This is an email I sent a friend who’s shopping around for a new career path, and I wanted to describe the “WordPress World” I work in.
Hi I really have no idea if the type of work I do would be of interest to you, but I’m happy to try to share about it and give you a taste of the “WordPress World”.
Beyond just dealing with our software, we also participate a bit in the wider WordPress community. WordPress is free software- meaning both that you can get it and use it without paying for it (although there are other expenses), and you can use it for whatever you want, know exactly what it does, and change it to suit your needs.
That means it’s basically built and maintained by volunteers (or employees of companies who voluntold them to help improve it). So I, for instance, participate in two meetings each week where we work on improving WordPress. A few of my coworkers do too (and my company pays for us to do it for one tenth of our time), but it’s not mandatory.
Most people involved in the WordPress community are freelancers, not employees of companies like me. They have a website and build websites for clients. They have a variety of skill sets and most are self-taught. Most got started with WordPress because they were helping someone else run a website or wanted a website themselves.
WordPress used to be the easiest way to run a website, but easier options have appeared since, like Squarespace and Wix. The main advantages of WordPress are: it has a huge market share, 31% of the Internet, whereas it’s nearest competitor sits around 3%; it’s freedom, because you can totally control what it does, learn how it works, and customize it; and it’s supportive community.
Besides reading free tutorials and asking questions on online forums, most WordPress “professionals” (people who’s profession centers on using WordPress, not necessarily experts yet) learn about WordPress by going Meetups and WordCamps. I recently started a local meetup which meets monthly and we take turns sharing what we know with the group. (Eg this Saturday at 1pm one member will share how they use WordPress to run a membership site and another will share about a WordPress plugin they use to speed up building websites for clients). They’re usually free.
WordCamps are bigger annual, all-day conferences. I’m planning on attending one in Vancouver October 13th. They usually cost $20.
So if you’re interested in experiencing some of this world, here’s what I’d suggest:
- start a blog on WordPress.com. It’s free, but it’s offered by a for-profit company called Automattic who will try to upsell you on whatever. But you’ll get the hang of how WordPress is used for blogging
- come out to our local Meetup (see http://wpcowichan.org/) if you can. You’ll learn more about how others make a living using it, and learn about how to use it
- read up a little on HTML and CSS (just google them). If you want to make websites for clients, or just do web design, or do customer support, or even a web developer, those two languages are the basis. There’s tons you can learn, especially because they’re constantly evolving, but I had a friend who used his weeknights to learn them and became very proficient in a couple months. He later got hired for a web development agency where I was working, honed his skills, and then moved on to become totally legit web designer. (He actually subsequently moved on from WordPress to building Shopify sites, but I think WordPress was a more friendly first step in his career.)
So that’s my professional life in a nutshell. I’m happy to try to share because it helps me learn it better. (Eg I think I learned a bit in writing this)
Let me know what you think.