FACES OF WORDPRESS: James Ashenhurst

James Ashenhurst

  • James Ashenhurst
  • WordPressing since 2010
  • WP Level: Intermediate User, WordCamp Nashville 2013 Speaker
  • Master Organic Chemistry

For James Ashenhurst, WordPress is most definitely his bread and butter, though he is not a developer.

He’s pulled off what many WordPress users dream of – monetizing his knowledge and expertise. James now runs a full-time membership site devoted to teaching organic chemistry, offering study guides, exam tips and other material.

After earning his PhD in Organic Chemistry from McGill and doing a post-doctoral fellowship at MIT, James struggled to find a job as a professor. So, in 2010, he started a blog on WordPress.com to teach anyway. As the project grew so, too, did his relationship with WordPress.

“WordPress is essential to my business but I am not particularly technically skilled with it,” says James.

The thing about WordPress, though, is that regardless of skill level, the help available on the Internet and from the Nashville WordPress community make it much less intimidating than other platforms.

“There’s a huge community of users that you can fall back on to help you solve pretty much any problem you encounter,” says James. “I never feel like I’m dealing with a problem nobody has seen before.”

What WordPress has allowed James to do is both easily share his content and earn money from it, essentially becoming a paid professor with none of the constraints of time or place – freedom most professors never imagine.

James got involved with the Nashville WordPress MeetUp in 2011 for support as he continued to build his site and spoke at WordCamp Nashville 2013. He wasn’t sure he had enough to talk about at first, but because he knew the audience would be friendly and supportive, he took the plunge. His story definitely caught the interest of the Nashville WordPress community – you can hear James tell his story on MaAnna Stephenson’s BlogAid Podcast.

For those on the fence about speaking, James can relate. “I wasn’t sure if I had a ‘good enough’ story to tell,” says James, “but the talk went over very well. It was a perfect environment for telling my blog’s story before actively seeking out things like online interviews.”


As part of the build-up to WordCamp Nashville 2014 Faces of WordPress will highlight members of Middle Tennessee’s great – and growing – WordPress community. We will feature WP users at all levels, newbies to advanced developers. And mark your calendar. This year’s Big Event is May 3, 2014.

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About D'nelle Dowis

D’nelle is the chief distiller of awesomesauce at Berry Interesting Productions, where she nurtures little website seedlings into healthy, hardy WordPress blossoms. She works from anywhere there’s wifi, fancying herself location-independent, but can most often be found kicking around Inglewood, occasionally with her husband, Chris and/or their dogs, Annie & Cece, in tow. She loves sunshine, yoga, Apple products, and the oxford comma all a little too much.