In any profession the top performers will earn the majority of the rewards. 20% of WordPress developers receive 80% of the recognition, opportunities and financial benefits. So if you want to become a WordPress developer it makes sense to aim for the top. Read on and learn how you too can become a first class WordPress developer.
What defines an expert
An expert WordPress developer is not someone who has watched a few tutorial videos. That person may know more than the average WordPress user but they are not an expert. Becoming an expert means mastering WordPress development to the point where you are able to innovate and add something new. As an expert you are aiming to be more adept with WordPress than 80% of all other developers.
The rewards of being a top WordPress developer
Becoming a top WordPress developer will take considerable time and effort. The process may involve years of study and application. So you should be sure that is worthwhile before you begin. Understanding the rewards will help justify the work that will be involved. Here are some of the reasons why you should aim to be a top WordPress developer:
Big companies want to hire the best and they are willing to pay more for elite talent. The average salary for WordPress developers is about $35,000 a year in the US. But top WordPress developers command six figure salaries.
As a top developer you are going to be a hot commodity. That means you will have the freedom to choose the projects that you want to work on and say no to the ones you don’t.
Top developers have the skills and knowledge to give back to the WordPress community. If you want to create something exceptional you first need the skills to do it.
Learn the basics
If you are going to be a top WordPress developer then you are going to need to learn PHP and MySQL. There are number of different places that offer courses in the programming languages including CodeAcademy, Treehouse and Lynda. You should also explore the WordPress codebase and join the WordPress tester mailing list.
Make a commitment
Mastering WordPress requires a commitment of time. Set aside one hour a day where you will study new material to advance your WordPress knowledge. For most people the best time to study is first thing in the morning before other events can get in the way. If you already have a packed schedule, wake up an hour earlier. Becoming a top WordPress developer will mean making sacrifices.
Follow other top developers
Watching and learning from other top WordPress developers is inspiring and will help to immerse you in the WordPress world. Read through their blogs and implement their tips and strategies. Visit central.wordcamp.org to find other top WordPress developers and listen closely to what they have to say.
- Andrew Nacin (@nacin)
- Alex King (@alexkingorg)
- Bill Erickson (@billerickson)
- Carl Hancock (@carlhancock)
- Cory Miller (@corymiller303)
- Mark Jaquith (@markjaquith)
- Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt)
- Mike Schinkel (@mikeschinkel)
- Nathan Rice (@nathanrice)
- Peter Westwood (@westi)
- Jeff Starr (@perishable)
- Joost de Valk (@yoast)
- Justin Tadlock (@justintadlock)
- Silviu-Cristian Burcă (@scribu)
Join the WordPress forums and community
WordPress is a community and so if you want to be a top developer you need to become part of that. Some of the ways you can do this is by writing tutorials, making contributions to the codex, and joining in on forum discussions. If you are new then start asking questions on the community support forum. As your skills progress, give back and begin answering any questions that you can.
Build themes and plugins
There is no better indication of how your skills are developing than public feedback. Develop a WordPress theme or plugin and then either release for free or sell it. Create the theme or plugin that you know people need but that doesn’t currently exist. Your users and other developers will tell you what you need to do to improve it. Creating something is one of the fastest ways to learn.
Put in your time
If you want to become a top WordPress developer then you need to get experience. Think thousands of hours of practice not hundreds. One of the best ways to get this kind of experience is to start taking on client work. Not only will you be getting paid to improve, you will also face unexpected challenges. Joining the elite of WordPress developers may be difficult but the rewards more than justify the effort.