My name is Michelle Frechette. I’m a podcast barista at WPCoffeeTalk, the founder of WPCareerPages, co-founder of UnderRepresentedInTech, head of customer success at GiveWP, board member, and volunteer at Big Orange Heart, and lover of all things WordPress and our global community!
The Journey Began
I worked in higher education for over 20 years before finding my way to the WordPress community. While managing two massage schools, my best friend and I decided to start a non-profit to help provide continuing education and support for massage therapists post-graduation.
Her husband is a web designer, so he built a WordPress website for us. Then he gave us logins and told us to populate the content.
I was terrified. I was convinced I would break everything.
But I logged in and started playing around with it and when I tell you I fell in love with WordPress at first login, I’m not even kidding. I fell in love with WordPress. Clicking “publish” and “update” and then seeing the changes out on the web where ANYONE and EVERYONE could see my work was intoxicating.
It didn’t even matter that we served a small population. I could send that link to anyone and they could see what I had done on the world wide web. It felt powerful.
So once the WordPress bug had bitten me, I needed to learn more. I understood how to purchase a domain. And I understood how to add content to a site. But HOW do you go from buying a domain name to HAVING a site on the web to edit?
I asked Christine’s husband to show me how. She worked nights, and they had five kids. He struck a deal with me. If I would come over and make them all dinner, then after we ate he would fill in the missing links for me.
I bought a domain. I bought hosting. He refused to even entertain the idea of the one-button install. He wanted me to understand what WordPress is. So I learned to download it and use FTP to upload it to my site to deploy. I learned how to change SALT keys and how to edit wp-config.
I left there that night with a piece of paper with a few things written down, and a site I could work on.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Over the course of the next few years to the present, I’ve built hundreds of websites from one-pagers to complex sites. And I’ve never looked back.
I had a new career in WordPress.
I freelanced for 5 years, then met the amazing team that makes up GiveWP. I applied for a brand new position they were implementing and started work a month later. Now that role has evolved into a full team. I’m the head of customer success at GiveWP with a team of four people comprising the Customer Success department. I work with truly talented and caring people.
The Need for WPCoffeeTalk
I started WPCoffeeTalk as a challenge to see if I could make a podcast. I was convinced that only my closest WordPress friends would see it and that I would be lucky to publish even 10 episodes. (We all see what happens to so many podcasts.)
To my great surprise, it seemed to take on a great life of its own, and now with over 150 episodes recorded (some still to be released, and more scheduled to record), WPCoffeeTalk helps tell the stories of WordPress community members around the world.
I’m truly blessed with the success that has come of my little project, and the friends I’ve made through it. I’m a fortunate person to have a platform to share access to so many people. I’m reminded every day of the blessings that have come from being willing to try something new.
Honestly, my own mental health – specifically anxiety – can be my worst enemy. At the height of the pandemic during 2020, while I was celebrating a year of podcasting and still recording episodes, I struggled to publish them. I’m embarrassed by how late some episodes have been published, and I’m still working to catch up on the backlog.
I’m also heartened by my guests and the grace they have shown in working with me and understanding while I work to publish all that has been recorded.
Of course, I’m proud that Matt Mullenweg agreed to be on the show with me. It was an episode that was so fun to produce and gained a lot of attention. But I’m probably most proud of the episode with Tricia Isham.
I had been coaching her in her business, and she was one of the shyest people I’d met. That she trusted me enough to put herself out there and record an episode with me made me extremely proud of both her confidence and my podcasting efforts.
I’m also really proud to have been nominated and received the Yoast Cares Fund award, recognizing the work I do in the greater WordPress community. To be seen and recognized by my peers means the world to me.
Yoast Care Fund to Michelle Frechette
Besides the WPCoffeeTalk, there are two other projects that I’m really proud of our UnderrepresentedInTech.com (co-founded with Allie Nimmons), and WPCareerPages.com. Helping connect people in the WordPress community to opportunities is truly rewarding.
Whether it’s providing a database for underrepresented people to be connected to podcasts, speaking opportunities, or jobs, or tweeting my Wednesday tweet threads to job openings, I’ve discovered that connecting people and helping grow the community is really my superpower!
Myself with my Brilliant Team
Michelle Frechette Colleagues
Michelle Frechette Workspace
Advice for Business Owners
Make a plan and get started. Hesitation, or waiting for perfection are the enemies of progress. Just start. Get something going. And ask for help when you need it. Also, don’t be afraid to outsource.
One of the hardest things, when I started freelancing, was thinking I had to be good at everything. I was terrible with invoicing and bookkeeping. Hiring that out to someone else saved my business.
Focus on the business part of your business. If you’re a painter, start painting. If you’re a web builder, then build a kickass website for yourself first, to showcase what you’re capable of. Then build from there. Put together your service menu, figure out your pricing structure, and get to marketing it!
Stay in Touch
WordPress & Beyond
I’m almost 2 years of WPCoffeeTalk, and it’s still going strong. I’d like to restructure my sponsorship packages and maybe make some money off my efforts there. And I’m toying with the idea of incorporating a second set of questions in case anyone wants to come back on the show. So many ideas… whatever I do with it, I intend to keep it fun!
For WordPress, I think this community is strong (the strongest part of WordPress) and we will keep things moving and growing. Over the next five years, I expect to see even more market share, amazing things with the block editor, and more opportunities for everyone who wants to be involved.
I’d especially like to see underrepresented folx given more opportunities in the community and plan to work to help make that happen.
Moreover, I think there’s room for all of us, and as long as the tool is the right tool (and ethical), then it’s not really competition. I know people who use Wix because it’s how they can quickly spin up a site without needing any technical knowledge. For their small business or blog, maybe that makes sense. I think we can all coexist peacefully. (Even if I wasn’t on the Wix headphones list. LOL!)
My Love for the WordPress Community
Love for WordPress
I attend and speak at WordCamps all over the world (virtually), and in North America (so far) when we do have in-person camps. I love helping to organize camps and meetups, speaking at them, and I hope that the things I’m able to share help others in growing their businesses and their space on the web.
Michelle Frechette WordCamps
I learn and grow so much from the others in our community at events like these, and hope that never stops.
Within the WordPress community, I have so many people that I collaborate with. I probably have the closest working relationships with (and would gladly sit down to coffee or a beer with, too). Those include the team at GiveWP, Dan Maby, and Cate DeRosia at Big Orange Heart, my local meetup group in Rochester, NY, and of course Allie Nimmons who works tirelessly with me on UnderrepresentedInTech.com.
There are dozens more I could name, and I feel bad for leaving anyone off the list, so if you’re reading this and I missed you, please know I value you so much!
How I Keep Myself Updated
I read every WordPress newsletter that arrives in my email. I stay up-to-date with happenings on Twitter. And I attend meetups and talk to others on Slack on a regular (daily) basis.
I Have a Life Other Than the Work
Besides the WPCoffeeTalk and the other stuff, I’m an avid photographer. (You can see some of my work on my IG account, or just ask me and I’m always happy to show off what I’ve taken photos of. Birding is one of my favorite photo pastimes!)
Michelle Frechette Photography
Before the pandemic, I spent time with my family. The last few holidays have been kind of lonely, but Zoom and phone calls have kept me connected with my daughter, my parents, and my siblings.
Also, I love to learn about and explore new places. I’ve never been to Europe or Asia, so I’m hoping to get to travel there eventually. Maybe I’ll find my favorite place there!
Besides all of these, I have three cats, Marilyn, Stella, & Charlotte.
Marilyn, Stella, & Charlotte
I Reward Myself by
I reward myself with good coffee, time with friends, naps, and going out with my camera to capture nature photos. (Here are a few from May 1, 2021.)