WordPress Origin Stories, Week 3

This is part of our ongoing celebration of the 20th Anniversary of WordPress.

Dean Burton

When I first discovered WordPress, I was messing around trying to build my own website, which at the time was an attempt to move an online community I had on Facebook over to a blog and eventually to sell/promote products. It was a little side hobby; I would never have imagined where that would take me! 

I began learning all about WordPress and even took multiple coding courses to help. I quickly learned that coding wasn’t for everyone, but I picked up so much by learning from others within WordPress. Building that first website was a bit of a disaster, but it taught me so much about the tools involved in WordPress and the entire ecosystem. I learned that everyone in WordPress was so helpful and was super generous with providing free resources I could learn from. 

Eventually, once I knew enough and could solve challenges with WordPress, I started fixing other people’s websites and tinkering here and there, learning more and more. I then got a remote WordPress volunteer role for a company in Cambodia to further my skills and gain some experience. I then went on to build multiple websites for people as a freelancer. 

At the time, I couldn’t believe I’d stumbled across and learned a skill others needed and would pay me for! I used a lot of pre-built themes and frameworks, such as Genesis, because it kept costs down for my clients at the time and allowed a lot of flexibility. 

After a year or so, I hit a wall with trying to wear all the hats of a freelancer. It took its toll, so I decided to apply to various remote WordPress roles and thought I’d take the leap of scoping out employment. I had various interviews and eventually became what was called a ‘Happiness Buff’ with WP Buffs, a WordPress Maintenance company, answering common WordPress support queries at the support desk. It was an instantly good fit. I really wanted to be a part of its success. 

Five years later, I’ve worked my way up to Head of Success, managing our Client Success Team and Support Desk Managers, as well as clients, accounts, and websites. I’d never imagined this would be where it would take me! Who knows what the future holds – but WordPress will probably be a part of my life for a very long time to come!

Topher DeRosia

I didn’t fall in love with WordPress immediately. In my young hubris, I thought I could build something just as good. And maybe I did build something as good as 0.7. But I never advanced it beyond that. I ran my own blog stuff for 10 years. I often wonder how my life would have been different if I had become a core WordPress developer at the beginning.

In 2010 a friend asked me to help build a site using WP 2.9. We did it, and I found that I kind of liked having an admin area pre-built and all that form and database stuff managed.

Then 3.0 came out, and my world exploded. I had recently quit my job to become a freelancer, and I knew PHP really well, and a lot of WP devs didn’t. I ended up being the one people called on to make weird things, addons, and bolt-ons.

I started building plugins and themes, and websites. And in the immortal words of Andrea MIddleton “And then I went to WordCamp”. Anyone who’s ever been chuckles when they hear that because they KNOW what I mean.

Once I met the community, I was hooked. I built things, grew things, mentored, was mentored, paid my bills, raised my kids, and just went all in.

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We want to know your WordPress story too! Tell us how you got started in WordPress. Or tell us about your first website. Or building your business. Or theme. Or plugin…

We’ll continue sharing stories throughout our blog and social media.

This article was published at Post Status — the community for WordPress professionals.

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