Don Campbell is President of Expand2Web, which provides tools and training to help businesses succeed online.
Prior to founding Expand2Web in January 2008, Don was a Technology Evangelist for Microsoft, where he helped partners adopt new Microsoft technologies and presented to C-Level executives at Fortune 500 companies.
Don was also a Group Program Manager at Interwoven, where he built a $5M product line and was a key early employee. Interwoven grew to 1,000 employees and went IPO in 2000.
Don lives in the heart of Silicon Valley – San Jose California with his lovely wife and two daughters.
Don will be participating in the “Building a WordPress business” at 1:30pm in the Vandenberg Room.
Why do you use WordPress?
I use WordPress for blogging, and also created and support a popular WordPress theme for small location-based businesses. So WordPress is a tool that I use for my business, and also it is a big part of my business itself.
When and how did you start using WordPress?
In 2007 I was looking for a content management system for a product I was working on, and evaluated many different options including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and TextPattern.
I was a product manager at an enterprise content management company called Interwoven, which had developed a complex solution for enterprises back in 1998.
I was looking for a simple and modern solution to this content management problem. WordPress stood out for me as a solution that had nailed the 80/20 rule with an elegant solution – 80% of the value with 20% of the features and complexity.
What would you tell someone to convince them to attend a WordCamp?
The vibe at WordCamp is always positive, helpful and energetic. Very cool people at these events. Look at the price for a ticket! It’s obvious that the organizers aren’t trying to make money, they are trying to organize a community of like-minded people.
You will learn a lot, and meet tons of awesome people.
Tell us about something awesome you’ve experienced at a WordCamp in the past.
I got to meet Matt Mullenweg!
I had great, in-depth conversations with my hosting provider.
I met friends there, and we came up with new ideas.
It’s just a super creative, positive place to be.
Give an example of a cool WordPress project you have worked on recently.
We developed a new WordPress Theme for our members called the Business Advantage theme. In this theme we rebuilt everything from the ground-up based on WordPress best practices and we learned a lot.
What is your favorite part of WordCamps?
The atmosphere. The WordCamp SF is always in a very cool space, with tons of great speakers who you can actually meet up with after their presentation.
Oh, and usually the food is really good too :)
What advice do you have for anyone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?
You need more than just a theme or plugin. You need to build a community for your customers, where they understand you will support them, and continually update your products.
I shouldn’t be a one-time price for your offering either. You need to invest in support and ongoing product development, so you need to charge some sort of recurring amount for your product whether it is a monthly or yearly fee, or some type of support and update agreement.
Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related.
In 1998 my wife and I moved from the Ann Arbor/Detroit area to Silicon Valley (San Jose, CA)
I am learning to surf with my two daughters. We are having a blast.
I’m a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do
I have a cool dog we rescued from the animal shelter :)
Name someone in the WordPress community who inspires you.
I know a lot of people will pick Matt, but he inspires me because he had a lot of guts to create something and make it free for everyone to use, and have the faith that the business model for that would emerge.
It was a generous gift, and I admire what he did and am glad that it worked so well.
What has been your biggest WordPress related accomplishment to date?
Creating Expand2Web based on WordPress was really hard but was my most rewarding accomplishment.
How have WordCamps impacted you and your business in the past?
One of our biggest partnership deals was done at WordCamp San Francisco a few years ago. This deal literally put our business on the map. I’ve also met a lot of really great people at WordCamps and knowing them has helped me a lot too.
Fill in the blank for other attendees: “If you __________ then you should come talk to me at WordCamp”.
Are doing consulting or starting a business around WordPress.
What should someone learn before attending your talk at WordCamp Ann Arbor?
For someone to get the most out of my talk, I hope they have a basic understanding of what a WordPress theme is, and some of the ways people are building businesses around them – for example, theme marketplaces, consulting, etc. Some basic understanding of what GPL is would also help, but I will cover all of these in the talk as well.
What is your favorite WordPress related resource?
I really like Chris Coyier and Jeff Starrs Digging Into WordPress.
I also like Shawn Hesketh’s WordPress 101.
Of course Yoast is great too.