It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.

Sarah Pressler:

I have about 50 followers on my blog. If we all sent Angie $35, that’d cover a little over a week for her to just be able to breath. Feel free to give more.

Originally posted on Not In Kansas:

Why is there no margin before the first character in the visual editor? #tinymce could use about 10px margin to the left. Strange.

Ok. On with the show.

If you’re reading this, you probably know me on Twitter as @angiemeeker. For five years, I’ve organized WordCamp Columbus (Ohio), which was AMAZING this year, btw. I’d like to think I had something to do with WordCamp Dayton and WordCamp North Canton getting started during that time, and the Cincinatti and Marysville meetups, too. I think technically the WordCamp organizing makes me a contributor to WordPress but I’m certainly not a WordPress developer, and I’ll probably never have a contribution to core. I did submit a ticket to trac once, about adding back a clickable search icon to the plugins and theme search box… Oh, and usually, I earn my family’s income building things with WordPress at

I would like to spend the next month…

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2am Basecamp Messages

The best thing about freelancing – and working with really cool teams & clients – is working when I want/working around my family schedule. Tonight that happens to be from 11pm-4am. I know, I know…4am… but honestly this is my natural rhythm. The house is quiet. Dark. Cool. Calm. I can focus. think. There’s clarity in the tasks. I get to listen to an entire Avett Brother’s album without the kids interrupting!

During the day I’m pulled 1,000 different directions. I think it’s the crux of 1) motherhood, 2) project management and 3) leading teams. And that’s ok – I like it. But when it’s time to:

  • dig into a project and start the divide and conquer process of breaking a Statement of Work out into Basecamp tasks,
  • setting up a production schedule,
  • going through a website with a fine tooth comb before it goes live (with your name in the footer!!),
  • updating clients,
  • updating team members,
  • updating your personal calendar with the kids’ upcoming school events before you forget that you do, actually, have some kind of a personal life….
  • writing a blog post/newsletter/social media feeds for the next week….

Well, these things take focused energy on my part. I really don’t know how people do anything well when they’re not really focused on what they’re doing. I’ve never been very good at it. In fact, I’m surprised that when I was a mom with a house full of little ones, that I didn’t forget my baby in the basket at the grocery store. I mean – it seriously could happen to anyone.

I’m Speaking at WordCamp Los Angeles

Well, about that thing I said….

I said I was on a WordCamp hiatus for 2015, because of tight budgets and teenagers needing a lot of things this year. Single Mom Income has to be managed with some self-control. (Otherwise I’d be at all the WordCamps!)

But my friend, colleague, and team member, Gregg Franklin, said if I ever came to the LA area that he would take me to Disneyland. And so – that settled it! I knew I just had to get to CA! So when the opportunity presented itself to throw a speaker app in the mix for WCLAX, I figured what the heck – you never know if you’ll get picked or not! So I submitted the application and really had pretty much forgotten about it.

But guess what?

wclax speaker badgeLooks like I’m speaking at WordCamp Los Angeles! The last speaking engagement I had was WordCamp Denver in 2013, and since then I haven’t had time to really devote to WordCamp talks. Public speaking is one of my favorite things to do – so I’m really excited to hop on stage and visit with you all in LA. Because if you know me – you know I go big, or go home!

After I get home from LA, I have no other plans to travel. And all my airline miles will be used up (yay for saving them for a rainy day!!). And I’m pretty sure it will be the end of my Single Mom Fun Fund. :) But, in all reality, once I get back from LA, I’ll be in the throes of Nutcracker rehearsals and completely swamped with work, ballet, and mom-life until Christmas. I’m really looking forward to this event. I haven’t had a real break all year long and it’s been a very long year. I’m excited to have some down time with Gregg and to get to participate in WCLAX as a speaker and help Gregg with the ServerPress sponsor booth. (I’ll be handing out some awesome swag – but I’m not gonna lie – I’m super excited about Disneyland! My kids are going to be SO jealous!)

What else should I do while I’m in town? I’ll have 3 days of “playtime” before WordCamp!

Free WordPress Logo Cross Stitch Pattern

I’ve become completely enamored with the really fun, modern, eclectic, and trendy cross-stitch patterns on Etsy. I even have a favorite cross stitch store! (Go check her stuff out – if you love design, you’ll love her work!)

Being the complete nerd that I am, I just had to know how people were creating their own cross stitch designs. I did some digging, downloaded some software, imported the WordPress Logo and got to work! This was the perfect design to start playing with, it only took me about an hour to clean up from the import. I haven’t gone through pixel by pixel to make sure it’s 100% perfect yet and I probably won’t because …I mean really do I really need to justify that?

WordPress Logo Cross Stitched
Click to download the PDF file!

BUT – if you have been waiting for the day you could cross stitch the WordPress logo onto a piece of 14-count white Aida cloth with a single monochrome color and a simple single stitch…. well have I got news for you!!

You can download this WordPress Logo CrossStitch Pattern for free! Just click the link, download the PDF file, print, and then stitch ’till you ditch (it)!

Oh Love, That Will Not Let Me Go

Death is, for me, a consecrated moment in time. A deeply spiritual event that I can’t fully articulate. For me, there is only one way to experience death – and that is to be present in it. To feel the weight of every aspect of life – good and bad. To be open to what is happening – what will happen.

I learned the hard lesson of being closed off to life and death when my Grampa died. I remember hearing “Stage 4 Lung Cancer….Nothing else we can do.” and yet I was completely baffled when he died two weeks later. I remember being blindsided by the entire event. Unable to grasp what was happening. Unable to say goodbye. Unable to really allow myself to be present.

I wish I had been able to understand. I don’t have many regrets but not saying goodbye to my Grampa is one of them.I fully remember, and to this day feel, the heavy weight of regret that came from not telling him goodbye. I was his little Rose – and yet – I couldn’t figure out how to allow myself to sit near him. To hold his hand. To tell him I loved him. And to be there for him. With him. When I feel emotionally vulnerable, I shut down. I wall up. I close off. And that’s kind of what I did when my Grampa was dying.

When my Gramma died – I didn’t want that regret. So no matter how painful it was – I forced myself to feel it. To experience it. To stay open.

It was a few years after Grampa’s death when I received a strange call from my Gramma.  She spoke of her love for Jesus and how excited she was to see Grampa again. I couldn’t begin to grasp what she was trying to tell me. I called my Mom and said, “Gramma and I just had the weirdest conversation….”  My Mom explained that my Gramma was saying goodbye. Heartbroken, I cried.

About a month later my Gramma lay in a hospital bed, weakened from a stroke. It was January 2005. She was hanging on for dear life. But her spirit was as strong as any healthy body. I felt it when I walked into the hospital room. She couldn’t open her eyes, so I opened them for her. She looked at me. My tears fell. I closed her eyes and I grabbed her hand. I held her hand for hours. For the short second I let go of her hand to stretch my fingers, she reached for me. I sat at her bedside for almost 12 hours that night. Holding her hand.

Between the time I arrived at the hospital and when she left us through death, I made a personal commitment to be present. To be vulnerable. To let myself feel the pain of this loss. To acknowledge what was happening. To stand and watch. To be open. To hear. To feel. To see. To sense this. To know this. To understand this. When the moment came for my Gramma to let go of her last breath, there was such a sense of peace. As a family we gathered around my Grandma – ushering her out of this life with hymns, prayers, and peace. There was heart ache and a deep, sad, grief. But peace.

My Gramma and Grampa were absolutely instrumental in my life. If not for them – there’s no telling where I would be today. I’m so grateful my Mom worked so hard to have them in our lives. And I’m genuinely sad they’re really gone. I never imagined a life without them. They really weren’t that old when they both died.

I wrote this post tonight after shedding tears over the upcoming loss of Scott. He will be leaving this world soon. His brain cancer is growing and things are changing almost daily. It was just a few months ago when Scott was all smiles because his brain tumor was in remission. But then it came back, with a vengeance.

Scott and his family are known to me by the internet. I met Scott on Twitter a few years ago and sent him some geeky “Movember” stickers I had picked up at WordCamp Austin in 2013. Over the last two years I’ve grown to really admire Scott and his family – especially in the way they have managed this completely unfair curveball.

So to my sweet friends who are preparing their precious family for Scott, an amazing husband and father of four young children, to leave this life:  the weight of what you must face, walk through, and endure is heavy – but you are not alone. You are not alone. I love that you are sharing this journey with all of us on Instagram and Twitter. I love the way you are allowing your children to be a part of this chapter of your lives together. I have no real practical advice except to push yourself to stay open. Stay present. Stay ready. Accept this as the consecrated time in your lives that it is. And remember the love you have for Scott will never leave you. It will always be with you. It will never let you go. And that’s a beautiful thing.

I sing this song to myself often. It heals me. It soothes my soul on weary days. On long days. On heavy days. It reminds me of my Gramma, whom I could always call and ask her to pray for me. And I would find out she had already been praying for me, having woken up from a dream about me.

I hope it offers healing for you as well in this time of grief, bewilderment, and loss. It is my prayer for you all.

Scott passed away on Wednesday, August 4th. At home. Peacefully.
He said goodbye to his children.
His wife stayed with him through the night.
My heart goes out to his family.

Content Wrangling 101, Lesson 1

If you’ve ever sat back and thought to yourself, “Gee, I really wonder what goes into getting a website’s content from a hot mess to an elegant experience for the reader…”  Well – have I got a doozy of a blog post for you!

Let the Content Wrangling Begin!

Content management and strategy are no small feats. Managing your content has become as vitally important for scaling your online website as managing your codebase. If you have ever worked in web development, you know how convoluted and messy a codebase can become; well, content is similar. If not wrangled in, it will become an unyielding force to reckon with!

When you find yourself in this position (you know, when you DREAD the idea of even looking at your actual front end content of your CMS) it’s time for Content Overhaul.

How to Approach a Content Overhaul

1) Determine the Purpose for Site Content

Know your audience. Know your users. Know your software/product/market. Simple enough, right?

Not really. Depending on your market, your users could range from complete newbies to seasoned professionals. And surprisingly enough, most of your users are not on your website because your awesome header font drew them in. They are there to consume information. And it’s to your advantage to make that as easy as possible for them.

That should be the overarching purpose of all site content: to help your users, your community, your readers, your customers, your clients, etc. That’s not to say every piece of content has to be technical, boring, or dry. There are different types of content and they are used for different site purposes.  Point is: all your communication should purpose, and it should support the mission of your organization.

2) Create User Personas

To arrive at this end you must spend time talking about your users. Sketching out formal User Personas is a critical step for any major content overhaul; especially if you happen to be working with a client to complete a formal content review, audit and upgrade where in you might not necessarily BE the end user. Taking the time to streamline who your users are, what they need, and how your site will serve them will make a huge difference when it comes time to divide and conquer existing content – or setting up a content strategy for future communication (posts, pages, social media.) has one of the most straightforward How-To’s on creating user personas. 

3) Perform a Systematic Review

Anytime I start a new content overhaul, I open my saved links, review info, and make sure my understanding of the steps at hand are consistent with any current standards for content planning, strategy, etc. Web standards change often for code & they change for content as well.

I have quite a few resources booked, but the following are what I consider the best authority sources regarding Content Inventories, Content Audits and Content Strategy:

These resources are not WordPress specific – just high level “Holy cow we have a lot of content, where do we even start!?” level work.

4) Perform a Thorough Analytical Review

Your deliverables from step 3 will tell you a lot about what kind of content you are dealing with. Now you need to know how existing content is performing on your website. And, you need to know how users are interacting with your existing content. There are so many tools you can pick from (and pay) for this, but personally I find that the combination of data from Google Analytics and JetPack Stats reveals enough information.

  • Google Analytics and/or JetPack Stats
    You can glean a LOT from your JetPack stats if you are running a WordPress site. Combine JetPack with your GA and you’ve got most of the quantifiable data you’ll ever want for pretty much anything you need to do with your content.
  • Inbound Traffic
    –Found in GA or JetPack Stats
  • Social Media Shares
  • Outbound Clicks

Basically – how are users finding your site, what are they doing with the content, where are they going when they leave. If you approach your analytics review by filtering all the information you will have into one of those three categories (How, What, Where) you’ll be off to a good start.

Yes, this step can become very granular and tedious – but don’t get lost in the forest because of the trees. Approach this from a high level view (the 3 categories) and you’ll be able to navigate your way through it all.

5) Research Your Competitors

This is important, but shouldn’t be a huge time suck. Check out your competitor’s sites and look at how they are using their content. Just spend enough time on each section of these sites to get a high level overview/feel for your competitors. Too much time, and their content/site could be counterproductive – your imposter syndrome might set in! Just take a quick look at their site, navigate it as a user, and write down what you love/hate about it all. Then move on!

6) Now – Put the Content to the Test!

After you have gone through the steps above, you can start digesting your existing content. This step is a little time consuming if you have a lot of content but it’s vital. You are going to decide what content stays, and what content goes! (Yes, you will end up deleting content in this process.) You can use the following four questions to help keep the process moving:

  1. Does this content help or hinder the user? (Which user?! You should have several.)
  2. Does this content leave the user ready to take action or left wondering what’s next?
  3. Does this content help build our company team?
  4. Does this content help build our community?

If yes – then the content stays (somewhere) on the site. If no – ditch it.

So, Now What?

Once you have all this in place, you’re ready to move on to the next phase of a content overhaul – preparing to deal with the words and writers that make up the actual content. Up until this point all you’ve done is gather your information.

Did you just think to yourself, “Ugh, I’ll just skip all this…. who needs all the prep work… all I really need to do is [insert a component from what will be Lesson 3].”

I’m going to give you some more free (sage) advice – Don’t Do It! The end result will be a sloppy pile of content that will require even more work later on. Just trust me…if you’re going to take the time to do it, you might as well do it right.




Most Online Marketers are Crooks

social media marketing

Before you buy an online platform for website services or social media services, ask around. Talk to your friends who you know work in these fields. Even if you only have one friend who builds software – I would bet money on it that he knows a guy who knows a gal who knows a professional who can legitimately help you.

I can’t tell you how frustrated I get for my small business owners who are paying out the wazoo for crap services. I don’t mean qualified professionals helping small business owners with their marketing needs. I’m talking about small business owners being taken advantage of by companies who prey on their naïveté. What happens:  small business owner gets an offer from a social media / website management company to help with their marketing. It’s $500/mo. Or less. And this seems like a great deal. But, what happens is, the marketing company owns all your online real estate. The small business owner doesn’t. And this is a problem.

For example: if your Facebook page isn’t owned by and controlled by you – you don’t own or control the content, the data, the images, etc. You are responsible for all of it, you just don’t have any actual control over any of it. All the responsibility and none of the authority. That’s not ok. That’s now how you run your brick and mortar business. You wouldn’t just hand the keys to your office to anyone off the street without making sure that at the end of the day you had a way to lock them out of your office. Same thing for your website. Your Twitter account. Facebook account. The list goes on and on.

This is not a small problem. This is your brand. Your business. And online/email marketing IS the heart of all marketing in 2015. Protecting your brand online shouldn’t be a secondary consideration. There’s a huge knowledge gap between online marketers vs. brick and mortar small business owners. And, from what I’ve seen first hand, most small business owners are not being taken care of – they are being exploited.

Brand Protection is the most important thing you will do for your business. Know your marketing company. If you need a list of companies to reach out to, who will help you take your business to the next level with professional grade marketing and branding, here’s my list of go-to talent:

I’m sure I have more contacts I could list, but this is a quick post before I dive off into a podcast! The people above are personally known to me and provide really amazing work at valuable price points. Just remember – you get what you pay for and most of the time you don’t even know what risks you’re accepting when you sign a contract for website, social media, and email marketing agreements. Time to write some more posts! :)

Ok – off my soapbox and onto my podcast!