Somewhere along the way –I can’t say when– I ran across the HeroPress website.
As you all know, I really like stories and the telling of overcoming adversity. HeroPress tells those stories, so I was immediately attracted to the platform.
Over the past several years I have been fortunate enough to meet Topher and Cate (virtually) DeRosia, the couple behind HeroPress.
I have worked with them in various settings. In the past few months, HeroPress expanded with new projects and looking to be a bigger player in the WordPress space.
Topher explained some of his thoughts in an article at WP Tavern back in 2015,
“I began to notice a common problem,” he said. “Many of them felt disconnected from the greater WordPress community – the Western WordPress community. For some it was a language issue, for others location, and still others simply not understanding culture.”
Additionally, the ownership of HeroPress was handed over to the DeRosias (Topher and Cate).
In May of 2020, they began having discussions of some type of expansion. In April of 2021, HeroPress adopted Hallway Chats Podcast previously run by Tara Claeys and Liam Dempsey.
HeroPress launched WP Podcasts, the first new product in the HeroPress portfolio since it began.
WP Podcasts is a searchable database containing links to the top WordPress podcasts.
October 2021 was a big month for HeroPress as they went on to launch three more products for their platform: The HeroPress Network, Find It WP (a database of WordPress resources), and its own HeroPress Slack channel.
To help support HeroPress, the team invited the community to be investors in the overall platform.
Undoubtedly, HeroPress started as a labor of love and is continuing as an important part of the WordPress community.
In today’s article, we visit with Topher and Cate DeRosia regarding the recent expansion and future efforts of HeroPress.
First things first. Can you describe the tech/WordPress stack for the entire suite of HeroPress products?
(Topher) That’s pretty vast. The hosting is pretty standard. We’re on Liquid Web’s standard managed WordPress stack, so no special server modules or anything.
I’ve standardized it on the Kadence theme for the network. Hallway Chats is still on an old Genesis theme, but it’ll move when I get the time
As for plugins, I could literally talk for hours about all the things going on behind the scenes. HeroPress.com alone has 70 plugins on it. The others have fewer, but I’m a strong believer in using good plugins for specific tasks.
If you had to describe the ultimate mission of HeroPress to someone who isn’t familiar, how would you describe that mission?
HeroPress is a place where community members can share their stories, generally as written essays, that show how people from across the globe are using WordPress to build jobs that fit the lives they want to lead. It becomes a written history of the project that encourages and inspires.
You added some new properties to the HeroPress portfolio. Where did you come up with the idea to add the podcast (Hallway Chats), the podcast database (WP Podcasts), and the Find it WP properties?
We’ve always wanted to do more with HeroPress and were waiting for the right time. We had some ideas and were working on fitting them together when Tara Claeys and Liam Dempsey handed over Hallway Chats to us.
Our initial plan was to pull it in under the HeroPress name and have something like an open membership site, but that never felt comfortable. We didn’t want to risk disrupting the essays.
About the same time, Topher built a little site to house all of the different talks, training, and content he’s created over the years. It was a bit of an AHA! moment. We realized we could do this with other information and WP Podcasts was born and the idea for Find It WP sparked. Find It WP is more complex but builds off the same theory.
The HeroPress Network was developed as a way to connect everything and provide a central hub for news and information. From it, we can promote community activities, share the content we’re creating, and give users one simple place to come find everything. Which really is the core of what we’re trying to accomplish with the entire project.
There’s a lot of great stuff out there. We want to make it more visible and accessible for everyone.
What will success look like for HeroPress in five years?
Success for HeroPress and the HeroPress Network are one and the same: make the community stronger. Whether it’s through inspirational essays, more equitable visibility, or easier access to resources, if we’re hitting that goal, we’re a success. It’s what’s brought us this far and it’s what we’ll build on for the future.
We see our role as one of stewardship, a guide on the journey. New people need help getting started. Veterans need to save time sorting through an ever-growing community. We can step in and help both.
Where will WordPress users be seeing the HeroPress team moving forward (ie. WordCamps, etc.)?
Later in the spring of 2022, we will literally be hitting the road. Assuming plans stay as they are, Topher and I will be living full time in our RV, Agnes, and traveling to all of the WordCamps we can reasonably drive to.
Along the way, we’ve considered hosting pop-up meetups and training events that give newcomers a chance to try out WordPress for themselves.
Until then, we’ll be involved virtually where it fits best and you’ll see us at WordFest Live on March 4, 2022, as we’re both helping to organize the event. If it fits life, we’d like to make it down the WordCamp Birmingham, but that’s still a little fuzzy right now.
Look what came in the mail! pic.twitter.com/p8za7rs83j
— HeroPress (@heropress) July 1, 2021
Wrapping it up
Along with expansion comes new challenges for HeroPress, Topher, and Cate.
Expansion means that HeroPress will need to raise needed funds which they are doing through individual investors.
“By investing in the HeroPress Network, you provide the capital needed to be able to maintain and grow the network of resources. You enable us to invest our time in the hands-on work of building and sustaining a community, while you focus on growing your business, or other areas of interest.”
You can learn more about how you can support the initiative here.
Cate and Topher are some of the biggest cheerleaders of others in the WordPress community.