Becoming a WordPress developer is hard work, real hard work. You would have to put in a lot of time, hard work, dedication and focus to become a top notch developer. Of course, there is room to become an average developer, that way you won’t put nearly as much time and effort as you would if your aim is to be top-notch. But effort goes with reward, if you are willing to put in just a little effort then you shouldn’t expect a bountiful harvest.
The benefits of being a top developer far outweigh that of a being an average one. For one, there are so many average developers around, so much the atmosphere is choking. Wouldn’t you rather want to stand out from the crowd than join the bandwagon? There is also the financial angle, being a top developer means you will deal with top clients, which also means you will make bigger bucks in comparison. So there is no genuine reason why anyone would prefer to stay mediocre.
To be a top WordPress developer, here are ten necessary steps to follow:
1. Start reading
Start reading everything that concerns WordPress, it does not necessarily have to do with development, but how WordPress works as a whole. The idea is to understand the organism called WordPress. Who created it and for what purpose? How has it evolved? For what purpose do people use it? What are the challenges or areas that may need attention? WordPress is very large. What are the areas of WordPress that you may be interested in?
Resources are available for your education. At no time in our history do we have as many educational resources as we have now. You can start small, by dedicating at one hour every day to reading about WordPress, and as time goes on the hours start increasing.
2. Socialize with right people
Birds of a feather, they say, flock together. The type of people you move with determines the type of person you will end up becoming. If you wish to become a top developer, learn to associate with top developers. Read their blogs, follow them on social media, listen to their talks, read their books and attend their seminars whenever you are opportune. You would learn a lot from them and start to become better, and they will also be available to you for assistance in the event you need one.
3. Develop your skill
If you do not know PHP and MySQL then it is time to learn some programming. If you already do, great, but there is always room to be better. There are thousands of resources available for learning and sharpening your PHP and MYSQL knowledge. Knowledge is dynamic, if your knowledge of programming is a bit rusty then you may need to clean it up.
Resources such as WordPress Codex; which is a repository containing everything regarding WordPress edited and developed by the WordPress community, books such as WordPress for Dummies and websites such as makewordpress.org can help in developing WordPress skill.
Now you have gathered relevant information and learned relevant skills relating to WordPress. Next is to put this knowledge into practice. This is the time to build something, try building your WordPress site and tear it down again. Just have fun with the system. And while you are at it, take important notes.
5. Take a step of faith
Now you have gathered knowledge, theoretical and practical, and you have applied this knowledge in a controlled environment where you are judge and king. You know your strength and you are aware of where you are deficient. At this stage you are a moderately good developer, just like thousands of others spread across the globe, but not yet a top developer. Next step is to take on outside project; take on a client. This could be a free or paid project but it doesn’t matter yet, what is important is to have a real-world experience of WordPress development.
Clients will expose you to areas you never thought about, present unique challenges to you. The more you succeed at the job of your clients the better you will become in real life. Also, the more time you spend working on WordPress, the more experience you become. A popular saying has it that to become an expert at a particular endeavor, then you must spend 10,000 hours at it. So, get some quality hours for yourself by working on client’s project.
6. Solve a problem
The first point in this article had stressed the need to gather general knowledge on WordPress, well, here is where that knowledge comes in handy. Find a need in the WordPress community and with your experience and skill set strive to solve it. Develop a plugin that solves a real problem and not a lookalike of several already existing plugins.
7. Contribute a patch
Now, this can be a daunting task but it is a necessity if you want to be considered a top developer. Just as stated above, find a challenge, one you believe you can solve, and strive to find a solution to it. This is also about finding an area you are good in and work towards building your expertise around it.
8. Perfect debugging
What kind of developer will you be if you can’t write a bug-free code? Practice and perfect the act of debugging in WordPress. You can start with the Codex and build your way from there.
9. Write tutorials
Not too long ago you were a novice who was scouting around the web for relevant resources that can assist your growth in WordPress development. Well, now you are fast turning to a pro yourself. Don’t you think it is time to give back to the community? You can start by writing tutorials on your personal blog and guest blogging your ideas on other notable WordPress blogs. Write about things that are relevant to both beginner and expert developers. You were once an amateur, you know where it hurts, now put yourself in those shoes and try to soothe their pains.
Also, aside from helping a brother out with your shared information, tutorials are ways of bringing attention to oneself. What is the essence of being a top developer when no one knows you exist?
10. Answer questions
Another way you can develop the community as well as show your relevance is to answer questions on the WordPress forum. Get on the WordPress forum and answer questions, some may be silly and some may be completely outrageous but patiently attend to them. You may just be lucky and land a new client on these forums.