Mike Hale is a developer at Rainmaker Digital where he helps build the Rainmaker Platform. He has almost 20 years of software development experience and started working with WordPress in 2010 building custom plugins and sites using the Genesis Framework. He is also a writer, speaker, puppeteer, realtor, podcaster and co-organizer of the WordPress Naperville meetup.
Mike Hale will be presenting “Amp it UP! Using Google Accelerated Mobile Pages with WordPress” on Saturday, October 15 at 3:10pm in the West Conference Room.
Why do use WordPress?
I use WordPress because there are so many great designs, plugins, resources, and people willing to help to get started. Because of its popularity chances are someone else has already come across the same problem and has shared a solution. Even on a complex project WordPress helps you get to launch quicker than building something from the ground up.
When and how did you start using WordPress?
My first WordPress site was in 2010. I was building custom .Net web apps for clients, and needed to spin up a new site for one of my own projects. Rather than building something from scratch, I decided to tip my toes into the WordPress waters. Most of the sites I built had some sort of CMS built-in, so I wanted to try WordPress as a starting point and never looked back.
What would you tell someone to convince them to attend a WordCamp?
The best thing about a WordCamp is that the speakers are people who use WordPress day in, day out. While you might not get pro speakers, you get practical advice based on someone’s actual experience. It’s also a great chance to meet, network, and get help from your peers.
Tell us about something awesome you’ve experienced at a WordCamp in the past.
At a recent WordCamp a guy came over to say hello and thanked me for helping him get past a major roadblock on his site. I didn’t remember meeting him, but he explained he was sitting at the same table for lunch at a previous WordCamp and was listening to the conversation. I had mentioned a plugin I used before that was just what he needed. It felt great to know that a simple conversation ended up helping someone else.
Give an example of a cool WordPress project you have worked on recently.
I just relaunched my real estate website, and spent a lot of time automating a lot of the listings entry, integrating several useful APIs and adding schema.org microdata. It’s lots of under the hood improvements but will help it really stand out from other sites.
What is your favorite part of WordCamps?
The “hallway track”. I have a lot of friends that I only see at WordCamps so it’s great to catch up and make new friends too.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?
Pick a specialty, either a service or a type of customer/industry and focus your marketing on them. That doesn’t mean that’s the only type of work you’ll do, but it will help you get the most result for your effort. Also network every chance you get and make sure people know that you are looking for work and referrals.
Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related.
I have a lot of interests outside WordPress. I’ve played guitar for almost 30 years and enjoy writing and puppetry as other creative outlets.
Name someone in the WordPress community that inspires you.
There’s too many to list, but I’ve been paying a lot of attention to designers because I’m trying to level up my design skills and front-end development.
What has been your biggest WordPress related accomplishment to date?
Getting hired at Rainmaker Digital and helping build the Rainmaker Platform. I’ve been at various conferences and met people that are on Rainmaker Platform and it makes me proud to know I’ve helped create something that people can build their entire business on.
How have WordCamps impacted you and your business in the past?
I’ve made so many friends from people I’ve met at WordCamps, and built a network of people that I can use as resources and that will refer people back to me.
Fill in the blank for other attendees: “If you ___________ then you should come talk to me at WordCamp.”
“Want to know how to grow your business with WordPress”
What should someone learn before attending your talk at WordCamp Ann Arbor?
They should read up on Google AMP to have a basic understanding of what it is and does, and install the AMP plugin from Automattic on a test site.
What is your favorite WordPress related resource?
Sites like WP Tavern and Torque are great for news. I refer beginners to WP101 all the time to learn how to use WordPress. There are also a lot of great blogs I follow on how to build a WordPress business and be a better developer.
Where can we find you online?
On my website I blog (infrequently) about WordPress and development, but the best way to connect with me is on Twitter.