Fernando Tellado – WProfessional of the Month

Published in Community.

A few weeks ago we explained how we merged all our blogs into… well, this one. One of the merged blogs was WPrincipiante, which was focused on the WordPress Spanish-speaking community. There we shared a lot of useful information for beginners, both users and developers, and I think all our readers loved it.

One of the most successful things we were doing in WPrincipiante was interviewing WordPress professionals (or, as we like to call them, WProfessionals). A WordPress professional is someone who’s (probably) making a living out of WordPress and has a strong relationship with the platform and the community.

Since these interviews have proven to be very interesting to our audience, we’ve decided to share them in English too. Hopefully you’ll find them as interesting as we do!

This month the interviewee is Fernando Tellado, one of the most influencing and interesting people in the Spanish Community. Don’t you know him? This is his story!

Thanks for the interview, Fernando. It’s a pleasure to have you here. For those who read us that don’t know you, please tell us something about you and your relationship with WordPress.

I’ve known WordPress for a long time. The first time I started to use it, I was a simple blogger, but since 8 years ago I’m using it professionally (consulting, teaching, development…). I started a blog (Ayuda WordPress) with the idea of sharing what I was learning about the platform, and I soon realized people liked and valued the topics I discussed. And so I thought I might be able to make a living out of WordPress!

Right now I’m about to release an online education platform: brainware.online. The complexity is not about getting it up and running, but being able to distribute different courses. I don’t want to create a simple series of videos; I’d like to make something extremely useful and help the people learn and achieve their goals.

Regarding my relationship with the (Spanish) community… I guess I’m in it since the day it was born. This first community was born during the first Spanish WordCamp, in Barcelona 2008. Since then, it’s getting stronger and bigger. I’m also a GTE (Global Translation Editor) and I administer the web and forums in es.wordpress.org. I’m also the organizer behind the meetups in Collado Villalba (a small town near Madrid) and the Madrid WordCamp. And, should you need my help, you can always find and contact me in Slack.

When was the first time you used WordPress and when did it become a professional tool for you?

I was tired of publication systems such as PHPNuke or Mambo/Joomla. When I first tried out WordPress, I was quite surprised by its simplicity and its care for writers. Honestly? It was love at first sight!

I was using WordPress in all my blogs and webs. I was one of the first people to talk about the platform in Spain, and so I became sort of “famous”. People knew who I was and were interested in learning from me, asking me for help, requesting projects… That’s when I realized I was no longer a regular WordPress user, but someone who used it professionally.

I’d also like to highlight that I’m no developer. However, after years of being a hard user, I learned a few tricks that might be helpful to anyone. And I also have a good eye when it comes to project management 😉

To be completely honest, though, my passion is education. I love to teach people, prepare courses, think about my students…

How do you keep up-to-date? Who do you follow?

Two tools: Feedly and Pocket. I’m subscribed to thousands (yes, you heard it right: thousands!) of sources in Feedly, and I save whatever draws my attention into Pocket, so that I can dive into the subject later. I read a lot and as many different opinions as possible.

Who do I follow? That’s a tough question… If I have to choose, I’d recommend the blogs written by Darío Balbontín, Pablo López, or Mauricio Gelves; there’s a lot of people who don’t know them, but I think they’re great. In fact, I recently shared a list of Spanish blogs with tens of useful references (including yours, of course).

What’s the contribution or development you’re most proud of?

There’s a couple of things I’m specially proud of. On the one hand, being part of the Spanish community and its growth from the very beginning. On the other hand, contributing to the translations. The latter might not seem very important in an English-speaking world, but I think it is: it helps WordPress reach all Spaniards (I’m afraid we’re not very good at languages 😅).

In fact, internationalization is currently a clear priority in WordPress. This year the translation system was updated and there’s over 44,000 plugins waiting for being translated. There’s a lot of people who need/want their site to be in their native language, and that requires a lot of work.

I also have a few plugins in my mind that I’d like to upload someday to WordPress.org… but I don’t have the time right now. So, yeah, translations are my best contribution.

Sometimes we make things look easy, when they aren’t… Why don’t you share an epic fail with us?

This one’s funny! One of the first things I did in WordPress was translating themes. Among the themes I translated, there was this theme, Mandingo, which was quite popular at the time. As it turns out, it was used by the anti-Castro blogosphere in Cuba.

So far, so good. The problem was, I added my name in the theme’s footer, and so it appeared in all those blogs. Someone pro-Castro looked at those blogs and concluded that I was related with “their enemies”, accusing me of encouraging and financing the counterrevolution in Cuba. Some newspapers in Argentina and Cuba started calling me Doktor Blog, which sounded a little bit nazi. I tried to explain the misunderstanding, but when it comes to politics, it looks like common sense is nowhere to be found.

Do you create (and how) your own themes? Or do you use third-party themes? What do you recommend?

I usually use third-party themes. I love them because they lower the barriers for people, making web accessible and easy to use. Themes like Divi, for example, are (in my opinion) great for creating beautiful webs. If you’re looking for a paid theme, I recommend you take a look at ThemeForest.

Tell us which plugins are essential and which ones should be avoided.

I have an enormous list of favorite plugins! But I think that WooCommerce deserves a special place today. It’s a very important plugin for WordPress today, and it’ll be more important in the upcoming future, when people realize how powerful WordPress is for creating e-commerce websites..

That said, I’d like to highlight the plugins I always use in almost all WordPress installations: All in one SEO Pack, WordFence, Contact Form DB, Disqus, WP Mail SMTP… And if you’re running a WooCommerce store, then add Bulk Discount, Wishlist, and Review Reminder to the list.

I’m not against any plugin in particular. I usually criticize JetPack, but the truth is I find it very interesting under certain circumstances (for example, you can use it to build a free CDN for your images, thanks to Photon).

What plugin is missing? Any ideas on what should be implemented in WordPress?

I haven’t found a good SEO plugin for WooCommerce yet. Sure, there are some options out there… but none of them fits e-commerce stores properly. I think there’s a lot of work to do in this area.

WordPress is “free”. Do you think it’s possible to make money out of it?

Of course! That’s what I do. WordPress is free, but the time a professional invests for offering his services costs money. Knowledge and work shouldn’t be free (as in free beer), even if the base platform is.

For example, nowadays there’s a lot of people interested in migrating their e-commerce systems to WooCommerce. I recently published a study in which one can see that more than 90% of e-commerce sites are created using WooCommerce. However, there’s a huge base of already-existing e-commerce stores that could benefit from a migration to WordPress.

Any tips for our WordPress beginners? Where should they get started?

First of all, I’d recommend them to join the community and (try to) get involved. Join our Slack channels. Contribute as much as they can. That’s a good way to get started.

Then, if someone’s interested in developing stuff for WordPress, take a look at the REST API and cherish the Codex. And, of course, make sure to master the basics: PHP, JavaScript, and CSS.

How will WordPress look like in 2 to 3 years? What challenges await us?

Clearly: specialization. There’s a lot of interest in WordPress nowadays and in no time it’ll be used in a lot of different (professional) contexts. Right now, it looks like we expect our professionals to have a lot of different skills… but if you want to stand out, you’ll have to be the best at something.

So my tip is: don’t do everything; focus on one thing and be the best at it!

What would you change about WordPress?

My wish list is quite big, but I’d like to see the following in the short term:

  • Completed implementation of the REST API.
  • Front-end edition, so that we can move away from the Dashboard.
  • Get rid of the comment system and use something like Disqus.
  • Document management, which is a key requirement in the education and business worlds.
  • Teach WordPress in schools and colleges (I’m on it).

Suppose you want to hire a WordPress developer. What would the first question be? Why? What are you looking for?

I’d ask him: “What are you specialized in?”. I’d also expect him to have a solid programming experience (or else it’s impossible to create great products), as well as eagerness to learn.

We’re about to finish the interview… Did I missed something? Now’s your chance to tell us whatever you want!

I think I already said too much. My focus now is on making WordPress available to everybody, and so I encourage you to collaborate with this new project I’m working on: WPCampus.

Finally, who should we interview next? Tell us the name of 3 WProfessionals you want to see here.

There’s a lot of people I admire… and I guess you already interviewed most of them. From the top of my head, I’d say Luis Rull (one of the first people involved in the WordPress community), Fernando Puente (an outstanding professional focused on applying WordPress in high-performance environments) or Jorge Bernal (our first Spanish Automattician).

Thanks again to Fernando for this interview. Stay tuned for our next interview!

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