36 minutes | Jun 18, 2020

Episode 131 – Cate DeRosia

Introducing Cate DeRosia Cate has wandered around WordPress for the last five years speaking, organizing, and being an engaging human. Currently, she’s building out a family business and investigating how to expand HeroPress into a new kind of membership site. Show Notes Twitter | @mysweetcate Website | HeroPress Preferred Pronouns | She/Her Episode Transcript Tara: This is Hallway Chats, where we meet people who use WordPress. Liam: We ask questions and our guests share their stories, ideas, and perspectives. Tara: And now the conversation begins. This is Episode 131. Liam: Welcome to Hallway Chats. I’m Liam Dempsey. Tara: And I’m Tara Claeys. Today we’re joined by Cate DeRosia. Cate has wandered around WordPress for the last five years speaking, organizing, and being an engaging human. Currently, she’s building out a family business and investigating how to expand HeroPress into a new kind of membership site. Hi, Cate. We’re so glad you’re here. Cate: Hi, thanks for having me. Liam: It’s our pleasure, Cate. Thanks so much for joining us here. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself more than what Tara shared? Cate: Sure. I’ve been around website development since about 1996. My husband is Topher. He’s a longtime developer. I like to say that he started building websites before the internet had pictures. We’ve been married for 22 years. I homeschooled both of our girls who both graduated. The youngest graduated last year. So it’s really nice to be done with that. And I’ve been transitioning into whatever I’m going to do with my next stage of life. Having a family that’s so deeply ingrained in WordPress, I wanted to see if that was something that I could pursue too. I’ve done a lot of ad jobs. I’ve done some work for WPSessions. I’ve done some work for Tom McFarlin. I’m really good at content related things, a lot of the soft business skills, the things that are starting to develop in WordPress as viable potential career options. And it’s kind of led me to building out a family business that encompasses the development work Topher does occasionally along with the things my younger daughter Sophie is interested in, a more of a management implementation kind of level, and then the content work that I like to do. So it’s really helping do the extra things that websites need. It’s no longer enough to just have a website. You need to have a website where people want to be. And we’re looking at putting in the time to build out engaging websites or to add engaging aspects to websites to help improve customer loyalty and to actually better represent the business and its personality on the website. Then of course, we also worked via HeroPress. We’ve had here press for about five years. It’s been a really interesting adventure. It’s been a little bit like the mistress in our family. But it’s also something that we are looking at turning into something that is community membership-based where people in the community can support some new content initiatives to help build better resources for other people who are entering the WordPress community, particularly in places where resources aren’t as easily accessed. So, third world countries, just anywhere around the world. Even where I grew up just two hours north of where I am here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the opportunities are difficult to find. And so if we can turn HeroPress into a place where not only people are inspired but can come to find actual practical help, we think it’d be a real asset to the community. Tara: Sounds like you have a lot to share. Liam: Can you share a little bit about HeroPress, if you would, just for folks who don’t know what it is. Maybe just a minute or two. I know we can probably go on for hours but just a minute or two. Cate: HeroPress is a collection of essays really in its simplest form, and always will have the aspect of being a collection of essays that people have submitted about how they have used WordPress to change their life, how they found work opportunity a creative outlet. It’s everybody from kids who were homeschooled finding a place in technology to single moms. Or I know one of the ladies had quit her job to stay home with her mom. When her mom passed away, she needed to reinvent herself, and WordPress is how she did that. We also have a lot of people, particularly from India or Indonesia where people have been able to not just build a career for themselves, but really build an opportunity for their extended family and even their communities at large. Because the opportunities for income when you can work remotely, it just improves everybody around you. Tara: I think Liam and I have taken inspiration from HeroPress and spoke to Topher earlier on in our journey down this road of speaking to people similarly, speaking to people all over who use WordPress and for whom WordPress has made a difference in their life. But HeroPress has become so broad. I mean, how many people have contributed to it? I mean, it’s got to be hundreds, right? Cate: I don’t have a number which I should have, but it is huge. What we’re finding is it’s not just helping the people who are submitting the stories, but automatic has it up on their internal Slack instance. And we’re hearing stories from people who are feeling kind of burnt out or feeling kind of frustrated with giving back in WordPress. You know, how challenging it can be to give back to an open source project. And then they’re seeing these stories and they’re not looking for a new job, they’re not looking to improve their life necessarily, but it’s improving their morale. And that’s just a huge outlet that we’ve never anticipated happening. Tara: Do you and Topher work together on it as a team? What role do you play in the HeroPress other than it being the mistress? Cate: We’ve been through a lot of startups and a lot of different opportunities, a lot of job changes. And so anything that Topher was doing that took time away from the family was challenging. Even if it’s only five hours a week. It’s difficult to have two kids you’re watching and just pull in an extra thing. But it’s something we’ve always all been committed to. Topher and I don’t necessarily work the best together. If we want to stay married, we do a little bit better if we keep things kind of separate. But what we’ve decided is I’m going to take over…we’re actually turning HeroPress into a business. Because with a nonprofit, we have to give up a lot of control that we don’t want to give up. We need to build a board, we have to do a lot of things that we’re just not interested in. But by making it a membership site and a business, he can continue on as the chief executive officer, and he would still be the primary person who handled essays and contacting people on that side of things. And then I would have my own lane, as it were, where I would come in as an operations person, the Chief Operating Officer, and handle more of the content creation, marketing, social media – all the things that I’m really good at that he doesn’t have the time for. He’s still involved. Maybe down the road, it would be something that he would take on in more of a full-time aspect, but right now the idea is that he’ll stay on his side and I’ll stay on my side and we’ll build something really cool together – apart. Tara: I like that concept. My husband and I are similar. We don’t work well together on projects simultaneously. We can get in each other’s way or no not necessarily compete with each other, but fight over his way. His way is going to go, I think. Cate: And we’re still going to collaborate. We actually had a conversation today when something came up that we’re still going to collaborate, we’ll still make decisions. The plan is we’ll still be together, but implementing it’s going to work a lot better if I have the freedom to do what I need to do and he’s is out of it a little bit. And then I don’t interfere. This has always been my challenge. I’ve never been overly involved in HeroPress because it was mostly essay based and I’m a writer. At my core, I’m a writer who actually does quite a lot of editing. And I wanted to stay as far away from his essays as possible because it’s really hard for me to not dive in and start editing and tweaking and manipulating and wanting things to go a different direction. And that’s not really what the essays are about. They’re supposed to be personal. They’re supposed to be real. Tara: I mean, obviously, you and I have met and spent time together and you’re well known in the WordPress community, and I think have become more so as you become more involved. But as you said, Topher has been in this space for a long time. How does that work for you guys as a couple and also as a family because your daughters now are involved in WordPress too? How much WordPress is in your house? What part of your life does that play and I guess how does that work together for your family? Cate: It’s really fascinating. Because our kids are interested, our family is very submerged in WordPress. My first WordCamp as an attendee was my daughter’s first WordCamp. So we all went to WordCamp Chicago in 2014, and they got to go and be attendees. They were 12 and 14 at the time. We got to our spot, we split up. They went to their sessions, I went to ours. And that’s kind of how we’ve handled it. So at home, there’s a lot of WordPress that gets taught. One of the things we’re looking at doing is a podcast ourselves kind of ar
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