In case you didn’t know, there’s this widespread belief about shaping one’s career that I find true. And that is: It’s better to specialize and invest in one field rather than to attain knowledge in different ones. Indeed, without concentration on what you’re doing, one can hardly get ahead of others in his niche of choice. Thus, if you’re reading this, you should decide whether this WordPress career is the one for you. Are you serious about it? Could you eat and sleep with it? If the answers are yes, it’s high time you embark on the path to becoming a WordPress professional. Well, ‘professional’ may sound flattering for WordPress?
No! Every job matters and every job needs experts. In fact, since 2014, WordPress has been the most requested skill in the world, according to CodeinWP. “Why should I become a pro, though?”. Because it helps you with your career no matter what it could be. Website owner – checked, content writer – checked, designer – checked, marketer – checked.
This guide will discuss the general terms and conditions before you join the elite group of WordPress professionals. Wanna be the next Leonardo Da Vinci of WordPress?
It takes passion, strength, determination and a little bit of guidance, including:
Get to Know How WordPress Works
Define Your Career Path
Grab the Essential Skills
Build Your Networks
Cultivate Knowledge with the Seniors
Identify and Overcome Weaknesses
Set Goals and Reach them!
Let’s go over step by step, shall we?
1) Get to Know How WordPress Works
Whatever your career is, as long as it’s related to WordPress, you have to get a basic understanding of how WordPress works. You can start by installing it to explore its potentials. With a website of your own, you can choose a theme first – in case you don’t know how here’s a guide for that. Then, take a look at some plugins. Keep in mind that themes and plugins are just the outward appearances of how the platform displays.
To get a deep understanding, you must touch upon how it works behind the curtains. For your information, WordPress doesn’t just use HTML, it also uses PHP, a programming language used to retrieve info from a MySQL database. It’s the PHP that constructs the structure of a page. So, whatever type of blog post you’re visiting, you’re looking into a single.php file. That explains a lot about the ‘dynamic’ constructing speed of WordPress. Interesting, isn’t it?
You can’t become a WordPress pro without understanding how it functions! So, take some time every day to learn about the platform and you’ll soar.
2) Define Your Career Path
Once you’ve decided what you would like to do, you’ll find it easier to become an expert – since every WordPress-related occupation has its requirements to follow. But don’t burden yourself with the thought of “Wait! But what if it turns out not to be the one?”. You can always change to another one later. After all, it’s still WordPress and it’s used in many things.
Anyway, there are 5 main areas for you to pick your career: design, education, content creating, marketing and front-end or back-end developers.
3) Grab the Essential Skills
Once you’ve decided on your career path, let’s now check what necessary skills you’ll need to acquire. First, reflect on yourself to know what you already have. Then, we will add more values to it. For example, if you’re a former blogger who now wishes to switch to be a content writer for WordPress, that’s a great start. After that, ask yourself what’s missing, and go get it.
Where? Well, regardless of your field, these sources will prove themselves useful:
Trustworthy WordPress blogs for general knowledge, guides, and tips. You can also count on websites of high-quality WordPress products (like QuadLayers);
Offline events like WordCamp or WordPress-related conferences and events.
4) Build Your Network
Broadening your circle means opening your eyes to a whole new world. Talking to people with the same interest and occupation will benefit you in ways you could never expect. Not only will you improve your skills and grasp of WordPress but also you’ll get more opportunities to develop your business/career.
My advice is to go to offline events like WordCamp if you’re able to. If not, other online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are great places to socialize.
5) Cultivate Knowledge with the Seniors
Follow highly-regarded figures of your area and try to socialize with them, propose ideas, ask for their opinions. For example, if you’re working with SEO, then Joost de Valk may sound familiar since many people are using his Yoast SEO plugin. If you’re a content creator, for instance, then maybe Adam Connell has something to tell you since he and his Blogging Wizard team have been the ‘masters’ in this respect.
For more experts that you can learn from, check out this list!
6) Make Contributions
Contributions don’t need to be something big, in case you misunderstand my point. You see, even multi-billion-dollar businesses start with small deals. After gathering the necessary information and fundamental knowledge, it’s advisable to apply it to your works. If you work as a theme developer, try to come up with a theme that solves persisting issues you’ve spotted along the way. If you’re a content writer, write about something you’ve always been concerned about.
By answering your own needs, you’re also solving the problems of many others – and that’s a great way to kick-off!
7) Identify and Overcome Weaknesses
In the previous step, I asked you to make contributions, which links perfectly to this step. Applying what you’ve learned to your work could be different from what you expect. Well, in not-very-ideal cases, the reality could be very far from theory. So, when it happens, embrace what you’re lacking, what you’re yet to have, and cultivate them. It may sound easy now, but the hardest part is to accept your own shortcomings. Let’s be honest. Because only when you embrace the bitter truth, can you move forward.
8) Set Goals and Reach Them
What did I just say above? “Move forward”? Yes.
The path to becoming a WordPress expert isn’t a bed of roses. You’ll run up against hardship, failures, self-doubts, and temptation to give up. Don’t let that fool you. You may get stressed out, fed up and need a rest. But after that rest, get up and set new goals! If you fail, consider the possibilities and be a little more realistic next time. If you succeed, next time aim a little bit higher. Folks, remember that even Einstein used to be labeled as “underachieving” in school because he couldn’t speak until he was 7. In the WordPress world, something similar happened. One of the most well-known theme developers, Chris Jean, used to know nothing about coding. And look how far he’s made it now.
Alright, once you’ve finished everything included in this comprehensive guide, you’re 80% loaded in the process of becoming a WordPress pro. The rest 20% will come with time. Mark my words: to become any kind of expert is not a game of luck. It takes time, dedication and real efforts.
So stay true, stay inspired, and stay yearning for more!