Kim Coleman is co-founder of Stranger Studios, a creative team of 15 people that build open source technology and produce digital content to help people get paid. Their flagship product, Paid Memberships Pro, is used by over 100,000 WordPress sites to manage their members, protect premium content, and charge recurring subscriptions.
Kim’s experience in product development and digital marketing refined a deep understanding of the stages in a business life cycle, from the seed of an idea to maturity and commercialization of the technology.
She applies this knowledge by helping other entrepreneurs focus on the right problems at the right time.
Michele: What do you do in the WordPress ecosystem?
Kim: I sell WordPress products (plugins), and volunteer for virtual and in-person events.
Michele: How did you get involved with WordPress?
Kim: During college, I developed websites as a side job (an early entrepreneur!). Over time, more of the sites I developed were built on WordPress.
After college, I decided to continue building websites as a freelancer. As time went by, my partner and I started an agency and began focusing on more robust WordPress sites (not your standard brochureware sites) where we used WordPress as a framework for large applications.
It was through this development that our first WordPress product, Paid Memberships Pro, was created.
Michele: Please tell me one story of someone who has inspired you within the WordPress Community.
Kim: Our team member Sam Daugherty!
Sam joined the WordPress community first by working with her sister in their agency. We hired Sam first as a contractor and then in Fall 2021, as a full-time marketing specialist.
I’m inspired by Sam because she has grown so much in her role and place in this community through her openness to learn, grow, make mistakes, and put herself out there.
I think our customers are the same — they are often reaching the limits of their skills and continue to push past them. Those are the people that build awesome businesses on WordPress because they are FEARLESS.
Michele: What does the Open Source Community mean to you?
Kim: I am deeply passionate about open source technology and supporting entrepreneurs. I want to create products that anyone case use — regardless of their income or skill — to build a lasting, thriving business.
Open source software is the best software.
Michele: Please name some of your favorite plugins.
Kim: Yoast, GA Google Analytics (by Jeff Starr), Ninja Forms, LifterLMS … and Paid Memberships Pro and Sitewide Sales, too (our plugins – is that allowed 🙂 …)
Michele: Do you have a favorite theme or framework you like to use?
Michele: If you could change one thing in WordPress, what would it be?
Kim: I want the community to realize that your time spent building and supporting an open source plugin or theme is contributing. There’s a lot of talk about how much contribution is “recommended” and in what ways we all “should” contribute.
For my team, we build 100% open source products all in GitHub and in the WordPress.org repository. We fully support our products on .org.
I believe we are contributing a ton to the WordPress ecosystem through these actions. WordPress’ survival and growth depends on the product teams that build and extend core through plugins to meet the many emerging use cases for WordPress.
Michele: What is your most memorable WordPress moment?
Kim: WordCamp US a few years back – there was face painting at the after party. That was awesome. Raquel Landefeld and I got some epic face paint!
Michele: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just getting started with WordPress?
Kim: If you ask for help about anything, 1,000 people will come to support you.
Introduce yourself to everyone — DM people in the Make Slack or any other social platform. Even if it feels awkward.
Also – NEVER use nulled plugins. Thanks!
Michele: What do you think is in store for the future of WordPress?
Kim: I can see in our own customers that people are really pushing WordPress (and their own skills) to the limits — in changing economic times, people have to find ways to do more with less.
There’s been a lot of recent chatter about how complicated WordPress is. And talks about why people are fleeing to hosted platforms or other builders.
I believe in the people that choose WordPress for their platform. They aren’t looking for the easy way (building an online business isn’t easy and we don’t have to pretend it is!)
Our customers are building amazing businesses on WordPress, using lots of elbow grease and deep thinking to support their project’s mission or reach financial goals.
Michele: Just for fun, share one memory that makes you proud to be a part of the WordPress Community.
Kim: I’ve been a virtual event host for a few recent WordPress events — WordFest Live and WordCamp US, among others.
These events are truly epic to have been a (small) part of. I am so proud of our community’s willingness to put in late hours and early mornings and just do SO MUCH to support one another.
If you find these interesting and would like to be spotlighted yourself, please see our interview form.