The last time I really sat down and wrote a post reflecting back was in April 2014. I wanted to write a post looking back on 2015 but I will start from where I last left off in 2014 to get caught up.
This post is split up into parts:
- Part One: An overview, some background, and pondering “titles” and Identity
- Part Two: Getting help and support, and considering employment
- Part Three: WordCamp US and goals for 2016
- Circa 2004: For about two years, in my spare time, I designed and built some websites for friends and created a few websites for fun as side projects.
- New Years eve in 2009 I was laid off from a job of 10 years working in Pre-Press for the local newspaper, the Columbia Daily Tribune.
- 2010 was all about panic and discovery. I had to take a hard look at what my next move would be. Was I going to try for a career change? So I went back to exploring web design and development then decided to go full time as a freelancer.
- 2011-Present: In 2011 I started to learn about using WordPress to build websites. I created some custom website designs and did some graphic design work print design and logos. But by 2014 I decided I no longer wanted to work on design and I focused on development instead.
Looking Back At 2015
Overall it was a good year. It was hard and it made me grow up a lot. I got knocked down and felt defeated but as I look back I see how much good came from it.
When I decided to be a “WordPress Developer” I really didn’t know what the two words meant together. I was following my intuition but wasn’t confident where I was headed… I just knew I wanted to move towards development and away from design. It was an experimental change of direction and the challenge is and has been, to be honest, very intimidating.
A front end developer can fit into a team where you have a designer working with marketing and content writers. The designer has the vision for the site and passes it on to the front end developer to build it out to a working site. Luckily with WordPress most of the light backend work is built in and with theme frameworks and plugins even a lot of the front end dev work is covered (why reinvent the wheel).
For a while in 2014 I tried finding designers to work with and there was a lot of trial and error. I worked on some projects with a few but overall it wasn’t really a successful endeavor. I learned from it and moved on.
(p.s. if you are a designer I still am interested in teaming up with someone).
Eventually I set my sights on subcontract work for agencies and I landed a gig building out a few sites for an agency in late 2014. I worked on two projects through to the beginning of 2015. It was a temporary gig because during this time they had hired an in house developer.
I was excited to have had that experience and I learned a lot but it was also extremely difficult on many levels. For one, I didn’t really know exactly how I was going to do some of what I agreed to do. I was pretty sure I could handle it but that’s not the same as knowing with fair certainty how you are going to build out a project before you start. So I learned as I went. By the way, I now feel that learning by doing (on a paid project) is exhausting and possibly dishonest. I didn’t charge for my learning time but I did wear myself out by trying to learn so much with the added pressure of making sure I was providing quality. Either way, it wasn’t an ideal situation but the lessons that I learned were valuable. I won’t ever be doing that again though if I can avoid it.
This led to a realization that I needed to learn a lot more before I could compete and be taken seriously as a “developer”. The truth is that I was an “Implementer“. It’s not a bad gig and there’s a need for it but it’s also not a very good paying gig in my opinion.
This was basically where I started 2015. Recently I’ve seen more design being done in the browser and design seems to be more standardized lately. Sites look more and more similar to each other. In 2016 I might explore trying to do some more design work on smaller sites.