When Victoria Dyte of Reindeer Riot started using WordPress, she wasn’t an established developer or web designer shifting across to a new platform; she’d simply been designing and running her own online shops successfully via WordPress for several years, and decided to take the skills and knowledge she’d picked up and turn it into a new business. With the mentorship of Sarah Rosberg of Rafiki Mwema/Castle Design, and support from her graphic designer husband Col (who creates unique logos and artwork for the sites she builds), she’s now been working exclusively as a WordPress developer for over 18 months.
This seems to be an increasingly common career path; people learning WordPress for another project, and then making it their full time occupation. So why does it happen?
Firstly, WordPress is incredibly user-friendly. You can build a phenomenal website with nothing but a good theme, some good artwork and carefully curated plugins. If you learn to write basic CSS, you can create child themes which allow you to customise your site’s design (colour, typography, layout) to your heart’s content. In essence: building fantastic WordPress sites doesn’t require you to be a code wizard. It requires creativity, a really good eye for layout and design, unique ideas and a willingness to learn (which arguably, is harder to find than someone who can read and write code like one of the main characters in The Matrix).
Secondly: WordPress is broad enough and flexible enough to allow you to specialise. You’re not boxed into being a web designer more generally (saving you from learning or building things that you just aren’t interested in); you can focus specifically on building sites for schools, for small businesses, for online stores. You can find your one thing, really get to know all the different plugins and design elements that will allow you to create something fantastic within that niche, and then market it to people who need that particular kind of website.
Finally: WordPress offers a great sense of community. That was one of the major drawcards for Victoria – she was surrounded by other women who were doing fantastic work, and were willing to support her as she stepped out and turned a hobby she’d become incredibly passionate about and talented at into a full time job. There’s a wide range of camps and conferences devoted to this platform, and bringing together the people who use it.
If you’re stepping out and becoming a full time WordPress developer, PeepSo is a great plugin to have in your arsenal. It can help you turn a small business website into a market network, provide a discussion space for an online course; essentially, it can turn any venture into a community.