Raelene Morey is the Managing Editor at WPMU DEV, the best known provider of premium plugins and themes for WordPress. She manages the very popular WPMU DEV blog and the very respected WhiP, the popular email newsletter that has reached 70,000 subscribers. In this interview she talks about her career, her work at WPMU DEV and her passion for volunteering her time for educational endeavors.
Cloudways: Hey Raelene Morey, you have a lot of experience in technical writing. Will you tell our readers how you began in the field? Tell us a bit about yourself and your work related interests?
Raelene: I wasn’t always a tech writer. I started out as a newspaper journalist and spent my days writing about current affairs and politics. In my spare time, I developed websites for friends and family and eventually stumbled onto WordPress. Then one day I saw a job advertised for a writing gig at WPMU DEV and I decided to give it a shot. Now I’m Managing Editor of one of the largest WordPress resources online (we have an archive of 4000+ posts!) and get to play with websites and words and work with ridiculously talented people from all over the world. I’m pretty lucky to have a job that combines my love of writing with my passion for web development.
Cloudways: You’re a successful technical writer and editor. What would you suggest to newbies who choose this field as a career? What was your motivation to start your career as a writer and editor?
Raelene: As a child, I always had my head stuck in books and loved writing stories, but also spent a lot of time on our home computer, so it was only natural that I went on to study journalism and computer science at university. While I started out as a reporter and eventually became a newspaper editor, I always wanted to make the jump into working in tech. For me, it was a fairly easy transition into writing and editing articles about WordPress because I had worked professionally as a writer/editor. The only learning curve was getting up to speed with what was happening in the WordPress community.
As far as becoming a WordPress writer or editor goes, I would suggest starting out with writing your own blog. Write about your website, how you’ve put it together, even review plugins you’ve used. Reading other people’s articles and refining your own writing style is just as important as being able to understand complex WordPress topics. I’m always on the look-out for quality contributors to join the WPMU DEV Blog writing team and find that while many applicants having a strong grasp of WordPress topics or already work as developers, they aren’t very good at writing about it. Really good writers aren’t just fantastic at explaining how to do something with WordPress, but their articles are a joy to read.
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Cloudways: There are lots of CMS in the market. When did you discover WordPress and what were the reasons to choose WordPress for your blogs?
Raelene: I hand-coded all of my websites using HTML and CSS when I first started out creating sites when I was a teenager. Then I started using Geocities and Blogspot (now Blogger) and built a gazillion sites – I was good at starting them but always abandoned them! I can’t recall exactly when I started using WordPress, though I do remember how easy it was to use and customize compared to Blogger.
Eventually I just used WordPress exclusively, mostly because I could set up self-hosted sites with little effort. I’ve tried using other CMSes, like Joomla!, but always kept coming back to WordPress.
Cloudways: You are the Managing Editor and run the blog at WPMU DEV, the largest premium provider of plugins and themes for WordPress. What are your responsibilities there?
Raelene: I run the WPMU DEV blog and manage a distributed team of writers from all over the world. They’re a talented bunch of awesome people and we publish to a monthly audience of 1.5 million visitors. I also started The WhiP, a popular email newsletter we send out three times a week to more than 70,000 subscribers. Earlier this year we launched The Academy, which offers online courses in Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced WordPress development, Multisite, and how to start an online business. We have lots of other courses coming later in the year. I do a lot of copywriting and look after our social media accounts and I try to get along to WordPress meetups and WordCamps. I spoke at a meetup in Birmingham, UK last year and an Australian developer who was living in Wales at the time travelled all the way to Birmingham just to attend the meetup because he wanted to meet me. Very cool!
Cloudways: You’ve been in blogging, journalism, editing and reporting for a long time. Who do you consider your best buddies throughout your career? Do you have a mentor?
Raelene: There are so many people who have influenced my career, from colleagues I worked with in journalism to the amazing people I work with at WPMU DEV. I’m based in Melbourne, Australia and work out of WPMU DEV headquarters with an awesome group of guys and we’re super close. It’s fun working with people who are not only talented and work super hard to create fantastic products and services, but also have similar interests and love to have a laugh.
I’ve had a few mentors over the years, mostly other editors who passed on their wisdom. The closest thing I have to a mentor now is probably our CEO James Farmer who has given me a lot of freedom to grow the WPMU DEV Blog into a quality resource for WordPress newbies and developers alike.
Cloudways: Working as a technical writer and an editor can be a tiring job. How do you unwind and what do you do in your free time?
Raelene: I spend a lot of time watching television! I’m a huge fan of The Wire, but also love Game of Thrones and House of Cards. I just started watching The Kettering Incident, which is a great series filmed in Tasmania where I’m from. When I’m not glued to the TV, I love getting outdoors and going hiking, spending time reading good books, and working on some of my own writing. I also love live music and can’t wait to see The Cure in a couple of weeks. On weekends, I love going out for brunch, which I think might be a very Australian thing to do.
Cloudways: I understand that you volunteer your time. Could you tell our readers a bit about your passion and experiences?
Raelene: I’ve always volunteered my time to different causes over the years. For the past six years I’ve been involved with the JET Programme Alumni Association in Australia. I used to teach in Japan with the JET Programme and the association supports returnees. We also do a lot of fundraising for people who were affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. I also manage the association’s website, which I built with WordPress of course!
Cloudways: Raelene, Cloudways is a managed hosting platform for everyone, offering 1-click installation for WordPress with great caching solutions and optimized servers. What’s your opinion about managed cloud hosting services like Cloudways?
Raelene: I think managed WordPress hosting services like Cloudways provide an easy way for people to set up sites without having to worry about performance and security because all of the hard work is taken care of for you.
You can follow Raelene on @raemoreywrites
Just to humor our readers, can you please send us an image of what your desk or workspace looks like? 🙂
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is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WooCommerce Hosting Platform and a seasoned PHP developer. He loves to develop all sorts of websites on WordPress and is in love with WooCommerce in particular. You can email him at [email protected]