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Building a Community with WordPress

I got to join a bunch of awesome ladies for the Learn WordPress Webinar Summit this week. It was fantastic, if embarrassing. (I shared my very first WordPress website. :P)

I rattled off a bunch of resources over the course of my chat and promised to tweet about them later. For the sake of easy bookmarking, I’ve compiled them here!

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Recommend Reading from 2015

The upside to over-traveling is that if you do your laundry before you leave one city, you can just wear other clothes for the three days you’re back home, and then you’re ALREADY PACKED for the next trip. (Don’t forget you learned that gem of a pro tip here, folks.)

In related news: I am a ridiculous person who scheduled five trips in one month.

I’ve spent most of my train rides and airport downtime revisiting all the great things I read this year to make a reading list you can use during your own holiday travels. So open a bunch of tabs, flip your phone to airplane mode, and do not recline into your fellow passenger’s small sliver of remaining personal space. (Don’t be dick this holiday season, y’all.)

Just like last year, I kept a running list over the last twelve months and then slashed said list in half. All of them are available online for free and my attempts at categorization are kind of a joke. Enjoy!

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Teach What You Know

The biggest hurdle I run into as the teacher lead for Learnapalooza is overcoming imposter syndrome with potential teachers. I’m constantly approaching awesome, talented people and hearing, “That’s great but I don’t know anything worth teaching!” or “I’m not a teacher! I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

It’s so frustrating.

Not just because we lose out on awesome classes, but because I’m a selfish person who wants to learn ALL OF THE THINGS. And when people when insist that they don’t know anything worth teaching, we all loose out on their expertise.

So, let’s all get on the same page right now: You know valuable things. You do not have to be a teacher to share those things.

Someone, somewhere, is currently thinking, “I really wish I knew how to do [the thing you know ALL about].” And they do not care if you have a Bachelors in Education. They just want you to share what you know! That can mean putting together a talk, writing a blog post, or even hosting a workshop at a festival like Learnapalooza.

And none of those things have to be scary! (A little nerve-wracking, sure. But never scary!)

Self-selected learners—the people who read educational blog posts, show up to Saturday workshops, and take online classes for the fun of it—are the easiest people to teach. They want to be there! They are excited to learn!

The real question for most people isn’t, “Can I teach this?” but “How do I teach this?” and “Where do I start?”

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Does this airport have wi-fi?

Last week, a friend and I got together to shoot a video for a Syrup & Waffles project. (Which I’ll tell you allll about in another post.) We got there early so while he was setting up his rig and I was making a crib sheet for the day, we did that kind of aimless catching up you do with co-workers who work in another department.

Even though I’m no longer a full-time freelancer, he still is and we’ve both got a lot of projects on our plates. He updated me on his, I shared the progress I had made on a few of mine, and we both lamented the fact that we don’t create anything without ulterior motives anymore.

As an undergrad, he carried his camera everywhere and shot random footage for the hell of it. My best friend and I used to sit in my kitchen nook, brainstorming crazy ambitious plans that fizzled out after a few weeks of work.

Neither of us do those things anymore.

His camera comes out when it’s time to get paid and most of my creative work has an agenda. It’s for a client and a paycheck, or has a less-tangible but still valid career benefit. (My newsletter and this blog, for example.) As we were talking, I couldn’t remember the last time I made something for no reason other than I wanted it to exist.

I still have plenty of half-baked ideas, they just rarely make it out of my notebook these days. The (very valid) principle of not working for free as a creative professional has been so instilled in me that it’s hard to shirk it even for my own passion projects. A voice in my head is always whispering, “What are you really getting from this?” or “You could be spending this time on client work!”

Now don’t get me wrong: this is not a bad problem to have. I am well paid to do the things I love to do. I realize that makes me incredibly lucky and I am not writing this post to complain about my good fortune. I’m writing it to share my thoughts on why side projects are important to have you in portfolio.

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