Meet a Joomler: Anja de Crom
This month we had the chance to interview one of the most active authors of the Community Magazine, the one who has always a nice idea about new series to produce and a serial interviewer: Anja de Crom, our Co-Editor.
Thank you for participating in this interview, Anja! We’re thrilled to have you this month! This time you are the interviewee instead of the interviewer!
How would you introduce yourself to Community members?
Hi, I’m Anja, I run a small web design agency in The Netherlands, WebLab42, with my partner Hilda. We live in Arnhem. I was supposed to become a teacher, long, long ago, but things didn’t go as planned so I have had a broad range of occupations. To name a few: factory worker, shopgirl, street musician, bartender, creative activist, secretary and team manager. In the fifteen years prior to my career in web design I wrote a couple of novels and worked as a journalist, editor and writing coach.
How did you start contributing to Joomla and how did you get involved in the Community?
In 2012 I joined our local JUG (I was living in Utrecht at the time) that was just re-starting. Two months later I was the co-organizer of this group. I remained co-organizer for about five years and in the meantime became a member of the Dutch JoomlaDagen team. I stayed in the JoomlaDagen team for three years and after that started a new initiative with a group of people, Joostock, which is a Joomlacamp/unconference event in The Netherlands. I wrote a few articles for the Joomla editions of the Dutch Webdesigner Magazine.
In 2020 I was at Forum for the Future, the Joomla strategy meeting in Spain, where I met all these passionate, committed Joomlers from all over the world. It was a very intense event with lots of heated discussions about Joomla’s future. A little while after that I joined the Joomla Community Magazine team. Most of the time I interview people, which is great because I love to get to know people and hear their stories. Sometimes I write something that is not an interview (usually when I want to get something off my chest). And I edit articles and help JCM authors with their writing.
What do you do for a day job, and if this includes Joomla, how?
I decided to go pro with websites around 2014, first it was just me. Since 2018 we have WebLab42. We create websites, webshops and sometimes custom systems for various kinds of clients, from small businesses to training institutes. We are die hard Joomla fans, we love working with Joomla and we have never had the need to use anything else. The Joomla logic appeals to me.
Did Joomla change your life somehow?
Oh yes it did. I have always been fascinated by websites. Remember Geocities? I had a website there (about tomato soup). I made a few HTML websites in the early 2000s and then did nothing website-wise for a while. Until 2009, when we needed a website, and I decided to create it myself since I had all this Geocities experience :). Hilda suggested we’d use Joomla because she knew someone who had made a good looking website with it. We bought a book and I started. It was terribly hard in the beginning (it got better once I had put the book away), but I managed, and after that one I created another one and another one, until I reached the point where I wanted to initiate projects, just for the opportunity to create a website for them. Then I figured: if you like this so much, maybe you should consider making this your business. So I did.
What did you learn and/or gain personally from being a J! Volunteer?
At the JUG, JoomlaDagen and Joostock I learned that sharing knowledge lifts everyone up. As a member of the JCM team I learned that my English is probably not as bad as I thought it was. And that my experience as a writer and editor can help other people. For instance, when we have a new series where we need multiple authors to write, I create guidance docs for the authors and help them write awesome articles. It makes me really happy when someone doubts their writing skills at first, and in the end something great comes out.
Do you have a memorable Joomla moment?
Not just one, Luca. The first time I helped someone at the Dutch forum and got a thank you. The first year at the JUG, where I’ve learned so much. The first JoomlaDagen: it was like a candy shop, I couldn’t decide which talks to go to. Passing the certification exam. My first presentation at the JUG (which was about the migration of a hacked website from Joomla 1.5 to 2.5; it got re-hacked three times in the process), and after that presentations and workshops at other JUGs and the JoomlaDagen. The magic feeling at the first Joostock event when everybody wrote their ideas on Post-Its, all of a sudden we had a programme for the day, and half an hour later there were groups of people actually doing all kinds of stuff. Come to think of it: my memorables are a lot of firsts. I wonder what that says about me.