Bridget Willard is currently the Marketing Manager for WordImpress, co-host of WPblab and the co-organizer of Women Who WP meetup.
She started off her career as a desk job at an office as a social media marketer ending up at a WordPress Development Shop. She has her own website by her personal name, where she mostly blogs about relationship marketing on social media and, of course, WordPress.
Cloudways interviews Bridget Willard to find out about her professional life hacks and how she became such a successful employee. So let’s not waste any more time and hear about her achievements from her own self.
Cloudways: Hello Bridget, First of all! Thank you for taking out some time from your busy schedule for this interview. Could you please tell our readers a bit about yourself and your venture in the world of WP?
Bridget: Sure, thanks for having me, Saud.
I originally heard about WordPress.com from Leo Laporte’s MacBreak Weekly back in 2007. Coincidentally, that’s when and how I also found Twitter. I started a few blogs on WordPress.com and in 2011 started the persona “You, Too, Can Be A Guru” to teach social media.
In 2013, I went to my first WordCamp (WordCamp Orange County) at the recommendation of a friend on Twitter and was hooked. As a writer and a social media marketer, I instantly learned that I need to level up my skills in WordPress.
Back in April 2015, after attending the WordCamp at San Diego, I built my first two self-hosted WordPress websites. Turned out to be an epic struggle for me, it really helped me along the way. I would specifically like to thank the good folks at DesktopServer.
Cloudways: According to my research, you are currently working at WordImpress. May I ask what are your responsibilities there? Can you share some of the interesting stories or events that you have encountered? Please feel free to share your insight.
Bridget: As soon as I created my first two WordPress websites, I wrote about them and luckily a friend shared my article (WordPress Debrief: Thoughts After Building My First Two Sites – You Too Can Be A Guru) in her Advanced WordPress Facebook Group. I was introduced to Matt Cromwell by Heather Steele, and he asked me to start writing plugin reviews for them.
In June of 2015, I met Jason Knill, co-founder of GiveWP and he found out that social media is where my expertise really is. I started managing the @GiveWP Twitter account by the end of June. To much of my surprise, they hired me as a full-time Marketing Manager in December of 2015.
My responsibilities included almost everything related to content marketing, blogging, social sharing and so on.
Cloudways: Bridget, you have quite an incredible amount of experience in the field of Social Media. You are currently working as a Social Media Manager. Can you please shed some light on the challenges you face while managing social media accounts? How does success feel like in the big picture?
Bridget: The biggest challenge with social media is the fact that people think results should be instant. They’re not. Social media isn’t an RSS feed. It’s a relationship building. It takes time and hard work. You have to post quality content and engage in conversations. There’s no magic or secrets. Patience is the key to virtue. There’s only hard work mixed with humor, empathy, and genuine caring for others.
In the big picture, we can see that over time social media and content production has dramatically increased sales. We have the data in Google Analytics to prove it. Much value can be attributed to the efforts taken in order to increase unaided brand awareness.
Cloudways: I also learned that you have co-organized WomenWhoWP. Can you please brief us a bit about what WomenWhoWP is and how is it beneficiary for women in the world of WordPress?
Bridget: WomenWhoWP.org was a brainchild of a simple idea: what if we had dinner together and talked about WordPress? Jen Miller and Elizabeth Shilling had this great idea after lunch with friends and attending a GDI anniversary party. They called me up and I said, “Sure, I’ll cover the social media.”
We had no idea it would become this successful as it is now. Here is a bit about our little achievement: (Closing Out the Year with Women Who WP and WCUS).
Cloudways: You have significantly contributed in WordCamps. Can you tell us how WordCamp helps the WordPress Community? What are your responsibilities there and can you share any interesting stories?
Bridget: In the summer of 2015, Alex Vasquez asked if I would help with the social media at WordCamp Los Angeles. It was a great experience (Tweeting as WordCampLAX – My Debrief). It was tough at first to understand how the community operates and what resonates. In many ways being good at social media means being a social scientist. You have to study the culture.
Shortly after that, I was asked to help San Diego in 2016. I’m helping both camps again this year.
WordCamps are a great onboarding experience for bloggers and dot com users like I was. These camps help celebrate the things people did in the local community the following year. In many ways, a WordCamp feels like a family reunion. I believe there is no greater value for $40 than spending it at a WordCamp. I have some advice about it here (WordCamp. What is it? Why should you go?)
Cloudways: So Bridget, may I ask your views about the future of WordPress? In your opinion will its market share increase? What is that one feature that you really love to see in the coming versions of WordPress?
Bridget: WordPress has a great future as long as they continue to develop the community along with the software. I’m glad that Matt Mullenweg has started the WP Growth Council. I was also told about the WordPress Marketing Team for Contributor Day at WCUS and I am happy to help the Community Marketing team on a monthly basis.
That said, mentorships need to come into play. Not everyone is designed to self-learn. Yet, the WordPress culture values the self-taught. So, if we are to break through the mainstream and pass the 50% markup, two things have to happen: mentorship and advertising. There’s just no way we can scale without both. I wrote about mentorship in this article (Can WordPress Scale its Community Without Mentorship?).
Cloudways: Can you also shed some light on your thoughts on the businesses and industries that are built on WordPress? What other opportunities do you see in the future while working with WordPress?
Bridget: With WordPress fueling 27% of the websites on the Internet, there are quite a few industries using WordPress. I’m no developer, but I hear WordPress has powerful capabilities as a platform, especially with the REST API. I’ll defer to my developer friends for that question.
Cloudways: Within the WordPress Community, who do you consider among your best of friends? If you don’t mind would you like to share some of the pictures with us?
Bridget: Oh my gosh! Glad that you asked. There are so many people. Jen Miller and Jason Tucker are at the top, by far. There are so many wonderful ladies that are part of our group including Carin Arrigo, Yvonne C Conway-Williams, Elizabeth Shilling, Priscilla Christian, Rachelle Wise, Rachel Carden. Then you have Roy Sivan, Carl Alexander, Josh Pollock, and Jonathan Pearlman from The WP Crowd that I get along with well. And our local gang of Steve Zehngut, Jacob Arriola, Jeff Zinn, Brandon Dove, Gregg Franklin, Verious Smith, Dave Jesch, Adam Silver, Alex Vasquez, Jason Knill, Devin Walker, Matt Cromwell, and Dave Margowsky. Plus, I’ve met so many on Twitter like Justine Pretorious, Angelina Simms, and Meg Delagrange. I know I’m leaving dozens of people out. (But, you know who you are. xoxo) I interact with these guys all day long on Twitter. There’s no way I can name them all.
Cloudways: Alright Bridget! Let’s put aside work and talk about your social life? How is it all going? Going through your Facebook profile, we found quite a many amazing displays. If you don’t mind, can you send us your best one?
Bridget: Well, I lost my husband of twenty-three years on May 31. I’ve been clinging to work, the WordPress community and my church life to help me stay focused and positive. The WordPress Community has been my salvation. I talk about it quite a bit in my WordCamp Cincinnati Presentation on WordPress.tv.
Cloudways: Is there something that I have missed? If there is something that you want to share with our readers now is the time? Please feel free to share as much as you want in this section?
Bridget: The other thing I’m really proud of is co-hosting WPblab with Jason Tucker since October of 2015. It’s a show on the WPwatercooler network that airs at 7:30 pm Pacific Time on Thursday nights.
Cloudways: Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform offering 1-click installation for WordPress with great caching technologies and optimized servers. What’s your opinion about managed cloud hosting services such as Cloudways?
Bridget: I haven’t used Cloudways personally, but I think managed hosting is the way to go, especially for WordPress. WordPress has hosting needs that the average “$3/month” host can handle. So, it’s a good service you’re offering.
Cloudways: Just for our readers, can you please send us an image of how your workspace looks like? That would be all. Thank you for your time.
Bridget: 4 out of 5 days I work at home and my desk is messier than I’d like, but here goes.