Russell Aaron is a WordPress Rockstar for many reasons, but his enthusiasm and gusto for WordPress was what impressed me when I finally met him in person. He’s my kind of people who appreciate rock, has a love for WordPress and life, and just exudes a lot of energy and positivity.
Russell contributes to the WordPress community in a few ways. He’s a plugin developer, he’s been a WordCamp Organizer, and he’s been a WordCamp speaker. If you’ve not met Russell, you should. He’s always got something awesome to say. And if you like tacos, or have some, you’re in the club. 😉
A little bit about Russell Aaron
College was the place that Russell Aaron first found WordPress. Russell moved to Eugene Oregon and attended The University of Oregon, where he learned how to write a blog. He learned how to manipulate the template “theme” of his site. After graduation, Russell moved to Las Vegas and sold memberships to adult websites, and built the affiliate program for one of them. In 2011, Russell attended WordCamp Vegas and met some really cool people that inspired his love of WordPress. Since that WordCamp, he’s focused all of his time and attention on WordPress.
Interview with Russell Aaron
NILE FLORES: How did you get into using WordPress?
RUSSELL AARON: I got into using WordPress by trying to build table based designs, for bands, on Myspace. Remember Myspace? While building these designs, I would use the blog portion of MySpace to say things like “Uggg, I hate tables” or “Oh yeah, I just made that table my B*&^%”.
After the 15th blog post, a buddy of mine introduced me to WordPress.com. I started my first blog and I was hooked. I would write anything and everything. After a few more blog posts on .com, I learned you can install WordPress on your own domain. That’s when it all hit me. I’m becoming a WordPress Developer. Since then, it’s been love and take.
NILE FLORES: Being a lead organizer for a local WordPress meetup is a real commitment. What do you enjoy the most out of your local WordPress meetup? What tips do you have for other local WordPress meetup organizers to make their monthly meetups a success?
RUSSELL AARON: The real thing I enjoy the most, from our Local Vegas WordPress Meet up, is the sense of knowing that I helped someone. It’s one thing to show people how to do something. It’s another thing to actually teach / explain what’s going on. Knowing that another blog came online because of you, is truly awesome. The other thing I enjoy about our meet up, is the venue. You’ve been to our meet up last year right before WordCamp Vegas 2015.
The best advice I can give any and all meet up organizers would be: dont be afraid to take chances. I took a chance by having an open discussion. Now it’s one of the hottest sessions at any WordCamp.
NILE FLORES: You’ve organized WordCamp Las Vegas. What was one of the biggest challenges you had while organizing WCLV?
RUSSELL AARON: One of the biggest challenges we had in planning WordCamp Vegas 2015 was simply time. When I officially became lead organizer, we had just about 3 months to plan everything. The second biggest challenge includes selecting speakers. It’s really hard to do. Seriously. Imagine all of your favorite WordPress speakers from WordCamp Past. Now imagine they all apply to speak at your WordCamp. Oh by the way, you can select 10, as most of your speakers should be locally based.
John Hawkins gave me a shot to speak at WordCamp Las Vegas 2012. Since then I’ve been speaking more and more. As a WordCamp organizer, I wanted to give someone else their first time speaking at a WordCamp. We were able to do so and that makes me proud of organizing WordCamp Vegas 2015!
NILE FLORES: WebDevStudios is one of those WordPress companies that a lot of people would love to work for, and you actually work for them. Can you explain what you do for WebDevStudios? How do you like working for them, and what do you think sets WebDevStudios apart from most WordPress-related companies?
RUSSELL AARON: Yes. I work for WebDevStudios. Oh I’m sorry, you can’t hear me in the back row? I WORK FOR WEBDEVSTUDIOS! Currently I work on the Maintainn Support Team. It’s easily the best job in WordPress I’ve ever had. I get to work on some pretty amazing sites and I’m always learning. No seriously, every day something new comes across my computer and I say something like “I didn’t even know you could do that with WordPress.” Recently I’ve been added to other projects outside of maintainn.com. So you could say that I’m a full time Support Specialist for Maintainn.com and a part time Back End / Front End Dev for WebDevStudios.com.
I am not the only person in Las Vegas working for WebDevStudios. John Hawkins is a co-worker at WebDevStudios. From time to time, he and I will message on slack and ask each other “How do you like working for WebDevStudios?” He and I both say one thing. “I love it. I dont want to leave.”
I think the thing that separates WebDevStudios from other WordPress Companies is the amount of work constantly coming in through the door, the talent behind the scenes and the contribution we make to the WP community every month. Before I started working at WebDevStudios, the only time I could communicate with Brad Parbs and Lisa Sabin-Wilson would be at a WordCamp event. Now, I’m on a call with them at least twice a week. It’s pretty awesome to say.
NILE FLORES: If there were one thing about contributing to WordPress that you liked the best, what would it be, and why?
RUSSELL AARON: Contributing to WordPress and I only get to pick one thing? We went from happy stories about WebDevStudios to slicing and dicing our love for WordPress. That escalated quickly. If I can only pick one thing, the thing I like the best is developing plugins for the .org repository. I built a plugin called “Query All The Post Types“. It’s a simple way to view all the active post types, on one screen, inside of your dashboard. I wanted to solve a simple problem I was having. I thought others would like to have the feature and it turns out I was right. There are others like myself, having the same issues.
NILE FLORES: What is something unique or weird or fun that most WordPressers in the community don’t know about you?
RUSSELL AARON: Something most WordPressers dont know about me? That’s another hard question. You’re on fire today, Nile. If you have ever been to a WordCamp After party with me, you know there’s no secrets with me. At the after party for WordCamp Orange County 2015, I got up on a table during my Karaoke Session. I was rocking some heavy Papa Roach. I had a few Jameson shots and I was feeling fantastic! I used to be in a bunch of bands, so the stage is no stranger to me. Apparently that’s the right combination to get me doing stupid things.
NILE FLORES: What kind of features are your favorite in WordPress, and what would you like to see with WordPress in the future?
RUSSELL AARON: My favorite feature in WordPress is Custom Post Types. Hands down, gun to my head. I love CPT’s. However, I want to stop calling them Custom Post Types. I want to start addressing them as “Additional Content Types”. When you think about CPT’s, that’s all they are. I think that would make WordPress seem less scary to new users, and keep the growth going in the right direction.
As far as the future of WordPress, no one knows. Who knew an API would be possible. Now it’s just a core feature. I’m hoping we get to step away from Drag and Drop editors soon.
I really appreciate that Russell took the time to answer my questions. You can find his website at Russell Aaron’s Something Witty, Something Borrowed Blog. You can also find him on Twitter at @enqueue_russ
(Note: Pictures of Aaron Russell within this interview were provided and permitted for use by Aaron Russell.)