Today, on ‘Expert Speaks‘, we have Joe Casabona, a college course developer and professor, and web developer of 18+ years. He is also a WordPress, Business, and LearnDash Consultant.

Let’s hear from Joe more about his work and life…

First of all, thank you for taking your time for the interview Joe. Let’s get to know you better. Could you tell us a bit about your background and how your life led you to WordPress?

Joe: Definitely! I was working in a tech lab in college when I told a coworker I was going to build my own CMS – this was my freshman year, in 2004 – and he asked if I had ever heard of WordPress. I didn’t’, so I checked it out, and basically have been using it ever since.

What should readers know about all the stuff you’re doing in WordPress these days?

Joe: I’m still doing a good bit of development freelance work – focusing specifically on setting up LearnDash sites. Most of my attention is now in instruction videos and online courses. I create and sell my own, as well as get hired by companies to create videos for their products and services. 

Did you know exactly what you wanted to be when you grow up ;)? When have you decided that WordPress will be your career?

Joe: I knew from a pretty young age I wanted to work with computers- probably around 12 when I started fixing them and selling mix CDs. I made my first website at 15 and never looked back! I’m super lucky about that. WordPress became the number one tool in my toolbox in 2006. Once they introduced pages, I decided to make it the (pretty much exclusive) CMS I’d work with. 

What does the WordPress Community mean to you?

Joe: The WordPress Community is the most important aspect of WordPress, in my opinion. It’s a network of people willing to help you, teach you, work with you, and dedicate their time to making WordPress the best it can be. Most of my friends and folks I work with, I know through the WordPress Community. 

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How did you become a part of the WordPress community & how did you start speaking at WordCamps? Do you have stage fright and if so how do you deal with it?

Joe: I guess my first real entry into “the community” Was through Envato. I was participating in forums, writing tutorials, and wrote a book on making WordPress themes for them. After I wrote that book, I applied to speak at WordCamps and got my first shot at WordCamp Philly 2012. 

As for stage fright, I think we all get it to some extent, but I love being on stage and in front of people. I was involved in theater from Grade 2 (around 7-8 years old) on. So when I get that little bit of stage fright, right before I go on, I know it’s my adrenaline pumping and I know I’m getting in the right mindset. My advice for those who get stage fright is this: prepare! Get your slides done early, and rehearse (in front of friends or family if you can). 

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Within the WordPress Community, who do you consider among your best of friends? If you don’t mind would you like to share some of the pictures with us? Could you share some pictures with your buddies?

Joe: Well I know I’m going to forget some people here, but the people I tend to talk to and hang out with the most are Brian and Katie Richards (WP Sessions and Pantheon), Chris Lema, and Shawn Hesketh. Tessa Krisel is also pretty high on that list, and of course my Philly Burbs WordPress people!

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How have you attracted listeners and grown the podcast?

Joe: There are 2 important aspects to podcast growth: good content, and consistency. If I’m not putting out something people want to listen to, downloads are down for that week. And if I’m not transparent about when I’ll be off, that leads to false expectations for my listeners. The last aspect is to have a clear CTA at the end: rate and review, share, or something. Have one, and repeat it every episode. 

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What do you look for in a WordPress host?

Joe: Features, Reliability, and Support. I want a host to make my job managing WordPress easy. That means auto-installers, performance help, automatic updates, and backups. I want to not have to think or worry about my hosting, and when I do have a question or issue, I want to be able to get an answer quickly. These help me offer better service to my customers and clients. 

What are your plans for the future? Any new adventures planned in your life?

Joe: You know, I always ask my guests this question and I don’t have a great answer. I just rolled out memberships for, so I’m looking to grow both that and my podcast. My wife and I just bought a new house, so I’m excited to settle into some stability for a bit 🙂 

If it’s not a secret, please tell us how your working day looks like? How do you balance work and free time?

Joe: Timely! I just settled my schedule recently. My wife is a nurse who works 3 12-hour shifts per week. When she’s working, I wake up and read before my daughter gets up (around 7 am). Then we get ready and I  take her to daycare. After that, I go to the gym for about 45 minutes, come home and work until 5 pm when I pick her up. When my wife is off, I wake up and go to the gym for an hour, then work from about 8-6pm. I read at lunchtime on those days. Finally, I aggressively guard my calendar. I never meet on Fridays, and only meet every other Tuesday. The rest of the week, meetings are confined to Monday afternoons, Wednesday Mornings, and about 2 hours on Thursdays at the end of the day. 

Finally, here’s your chance to freestyle :). Write anything you think could be interesting or useful to our readers.

Joe: I’m happy to see what seems to be an end to the “hustle” culture. I left my agency job to have free time for my family – the most important aspect of my life. I think if you’re in a rut, starting a business, or need a change, make these considerations: 

  1. What do you work towards? That is, what’s the most important aspect in your life? 
  2. How can you make the most time for that? 

Defining this before I started my business helped me figure out how I wanted to run my business and my income goals. I know that the way I do business now it’s not going to make millions (at least not quickly). But I never work a weekend or night because I want that time to spend with my wife and daughter.