WordPress has a lot of DIY features – one of the reasons it is so popular. And a lot of designers and developers have worked with WordPress some. But a career as a WordPress developer? Yes. If you can establish yourself as a pro, there are some pretty great opportunities to grow a career.
First, Get Over the Idea that You are Not a Pro and find Your Niche
Just because you are working with WordPress does not mean you are an “imposter” in your work. Yes, WordPress has amazing and easy features, but so do most all of the design and development kits. And coding is still your strength.
There are many niches that incorporate WordPress, and that is your first task. You need to identify the right working “environment” for yourself, learning what you still need to, and build a portfolio – either to get that job with a company or to set out in freelance WordPress work.
- Identifying That Niche
Any decision you make about a career niche right now does not have to be permanent. Right now, just identify where you would like to begin – you will have amazing flexibility as the years progress. Here are several options:
- You may want to include design
- You may want to consider teaching, both on- and off-line.
- Any combination of these niches – You could design and develop websites for clients, you can teach others how to use WordPress, and you could even write articles for coders. Even if you are not the best writer in the world, you can buy professional cv editing service to polish up what you produce.
Consider what your skills are and where you have experience. Consider, too, what additional learning you want to master to move into other niches of WordPress.
- Making the Decision About Your Work Environment
Once you have determined your niche(s), the next decision is to determine which work environment will best suit your career growth. Again, you have many options:
- Employment with an agency or by an individual as a manger of his/her website, blog, etc.
- Being a contractor. You can contract with agencies or with individuals. In this capacity, you do have the flexibility of being self-employed and, on your own, developing long-term relationships with clients and agencies. If you contract with agencies, it will be because you have skills that they do not have in-house – all the more reason for you to continue learning.
- Contracting with individual clients can be lucrative, but it will require more generalist skills. And don’t forget that you will be running your own business with all of the related tasks – marketing, communication, developing contracts, invoicing, etc.
- Selling to theme/plugin vendors. If your coding skills are great, you can develop themes and plug-ins and sell them to vendors. Just be aware that if you do this, and users have questions or issues, you will be the “go-to” person for follow-up support. If you don’t provide that support, vendors will not be buying more from you.
- Launch your own startup. If your skills are in high enough demand, this may be a good, although risky, option. There is much that goes into marketing once a startup is launched, and you will need to be expert at spreading your “brand.” All of your work will entail WordPress freelance jobs, and getting those jobs will take some work.
As you think about your work environment, think about your tolerance for risk. If your tolerance is low, you will be looking for jobs at WordPress agencies. If your risk is high, you should consider expanding your skills and becoming a skilled marketer.
- Those Skills
Assess your current skillset. Are you marketable as is? If so, get busy. At the same time, however, make a list of the additional skills that will make you more marketable, dependent on what niche you want and where you want to work.
In general, if you intend to work for any agency or even contract with agencies, you will need very specific skills that are on the rare side. If you are going to freelance for individual clients, you will need broader and more general skills.
Once you have identified the skills that you still want to acquire, it is a matter of where to go to get them.
- Where to Learn
Just as with everything else related to career growth in development, you again have options.
- Online courses abound – some free, some fee-based.
- Technical resources – check out WordPress codex.
- There are a number of books on WordPress – find one that focuses on the skills you want to develop
- Find workshops – local or online
- Find a local group of WordPress developers and network with them
- Attend national conferences such as WordCamps. Agency reps attend these to look for talent.
There are a large number of resources for learning WordPress, no matter what level of knowledge or skill level you currently have.
- Build a Portfolio/Blog/Social Media Presence
Each time you acquire a new skillset, create a piece that demonstrates those skis – a great website theme, a plug-in, etc. focus on the skills you want to “sell” to an agency or other client. You can display these projects on your own website, as an attachment in your LinkedIn profile, or on the site of a third-party, like Carbonmade. If you haven’t yet had any work, then create themes or sites for friends or imaginary companies.
O should have a blog, at least in the beginning. Focus on what you think potential clients might search for online or what questions they might be asking about design and development or locating someone to create for them.
Have a personal or business presence on social media – use those platforms to drive people to your site, blog and/or portfolio.