Finding a gap and filling it can be a scary move, especially when it’s something that puts your name out there for an entire community. That’s what Michelle did last week in creating WPSpeakers.com.
In this episode, Hazel interviews Michelle on why she created the new site, what gap she thought needed to be filled, what permissions she sought, and how long it took to create.
Who knew that filling a gap in a community could be an audacious move? But that’s exactly what it is.
Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hey, Hazel.
Speaker 1 00:00:02 Hello, Michelle.
Speaker 0 00:00:04 How are you? Have you been audacious this week at all?
Speaker 1 00:00:06 ? I have been audacious, not as audacious as some people I’ve been hearing about lately. Let’s, uh, jump right into it and announce your new project, because it’s gonna be our case study for talking about how to be audacious today. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:00:20 So a couple weeks ago, I, well, I’ve, I’ve run the meetup in Rochester, New York, and I’m always struggling to find speakers and it’s a once a month meeting and I think about my network and I tap into my network, but I always feel bad, like, just like approaching people. I mean, I shouldn’t, right? Like, people like to share, but I just like, Hey, do you wanna come speak at my meetup? Because I’m always afraid people are gonna be like, ah, I can’t say no to Michelle, but I want to Yeah. Kind of thing, right? Yeah. Like, like we all have that in ourselves, like, just wanna ask, ask too much of people. So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I had a tool where I could be like, who wants to speak? And then I could be like, oh, this person said they wanna speak and tap them.
Speaker 0 00:01:00 And then I thought, well, I am incredibly well networked in WordPress, but not everybody. And, and I can ask people, right, even whether I want to or not. Sure I can tap people on the shoulder, but there are people who are running their local meetups who aren’t as well connected as I am, um, who may not have been in the community as long as I have or had the opportunity to travel to different word camps and meet people. How, if I’m struggling from time to time, how must other people who perhaps aren’t as well connected as I am finding topics in people to speak? And I do know that several meetups over the pandemic died off, or at least went dormant for a time because of the same kinda idea. So I thought, well, wouldn’t it be interesting if we had a database of people who wanted to speak, well, geez, how could I create a database of people who wanna speak ? So I registered
Speaker 1 00:01:48 Be Clear speaking about WordPress.
Speaker 0 00:01:50 About WordPress within the WordPress community. Well, not, not only at official WordPress events like meetups and mm-hmm. and, uh, word camps, but other things too. Like this week has been the ARI Summit, um, ah, you know, word fests and, and things like that word,
Speaker 1 00:02:04 People at that one. It was huge.
Speaker 0 00:02:05 It was huge. I got to talk about podcasting. I may have mentioned your name. Um,
Speaker 1 00:02:09 I love it. I heard it. Oh,
Speaker 0 00:02:11 Good, good, good. Um, but I, but I really was starting to think about it. So, and I was in a conversation with somebody else who was talking about wanting to do things to serve the community. And it popped in my head and I said, if you want this, I, if you want this idea, it’s I’ll gift it to you. You can take this around with it. And they said, I don’t have the resources to make it happen. I go, well then, do you mind if I do? And they’re like, go for it. So I, a week and a half later, I registered the domain that day, cuz I was like, somebody might hear me thinking about it and register it. Right? Like, if you don’t strike the hot. And,
Speaker 1 00:02:41 Uh, but also I, can I pause real quick before you gimme the rest? Only you would give someone an idea and say, well it’s okay if I do that idea .
Speaker 0 00:02:51 Well, I mean, when I did say I, they could have it first, right? So yes,
Speaker 0 00:02:56 But yes, I know I’m a little silly that way. But, um, but I, so I’ve registered to Maine, uh, and then this past Monday, so this is Friday that we’re recording Monday I started building it Tuesday off and on throughout the day. Mark West Gar from WS Forum and Katie Keith from Barn two plugins got in there and did some of the backend work that I didn’t know how to do, cuz I’m not a developer mm-hmm. , I don’t know code as well. Uh, to be able to make the database work to be searchable, to how to connect all the pieces together. And then a local friend, Maryanne Resig got in there and showed me how to use cadence elements to display.
Speaker 1 00:03:33 I love it. Things, which
Speaker 0 00:03:34 Is wonderful. So it really was a whole community. I have so many people to be grateful for. And Wednesday, during the ARI Networking lounge, I just soft launched it and a few people joined the database and I was like, wow, there’s five people in the database. And then they tweeted about it and tagged me in it. And by the end of that day, I had like 60 people in the database. And as of this afternoon, which is just 48 hours later, I have 116 speakers in that database. And
Speaker 1 00:04:04 Holy moly, Michelle, congratulations
Speaker 0 00:04:07 From all over the world too. I might add. So I love the fact that it’s not US centric. It’s not, you know, time zone centric. It literally is people all over the world who can speak in their areas or remotely or travel, right? So lots of opportunities. Um, it’s not a finished product yet. People are saying, well, you should have put in something in there like what languages people speak. I’m like, ah,
Speaker 1 00:04:29 Sure, great idea.
Speaker 0 00:04:31 So I’ll add, I’ll be adding this weekend, I’m adding US page for sp for speaker resources and organizer resources. Like, how do you get better at speaking? How do you write your bio? Some of those kinds of
Speaker 1 00:04:41 Oh, I love that. So as we dive into it real quick, again, the name of the project,
Speaker 0 00:04:47 Wp speakers.com,
Speaker 1 00:04:49 Wp speakers.com, and again, remind people of the timeline of this.
Speaker 0 00:04:53 Yeah. So a week and a half ago, I conceptualized it. Monday I started building it, and Wednesday I launched it. And today it’s successful. And I already have
Speaker 1 00:05:01 Wondering it’s why you host a podcast named Audacity. It’s, uh, that’s three people,
Speaker 0 00:05:08 Three sponsors already paid to be sponsors for the first year too. So I already have profited off of this, which is just,
Speaker 1 00:05:14 I love proof of Audacity in action. I have a project that I’ve been saying I’m gonna launch for the past three weeks, and this makes me feel like I should be more adian just to just press publish. Just do it.
Speaker 0 00:05:25 Just do it. Oh,
Speaker 1 00:05:27 I need, I know, I know. Um, okay. Well, let’s hop into a couple of the things that you’ve learned from this and like how we can help. Like, I think one of the things that I really noticed that, uh, you’ve done here and you mentioned as well, is gap filling without permission. Like Yeah. Uh, especially when we’re talking about the WordPress community, there’s so many folks, for lack of a better word, that are just so scrappy. And that’s what I love about it. Yeah. And cause of that ethos that’s in the community, so many folks I notice do see like, cool little ways to fix things, whether not necessarily in core, I’m talking about, I’m talking about just in general in the world and mm-hmm. , wherever at the restaurant that they go to. And that taking an opportunity that feels low risk enough to not ask permission and like, you know, you, you have, you’ve gauge the risk of where it needs to be. I think you did a great job with this project. It wasn’t something that, um, tell me about like how you decided to do that without permission.
Speaker 0 00:06:23 Yeah, so I mean, the first thing I always do is look and see if there is a gap, right? So is there, does something exist I’m not aware of that’s already filling that gap and can I help boost that person, right? So I never wanna like shadow anybody else’s attempt to do the same thing. So if there had already been something, if I discovered it and somebody was already doing it, how could I be a resource for them? How could I help, um, boost their project so that other people could join it? I didn’t see anything there. I didn’t, I, there was no gap or there was a gap in, in this, um, need to be able to connect people to, to do, to speak at, at things. And by the way, it’s good for podcasters too, right? Like, Hey, I wanna talk to somebody about seo. You can, you can search that. Um, yep. And, and so there was a gap and like that. Well, if it was in a company, if I was working for my company, you know, where I am at Stellar, if I would have to ask permission, I would have to say, Hey, this doesn’t exist like we did with WP Events, right? Like, this doesn’t exist.
Speaker 1 00:07:19 Sure. Good example.
Speaker 0 00:07:21 How can we create something that would be good? And then you have to get sign off on it. You have to get approval for people’s time. Um, I can’t just make the d decisions unilaterally about what it should look like when it’s my own project. I don’t have to ask permission. I don’t have to get buy-in from anybody if I don’t want to. Um, you know what, I, I asked some pe some trusted people who I needed their help, like Mark West Guard and you know, people like that. Like, what do you think? Can you help? That kind of thing. And just went for it, right? Like, the worst thing that could happen is I get an email from Josepha or Matt or somebody higher up in WordPress going, um, that was pretty audacious. And I would’ve been like, I know, right? .
Speaker 1 00:08:04 Right. But I also think like, again, gauging the risk and understanding, like you made a wise decision. You knew where Right. That would be, you probably knew how they would react. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had even reached out to Joseph Step and let her know directly
Speaker 0 00:08:15 I did .
Speaker 1 00:08:16 Yeah, exactly.
Speaker 0 00:08:19 Too .
Speaker 1 00:08:20 Exactly. So I’m not surprised. I got surprised. But I do think it’s really cool that you’ve been able to do this. And I think one of the things that comes with Audacity that is challenging is at the beginning of a project, when you are audacious, it actually, the less stakeholders involved, the better. Absolutely. And you have to have your very trusted Absolutely. You have to have your trusted stakeholders, right? Absolutely. You ha And that can happen in an, in an organization. There’s a book I’ve read, um, called This Might Get Me Fired, . And, uh, it’s about being what’s called an entrepreneur, uh, at an organization. Yep. And it’ll probably get you fired, but it’s about this idea of like how to do it. One of his tips, um, I forget the author’s name, but one of his tips is about finding, like, you have to have a couple of just very, very close stakeholders, um, to make anything like that work in, in a larger type organization.
Speaker 1 00:09:11 So to me, the shortcut is usually like, well, the less stakeholders of the better or your couple of trusted ones. And I think also I’d love to hear a little bit about how you leverage your network to get this done in such short order. I think that is one of the key leg ups to being able to like do these kind of test projects really quickly, is having such a strong network. Not only that, you can kinda bounce ideas off of like you did. Not only that you can ask soft permission or just let, let know that yeah, you’re going to like you did, but also to help you launch and promote and build it like you did. Mm-hmm. So tell me about all your networking skills that came into play with this one.
Speaker 0 00:09:50 So, you know, I, I love Twitter as we all know, in spite of the fact that it’s kind of a shit show right now. But I still love Twitter and, and leveraging, um, that I’ve, I’m closing in on 14,000 followers there. So definitely sharing things across that. Thank you. Sharing things across that network absolutely helps. Right. Um, but I actually leveraged DMing on Slack even more. So, um, on Wednesday when I thought, well let’s beta test this, I just copy and pasted the same message to you to other people mm-hmm. , um, saying, Hey, I think this is ready for the world. I did a thing, I think I just said I built a thing. I think it’s ready for people. What do you think? I’d love to have you in the database and I, and
Speaker 1 00:10:31 When we talk about Slack, we should probably say like where you’re reaching out to folks, or you might, it’s helpful. There are these WordPress communities for Slack, like on post status or the WordPress, um, channel itself. Yeah. Um, I imagine there’s probably others as well.
Speaker 0 00:10:42 There are, there’s uh, ladies, uh, in WordPress, there’s Black press, there’s LGBTQ plus, uh, press, there’s a lot of different channels and organizations that I’m involved in. And I, I heavily leveraged, um, some people within the liquid Slack, um, reached out to some people like, um, you know, uh, uh, Timothy Jacobson, you know, and he was like, I’m on it. I’m in there. Right. And a few other people, uh, I didn’t send it to everybody cuz I didn’t wanna overwhelm and I didn’t wanna be like Michelle spamming people. Uh, but I did spam people in post status cuz I get to control post status as
Speaker 1 00:11:15 Columbus. Yes. You’re network, that’s a form of networking. Well you got, you’re there cause of networking ultimately. Absolutely.
Speaker 0 00:11:22 Absolutely. And then yes, in the WordPress one, um, also hear press and, uh, big Orange Heart and Canada Press and just like the WP Minute, like I literally reached out to a bunch of people. Uh, I’ve had . That’s the funny thing is I meant to reach out to people in publishing, like the vendor for, um, uh, weekly wg. Oh, like
Speaker 1 00:11:47 Official Possible. Yeah, yeah,
Speaker 0 00:11:48 Yeah. Only they reached out to me first like, Hey, I heard this is going on, can I write about it? So do the Woo. Already talked about it this morning on his, uh, pod his Friday podcast. And it’s just amazing to me. I’m, I’m literally, my face hurts from smiling from all of the great feedback I’ve gotten and the people who are excited about the project.
Speaker 1 00:12:07 Can you do me a favor of moment though? Can you tell me, so just so everybody else can relate to people, probably don’t think that you have these thoughts even, but I know that you probably do. As you were preparing to send out all those Slack messages, what were all the negative self-talk that you had? Cause I wanted you to know that you have that too. Like you’re, I do sending, sending out these messages, but it’s scary still.
Speaker 0 00:12:29 It is. Well, one, and so one of the scariest things is that people tell me I do too much, right? Mm-hmm. and that like, oh, one more thing. You know? And you’ll never be hireable because people think judgment.
Speaker 1 00:12:38 You
Speaker 0 00:12:39 Do too much. And yeah, there’s a lot of judgment that goes on. Um, and so like, like when we edited this podcast, people were like, another podcast. I’m like, I know I can’t help, but I wanna share my knowledge. I wanna work with mm-hmm. with Hazel on Thanks. Um, so I was like, oh, one more thing, Michelle. But that’s not what happened, right? So like, I reach out to people, I’m like, I built a website, it’s pretty much gonna run itself other than approving and things like that. It’s one of those things that it’s not a podcast I don’t have to record every week, you know, it’s like it sits there, I monitor it, I make sure that it’s working the right way, but after the initial launch, it’s not gonna be hours and hours every week, right? So mm-hmm. , by and large, the feedback’s been great other than like a few people here. And they were going, oh, you made the, somebody said you made the, um, the company and the title required. That’s not great for all the people that just got laid off in our community. I was like, you are right. Let me go fix that right now. So I I but being able to react and do that quickly and like mm-hmm. , do we need to offend ? You know, so like, we’ll fix that.
Speaker 1 00:13:34 And I would suspect in almost any product project that has a large amount of audacity, especially with a low low amount of people in it, it’s gonna be a V1 or V2 of a project that Yeah. Is intended to be like, yeah, there’s gonna be stuff I have to still do mm-hmm. . But I think this one is a great example of how you just like knocked it outta the park with all of like being so audacious, uh, delivering a good product for the community and building your, like using your network so strong to like leverage building this project. So I mean, I think it’s fantastic. I
Speaker 0 00:14:02 Didn’t mean it to coincide with Rim, but the fact that I was in networking lounges this week while I launched it certainly did not hurt, right? So I was able to talk to people about it. Um, and as I was talking to people, I was getting emails that they had already that they were like filling out the pro, filling out the, the pa the page and getting into the network. And I will say that one last thing is I did send it to somebody who said, I’ve never spoken in WordPress. They’re like a, a long time C community member. I, and she said, I, I don’t think that this is really for me. I said, well, do you want to speak in WordPress? So they’re like, yeah. I go, this is how you do it . I’m like, you don’t exactly, you don’t have to be a speaker to want to be a speaker and to want to share your knowledge. So I just wanna put that out there too.
Speaker 1 00:14:43 Absolutely. And I think we talk about this every single episode, but this is another single ex another example of just ask. Like it’s, it’s really just ask. I was telling my daughter the other day who said she was embarrassed by, I don’t know, something happened to basketball. Uh, and I was like, how many other people’s embarrassing moments? Can you remember Zelda? And she’s like, well, she’s like thinking, she’s actually trying to remember. And she couldn’t remember a single other person’s embarrassing moment. Um, and that’s how I always think of it when I’m going, I’m like, everybody’s involved in their own stuff. If I do something slightly embarrassing, uh, they’re gonna forget about it in about three seconds, .
Speaker 0 00:15:20 Exactly, exactly. Like I said yesterday and when I talked about podcasting that once I sneezed in the middle of recording a webinar and I didn’t wanna stop, I didn’t wanna go back and edit it out. So I was just like, screw it. Just leave it in there. People sneeze. If I was on stage and I sneeze when I say, sorry, we gotta start over, right? So like, yes, just, just the embarrassing moments will come. I’m sure I’ve said things on podcast that later that I go, why did I say that? Right? But just, just go for it. Just do it. The people are
Speaker 1 00:15:51 Only thing people are forgetting. I listen, I’ll limit bodily functions to like cops or sneezes
Speaker 0 00:15:57 . Well, okay. Yes. I I’ll agree with that. I’ll agree with that. I, I do mute myself. Like if I know I’m gonna sneeze or burp or something, I’ll mute myself and hope the other person doesn’t just leave this long silence. But yeah, for
Speaker 1 00:16:10 Sure . Well, great. Michelle, again, well remind folks the, uh, name of your new project, Ann, where they can find it.
Speaker 0 00:16:18 WP speakers.com. Um, it will not have its own Twitter. I’m going to just tweet ’em about it from my, um, my own account cuz I don’t need one more , one more Twitter account to manage. Um, and I, I, I’m just super excited about it. If you think you want to speak ever or you are a speaker, please feel free to join the database. Um, it is a free gift to the community. It will always remain free to search, free to enter because I want it to be as open source as possible as far as access. And so yeah, please come join me.
Speaker 1 00:16:46 Congrats Michelle. And then we’re gonna be looking for podcast guests here on this podcast. So if anybody ever wants to join us and chat about other things they’ve done, drop us a line, mayor or Michelle on Twitter or any other places, we’re probably some of the easiest people to find on the internet. Absolutely. Uh, drop us a line. All right Michelle, see you next time.
Speaker 0 00:17:04 Absolutely. Take care.