One of the observations I’ve made in the past 5 years as a WordPress developer is that there appears to be very little competition among those who directly interface with clients to provide services. Theme houses and plugins are in a very stiff and sometimes hostile battle for marketshare, in stark contrast to service providers.
This topic has been on my mind for a number of months as I’ve been consistently amazed and humbled by the openness of WordPress experts to freely help others on Twitter. We share code, jump in for a quick diagnostic, and even share pricing and work/life balance tips. At the forefront of the open model are Andrew Norcross (@norcross), Remkus de Vries (@DeFries), Brian Gardner (@bgardner), Nathan Rice (@nathanrice), Gil – Flashing Cursor (@flashingcursor), Bill Erickson (@billerickson), Jared Atchison (@jaredatch), and Carrie Dils (@cdils). More recently, Nick Croft (@Nick_theGeek), Brandon Kraft (@Kraft), and Robert Neu (@RealFATMedia) have made themselves into some of my newest besties – we’re even working on a new Genesis plugin for release soon.
WordPress community gone wrong
Just last week, one of my new friends mentioned above, Carrie Dils, wrote an article with a title that immediately made me wish I’d posted this when I put it in drafts as an idea. After reading it, we have differing angles and her situation is a real bummer for the WP community in her area. Go read it and we’ll continue the discussion: The Shocking Truth: I’m Not Your Competition.
We have a healthy WordPress community some places, most places
I also muse about it when I visit a developer site from the business card I’m handed at an event or social and I can’t help but think of the old HTML sites we used to make 8-10 years ago. It seems that there is a client for everyone, even those in the business who aren’t anywhere near current in their designs or premium themes and code (like a static site with a WP blog created in 2012 – because we all realized WordPress is a true CMS in 2007). I don’t needlessly have to link to them to shame them – we’ve all seen portfolios that make us wonder how they are feeding their families.
I think back to how I started without a portfolio and look at what crap I used to do compared to my current offerings and wonder how anyone hired me in 2009. Some peoples’ portfolios look like that today because they are just starting out as I did nearly 4 years ago. Conferences and Meetups bring on a combination of “you’re not my competition” and “wow, I’m not worthy to be called a WP dev.” I personally struggle between those two emotions – one is prideful and one isn’t valuing myself enough.
The worst thing you can do for your self-esteem is to compare yourself to others with more experience and talent.
My wife reminds me of this at least once per month when I show her a tweet, comment, or e-mail from someone I respect and admire where they give me kudos or validate something I’m doing. “That’s nice, but you know you worked hard to get to where you are and you know you deserve everything,” is her typical response to such petty notifications that “I’ve made it” because of a little validation.
Constantly improve, learn, and ask questions
We, as WordPress developers, and especially Genesis developers, are a community. I’ve never encountered a professional community so willing to help, give advice, give entire blueprints to their business, and more. Can you imagine a real estate agent telling someone all of their best hard-learned tips to a rookie who just hung out his shingle? If it happens, it’s not often.
Over the past year, I’ve tried more and more to learn the coding jobs that I had to hire @norcross to do for me. He’d do a job and I’d read the code.
I’d get another job, try his code, edit it around to suit the client’s wishes, and still hire him to fix my crap.
This happened job after job for the end of 2011 and the first 3 quarters of 2012. Then I figured out some major pieces of missing learning that prevented me from looking at code made in one instance an bending it to my will in another instance.
Be confident in your own abilities
I just outed myself as sucking at code. Not exactly – I suck at programming pure PHP and combining with jQuery and other extreme uses of CSS that I can try for 5 hours and not get the results an expert can in 20 minutes. Rather than beat myself up for a day (I’ll give it a good college try for 1-3 hours if it’s brand new or I think I should be able to make it work), I hire someone who will do a better, faster job than I can and still work on other stuff at the same time as that’s going on. I turned my 80% wasted work into only 20% wasted and eliminated 80% of my coding anxiety.
My strengths are in being utterly straightforward, no matter the cost to us (you’d be surprised how willing people are to work out a plan when you’re honest as early as possible), being admittedly too quick to respond to e-mails, and striving for complete trust in the process and and in my ability to get the job done, done right, on budget, and on time.
That’s all people want: a good product and good service. Give them anything excellent above that and just good across the board and you’ll have a client for life. More on that later…
What do you struggle with? How can I help you as I’ve been helped by so many to get me to where I am today?
Edward Caissie: I’m in … here’s a link: http://edwardcaissie.com/2013/