Thank you again to Patte Shetler for the transcription!
Amy M.: 00:01 Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop, and more in the WordPress community. Welcome to Episode 6 of Women in WP. My name is Amy Masson.
Angela B.: 00:17 I’m Angela Bowman.
Tracy A: 00:18 Tracy Apps.
Amy M.: 00:20 Our guest today is Evangelia Pappa joining us today from Greece. She’s a prolific organizer and volunteer (including WordCamps and Meetups). Welcome to the show Evangelia!
Evangelia P: 00:37 Hi guys! How are you?
Tracy A.: 00:37 I am so glad you could join us.
Evangelia P.: 00:39 Nice to see you tonight!
Amy M.: 00:42 Well we like start off each episode by asking our guests what was your journey into WordPress? How did you get started?
Evangelia P.: 00:49 Well it’s not so far away so I can still remember it. I’m not that old. It was back in 2015 when I met the organizer for my hometown’s Meetup. Elija Vagelis he is also the lead of the translation team in Greece. He had just started the Meetup in Larissa. So I joined him, watching the presentations, etc. Because of talking to Vagelis and the other guests we realized I could have other Meetups. Since I was working as a radio producer and I could work as a journalist, etc. I decided to be the PR member of the team here in Larissa. Then it all started with me blogging also making a new blog in WordPress. And interfering with the community in Greece in general.
Amy M: 01:43 What were you blogging about?
Evangelia P.: 01:47 I was always informed of literature. So I have been writing articles regarding literature. I have a blog with another six people. It’s called mindrops.gr. So where we write about special experience our stories, let’s say.
Amy M: 02:07 So are they all women? Is it mixed? What’s the make-up of that blog?
Evangelia P.: 01:47 It’s mixed. It’s six people, four men and three women now. We have another addition on the team. We blog usually about twice a month (each one of us). I also have a personal blog about WordPress and my experience in the community and organizing WordCamps, Meetups, etc. and our journeys in the WordPress community. On my personal blog I am Evangeliapappa.me.
Amy M: 02:48 I was just going to ask. I went over to the regular blog, but I couldn’t read it. It’s not English.
Evangelia P.: 02:53 Yes. It’s in Greek. Sometimes it’s difficult to translate articles like that in English. You need a more professional person to do it. If I do it, it might not be so good.
Tracy A.: 03:08 There’s a chrome plug-in that will auto translate. It’s not the best.
Evangelia P.: 03:14 Sure.
Angela B.: 03:16 It’s getting better that translation tool, because they got AI behind it now, it’s getting much better. I was fascinated to read that you’re relatively in a way new to WordPress and then you just dived right into the community. And then not only did you dive into the community but then you also brought this added thing of accessibility for your deaf community and getting interpreters in sign language for your attendance at the WordCamps and stuff. Can you speak about the kind of before and after of Evangelia in this community and what impact you’ve made?
Evangelia P.: 03:55 In fact, the community is a bit new. We are in the Greece of the economic crisis. However, during this time, the community grew bigger and stronger. We see people making their new companies or find big jobs around WordPress as developers, as designers as bloggers, photographers, social media marketing experts, etc. So, it was very nice and we realized at some point that our first WordCamp in Athens in 2016 that we had deaf people that wanted to attend sessions. So, we had to something to have these people be there and be able to participate, to understand what they were seeing to speak for themselves, etc. We tried to find something that wasn’t the best solution but in fact we did not have much time because they booked the tickets literally the last minute. So, we were running to find sign language interpretation. We have been working with a very nice agency in Greece. They have been very helpful. They were also making some videos for us in sign language. For the second year we had WordCamp Athens. Imagine that the first year in Athens we had two deaf people. They were a couple of amazing guys; both of them. This second year we had 11 people.
All: 05:32 Wow.
Evangelia P.: 05:33 That was amazing because they knew that they could come. They could join. They could participate. They had someone that used sign language. He knew exactly the sign language. He wasn’t an interpreter. It’s like me. I can use some words or something like that. It was very nice because you could see their smiles.
Angela B: 05:58 That’s amazing.
Evangelia P.: 05:59 Smiles on people is the most important thing in a community. It was an amazing year. Unfortunately, last year for some reason we did not have so many people deaf people attending. This year in Athens we will also have sign language interpretation and we have been searching for what is the best solution for these people? We saw in Facebook some conversations around the deaf communities in Greece and they have a conflict between sign language or subtitling.
Angela B.: 06:29 Yes.
Evangelia P.: 06:31 So we’re trying to find what best suits their needs because they have different opinions. Some people say that sign language is not helping deaf people learn the Greek language correctly so they can use it because they can speak. We are trying to find out what is best. Hopefully next time we can get both of these; subtitling and sign language.
Tracy A.: 06:57 One thing that’s just great is the fact that I see so many different communities, even established WordPress communities, that haven’t put so much effort into accessibility. That’s something that speaks volumes because as you said like they knew that they were welcome. That this was a space for them and especially with the whole mission of WordPress is to make publishing accessible to everyone. You’re acting that out in real life. It’s just really encouraging.
Evangelia P.: 07:43 The thing is, we feel like a family here. If you meet the Greeks because you’re highly welcome to join us, this time or the next one who knows? We are a family. It’s not only people gathering around for WordPress events like Meetups and WordCamps. It’s people that gather around to get to know each other, make strong bonds and becoming friends and at some point family. I’ve met the organizing team three years ago in 2016. In fact, I met them one day before the event. We have been working together from different cities for about seven months. It was our first WordCamp. We didn’t know each other. We saw each other just a day before the event. These people today are my family. If I need to say something more personal, I will call them, and I will ask for an opinion or some help or something. When we have a WordCamp because we are always late, it’s a common thing for us. I am sorry. We are still together in the same apartment so that one wakes up the other and gets ready quickly so that we can be on time. Another common thing with us is that we meet and eat a lot. You will definitely find us in a tavern or a restaurant all together.
Tracy A.: 09:14 Well now we need sponsors for that now too, right? Amy do you want to do your pitch?
Amy M.: 09:18 Yeah. If anybody would like sponsor us to send us to WordCamp Europe or WordCamp Greece, we would be happy to go. And you know announce your sponsorship live on the show which is not live.
Evangelina P.: 09:31 That would be nice.
Amy M.: 09:33 I’m all about, I frequently am asking people for free stuff so that’s kind of my gig now.
Evangelina P.: 09:39 That’s nice. Maybe we should hire Amy for the sponsor wrangling in Greece.
Tracy A.: 09:45 There you go!
Amy M.: 09:47 I’m not good at it. Nobody has offered yet. I don’t know if you need to hire me. I’m not actually good at it. I just ask.
Evangelina P.: 09:55 You do the first step though, you ask.
Tracy A.: 09:58 There it is. Yep. It’s true.
Evangelina P.: 10:01 That is the thing that I’m also telling girls in Greece. You need to ask. You need to ask for things. You need to come forward. You need to contribute. You need to come to an event. As a question. No question is stupid. Everybody’s welcome. If you don’t ask you will never learn.
Tracy A.: 10:25 That’s very true. I’m curious, because we had a recession here and you’ve had this recent financial issue in Greece, I had a very similar… once I lost my full-time job when the recession hit… but I saw everyone starting up their companies. Everyone was successful in doing so. I just want to hear more about like what the what have like taking lemons and making lemonade kind of thing? Like I want to hear more about that the community there because it sounds like you’ve really bonded together and done some really amazing things because of this.
Evangelina P.: 11:10 People are hard working. This is the first step. When you have an economic crisis in a country you need to find a way to make ends meet at first. In order to live you need to find the work. Definitely jobs in Greece do not pay as much as they did in the past. People are struggling. This is true. However, you can see many people around the world of WordPress mainly (and some other occupations) they are definitely hard working but mostly people are hardworking if they need to make ends meet. You cannot be lazy if you do not have the means to live and support yourself financially. People decided that they could work either on the private sector, either for government, for state companies. State companies is not an issue or a kind of company that people could benefit anyway. So private companies could pay you a certain amount as an employee. However, you have the opportunity to start your own firm. When you love what you do, you do it successfully. Another nice thing in a community like WordPress (Greek or not) is that people help each other. If I have a question and I cannot do something, I will ask my community. Thankfully there is the forum, there is also a Facebook group where I can post my question and people will answer at the moment. If I have a problem, if I need a suggestion about a hosting service or something like that, I will ask and someone answer. Maybe they won’t answer in one or two minutes (maybe they will) maybe they will answer later. If I have an issue that I can search about it in the forum, that’s also very helpful. It is nice that people do not close their knowledge in boxes. They serve it. That’s the most important thing.
Tracy A.: 13:25 Absolutely.
Evangelina P.: 13:28 Sharing your knowledge and your experience through a community is the most important thing that member’s benefit.
Amy M.: 13:37 That’s one of the things I think that has brought all of us together initially and all of WordPress is that everybody’s so willing to help other people. I remember going to my first WordCamp and having you know, I’ve been doing this professionally for a while, but I’d never been to WordCamp. The knowledge that people were just giving me for $40 that I paid to get in blew my mind. Even following that, it’s like you know I throw something out there in a Slack group or you know just in a Facebook group and I’m like I need to know how to do this. People are just rushing for free give me that knowledge.
Evangelina P.: 14:13 That’s another thing that not only community but you can find free knowledge online wherever you check. You can find tutorials or books or articles about WordPress and plugins and whatever you’re searching for. You can learn about SEO or blogging if you’re not a professional user. That’s another nice thing. WordPress is not only for an elite of people. It is for everyone. If I’m a photographer I can use it. If I’m a blogger, I can use it. If I need to have a company website, I can use it. If I want to show people what my firm is doing, I can use it. If I want to blog my curriculum vitae. So people can find me and hire me and give me a job, I can use it. That doesn’t necessarily ask for high knowledge. You can find everything you need in communities and online.
Amy M.: 15:18 That’s a great point.
Angela B.: 15:19 Yeah. What advice would you give to people who want to get involved with community but might be feeling a little bit shy about it? Do you ever find people in your community who you’ve had to provide some encouragement for it to come forward like people who are very introverted and it’s harder for them to engage.
Evangelina P.: 15:42 This is true, and you do not wait for these people to make the first step. Their first step is that they come to the events. If you see people like them and they are at a corner and they’re not talking to someone else, go and talk to them. Don’t wait because they might not be able to do the second step and they did already the first. They’re here. Give them the chance. It’s very common that when an organizing team is organizing an event, either a Meetup or a WordCamp, they are truly busy at this time, at this point. They are running around. A speaker might ask for something, a sponsor might ask for something else, we need to check the food, we need to check the tickets, etc. It’s a bit crazy. I totally understand that someone might want to talk to me and doesn’t have this opportunity.
Angela B.: 16:41 So you make a point.
Evangelina P.: 16:43 So I am searching around.
Angela B.: 16:45 So you do search around. It’s really great advice for anyone who’s involved with that. You’re right. We can all get caught up in all of the busyness of and importance of who we are, and that we do need to take that time to search out those people. We did talk about that on a previous episode about you know, how sometimes we can see little clicks and things happening at WordCamps you know and how we need to break out of that and make sure the we’re doing that outreach to people who are new and haven’t found their tribe.
Tracy.: 17:19 That’s one thing that we’ve been trying with this podcast, you know? Let’s look beyond the people that usually speak up you know? The first because those are the people that have been interviewed everywhere else but like seeking out like the people have kind of been laying back. You’re like oh. I don’t know. I don’t really use it that much or I’m not that good of a developer. But all of that, like there is great value in all of those experiences. Because all those skill sets put together make this a community what it is.
Evangelina P.: 17:57 There is a place for everyone. I mean bloggers are here to blog. PR people are here to do public relations. Marketing people are here to do marketing solutions. Developers are here to developer code, etc. This is how we form also organizing teams and communities. Whoever wants to contribute, either it’s contributors’ day, either it is a Meetup, Contributors who speak here as a sponsor, as a volunteer at an event, however one can contribute how he wants to do it. With his means and with his will and with his skills. I like blogging. My friends say I am a people person. I am not quite fond of that always. I’m not a developer. I wouldn’t try to set up a website. Not even for WordCamp. There is someone else to do that for me. I’m here to write an article. I’m here to talk to people. I’m here to arrange the communications via email with my sponsors and speakers, etc. Everybody does what he wants to do and what he can do. There is a place for everyone.
Tracy A.: 19:24 That’s a really good point because I hear this oh well. You know, well I don’t…I just blog. No. That’s a key part of the community. It’s a key skill. I am not a good writer so like that’s a skill set that I love seeing in people because I’m like yeah. You can write that’s stuff? Cool. You want me to like design something? I can do that. But don’t have me do it in words.
Amy M.: 19:54 Do you think that this inherently a woman thing? Like where we say things like well, I don’t do that. I noticed that when I was home with my kids, I’m like oh I’m just a mom, you know? I’m not…that’s not really important. I think a lot of women do that when they’re a stay at home mom. So, I’m just a mom, you know? Now I see that with people and their job titles and what they’re doing. Oh well you know. I don’t code. I don’t write content, or I don’t design. It’s like an apology rather than going forward with what they’re awesome at.
Evangelina P.: 20:25 It’s not exactly an apology. I’m not doing that, but I know how to do it. Or maybe I don’t want to learn how do it. Of course, I might not like it. I’m not interested in that. But I’m interested in other things, so I am good at them. I can contribute my knowledge and my experience on these things. That’s why I’m here.
Amy M.: 20:44 I don’t seem to notice the men saying those kinds of things. Saying oh. I don’t code you know? Kind of throwing out the things they don’t do before they throw out the things they do.
Tracy A.: 20:56 It’s refreshing to hear from you like because that it’s so true. Like it does take everyone and their skills to do whatever it is, you know? And that is, I feel overlooked a lot.
Evangelina P.: 21:14 This is true. I had designers and developers on my team. People take specific tasks that they can succeed in. I cannot ask for it from a developer to design the logos of a WordCamp website or banners or something like you. You need a web developer. That would not be very nice.
Tracy A.: 21:41 Nope. All designers die a little inside.
Evangelina P.: 21:45 That’s for sure.
Amy M.: 21:47 I’m not a designer so I can’t make things look pretty. I can make them look pretty after somebody gives me how it should look. I can make it happen. But I can’t make it look that way because I just can’t visualize. I have no internal vision, but I feel like sometimes that something I apologize for. Oh. I can’t design. So, it just goes back to this feeling of maybe inadequacy that a lot of people have about the things they can’t do instead of being proud of what they can do.
Evangelina P.: 22:16 Be proud of what you can do. Don’t apologize for what you cannot do, or you don’t want to do because I think this is the problem that you don’t want to do it. If you really want to do something you will learn how to do it and you will do it successfully. If you really wanted to design it and you really liked it, you would design and it would be awesome.
Amy M.: 22:38 I don’t know about awesome.
Angela B.: 22:41 I have a lot of women in my classes that are in midlife transition and they do feel like they have to do it all. They have to come and learn WordPress and they have to know how to design. They have to know how to code. They have to know how to write marketing material and they really struggle like with “oh, I don’t know how to code” and kind of beating themselves up about it. So yeah. Saying that same thing to them…like, “well partner with someone who knows how to code because you’re a really good designer and designers are irreplaceable.” Tracy. You know? It’s kind of like anyone can code I kind of feel like but designers have artistic ability, you know? It’s a special skill that’s irreplaceable, you know? But I do think a lot of people come to WordPress specifically. I don’t know that I see that in as many industries. But specifically, to WordPress feeling like they have to do it all. I don’t know why that is. Do you guys feel that people really feel like they have to do it all until they kind of figure it out?
Amy M.: 23:42 I think it’s got less in that I feel like it’s branched out more than it used to be. I feel like it used to be more like that.
Tracy A: 23:49 I agree.
Evangelina P.: 23:51 I think a job description is what makes things worse. I mean you may see job descriptions asking for someone that is not a web developer but knows web design. So, he can also design logos and he make a beautiful website.
Tracy A.: 24:11 He knows SEO.
Evangelina P.: 24:11 And knows SEO so he can make also some tags and bars, etc. and we can rank first in Google.
Tracy A.: 24:21 He can be the accountant.
Evangelina P: 24:22 So this is crazy! Another thing is community is very good at is networking. I’m a blogger, you’re a web designer, someone else is web developer, someone else is a photographer. We can team up.
Angela B.: 24:39 Yeah. And I think you’re right about the job descriptions because I have definitely seen job descriptions out there just in the market where they… like we want a web developer who’s a designer, whose is a UX/UI specialist and who can do the SEO. It is very common out there in terms of people hiring for people in their companies.
Amy M.: 24:59 Then all for $11 an hour.
Angela B.: 25:02 Right. Yeah junior. But I think part of our WordPress community we’re teaching each other that that’s kind of unrealistic and helping support each other to maybe not take that job or not take that on.
Evangelina P.: 25:20 And protecting also our members. You will see many job descriptions like that, and they all come from people that don’t really understand what is a website. If you understand what a website is, you understand what it built from and what exactly you need. So, you ask specific things. You don’t ask everything from one person. Even if just as one person you had the knowledge about all of these and could do it 8, 10, 12,16 or 24 hrs. would not be enough in a day. So, it is completely unrealistic. At our group on Facebook as a community we allow people to post their job descriptions for hiring people etc. If we see something strange (whatever it is) about money, does it have contact details, asks for strange things this is a big X for me. So, we ask them to either update the job description or delete it. It is a way to protect the members of the community of crazy things.
Amy M.: 26:41 Do you use WordPress at your day job or is this all outside of that?
Evangelina P.: 26:47 We are starting to use it in my day job these days WordPress because we are establishing an a new e-shop. I am working for ASUS Greek support here in Greece and also another company that’s distributing is ASUS products. So, we are going to use WordPress for our new e-shop.
Tracy A.: 27:11 Nice.
Amy M.: 27:12 Nice. Well I think so many of our interviews have been with people that you know are using it or for their business you know have a business where they build WordPress websites and have somebody come in that was not doing that at their day job and got into it purely for it you know blogging fun. That’s super interesting.
Evangelina P.: 27:32 This is exactly what I was discussing previously with my team. I was like guys. You need to do something for me because I cannot be the one that does all the time the articles or going to find work for the team. So, they were saying but you are good at these. I’m like yes but people will make fun of us because I’m the only one going out. They were laughing because we had divided the tasks, and this is my task usually. I was telling them that someone else has to do this. We had to do something about our sponsors. We were laughing about that and that will do it for the happiness, the joy that volunteering gives us. We don’t spend our time, our free time, it’s time that nobody’s paying us to do what we do. I would go out and drink a coffee instead of working and sending emails and asking sponsors and trying to check the applications of speakers or talk to the venue and see if everything is fine. I could do something else that could be fun also. However, giving back to the community and to this family is what gives you much more happiness. When I started occupying myself even as an interest, as a hobby as blogging with WordPress I was asking people and they were helping me. I want to give back something to these people. I want to give them a nice conference. If this is what I can do, I will do it.
Tracy A.: 29:28 Awesome. Other than this, just doing this conference stuff, like this is amazing stuff. You are doing really good work with this because just keeping an eye out for people. Keeping an eye on like accessibility and all that stuff. In your other time do you travel? What other kind of things do you do and want to blog about all that such?
Evangelina P.: 30:02 Well for the past year I am trying to be an amateur photographer. This is a bit fun.
Tracy A.: 30:10 Nice.
Evangelina P.: 30:11 I really like traveling. I enjoy traveling for WordCamps. Those are extremely fun, meeting people with the same passion as you. You also have the opportunity of being a tourist or a traveler at the same time. You go to conference. You meet people, amazing people. You have fun. You also see the city around this conference. You learn about their history etc. And I draw a bit. I like drawing.
Tracy A.: 30:41 Nice.
Amy M.: 30:42 What’s the farthest you’ve traveled for a WordCamp?
Evangelina P.: 30:49 Just Belgrade. It was my WordCamp Europe. This year I’m going to go to Berlin.
Amy M.: 30:57 Nice. Again, if anybody wants to sponsor the Women in WP to go to WordCamp Europe in Berlin we would be amenable to that conversation.
Angela B.: 31:08 We would even wear your T-shirt on the show if you sponsor us.
Evangelina P.: 31:10 That would be nice.
Angela B.: 31:11 Wouldn’t that be nice? We can wear T-shirts.
Tracy A.: 31:13 Do they make a bowtie of their logo? I will wear that. Just saying. Put that out there.
Evangelina P.: 31:23 I think you’re good at that. You’re good. You can negotiate.
Amy M.: 31:30 So maybe Tracy needs to take over asking for all the sponsorships since I’m clearly doing a terrible job.
Evangelina P.: 31:39 You need to divide the tasks.
Tracy A.: 31:41 Yes. That’s true. Exactly.
Angela B: 31:43 The community.
Amy M.: 31:44 So what do you think has been your best experience either as an attendee or as an organizer at a WordCamp?
Evangelina P.: 31:55 I think that last year was one of the most amazing experiences in Thessaloniki. Because we decided as a community our country is not so big. We are 10 million people. We have already two WordCamps, Athens the capital of the country. We have another big city. It’s about half the size of Athens and it is called Thessaloniki. It is called the co capital of the country. It most probably that we are the only country with a co capital. Don’t ask me. So, Athens is almost South Greece and Thessaloniki is in Northern Greece. So, we decided to move the WordCamp to Thessaloniki. So, we give the community that doesn’t have the opportunity to travel so far to go to Athens because if you need travel from one side of Greece to the other by car or something like that you may need 10 hours traveling by car. So, we said we want to do it in Thessaloniki. We were very anxious if we were going to make it and how it would be. December is a very cold month in Greece and Thessaloniki also. So, this was a bit scary. I realize that people that attended WordCamp Thessaloniki were people from all around Greece. That was very nice. It wasn’t only the local community or the northern community. But we had people traveling from islands that are far away and people that were traveling in the airport because of the weather and they were there. They enjoyed it. They were happy. It was a very warm opportunity to meet each other and to meet new people. People that weren’t able to be in Athens. So, I think it was very nice event. We decided to establish two more WordCamps here. I hope we can make it. The most amazing thing was that we had people from another city and Mytiline, an island in the Aegean sea that want to establish new Meetups. So, it’s like two WordCamps and another two Meetups in Greece. So that was very nice.
Tracy A.: 34:26 Nice
Angela B.: 34:37 That is super cool.
Amy M.: 34:29 Well our time is about up for this podcast. Before we go can you tell all our listeners how they can find you online?
Evangelina P.: 34:35 Sure. It was very nice meeting you at first and very nice being here with you. It was a blast. So, my name is Evangelina and you can find me on the website WordPress with Community of wpgreece.org or at 2019.athens.wordcamp.org which is the website for WordCamp Athens 2019. My personal blog is evangelinapappa.me. My blog for literature is www.minddrops.gr. On social media also.
Amy M: 35:17 Thanks for joining us today. It’s been great and I hope that we get to meet you in person at WordCamp Europe when we travel there as part of a sponsorship package.
Tracy A: 35:26 Yes.
Evangelina P: 35:28 You have also an invitation for Greece. Whenever you like.
Tracy A: 35:30 See? Great.
Amy M: 35:32 I desperately want to go.
Evangelina P: 35:35 WordCamp Athens will be in May 18-19 2019. So it’s wonderful weather.
Tracy A: 35:41 My Birthday is in May.
Evangelina P: 35:35 And you can also visit the Greek Islands afterwards.
Tracy A: 35:49 Yep. There you go. It is decided. If anyone wants to sponsor us.
Evangelina P: 35:56 We can do a tour. Athens than the Greek Islands.
Tracy A: 36:06 Done. You’ve got it decided. Perfect. Thank you so much for joining us. This was wonderful conversation.
Evangelina P: 36:08 Thank you for having me.
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