Idea: Creating Yet Another Site About WordPress

Before I was hired to work on the Tavern full-time, I was asked to write a proposal describing what I wanted to accomplish with the Tavern and where I wanted the site to go. In a nutshell, I wanted to make the Tavern the second largest WordPress community outside of WordPress.org.

Over the course of five years, I didn’t make much headway into that goal but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I’ve been looking for work for the past few months and have been unsuccessful. The skills I used via the Tavern do not translate well to many businesses in the WordPress space as I’m not a developer or a support guru. I also don’t want to be a content farm for anyone other than myself.

I’ve had a few people suggest that I start a new Tavern like website and I’ve been pondering the idea for quite awhile. Five months away from all things WordPress has provided some much needed rest, distance, and a bit of clarity.

A lot of things have changed in the WordPress ecosystem since I started covering it in 2007. While the thought of independence and building something from scratch again is scary and exciting, I have a few questions.

The first is similar to one I asked in 2008. Should I start yet another site devoted to WordPress? Is one necessary or needed?

Prior to being hired to work for the Tavern full-time, I was asked to write a proposal on where I saw the site going in the future. Here is a snippet from my proposal.

WPTavern needs to reinvigorate itself as a place where ALL are welcomed and ALL can participate. Those two principles were a large reason for the initial success of the website.

This mindset would be the foundation of the new site. Between comments and a forum, I would create a place where WordPress folks can gather and feel welcomed. Where collaboration is encouraged, and we as a collective group could work to make WordPress better. Sure, there are plenty of Facebook groups and other watering holes that exist, but nothing beats a well managed forum.

I’d bring back the weekly podcast of course which would cover WordPress topics and what’s going on with the site.

I believe I could get webhosting, and other aspects of the site for a discounted price or for free thanks to the relationships I’ve built over the years.

One of the biggest issues is income. My two largest bills each month is the Car $375, and Mortgage $770 payment. I’d need some immediate financial support from individuals or businesses in the WordPress space to take care of these bills for a few months to provide enough time to bust my ass and get the site rolling.

I don’t want sponsorship as I don’t want to be tied to any specific company in order to maintain independence. I’m hopeful that individuals and companies would look at the funding as contributions. I plan on having a page on the new site that lists contributors who contribute a certain amount or more.

As far as the domain goes, I have no idea on what to call the new site. WP Tavern was perfect because of what a Tavern provides. A place to gather, talk, and hang out with the occasional bar brawl. This is the friendly atmosphere I want to establish with the new site. I’d like to hear suggestions and ideas on domains that are related to what I described above.

If there is not enough interest or I can’t muster up some financial support upfront, I’ll pass on the idea and get my butt back into the physical workforce. But the thoughts of sitting on my patio in the summertime managing an awesome community around WordPress is pretty enticing. It would take a lot of work and effort to get the new site up to the level of the Tavern but I know I could make it happen and I know I wouldn’t have to do it alone.

This is simply an idea that’s rough around the edges. Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

My Final Goodbye to the Tavern

This has been a long time coming and for people who are close to me it won’t be a surprise but as of this week, I am no longer a contributing writer to WPTavern. If you’d like more background information on how I’ve reached this point, check out the second half of this interview with Bob WP.

I’ve been writing about WordPress since 2007. That’s when Mark Ghosh, founder of WeblogToolsCollection.com contacted me based on the WordPress articles I was publishing on my personal site and asked if I’d like to be paid to write for him. Two years later, I founded WPTavern.

It is weird to be closing this chapter of my career as the Tavern has only been my second place of employment and WordPress has been part of my daily routine for 12 years. At the same time, I’m hopeful for a fresh start, something new where I feel like I’m performing purposeful work.

As for WordPress Weekly, the goal is to finish updating the archive so that all of the episodes are available. I will not be recording any new episodes.

I’d like to thank everyone who has followed and supported my work over the years. I’d especially like to thank Matt Mullenweg for not only purchasing the Tavern, but for providing me with such a great opportunity to continue my passion for the last five years.

I’m currently unemployed and looking for remote opportunities. I don’t know what I want to do, if I want to stay in the WordPress scene, or get out of the WordPress bubble. I’m pursuing opportunities that I come across. Feel free to pass along any opportunities you think I might be a decent fit for.

Since 2009, I’ve said goodbye to the Tavern a few times but this is the final time. What a ride these last 12 years have been.

Last Ditch Effort

For those who follow me on the Tavern, you may have noticed a substantial drought in the articles I’ve written and published since late last year, outside of WordPress Weekly.

In the last 4-6 months, I’ve been in a pretty low place emotionally, mentally, and at times, physically.

The Tavern started out as a fan site, a blog all about WordPress. A place to discuss what was happening. A place to help each other out. In the past five years, the Tavern has grown from a hobbyist blog to a place of professional journalism thanks in large part to Sarah Gooding. Sarah has done an amazing job, has a great work ethic, high standards, and has taken the site to new heights.

I have not faired well in the Tavern’s transition. In the past few years, I’ve struggled to find a place, maintain my written voice, and become more of a traditional journalist. I’ve admitted in the past that I’m not a good journalist and I still feel that way. I enjoy writing how I feel, what I think, and evolving the narrative over time. But with the Tavern becoming a more serious and professional industry source of news, that kind of writing is getting phased out.

The way in which I write stories on the Tavern now a days is akin to Ben Stein’s voice. Dry, boring, accurate, no personality, that I sometimes wonder if it could be accomplished better by AI.

One thing that I’m proud and that I’m good at is WordPress Weekly or podcasting in general. I get to be myself on the show and I enjoy talking to people about WordPress and learning about other’s experiences. I’ve had a few pep talks lately and I’m going to try expanding my reach and produce three different WordPress podcasts a week.

  • The first will be a daily podcast that covers the pressing topics of the day.
  • The second is WordPress Weekly
  • The third will be a Friday night podcast where for one hour, I’ll invite members of the community to join me on a public Google Hangout to talk about whatever WordPress issues they want. I’ll literally be giving people in the WordPress community a chance to have their voices heard.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to expand the Tavern listener base while at the same time, trying to bring back some more community elements to the site. Most importantly, what these shows will do is give me a sense of purpose. Let me tell you, when you feel like you have no purpose, no sense of well being at work, it’s draining.

So, that’s what I’m working on. I realize there are already plenty of other podcasts that cover the things I mentioned above, but only one of them involves me. I’ll still be writing but I’m hoping that the podcasts provide enough time for the site to be redesigned and install some sort of community software such as bbPress. This way, I can move into community management or something and not just a writer.

The Train Ride

As we ride the public transit train into downtown, I stare outside the window and watch brick building after brick building go by. Some with the lights still on while most have broken windows and other signs of abandonment.

I wonder about what’s inside each building, what products were made, how many people made a living working there, and what happened. At one time, the buildings were new, bustling with activity right next to the tracks. Now they’re just relics of a different time period.

Before my mind can wander off any further, it’s time to get off the train as we’ve reached our destination.

WordCamps and I

Later this week, more than 2,000 people will attend WordCamp US in Nashville, TN. It’s the largest WordPress event in the US and is home to Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word. This year, I won’t be in attendance. In fact, I haven’t attended any WordCamps this year. Here are some of the reasons why.

  1. I noticed last year that when I attended WordCamps, I missed being away from home and couldn’t stop thinking about not wanting to be at the event.
  2. I’m expected to report on these events and gather information about things from people. I used to interview people when I went to WordCamps but I recently stopped doing so because the people I wanted to interview were at the event to hang out, have a good time, and talk WordPress without someone putting a microphone in their face. I respect that and agree, WordCamps are for talking off the record. It felt awful when people thought I was trying to turn the Tavern into a tabloid.
  3. Perhaps the biggest reason of them all is that I simply have nothing in common with the majority of the people who attend WordCamps. Outside of maybe a few things in life and WordPress, there’s not much room to be social with people. I don’t have kids, I don’t run a business, I don’t work in an agency, I’m not creating anything or working on any projects. I’m the person who is supposed to write about what everyone else is doing. Quite frankly, I feel lonely at these events and it sucks.
  4. Ever since my anxiety attack before flying to Chicago last year, I have no interest in flying anymore. I’m hoping to get over this some day but it rules out traveling far distances to attend events.

Next year, I hope to attend at least one local camp but these events just arn’t for me anymore and it’s my own damn fault.

Two Things That Have Me Thinking

The first is that, recently in the WordPress community, I’ve read a few posts from people who have decided to move on from the jobs they’ve had for years to pursue new opportunities. I remember when I negotiated a deal that would allow me to write about WordPress full-time and quit working at the local grocery store.

Although it wasn’t a brand new gig, it was an exciting time as it gave me renewed energy and focus to pour into the site I created. There are only a few times in my life where I’ve participated in potential career paths that seemed exciting and opened the door for new opportunities. I congratulate those who have decided to move on and to embrace the freshness that is their new job.

The second is a question asked by David Bisset on Twitter.

I replied that I’m afraid to answer the question. I think WordPress will be around in some form or fashion 5-10 years from now but will I be writing about it? This is a conversation I’ve been having with myself a lot lately. Is what I do for a living something I want to do for decades or is there a fork in my path where I get to choose a different direction.

The truth is, my current gig is the best I’ve had in my working life. Great medical benefits, vacation policy, paid travel, and a salary I never would have gotten had I stayed at the grocery store. The thought of losing that by losing my job or switching jobs scares me and it scares my wife. My wife thinks that there is no way I can get something better than what I have now. But, I’ve been doing this gig in one fashion or another for a decade and continuing on as if it’s a mundane routine without anything new and refreshing comes at the cost of possibly losing the drive, focus, passion, desire, to continue on.

The other thing that scares me is that I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I want to do other than what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m capable of and I sure as hell downplay everything about myself. I don’t know what would make me a happier employee. I’ve been struggling to answer these questions for months.

This is when someone says to me, apply yourself and learn something like PHP, JavaScript or whatever and get some skillsets that make you more valuable or open up more opportunities. Yeah sure, I’ll get right on that.

So the days and nights fly past while I ponder my future and career.

 

 

One Month Since Vesty’s Passing

It has been nearly a month since Vesty passed away and while I knew the grieving process wouldn’t be easy, I also didn’t think it would be this difficult.

Both of her beds are in their usual spots except they’re empty. Occasionally, we’ll catch the cat laying in the bed next to the heater which generates a loud negative verbal reaction from my wife. My wife and I have enjoyed a few evenings out together and during the course of dinner, one of us will share a memory of her which leads to one of us crying.

My wife and I have gone through bouts of deep sadness and mild depression. Her death has affected my ability to do my job well. Instead of feeling motivated, I’ve been stuck in a mopey mood.

Coming home still sucks. Even though my wife doesn’t say “Vesty! Baby girl, we’re home!” when we enter the house, I still hear it. We both have a stockpile of Kleenex on hand for the moments when we start crying which there have been many.

Every day that goes by that we don’t have a dog is a subtle reminder that we need one in our lives. We still haven’t decided on a name yet or when we’re going to get one but it will likely be after we file our taxes. Yorkies are an expensive breed that typically costs more than $1k.

I recently had three different dreams about Vesty of which one had me in tears. My wife and I usually look forward to Spring and Summer but not this year. We know what we’ll have to do when the ground thaws and we’re hoping it gives us some closure.

 

So Long Twitter, Hello Again Feedly

Not too long ago, I would be asked how I keep up with all the things that happen in the WordPress ecosystem. My answer used to be Twitter. Generally, anything that was news worthy or sharable would find its way onto my timeline.

This isn’t the case anymore. My timeline is now filled with Tweets and Retweets bashing President Trump and anything to do with him. I thought things would get better after the election but it’s only gotten worse.

I get it, Trump sucks, but the constant barrage of negativity is unbearable. I don’t need any more of this shit in my life. My Facebook feed is not as bad but it’s also a more personal network for me. I was thinking about hiding Trump tweets on Twitter to see if it would make the service useful again but I can’t hide them all.

Then I remembered how it felt when I deactivated my account for two weeks. I felt relieved and so it’s something I’m going to do again only this time it will be permanent. I’m not going to tell people what they can and can’t say or how to use a social network so quitting Twitter seems like the best solution for me. I can always get in touch with people via Facebook or Slack.

I opened my RSS reader for the first time in a long time and saw links to stories that would have been buried in Tweets about Trump if they were Tweeted at all. While browsing through feeds, I couldn’t help but notice how peaceful it was inside the app. Thank goodness Twitter and other social networks didn’t kill RSS readers.

Well, I was going to permanently deactivate my account but I don’t want to reactivate it once every thirty days so I don’t lose the data. So instead, I’ll simply log out, not use it, and remove the account from the app on my phone.

The Grieving Process Four Days Later

It’s been four tough days since Vesty passed away. My wife and I have took turns shedding tears at various moments during the week. For example, we were driving home yesterday and saw the rock Vesty always sniffed on her walks. We call it Mt. Vesty.

Then there is the mound of mulch around a tree sapling that she would climb. These are the memories that will stay with us forever but they’re also reminders that she’s gone and we won’t be going on these walks for a long time.

However, the other day, my wife and I discussed what we’d name our new dog, if we got one (when not if). We both agree that Vesty would not want us to be sad. Although it’s been rough going through the day-to-day motions without rubbing Vesty’s belly, giving her treats, and letting her outside, we are slowly moving on.

Living life without a dog is a drag and I am looking forward to getting a puppy and starting the process all over again.