Finely Tuned Consultant Rachael ButtsToday, I’m featuring one of my favorite “Women of WordPress.” We’re so stoked to have this designer by, that we cleaned up the site in preparation of her arrival. WPEngine.com sure does clean up nicely, eh?

We’ve got Rachael Butts, fantastic designer, brilliant entrepreneur, and one of the most awesome WordPress people that I know. Rachael has been running her own design businesses with WordPress since 2005 when her father, a fairly successful internet marketer, handed her the keys to a WordPress site, and clients started pouring in. Today, Rachael’s business is booming so much that she had a hard time finding the time to rebrand her own site, rachaelbutts.com. (It’s done now, and worth taking a peek at.)

Today, Rachael lives outside of Austin with her husband, and runs her business from her home office. WordPress has been the source of both her income and her inspiration for almost 7 years. Rachael’s background in business and marketing, as well as design and SEO make her a versatile partner for your next website.

In Rachael’s Own Words:

I’m a proud 6th generation native Texan , WordPress designer, and sponsored skateboarder with a passion for crafting custom designs , illustrations and functional WordPress websites that convert. I like to wear many hats (except helmets when I skateboard because they could ruin my big Texas hair) as project manager and creative director for my company RACHAELBUTTS&CO.

Now onto Rachael’s answers!

When was the first time that you really got excited about WordPress and at what point did you decide to make it your career?

I got fired up about WordPress after my introduction in 2005 by non other than my DAD of all people. He got me into designing custom header graphics for his internet marketing clients to replace their Kubrick headers. Remember “Hello World”? The money was easy especially as a college student and I got to build my portfolio at the same time, but It wasn’t until my first job in 2009 when I got hired as an in house web designer and SEO manager at a real estate firm that I really got into WordPress. The company that hired me did not know I had no idea how to develop websites and I decided to teach myself WordPress on the job. Designing headers in the past was one thing, but digging into the backend opened my eyes to a whole new opportunity. I started posting ads on Craigslist to build WordPress sites for other clients, and 2 months later on September 14th, 2009 I quit my job and I have been on my own ever since. Best day of my life.

Where do you go first to get your WordPress news, insights, and updates?

This has actually been something I used to struggle with. I had the “out of the loop” feeling until this past year. Since starting my business I have been so busy and I never set aside enough time to keep learning. In the past couple of months I have dedicated a lot more time to staying up to date. I subscribe to a couple blogs like CodePoet, Torque, and because I’m a designer, Smashing Magazine. Where I have really learned to stay up to date is following some of my peers on Twitter. I used to loathe Twitter, but I have learned to accept the fact that it is an important part of my business. It has also brought me great opportunities like being interviewed on CodePoet, and connecting with various WordPress peeps and designers who I would have never been able to in the past.

What WordPress consultants deserve more love than they get? Who should we be paying attention to?

I attended WordCamp Austin earlier this year in May. I briefly met Emily White while I munched away at the catered bar-b-q lunch. Emily focuses on designing for the Genesis framework and just got added to the Genesis preferred developers list. We didn’t stay in touch, but she started following me on Twitter and I followed her back. Ok, put that part of the story on hold and fast forward to August. I bought a graphic on Creative Market, and the designer Ismael Burciaga PM’d me and invited me to Circles Conference in Grapevine, TX. He is the founder, and a super awesome designer/ “OK” guy. We bonded over the fact we both love the I.D. channel. I bought my ticket right away.

A few days later Emily tweeted me saying she liked my new site design and I replied back asking if she was going to Circles. She said she hadn’t heard of it, but she’d check it out. She tweeted me back and the same day decided to go. She lives in San Antonio and picked me up in Austin in her own words “sweet mom van”. We got a hotel room together and spent 2.5 days just talking shop and design. We quickly became “creative accountability partners” agreeing we would meet 1-2 times a month to push each other creatively.

I have been working lately with Bill Erickson as a preferred designer on his list and I introduced her to Bill at Circles. He now has her on his list too. I’m beginning to think at this point this girl is strong competition for me, but hey…there are enough WordPress sites to design out there, and I can’t do them all! She also has another gal pal Jeni Elliot “The Blog Maven” who lives on the east coast. We have a Skype chat open during the day and we just randomly chat the three of us. It is like working at a co-space except we are in different cities.

Confess to us your biggest moment of WP fail?

A couple years ago I was removing a user from MySQL. Instead of deleting just the user. I deleted the user and ALL the databases that user had created which meant deleting my own personal site and like 8 client dev sites I was working on. Oh, and this just happened to be at like 2 a.m.

Lesson 1: NEVER login to your Cpanel at 2.a.m.
Lesson 2: Repeat lesson 1

If you were going to spend this weekend creating a plugin that doesn’t exist, what would it be?

As a WordPress designer I would have no business ever doing this, but if I could hire a contractor to build a plugin that doesn’t exist it would be a plugin that would automatically deliver me a Starbucks beverage at any given time.

Do you use Themes & Child Themes, Roll your own, or both?

I do design which means I create custom .psds. I design within my own company mainly for Woo themes, and we create child themes based off of existing Woo themes. We also do designs for Genesis developing child themes for their framework.

Occasionally we develop custom themes, but with child themes being so awesome, custom themes aren’t needed as much and we prefer to develop child themes.

What’s your favorite theme or theme framework? Why?

As a designer, Woo themes has been my fav. for a long time. I say ‘as a designer’ because I am fully aware of the fact that Genesis is a better framework for developers. I’m one of WooThemes affiliated Woo workers.

Favorite plugin?

Gravity Forms without a doubt. I love the conditional logics!

Least favorite plugin?

WP Super Cache for the simple fact that my clients who are dangerous enough to know what it is always think they need it when they really don’t most of the time, and it will just end up getting in the way.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done with Custom Post Types?

I’ve been using the heck out of these lately. I asked my developer Jamie Brewer what his favorite was since he is the magic behind these.

He responded by saying he recently was working on a project where he wanted to see how far he could take a project and that he created a front-end product submission/ customization with WooCommerce.

We get Woocommerce customization requests almost daily. There is a HUGE marketplace for these. Anyone interested in collabing with us on this is welcome to contact us.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that WordPress consultants will face in 2014?

There are a lot more people who claim to be “WordPress consultants”. While I am all for sharing the love, and there are plenty of sites to go around these so-called “WordPress consultants” have polluted the marketplace with their cheap prices and shoddy work.

Clients that hire these “consultants” get burned and end up spending extra money to fix a lot of the bad work these “consultants” have done. This has resulted in consultants like myself not only having to start at a place of having to build trust, but also having to do the daunting task of undoing a lot of bad work done out there.

If you could change one thing today about WordPress, what would it be?

Not allowing users to purchase domains and hosting on WordPress.com. Migrating a clients site from WordPress.com to a self-hosted site who have also purchased a domain and hosting through WordPress.com is a major pain in the butt!

Where do you see WordPress going in the next 2-3 years?

I see it growing. A lot of my business is transferring static sites to WordPress, so I definitely see an increase in overall users and more sites turning to WordPress. Which, gets me pretty excited 😉

Tell us a story where you saved the WordPress day for yourself or on a client project. What made the difference for you?

One of my clients sites got injected by some spam recently even though his username was not admin. He contacted me after he Googled himself and saw that Google had placed the ominous text about his meta description “This site may be compromised”, but he had already changed his usernames and passwords in FTP and WP because of a previous attack he had before he became my client, first bummer. I cracked my knuckles, rolled up my sleeves, and put my thinking cap on. My first stop was Googles’ Webmaster Tools for cleaning up your site.

I went through the tasklist Google provided of:

  1. Quarantine Your Site
  2. Assess the Damage
  3. Clean Up Your Site
  4. Ask Google to Review Your Site

I immediately skipped to step 2 because in all honesty I’m an advancer and I needed to see what I was working with. Google suggested using SafeBrowsing diagnostics page for your site to scan the site (http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=www.example.com)

Did it, scanned it, nada……2nd bummer.

Since I didn’t find anything via their scanner I thought there HAD to be a notification via the Malware page in Webmaster Tools.(On the site dashboard, click Health and then click Malware.) This page lists sample URLs from your site that have been identified as containing malicious code. Sometimes hackers will add new URLs to your site for their nefarious purposes (for example, phishing).

I searched in Webmaster tools and the site had no new notifications. Health was great, 3rd bummer.

Tapping my fingers on my desk sitting there staring at the clients sites I thought. Let’s do this old school. I went to the clients site, right clicked on that bad boy, and viewed page source. There it was taunting me like cake does a fat kid right in the header.php the lovely block of spam that somehow not even Google could find in their scanners. I raised my fist in the air as I realized I had triumphed over even Googles scanners. I logged right into the WordPress dashboard, went to Appearance > Editor > selected the header.php file > deleted the spam > and saved the file. I then followed the steps of my previous post and changed the usernames and passwords for his WP site.

What’s the biggest misconception you encounter about WordPress, and how do you clear it up for your clients?
That a custom child theme isn’t a completely custom design. I honestly encountered this so much I quit even telling most clients that they are getting a custom child theme and that they are getting a custom design instead because it isn’t even worth the time to explain what a custom child theme is sometimes. Honestly, I don’t think clients even care. They just want a custom design, and most of the time they do not care what is under the hood. (ED: They don’t care what it’s called, they just care what it does)

If you were interviewing another WordPress developer for a job, what is the first question you would ask and why?

Haha, this is kind of funny. I’ve hired WordPress developers as part of my team and if they type out “WordPress” with a lower case “p” in WordPress when they contact me I disqualify them immediately. It just lets me know they are a newb so, it would have to be how they type out “WordPress”.

What did I miss? Here’s your chance to fill in the blanks and add something you want people to know about you!

Probably that I’m a born again Christian. I strive to be Christ-like in my life as well as in my business. Of course, I am human and I fail to be perfect, but I do attribute my success and happiness in my life to God and thank Him for the many blessings He has provided me. Oh, and I am a HUGE Dave Ramsey fan: living my life like no one else so I can live like no one else later…#debtfree.

Thanks Rachael!

Y’all mosey on over to RachaelButts.com to check out what her team can take make happen for your site. You won’t be disappointed.