In this week’s podcast, I talk to Bridget Willard about the benefits of WordPress networking and get her thoughts on women working in the Word Press space. For two and a half years, Bridget built the GiveWP brand and is now a freelance marketer. She is also the co-host of the podcast series, WP Blab. The list goes on though! She is a co-organiser of the Women Who WP MeetUp and a volunteer at WordCamps. You’re in for a treat, this is a highly entertaining and inspiring podcast!
We start out with a little background on Bridget. Amongst all her projects, she explains that her passion is blogging about social media marketing which you can find on her site at bridgetwillard.com. Her other passion is giving back to the WordPress community through volunteering at WordCamps, the most recent being WordCamp LA where she teaches people about blogging and using Twitter. These camps are a huge success – with one on every weekend around the States. One of the reasons why WordCamps are highly successful is because they are able to keep the price affordable thanks to the volunteers.
Bridget then talks about the support she feels from the WordPress community and why she enjoys WordPress networking. 16 months ago when her husband passed away she had no money for the funeral. Her bosses set up a website and they raised $1,300 for her. She was so touched that all of these people she didn’t know were helping and she finds that’s what the WP community is all about – support. But you need to remember to give back too.
With the recent hurricanes in the US, we have been talking a lot lately about the need for a good network of support behind you in case something happens in your life. It is good to have a reminder that even if you’re an introvert, you can still have this support online. Bridget says “we are a community of introverts so everyone is in the same boat!”
Bridget believes that when you give introverts structure, it makes them feel like they belong. She felt like she found her tribe when she first volunteered. “Volunteering makes you have a sense of belonging and gives you encouragement.”
Bridget talks about how scary it was talking in front of everyone at first, but how important it was for herself to do it and get out of her comfort zone. She received some good advice beforehand from a co-worker “Everyone in that room is rooting for you. No one wants you to fail” Love that advice!
Find out more about WordCamps and how you and get involved around the 6-minute mark.
The group started in 2015 when Jen Miller and Elizabeth Shilling decided to start a dinner and talk about WordPress. They invited Bridget to talk about social media marketing and then it evolved into “this movement that is bigger than us”.
People ask her why it is a group for women only. And she says that “women dialogue differently” and that even though we want equal opportunity doesn’t mean that we aren’t different to men. We need to celebrate the diversity! Listen in at the 19-minute mark where she gives some amusing examples of different dialogues!
Bridget says that one of the things that make the meetups a great success is that at the end of the dinner everyone goes around the table and talks about what they learned in the last 30 days. This is great for networking, giving everyone the chance to speak and to see that everyone is learning. Everyone has that “imposter syndrome” where we think we aren’t good enough, but you get to see that everyone is just learning no matter what level you are. Everyone has different talents and skills that they can share.
Recently we asked our WP Elevation Facebook group for their opinion on an article written by Emma Hinchcliffe about two women entrepreneurs who created a fake male co-founder to deal with sexism (and it worked). I ask Bridget for her thoughts on this, as the WP community seems to be supportive no matter what gender. Is it just the clients who have this view?
Bridget says that there are studies on social media showing that even women will follow a man before they follow a woman. So, we actually have a lot of gender bias within ourselves. She says, “Let’s draw a circle and step into it and start with us… Am I going to ask a man for help or am I going to ask a woman for help?” Sometimes the decision isn’t about gender though, it can also be about the title of the person, for example, CEO vs Marketing Manager.
She says that her next point is a bit controversial but she asks – are we the ones who are eroding our own boundaries when we are managing expectations with clients or is it because we are a woman? So, if we tell a client that we aren’t going to launch the site until we are paid but we do it anyway, is it because we are a pushover or because we are a woman?
We need to protect our boundaries. And if you do a free service, send a $0 invoice so they know they got something for free. Women are givers and that can be taken advantage of. How are we empowering ourselves if we make a fictitious man as the CEO to get more clients? Those are the clients we don’t want!
At the end of the day, it is about setting boundaries and managing expectations.At meetups, you can talk about these things instead of feeling isolated and alone in your entrepreneurship as an agency.
“I would like my freelancer friends to stop calling themselves freelancers, and start calling themselves agencies cos you are! Love, Bridget”
It is a full-featured donation WP plugin that makes its own forms and has great reporting. It is more robust than a Paypal button and they don’t take commission like a lot of other plugins.
Being a part of the creation of this plugin has been very rewarding for Bridget. She says she loves to be able to help people to do good in the world. It empowers people and that is what she loves as she used to have a victim mentality. Bridget was in a job she didn’t like for a long time because she didn’t think she was worthy enough. She listened to an audiobook “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Shae whilst driving to a job she hated every day. She says that she didn’t know that you could be happy at work. “I was 42 and I cried like a baby. I decided if the millennials get to be happy, then I get to be happy too.” And now here she is helping people to make a difference in the world!
Bridget says that volunteering is her balance. She loves giving back and encouraging people in the WP community. After all, it’s the WP community who make, create and maintain a code base that is open and free for everyone. How amazing is that?
When you spend your time focusing on helping other people, you do get that balance
She also loves what she does, so, with social media being her passion, she is on it constantly, but she doesn’t find that a burden. (She does karaoke every Tuesday night with her friend Julie to maintain the balance!).
“The balance isn’t just – ‘I’m doing a four hour work week!’ That’s not real life…. There is this ridiculous perspective that you can just magically create work and have the dream, but there is no dream without the work. You have to do the work. The balance is in seeing why it is important and how you’re affecting other people. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the people and the relationships you have with them. Nothing else matters.”
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the people and the relationships you have with them
Well said, Bridget… well said!
What a lady! We would love to hear your take on networking and women working in WordPress. Please share your thoughts or stories below.