You are valuable


The keys: Be open. Be honest. Be willing. Be passionate.

Result: Be valuable. Be employed.

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WordPress is exploding in popularity. This is an obvious statement if you look at statistics for sites that use WordPress, but have you thought of what that means to you if you know how to work with the platform?

It means you are valuable.

And people want to hire you.

The rest of the real world is figuring out just how good of a content management system WordPress is. It’s user friendly, constantly iterated, easier to maintain, and easier to extend than just about any other mature platform. But that doesn’t mean it’s simple. It still takes talented people to build consistent, high quality websites.

I am not the best WordPress developer in the world. I look up to hundreds of other people around me. But I am valuable. I can build just about anything with enough time and energy and as long as I keep my constant thirst to learn more about the industry I’m in. If you are like that, then you are very valuable too.

But I don’t know how I stack up

I cannot say this strong enough: just be honest. Be very straightforward about what you are currently capable of, what you are interested in, and what you’d like to know a year from now, or two years from now.

A challenge for people hiring “WordPress developers” is that there are massive differences in people that call themselves that. People hiring have a very hard time deciphering between an entry level person that knows HTML pretty well and a few WordPress functions, versus a seasoned PHP developer that specializes in WordPress development.

So… Just. Be. Honest. Show people sites you’ve worked on, and say what specifically you did on a particular site.

Can you customize a preexisting theme’s CSS? Do you know how to make custom templates? Do you know how to write custom queries? Do you know how to create widgets and settings pages? Do you know the WordPress database architecture? Could you be given a type of content (say like a restaurant menu) and give a detailed outline of how you would structure and organize the data? Do you have experience working with advanced meta data and custom meta boxes? Do you know jQuery or raw JavaScript? Do you have PHP experience with other frameworks? Are you obsessed with page load speeds? Have you created any public plugins or themes? Do you have design experience?

It’s not as important what your comfort level with these things is as your openness describing what you are good at and what you are not.

Oh, and don’t let me forget: if you can communicate really well to both clients and within a team, and you know how to prioritize your own work, then you have an huge advantage before even starting to talk about your development skills.

When I got my full time job, I wouldn’t have considered myself an “expert” at much of anything. I was decent at a few things, miserable at a few, but pretty good at two things: the right places to use which WordPress functions and methodologies, and how to look things up and learn.

A year+ removed, I’ve drastically improved across the board. What has benefited me most was knowing what I know, knowing what I don’t know, and having a strong desire to learn.

If you can resonate with this at all, and are on the fence about going full time WordPress, or wondering if you are valuable, or maybe you’re struggling freelancing, then maybe it’s time to market yourself and get hired.

Keep in mind there is more than freelancing available. Interactive agencies and ad agencies and dedicated WordPress agencies and WordPress product makers are all hiring. And they need a vast array of different skills from maintenance to new development to support to you name it.

If you’re convinced you’re not ready, then just build websites and you will be soon enough.

If you really excel at any of the skills I’ve mentioned, then you are in very high demand.

You are valuable.

12 thoughts on “You are valuable

    1. Thanks Shayne! It takes a while for most people recognize their own value. We are always second guessing ourselves. I still do all the time. Hopefully this will help spur at least someone to follow their ambitions : )

      1. Yeah, and if it makes anyone feel any better I do it a lot as well. I’m not 100% awesome at any one thing but I know a lot about a lot of things (just from experience and time spent learning the hard way) and that’s valuable.

        It took a while to realize it though as you’re always comparing yourself to someone else. When you stop doing that and realize what YOU (I) can bring to the table then it sort of clicks. Basically stop trying to be what someone else is and be the best at what you do and then strive to learn more.

  1. Good stuff, Brian. I get asked this question a lot, as well and you definitely hit the high notes.

    It comes down to knowing your stuff – regardless of however deep. If you can provide X service to a person, do it well, and they’re willing to pay, then you’re valuable.

    You don’t have to be a “full stack” developer to freelance. In fact, I’d argue there’s more value in being a specialist than a generalist – go deep in one area (say JavaScript, CSS, and HTML), and have enough knowledge of how the rest (that is, the server-side) works.

  2. Just saw this! I remember when you gave me this advice a few months ago. I put myself out there and was hired almost immediately (first inquiry email I sent out) to a fulltime position. I hadn’t even put together a portfolio or resume (though I had plenty of sites that I’ve built to point to.) It really cannot be overstated how in demand this skill set is. I was a freelancer who knew my stuff, but wasn’t sure if that was enough for the rigors of a fulltime position.

    Trust me, to all the people out there who can build WordPress sites effectively but feel like they might not be good/advanced enough in the backend, there are people working as “wordpress” developers who don’t have a quarter of your knowledge, don’t follow blogs/WordPress news or care about the platform- and they are very confident in their skills. I think it’s much better to doubt yourself because you know that you don’t know everything than to be one of those people who can barely do the job but thinks they’re worth the big bucks. Unfortunately because these people are more confident, they end up getting the jobs.

    . My point is, Brian is right. There’s really nothing stopping you!

    1. You know, we actually touched on this at the WP Summit as well. SO MANY new people want to contribute and give back but it seems like there’s no easy way.

      So watch for what we have upcoming. 🙂

  3. Hey Brian, great post and I know we talked a bit on Twitter about this.

    You have hit the nail on the head. “Be honest”. Let your clients know your limitations and don’t pretend to be something you aren’t. I have had tons of clients come my way with horror stories of being misled and over-promised by WordPress devs and designers.

    There’s a lot of work out there as I know I get emails daily asking for WP dev referrals. Great to see so many peeps taking the dive into the WordPress waters!

    1. Definitely! Honesty and communication are the best way to make happy clients, no matter your skill set. There are plenty of super talented people that I’m sure disappoint clients all the time, because they over promised, under delivered, didn’t communicate, or some combination of all of those things. Thanks for your input!

  4. Hey Brian Great post. I couldn’t agree more about honesty and hard work going a long way, at least from my own experience. I especially like this part, cause I had a similar experience last year when I joined a team full time.

    “When I got my full time job, I wouldn’t have considered myself an “expert” at much of anything. I was decent at a few things, miserable at a few, but pretty good at two things: the right places to use which WordPress functions and methodologies, and how to look things up and learn.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes knowing where to go and what to do is more than half the battle.

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