Speaker Spotlight: Riaan Knoetze

Riaan KnoetzeRiaan is the founder and owner of Tiny Giant Studios– a SA/UK based web design and development company specializing in WP themes, plugins and products. With degrees in a few unrelated fields, Riaan is a self-taught front end developer that has the privilege of working with Appthemes. As a keen entrepreneur, he is an early adopter of anything that improves efficiency, innovation and creativity while keeping costs to a minimum.

Session: How to Highjack a Themeshop
Time: 09:30 – 09:55

GitHub Stack Overflow Website

Tell us more about how you became interested in WordPress, what about it drives your continued interest?

WordPress started out as a means to an end. I was stuck in a country, with a foreign accent and little knowledge of web design and development (other than watching videos on lynda.com). After being made redundant in 2008, I thumbsucked an industry in which I’d like to start a business. I stumbled into WordPress when I accidentally clicked the install script in cPanel. As could be expected, the business failed dismally in the first 2 years and it was only after I realised a gap in the market for commercial child themes (which suited my skillset perfectly), that my business took shape.

Why did you decide to speak at WordCamp Cape Town?

As a native South African, I feel developers in Africa are in a unique position to build first-rate products, earning in Dollars while living in Rands. In addition, the startup costs and skill requirements is relatively low when measured against the opportunities and competition. I wanted to speak at WordCamp CT to bring a message that child theme development is an area that could bring a real return in a market where unemployment is rife.

What is your talk going to be about?

The talk boils down to how to build and sell commercial child themes off the back of existing, successful WP themeshops. In addition, I hope to leave some thoughts with themeshops on how they could expand their offering, and revenue, by embracing these 3rd party products.

What is the one thing you want people to walk away with from your talk?

That it’s easier to make money from WP than you think – even someone like myself, with no formal Web Development education, can do it.

What is your favourite WordPress theme and/or plugin, and why?

Definitely Woocommerce – The fact that it has integrated support for existing payment gateways in the local currency is a game-changer. For Tiny Giant Studios, eCommerce is the #1 requested functionality by all our clients… To such an extent, that we can’t find enough time to update our portfolio

Can you share one WP tip with us?

Before building something from scratch, check if there isn’t something on the market already that fits your needs. As a sidenote to this, remember that stuff comes at a premium for a reason.

What are you most looking forward to at WordCamp Cape Town 2012?

I’m keen to rub shoulders with the industry leaders, particularly Woothemes. Other than that, I’m pretty stoked on learning some tips and techniques from Fred Roed, Eric Clements and Byron Rode.

Do you make money from wordpress?

Yep, sure do.

Is WordPress an effective platform for getting your message across?

Absolutely. Having done a few client training sessions as well, I can attest to getting the job doing without leaving the client confused.

What’s in your WP toolbox that you can’t do without or that you’d recommended?

A lot depends on client needs. In the last year, we’ve worked extensively with the following tools and material:

  • Woocommerce
  • Canvas by Woothemes
  • Listings by Woothemes
  • Whitelight by Woothemes
  • Digging into WordPress by Chris Coyier by Chris Coyier and Jeff Starr
  • Jquery: Novice to Ninja
  • PHP & MySQL: Novice to Ninja
  • WordPress Codex
  • Contact Form 7
  • WordPress Multisite
  • A Github account
  • Themeforest / Code Canyon
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