Social Media Week 2019: Women of WordPress

I was super stoked to be a panellist on one of the sessions at this year’s Social Media Week Lagos. It was a really exciting experience for me and I want to share with you my answers to some of the questions that we were asked during the session. Please note that this wasn’t necessarily my exact answers at the time of the session but these are not so far off from what I said either.

First, a little bit about the event

As explained by the Organiser, Mary Job Founder/Product Manager, How Do You Tech: The Women in WordPress talk brings together a diverse group of women from across Nigeria for an informal & honest discussion. It also aims to propose ways to help each other out within and outside the WordPress community, locally and globally.

Aiming to inspire and encourage the WordPress community, but women, in particular, participants will discuss their achievements, struggles, and share advice to those just starting out. We will talk about how men can be better allies to women overall, but especially to those who are just starting out their WordPress journey, whether in development, design, marketing, or blogging.

Here are my answers to some of the questions asked

How did you find WordPress?
Reading a blog post from someone who was sharing her tech journey and how WordPress had helped her. I eventually worked for the lady and at some point, I had to create accounts and grant access to people for online courses. Later on, I wanted to start writing and WordPress naturally was what I went with. Plenty tinkering, watching videos, googling till my eyes hurt and here we are. 

How has WordPress helped you?
2 years ago I was going to quit my job. At the time I felt the need to step back from everything else and go spend some time in a field I have always been passionate about. Which is the church. I wanted to do that but then I didn’t want to be a broke-ass in the process. I remember I kept thinking, God, how am I going to survive? It was then that I also started to try my hand on creating a blog for myself. I did that and it was fairly good. It wasn’t bad. I just didn’t feel so proud of it. Long story short, doing that for myself led me to help someone else redesign her blog. This was a whole new one for me. My blog was all I had done before then so when I felt moved to help her out with hers, I initially ignored cos I just thought, that’s crazy. I don’t know jack and I’ve not been able to do so much for myself. Long story short, I reached out to her, turned out the help she needed at the time was with her blog. It took a lot from me to do it for her. Without prior code knowledge, I had to tweak her entire site background from white to black. Her theme didn’t come with that option which means that I had to figure out what to do and how to do it. At the end of the day, I did it and there began my journey in tech. Almost 2 years after, I’ve picked up skills in design, coding, strategy and I am able to go after my other passions, contribute meaningfully to them and not be a broke ass. 

What mistakes and lessons have you learnt so far?
I will touch on this in terms of running as a freelancer and then in terms of skills. 
I’d say not having confidence and failing to see the value I was bringing to the table. This was literally me shooting myself in the foot. Because it sort of came naturally to me and for the most part, I taught myself what I knew, I didn’t think I should charge for it or charge so much for it. I just didn’t feel “worthy”. I’d work and do so much and at the end of the day, I’d be feeling used. My advice, build your confidence fast!!! Work on yourself, keep improving but don’t let anyone, yourself especially make you feel less than.
 
The second thing was having no idea of design and business strategy and having no defined process in place. As much as design touches on aesthetics, there’s the bit of functionality, usability, and it actually meeting a goal. So don’t design just for the sake of beauty. Let it cover aesthetics and usability, that’s a sweet spot.

On having a defined process, this will help you and your clients. You are able to see areas where you are actually leaving money on the table. You won’t get to launch phase only to realise that you forgot to do one thing or the other. You won’t look scattered to the client making them question your skill and expertise. It just makes life easier really. 

If you could, would you pick WordPress again, and why?
I definitely would. I think it demystified the world of tech, design and coding for me. It gave me a level ground, to begin with, and see that these things were not as over the moon as I thought and that I could do them. It gave me the opportunity to go after my passions, and build skills that have come in very handy in the pursuit of them and in helping others go after theirs too. So yeah, I definitely would. It’s been a fun ride so far and I’m excited about what’s to come. 

How do I handle imposter syndrome as a woman?
Let me start by saying, and this is in line with my lessons on this journey so far. Build your confidence. Build it fast. You can have all the skills and still sell yourself short. So build your confidence fast. If you have to stand in front of the mirror daily to affirm yourself, do it. 

I try to celebrate every win so it’s etched in my memory and I can pull from it. Have a brag book or a journal. Write down every of your success and go back to it to remind yourself how far you have come. I reach out to my friends and they just help in pumping me up. I also notice that there are days when I feel really gassed up and pumped. Sometimes not even because I’ve done anything amazing. I make sure to write the thoughts and feelings I’m having about myself then. When the funk hits me, I go to them and read it to myself till it seeps in. 

It’s not a magic one and done process, I still have days when I feel not good enough. Just remember to give yourself grace and keep reaffirming and celebrating yourself.

Final thoughts from each panel speaker: this should encourage the audience into taking action
I like to say that in one way or the other, everyone is a designer or like Mary says, everyone is into tech. And I say this to break whatever limiting beliefs we may have built up that now makes us think, this is way too high for me, this is out of my league, or I just can’t reach it. You can! Of course, it does take a while. I still think I have a lot to learn but I’m grateful that I took that first step, that first plunge. I probably won’t be here if I didn’t. My advice would be to start somewhere and work your way up. And this is not just about this field but life as a whole. 

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