Matt Medeiros starts 2019 and the second part of Season 8 with his interview with Dan Maby. Dan is a self-described wearer of many hats and is the director of Blue 37, a digital agency based in London. He recently founded a new community called WP&UP that supports and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community. Through Dan’s agency Blue 37, he helps WordPress users move forward with their business. In addition to ALL of that, Dan is the Lead Organizer of WordCamp London and four meetups across the UK.
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What you will learn in this Episode:
Matt – Why WP&UP? What started the initiative for this organization?
Dan – Realized that there was a real need for WordPress users working in isolation. There can be a lot of issues working alone either as a Freelancer or an employee of a company. After working in the WordPress Community for 8 or 9 years, Dan decided to start a charity that could address some of these issues. He brought the non-profit charity, WP&UP to the WordPress Community to help with all types of mental health issues. The organization started with friends and trustees who wanted to help.
Matt – Discusses how difficult this is to set up for the WordPress community because many remote workers work in different countries and in different cultures. It would be great for the WordCamps to participate and announce this help at their conferences to raise awareness.
Dan – The charity was difficult to set up for a global community. Because of the physical locations of many remote workers, you often don’t know the struggle of the person who may be afraid of the stigma towards mental health in their country or culture. Social media does not really help entrepreneurs who work alone.
WP&UP operated unfunded for 12 months. The organization recently passed as a charity in 2018 and a video was created and posted to the community. This opened the floodgates to the WordPress community. WPMUDev started the monetary support with the initial contribution. Many other companies have opted in with support. Now programs are in place to keep the charity funded over the long haul. (10:38)
Matt – There are many areas to address with working in isolation. How do you approach connecting and mentoring people virtually?
Dan– The challenge is to find the “right” level of support. You can offer a mentor or buddy, but it is such a sensitive subject. Support can range from professional help with your business to psychological services that a person may be struggling with. Mental health struggles may impact a person at any time with no outward signs of a struggle. There is an additional impact on the broader community when they have no idea that somebody is struggling and would also offer help. (19:08)
Change in WordPress and the Blue Collar Digital Worker
Matt – The market has changed a little which is impacting the lower end of the WordPress market. People are finding it easier to build websites. (26:44)
Dan – Because of the changes with WordPress the digital agency is now challenged on how to market to clients. The clients are changing and the tools available to them have broadened. The freelancer and agency need to concentrate on providing great services. (27:11)
Dan – Education is always a good thing and evolving. Education is not new and the new projects coming in are very interesting. It may be rocky for a while and some people may leave WordPress and dive into something new. It is important to not go after the shiny new toy when diving into something new. (31:37)
Matt – There are challenges around marketing.
Dan– WP&UP really wants to work with individuals in the community. The organization is set up around 4 Health Hubs: (33:00)
- Code Health – improve the quality of your products through training courses.
- Business Health – develop your business further with a mentor,
- Mental Health – receive support through those dark times,
- Physical health – build emotionally and physically. There are individuals in the WP&UP organization with specific skill sets. There are four legal trustees. There will be additional individuals added as the need of the community continues to grow.
The challenge for 2019 will be continued monetary support and the growth of the WP&UP program. It is a great program for the WordPress community who may find themselves struggling.
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