For a large part of my career in web development, especially in the early days, I’ve been guilty of trying to do too many things at once. I’ve known deep down that focus is a good thing, but had a fear that by narrowing down my development focus to one or two things, that my skills would become irrelevant.
I think that’s a fair concern, especially today. Things in the web development space evolve quickly!
On the other had the longer that my career has gone on, the more I’ve realised that if I want to produce my best work, I need to get really specific about what I do.
This clearly conflicts with the fear of becoming irrelevant. How do you balance being an expert at a few things and staying relevant with the web development industry?
I’m still figuring out the answer to that but at the end of last year I bit the bullet and focused (some would say niched) down entirely on WordPress development.
It was hard to do at first. I continually had feelings of wanting to be more than just a “WordPress developer”. It also mean’t that I had to give up a lot of stuff that I was doing that was outside the scope of WordPress development. I even threw away hundreds of pieces of content on this blog as it was not related to WordPress development.
WordPress development mastery
In order to achieve WordPress development mastery, I needed to be totally focused on only WordPress development. Not just in my day to day work, but also in the brand that I project to the outside world.
It’s been a few months now in my pursuit of mastery, and I can positively say that the results of my efforts have paid off in a number of different ways…
- I landed a dream remote working WordPress development job
- I’ve formed relationships with a number of the top developers in the industry
- I’ve become a better developer by focusing on fewer things and doing those few things really well
- There is no overwhelm of trying to do too much
- Even though I turn them down, there has been a number of good work opportunities come my way
How to achieve WordPress development mastery
Achieving mastery in anything really just requires hard and focused work. It means eliminating the unnecessary and focusing on the things that will move you forward in what you’re wanting to achieve.
For WordPress specifically, here are some actionable items that you can do in a quest for mastery.
- Read and learn as much as you can (books, courses, communities, forums, blogs)
- Write WordPress code as often as you can, even if it doesn’t pay you to do so!
- Build your online brand (the easiest way to do this is to start a blog)
- Contribute to the Core and learn from code already in the Core
- Reach out and form relationships with others in the WordPress space (read: go to WordCamps)
Take a single action each day from the above list and apply it. Within 3 months you will become a better WordPress developer and before long, start to feel like a real master of the craft.
When I first got started I made some real rookie mistakes due to lack of experience, but the more I execute on the above actionable items, the better I get and less mistakes I make. With each day that passes, I’m becoming a stronger WordPress developer.
It also really helps to find mentors or leaders in the community to guide you.
Focusing down even more
The next step for me in my journey to achieve WordPress development mastery is to focus down even further. This again is a scary thought but an important one. Like I say, I’ve learned that the more laser focused I am with my work, the better the work is that I produce.
The way to focus down further for me would be to focus on specific pieces of WordPress development and only execute on those. Slowly but surely I am figuring out what those pieces are.
Focusing down on WordPress development mastery is a great choice as it exposes you to some of the best development languages, tools and practices. Those are transferable skills that can be used elsewhere.
Lastly, if you’re struggling with focusing down like I did initially, then have a read (or listen) of the book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s an excellent resource that helped me work through some of the fears and doubts I had. It also will help you figure out what you should eliminate out of your already far too busy life.