Learning WordPress? Four lessons from a cigar aficionado


cigars-wordpressLearning WordPress?

If you’re just getting started with WordPress, there are tons of tutorials out there for you. My friend Shawn Hesketh runs a favorite site of mine, WP101, and my other friend Syed runs the

largest WordPress resource site out there (for folks like you), WP Beginner.

So no tips I could or would tell you won’t already be found on their sites somewhere.

But, I’m pretty sure I may be the first person to ever give you some WordPress advice from the perspective of a cigar aficionado. And given that we just held the third annual Cigar Camp (an event we hold in Austin, Texas – after the WordCamp conference), it seems appropriate.

Four lessons from a cigar smoker’s perspective

I find that learning WordPress is very, very similar to learning to smoke cigars. So here are four tips that will help you think about your approach to WordPress. And if you want to learn to enjoy a fine cigar, their application is just bonus!

1. Start slowly

The worst thing you can do on your first cigar is pick an expensive one that others say is fantastic. Know why? Because you’re not ready for something that isn’t mild, with an easy draw.

The same goes for WordPress.  Throwing yourself into the deep end won’t give you the greatest experience learning it. Instead, start slowly.

The two sites I listed above have great resources to help you start learning. They’re fantastic ways to take baby steps.

2. Ask for advice

Some people like to just jump into things and find their own way thru it. A friend told me once he’d just review all the plugins in the WordPress repository over the weekend so that he’d be ready to talk about things on Monday.

There’s no way – with thousands of plugins available. So approach it much like you would approach picking the right “first” cigar, and the follow up ones from there.

Ask for help. Ask others to make suggestions. Have them explain why they’re making the suggestions they’re making, so that you can evaluate if they’re thinking about you.

Every person I’ve ever met, who is learning about cigars ends up asking what they should try next. It’s never a single right answer, but once you understand what they know, have tried, and like – it’s easier to make a good suggestion.

Learning WordPress is exactly the same.

3. Never stop learning

My friend Shawn has a t-shirt he made that says “Never stop learning” on it – and it’s amazing. If you ask him nicely, he might even send you one. But that’s not the point.

The point is that you don’t want to try one cigar and then settle and say that’s it. You wouldn’t do that with other good food or wine, and trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to do that with WordPress.

The journey is long and a blast. But the best part is that it’s enjoyable along the way.

4. Enjoy the relationships

The best part of smoking a cigar is the time it gives you to hang out with others and have a great time talking and connecting. You don’t smoke a cigar as a nicotine distribution device – those are called cigarettes. :)Instead, I hope you smoke for the pleasure of enjoying something nice as you socialize.

The upside of WordPress isn’t just free and amazing code. It’s not just an incredibly easy way to build web sites, blogs and even some applications.

The real upside is the relationships that you can build and enjoy as you get to know the product and the community.


Let’s be honest – I have cigars on the brain tonight as I write. But I hope you come away with two things that are important:

  1. WordPress is more than just a piece of software. It’s a product and platform that can create tons of opportunities for you, if you spend some time learning about it.
  2. If you’ve never had a cigar, we need to chat!

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