Can Writing About WordPress Change Someone’s Life?

I write about WordPress for a living. It’s a great job, has its pros and cons like anything else in life but I’ve been able to turn some of the cons into pros lately. I don’t think of my job as anything special. I write my opinions, thoughts, and generally just cover the WordPress ecosystem. It’s not something I’d consider world-changing.

I don’t think I can change someone’s life for the better simply by writing about them, their product, or their visions. Maybe I can? It’s just that so many people have an occupation that benefits society. I wonder what my place is in the grand scheme of things. People value WordPress news, what I write, and appreciate the heads up on things I think they should know about. But does that change their life for the better? It’s not like I’m building a house for a needy family, or participating in a charity that gives people a second chance at life.

Perhaps changing someone’s life is too extreme of a desire. Instead, I’d like to know that because of my work, they are more successful than they would be without it. If I became a millionaire, I’m that guy that would continue to eat at Applebees, Fridays or Longhorns and talk to the servers. Find out what pain points they have in life and if financial aid would be the biggest help, give it to them with a fat tip. I’d be so giving with my money, I’d probably end up broke again while others benefited. That’s just who I am.

WordPress may be just software made up of code that runs on servers, but it’s the backbone of so many sites. Sites that are trying to change lives and make an impact for so many people on this planet.

So in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think what I do for a living is earth shattering, life changing stuff. But I love it when someone tells me face to face at a WordCamp that because of what I do or a post I’ve written, they’ve been more successful whether it’s financially or the exposure opened up new doors. Those are the times I’m reminded that even a young man in the buckeye state can make a positive impact on people’s lives that he may never cross paths with.

 

My WordPress Origin

While it’s not all in text format, the following image is from a blog post in 2007 that pretty much explains how I ended up using WordPress for the long haul. I obtained the image from an archive I had on an external hard drive.

How I Started Using WordPress

How I Started Using WordPress

I used a blogging network called EFx2 before I found out about WordPress.com. EFx2 was awesome not only for what it offered but also because of the community surrounding the effort. The community and network effect of EFx2 far surpassed any killer feature EFx2 could offer as far as blogging was concerned.

Can I Create My Own Career?

I’ve been working at the grocery store for over 10 years now and I’m still trying to find a way out of that place. Trying to turn retail into a career is a waste but so is working hourly at the store. I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever be able to make a career out of something. Right now, the best thing I’ve got is my WordPress enthusiast community in which I seem to be building my own career from the bottom up. The first year brought in a total of around $4,000.00 which is below poverty level. However, I’m already on my way to shattering that amount this year by introducing more affiliate reviews into the site and doing some other things.

What I worry about though is whether I can actually pull this off. That is, with a wife, a house, and bills to pay, can I work part time at the grocery store and eventually make my enthusiasm for WordPress a full time job. Since I started the project in March of 2009, every stat related to the domain has increased. I wonder if I’d be better off getting a second job somewhere other than the grocery store or finding a job that has a career path. But those jobs that have a career path are few and far between. Plus, my lack of education kills me. Also, since I’m only into my second year of the project and momentum is on my side, it would be foolish to give that up now.

Just thinking about all those people who have careers that pay $30,000 or more per year while I only made a total of $18,000 for 2009. I hope this is the year of the big payout so I can keep doing what I enjoy doing.

WPTavern Updates

Just wanted to pass along a few updates for those wondering about the progression of WPTavern.

The domain is up and running with a fresh install of WordPress 2.7. The first plugin I installed was Maintenance Mode so that I can work on the site in public without the dust getting in everyones eyes. Next up, I tried my best to install PHPBB3 but for whatever reason, I couldn’t get the installation to accept my Database credentials. I tried every combination known to man. After 30 minutes of trying to figure it out, I went and installed Simple Press which was recommend to me via Steve Hodson of WinExtra.com.

The installation was flawless and I’m going to give this a go. Now, I have to go through and configure the WordPress installation to my liking and then the next thing on my list is to work on the design for the site. Once I get the design finished which is going to be a variation of the one used on this site, I will incorporate the site design into the forums. Once that is finished, I will look at installing plugins for the site and getting the functionality I want up to snuff. During this time, I will also be trying to get my hands on OIO Publisher to manage advertising on the site. I’m hoping to have WPTavern publicly launched in *BETA* form by February 1st. Time will tell though if I’ll be able to make that deadline.

Last but not least, I have created a Twitter account for the site. Please follow @wptavern on Twitter as that will my method of communication to fans of the site. I’ll also be setting up the RSS feed to publish to Twitter for all articles published on the site.

Again, I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support. At this time, if anyone feels like they will be able to contribute some of their time to help me manage the WPTavern community via the forum, let me know as I want a few moderators already in place before the site launches.

WPTavern – Where The Drinks Are Always On The House

Just the other day, I mentioned that I had a decision to make regarding an opportunity for me to purchase a domain centered around WordPress and start up my own project. It’s funny because I didn’t think I would see such an amazing amount of support thrown my way but that is exactly what happened. After reading through the comments on that post, discussing the project with certain people via email and Skype, I have decided to bite the bullet and purchased the domain WPTavern.com as well as WordPressTavern.com from Kyle Eslick of WPHacks.com.

I love the sound of the domain as it’s centered around WordPress and it should be common knowledge that the word Tavern has a social nature to it. If any of you have read my About Page, you’ll know that there are two things that I want in life as it pertains to the web. To foster a community and to be successful. I think with my own project such as WPTavern, I can accomplish both of those goals at one time.

My initial thoughts on what WPTavern will be is a website that covers all things WordPress and related projects. I want WPTavern to be the gathering place for everyone in the WordPress community. I’ll be covering BuddyPress, WPMU, WordPress.com, Akismet, WordPress.org, BBPress, and anything else WordPress related. As for the forum, I’ve been thinking long and hard about which forum software to use and even though Vbulletin or PHPBB might be better for the job, since I’ll be writing about BBPress it would make sense for me to use BBPress. I won’t be opening up the site itself to user registrations, I’ll be keeping that tied to the forum.

As for the design. I want to mimic the Problogger look and feel. I want a front page which looks more like a portal for example, Problogger.net where each block has an excerpt, number of comments and permalink. Each block will be for a different category although I don’t want to place every category on this page as I want to leave room for advertising and recent comments. I also want my navigation at the top and one of the links should be ‘BLOG‘ which will take the visitor to the actual blog where I’ll be publishing full posts. If I could, I would just take everything Problogger has for a design and use that as my base. Just change things around to give it a unique look for WPTavern. If anyone can help me nail down a theme or figure out how to accomplish this look and feel, I’m all ears.

In terms of the type of content I’ll be producing for the site, it’ll be podcasts, special interviews, text based content, screencasts, breaking news if I got it, reviews, and anything else I can conjure up. In order for this to work, I’m going to have to bust my ass and produce every type of content imaginable. That ought to be fun! There is no telling how many posts I’ll be publishing a day. It could be one, it could be ten. The point is, I want to be the go to source for all sorts of news dealing with the world of WordPress.

Now I realize that perhaps there isn’t a need for another WordPress centric site/forum and that the news I publish on the site can be easily obtainable if you were to simply subscribe to the RSS feeds of each site. However, a small part of me thinks that people enjoy having all of that information filtered and presented for them in one place. Again, why bother when there is Planet WordPress or Ozh’s version of Planet WordPress? The only answer I can come up with is that, the text would contain my personality and the content would be created and established by me.

With all that said, I have the domain in my possession and I’ll be adding it to my hosting account in the next few hours. I now need to take things one step at a time and with each sign of progression, I’ll keep you updated.

I Have A Decision To Make

I’ve been thinking about something the past few days and I’m not sure if I am going to pull the trigger or not. I make a decent amount of income by producing content for others but it’s generally confined to writing about Blogging. Writing about Blogging and watching the space from a distance is fun at times but doing it all the time is not. My passion does not revolve around blogging, it revolves around WordPress. I can write about WordPress and related projects all day long, something I can’t do with other topics. The problem though is that, I can’t write purely about WordPress and make a decent level of income and it’s not fair if I write specifically about WordPress but across multiple sites.

There happens to be a pretty cool domain name that is available in WPTavern.com. I love the sound of that domain name. Taverns in the U.S. provide a somewhat social atmosphere and in this case, social about WordPress. I envision a forum being attached to the site as I write countless numbers of articles throughout the week on the domain. I seem to have a knack for reporting on WordPress and related items so I’m wondering, do I have what it takes to do things on my own. WPTavern would be my project, my chance to foster a community, and would allow me to pursue my passion in writing about WordPress all day long.

While it all sounds good to me on paper, I have to wonder if doing something like this would be smart for me to do at this current time. If I drop other sites I write for to put all of my concentration and effort into WPTavern, will I be able to develop a loyal fanbase/following in less than one year to the point where the site makes as much money as writing for others. Other things I have to consider is the existence of WPCandy, WPHacks, of course WeblogToolsCollection.com, would I be able to produce content that is on par with those and other WordPress centric sites? I have a competitive nature inside of me but one thing I have learned while writing for Performancing is to not view sites in the same niche as enemies but rather, collaborators. It’s better to link and build relationships with those who are in the same niche as you rather than burning bridges.

I also have to consider that I cut myself down from work to do weekends only as that provides more time for me to do freelancing. I figure that if I were to cut out 3 of my paid writing gigs, that would slice a good chunk of pay from my monthly income.

I have 7 days to make a decision on whether or not I will purchase the domain and go through with the project. I’m just sitting here wondering if I’ve made a deep enough impact to where I can do things on my own, if I have developed any sort of loyal following which would serve as a great base to start from, if I have what it takes to rise above the noise, if I can provide any points of difference regarding coverage of WordPress and related projects, or if I should just continue doing what I’m doing and let Lorelle handle everything as she is the GO TO person as it relates to anything WordPress.org or WordPress.com.

Hmm, and the clock starts ticking!

Why Am I So Passionate About A Piece Of Software

heartwpI’ve been sitting back in the chair today thinking about the events that have taken place within the past 48 hours. I really bit my tongue before I decided to go through with publishing the post regarding the removal of themes. I checked out the developers IRC channel, I checked out the forum, I looked high and low for an explanation as to what happened and I couldn’t find any. While Thord of the BlogHerald was successful in contacting Matt, I assumed sending an email asking for an explanation was fruitless because I assumed his inbox is swamped with mail, why bother. After confirming that the removal of themes did happen, the only thing I had to go on was Justin Tadlock’s post and David Coveney’s post. That isn’t a lot to go by but because I didn’t see an announcement published on the developers blog, I went with the story as factual after witnessing a number of others reporting that the theme removals did happen.

I don’t want to dwell on the event because it is now a wait and see game with a detailed post by Matt being the only thing that will straighten out this mess. However, I am beginning to wonder if I over reacted? It sounds corny, but I seemingly have a passion for WordPress. The software, the people, the community. Plugin authors, theme authors, those who create patches for bugs, core developers, everything that makes the entire system tick. I want to see everyone that is part of the equation win without any unfair treatment. Make no bones about it, I support Matt and the rest of the team to the fullest extent but if I come across something I disagree with, I’ll make it known.

I feel odd that I’ve entrenched myself in this situation. I believe emotions got the better part of me last night when I wrote the post. I’m not a theme author nor am I a plugin developer yet, I still find a way to get involved with the issues surrounding each topic. I try not to be the one to always bitch and moan. Instead, I try to lend constructive criticism when I can. I’ve always described myself as no expert but simply an end user.

The basis of this post was to try and get my thoughts down on paper to figure out why something that happened with a piece of software ignited an emotional trigger. I wonder if I am too involved with the project, with the people. Do I need to back away? Can one be too passionate about something that it causes one to act and think irrationally? What the hell is wrong with me?