Zero to WordPress hero, your guide to becoming a WordPress professional

Become a WordPress pro

So you have decided you would like to learn or level up your WordPress skills. Anyone can take this journey. Maybe you’re already a WordPress hobbyist, dabbling in your spare time or maybe you’re crossing over from another related field like frontend web developer.

WordPress is a wise choice. It’s easy to learn and easier than a lot of people think to lift your skills above the average. And when you get there you will find there is plenty of demand for skilled developers to work on the CMS that runs a good sized portion of the web.

So let’s get started!

Find learning resources

At the most basic level a WordPress professional needs to be able to set up a website and install a theme, add content and add plugins. Beyond this, they need to be able to make amends to a theme or even create a theme from scratch and the same with plugins. Security is important to and investigating hacks is a valuable skill to have.

If you’re not starting from a sound base of HTML, CSS and some basic WordPress then do not fear. There are many free online resources that will allow you to learn and practice these foundation skills before you move on to the more advanced materials.

Codecadamy is a good place to start with the foundation building blocks. HTML, CSS and even PHP

If you already have the core skills then your ready to learn the more exciting concepts that your future clients will love you for. Skills that let you build plugins completely custom to your client’s needs.

WordPress university – free
TeamTreehouse – paid

It does not matter if you are an absolute beginner or have more intermediate skills, the above resources have a wealth of material to help you get started.

Find a mentor / become a mentor

A mentor can give you personalized advice and feedback as well as motivation and the correct level of challenge.

Your mentor does always not need to be one individual person, that can be hard to find. It’s great if you can qualify as an apprentice or get an internship but not everyone is so fortunate. Finding a place in an online community to ask for support when you need it is a practical alternative, just be sure to give back, in the form of helping those who are yet to reach your level.

Becoming a mentor is an excellent way to retain what you have discovered about WordPress. The key is not to have too wide of a gap between skills. If you are just getting into the intermediate stage then find an eager student who is keen to learn the basics or start a blog and share your knowledge with the world.

Read the right documentation

When working with WordPress there are two invaluable sources of documentation that I visit frequently.

The first is the WordPress Codex – The living repository of all things WordPress. A manual for whatever stage you are at in your career.

The second is the PHP manual – After all, WordPress is still built upon PHP.

Get to know the right people

It’s time to start adding your favorite WordPress developers to your social media accounts. If you don’t have any favorites yet then seek out projects you admire and find out who is behind them. They will probably have social accounts aimed at sharing knowledge with other developers.

Two developers I admire are Jeffory Way and Lorna Mitchell.

Don’t just stop at online communication either. There may be WordPress developer conferences and meetups going on in your local area and these are wonderful places to get to know like-minded people. If you feel a little awkward about it, trust me you won’t be alone. Usually, the format of a meet up is a chance to network followed by a series of informal talks around a key topic.

Find a meetup near you.

Practice with projects

Tutorials, video course, and ebooks are all good resources but there comes a time when you need to start making something real. The trouble is what?

These are a few project ideas for getting started:

Is there a Start-Up that you admire. Perhaps something like Airbnb. Imagine what kind of functionality you would need for such a project and try to build it in WordPress.

Do you have a task that needs automating? Using WordPress to create a plugin you may be able to make this happen.

Solve a problem, groups like the Facebook group Advanced WordPress will have users posting problems and asking for help. perhaps you can use your skills to solve a real problem you find there.

Build a portfolio

Which a few real-life projects to show you will surely be ready to start assembling your portfolio.

If you’re looking to gain attention from the more technically minded you could choose to have a portfolio on Github with examples of your code or your very own website featuring examples of your WordPress development and design skills.

When you’re ready to show off your portfolio to the world you can find a host that works for you in our database.

Banish the imposter

There is an increasing awareness in the web community of what has been named imposter Syndrome. It is the feeling that your really just an imposter in a world of real professional and you will soon be found out as an unskilled fraud.

It’s normal to feel this way, even for professionals with years of experience behind them.

The truth is many people in this industry are in the same position. There are few certified courses to lean on for confidence and many developers have a skill set is fully self-taught. Thankfully the development community does not judge, embraces learners and is full of people looking to help each other up not tear each other down.

Look at what you have achieved with time and dedication and be confident in your new WordPress skills.

Getting rid of imposter syndrome is easier said than done. Getting feedback from someone who has been following and understanding your progression can be helpful in working out your true skill level. Another good reason to join a community of developer early in your journey.

Decide how you want to put your skills into practice as a professional

You have the skills, the experience, the portfolio and the network. You even have the right positive attitude. Now it’s time to look at how you can monetize those skills to become a true WordPress Pro.

Perhaps you could work for an agency, take on clients freelance, or turbocharge an existing project with money-making features. Another idea is to use your skills to build a tool you wish existed but does not

Keep learning

WordPress, like the world of development as a whole, never stops evolving and a professional developer needs to keep up.

Following news sources and reading new material will help you stay ahead.

Good luck in your journey!