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#103 – Emma Young on Exploring WordPress, the Software, the Events and the Community

[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.

Jukebox is a podcast which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case getting excited about WordPress.

If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice, or by going to forward slash feed forward slash podcast. And you can copy that URL into most podcast players. If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, I’m keen to hear from you and hopefully get you, or your idea, featured on the show. Head to forward slash contact forward slash jukebox, and use the form there.

So on the podcast today, we have Emma Young. Emma is the head of content for Hostinger, and is on the podcast today to chat through her new found love of WordPress and the community which surrounds it.

Emma’s journey is quite inspirational. From having almost no experience with WordPress just a few years ago, she’s now immersed deeply in all that WordPress has to offer. Just over a year ago, she’d been using WordPress a little, but that was it. Then she found employment in the space and has been to all three 2023 flagship WordCamps, as well as the WordPress Community Summit. So the whole conversation is colored with this newness, and energy, which is quite infectious.

We explore the delicate balance between profitability and community values in her job. Emma sheds light on Hostinger’s commitments in the WordPress space, and how they tread the tight rope of being a good community citizen while still turning a profit.

We also delve into the company’s recent involvement in WordPress events and WordCamps, discussing the benefits they have reaped from these. It’s things like brand awareness and invaluable feedback from the community. Emma’s passion for networking and continuous improvement is evident as she shares her personal experiences. We discussed the inclusive nature of the WordPress community and the various pathways individuals with different personality types can follow to feel at home. Emphasizing the ample opportunities available for everyone to contribute.

We get into the collaborative nature of the WordPress community, exploring the cameraderie, philanthropy, and human connections that thrive within WordPress events and projects. Emma shares her insights from her recent involvement in helping to organize WordCamp Europe, and her dedication to contributing to documentation.

If you’re looking for a way to find your place in the WordPress community, this podcast is for you.

If you’re interested in finding out more, You can find all of the links in the show notes by heading to forward slash podcast, where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.

And so without further delay, I bring you Emma Young.

I am joined on the podcast today by Emma Young. Hi Emma.

[00:03:34] Emma Young: Hello.

[00:03:35] Nathan Wrigley: Very nice to have you on the podcast today. We are going to talk about the WordPress community. We’re really going to hone in on the community, and Emma’s recent contributions. Her journey very recently, in really getting stuck into WordPress events and all of that kind of thing.

Before we get into that Emma, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind just spending a moment, giving us your bio. You can go as far back as you like. But I guess, given that this is a WordPress podcast, maybe if we center it around WordPress and the community and so on.

[00:04:04] Emma Young: Yeah. So just briefly, I had a lot of failed attempts at WordPress blogs growing up. But they were a lot of fun, and I think led me to content in general, and where I got probably the most involved in the WordPress community. So yeah, all of that leading to traveling to different places, and ending up working for Hostinger, where I used WordPress every single day.

Which led to, I don’t know, diving feet first, head first, whole body first into the WordPress community earlier this year. One thing just led very nicely to the other. It was just this nice little circle, universe kind of shoving me towards the WordPress community. And me just jumping, or kind of like slowly running, like on the beach, like the 90s rom com, like with open arms and the community just being like, welcome.

I guess really started diving in last year with the contributions to the docs team. Somebody introduced, hey have you ever heard of Five for the Future? Have you ever heard of contributing to WordPress?

And I was like, what, you could do that? Yeah, let’s look into it. It’s super easy. Signed up, and then, you know, I love documentation. I love words. I love everything that the docs team stands for. And then I just got super obsessed with it. What else do you need? What else can I do? And that was mid last year. And then I think since then, I don’t know, I feel like we’ll unfold a lot more of that in this podcast. I don’t want to give too many spoilers. Yeah, I don’t really have that much bio before that time.

[00:05:25] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. That’s totally fine. It sounds as if you were, I’m going to use the phrase digital nomad. I could be completely wrong in that intuition. But is there a bit of that? Were you using WordPress over the last decade, as a way of earning a living whilst doing things in different parts of the globe? Or was it more of a hobby thing? You definitely mentioned that you’d used WordPress repeatedly, but I don’t know on what level that was helping supplement what you were doing.

[00:05:49] Emma Young: Yeah, like on a personal level, I wasn’t making any money. It was more like blogs and trying to give my family a little bit, family and friends a little insight into what I was doing. But digital nomad is for sure a great way to put it. I don’t stay put in one place. I think for a while there, it was like every six months we were moving. I actually live out of my suitcase right now as well. But with all of that, most of the jobs that I had was using WordPress in one way or another. So it’s always been like a common denominator through all of my travels and work.

[00:06:18] Nathan Wrigley: Do you know what? I’ve never heard the idea of a website to keep your parents updated. And yet, that’s such an obvious way of doing things. I had a period of time where I was roaming the world, and the internet simply didn’t exist. You know, you had to go through pains of getting on an international call, which inevitably was really difficult to achieve.

But yeah, the idea of creating a blog or something, with imagery and descriptions of what you’re doing that your parents and, well, anybody that is interested in what you’re up to. Yeah, that seems like a really perfect use case.

So you mentioned that the last year has really been the time where you’ve got stuck into it. Is that because of a collision with a job that you’ve taken on, or anything like that? Or was it intentional from your part, which then led to a job? Which way round did that go?

[00:07:03] Emma Young: The chicken and the egg. Both. I don’t know. The job I guess was the reintroduction into it, which made me go from just using WordPress slightly, and daily work activities. And for the blog, I think, really jumping into the WordPress community.

Started working at Hostinger. I’m head of content for their marketing team. And majority of what I do is providing educational content to help people with their WordPress sites. So it was a very easy transition to hear like, oh wait, you can just do this for WordPress, and you can help twice as many people. If it’s easier for somebody to use WordPress, then it’s going to be easier for the people that are looking at our tutorials.

So while it first came through my company, that was just kind of like the door. And then when we started learning about WordCamp and participating in that, that was kind of, oh, what’s Five For the Future? How do you contribute? How do you actually help out with all of this? What are some problems you can help with? That was the second part, but that’s definitely been a huge part of it.

[00:08:02] Nathan Wrigley: Given the nature of this podcast, it would be great if we don’t make this slide into an advert for Hostinger, but I think we should dive into that a little bit. What is the position of Hostinger, vis a vis WordPress? I mean, it is a hosting company and obviously we all know that WordPress is incredibly popular with hosting companies, because of the benefits that it has. The fact that it’s free and open source, and they can offer it to their customers and so on.

What is the position that they’ve got? Do they send you to events in order to promote? Do they send you to events in order to network? And also you mentioned the kind of content that you create. Is it specifically aligned to Hostinger’s implementation of WordPress? Or is it a bit of, okay, here’s just how to use WordPress more generally. So it’s not necessarily tied to, well, you must be on Hostinger to make use of this article and so on.

[00:08:49] Emma Young: Yeah. It’s gonna be interesting to try to teeter the line. But yeah, so Hostinger’s managed WordPress hosting is what we offer. And WordCamps are all of the above. I guess you could say. Yes, we go there to help the community. We also go there for feedback. We go there to promote as well, and to network.

But I think everything can be boiled down to majority of our users use WordPress. So if WordPress isn’t working well, and isn’t continuing to improve and have innovation and have new features, then nobody’s going to want to use it. So then what are the people that use Hostinger going to want to use?

That is the foundation of their site. While you do need hosting, obviously to get your site online, WordPress being the majority of, what’s that? I don’t know what the statistic is these days, around 48% of users online, or 51%. It’s still a majority, at least halfway. So that is a priority for us as a company, you know. So we want that to be the best that it can be, because it’s the first line of the first iteration, the first foundation that everybody else is going to use, and we can build on top of that.

[00:09:53] Nathan Wrigley: What do you have as your content workflow? What is the process of deciding which pieces of content you’re going to create next? You know, is it driven by support? Is it just driven by ideas that your team have? What’s going on there?

[00:10:06] Emma Young: Yeah, so it’s been quite a few years that we’ve had support, but also tutorials. So we have like SEO content, that anybody can kind of search for if they have some type of query or problem. And then we have support that’s geared specifically for our users, like how to exactly do this with our dashboard.

But focusing more on the SEO content. Yeah, it’s just for anybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re using this company or that company. It’s just as long as you use WordPress. How to set something up, how to get the best out of it, how to recover from the most recent Google updates so that like your site’s still optimised.

Basically anything from a complete beginner to like, okay, which plugin is the better one for this very specific use that you want it for. Just anything underneath that umbrella.

[00:10:53] Nathan Wrigley: I’ve always thought it would be really difficult for a company like you to pitch where it puts its content, and how it portrays itself at events and things like that. Because clearly you have to be profitable, you have to pay your staff. And so that’s really important. Without that, the business collapses, and there would be no content of any description.

But on the other hand, the WordPress community, unlike I think lots of other commercial communities, there is this sense of open source, and not being quite so aggressive with the advertising. Just a conversation about that really. How do you pitch these things? How do you decide, okay, we’re going to do one Hostinger related piece of content for every three WordPressy pieces of content?

When we show up at events we’re going to set a certain amount of people on the booth, and they’re obviously assigned to promoting the product, and getting people to sign up. But then we’ll also put two of them out, and they were not connected to the booth, that kind of thing. So let’s just chat that through. How does Hostinger manage that difficult tightrope walk?

[00:11:51] Emma Young: That’s actually a great question. I think it all comes down to like open source. Obviously, this is my personal opinion, but like the idea of open source and helping each other. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. It’s been something that’s been in my life, I guess, since before I can remember. Both my parents worked for open source companies as well, and products.

Yeah, I think that’s kind of why I like Hostinger so much. Because the end goal, as much as you’re saying like, marketing is to make money. Every company wants to make money. As much as we’re like, oh, the money’s not important, it is. But there is a line, and at the end of the day the biggest focus is on the client, and on the customer, and the person that’s reading the tutorial.

Is this actually even helpful for them? Do they even care what this is about? Are you just regurgitating from SERPs, like from the top 10 things that pull up? Or are you actually checking the steps, making sure that you’re actually going to get to the solution as fast as possible? And are you answering all of these questions before they even become a problem, so that it’s all there prepared for you?

And at least for my content team, that is our mission and vision. That we want anybody who reads this to not have to like scroll all the way to the bottom after the history of everything, but just to actually help.

And I think that’s the nice thing about this line, is that’s what the WordPress community is about. That’s what open source project, everything is just working towards a similar goal. At the end of the day it’s just, was it helpful? And did it solve somebody’s problem?

And if we happen to make money along the way, awesome. But not all of our content is out there to make money. Some of it, yes. But a lot of it, it’s just there to answer your question. Hey, if you have a problem, we can help you because we’ve done it X amount of times before with different content.

[00:13:30] Nathan Wrigley: I would imagine if you’ve been attending some of the bigger WordPress events in the last couple of years, you will have seen the presence of Hostinger. Because you’ve been fairly aggressive with the, you know, you’ve been sponsoring a lot. You’ve been taking some of the big sponsorship packages, and things like that.

And I know you’ve only been there for a short amount of time. So this might be out of your wheelhouse. But I was curious as to when that process began. I don’t know if it’s been going on for years and years and years, or if it’s a much more recent push to be part of the WordPress community. So my intuition, my feeling, is that it’s really over the last two, two and a half years that Hostinger has become more focused on this. So just very quickly, is that right? Have I got that about right?

[00:14:09] Emma Young: Yeah, pretty much. Not this year, but last year was the first time that we actually, you know, participated in WordCamps, flagship ones. And then also more local ones. But, yeah, you’re right. The last two years, pretty much.

[00:14:22] Nathan Wrigley: We have quite a broad audience, but there’s definitely product owners, and hosting company representatives listening to this podcast. And very often when we get into conversations about this kind of thing, we talk about the fact that there isn’t really an ROI on attending WordPress events.

And often it’s a sunk cost, you know, you’re going, you’re showing your face, you’re talking to an already converted crowd in many ways. Those people are, you know, they’ve been in the WordPress space for a long time, they’ve figured out what hosting it is that they want.

I just wondered what your intuition was around that. Is attendance at those kind of events, is it more about just making your presence felt, being a good citizen, showing up. Rather than, okay, we’re going to definitely come out of this with 100, 200, 300 new customers. Because I’m guessing that isn’t really what comes out of it.

[00:15:08] Emma Young: Wow, that would be amazing. I think the biggest thing that we can call a win is the first years WordCamps to this one is, people are not being like, who are you guys? Never heard of you before. And it’s like, I’m going to come check out your booth. Like that is a big win just for branding, you know.

Another one is, I don’t think the intention is to go in there and be like, we have to get a thousand new customers. But in a sense, we can grow quite a bit and, you know, reap the benefits of like a snowball effect by getting feedback from everybody that’s there.

Like you said, everybody has a niche, or something specific that they work on, and they’re the expert of. And then they can give us feedback on, and we can improve from there. And in the long run, yeah, we can benefit from that. But it’s not like short term and boom, boom, boom.

[00:15:48] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, it’s not a quick win, is it? I remember the first time I saw your logo was at WordCamp Europe, and you had one of the big booths. So obviously, in my head, there was a bit of disconnect there. I’m thinking, woah, I know that is a very sizable investment, but also I’ve not heard of that company before. Whereas all the other ones who’d made the similar investment, and indeed the ones that were on the slightly smaller booth shall we say, I’d heard of all of them. So that was just curious to me.

And then I went to another event, and there you were again. And so it repeated itself. I feel that’s the game, isn’t it. It’s the long game. It’s about being recognised. It’s about showing up. Not necessarily, as you said, trying to get that return on investment, although that would be brilliant.

And so for product owners who are new into the space, I guess there is some lesson to learn there. Those WordPress events, I think sometimes people show up expecting that kind of return on the investment. And often it maybe isn’t the case. But the long tail of showing up again and again, I could reel off lots and lots of companies who have benefited from that.

Although it is a bit of a hidden benefit, and it won’t necessarily go on this year’s profit and loss spreadsheet. It might in the end be worthwhile doing. And I’m guessing, the fact that you’re still doing it is proof that you believe there is a benefit to it, albeit it isn’t entirely tangible.

[00:17:05] Emma Young: Yeah, exactly. And it’s definitely like a learn from, I don’t want to say mistakes because if you’re learning from it. But learning from your past experiences, and what are you going to tweak this time? What are we going to do better? What are we going to stop? Because, oh, shouldn’t have done that.

That’s something that, you don’t get like a nice checklist that is like, hey, you’re new to WordPress and the community, do this, this and this. It’s kind of like, good luck. And the networking helps, because like especially with community, you can get help from other people that have been in there longer, and can give us advice.

We’ve gotten a lot of advice from people in the community. I think one of the best things about it is, in everyday life we have our competitors, other hosting companies. But then at WordCamps, and more community focused events, it’s like on pause.

And me and Courtney from GoDaddy had some dinner, you know. GoDaddy people we’re just like, I think this is the best way to showcase the beauty of WordPress communities. It’s like Monday, game on. But today like, hey girl, how’s it been? So like I said, that’s even on pause.

We learned from that, and it was advice from other people that it was hey, you can’t look at it as in like, how many people come to your booth? How many hosting plans did you sell? This, this or that. It’s, hey, but look at it in this way, and look at all the doors that you’re opening in the future. And I think people that are coming into this should really remember that when they’re like what did we get from sponsoring this WordCamp? It’s not just about that.

[00:18:20] Nathan Wrigley: I think that there are quite a few pitfalls. If you are new to the community, and let’s say that you’ve been, well, let’s keep talking about events. Let’s say that you’ve been attending events in other walks of life. So nothing to do with open source, or anything like that, specifically WordPress.

It may be that the etiquette, for want of a better word, is slightly different. And there may be pitfalls that you fall into. And I think it is kind of good to have a plan going into that first set of events, just to take the temperature of the room a little bit, and try to figure out what other people are doing.

It just feels a little bit more community related at WordPress events. Well, obviously there’s a real great opportunity to sell if you wish to. But it does feel that the aggressive sales side of things is not quite so obvious. And you’ve just pointed to the fact that you put your weapons down, for want of a better phrase. Once the event closes for the night, and go out and have dinner with the other people, and talk about what they’re doing, and try to figure out things.

And then obviously go off into things like contributor day, and literally do the work together. So it’s not like you’re just having a chat over a drink, you’re actually doing work. But, taken your company T-shirt off for a moment and you’re just friends. So I guess what I’m trying to say there is, yeah, take the temperature of the room on the first few times that you go, because it may not be what you expect it to be. And your intuitions may be slightly wrong there.

Let’s talk about you for a little bit though, personally. Because I’m just curious as to what you’re getting out of all this. You’ve obviously been doing this for, well, the amount of time that you said, just over a year or something like that. And you also said, I think you said, not just feet first, like whole body first or something like that.

What’s the deal there? Why so much in the space of time? So just to clarify, my understanding is that a year or so ago, you hadn’t been to any kind of WordPress event. Now, obviously, with the help of the company that you work for, so we need to know that, you’ve been to the three flagship events.

So you went to WordCamp Asia, you went to WordCamp Europe, WordCamp US. You’ve been to WordCamp Madrid, which is really big. You know, it’s not one of the smaller ones. Why so much? I mean, maybe the answer is simply, well, that’s my job. But it feels like there’s more to it than that.

[00:20:22] Emma Young: It actually isn’t my job. Now I kind of adapted to that role because I like it, you know. But, I still do run the content team, you know. Organic traffic, woo. But yeah, I think my first flagship, my first WordCamp in general was a flagship.

And it was the beginning of this year, just in January, in Bangkok. And the first time I was ever going to be there. I had been contributing and I was like, yeah yeah, great. You know, I can really help out with this because I like it. I think I was doing it on my spare time, not work time. And it just happened to work very parallel, and overlap with work, that they were like, if she enjoys, it this is perfect.

But then I was, I don’t know what came over me, but I was like, let’s just not go. But let’s volunteer. Let’s do, I had no idea what that meant. I’ve never been to a WordCamp. Let’s also volunteer at the one that probably has the most hype, because it’s the first one after the pandemic.

And then, I don’t know, I had public speaking PTSD from being inside my house for three years, only talking to people through the screen. And I kind of challenged myself, and I volunteered as an interviewer. I was like, let’s just not go to an event where you have to mingle, but let’s make it a job. And let’s actually have to find people and sit down and encourage them to talk me. Let’s just make my life harder, you know.

And it was the best experience ever. I don’t even know how to explain how much fun I had from like the first day from volunteers. Meeting colleagues from different countries that also came together to be at this WordCamp.

I just remember walking into like volunteers orientation being like, this was the dumbest thing you’ve ever done, Emma. Like yeah, you like to travel. Yeah, you like WordPress. Nope, just awkwardly moonwalk out of here and just hide in a corner for the next three days and it’ll be fine, you’ll just get fired, it’s okay.

Yeah, I don’t know, I think it was Milan who was like, oh hey girl. I was like, oh hey dude. And that was it. That was all it took. Like some dude who I had never met before, just come up to be like, hey girl, what’s your name is? Just like playing around. And the rest was history.

And I enjoyed that so much that I was like I want more of this. I see the point of this. I see the benefit of this, and it also helps my company on the side. So that’s, I think what led to, you know, being super involved with WordCamp Europe, and volunteering for that.

I tried to do something different, and put myself in kind of like a learning experience. Instead of volunteering as an interviewer, I was like maybe I can be an MC. Let’s see how I feel on stage. So maybe one day I could be a speaker, I don’t know.

And right before that same thing, I was like, this is the dumbest idea Emma. Like, why do you keep doing this to yourself? And then when I went out there, I don’t even know how to explain it. I was like, this is awesome. Nobody cares if I mess up. Nobody cares if I made a mistake. Nobody realises if I made a mistake. I can be as silly as I want to be. Just as long as I say all the things I’m supposed to.

And it was to an audience of all the same WordPress nerds is me. We would all geek out on the same thing. I could make all of the same jokes that I would say to somebody that I was having coffee with at WordCamp, but to a huge audience. And they would get it because we have the same interests.

I mean like I’ve done like calls or workshops and trainings, and I still get like butterflies. I don’t know, it was just a different experience. I had like zero fears when I was emceeing. That was kind of an internal thing that I was using to see how I would do moving forward.

And the WordPress community, WordCamp’s helped me kind of work through that. And now it’s just gone and gone and gone, and now I’m part of the next WordCamp Europe’s organising team. And it’s just crazy that not even a few months ago was the first time I’d ever been to WordCamp Europe.

[00:23:43] Nathan Wrigley: So in summary, no regrets.

[00:23:46] Emma Young: Oh, zero. I encourage everybody to do it. Or come find me and I will try to give you the best pep talk there is.

[00:23:52] Nathan Wrigley: So a couple of things to throw in there. First of all, I suspect that not everybody is the same as you. So you strike me, forgive me if I’m getting this wrong, but you strike me as fairly outgoing. And maybe the baggage that you were carrying is that you walked into the room. You were more than willing, when Milan walked up to you, you were more than willing to just throw it off and get stuck in. And all it took was for a friendly face to come over and say hi, and that was it. You were off to the races.

But would you say that for somebody who was, let’s say more introverted, or a little bit more concerned about how the event might go down, they haven’t done anything like this before. They just want to lurk. Is that okay in your opinion? You know, you don’t have to be a certain personality type.

And the kind of roles that you took on, I guess it’s important to say as well, are very public facing. Whereas you really don’t have to have that as part of your arsenal. It is quite possible to contribute meaningfully, just sitting at a desk with your computer, not necessarily being outgoing or vivacious. Just chatting to the people that are nearby. Concerned with the thing that you’re concerned with. Could be docs. Could be TV. Could be, I don’t know, SEO. Could be anything that any of the tables occupy.

So firstly that. You were well equipped for this. But it’s not necessarily that that needs to be the case for everybody, right?

[00:25:03] Emma Young: Yeah, no, 100%. There were also some people from my team that contributed as well for photography. You know, that’s a great one if you’re very into like arts and more creative, where you don’t have to speak to anybody. Everybody sees it, well, not everybody. But oftentimes when they see a camera at this event, they’re like, okay, I’d love to smile for it.

But like you said, with the contributions as well. That’s one of the best ways to start. You can test out every single thing to see where you are the most comfortable with. Where you feel you can help the most, or where you’re enjoying helping the most. And it’s not like an outwardly facing, hey, get on stage, kind of contribution. Maybe you’re very interested in just writing stuff and testing some things out, or QA-ing a plugin or a theme that somebody wants approved. But very important as well.

And same with volunteering actually. You know, there’s lots of different teams that you don’t have to go on stage. You don’t have to ask people to do interviews. You can simply, if you do want to be a volunteer and help with WordCamps that way, you know, just being somebody who can direct somebody to the bathroom. Or like where the emergency kit is. Or working the lost and found, where you talk to people every once in a while.

If you don’t want to talk to anybody at all, maybe social media, where you sit behind the laptop and people bring you images and you post on there. You know, there’s lots of different ways that you can volunteer for the WordCamps that aren’t as outgoing or extroverted.

But you also don’t have to do any of that. You can also just go there and enjoy it as an attendee, and talk to people when you want to talk to people. Approach them. If somebody says like, hey, how’s it going? No, sorry, not now. No one’s going to take offense to it. I think at one of the WordCamps, they actually had interaction badges.

[00:26:35] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. It was WordCamp US in San Diego, I think that was right. There was a little indicator on your lanyard, which indicated how open you were to being talked to out of the blue.

[00:26:46] Emma Young: And I think that like extra measures like that is helpful. But there’s a place for everybody. You don’t have to go as aggressive as I did. You can be a lot more introverted. Even if you want to try, and I encourage you to be a speaker for the first time, to try it. Even as an introvert. Somebody who’s never, maybe done a presentation to a large group of people, or at all.

We have like different channels on WordPress Slack, and different resources that we try to help encourage people and feel more comfortable, or help you give just the encouragement and pep talk that you need, to even just apply for it. But I think that’s another beauty about the community is, there is a place for everybody, where you can be more an extroverted person, more of an introvert. Or somebody who’s half the time extrovert and half the time, like me, has to go hide in a corner for a couple hours. Recharge your battery and then be wooo again.

[00:27:35] Nathan Wrigley: Back on the mission, yeah. I think the WordPress community is really a bit of a microcosm. It is big enough to be a microcosm of the community in general. There are people who are very outgoing. There are people who are not so. There is a task for people who are outgoing. There’s a task for people who are not outgoing. You don’t need to fit any particular mold.

But also, I think the bit that you mentioned, and I really can’t put my finger on why this is, but I do think that the WordPress community is populated by nice people. And so if you do attend, and you do decide to, oh, let’s say you really push the boat out and you decide to be a speaker. The reception that you’ll get, I’m more or less able to guarantee, it will be fabulous.

It’s not one of those talent shows on TV where you stand up there, do your thing, and then there’s a panel of people who just sort of scratch their chins and give you some commentary on where you could have improved it. How it could have been better. It’s really not like that. It’s the opposite. It’s like you get a bunch of tens every time. And so, really have that in the back of your mind.

A few minutes ago, though, you said something which stuck in my head and I don’t even know if you meant to say it, but it was kind of the nub of everything. And you were describing walking into the room for the first time, and you said something along the lines of, I got it. I understood why it mattered. You said something like that.

And I think that’s really important. Why does it matter? For you, Emma why does contributing, being involved. What is the point of it? Maybe it’s something that you get out of it. Maybe it’s going in that direction. Maybe it’s the other direction. Maybe you feel, okay great, I’m doing something philanthropic. I’m doing something which is not for my own benefit, it’s for the world. What was the meaning of that sentence? Because that is the heart of it, I think.

[00:29:12] Emma Young: Yeah. Ooh okay. I don’t actually know. Let me try to unpack this while I use filler words, while I’m trying to think through my thoughts.

[00:29:21] Nathan Wrigley: I’ll give you intuitions from my end, if you don’t mind. I’ll tell you why I think it’s important. I have this notion that the web offered the promise of so much. And when it was invented by Tim Berners-Lee and other people, back in the day, nobody really knew what it could be.

But there was this great promise that it could be this fabulous, unifying force. Not only would the world’s information be accessible, but we’d be able to communicate with people in a way that, really, the expense was driven down. The ability to communicate would be approaching zero. You needed access to a computer, and nowadays a mobile phone.

And so the promise was just such a radical departure from everything that humanity had had before. And then part of that culture, right at the beginning, was free and open source. Now, I know that in the decades since then, large corporations have jumped in and the internet has become a very profitable, noisy place, where it’s possible to feel, well, it’s just dominated by giant companies.

And I think, for me, that’s one of the reasons that I love projects like WordPress. Because it offers that promise from decades ago of what the web could be. Does it cost you anything? Yeah, it’ll cost you a bit in hosting. Is it broadly free? Yes, it’s broadly free. Do you have to pay to contribute? No. Can you benefit from other people’s labour? Yes. Are you required to give back? No. Would it be nice if you did? Yes.

It’s just this feeling, this wonderful feeling that I can’t, like I said, put my finger on. But there’s just something excellent about that whole idea. So there’s what I think.

[00:30:56] Emma Young: Yeah, I agree. And the entire time we were talking, I was like, what is the word? What word like encompasses everything that you’re saying, what I’m thinking. And I’m like, I can’t just say community because, come on Emma, you work with words. But it is, like, it’s it’s collaborative.

And I like that you brought up communication. I love strategic communication. Different styles of it, between different cultures. And I feel like that is where all of that is a nice melting pot. People from all over the world, people with different things, we all have one thing in common, where all of these things come together, finally. No, maybe not finally.

But like, what a community, what the definition of community in my head, at least, is supposed to be, happens. So we don’t have to worry about statuses. We don’t have to worry about the company that you’ve worked for, we don’t have to worry about our culture.

Like, we are all there for one reason, and it’s WordPress. We are all interested in one thing. We all want that one thing to succeed, and it’s collaborative. Like you were saying, with the way that all the things that the internet promised us, it’s going to bring us together. It’s going to be all of these ways to communicate. It’s going to like, you know, bridge the gap between your grandparents that live in Australia and here.

And it did fix a lot of those things. But then during that adventure and journey, we lost a lot of communication, and a lot of collaboration, and community, and the sense of community. Unless you have one of those, you’re lucky enough to have one of those in your physical place. This is a place where it can solve that with the bonus addition of, we all just like it.

I think that, in addition to what you were saying earlier with, everybody is genuinely nice people, and good people. There’s not some malicious agenda on the back of their mind where it’s like, ha, I’m gonna be nice to your face, but stab you in the back. Like, there is zero of that, at least from my point of view.

In addition to all of this, it’s just a nice place to be. You make new friends, you have great conversations, you laugh pretty much for four days straight if you’re at a live event. If you’re working online with them, there’s lots of inside jokes, and it’s just, I don’t know, it’s just community. I can’t think of a better word.

[00:32:54] Nathan Wrigley: I think I might have the word. I think the word might be humanity.

[00:32:58] Emma Young: Yeah.

[00:32:59] Nathan Wrigley: We live in a different world than the world of 30 years ago, before the internet was invented. But it is an enterprise where there’s a common purpose. I’ve literally met people at WordCamps who have never used WordPress. I know that sounds strange, but they somehow got themselves to a WordCamp in the past, and they just liked the feeling.

There was something about the attendance of that event, which gave them that warm and fuzzy glow. And so they still attend, and they’ve never used WordPress. Their intention is not necessarily to ever use WordPress, but they enjoy the camaraderie that they get. They enjoy the fact that they can show up and be a part of that enormous jigsaw puzzle, and help people in a philanthropic way. You don’t necessarily have to get anything in return. And it’s just a very human enterprise, I think.

[00:33:47] Emma Young: Yeah. And all the things that like show up with the events, you know, like the prices aren’t ridiculous to get a ticket. You don’t have to go out and separate from people to get food. You grab some food, you sit with some strangers, you introduce yourself to somebody new, or by yourself if you want to. Everything is there, and open, and welcoming.

Yeah, it’s very different to other conferences, and I like that people that don’t actually use WordPress or have no intention to, continue to go to these. WordPress is doing something right.

[00:34:18] Nathan Wrigley: Where have you landed then on what you’re going to be doing? Because obviously you’re fairly new. You still might have your tendrils out trying to figure out, okay, if I go to another event and there’s a contributor day, that feels like my thing.

You mentioned that there are things like photography. There are things like docs, which I know you work with words and obviously there’s a connection there, so maybe that’s where you’ve landed. It may be that you want to try other things. What’s your intuition about that? Where do you think your endeavors will go, if you decide to contribute in the future?

[00:34:43] Emma Young: Yes. So right now most of my, I guess, contributions been going to the organising, for the WordCamp Europe. But before that, it was primarily docs, just because I like it. I like organising. I like just documentation in general, and consistency.

But I do think there was a conversation, quite a few conversations at the community summit, which I also went to, which is maybe not something that happens, I’ve only been involved for a short amount of time. About like content repurposing, and really like bridging the gap between teams, and merging together, and aligning with each other. I think if I could get more involved with that, to help speed that along or even just give more attention to it. We could help all of the contributions, just not one team specifically improve together.

[00:35:26] Nathan Wrigley: Emma, it’s been really interesting chatting to you today. Thank you for joining us. If anybody is not entirely sure how much they want to contribute, whether they want to contribute, and they’ve listened to this and they’ve been inspired by what you’ve said, where would be the best place to locate you? I don’t know, it may be an email address, or a Twitter handle, or a website, or whatever you like.

[00:35:43] Emma Young: Yeah, probably LinkedIn. I am terrible with Twitter. So I will give you that so you can link it down below, or so people can find me. Because yes, I would definitely just, you can pick my brain, ask me any questions, and I would be more than willing to help and answer in any way.

[00:35:58] Nathan Wrigley: Thank you, Emma Young. Thank you for joining us on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.

[00:36:02] Emma Young: Thank you.

On the podcast today we have Emma Young.

Emma is the Head of Content for Hostinger and is on the podcast today to chat through her new found love of WordPress and the community which surrounds it.

Emma’s journey is quite inspirational. From having almost no experience with WordPress just a few years ago, she’s now immersed deeply in all that WordPress has to offer. Just over a year ago she’d been using WordPress a little, but that was it. Then she found employment in the space and has been to all three 2023 flagship WordCamps, as well as the Community Summit. So the whole conversation is coloured with this newness and energy, which is quite infectious.

We explore the delicate balance between profitability and community values in her job. Emma sheds light on Hostinger’s commitments in the WordPress space and how they tread the tightrope of being a good community citizen, whilst still turning a profit. We also delve into the company’s recent involvement in WordPress events and WordCamps, discussing the benefits they have reaped from these; it’s things like brand awareness and invaluable feedback from the community.

Emma’s passion for networking and continuous improvement is evident as she shares her personal experiences. We discuss the inclusive nature of the WordPress community and the various pathways individuals with different personality types can follow to feel at home, emphasising the ample opportunities available for everyone to contribute.

We get into the collaborative nature of the WordPress community, exploring the camaraderie, philanthropy, and human connections that thrive within WordPress events and projects. Emma shares her insights from her recent involvement in helping to organise WordCamp Europe, and her dedication to contributing to documentation.

If you’re looking for a way to find your place in the WordPress community, this podcast is for you.

Useful links


Emma’s LinkedIn