“Having Problems to Solve Keeps Me on My Toes” – Interview with Joyce Grace

Blog,Experts' Insights

At aisite we love to get the inside view from different people working with WordPress. Today, we’re going to learn more about Joyce Grace, an Internet Marketer from Canada who makes WordPress Web sites, blogs and performs effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO). We hope you find the interview inspirational for your own development efforts! As always, we invite you to join in with your comments at the end of this post.

Spare your sweet time to know Joyce a bit better and read his shared experiences, lessons, and actionable insights below. Enjoy 🙂

Thanks for joining us today, Joyce. Please, tell us a bit more about your career background and how long have you been working with WordPress.

In 2010-2011, I opened shop as a freelancer offering SEO, content writing and WordPress web development (though I had been working with WordPress superficially a few years before that). It may seem like these are three distinct branches of specialties. However, in my experience, they integrate with each other a lot – sometimes necessarily. For example, if you want to do good SEO, you need to know to build a website that is conducive to that. You also need to write content well, and have the ability to understand how your audience might behave with that content. For this reason, what I do falls more under the umbrella term of “internet marketing.” In fact, there is more to what I do than the three specialties I’ve mentioned 🙂 But I won’t get into those details here…

Joyce, you’ve started in journalism and then chose the marketing direction. What was the trigger to make this move?

I started in an Internet marketing position straight out of university, when I graduated with a communication degree, after also acquiring a diploma in journalism. Those skills were very transferrable, and lent themselves nicely to the work I would begin doing in SEO, and selling WordPress websites.

Journalism may seem like an unrelated field, but actually, I use many similar skills in my job today. Journalists are taught to do more than write, or announce the news. There are technical skills involved too (though I can’t say web development was part of journalistic education at the time I underwent it). Most certainly (and obviously), learning to write ‘journalism style’ has helped with my content marketing duties. There is a form to writing for the web, and knowing how to write for news contexts can be great foundational training for that.

For now, you call yourself an Internet marketer, but a list of your talents is impressive. WordPress Web Developer, SEO-expert and Freelance Web Copy Writing… What motivates and inspires you to grow professionally?

I don’t like being ‘behind.’ And I don’t like selling shoddy work to my clients.  

This industry is constantly changing. So, when I do my work, as much as possible, I like to make sure I’m still up to date with my tactics. I also like learning in general and am a naturally curious person. My constant questions keep me learning and growing – both in my career and other parts of my life. To do my job, I have to keep reading to solve problems and answer questions for my clients. Having problems to solve keeps me on my toes.

I also learn from peers, and I’ve learned by attending WordCamps. So I would recommend that to anyone who wants to enter the WordPress freelance space: have friends who know more than you, and learn at WordCamps (or watch them online). It’s exciting to learn new things, and then to apply that in your work. It keeps things interesting.

WordCampI also hire experts when I’m in over my head, and there is no shame in that. I think people who specialize in what they do can compliment what I do, and make it so that I’m not selling shoddy work to my clients, as I noted above.

What are you presently working on?

I always have things on the go. One of the WordPress-related projects I’m doing right now is setting up Google AMP on a content-heavy site. I’m using AMP for WP, which has done a lot of groundwork in that area. But, I still customize AMP themes to a degree, so they are ‘on brand.’ I believe at some point, popular theme frameworks may need to release AMP-ready themes more than they are now (if at all). It’s hard to say how this will go, however, since Google AMP only affects a subset of WordPress users who are regular publishers.

What are the current trends for WordPress in your opinion?

At present, much of the WordPress community may be anticipating the inevitable release of the Gutenburg editor. I’ve noticed that not all plugins are yet compatible with the new editor. It’s also got a big learning curve to it (especially if you’re used to the Classic Editor). So, it may be an adjustment period.

That is a big one right now (and not really dependent on my opinion!). Though, that is not to say there isn’t more to discuss on WordPress trends!

Where do you go first to get WordPress news, insights, and updates?

Honestly, the best ranking websites that can solve the problem I’m trying to fix when I’m googling how to fix it 🙂

What performance tips would you give to beginners (as related to speed, SEO, scalability, security, plugins, backup, etc.)?

seoBackup plugins and good hosting are essential. I don’t understand why anyone would pay thousands for a website, and then not keep it safe. A good host should guarantee security, and should provide you with an easy-to-use backup system, in my opinion.



Have you ever faced the problem of website migration? If so, how did you manage to resolve it: by converting your website data manually or via an automated tool?

Yes, multiple times!

Sometimes, the only way is to migrate content manually. That is usually only desired if the database has a lot of ‘junk’ in it that I don’t want to keep on a new, fresh site. Or, if there is very, very little content to migrate in the first place (may as well keep it ‘clean’). BUT – people have to be careful with this method, since they’ll need to watch out for URL changes, which can cause lots of 404 errors. I usually set up spreadsheets to plan for any permalinks that need to be redirected before launching a site, to avoid this problem. They also need to work on their taxonomies and bring over meta tags, authors and so on. So there are certainly both upsides and downsides to doing it manually.

If a migration system can clean up the database ‘junk’ – especially from plugins, themes and post types that are no longer needed, that is the best way to go. But it’s not always feasible (time and money must always be considered in these cases, against any benefit that database cleanups can give). I have found that in any case, it’s not a ‘click the checkbox’ type of thing to do – you really need to know what you’re affecting when you customize a migration to this degree.

In another instance, I had a site that was using custom fields on its ‘old’ version, but not on the ‘new’ version. Migrating custom field content into the body area of the WordPress content editor required outside help and special software. This is what I mean that the customization of a WP migration can get technical and very time consuming. If you are solving this for 6,000 posts, then it will probably be worth the money to pay for automation and customization. If it’s for 3 -10 pages, then maybe not so much. Just do it manually, and it will be cleaner that way anyway.

There was also a time I had to migrate from one WordPress e-commerce system to another. We used an automated tool. It didn’t work that great. It migrated some content, but not all, and not accurately. But, at the time, it still saved us some work. 

Other times, I stick to the WordPress exporter and importer. It’s not the most amazing, but it can be an easy thing to resort to, since it’s already there. My main problem with this method is that it times out when migrating large amounts of data, and it doesn’t always ‘catch’ the images. This can be solved by migrating in batches (talking of cases requiring the transfer of thousands of posts). But even when using the built-in importer and exporter in small segments, I find it can still miss some images. Plus…you can’t always solve the ‘database’ junk problem mentioned above, when using this method.

Can you shoot us a picture of your desk? 🙂

joyce grace desktop

We want to say great thanks to Joyce and wish her all the best of joy and inspiration!    

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