In just 13 years, WordPress has evolved from a blogging service into a full-service platform that companies like The New York Times and Wired trust with their websites. Like all open-source software, the beating heart of WordPress is the community. Without it, it certainly wouldn’t be where it is today.
Today we highlight three different WordPress stories that show exactly how the CMS is changing lives.
Tom Ewer is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of WordCandy, an online publishing agency that specializes in producing content for WordPress businesses.
Ewer first started writing about WordPress back May 2011 on his blog, Leaving Work Behind, after deciding to quit his job at the time.
“I can remember the date well because it was when I decided to quit my job and build a profitable online business,” he said. “Although I knew that WordPress would play a part in that – it being my CMS of choice – I had no idea just how influential it would become at the time!”
Ewer invested his efforts in his blog over the summer of 2011, and then in September applied to be a writer at WPMU DEV, one of the most popular WordPress resources available.
“It was only in September 2011, out of desperation more than anything, that I submitted an application to be a writer for WPMU DEV (then WPMU.org). I somehow landed that job, and haven’t looked back since.”
Today Ewer runs WordCandy, where he and his team writes for some of the biggest WordPress blogs around.
“Where I am today simply would not have happened if WordPress didn’t exist – I owe my livelihood to its continued growth and success,” Ewer said. “I have experience with WordPress from many perspectives – end user, (very) amateur plugin developer, theme designer, and writer – and while it may not be perfect, I’m confident that it is (and will continue to be) the best all-round CMS available.”
Ahmad Awais is a WordPress developer and core contributor.
Awais first got involved with WordPress in 2007 when he was asked to build a site and turned to WordPress as the solution.
“Back in 2007, someone wanted me to build a basic membership site and I found myself thinking, Joomla is too big for what this guy needs. That was my first interaction with WordPress,” he said. “Then in 2009 when I was studying electrical engineering, I started digging into the Codex and building custom WordPress themes and plugins; mostly for my personal blog. Which made me curious about all things web.”
Like many others, Awais fell in love with WordPress. “What started as a side project later became the career of my choice,” Ahmad said, adding that he firmly decided to pursue WordPress full-time after graduating from college.
“I made a decision to pursue my career as a software engineer instead of electrical. This choice led me to build incredible relationships throughout the WordPress community and all over the world,” he said. “Later on, I started contributing to the WordPress support forums, one thing led to another and I have had been a proud core contributor since WordPress 4.2.”
Awais acknowledges that choosing to make WordPress his career is an unconventional choice, but is one that has hugely impacted his life.
“WordPress has changed my life. It has brought me closer to a lot of awesome developers, which led to incredible friendships and partnerships, and WordPress pays my bills,” Awais said. “Most of all, I know I am not alone, the support of our WordPress community is always there, and it has never let me down.”
Tony Perez is the CEO of Sucuri, a website security company. He was first introduced to the WordPress community by WebDevStudio’s Dre Aremeda in 2009.
“It was December 2009, we were gathering for Christmas and he was working on a theme. At the time I was still a defense contractor and had never heard of the platform (working predominantly in the closed-platform world),” Perez said. “I saw what he was doing and was like, ‘Dude, why are you consulting, just start a company’ and that’s when we started CubicTwo – a WordPress boutique agency.”
From there, Perez was hooked. He started spending most of his weekends at WordCamps, and even went as far as to help organize the first WordCamp San Diego in 2011.
“During those days, things were very different,” Perez said. “The business ecosystem wasn’t what it is today. WordCamps didn’t have business tracks, an event that was greater than 300 was huge. There wasn’t as much drama. The community itself wasn’t as big, or volatile. The space has changed, for good or bad, it’s not for me to say, but it’s definitely different. I suppose that just comes with the massive adoption it’s experienced over time.”
Perez’s involvement in WordPress has changed over the years. Although he still tries to speak at WordCamps, he also spends time trying to balance between his business and WordPress events.
“Where WordPress made up a very large piece of my focus daily, it no longer does as our business grows and aims to diversify across all web properties,” Perez said. “…The community and platform are still dear to my heart though, I actually have it tattooed on my body; it introduced me to the open-source world, which has changed my life and for which I’m grateful.”