Dougal Campbell wrote a great post a few days ago. If you haven’t already, I recommend giving it a read – especially if you build things with WordPress.
It’s been ten years since WordPress was released, and although I’ve only been creating with it for half that time, it’s been an amazing ride so far.
My introduction to WordPress wasn’t as a development environment – it was as a way to blog. I started in this industry with freelance, static html website design. Incidentally, I also started a WordPress blog in October 2007. I’d been using a different platform before then, but many points of frustration lead me on a search that ended with WordPress.
Following that, I continued freelancing for a few more years, philosophically-powered by the principle that I’d never sell out to an agency, and never hire other people. I wanted to be my own boss, work my own schedule, and choose my clients. I was a magical internet man! Surely I could do whatever I wanted, forever, and make millions of dollars.
And it worked…for a while. I gained a local reputation for being very transparent, pleasant, and fast.
During my time freelancing, I was lucky to build a few hundred sites with WordPress. I saw the light and dark side of it – from the few-but-evil sketchy backdoor freemium plugins, and themes with encoded spam links in footers, to a plugin developer who lived half a world way, sacrificing his night helping me with code until I got my sites back up.
As things progressed, I found myself more frequently on the other side of those email threads, helping clients and other WordPress developers and designers until everyone was happy. I’d do maybe 3 or 4 cheap sites per month. I didn’t make a lot of money. But I loved the life, and I was helping people.
The Great Drought of 2010
Things started to dry up. So I’d do pro-bono projects and consultations for non-profits, and a bit of networking here and there. It helped a bit, but I ultimately chose to re-think my ideals. Why am I against working for an agency? Is it all agencies I dislike working for? Eventually I figured out I just dislike feeling like I don’t matter. Big ad agencies, working my days away on snippets of anonymous code. Endless stacks of project managers and marketing heads above you.
I decided it’d be ok, as long as I didn’t work for an ad agency.
I applied to a few firms and was lucky to get a few offers, which lead me to one of my current jobs, at ArtComp, as lead dev.
What about the next ten years of WordPress?
WordPress may be entirely different by then. It may indeed be forked, as many are currently talking about. But not by me. There are two things I can count on – WordPress will always be GPL, and will always have a great community behind it. Most recently, I’ve become active on WordPress.org with some projects; and as intimidating as it can be to talk to your nerdy heroes in IRC, or have a core developer submit a pull request to my sub-standard code, it’s great.