WordPress Development Mastery

The pursuit of WordPress development mastery

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.

As far as becoming irrelevant goes, the fear that I had initially has mostly disappeared. The thing is, I’ve come to know myself as a person who can adapt easily. If WordPress does eventually wash out, I know that I can adapt my skills to something else. For instance, I’m now doing a lot more Javascript work that is easily transferable to other industries and projects.

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.

 

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4 thoughts on “The pursuit of WordPress development mastery”

  1. I’m on the pursuit myself. I’ve been following you for months because I had similar ideas of making educational WP material … difference being is that you are executing. 😛 I am happy to see it is paying off already with the dream job and community connections. I still feel like I’m talking to myself, but hopefully I’ll make some WordPress friends who want to be involved. Congratulations and thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Matt says:

      Hey Tarik,

      Good to see more people wanting to get involved in WordPress education. I’d encourage you to keep it up and just keep putting stuff out there. It won’t always be perfect, but it gets easier and better as time goes by.

      Also, the readers will grow over time too 🙂 I know the feeling of talking to yourself all too well!

      Matt

  2. Darrin says:

    I bit the bullet roughly 10 years ago and decided to focus solely on being a WordPress developer, really before “WordPress Developer” was a thing. Honestly it was rough in the beginning. I struggled for the first year or two to get a foothold anywhere; even being in the Chicago, IL area. Used to be if you searched “WordPress” in the Chicago area on LinkedIn, me and Brian Gardner were the only results!

    Then slooooowly it started to work out. Agencies figured out they could turn web projects quickly using WordPress and realized they needed someone who understood it; all of a sudden I was in demand! Now, it being the behemoth it is, WordPress “devs” are definitely saturating the market, but competition is good It keeps you sharp! : )

    As for focusing further, even within the WP community, you should definitely pursue that. The WordPress ecosystem is so vast, there is definitely plenty of room for niches. Look at WooCommerce, Yoast SEO, Gravity Forms, etc. These are all niche areas within the greater WP sphere.

    As WordPress grows ever more complex and reaching, I actually thinking having a niche will make one more in demand, not less. And most certainly not irrelevant.

    1. Matt says:

      Great comment Darrin!

      It’s quite crazy that WordPress has become so huge, that there are now sub-niches within WordPress. Like you mentioned, a couple of years ago, being a WordPress developer was a pretty small and defined niche.

      When I first got started with WordPress in 2005, I used to easily rank first page Google for a number of WordPress related terms like “WordPress Developer” and “WordPress Integrations”. I got a lot of business back in the day from those rankings. These days it is far more difficult.

      As WordPress grows ever more complex and reaching, I actually thinking having a niche will make one more in demand, not less. And most certainly not irrelevant.

      Totally agree with this statement!

      Matt

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