress and WordCamp in particular is about community. Thats what makes WordPress so great! The vibe was informal and inviting. It was literally for everyone, whether you were a core contributor or a brand new user. I was lucky enough to spend my friday night hanging out at the Speaker Sponsor Dinner. Typically, its for, well, speakers and sponsors and I was neither, however my travel companion was a speaker. Continue reading “WordCamp Lancaster Just Got Real”

Squashing the Misconceptions About WordPress

I have highly recommended WordPress for various different projects, and often times I am provided with a reason as to why they think WordPress may not be suitable for them.  Those who work with WordPress regularly, know that WordPress can be used to a multitude of projects and in most cases, is the best solution. Continue reading “Squashing the Misconceptions About WordPress”

WordPress In My Mind – WordCamp Raleigh 2014

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending WordCamp Raleigh where I represented InMotion Hosting as well as spoke on WordPress optimization.  As with all other WordCamps I have attended, there were incredible discussions and memorable relationships made all around.

Pre-WordCamp Gatherings

Being a speaker at WordCamp Raleigh, the first of many interactions with others was the speaker event on Friday.  Differing from the several others I have attended, the organizers decided it would be a great idea to have a sit-down, family-style dinner at Jimmy V’s Osteria.

At the dinner, I sat beside Will Haley and Allen Moore in which we had excellent discussions about our upcoming presentations, web hosting, and front end development.  Through these conversations, I felt an immediate need to learn a bit more front end development and I was able to provide a better inside look on various aspects of hosting.

After the dinner, we made our way over to The Oxford for a bit more relaxing and mingling before the main event on Saturday.  Of course, I always expect at least one person from WebDevStudios when I attend a WordCamp in which I met up with Justin Sternberg and discussed all of the great they’re doing for Microsoft, as well as the newest addition to AppPresser – Reactor.

The Main Event

WordCamp Raleigh took place in the engineering building of NC State University.  The venue was perfect for WordCamp presentations due to large lecture rooms.

Justin Sternberg gave an excellent presentation on CMB2 which will allow you to create custom metaboxes and fields with incredible ease.  If you use any custom fields on either the front end or back end, it is certainly worth looking into.

My favorite talk at WordCamp Raleigh was Allen Moore’s talk on work/life balance.  In this talk, Allen hit the nail right on the head with the endless struggle between working hard and having a life outside of work.  As someone who begins working immediately after rolling out of bed, continues late into the night, and make myself available at all hours, it was great to hear that I’m not the only one that struggles with a lack of social life outside of the WordPress community.  I certainly learned that while WordPress and InMotion Hosting have become a very large part of my life, I need to take a step back sometimes and get my face out of my computer, phone, or iPad.

My presentation at WordCamp Raleigh was titled “Stop Eating Resources and Optimize Your WordPress Site“.  Within my presentation, I was able to inform WordPress users on how to better optimize their site to increase server performance and visitor experience.  Everyone’s site has the opportunity to become faster than it already is, and I’m glad that I was able to help so many users hit the next level of site performance.

While at WordCamp Raleigh, I was also able to have some great conversations about hosting with Steve Mortiboy of SemperFi Web Design.  It seemed he was quite pleased with InMotion’s efforts to know what customers want, and catering to their needs in the most effective way possible.  It was certainly great to speak with someone who genuinely appreciated all of the efforts that InMotion and I make to provide a consistently pleasurable experience for everyone.

Overall Impressions

WordCamp Raleigh was an excellent experience.  I feel the organizers picked the perfect venue, and speakers were well selected.  I had some excellent conversations with highly skilled individuals, as well as some who are just starting out.  WordCamps are a great way for users, developers, and designers to all meet on even ground to help each other, and WordCamp Raleigh did exactly that

A big thanks goes out to all of the speakers, volunteers, and especially the organizers who have shed their blood, sweat, and tears to make WordCamp Raleigh an amazing experience.

Word Camp LAX 2014

Michelle Galvez WCLAX Experience

This past weekend the 2014 Word Camp Los Angeles event took place at the beautiful California State University Los Angeles campus. The event brought together over 400 WordPress users and supporters to engage, share, learn, and experience being a part of the WordPress Community. As proud sponsors, we attended both Foundation Friday and Saturday Sessions.  On Friday we had Maria Abugan(@Maria_InMotion), Paul Tardiff (@HubPaulT), Ryan Balikian (@RyanBalik), Sunil Saxena (@SunilSaxena), and myself (@IMH_Michelle) attending the awesome workshops provided on the beginner, business, and design workshops.

InMotion Hosting has arrived at Word Camp LA!
InMotion Hosting has arrived at Word Camp LA!
Word Camp LAX
Attending a session @ Word Camp LAX

Saturday at WCLAX was even more exciting!  As sponsors, we welcomed and greeted all the attendees at our InMotion Hosting booth. Hanging at the booth were Jerrett Farmer (@JerrettFarmer), William Miles, Sunil Saxena (@SunilSaxena) and myself (@IMH_Michelle). It was such a joy to meet current and potential customers who were excited to hear about all our upgrades to both our hardware and service plans (SSDs!).

InMotion Hosting Booth @ WC LAX
InMotion Hosting Booth @ WC LAX

We wanted to make sure everyone had a great time and even brought our speed stacking cups game for a shot at our newly designed InMotion Hosting jersey-shirts. To top that off, you could trade your business card for raffle tickets to win a brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.

Try your hand at our cup stacking game
Try your hand at our cup stacking game
Word Camp LAX
Our lucky raffle winner of a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4


As a first timer to any Word Camp event, my experience was definitely a positive one. I forged new relationships, made people smile, and educated others about our plans and services. It’s a place where you can geek out about WordPress and fit right in. Jerrett Farmer took it one step further and volunteered for the Happiness Bar this year. Below is the recap of his awesome experience.

Jerrett Farmer’s WCLAX Experience

I had the opportunity to serve at the WCLAX Happiness Bar this year. I was very excited to have a slot at such a joyfully named place and couldn’t wait for the good times to flow. What could be better than WordPress and beer? Maybe WordPress and more beer?

{sound of record scratch}…There is no beer. There isn’t wine. There isn’t even soda pop. Turns out, I’m not passing out hard liquor to web masters, I’m giving out tech support to WordPress users…for FREE! I thought this was going to be a nightmare. I would have to use my brain and everything.

I was worried for no reason. I had a blast. I met new people and helped with a few problems. Most importantly I sat beside the great Dave Jesch, http://wordpress.tv/speakers/dave-jesch/, who makes everything better. I really hope to get to serve at another Happiness Bar in the future.

Side note, Dave Jesch is the only human being to successfully order a beer from the Happiness Bar.



WordCamp Maine 2014 – WordPress and “lobstah”

WordCamp Maine 2014 header

I recently had the pleasure of visiting beautiful Portland, Maine for the first ever WordCamp Maine. Living in the city for so long and only traveling to large cities for WordCamps, I wasn’t sure of what to expect with a brand-new WordCamp out in the middle Maine. Well, to my surprise, it was an amazing trip full of wonderfully knowledgeable individuals who truly cared about WordPress as well as open source software.

Being a smaller WordCamp, I felt as if it was much easier to connect with people a lot closer than other WordCamps I have attended. If you have attended larger WordCamps in the past, you may have found that there are usually somewhat of common people that hang out together. Of course, absolutely anybody is welcome to walk up to whomever they want and strike up a conversation, but groups are sometimes formed that can discourage new folks in the community from talking to the big name “circuit speakers”. What I felt at WordCamp Maine was exactly the opposite of that.

Typically when I attend a WordCamp, I go with an agenda of who I want to speak with and the particular topic I want to discuss. At this smaller WordCamp, my approach was to wander up to absolutely anybody and strike up a conversation. From the very moment I arrived at the speaker/sponsor party to the very end of the day Saturday, I was constantly asking people what they did with WordPress and what they are currently working on. Sure, it may have been a bit strange to some for someone to randomly approach them and ask them about their work, but learning more about everyone’s jobs and upcoming projects was well worth it bit of creepiness I could have possibly portrayed.

The arrival

Not very often do I get the rare opportunity to arrive in a city with much time to explore. Typically, I fly in, get to a speaker dinner, get much less sleep than I should, attend the conference, run to the after party, then catch a flight home in the morning. When I had the opportunity to arrive in Portland on an early flight, I knew I had to make the best of it.

As I had not seen Chris Wiegman of iThemes Security since WordCamp Miami, and he was arriving a bit earlier as well, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to connect with him. After a few text messages back and forth, we took a short walk (that felt like an eternity uphill) to downtown Portland. There, we decided to grab a bit to eat and chat about WordPress, airplanes, and stray cats for several hours before we had to head over to the speaker/sponsor party. Walking the city of Portland was never on my bucket list, but it was certainly a pleasure.

The speaker/sponsor party

wordcamp-maine-jeff-and-chrisAt WordCamp Maine, I had the pleasure of being part of an incredible group of speakers, and bowling alongside them as well at Bayside Bowl. If bowling skills had a direct correlation to WordPress development/design skills, I think we would all be in some serious trouble.

The organizers had the right idea when they decided to encourage people to randomly bowl together so that everyone would be almost forced, in a sense, to talk to people whom they don’t know. It certainly broke the ice well and led to some great camaraderie between individuals who may even be business competition.

Overall, the speaker/sponsor party was a great success and I highly encourage other larger WordCamps to encourage conversation and teamwork from the very beginning just as well as WordCamp Maine did.

The main event

Just a quick walk from my hotel was WordCamp Maine, located at the Maine College of Art. I especially loved they layout of the WordCamp in which most would walk by the Happiness Bar and it was very open and inviting. As the majority of my memorable discussions occur at the Happiness Bar, that was my direct target.

At WordCamp Maine, the keynote was John Eckman of 10up, one of the largest WordPress development and design studios out there. In his keynote, John discussed his roots and the community spirit of the open source community, especially WordPress. It was quite possibly one of the best keynotes I have been to recently due to the direct connection I have with the WordPress community and its impact on me both personally and professionally. In some way, WordPress has shaped our lives and John did an excellent job in describing that feeling.

I spoke at my typical 3:00PM time slot on choosing a WordPress host. As it was a smaller WordCamp, it was a smaller crowd which was nice as I was able to read everyone a lot better and determine where more emphasis may need to be placed. I felt like the audience certainly learned how to better choose a host for their WordPress site in an unbiased manner.

After speaking, all speakers are highly encouraged to sit at the Happiness Bar for an hour to further discuss any topics that may have been left out. During that time, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Ackley who is heading up the Ecosite Competition which is an effort for developers to provide websites for eco-friendly organizations. We were able to have some great conversations about eco-friendly datacenters and helping the environment as developers as much as possible.

Why WordPress Maine was awesome

Firstly, no WordCamp can be a success without the organizers that give their lives to it, the volunteers who work hard to keep things running smoothly, the speakers for providing excellent subject matter, and the sponsors for footing the bill. A big thanks goes out to all of you for working so hard to make the very first WordCamp Maine such a success.

WordCamp Maine was a great approach towards bringing people together, regardless of their status within the community. I feel that the organizers worked especially hard to keep a large amount of diversity within the group. As WordCamp Maine grows, I hope to see those values continue through many successful years.

I had a great time speaking at WordCamp Maine and hope to see you all next year!

WordCamp Milwaukee 2014 – WordPress and Cows

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at WordCamp Milwaukee. I had the pleasure of having great discussions with both existing friends within the WordPress community, as well as meeting some great people.

The speaker/sponsor party

The speaker/sponsor party took place at the Brewhouse Inn & Suites on Friday night. I decided to take a walk there from my hotel room so that I could soak in a bit of Milwaukee on the way there but little did I know, the walk would be much more longer than expected.

Once I arrived outside the venue, I spotted plenty of familiar faces, including Dre Armeda and Lisa Sabin-Wilson. We had a few good conversations, and I was introduced to Marc Benzakein of ServerPress before making our way inside.

Finally inside the party, everyone was quite lively and ready to share information on various projects that we were working on or recently released. Inside, I found more familiar faces, such as Michelle Schulp, Dan Beil, and Syed Balkhi, as well as giant cheesehead hats and the most comfortable WordCamp Milwaukee sweatshirts I have ever worn (Seriously, these sweatshirts are amazing).

As the night went on, everyone had an incredible time. Towards the end of the night, I was able to speak with Sam Hotchkiss, who is the organizer of WordCamp Maine which I will be speaking at as well.

Sam and I shared a cab back to our hotel rooms in which we spoke briefly about his product BruteProtect which prevents brute force attacks against WordPress site using global cloud-based rules. It is certainly a quality product and can greatly prevent attacks which are rising on a daily basis.

Overall, the speaker/sponsor party was a great opportunity to have fun and enjoy ourselves before we get down to business at the main event.

Saturday at WordCamp Milwaukee

Rather than attend all of the talks, I decided to take more of a personal approach to WordCamp Milwaukee and focus on meeting plenty of new people. It was quite a success in which I simply sat down next to people and introduced myself. This approach allowed me to learn more about people I have never met before and their upcoming projects, as well as inform them about what I do and how it could benefit them.

Of course, no WordCamp can be complete without some sort of great food and WordCamp Milwaukee certainly delivered with bacon and fried cheese curds. I may have gained 5 pounds from it but there are no regrets whatsoever. It was absolutely delicious.

My presentation promptly commenced at 3:00PM and I was ready to get started. At this WordCamp, I chose to speak on WordPress optimization techniques to get faster speed and more performance out of an existing setup. I feel that the audience gained a significant amount of information from my talk and got a deeper look at site performance from a hosting perspective. For more information on my presentation, you may view my slides on SlideShare.

Post-WordCamp festivities

After WordCamp Milwaukee, even with all of the great bacon and cheese, I was absolutely starving. Thankfully, Syed Balkhi invited me to dinner with him, Nik V, and Chris Christoff. We made our way to Benihana for some great food and even better conversation. At dinner, I came to the realization in how close this community is, in that you can mention someone’s name that you may have never seen in person, but still know who they are and what they do. Even a 15 year old kid like Nik has an impact on the WordPress community and can add a great amount of value to it.

Of course, one of the best parts of any WordCamp is usually the after party. If there is someone that you have been wanting to meet or have a discussion with, the after part is the best way to site down, have a drink, and make great conversation. At the after party, I spoke to numerous people, both established in the community as well as just starting out. Every conversation with a hit. As always, WordCamp after parties as perfect to just relax and talk about anything that comes to mind with great people who all share a passion for WordPress.


Overall, WordCamp Milwaukee was an amazing experience that makes me wish I could have stayed just one more day to say the least. The entire weekend, I could just feel the passion coming from everyone there.

I want to thank all of the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees with my deepest gratitude for making WordCamp Milwaukee an amazing event. I’ll see you all next year!

WordCamp Chicago 2014: The Bean, the Blues and a ton of WordPress info


This past weekend, I got to do two things I’ve been putting off for awhile. Visit Chicago, and go to a WordCamp. I’m glad I finally did, because I got to see an awesome city and meet a ton of amazing people that help make up the close-knit WordPress community.

The city

On Friday, we started exploring the city and ended up seeing the Cloud Gate (also known as “the Bean”) in Millennium park that showed off the city skyline in a very unique way. The architecture of Chicago was simply stunning and I was in awe just walking around it.

There was a Blues festival, as well as the Chicago Electronic Dance Music Festival going on, so the city was packed with people, and the weather was beautiful. I had a lot of fun exploring the city, but was even more excited to start digging into WordPress.

The food


After asking the locals, both Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria and Portillo’s Hot Dogs were the unanimous places to go for authentic Chicago style deep dish pizza, and a hot dog. Neither place was quick, and they were both packed, but man the food was worth it!

The talks


I was looking forward to some great WordPress talks. I’ve seen quite a few online, but being live in the same room as the speaker made the info resonate with me even more.

At WordCamp, they split talks up into 2 or 3 tracks, so you can’t listen in on every single one. With the ones I saw, I gained some useful knowledge from every single talk.

  • There was the “It Starts With Good Posture – Website Security (WordPress)” talk from Tony Perez (@perezbox) of Sucuri. He had some great security tips for making sure your WordPress site was as secure as it could be for any type of attacks.
  • Dan Beil (@add_action_dan) taught us “How NOT to develop (With WordPress)“. There were some great tips on how to get organized and make your development life much easier.
  • Josh Broton (@joshbroton) had a great talk on “You Don’t Need jQuery” that showed how you could easily squeeze a precious 100ms of loading time out of a site that relies on jQuery by instead using vanilla JavaScript.
  • Joe Casabona (@jcasabona) had a really informative talk about “Responsive Design with WordPress” that went over why designing for mobile first and then scaling up is the way to go. I even picked up a signed copy of Joe’s book after listening to him talk on the subject.
  • There was a whole team of 3 including Pete Mall, Brian Krogsgard (@krogsgard), and Sara Cannon (@saracannon) that basically held a panel on “Do Big Things With A Small Team” where they told the story of how their small team at Range was able to take on huge projects and still stay on top of them.
  • Sara Cannon (@saracannon) followed up the panel with a cool talk about “Smart Design: Icon Fonts, SVG, and the Mobile Influence” that showed some really cool ways to make sites load fast and scale but still be pretty.
  • The last talk on Saturday was none other than lead developer of WordPress Andrew Nacin (@nacin) with “Advanced Topics in WordPress Development”. It was exciting to learn about the plans of WordPress to become an auto-updating platform. This would be great for the entire community by helping plugin and theme developers only having to support the latest version of their plugin, knowing that when someone downloads their plugin it will be auto updated along with the rest of the WordPress core.
  • Sunday morning with breakfast in hand Josh Leuze (@jleuze) started off the day with a talk on “Building Your First Widget“. It was great presentation on how to get some simple widget interactivity into WordPress in no time.
  • Lisa Ghisolf (@gizmodesign) gave a talk on “A house with no walls: Creating a site structure for the future” which covered using site maps, content strategy, and mobile to give the best user experience you can for your site.
  • One of my favorite talks was from Ben Lobaugh (@benlobaugh) on “From Zero to WordPress Hero” which basically just talked about not being afraid to dive into the WordPress community and start making an impact.
  • There was some great business advice in the talk from Rebecca Gill (@WebSavvyMrkting) on “Solutions Before Developement: Creating WordPress Products That Actually Sell“. She explained how her own WordPress business was able to grow and flourish using some tactics to keep everything on track.
  • The last talk of this WordCamp for me was from Julie Cameron (@jewlofthelotus) on “Surviving Support: 10 Tips for Saving Your Users and Yourself“. This talk was probably the most directly related to what I do day in and day out in the InMotion Customer Community department.

The experience

WordCamp Chicago was a great time and I learned a ton, I also met some great people and I’m sure I’ll bump into them again at future WordPress events. Going to my first WordCamp and seeing the WordPress community up close in person has really opened my eyes to all the possibilities that WordPress allows for. I really appreciate InMotion Hosting sending me out there to bring some of that great community back to our ranks.

If you have a chance to go to a WordCamp and you’re putting it off like I had been, do yourself a favor and dive in! If you happen to join the great learning and networking experience that is WordCamp, let me know! (@JacobsLadd3r)

WordCamp Orange County 2014 Recap: Life, Love and WordPress

I had the privilege and opportunity to attend the WordCamp party in The OC last weekend. The party started on Friday night and didn’t stop until Sunday night. Along the way I learned a lot about life, love, and the proper maintenance and structure of WordPress plugin directories.

I arrived in Costa Mesa a little late for the opening event at Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course. This was my very first WordCamp event and I didn’t know anyone there. I was nervous to say the least, but that was fixed by Jeffrey Zinn (@jeffreyzinn) rather quickly. Let me first say, what an amazingly friendly and welcoming group. I felt right at home in no time. Jeff has a way of making you feel relaxed and comfortable in just a few words. I ended up meeting several people that night. Shortly after Jeff I met Chris Lema (@chrislema). Everyone was gathered around this guy and with good reason. Ridiculously intelligent and really funny, I don’t care what Jeff Matson (@thejeffmatson) says.


I also met the Chuck Norris of PHP programmers, Dave Jesch (@davejesch). Dave Jesch doesn’t use a debugger. His PHP code is too afraid of him to develop bugs. I also met several other speakers and organizers.

The camp itself started the next morning. I got into the show a little later than I wanted, but ran into Sash Ghosh (@liferhymes) on her way out. It was great to see a friendly face before getting into the show. The show was nice and cozy. The one thing the OC WordCamp people do is lay out a nice spread.

WCOC2014-1After getting some great snacks I immediately moved to one of the two main speaking rooms. The first presentation I heard was by Carrie Dils. It was titled, “Learning to Troubleshoot WordPress.” I learned a bunch of great pointers from the speech. The slides are here .

The most mind blowing presentation of the day was by Dave “Chuck Norris” Jesch. He went into hard core PHP optimization. You can see the slide here.

He explained the difference between built in functions that run in native C and slower ones that a user builds in PHP. One thing to note about Mr. Jesch, all the code he writes is object oriented, even when he programs in Basic.

Dave Winter (@dauidus) would give the most helpful presentation. His slides are here and his video is here.

He spoke about how to customize the WordPress Admin area to prevent clients from FUBARing all of your hard work. He had me laughing and thoroughly entertained during the whole speech. Going forward, his information will save me more lost time than anything else I learned at the show.

That night I went to an Irish Pub called “Durty Nelly’s” so I could attend WordCamp OC’s after party. Jeff, being the awesome guy that he is, was waiting by the door with free drink coupons. I ran into a nice chap named Glenn. We are of similar generations and got to talking about the good old days. Out of nowhere I heard Dave Winter say, “Old people are fun.” The three of us started talking when Blair Williams (@blairwilli) walked up. It was truly wonderful meeting him. Not only is he a great guy, he is the maker of many a useful WordPress plugin which I will be using going forward.

WCOC2014-2The next day was my speech. Being my first speech I found myself pretty nervous. Still I couldn’t wait to get to it. First though was lunch. On both days WCOC brought in food trucks. Truly a yummy decision.

Now that lunch was finished I watched a presentation going over integrating social media into your WordPress site. This is an area that I’m very weak at and really appreciated the info. I strongly recommend checking out Sarah Wefald’s slides.

Finally it was time for my presentation.



The title was “A WordPress Site Even Your Mother Can Use.” The presentation covered setting up an easy to administer WordPress site for the non tech savvy. The slides can be found here.

My speech was the last of the day and was followed by closing remarks by Jeffrey Zinn. Afterwards I had dinner with Dave Winter and Dave Jesch. One of Dave Winter’s students showed up as well. We talked about every subject imaginable.

It was a really great end to a great show. I would like to thank everyone involved with WordCamp OC (@ocwordcamp)! I had a blast and look forward to other events going forward.