081: Learn more about LearnDash with Karmen Kendrick

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This episode is sponsored by Ninja Forms


About Karmen Kendrick:

Karmen Kendrick is a product marketing manager at LearnDash.com. She holds a decade of experience running an eCommerce site, a web design freelance business, and a WordPress course for beginners. When she’s not blogging about WordPress or working, you can find her cooking, skating, and saving interior design ideas on Pinterest.

Find Karmen Kendrick: LearnDash | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn


Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
081: Learn more about LearnDash with Karmen Kendrick
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Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog, design, develop and more in the WordPress community.

Angela:

Hi, welcome to Women in WP. Today’s episode is sponsored by Ninja Forms, allowing you to build beautiful WordPress forms without being a developer. I’m Angela Bowman.

Amy:

And I’m Amy Masson.

Tracy:

And I’m Tracy Apps.

Angela:

Our guest today is Karmen Kendrick, joining us from Atlanta, Georgia. Karmen is Product Marketing Manager at LearnDash, one of my personal favorite plugins. Welcome Karmen.

Karmen:

Hello everyone, thank you so much for having me.

Angela:

We like to start off each episode asking our guests how they got into WordPress. How did you get started?

Karmen:

Awesome, great question. My journey into WordPress was I really just stumbled upon it actually. I think this was 2015, I was on Shopify and I ran into a financial snag, I couldn’t afford my Shopify plan anymore so I was looking for an alternative and I found WooCommerce. So I think I signed up for a GoDaddy plan, but I let it sit for six months before I even touched it. I found the theme on ThemeForest and I was like, wow, this is great because before, prior to WordPress, I had tried to make this e-commerce site a few different times on other e-commerce platforms and it never looked great. So WordPress is the first time that the site actually looked functional, I understood how it worked and it seemed like it was very close to what I had at Shopify before.

Karmen:

I felt like I was getting pretty good at WordPress, so I decided hey, maybe I can offer this as a service as a web designer to other people and then that started my career. So I took about maybe two or three years where I would make sites for other people and then LearnDash came along. So that is my whirlwind story into WordPress.

Tracy:

I love it. “I had to figure out a solution for this thing and then I learned it and then I just started doing it.” This is a recurring theme and I love it because I feel like it’s all of our stories. We were like, “Well, we need to do this thing so we just do it and you learn it.” And I love that about the WordPress community and especially seeing all this kind of stuff. So this is really great. So look, what is your role over at LearnDash and how are you able to connect in with the community and continue learning WordPress stuff?

Karmen:

Yeah. I am the Marketing Manager over at LearnDash so all things, marketing, email, marketing webinars, we’re starting to put out more behind all of that type of stuff and connecting with the community. That’s something that we’re still trying to figure out, our webinars that we just started because we’re having a lot of different releases going on. So we’re on a three-week sprint when it comes down to new features, so it’s very exciting but at the same time as a marketing person, I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m still trying to market the features from the last release, give me some time!” So just trying to figure out how to get the community more involved with that, that’s a challenge I’m having at the moment, but it’s a good challenge to have.

Karmen:

And of course we participate, now that the WordCamps are coming back, available and the conferences are starting to happen. For example, I believe the beginning of May, the CX, which is like the Creators Expo, I think that’s the name of that full name. It’s a conference for creators and we’re starting to have more presence at events like that.

Angela:

Will you be in Porto? Will LearnDash be in Porto?

Karmen:

I don’t know. I think we will have a presence, but I’m not sure who’s actually going to be there because if you don’t know, LearnDash is also a part of StellarWP. StellarWP is the family brand of LearnDash, Kadence. We got the [crosstalk 00:03:51].

Angela:

[crosstalk 00:03:51].

Karmen:

Yeah, GiveWP. And so we don’t know if Stellar’s representing us or it’s going to be one of each plugin’s representatives there. So that’s in talks.

Tracy:

That would be a good thing as the marketing… I think you should sell it, I think you need to be there. I think everyone needs to be there to represent the products and they should send you there and since I’m working… It’s slow going, but the understanding of doing the TikTok for StellarWP. Again, I think that should be something that should be at a presence at such a community event as WordCamp Europe.

Karmen:

I would love to go, now I just got to get my bosses to approve the expense for that.

Angela:

That’s right.

Amy:

Having just been to Portugal I can tell you, it’s pretty awesome.

Tracy:

Well, we can say that if you need references, I think it’s really crucial that…

Angela:

Karmen represent!

Tracy:

Karmen represent. And that you sponsor the Women in WP podcast!

Amy:

If anybody would like to sponsor the Women in WP for a trip to Porto for the WordCamp Europe event, please contact [crosstalk 00:05:06] @wp.com.

Karmen:

Let’s put it all in there together, right?

Angela:

We’re all going.

Karmen:

I love it.

Tracy:

This is marketing at its finest.

Karmen:

Right.

Amy:

So can you tell me more about the connection between StellarWP and all these other products? Because I didn’t know. I use the event calendar like every other site, everything in the StellarWP thing are things I’ve used, but I didn’t realize that they were all tied together this way.

Karmen:

Yeah. So I guess how did it come to be? Are you asking that piece of it or…

Amy:

Yeah.

Karmen:

That’s a great question. I know that StellarWP birthed itself I believe May of, I want to say around May of last year, 2021. And I want to say that Restrict Content Pro, which is also one of the plugins that’s a part of it, I believe they already own RCP, which is their little abbreviation. And then they got TEC. Now what happened to make them say, “Hey, let’s see LearnDash, let’s see what’s going on with that one.” I have no idea how they chose that specific plugin, but yeah that’s a great question. I have no idea if the plugins reached out because, for example, Justin is a really great guy, he’s the person that founded LearnDash. He was not a developer or anything, he just had this idea over 10 years ago and LearnDash became to be. So I have no idea if he was actively seeking maybe getting bought out. That’s a great question though.

Angela:

You know what, Amy, it’s really funny that you asked that question because we had Hazel Quimbo on the show, episode number 67 and you had to that one and so Amy when… Quimpo, sorry. I said with a B and not a P. So Hazel is the head of marketing, is she still head of marketing? Yes, for Stellar.

Karmen:

Yes, she is at Stellar.

Angela:

And that was shortly, let’s see, the date on that was October 3rd, So this past fall. And they had just acquired LearnDash, it was kind of on the down-low at that point I think and so it was going to be announced right after the episode. So I think if anyone is curious about StellarWP and how it was formed and what they’re doing with all of the different products, that is an awesome episode to listen to and besides, Hazel is just awesome. And Restrict Content Pro, they had been sold to iThemes and I didn’t realize that Stellar…

Tracy:

iThemes is a part of Stellar, too.

Karmen:

I didn’t realize that, either.

Angela:

Oh that’s what it is, yes. I think I knew that and it just came in and went out again, but Restrict Content Pro is also… Yes.

Tracy:

It is and it’s really interesting. I’ve been following this too, because like you said, all of these really amazing plugins that we use are all… And Definitely you can see it’s this strategic way of funding within that word WordPress ecosystem for these pro plugins that really have big… LearnDash has huge growing potential if you think about that. So it’s a great strategic move just thinking about business wise and I’m sure that Chris Lema, that was a big part of his strategy, right? Because I think it’s so great and who knew that all of a sudden the world is going to come to a screeching halt and everything was going to be online and being a teacher online, there are some big struggles with the services that are out there and there’s lots of gaps.

Tracy:

I actually just had a student that was really big into the VR space, the Metaverse and she was creating a university basically, or classes, a program in the Metaverse and it’s all virtual learning, but in that virtual reality space. And to be able to have these online tools, LearnDash in specific and all of these other so many different ones that are either within the WordPress ecosystem or their own canvas and the other things, there’s a huge opportunity there for to help that industry. I think it’s a really fascinating and exciting space. Yeah.

Karmen:

Yeah. We even saw, because of everybody was going online or you had no choice but to get online and also whatever it is, you had a lot of different other platforms that were offering maybe just online payments. Some of our competitors, I wouldn’t even say they were competitors at first, but they were not even in the online course space at all and now they’re offering online courses. And so you have a lot of new players coming into the industry, so you’re like, “Okay, how do we make our product stand out?” And that’s one of the things about learnDash is that we’re actually made by educators and so we understand the unique issues that educators have.

Karmen:

It’s not just you put a video on this page and you lock it down because learning or online learning is more that, you have a lot of different facets to it, whether it be assignments. For example, we just implemented a new feature called “Challenge exams.” If you’ve ever used something like Duolingo, it’s kind of like maybe if you know the first and second level Spanish or something and then say you want to test out of those, you can go right to the third level of that course, you can do that.

Karmen:

And that’s exactly how challenge exams work. If you want to offer something that’s more, I would say a learning path, actually, a different learning path for different people if they already know the information. Now for a freelancer, that may not be a big thing but when you start looking at universities or even corporate trainers, that can be a really big game changer for them. So we have to stay on the forefront and say LearnDash, you can make it as easy or as complex as you need to depending on what you need for your learning environment. So just want to put that out there.

Tracy:

And that’s great. We talk about obviously the competition, but also there’s definitely space for many different players because like you said, some might not need that. But that’s amazing, I really love that. Because what I’ve been doing is I’ve been teaching online and it’s basically a white-labeled digital skills class programs that are marketed and sold out to different universities. So I was teaching California long Beach and at university of Miami back to back, so that was really fun, doubling up. But they use Canvas, Slack, some other things for scheduling, some other thing for an in intranet, another thing for this. And I have a whole bunch of bookmarks and it’s so fragmented and, Oh, well these universities. Oh, well Slack is really expensive.

Tracy:

But WordPress has those capabilities all built in because you can have of that community, there’s no reason why one system can’t work a collection of plugins and feature-set can be all run and WordPress and then it would just be one place to do it. I’m very excited about this because I think there’s a lot of need in that. And oh yeah, let’s embed the video so that we could get away from Zoom because Zoom decides it wants to change the interface every time you do something different, you share a screen and all your menus go away. I’m like, I needed those.

Karmen:

Right. That’s the amazing part about it being on top of WordPress, you have all that flexibility in what you want to create.

Tracy:

Yeah, I love it.

Angela:

And you can integrate it with so many other things. Of course, we talked at the beginning about the WooCommerce and what I love is that if you have a membership site and you’re using Restrict Content Pro, you can sell memberships that give you access to a LearnDash course. Or you can have WooCommerce and if you already have a WooCommerce store you can sell product that gets you access to a LearnDash course. You can also use all these other, LearnDash has its own ecosystem. So there’s the Uncanny Owl has the groups plugin, so then you can do B2B where you sell courses to a business that then sells seats to their users and it’s kind of amazing. I’m working on one right now.

Karmen:

You know what, actually, me too. I’m working on my own course using LearnDash. But sometimes the work at LearnDash is stopping me from actually working on my course, so that’s really funny in itself, but yeah.

Amy:

That is the story of everyone’s life. I also have a course that I have an idea for, and I’m like, “When am I ever going to get to it?” Because I can’t stop doing my job.

Karmen:

Well, I do have something to share, shameless plug. Say you have videos on YouTube or Vimeo, [inaudible 00:15:10]. You can use our course creation wizard to put that playlist link in and it will automatically create your [inaudible 00:15:16] now on LearnDash So that’s a brand new feature.

Tracy:

Ooh, I like that.

Angela:

That’s amazing. We got to check that out.

Tracy:

[crosstalk 00:15:28] Now here’s the fun now. Would it pull from, this is actually kind of a trick question because I know the API on this, but can you pull from TikTok? Because now that would be great.

Karmen:

Not yet.

Tracy:

I know, TikTok doesn’t play nicely with other services. I tried using their API, their API is terrible so I don’t expect services to be able to do that. But I could see the future of that doing that because people are doing really great educational content on TikTok and you can create a playlist of a thing, so the structure is there, TikTok doesn’t let you play with it so you can’t actually bring it into WordPress to be able to do that. But I could totally see the potential there.

Karmen:

Yeah, it definitely has potential and of course you can always save those videos to your phone. There was a trick that you could get the TikTok little logo to go away if you went out of it while you were saving it then went back into it, that was a trick going around for a while. But not sure if that’s a thing and then just take that video and upload it to your LearnDash site.

Tracy:

They might have fixed that, I know that you can just screen record the preview and just…

Karmen:

Oh, that’s true.

Tracy:

I’ve done that before!

Karmen:

Yeah, they don’t want you posting it to Instagram reels or something.

Tracy:

Yeah. That’s a whole other podcast. I actually had one other question really quick, because you said you started with an e-commerce site. What was your e-commerce site, your Shopify, what you started with?

Karmen:

Yeah, it was beauty products. It was hair extensions, anything beauty related, it was all of that stuff. And I’m just like, if I could go back in time, I wish I would and known about info products courses, because I probably would be a millionaire and LearnDash would not even be a thing for me at this time!

Tracy:

I love that. That’s awesome.

Karmen:

I definitely would go back in time, but it taught me a lot. I do have that eCommerce experience coming to the table.

Tracy:

Yeah.

Amy:

I feel like a lot of people want to do eCommerce, but not that many people know how to do it really well.

Karmen:

Oh yeah. Just for like one person, unless you have some type of, what is it, Amazon FBA where they store the merchandise for you and you’re on that kind of platform. But if you’re just one person, because everyone wants to have that picture where they have all these orders on the floor waiting to go out, but you don’t even have the capacity to deal with something like that.

Tracy:

There’s overhead and so the nice thing about being able to sell courses, you don’t have to have more storage in your house for all the boxes of things. You’re just educating people and I love that.

Karmen:

That is how I’m think at that point.

Angela:

Yeah. Shamelessly plugging LearnDash, I think that I may have first used it for my course because I had a six-week theme course that I taught theme customization. And then my next tough one that I mentioned before the show was the company that did avalanche training had to cancel for COVID and they were like, “Wow, we can’t give all this money back, this is it. We would fold as a company if we had to reneg on all of this.” So we turned their classroom material quickly into LearnDash courses and so I’m training mountaineers how to record videos and how to put together a training and coaching them through this. And these people had such great personalities and it turned out to be a tremendously engaging and fun course. And I don’t know that anyone asked for their money back, they got their training eventually in person and it was enough that they got this classroom, ‘classroom’, I’m doing air quotes, experience through LearnDash to really save the company and now we’re replicating that.

Karmen:

I love stories like that. And I’m trying to think, I feel like I’ve heard the story before, has anybody reached out to you? I would love to do a case study on that, that’s amazing that we, I don’t want to say we saved the day, but we helped [crosstalk 00:19:54] they didn’t have to go bankrupt doing refunds. So that’s amazing.

Tracy:

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Angela:

I can’t say enough about how amazing LearnDash is. I used to work with WP courseware, which is very similar in structure but much more difficult to work with in terms of adding your topics to your lessons and organizing the content. So I think it’s a fabulous product, but I do want to hear just more about Karmen and your journey and your tech and how you feel like you’ve progressed professionally and what your growing pains and points have been.

Karmen:

Yeah. I think coming from where I came from, because I didn’t have a formal background in anything I was doing, I always had this dream. I was in college, I think, when I started my first business and I just had this dream of doing more. I think the first time I got an order for like $300, I looked at my paycheck and I was like, what? This can be a viable thing for me. And so ever since then it’s taken that route.

Karmen:

But one of the things I did when I was getting started doing the web design piece too, because I wanted to be good at it. Because I think I was using a page builder at the time and I think the theme was called flat, it was really popular on Theme Force. So they had a page builder-like thing, but I’m like, if I need build websites then I need to know some code. So that shifted me to learn HTML, CSS. I tried to get into JavaScript, but my, what is it, left brain, right brain? It would not let me!

Amy:

We’re JavaScript failures here.

Karmen:

Okay good, I fit right in!

Tracy:

We’ve had a hate/hate relationship for over 20 years, it’s not getting any better so I hear you.

Karmen:

Yeah. So I tried to go that route straight into development, but it just wasn’t my thing, I figured that I enjoyed design more than anything else. But the one thing I say I struggle with this whole time, and this was 2015 up until this point, it’s just the imposter syndrome. Not even think you’re good enough. Even when I got the job at LearnDash, I was like, why me, you know? And I’ll say that of course Chris Lema, I was following him on Twitter, he followed me and I really made myself be known in the WordPress face. As I was learning things, I would tweet things, I was learning them and so I’m no expert of everything, but it’s just the fact that, I think they call it “Bill while you learn” or something like that. And it didn’t have that name at that time, but that’s exactly what I was doing. I was billeting in public and people were taking notice to that.

Karmen:

You never know where your life is going to put you at whatever point, but just make sure you’re putting yourself out there and you’re networking and you’re going to the WordCamps and the different events and the local event. What are those called? Because I have not been to one in a while.

Angela:

The meetups?

Karmen:

The meetups, the meetups. Yes. So I try to attend the online meetups but I haven’t done as many since before COVID. But just being able to put myself in those different spaces and really learn and networking different people, and then I feel like with technology you have to be very careful because you don’t want to get stuck in this one software, because when Gutenberg came around I was like, “Man, I don’t want to mess with that.” And so now I’m really just having to throw myself into things. I have to constantly remind myself, there are new things that’s going to come around and if I want to stay in tech, I have to keep progressing and I have to keep learning.

Tracy:

I love that, because that learn and sharing as you go, I think that’s just really good advice. Because people that especially are new, they’re like, that imposter syndrome? We never get rid of it. It doesn’t matter how many decades we have experience, that never goes away. But having that and sharing that, that also is one of the things that I found that I love about the WordPress community. People are much more open to sharing and that also shows that you’re a part of that community, you’re sharing that someone else is learning, we’re all getting better together and I think that’s really good advice for someone wanting to get into the industry and to learn as you go because technology changes so fast.

Angela:

So true. And one thing I’ve said to people is you’re not going to get your life going anywhere just sitting at home. Those connections happen when you go out in public and can you speak a little bit more about some of the connections you made when you did that?

Karmen:

Yeah. I think one of the first events that I went to, because I had gone to meet-ups, the first official WordPress event was WordCamp Atlanta in 2018. And I just went, I didn’t really network or anything and it just felt like a flat experience. So I was like next year, let me get on Twitter. That was the best thing I could have ever done because people were tweeting about it and so a lot of those faces I was seeing when I got to WordCamp, we were already having conversations so it made things a lot easier when we got there. Then I volunteered I think at the t-shirt table, so I was able to meet a lot of people there and some of those people that I met at WordCamp 2018, I’m in Atlanta, I still talk to them on a very frequent basis either by text message or even on just Twitter. But that I feel like opened so many doors for me.

Karmen:

So if there is an event that’s coming up, see if they are doing anything on Twitter, that’s a great way to people before an event and I think that year 2019, Chris Lema, actually he was the keynote speaker that year. And I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, I knew who he was in this space but I began to really follow him after that and then when I was on Twitter a little bit longer and I seen him pop up I was like, let me follow Chris Lema. And you know how you follow someone on Twitter, you just have a random, “I like spaghetti” and they’re like, “You know what? I like spaghetti too. Especially SpaghettiOs.”

Karmen:

And you just have those random conversations and then you’re like, Hey, we actually have this in common. And of course if you’re tweeting about… I’d say have fun on Twitter, don’t just tweet about what you’re learning but also show that you’re a person and you have a personality and then you just never know who’s watching you and that’s exactly the case. So I think that was my biggest connection that I’ve made in the online space, especially being able to transition from being a freelancer over to working for a pretty large company.

Angela:

That’s a huge transition.

Amy:

I wanted to ask about when you were freelancing, you’re like, Oh, I can make this. I’m going to do this for other people.” What kind of sites were you making? Who were your clients and how did that go?

Karmen:

This is perfectly in alignment with this podcast because my whole thing was I wanted to make sites for women in business. That was my biggest thing and that was pretty much I would say, because I went full time in 2019 and that was my premise. I only wanted to build sites for women in business, mainly creative type of women. Whether it be, well, I wouldn’t say real estate is super creative but people are used to seeing stuffy white men in spaces like that and so I was working with a lot of black women, especially being here in Atlanta, that were getting into real estate and they were changing what that looked like and they didn’t want that stuffy website with that house. It’s their face and they’re actually showing people around this house and things like that. That was the biggest thing. Freelancing, I loved it, I learned so much from it but I will tell you I do love a regular paycheck and not having to worry about where’s that next client coming from?

Amy:

Oh gosh, yeah. I remember the early days where it was feast or famine. One month you’re making $200, you’re like, well this was not great.

Karmen:

Help me get a job!

Amy:

But you know I found the longer I’ve been in business, the less worried I ended up being about that. But definitely even years in, you still had from month to month or year to year you never knew. Things were not steady enough to really guarantee a paycheck.

Karmen:

Exactly.

Amy:

It is now, I’m OK.

Karmen:

That’s good. And I think I definitely could have continued on doing it, it’s just that my life goals they started to shift and change because I was like, okay, I know I want a family and I want to get married. And this being a freelancer and curing some of those costs, it can be… Not saying that people don’t do it every day because it’s definitely possible, but sometimes having a job when you’re starting to make those family decisions, it gets a lot… I’ll not say a lot easier, but it helps a lot more.

Amy:

Well it was interesting. I had a friend and he had owned his own business, it wasn’t in tech, but he had his own business and then he got this great job offer and it had benefits and a regular paycheck and he was super excited and he closed his business, moved to another state. And he just contacted me about getting a new website started because he’s starting a new business and I’m like, what happened? And back and forth, it turns out some people just aren’t meant to be employees and I identify with that. I am not one of those too, I don’t think I would like to listen to the man.

Angela:

I’d rather be my own worst boss.

Amy:

Hey, I let myself drink on the job. It’s great!

Karmen:

Yeah.

Amy:

But only after five o’clock, if I’m still working I figure I’m entitled to drink while I’m working.

Tracy:

But what time zone?

Amy:

Oh, well…

Karmen:

It’s five o’clock somewhere.

Amy:

I am Eastern time, so if we’re going domestic I am the first to hit five.

Angela:

There you go. We could all join Amy in our respective time zones!

Amy:

Yes.

Angela:

That’ll be three for me. It’s time, Amy’s drinking. Karmen, being a woman of color, we interviewed Brittney Oddo. I hope I’m saying her name right. That was 40 episodes ago and Tracy was on that one with me, but she talked about going to WordCamps and conferences and being the only black woman there. And she didn’t really have a hard time with it because she had felt like she was so focused on what she was there for and she rolled with it. But it definitely was like, “Oh yeah, I’m the only woman of color here.” How is that for you and what is it like in like WordCamp Atlanta where there’s a more diverse population there?

Karmen:

Yeah. I would still say Atlanta is pretty a black, I feel like it’s a more black city, a lot of working black professionals especially doing well for themselves here. But when you go to a WordCamp there are literally like a handful of us. I think it’s a two prong thing because there are a lot of people that use WordPress, they have no idea that these type of events are even happening. And then of course, just making sure that your WordCamp is diverse and that you are you offering a table out to these people that that want to speak and lead different discussions at the WordCamp.

Karmen:

It never really bothered me, I never looked at my skin color or my identity as like a disability or anything. Of course I notice it, matter of fact WordPress 2019 when we were together, I think we had an after party and I’m looking around the room and it’s always funny, I say this about black people all the time, we see one black person across from you and you all start slowly coming together. It’s like a magnetic force, I have no idea like why it happens.

Tracy:

It’s the same thing for all the queers, the same thing. We just converge, yeah. I get it.

Karmen:

Yeah, everybody comes together so you do notice that a little bit and it’s not on purpose that that happens, but we do need to work on more diversity now. like I said, it’s a two prong problem. I don’t want to say it’s all, “Oh it’s a patriarchy that’s causing this.” We also don’t have enough women that even know about these different careers that are available to a tech, so it’s our job to also reach back and educate other women about what we’re doing so they know that these options are available.

Tracy:

What do you think are some action steps and solutions of making things better and, like you said, reaching out beyond our little bubbles?

Karmen:

Awesome. On our side as women that’s in tech or I guess on the organized side when you have these big events, which side are we coming from? Our side or these big organizers, what can they do?

Angela:

I think we need to talk about both of them, right? We have individual responsibilities.

Tracy:

It’s a culture, it needs to be a culture shift but also what kind of active marketing or what kind of steps. This is going to be a multiple prong thing as well because it’s not an easy answer.

Karmen:

Yeah, it’s not at all. I think it’s the online spaces a lot of times. We’ve got to figure out a way to get not just the online spaces but also in person, because I think on Twitter one of the hashtags going around is black women in tech. And so a lot of other people they’re in education or in these other fields where they are college educated but they’re not making as much money as they feel they need to because they want to pay off their student loans and have a decent life. And they’re finding out, hey, careers in tech and instructional design is one of those technical careers that you can translate your skills from teaching or education into that. And so just doing our part where, I don’t know exactly the plan for that, but making it more of an offline conversation is the biggest piece to it.

Karmen:

So maybe the meetups and better marketing for meetups where you can have these conversations with people that’s in your local communities, especially school-aged kids so they’re knowing what’s out there for them. And of course, and I think that the organizers, they’re trying to do it better but really just make it a purpose, making it a point to seek out those black speakers. You can’t say, “We put the feelers out.” Sometimes we’re afraid to apply because we are afraid that we’re going to be rejected or our topics aren’t out there. I think his name is Nathan Ingram, he did a class for us recently about what kind of topics you want to present at a WordCamp.

Karmen:

And so even having those. “Hey, if you’re going to have this event, have a webinar maybe where you invite people and tell them, hey these are the kind of topics that we’re looking for and this is how you present it to us. That way we don’t want to reject you because you’re a black person, it’s not that, maybe it’s because your topic wasn’t what we needed for this particular WordCamp.” So just being more active and really putting people in, I guess, these diversity and inclusion places and actually doing the work and not just saying that, Hey we have D&I set up. No, do the work along with it.

Tracy:

Yeah. Don’t just putting it up there, but being very intentional. I was at one conference and it’s okay, I have been tapped to be like, hey, we don’t have any women or queer women. Hey, do you want to do this thing? Or you want to speak at this thing? And I’d be like, yeah, okay. That’s fine. Because I know that representation matters and if someone sees themself on the stage or on the screen, they’re going to feel more a part of it and more willing to maybe offer or submit a talk next year.

Karmen:

Yeah. All those things are helpful and just like I said, the biggest part is I guess the marketing piece to it, making sure that it gets out there and it’s where the people that need to see it, that is exactly where they are.

Angela:

There is something to that. I work with an organization that teaches English classes to immigrants and you can’t really just offer that at some random location. So they would actually go into the communities and host it at the community center right there in the neighborhood. So I think that’s super key, I think the outreach is essential and Karmen, you’re just so right on. You can’t just have that D&I statement and say, “Okay, well we did it!”

Karmen:

“We’re diverse, we’re inclusive!”

Angela:

Yay!

Angela:

LoopConf I think did a great job, this is a number of years ago. They had a black woman speaking on a stage as their main marketing material. And it felt to me was most the most female-friendly conference that I had ever been to, even though women were still a minority at the conference. We weren’t as equal numbers, it still felt like the most women-friendly conference. But they made huge efforts in even just the setup of the conference. There was a nursing room for anyone who had a baby. The colors, well woo, it’s already purple and pretty and female kind. It’s very nice colors. But just everything about it just had a very female friendly thing, but that didn’t happen by accent. It happened intentionally and Evangelina in Greece reached out to the deaf community and was able to get sign language interpretation as part of their WordCamp and bring in the deaf community.

Angela:

But they had to be invited like, “Hey, we’re making a space for you. What are your needs?” And then that grew that community. So yeah, it can’t happen passively or through a statement, I think you do have to make sure you’re making that outreach. And you are not the only person who said this on the podcast and I hope anyone listening to this who’s a WordCamp organizer and even me as a meetup organizer with our Latino population, it can be hard. It can be hard just to make those connections, but I think we all have to do a lot more and also stretch ourselves.

Angela:

It’s not just mentally stretching yourself, it can just be hard work, hours of trying to make that happen. All of us are busy and we all get through our… Like, “I just need to get this meet up put on.” Or we just need to make the WordCamp happen and you get into the busyness of the doing of just making it happen and doing that outreach, man. It takes this whole other push, but it’s not going to happen if you don’t do that. And it does kind of blow my mind that Atlanta of all places should have a more diverse meetup. Miami I heard has done a good job and I don’t know if Tracy’s been to Miami, but I have heard they get some diversity happening there.

Tracy:

I’ve spoken at the WordCamps there a bit and it is, it’s an intentional, even just the fact that they are offering the kids camp at the same time. That just makes it more accessible for those that have families, there’s a space for them but they’re actually learning. It’s not just like, “Hey, we’re putting all the kids in this room with some broken crayons.” But, “no, we’re teaching them web development.” Because these kids are freaking smart!

Karmen:

Yeah, they are.

Tracy:

It’s ridiculous.

Karmen:

They learn so fast.

Tracy:

So fast, it’s ridiculous. Anyway, it is really that intentionality and I love that and I’m glad that we have more of these discussions. It’s a work in progress because we definitely need more, any diverse company makes better products, makes better services, is just better overall because when you have more diverse voices at the table, it’s just going to be a better user experience. It’s just going to be better all around. And we are missing out, it’s not like, “oh we need more diversity.” No, we are missing out in a wealth of information and knowledge out there by not being diverse.

Karmen:

Exactly. I agree.

Tracy:

That’s it?

Amy:

I was just curious while we were talking about this and I went to the website for the very first WordCamp I ever went to, and I’m not going to name names, but I’ve mentioned on the podcast before there were like five women speakers of all the speakers and I can say now, it’s so much better almost 10 years later. I notice equality at least in the male/female amount of speakers, so it’s getting better.

Tracy:

Baby steps.

Amy:

Baby steps.

Karmen:

Baby steps, yeah.

Angela:

Karmen. You wrote that you skate, you roller?

Karmen:

Yeah.

Angela:

I used to be an all-state girl.

Tracy:

I love that.

Karmen:

I kind of slacked off of going to my classes because it’s so far away from where I live at to go. But yeah, that was my… Well it got really hot during the pandemic when people were trapped inside, then I found out about it later on, I was like, oh my God, it’s so cool if I could just learn how to skate. So that is my lifelong goal is to be a great skater and be able you go to the skating rink with my significant other and we just skate the night away. That’s my thing.

Tracy:

I saw it on TikTok all of a sudden, there was all this. I was like, “Is this a thing? It’s a thing I guess.” And they were amazing, so I support you. I think that would be great, let’s see you do some tricks.

Karmen:

Yeah. And you can stay active that way. I always joke about men because they play basketball and they have fun when they play basketball. They can stay active and they’re having fun. Women, we need something like that where we can stay active but still having fun. And I feel like skating is a great way because it’s cardio. You will sweat!

Tracy:

Oh yeah. I love it.

Amy:

Well Karmen, thanks so much for joining us today. And I’d like to thank our sponsor Ninja Forms. And before we go, can you tell everybody where they can find you online?

Karmen:

Yeah. So I am on Twitter most of the time, my Twitter name is @iamKarmenK. And of course you can always find me over on the LearnDash YouTube, I’m doing webinars on a weekly basis. So if you go over to LearnDash.com you can see all information for upcoming webinars as well.

Amy:

Awesome, thank you.

Tracy:

Thank you.

Karmen:

Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1:

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