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Juggling a WordPress Career and 7 Kids? Learn How Miriam Schwab Does It (WordCamp Asia 2024 Interview)

Last Updated on March 21st, 2024

In the vibrant world of WordPress, where the community thrives on collaboration and innovation, WordCamp Asia 2024 is one of the most sought-after event, well-known for knowledge-sharing and networking.

This time in 2024, WordPress Asia will happen in Taipei, Taiwan, from March 7-9. This event is poised to be the premier open-source web summit in Asia. With an expected attendance of around 2,000 participants from over 70 countries, the conference will feature over 50 speakers and 40 sponsors, making it the most exciting area for sharing ideas and cultures.

This year, WPLift is proud to be the official media partner of WordCamp Asia 2024, a testament to our ongoing commitment to supporting and fostering the WordPress community, both in Asia and globally. Our collaboration with WordCamp Asia underscores our dedication to delivering insightful content and staying at the forefront of WordPress news and events.

A Deep Dive into Miriam’s Story

Amidst the excitement of the upcoming WordCamp, Ronik Patel from WPLift had the opportunity to interview Miriam Schwab, the Head of WordPress Relations at Elementor. Miriam, known for her remarkable ability to balance a successful career in the WordPress ecosystem with raising seven kids, shares her insights and experiences in this engaging conversation.

Miriam’s journey in the WordPress community is a testament to her passion and dedication. Initially, Miriam was running an agency, followed by co-founding Strattic, which was later acquired by Elementor. As of now, at Elementor, an Israeli software development company renowned for its WordPress website builder, Miriam plays a crucial role in building excellent relationships within the WordPress community. Her insights into navigating the challenges of a high-paced career while managing personal responsibilities are inspiring and offer valuable lessons for professionals in any field.

Exploring the Professional Journey

The interview delves into various aspects of Miriam’s professional journey, including the significance of community engagement, the transition from running an agency to focusing on a product-based role, and the importance of niche specialization. 

Miriam’s work-life balance story is a powerful reminder of the potential for personal and professional growth within the WordPress community.

Ronik Patel, in this interview, asked very insightful questions to Miriam:

  • What was Miriam’s experience in running an Agency a decade ago? How is her current role different?
  • Where do you get more value (product or agency) from being in a community?
  • How did Miriam transition from being a product owner to an employee?

Want to dive deeper? Explore Miriam Schwab’s extraordinary journey of balancing a thriving WordPress career with a bustling home life at WordCamp Asia 2024 live on March 8 at the Taipei International Convention Center (TICC) in Taipei, Taiwan. She will be talking in more depth about “Building a career in WordPress while raising seven kids” at 10:00 AM CST (UTC+8) in TRACK 3 / ROOM 101B.

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Stay tuned for more updates and insights from WPLift as we continue to cover WordCamp Asia 2024 and other significant events in the WordPress community. Let’s empower the digital future together and make WordCamp Asia 2024 an unforgettable experience. Here are some useful links to explore:


Ronik: Hi, I’m Ronik Patel from WPLift. Today, I’m thrilled to have Miriam Schwab with me for a special chat right before WordCamp Asia is happening in Taiwan from March 7 to 9. Miriam is the head of WordPress relations at Elementor. Before this, she ran an agency, I believe, for 10+ years; she also co-founded Static, which later became a part of Elementor. Now she’s at Elementor. Welcome, Miriam.

Miriam: Thanks for having me.

Ronik: This is an inspiring story; just in the last two years, a couple of people I am close with sold their businesses, and then they continue to be part of the companies that acquired them. And I think a lot of people dream of that exit. It works out in this way. And it gives you time and money to continue working on the business mission, or at least with the same team that has acquired your business. And I’m glad you’re sharing your journey. At the upcoming webcam, the topic of your title is building a career in WordPress while raising seven kids. While I read that, I’m like, I have one, and balancing that is difficult. So, with your seven, the story becomes even more inspiring. And today, I want to peel back the curtain a bit with you on this topic and explore how growing a career or business around WordPress and especially the critical role of the community in that journey. So very first question I have about your talk is, who is your audience for your talk while you’re preparing for the talk? Who do you have in mind that you want to deliver some value to?

Miriam: I really am just envisioning, like, human beings, because I think all of us are either in the midst of struggling to build our careers, or develop ourselves professionally, while just because we’re human beings, we also have personal lives, and our personal lives come in many forms, and have different demands, whether it’s, you know, my seven kids, or one kid, or partners, or whatever it is, and, you know, we’re always trying to figure that out, and how to do that best, how to prioritize how to just generally look at that, that combination of aspects of our lives. Also, are they very separate from each other? Are they actually connected in many ways? In my experience, they’re very connected, like, in many ways, sometimes, definitely not, but sometimes quite connected. You know, we can gain inspiration for our work from our family, and vice versa. So basically, anyone who’s living life and just wants to, like, really sit and think about what this means for us and just hear a story of someone, you know, trying to make the most of it over the last, like, 17- 18 years. Maybe take some lessons and learnings from it, maybe just be like, Okay, that’s like, works for her, doesn’t work for me, whatever it is, I think in general, it’s good for us as people to hear other people’s stories and, and like, just understand other people’s experiences, and and at the very least, even to say, Oh, my struggle is not, I’m not alone in it. It’s not like only mine; it’s actually quite common. And even that can be comforting. So, I always like that’s kind of how I see it.

Ronik: No, no, that is very valuable. And anything in your career. Personally, I think there were times when I needed those stories, like right now, maybe not so much. But I’m sure maybe, you know, a year down the line, I will again need that story. So yeah, I agree. You’re not sure who exactly needs the story right now. But there’s there are definitely people who get a lot of value and inspiration to keep on with what they’re doing doesn’t matter how the struggles that they have to face. It temporarily does work out when you see a real human being that I had worked out for me. So yeah, I do agree with that.

Ronik: Why your story, I think, is unique is because of the agency experience and the product experience because I think the community is a good mix of it. But the more more people that I see they’re more on the product side than they they’re on the agency side. And that is a different experience you get out of the community when you are an agency versus when you are doing something like a product. So, I wanted to hear about your experience while you were running an agency maybe ten years ago. How was that with the community versus while you were running a product?

Miriam: When I was running the agency, I was also very involved in the community, attending WordCamps, speaking, and things like that. My just my experience was as a service based business. So, you know, I gave a few talks where I shared from experience but that and also it was always valuable talking to others who were, you know, going along the same path to learn from their experiences. So, from the community perspective, you know, the WordPress community is out and is always very helpful, and you know, it is all about sharing knowledge. So, it goes both ways. So, I was happy to share my knowledge and I learned from others and there’s a lot of agencies smaller or bigger in the WordPress community. So there’s a lot of different like, it’s like similar experiences, but also different. So, it’s quite varied, and different locations different, you know, types of services. So, for example, in our in our agency at one point, I wanted us to kind of be like a one stop shop where we offered everything, I thought that was the right approach. And then that would open up more business avenues for us. And so we were like doing design and marketing and WordPress development. And then at a certain point, I realized that actually, we should just focus on what we’re excellent at, which is the WordPress development side of things. We were great at taking, we were great at helping with the UX of any UI, like meaning planning a site, but then that was handed off to someone else for design. Usually, we worked with companies that were big enough that they had either in house designers or they had like an ongoing contract with the weekend design agency. And that just raised our the quality of our work tremendously, because we stopped trying to do things that we weren’t great at. And, and that was something that was a really good lesson, even for after the agency. And in general, I am from my perspective, running an agency and then transitioning to a product-based business has a lot of advantages. Because you’ve lived and breathed the guts of WordPress from the perspective of builders and users. Because you really have to understand your your clients. And also, you yourself are using WordPress for our purposes, and you’re building with WordPress; you take all of that. So, for me, it was like 13 years of experience and apply it to a product. And I think it’s a big advantage. So they helped each other the Agency slash, like product journey thing.

Ronik: There are two takeaways I’m hearing. The first is to niche down and be more specific in your focus unless you have 500 people in your team and you can do things that are excellent. But yeah, if you’re smaller, just, I mean, that was my experience. I haven’t heard from numerous people that that works. And for me, personally, that has worked amazingly well, too. So, I definitely agree with that. The second part that you I don’t know why the running agency stuff like we still run it. Well, you know, the service we have in sort of it is an agency, even though it’s a white label, but running that is challenging. And for a lot of agency owners I talk with, the product just looks like something. Oh, this would be much easier. I don’t have to deal with my client fires or invoicing. And you know, it’s all reoccurring revenue. And there’s a lot of things, you know, that attract there. I mean, my general philosophy that I talk with people as well, the services, you make an income immediately, right, you serve your client, you’re trading your time in a way, and you get payment versus on the product, that revenue building up takes so much time, you may need investment, I saw somewhere strategic, you guys raised over 5 million $6 million. So that is a very different journey. One thing you mentioned is that, yes, you know, serving an agency role and then moving to product, you know, a lot of that, but do you think outside of that the other skills that you need to run a product like that agency helps there? Or is that just something you learn out there?

Miriam: So, there’s a lot that running the agency helps with when you start building a product-based business, but then there’s a lot you have to learn from scratch. It’s a different business model. And especially if you go the startup route, which we did, where you’re raising funding from investors and all that. It’s just, it’s different. So, you have to adjust your thinking and adjust your vision, even in your goals, to align it with the sprint business model. Definitely, I don’t. I don’t know how people build products without having a maybe a first done, an agency, or something really related to that. Because I really think you do need to live and breathe your end users. And that’s the best way. But at the same time, it’s not copy-paste; it’s not like you can fully adopt everything that you did there and then apply it. You mean, it’s almost like new skill sets in some ways. And just it’s a whole other knowledge area, which for me was exciting in that, like, I love that I love learning new things and facing new challenges. So, I was excited after like 13 years of doing an agency business to learn something new and pursue something new. Even if it’s in the same industry, that was very exciting and very interesting. So there’s, you know, you can take some stuff, but you also learn new skills.

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Ronik: Yeah, yes. The final question on this topic is, as an agency or product, where do you get more value from being in the community? I know both in a way, you know, there are some things that you get both, but for the agency, the mindset that I’ve seen is, well, I use WordPress as a tool I could use, you know, Shopify already. These are just my tools. I don’t need to get deeper into the community or be involved. I’m just using that as a tool versus if you have a product, especially around WordPress, right? Then, you have a lot of inherent interest in being in the community and seeing the direction it’s going so that you can evolve your product accordingly. So that would be just the general common sense. I would say that the product you definitely want to be, especially if it’s a WordPress product, then in the community, but for the agency, I worked with a lot of agency people, right? And then we I talked about what it was like, Why do you even attend this? Like, do you know why there’s nothing you really need to know in order to use WordPress like that? I’d like your opinion or say on that.

Miriam: So, what you’re describing, I think, is the reality. But I think it always bothered me, and I think it’s not; it’s not the right attitude for agencies to have. I gain so much value from being out in the community as an agency. It’s, like, hard to explain. Okay, so first of all, community, being part of a community, and let’s say attending conferences, there’s never a direct ROI, no matter what you are, whether you’re a product or not, or an agency, like it’s not like you attend a conference, or you have a community activity, and then the next day you sign on business doesn’t work that way. It’s something that, like, you start to see the value of after, like, years, even of being part of a community or, you know, participating in that type of activity. So, I don’t know. So, it’s the same for the product. When we go to work camps as a product, don’t expect to make any money out of the conference. It’s not a KPI. But community involvement is important to us. For many reasons, one of which is that if we’re benefiting from WordPress, which we are like, then we should be giving back in various ways. And that’s one of them, where we come we share our knowledge, and you know, that sponsor conferences, whatever it is, but there’s not a design ROI as a product. And it’s the same with an agency. So why do we do it? Because there’s inherent value in being part of the community and participating contributing, if you’re an agency and you want to be on the map, meaning we want people to know that you are a WordPress expert, what is one of the best ways of doing it, standing on a stage and giving a talk where you share your knowledge, meeting other people who are experts in the field so they know you and get to know you and like you build your yourself up as an authority and someone that people can trust, as opposed to just another 2D avatar on the on the web and a website that people might come across. Like, to me that’s super valuable. I personally also want to work with people like that. I personally also, like, want to be connected; I really, like truly connect with people, and then that creates genders trust, and then that creates relationships, which can also lead to business value, that also leads to personal value, obviously, which is great. And I love knowing all these people in the community; they’re amazing, fun, nice, smart, and everything. So, I think agencies are being short-sighted, and they should be participating more. And then they can also learn from each other more. There’s nothing wrong with sharing knowledge with people who supposedly compete with you. One thing I learned as an agency in Israel is at first, I would, you know, I was one of the first agencies actually in Israel to offer WordPress as a professional tool for businesses. And then, slowly but surely, other people caught on, and they started like creating their own agencies. And first I felt threatened, oh, I’m competing, okay. First of all, if you have competition, that’s good thing, you don’t want to be in like a space where there’s no competition, it means there’s more business. Second of all, it turns out that you rarely directly compete with other agencies. Like I’ll give an example. Me and my team we are. We’re native English speakers; we all have immigrants as well, from an English country, most of us. So, the people that most connected with us from a business perspective, or other English speakers and marketing teams and companies. I knew another agency where they were French. They had emigrated from France. So, the French immigrants are French companies. And that was fine. Like they felt more comfortable. It’s like it can even be on that level, or we were based in the Jerusalem area. So we get through Jerusalem business; someone in Tel would get Tel business, and all is good. And so people have to stop being so afraid of competing and be more open to collaborating. It just brings more value to everyone. That’s my speech on that. There was a lot.

Ronik: Thank you for that. I think having that abundance mindset is important. The reason why you would say it’s important is because a lot of the viewers of this video are going to be in India. And if you look at the WordCamp Asia attendees list, there is a significant portion of that is from there, and most I don’t know, say most I don’t know the numbers, but a lot of them are agency owners, and I’ve been in India for the last couple of years. We just sponsored; we were organizers at the WordCamp Ahmedabad here, and that was the mindset of agencies I saw talk about. So, could you just explain? I think that’s really important, and it would definitely add value to a lot of those agency owners.

Miriam: Okay, good. I hope it resonates with them. I encourage agency owners to get to know each other and and understand that rarely are you actually directly competing with each other. And if so, it’s okay, also, but you’ll gain more value when you’re like colleagues.

Ronik: Switching gears from the product owners going to the employee,

anything you would wish you had known at that, but assuming, let’s say, somebody is going through that right now, and they hear that, and it’s like, oh, okay, I will, you know, keep that in mind.

Miriam: So I hadn’t, I had, like, worked for two, I think it worked for two years in a company before I founded my agency. And that was, I started my agency when I was pregnant. No, I had just given birth to my fourth kid, who was now 19. Okay, so it was nine years ago. And then, a year and a half ago, I became an employee again. So it was like, 17 years that I hadn’t been employed, like, been the CEO, and you know, the manager. So I knew it was going to be different, but I didn’t know to what extent, and I didn’t know how else to. I didn’t know, you know, it means something different for everyone. I didn’t know how I was going to react to it.

And, If it was the beginning, it was, it was really hard for me actually, to be an employee. Because I joined a much larger organization. And I didn’t understand how it worked. I didn’t know who did what; I didn’t know why they were doing things. And I was always the person who knew everything. Like I was everything about the organizations I was leading.

And I felt like I was constantly struggling trying to figure out what what was what, you know, and and where do I fit in? And how do I make things happen? How do I get things done? And also, to what extent do I have to stay in my lane, right? Where can I get involved? Who can I work with, and I give Elementor a ton of credit, particularly with founders, because they really helped me navigate that. And I learned as I went along that, and I don’t know if I would have been okay in every organization, but elements are very open to, I guess, cross-pollination kind of thing. So, like, you don’t have to stay in your lane. Like, obviously, you don’t want to, like, become pushy in, in ways that just don’t make sense. But, I started to learn, so I started to really understand the teams; I started to understand who does what. I started to understand how I can make things happen. And also, I saw that I could continue. I didn’t have to repress my entrepreneurial spirit within Elementor. And that’s an amazing thing. And I’m very grateful. Like, if I feel like I can add value to a certain team about a certain thing, because I, after all, these years of being in business agency and startup, I’ve gained experience and knowledge I, I would like to help, like within the company with it, so I can but I can mentor I can I can be like, you know, I think we can improve this process. And they’re like, Great, let’s talk about it. It’s not like, who are you? And why are you talking to us about that? Because you’re head of WordPress relations, and what does that have to do anything? No. And, and that’s like, that’s really important to me, too. I think being an entrepreneur, like having an entrepreneurial nature, means that you’re constantly identifying something that could be improved, and then you are dying to improve it. It’s really hard to stand next to something that’s like not working, like as well as you think it should, and then just be like, Oh, well, I just I at least I can’t do that. So it’s Elementor; I don’t have to do that. I can actually, like, step up and be like, I think, you know, we can do this better. And then I can get involved. And that’s really satisfying for me; I need to be able to do that. So, it took time; I think the first year was like a transition period. And, just me trying to figure out what’s going on and when what. also, it was six months in that I took on this new role as head of WordPress relations. And then that was totally new. So, we all had to figure that out. Me them. But even in that space, they gave me a lot of autonomy. Again, kudos to the founders, like, you know, with some guidance, but really, they were just like Miriam, you do you kind of thing. So, like, in the end,

even though I’m technically an employee, I’m grateful for that because it’s much less stressful than running companies. I still get to bring my strengths and needs to the table and operate that way. So, yeah, it can definitely be a challenge becoming an employee after not being one; oh my gosh, you just, oh, it’s like a lot to digest. And it’s a lot to learn. You also have to learn how to be an employee. That’s actually a thing. I had to learn what that means like and how to operate within like that kind of framework.

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Ronik: something you expected before from your employees.

Miriam: So I just, I guess I never, I guess I never put myself in their shoes enough, or at least I never saw them as like, I always refer to my employees as my co-workers, I like I never thought we were just like we’re colleagues together. So I just, I just had to learn a lot and get used to it, and also find the place where I can still bring my strength and continue to be happy and feel productive and useful. So, I found all of that in Elementor. And I’m lucky, and other organizations can do that, too. It’s just I don’t think all of them do.

Ronik: The couple of people that I was saying earlier that had a similar switch as you and I got the same sort of the answers from them as well, to that it is difficult; the new organizations are so vast that they don’t know where they fit in, they do generally give you their autonomy to you know, create your own role, sort of in that the transition. But I could see how it would be difficult because, at the same time, Elementor is also scaling, right? So, they have their own challenges to deal with using this new element to do it. So, I guess, in summary, be prepared for the transition. As an owner, I’ve been haven’t been employed, like, you know, like 10 years too, and some days, I do see how I’ll be better off just working for someone; I could do this all day and just go home and then not worry about how it’s gonna pan out. Right. So I’ve been doing it for a long time; I think there’s going to be more stories that people would want to hear about that particular experience that, at some point, people may need to do that. So, thanks for sharing that. I do want to keep this interview brief. Because I this I get asked so many questions, and we can talk for a long time. But the idea here is to give people a sneak preview that check out Miraim’s Talk at the WordCamp Asia this is going to be awesome. You can join online if you can. Miriam, thanks again for joining us.

We’re looking forward to your talk and wish you the best.

Miriam: Thanks

Ronik: And over to the listeners. Thank you for tuning in. Check out what can be shared on the 2024 website for all the information on the upcoming WordCamp. Keep exploring, keep creating, and see how you can make your mark with WordPress. Thank you !

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