It was the end of 2017, and I was working remotely as a software developer at a consulting company. I saw the writing on the wall; my position was about to become more or less extinct. If there was ever a time to start my own venture, it was now.
So that’s what I did. On January 1, 2018, I started my freelance WordPress business. I didn’t have any specific offerings – I just had lots of skills, a good network, and the desire to make a living doing what I was good at and enjoyed.
When I started that business, I knew nothing about the WordPress community, the ecosystem, or the open source project. I certainly didn’t appreciate the fact that because of these things, I was able to create a new life for myself and my daughter. I took WordPress for granted. Now I’m committed to giving back.
In 2018, I wasn’t thinking about WordPress’s history or community. Instead, I came from the entrepreneurial world and thought about clients and end users. I was positioning the work in WordPress around their needs and frustrations. I had very few “techie” friends, and even in that group, none of us talked about WordPress as an evolving tool. We often complained about core updates because it was another thing that could “break stuff” for our clients. I didn’t appreciate what those updates meant, who was behind them, and how every new contribution to WordPress was making it better – for myself, my business, and my clients.
I remember panicking when Gutenberg was merged into WordPress core in December 2018 (the notorious 4.9 to 5.0 update). The merge happened right before Christmas, I wasn’t ready, and I was angry at the “WordPress Gods.”
For the next few years, I continued in my business, not thinking about WordPress – except with annoyance when new features made it harder to do my job for clients. If anything, I grew frustrated with WordPress and considered jumping ship to other platforms that felt more stable and were easier for my clients to use.
Then, somewhat randomly near the end of 2021, I hopped on Twitter. By pure luck (or an algorithm that was watching my every move…) I got plugged into the WordPress community on Twitter, and from there, everything changed.
I found a buzzing, thriving ecosystem of developers, product creators, business owners, freelancers, designers, and more. Everyone was talking about WordPress – not just from a business perspective, but about the technical power of the tool.
My appreciation of WordPress, what it is, and more importantly, how it is built & maintained has grown. I know now that I took the tool my entire livelihood is based around for granted.
Now that I have the awareness and the understanding of WordPress, I am ready to contribute to the project and encourage others in the community to do the same.
Giving back to WordPress
Armed with my new awareness, I have made giving back to WordPress a professional goal.
As the Community Manager for Developer Relations at WP Engine, I spend my time listening to the needs of the WordPress community, sharing feature requests and bug reports within the Gutenberg Github Repo, and talking to other developers about WordPress.
A few months back, I also joined the Make WordPress Training team, which does incredible work educating designers & developers within the WordPress community. I hope to contribute educational WordPress content alongside training team rockstars like Courtney Robertson, Nick Diego, Pooja Derashri, Hauwa Abashiya, and others.
Although I would never call myself an extremely technical developer, there are many ways to contribute to WordPress and the ecosystem at large. So many people with different expertise benefit from WordPress – I believe no-code and low-code contributions are incredibly important to the future of the project, as expressed in the following tweet:
No code & low-code contributions to #WordPress matter.— Sam Munoz (she/her) (@hellosammunoz) June 28, 2022
If you are interested in learning more about how to contribute to WordPress, I recommend starting with the Make WordPress website. You will find all the teams and what would be best for you there. There are also contributor days which are excellent for new contributors to get started.
If this topic resonated with you, I’d love to discuss it further. Please feel free to reach out on Twitter @hellosammunoz and send me a DM.