Michelle Frechette, head of customer success at GiveWP is with us today for an exclusive interview so without further ado, let’s hear it from the woman herself.
WPJuicer: Hi Michelle, thank you so much for taking out time for this interview. Could you please tell our readers about yourself and your journey before stepping into WordPress? How did you start your career?
Michelle: I spent over 20 years working in the college/university sector as first a registrar and later the director of admissions. I finished that career as the director of a massage school in Rochester and Syracuse. While I was doing that I was earning an MBA in information technology, marketing, and e-commerce.
My best friend and I started a non-profit organization, and her husband built us a WordPress website, but it was up to us to put the content in. So we had a crash course in using WordPress (a DIY course, if you will), and made some mistakes, but discovered the abilities of everything possible within the CMS. (Well, maybe not everything at that time, but enough to be really impressed!)
So I knew how to buy a domain, and I knew how to use WordPress, but I didn’t know how to get a WordPress website on the web. I met with her husband for an hour. By the end of that time, I had hosting space, had installed WordPress (the old-fashioned way), and selected a theme. I was on my way to being a WordPresser “for real.”
I decided to do some marketing on the side, and maybe build a few websites for friends and family, but the real turn came when I was really tired of the toxic environment I was working in at the massage school. When I’d “had enough” I decided to try freelancing. And the rest, as they say, is history.
WPJuicer: What should readers know about all the stuff you’re doing in WordPress these days?
Michelle: I love WordPress – the software, the community, the possibilities! I work at GiveWP as the Head of Customer Success. I’m an organizer for WCUS. I have a podcast, WPCoffeeTalk, where I ask the same set of questions of each guest. The answers are always so enlightening! I also mentor WordCamps, serve on the marketing team for WordPress, and organize our local meetup. In addition to that, I’m the Head of Marketing for Sentree.io.
WPJuicer: What does the future look like for GiveWP?
Michelle: I’m excited about where GiveWP has been and where we’re going. In the 2+ years that I’ve been with GiveWP, we’ve added several add-ons, added some amazing features to the core plugin, and grown our customer success team. We are one of the only plugins that I know of that offers on-screen/real-time demos before you buy, and screen shares for customer onboarding. We also have phone numbers you can call if you’re in need of some assistance.
Although I can’t share what’s in the works, trust me when I say that we’ve got some great features coming, some new add-ons, and a few other things “up our sleeves.” GiveWP is in it to support our customers and make them as successful as possible using our plugin to support their fundraising efforts.
WPJuicer: You’re an active member of the WordPress community and loves to host a podcast. What was your thought behind the WPCoffeeTalk podcast? Was it your passion or you felt that there is a need for this type of content in the community?
Michelle: Funny enough, I really just wanted to see what it would take and if I could be successful. I really expected it to have a short life, with little interest. I’m so humbled that over 100 people have already been interviewed on WPCoffeeTalk and more continue to sign up. It’s an honor to help people in the community tell their WordPress stories. It may not have started out as a passion (podcasting, that is) but it has developed into one. Truly, the passion is for the people and the community. The podcast is the means to share.
WPJuicer: Name five people who have inspired you the most?
In life in general? My daughter, Lydia. My best friend, Christine. My mother, Sue. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (that woman is a dynamo!), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
WPJuicer: You attend WordCamps and conferences. How do you think these occasions create an impact on WordPress communities?
Michelle: I think the opportunity to come together for a WordCamp or other conference (in person or virtually) gives us the opportunity to not only to learn more about what we can do with WordPress, business, and other things like fundraising, etc., but also gives us an amazing opportunity to grow our network and build relationships within the community. Some of my best friends are in the WordPress community, and I might not have met them had I not taken the chance and attended and spoken at WordCamps.
WPJuicer: What do you look for in a managed WordPress host?
Michelle: I want a WordPress host that takes the day-to-day headaches away from me. They should be doing the WordPress, theme, and plugin updates. They should be doing the backups for me. And they should be even more concerned with security issues and privacy than I am.
WPJuicer: Who should we interview next, and why?
Michelle: I would love to see you interview Chris Ford, from the San Diego area. She is amazingly talented, phenomenally knowledgeable, incredibly personable, and fiercely concerned with social justice.
WPJuicer: We have talked too much about your professional life. Let’s tell our readers about your hobbies and interests. What does Michelle do other than work? (Can we have a pics)
Michelle: I’m an avid photographer. Besides candid photography of people, I also do professional portrait photography, weddings, and other occasions, and for fun, I go out in nature and see what I can find. I’m happy to share those with you.
I’m also a huge vocalist. I love to sing. It’s what kept me sane throughout the first part of the pandemic quarantine. I’m a trained soprano, but as I get older, a little rustier. It’s still a great love, though!
I also love reading, writing, and taking naps.
Oh, and I wrote a book! A Good Firm Handshake (and other essential business tips).
WPJuicer: Any other thoughts or things you wish to mention?
Michelle: If you’re reading this and you haven’t found a way to connect to the WordPress community yet, I urge you to get involved however you’re comfortable. Attend a meetup. Go to a WordCamp. Reach out through Twitter. Join a Facebook group. My life has been greatly enriched by the WordPress community. I can’t imagine being without it now.