Dive in to your WordPress Community

Dive In. Be a WordPress Contributor!

In case you’re really pressed for time and can’t stick around for the full article today, here’s the bottom line:

The WordPress community is an incredibly smart and vibrant group of people. If you’ve benefited in any way, it’s time to start giving back. You may even get more back in return. It’s a circle of love, really.

Got a minute? I’ll tell you more. But first…

How I Met WordPress: A Background Story

WordPress Latte Art
My WordPress latte art.

Not long ago I was slinging coffee at Starbucks (another amazing community). I worked for a fantastic mentor/manager, Brian Shannon, who, like me, came from a technology background.

Over a cup of pre-sunrise coffee one day, we discussed a web dev project on my horizon. That’s when Brian introduced me to WordPress. WordWhat, I said? WordPress. He and his business partner, Rudy Lopes, had been working with WordPress for a couple of years and sang its praises as a development platform.

For the next year, Brian and Rudy evangelized me in the ways of WordPress. I got my toes wet by migrating my old blog to WordPress.com. Eventually I launched my first WordPress site. Now, less than two years later, I make my living with WordPress.

Looking back, that morning was a Damascus Road moment in my career. (Hrm, I should probably send Brian flowers or buy him a beer.) Moving on…

The Learning Journey

When I started with WordPress, I wrote terrible code. (I’m actually still capable of terrible code, but it’s getting better). I’d see something I wanted to do on a site and then figure out how to make it work.

I asked lots of questions in forums.

I read lots of blog posts by more experienced WordPress users.

I wore out every tutorial I could find.

And I learned. I learned because a bunch of passionate people – the WordPress community – generously created and shared an avalanche of resources. Why would they do that? Maybe some for money or nerd fame (which is fine), but most just for the fun of it.

Who doesn’t want to be a part of that community? Joomla users, that’s who.

The Giving Back Part

Unless you’re a first-rate curmudgeon, you can identify with the desire to give back to a community that’s helped or inspired you. After all, the collective contribution is what makes the WordPress community so successful. We can’t be takers all the time.

But where to start? I’ll be honest – it’s intimidating, especially if you don’t feel like you have much to offer. Andrea Rennick encouraged me with a little push off the diving board (thanks, Andrea!). I’m hoping I can do the same for you.

Everyone knows the answer to something. Share your knowledge. – Siobhan McKeown

Siobhan, of quote fame above, is a power force behind WordPress documentation and passionate promoter of WordPress community. In a recent presentation at WordPress London she outlined the following ways people can get involved with WordPress:

Different ways to be a WordPress Contributor:

  • Developer (Core, Documentation, Plugins, Mobile Tech)
  • Designer (User Interface, Mobile Design, Theme Review)
  • Writer (Codex Updates, Handbooks, Inline Dashboard Help, Doc Springs)
  • Linguist (WordPress Translation, Document Translation, MultiLingual Support)
  • Teacher (Teaching, Support)
  • Organizer (WordCamp, Meetups)

See? Something for everyone there! She also wrote another article giving some advice for beginners in the WordPress community. That girl is full of good stuff.

It’s Your Turn to Make Impact

Were you hoping I’d end this post here, without asking you to do anything? Too bad. I’m about to ask.

It’s not very often that something you do in an afternoon can touch so many folks, but WordPress is one of those places where you can. And for people who care about that, there’s nothing better. – Matt Mullenweg

If you’re still here reading, you’re WordCurious. And if you’re WordCurious, it’s time to become a WordPress Contributor! It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t even require commitment. All I’m saying is do one thing. Just one thing!

Here are some ideas to get your wheels turning:

  • Answer a question in a forum (could be for WordPress.org, your favorite theme, or a plugin you like).
  • Find a local meetup and go. Shake hands with other WP enthusiasts and participate.
  • Donate $5 to the author of a free plugin that you really, really like.

You Can Do Eet

I’d like to offer you a final bit of inspiration.

What do you think? Let’s start a discussion below.

25 thoughts on “Dive In. Be a WordPress Contributor!”

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  2. Although I don’t know all the answers, I’m totally comfortable hanging out in the StudioPress forums and answering questions there, but I haven’t ventured over to the WP forums to contriibute – I started on WP with Genesis, so I know there’s a lot of basic WP stuff that I have no idea how to do without the Genesis framework.

    I agree with you, though – if you have been helped at all in one way or another, you should take some time to give back – you’ll make someone’s day, I’m sure.

    1. Susan, you’re a total inspiration! I love that you have helped, but also have encouraged others to do so with your tweets. I’m also much more comfortable in the Genesis forums than with WP, but that’s still a contribution – it doesn’t have to be with “formal” WordPress.org to count. 🙂

  3. Coincidentally, I’ve joined a WordPress meetup group from New York less than a week ago! I’m looking forward attending my very first meeting.

    I have known WP for many years, but only in the last year or two I’ve started to reaaaaaally use it. So much so that it is the first time I’ve built my full website using WP only (not the blog here, info website there, shop over there…).

    As always, your post made me laugh… first at “Brian and Rudy evangelized me in the ways of WordPress.” and then at “Joomla users, that’s who.” lol I have a friend who hates WordPress and adores Joomla. She’d be horrified to hear that!!! And that brought memories, I used to work with Joomla a LOT, I actually start with Mambo (Joomla’s dad) when they didn’t even had Joomla yet… That was around 2005 or so.

    WordPress = Evolution! =D

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  5. Great read Carrie! I started a on a very similar path; I knew little of coding or WP best practices, and leaned heavily on the free knowledge of others. I had no knowledge of community at that time. I was just grateful that anything I needed was a Google/forum search away, but thought little beyond that.

    About 2 years in to my business, I began to expand on that thinking. Here I was, making a living off of something that is essentially free (well, that and StudioPress, which is worth every penny!) but doing nothing to give in return. It was my first WordCamp (SF 2011) where I met the community I was just beginning to hear about, and everything from that day forward has changed…

    Today is the 3rd anniversary of my business (no joking) and while I still make money from WordPress, I also now give an increasing amount of my time back as well, in forums, documentation, and even contributions to core, not because it’s “billable hours” but because it’s the best feeling out there. Surprisingly, this free work has only benefitted me, and has really helped me to “level-up” in every regard, both in the larger WP community, and when I invoice my clients. 🙂

    Give to WordPress; what you get back is immeasurable.

    1. Jerry, you just said it better than I could! I may delete the post and just re-post your comment. 😉

      Congratulations on your business anniversary! I’d love to interview you sometime. You up for it? Get ready.

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