Seven Years a Developer
I finally did it.
I have worked with WordPress as a profession in many facets. It started out as a means to allow student missionaries to keep their parents updated and record their travels. In that regard, it replaced an antiquated (even for 2007) PHP picture uploader and blog-ish system that broken repeatedly at the worst moments. WordPress literally saved my job. From there I progressed into freelancing and client sites. That took me to running a network of several hundred sites at a large nonprofit and freelancing on the side for my own clients and a local agency. Fast forward to the present and I work as both a front end and a WordPress developer for the largest independent advertising agency in the US. Seven years. That’s how long I have developed WordPress professionally. From my first site using table layouts to the responsive, HTML5, CSS3, highly optimized themes and plugins that I build today, WordPress and a passion for learning have brought me a long way.
WordCamps and Twitter Friends
At the beginning of 2014, I decided that this would be the year I not only joined the WordPress community (I had been the creepy lurker in years past, always following, but never talking) but started to give back as well. So in late March, I bought my ticket to WordCamp Austin and decided to jump in head first. I followed every twitter handle on the attendee list and started communicating. Not just talking, but trying to add to the conversation. You know, how blog comments used to work. There were also several snarky comments. I got to know several people in my local area (Dallas/Ft. Worth). Suddenly, I was part of the organizing team for WordCamp DFW. That led to meeting more people.
When I attended WordCamp Austin, I met so many of the friends I had made on Twitter. We were able to talk and get to know one another as well as attend the excellent sessions and learn from one another. I got to meet Andrew Nacin, lead contributor to WordPress core. The entirety of the camp was a thrilling experience. I’ve sat through conferences that were great information. I’ve even been to a few that were entertaining and community oriented. But nothing even comes close to WCATX (WordCamp Austin). The knowledge that I gained from sessions and the community and friends that I gained from walking up and introducing myself to total strangers was awesome. This wasn’t some awkward networking event. It was a chance to learn and grow in a community of people that are completely different than me politically, socially, in personality, heritage, religion, and ideas yet similar in the technologies we use and the ideals behind those technologies that we stand for.
So now I’ve done it. I’ve addicted myself to WordCamps. Sadly, the budget this year was for Austin and now for DFW only (Although I am insanely excited about WCDFW and you should come). But next year? Oh, there will be more next year. Now my goal is to continue to meet more WordPress people. This is the only way I know to describe them. It’s not just developers (although there are a lot of those) or users, or aficionados. WordPressers are a great bunch and I want to meet them all! If you are going to be in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in October, I highly recommend planning to attend WCDFW. Even if you aren’t planning on it, do it.
My mind has already been spinning on what 2015 holds and how I can expand my outreach into the community. For one, I plan on submitting to speak at a WordCamp or two. I love public speaking and haven’t done any since moving to Dallas last year. Also, for the rest of 2014, my plan is to contribute 10-20 hours per month of time to the forums. Then in 2015, I’d like to start contributing to core through patches and fixes. No longer can I sit in the shadows using the software but not giving back. It’s time to get involved and give back.