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

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 working in the .org forums, and I’d like your help to do it. I could write a great sales letter or even launch a Kickstarter to convince you to help me do that, but honestly, I just don’t have that in me tonight, so I’m just going to write, and I’ll try to be brief. This is me, asking for help, and hoping there are a few out there who get me enough to say yes.

Early this year, my husband’s mom was in a car accident and broke her foot. She couldn’t drive or walk on it for months, so of course, we helped as much as we could. She lives about 15-20 minutes away, and simple things like laundry, shopping and doctor appointments. – we could help with those because we have such flexibility in our schedules. WordPress has gifted us with that, as it probably has you, too. She finally healed up in late spring/early summer and is back to her normal, spry self.

We also help take care of my mom who has a rare autoimmune disease and lives in assisted living. If you follow along on Twitter, you might know that last year, we went to over 90 doctor appointments for her, many lasting half of the day or all day. The year before – over 100, including a full month in the hospital. Thankfully this year, she is doing much better and we’ve only had maybe four or five appointments each month. In July, her previous assisted living facility closed abruptly when the state shut it down, and we spent a week scrambling to both find her a new home, and then move her into that new facility.

Just two weeks after that, Bob’s grandma was diagnosed with cancer. His grandmother is dying of breast cancer turned into liver cancer, and it’s happening very quickly. Bob’s mom used all of her sick and vacation time herself when she broke her foot. Because we work for ourselves and again, have flexibility in our schedules, we’re spending most days at his mom’s house with his grandma, helping her through these last days. Many days, we’re driving to their house after school lets out to make them dinner and help around the house and to just BE with them. In fact, Bob is there right now, sleeping in a chair next to her hospital bed so he can help her get up and to the bathroom through the night. It’s awful, and I hate it, and I don’t want to talk anymore about it because there have been so many tears this week already, I literally can’t even. Literally.

*Sigh* It hasn’t been an easy year. Maybe you know the feeling.

You and I know that in our business, you’ve got to keep your pipeline full. And it’s not a surprise to any of us that if you don’t, your pipeline will dry up, and eventually, you’ll not have any business. This summer, I let it dry up. My mind has been on finishing existing client work and looking after our families. I hope I don’t sound flip about this, because it’s a failure on my part to not figure out how to do all of this at once, and it’s one that might just do my little business in. There just has been nothing left of me at the end of the day.

What I’d LIKE to do is take a break from client work for the next month, and all of the marketing, communications and project management that comes with it. BUT… I have to work. MY income is my family’s whole income, so I can’t just stop working. While I might have failed in this season, failure overall is not an option.

Last night I thought that perhaps there might be a way for me to move through this season by offering my time for support in the forums. I know it might sound strange, but there is something relaxing about answering support tickets. Something about knowing you helped someone with that ONE THING that’s standing in the way of success; something really rewarding about helping someone move forward in their understanding of WordPress. I’ve been told I’m pretty good at that, too.

I tell guests each year at WordCamp that we’re in this together. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. So that’s what I’m doing. Here’s what I’m asking: I can give up to 30 hours a week for the next four weeks to support in the .org forums if you’ll help support me. I can’t commit to set hours of the day, because we have doctor appointments scattered throughout the days and weeks between now and then. It’s likely we’ll have a funeral and all that goes with it. But I can commit to five solid hours a day, every day. Each night before midnight, I’ll share a link to my profile so you can take a look at my work.

My goal is to raise $5000 to allow me to work in the forums for four weeks. If you’d like to contribute to that, you can use the link below.


One hour = $35
One day = $178
One week = $1250
Two weeks = $2500
Four weeks = $5000

If you think this is an awful idea and want to tell me so, please don’t do that in the comments. Just email me at, or better yet, just don’t. If you want to say something positive, you can do it in the comments below. If you have other options for me that you think might help, please feel free to email me at I really do want to hear what you’re thinking and seriously, thank you in advance for any support you might give.

Thank you,


I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. (Ben Franklin)

It took a lot of convincing to get me to move to Weinland Park. Almost three years ago, we were living in a tiny condo within walking distance to several parks, a library, a pool, stores, and a little Chocolate Cafe. We had a nice garden on our patio, and a decent sized green space where we could sit outside and play. The school our daughter would have gone to was one of the better elementary schools in Columbus City Schools – lots of OSU professor’s kids and the like.

I was persuaded to move to the quickly revitalizing* Weinland Park by well-meaning colleagues, who insisted that all of the redevelopment would prove to be a great investment for us. Bob was working at a non-profit at the time, one intimately involved in the upswing of Weinland Park. And though his job was important, it didn’t pay well. I mean, it didn’t pay well at all. Because of that income, we were offered an opportunity to move into a brand new, 3 bdrm, 2 bath house just two blocks away from High Street and practically next door to the explosive redevelopment in Italian Village. It was a special program – using some mix of state and federal tax credits – to offer lower than market rate rent to residents with middle incomes. It’s not Section 8 or low income housing either, in case you’re wondering. I could probably find the name of the program if I got our lease, but on with the story.

Our idyllic little street would be the model for cities across the country, giving hard working residents an opportunity to rent a new home at a great rate in an up-and-coming neighborhood for 15 years, and then purchase the home at HALF the market rate at the end of the 15 years. With the way property values are increasing around here, we knew that would be a great investment. It’s hard enough to find a single family, 3/3 house in the inner loop anymore for under $250K NOW. We could tell from the county auditor’s reports that the land under our house was increasing year by year already.

So we moved. And for the first year, on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, we’d peek out of the front windows as the police scoured the field across the street for criminals (they liked to run and hide over there). We put up with the ghetto bird (the police helicopter) overhead every other night, looking for someone who had done something to someone. It was like moving into another world altogether. Once I had hoped I’d never be close to again, to be honest. Weinland Park is very much like the neighborhood I lived in through middle school and high school and I got out of there as fast as I could.

But for the promise of what it would be, we moved in, and we stayed. And when we moved in, I was certain to ask the leasing agent, “Now, what if our income increases beyond what we’re making now? Will if affect our rent, or will we be asked to leave?” And in no uncertain terms, for two years when we renewed our lease, and several times each year when I’d stop in to pay rent, I was told, “No. In fact, you don’t even have to be re-certified each year. You can make whatever you want. It doesn’t affect you.” Once or twice, we were even told that this NON-re-certification was specific to our house alone. Isn’t that special? :-)

Then a few months before this year’s lease was up for renewal, we had some questions about our lease to purchase (remember the 15 year – buy for half what it’s worth  – thing?). Questions that were spurred on by things needing repaired in our house. I mean, if we’re going BUY this house in 15 years, we’d kind of like it to be a house worth buying in 15 years. And since we’re renting, much of the major maintenance falls to the management company, not us. So we asked about a few things, being certain to frame the questions in just that way – from our concern over the condition of the house in 15 years.

And the strangest things started happening. First, the company got new leasing managers. The NEW leasing managers told us that in fact we DID have to be re-certified each year. And they told us that there was no lease to purchase program. And they told us that if we made more than [some vague number they didn’t know], our rent would be increased to [some vague number they didn’t know].

And so we mentioned this to some of the colleagues at the non-profit where Robert used to work. The same colleagues who had encouraged us to move in, and the same colleagues who were very involved in the marketing of this unique program to residents. They seemed shocked. They made phone calls. We don’t know what else happened. In the end, we were told, “Write down everything so you have a record of what is said. Your lease says it IS a lease to purchase, but not much else.” Nothing helpful, to be honest. We’re not those people. We read the lease.

And then those leasing managers were fired and a new one was hired. And that one said that we had to fill out new income certification paperwork because this year, we’re totally self-employed now, so we have to submit some sort of third-party verification of our income… most likely from our accountant. Only we don’t HAVE an accountant. I have a husband who has his Master in Public Administration. I’m pretty sure he can handle our simple taxes. So we called to ask what they’d like if we don’t have an accountant. And they didn’t call back.

But we DID get a letter saying that we needed to come in and fill out NEW re-certification forms, and another letter letting us know that there was a NEW leasing manager. See, the other new, new ones were fired.

So we called to ask what paperwork they’d need this time around, and they didn’t call back. We went to the office to submit our paperwork, and the new, new, new leasing manager was working on our paperwork as we walked in, “To submit to compliance,” as a matter of fact. And, that letter, the one saying we had to be re-re-recertified, was sent to everyone in these homes. They didn’t actually need anything from US, though.

I thought this was a great opportunity to ask the NEW, new, new leasing manager about the income thing. If we earned more than a certain amount, would we be 1) asked to leave or 2) would our rent be raised to market rate? Just so you know, market rate rent will be probably $1000-$1500 more per month than we’re currently paying. That’s something we’ll need to plan for.

And guess what she said?

Yes. One or the other. And that we were at that income level now. And that if they did ask us to leave, we’d have 60 days notice. Except, that “if compliance says we ARE at that level, we have some income percentages we can work with so you probably won’t be asked to LEAVE… but yeah, your rent would probably go up.” Whatever that means. It LITERALLY sounded like she was making things up as she spoke.

And I think that’s really interesting.

1) We’ve known our rent will increase each year of the 15 years. Every year it goes up about $75, but it wasn’t supposed to go over $1100/month, which for this area is a total steal now. This was part of the allure of the program, you see. “You take the risk to move into a neighborhood where there are shootings most weekends, and where you can’t leave your car out at night, and where the neighborhood school is failing beyond belief…knowing that everything is on an upswing…so that we can have some stable residents… and we’ll give you a deal on the rent.” This known annual increase is different than a market rate increase.

2) The whole program was designed to give a middle ground of housing to Weinland Park. There is already lots of low income housing – projects, we called them in Dayton. There are some houses which have been rehabbed and are quite nice. Those were already selling in the 200-300Ks. There are new houses for sale – starting around $250K, just a few doors down from us. But these houses, the ones we live in, were designed for those in the middle.

Those same residents are essentially sitting on a time-bomb. Make too much, and you’ll either be asked to leave, or your rent will increase probably 2-3X. Where will they go? To get a 3-4 bdrm for the amounts we pay now, you’ll have to move into areas far worse than Weinland Park (which at this point isn’t that bad, actually).

For us, we’ll be fine. We’ll figure it out. We’re already talking about where we want to move to, because I’m not living here past next April when our lease renews. – if we’re given the opportunity to stay that long. I won’t let them have control over my family like that. Our increased income is actually my income alone. Bob hasn’t been working over the past year, so we know that he could grab a job and make up the difference for a market rate rent. But that’s not the point. Not every resident in these homes has that luxury. Some of these residents are scratching and clawing their way out of hell and, it seems to be that the moment they get one hand onto stable ground, this sort of surprise increase will throw them straight back into it.

Part of me feels like a whiney brat. We made the choice to move over here. We got almost three years of ridiculously low rent. Now that might change because we make more? Good for us. Pay normal rent like everyone else. Ok, that’s fine. We might not have chosen to do that here in Weinland Park. I certainly wouldn’t have and I wouldn’t now make that same choice, even with all of the renewal around here. Part of moving here was about the long-term investment opportunity of staying here for 15 years and buying the house. It seems now like we were lied to, and continue to be lied to. I don’t like it. I don’t having that sort of company involved in our lives, and I don’t like the level of control that gives them over us. So we’re looking for new opportunities.

What do you think? I’d really like to hear.

*quickly revitalizing = gentrifying = whitifying = richifying

The Rise of the Dones

Originally posted on Holy Soup:

John is every pastor’s dream member. He’s a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously, and leads others passionately.

But last year he dropped out of church. He didn’t switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person or another member. It wasn’t triggered by any single event.

John had come to a long-considered, thoughtful decision. He said, “I’m just done. I’m done with church.”

John is one in a growing multitude of ex-members. They’re sometimes called the de-churched. They have not abandoned their faith. They have not joined the also-growing legion of those with no religious affiliation–often called the Nones. Rather, John has joined the Dones.

At Group’s recent Future of the Church conference, sociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among…

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#ParentingFail: How NOT to give your kid a bath.

Best Meeker ‪#‎parentingfail‬ ever. Earlier today I filled up the downstairs tub with hot water and Tide with the intent to scrub it about an hour later (don’t judge me, it works). We had to leave to run an long errand, water still in the tub. I mentioned to Bob on the way to our errand that I hadn’t finished cleaning the filled-up Tide tub. Continue reading

The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work (Thomas Edison)

One of my goals for this year is to find something to sell at our local farmer’s market(s). For me, this is driven by the desire to teach Nila that she can earn money by the products and services she produces (or helps produce, in this case). I don’t want to just throw money at her for doing chores because let’s face it, noone ever gets paid for doing their own chores. That’s just part of living in a home and being part of a family. I want her to learn now that producing and owning is better than the alternatives.

Last summer we sold sweet tea on the porch one day – collecting a whopping $7 in one hour. Because of that, she has wanted to sell tea at the farmer’s markets. Unfortunately, tea isn’t one of the “cottage industry” foods allows by the Ohio [whatever health department makes up these rules]. So we’ve started looking for other foods or things we can make to sell.

Tonight I stumbled upon what I think we’ll sell: homemade, natural cleaning products. Laundry soap, dish soap, fabric softener, dusting spray, glass cleaner, toilet cleaner… As best I can remember, our local farmer’s markets (at least the three closest to us) don’t sell these yet, and the profit margin would certainly be enough to make it worth our time.

What do you think? Would you buy natural, effective cleaning products for your home at your local farmer’s market? Are there any other home made treats or goods that your market is missing you secretly hope someone will bring this season?

Four 2013 YourCrimeSite #Fails

funny-pictures-cat-blinds-abort-retry-failIf you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I run a network of Crime Stoppers websites at and have since 2008. I thought I’d write a little about some #fails of my little “startup” tonight, mostly because I need to get them out of my head, but also because it seems like we don’t hear enough about the screwups along the way to success.

1. I should have done it all the way as soon as I realized I had something.

Instead, I put it aside until “one day” when I would have time to do something great with it… or worse, until I believed I really could. When I started, I didn’t know anything about startups, or MVP’s, or stuff like that. I was just building a few websites in the most efficient way I knew how. Looking back, I could fill up a true pitch deck with the scribbles and scribbles of notebooks where I wrote about what I thought this network could become. Though really, who cares about pitch decks and MVP’s and that? I’ve got a product with customers and I have to either fix it and win with it, forget it or sell it. I think I’d like to do the first still.

In 2014, I have a part time contract with a company for 20 hours week which will allow me the freedom to spend my other 15-20 working hours on without feeling like I HAVE to take on additional clients. This will be the first time I feel like I have real TIME to focus on YourCrimeSite.

2. I should have fixed things as I went instead of waiting for them to pile up.

Putting it on the backburner over the years has put the network in a situation where, though things still work, I realize now that there are a few little band aids here and there. Things that should be standard across the network aren’t. Theming isn’t pixel perfect. Features that every site should have are only active on a few. Updates aren’t made throughout. A few conflicts exist that are preventing some customers from doing the things they want to do. We built the network on shared hosting which isn’t working very well at all now. Besides that, I’ve never gotten around to properly marketing it – which is the stuff I should probably be doing the most of, because it’s what I’m best at and understand best for my startup. Lots of people can straighten up my network (though I’d have to PAY them to do it obviously), but I keep the vision for what it is and why customers should buy into it.

We are migrating to WP Engine in late Dec. 2013, then I’ll stage the network and fix these issues. Once those are finished, I can turn my attention back to the marketing of the network (bc I have a marketing plan completed).

3. I should have gotten help for the routine tasks right away so I could focus on marketing and lead development (even if I wasn’t DOING the development myself somehow).

While our core product is the website itself, we offer an add on of actually posting client’s content. For half our customers, they utilize this service, and need their content posted within 6-12 hours of sending it. At first, I could do this myself. As time went on and I involved myself with other projects and clients not related to THIS project at all, I could not get to these updates as quickly as that. I should have IMMEDIATELY hired someone to post those updates instead of waiting as long as I have. That same person could have been responding to support emails (at least, fielding them, if not resolving them entirely – they’re never anything very complicated because almost without exception, all the clients do it post text with a featured image, gallery or video).

We’re hiring this person the first of January. I’ve gotten several applications – some from friends, some from people with experience in marketing, some with experience in criminal justice. I need to advertise in a few more places still to get more applicants, perhaps, though I know we have at least three quality candidates.

4. I should have documented EVERYTHING.

If I had $5 for every time one of my existing clients asked me how to do x, and then asked me again, I’d have $60 a year per client. Or, I could throw the answer into a Knowledgebase and have the help I should have hired in #3 reply to the email where they ask for that thing AGAIN and point them to the knowledgebase. I don’t know what I was thinking, building a turn-key thing that is in fact, not turn key at all. I can’t step out of it or it will break, and clients can’t just do it all themselves because there are no instructions anywhere. Total fail.

The new network on WPEngine has a knowledgebase, categorized FAQ, and a ticket support system (previously, any question at all was sent by email, and over time, all of our customers have ended up with all THREE of my email addresses (personal, company, and YourCrimeSite), so I often receive three emails for each email, though I’ve asked them to only email the appropriate email. The ticket support system should alleviate that and allow us to open and close specific requests, as well as see response times. I will spend a good part of my time in January working on onboarding documentation for new customers.

It IS possible that I will lose my existing customers when it’s time for them to renew this year. I am not certain, but I think if I don’t shore up these issues, I will. As one of them said this week (paraphrasing), “I still think you’re the best option out there and I don’t want to look elsewhere, but we’ve got to see some movement on these issues or we will have to.” I wondered to myself today, “IF I lose these customers, does that mean I’ve lost it all?” And I think the answer is no. I know what I need to do to fix things, and I’m working on it. Version Two. Rebuild. Start Again.

It’s hard for me because I KNOW that IF EXECUTED WELL, I have the very best publishing platform for the anti-crime community. I know that if I quit, or fail, they won’t get what they need. So, I won’t quit but instead, I’ll keep learning and making adjustments as I go.

Any reflections on your own startup fails or words of wisdom on mine?