WordCamp Bristol 2017 preview: Mark Wilkinson and Elliot Taylor

One of the next stops on our itinerary around the UK is WordCamp Bristol. Held May 13 and 14th on the scenic Bristol harbourside at Watershed Media Centre.

As we get closer to the event, we’re having a chinwag with several of the speakers, including our very own Kayleigh – to get a feel for their talks, and what attendees might learn . Today we speak to Mark Wilkinson and Elliot Taylor.

Mark Wilkinson

1) Tell us a little about yourself

I am a WordPress developer and business owner at Highrise Digital where we specialise in building easy to manage, fast WordPress websites. Before starting Highrise Digital, I was a full-time freelance WordPress developer for 2 years. Prior to that I spent 12 years teaching secondary Geography and computing to 11 – 16 year olds.

I play an active role in the UK WordPress community and attend local meet ups in Blackburn and from time to time Manchester. I was also the co-organise of the WordPress Cumbria meet up. I have spoken at a number of WordCamps on topics related to WordPress and business development.

Outside of WordPress I am a husband and father to 2 boys. I am also a keen runner. So far I have clocked up 225 miles this year!

2) Can you give us a sneak peak into your talk, and what attendees should be able to take away from it

My talk is titled “WordPress is a CMS not a CMS” which is intended to get people thinking. In the talk I outline why we want CMS to mean Content Management System rather than Content Mismanagement System. WordPress can be complex for first time users and people not involved with it everyday. I will share some of the tweaks we do to out client websites in order to make the content management easy, quick and intuitive.

Hopefully attendees will come away with some practical examples of some of the issues clients face when using WordPress as well as some code snippets of ways in which to improve their experience and make content management easier.

3) As a speaker at WordCamp I imagine WordPress features in your life in at least some small way. What’s your WordPress journey, where has WordPress taken you.

I have been using WordPress since 2005 (wow thats seems a long time ago!). The admin screens were very different back then, in fact WordPress was quite different to what we know and love today. It was around this time that eLearning was starting to take off – the idea being to get resources for learning online so pupils could use them anywhere. As someone interested in tech, computers and the web, and although I was teaching Geography at the time I was tasked with getting something online for pupils to use.

I sat down with a colleague and learnt to build a website in Dreamweaver using HTML tables and CSS and fell in love with building websites. Having used these for a few months it became hard to manage the content with multiple people wanting changes which all had to go through me. I went on the hunt for something to help and found WordPress.

I guess it all started from there. I learnt to integrate my HTML and CSS into a WordPress theme and kept learning more and more before I started offering WordPress services as a freelancer. I was then in a position to leave teaching altogether to do this full-time and never looked back.

Do follow me on Twitter @wpmark where I tweet about all things web and WordPress.

Elliot Taylor

1) Tell us a little about yourself

I’m a developer and entrepreneur based in Brighton. I like the remote work scene and try and travel as much as possible. However having a small terrier means I’m in England a fair amount. I like surfing and look forward to the Bristol Surf Garden coming soon. I also play guitar which is fantastic therapy after a heavy coding session when your brain has turned to mush.

2) Can you give us a sneak peak into your talk, and what attendees should be able to take away from it

My talk is something I would have loved to have listened to when I started out building a product business. It’s a frank discussion about the mistakes I made and mistakes I’ve spotted many other product builders make. I lay out some expectations for any budding product builder so they can start small and minimise their risks. I hope the talk is an antidote of sorts to the numerous people claiming that it’s all very easy and you’ll be at £100k MRR in a month.

3) As a speaker at WordCamp I imagine WordPress features in your life in at least some small way. What’s your WordPress journey, where has WordPress taken you.

I started out freelance building WordPress sites, built up a small agency called Raison which specialised in WooCommerce builds and enterprise WordPress. Then I took a new direction. Now I’m on my latest thing, products! At the moment I spend my time between freelance work and building up Superscribe which is an email SaaS built using the REST API. WordPress has given me the freedom to build my own business and constantly pushes me to learn new skills, from development to business. I’m excited to see Bristol’s first WordCamp. I’m part of the organising team for WordCamp Brighton. Last year we ran our first WordCamp and saw first hand how much work goes into putting on these conferences.


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