This month has been just a crazy month of travel for me. One of the really nice results of publishing several books over the past 3 years is that I do get asked to speak a lot at different types of industry events from WordCamps to social media and internet marketing events. I really love to do it, as I really enjoy connecting with people who read my books, and who are interested in the same things I am. This past month, I was in Austin, Texas; Vancouver, British Columbia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and San Francisco, California. I enjoy, and am grateful, for the opportunities to connect with people from all over who are passionate about publishing, marketing, WordPress and social media.
I haven’t blogged a lot about my travel experiences – and I do intend to. It’s been a crazy month, so hence the lack of posts here. However, I do want to tell you about my experience in Oklahoma with the crew from iThemes, including some of the exciting stuff that they have going on over there, and why you should pay attention. The folks from iThemes are putting out some amazing products that I want to bring to your attention here. Aside from their iThemes offerings of premium WordPress themes, they started up their PluginBuddy site a few months ago and made available some killer plugins that you should be using – – some of them are free, some of them are not, but all around, they are invaluable and fill a big void, as far as I’m concerned:
Backup Buddy – I downloaded this particular plugin on the very day they released it and love it! Now, I recommend it to everyone I know because I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool for the work I do. It’s called Backup Buddy and it gives you the ability to fully backup your WordPress blog easily. This isn’t like exporting your posts and content via the WordPress exporter – – this plugin backs up EVERYTHING – – your content, themes, plugins, settings, options – everything! It also has a built in importer option that gives you the ability to import backups to restore your WordPress powered site in a flash. From a developer and designer standpoint, this has made my life SO much easier. I often create ‘sandbox’ or ‘test bed’ development sites while working on my client projects. With Backup Buddy – I can now get my sandbox development site set up just right with the necessary themes, plugins and options settings – – then I create a backup copy of it using BackUp Buddy .. and then import it into a new installation of WordPress (using the Backup Buddy import script) and I’m done. I don’t have to sit there and activate themes, plugins and then go through and set the plugin options and theme settings all over again, because the plugin takes care of all of that for me. It also has an option to schedule regular backups of your site, automatically. A description from their own web site:
BackupBuddy is an all-in-one solution for backups, restoration, and migration. The single backup file created by the plugin can be used with the importer script to quickly and easily restore your site on the same server or even migrate to a new host with different settings. Whether you’re an end user or a developer, this plugin is sure to bring you peace of mind and added safety in the event of data loss. Our goal is to keep the backup, restoration, and migration processes easy, fast, and reliable.
Pluginbuddy Mobile – This fantastic plugin creates a really nice iPhone version of your site for mobile browsers. It has a built-in style manager that gives you the ability to create and customize a mobile version of your site that displays beautifully in several different mobile browser systems, such as : Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, Android Device, Palm Device, Blackberry Device, Windows CE Device, Mobile IE, Sony Playstation Portable, Sony Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. Whew!
The team at Pluginbuddy, headed up by developer Dustin Bolton, have really worked hard on this one. It’s a really simple and easy way to make sure your web site renders well on mobile devices – I’m working with it currently on several client sites and it’s easy to use and an excellent mobile browsing plugin solution for WordPress.
iThemes Pluginbuddy has a few other plugins that you may also be interested in checking out:
- Billboard – Ad Management Plugin
- ServerBuddy – Free WP plugin to check hosting & security
- Billboard & Rotating Images Plugin
- PluginBuddy Developer Suite
So, speaking of the iThemes team – I had a really great time at their Builder Bootcamp weekend in Oklahoma and want to send out a big thanks to Cory Miller, Jen Miller and the rest of the iThemes team for inviting me down to their event. There were roughly 70-75 people in attendence, all of them passionate WordPress users, and all of them part of the iThemes community. Many were from the Oklahoma City general area – but there were a handful that flew in hundreds of miles away to spend the weekend with the iThemes crew to learn more about WordPress and how they can use the iThemes offerings to build their web sites with WordPress. Great stuff!
To kick off the event, I spoke on my own experiences with WordPress, spoke a little about opportunities that WordPress offers its users and spoke a little about BuddyPress. This was a crowd that was really engaged, passionate and curious about how they can leverage the publishing power of WordPress. Lots of great questions and feedback and I had a super time.
While there, iThemes did some give-aways of my BuddyPress For Dummies book to the people who attended Builder Bootcamp. I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the attendees brought their copy of WordPress For Dummies for me to sign for them – that was a bonus! Many of them even made the trek across the street to the local Barnes and Nobel to purchase a copy of WordPress For Dummies so I could sign it – – that was fun! I ended up signing about 50 books that weekend – – so I had the chance to brush up on my autographing skills!
The rest of the weekend saw iThemes team members like Matt Danner, Chris Jean, Cory Miller and Benjamin Bradley (of the iThemes WebDesign.com division) speaking on various topics such as design, plugins, marketing and promotions – along with a really helpful Q&A session with their community at the end.
I learned about their Builder theme, which is a WordPress theme framework that enables you to create several different types of layouts with just one theme. Chris Jean is the brains and developer behind the Builder framework and they’ve built a really cool community of users who are using the Builder framework to create dynamic WordPress sites. Check it out if you have some time – it might just fit into what you’re trying to do with WordPress, with 9 different child themes to choose from (and more coming), a built in style manager and a dedicated SEO plugin – – and the support team at iThemes is second to none – – this is really a super group of folks.
I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet members of the iThemes community, like Lynn Dye (pictured with me on the left) — who, by the way, expressed an interest in interviewing me for her own blog while I was in Oklahoma – – she published her experiences at Builder Bootcamp, as well as the interview she did with me on her blog.
I had the chance to sit and talk one-on-one with iThemes founder, Cory Miller, about what they’ve been up to and what the future holds for the iThemes brand – it was an enjoyable and enlightening weekend and very much worth the time spent in Oklahoma City. Cory, and his wife Jen, are super nice people – aside from being wholly impressed with what they’ve built…I just flat out like them. I’m looking forward to seeing them again at WordCamp Raleigh and talking with them more about some exciting future collaborations.
Some upcoming events that I’ll be attending in the next month: