A 13-year-old web design entrepreneur from Westland will be among the speakers at the fourth annual WordCamp conference in Ann Arbor, which brings together Michigan businesspeople to promote good web development practices.
The conference will be held Oct. 13-14 at the University of Michigan Rackham Building, 915 E. Washington St. It includes time for entrepreneurs, students, and others to learn more about building websites and promoting their businesses online with the WordPress publishing platform.
The conference kicks off with a half day of panels and workshops Oct. 13, with many programs geared toward newer users. A full day of programming Saturday wraps up with a party Saturday evening.
This year's event features a number of speakers including 13-year-old Emerson Jeffries, who has a web design business called Emerson DSign, Inc. Jeffries has built or modified WordPress sites for more than 50 individuals and small businesses, all while continuing to attend school and being involved with the youth theater program Mosaic.
"It's actually a pretty funny story how I started off," Jeffries says. "My interest in building websites came out of me playing school in my basement."
All his pretend students had to go to a website to get their homework assignments, and Jeffries began building websites with Weebly, soon switching to WordPress.
His first paid job was for a friend of his father's who is an attorney. She initially asked him to create business cards for her, and when he said he didn't do that but that he did build websites, she said she needed a website as well.
"That was the day I was established as a small business, and soon after that, I registered my business with the state," he says.
Jeffries says he picks up some of his work through freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, but most of his business comes in via word of mouth. He says he hasn't really found it challenging to get clients to take a 13-year-old entrepreneur seriously, but his status as a minor does create legal hurdles when it comes to opening bank accounts or registering as a business.
Jeffries will give a talk at WordCamp on the topic of "How to Own Your Business as a Young Entrepreneur." He will cover time management, creating content, discovering your audience, and marketing.
"The most important one is time management," he says. "As a kid, you have school and you have to manage household chores and after-school activities. But you still have to impress your clients so they will take you seriously."
Admission to the WordCamp conference is $36. Ticket and conference information is available at the WordCamp Ann Arbor website.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Emerson Jeffries. Cory Miller photo courtesy of WordCamp Ann Arbor.