You might know my freelance origin story. It’s one I tell a lot, at WordCamps and on podcasts. I sort of fell into it when I was 15 years old. My church asked if I could make them a website. After I declined, they offered to pay me. Pay me to learn? How could I pass it up! This predates WordPress, so I did everything using Microsoft Frontpage, then moved Notepad++. In 2004, I mentioned to my friend Stephen that I was thinking of building a CMS. He showed me WordPress, and the rest is history. For over 15 years, I’ve been freelancing and have used WordPress for most of that time. I get questions about both topics regularly, and I wanted to create a program for me to help WordPress freelancers specifically. So I created the WordPress Freelance Coaching Program.
Six years ago when I got a job at The University of Scranton, it was a little bittersweet. For 2 years following my Masters Degree, I was self-employed. The thing that lead me to look for a new job was that I was working out of my parents’ house, and honestly, time was running out on staying on their insurance plan. Leaving that world was sad, but I was excited at the notion of working with a team. After 3 years at the university, I felt I was ready to do something different and more challenging.
Last summer I was at a crossroads with WP in One Month. In-person courses didn’t work, the webinars were running their course but that wasn’t a sustainable business model. I started having conversations with some great folks in the community – Matt Medeiros, Cory Miller, and Shawn Hesketh just to name a few. These conversations taught me a lot about what I should do, how I should position myself, and potential partnerships. If only they could tell me exactly how their built their business or product…
Those conversations are what gave me the idea for the podcast. When I started How I Built It, it was going to be a way for me to funnel people to my online courses (the new direction for WP in One Month); something like, “You learned how X was built, now take my courses to build it yourself.” But a funny thing happened: the podcast became popular. More popular than I imagined in the first few month. I started getting sponsors and people were asking to come on the show. Last month, I hit 50K downloads in less than 9 months.
My course has been out for 6 weeks and I’ve been promoting it on social media and in my newsletter; if you subscribe to any of those places you know it’s currently available. The cat’s out of the bag. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have more to tell about it. See, I originally set out to make this an announcement post. The fanfare, the glitz, and the glamore. But man, there’s been a lot on my plate and when that happens, my blog is always the first to suffer. That’s OK though! I’m back and I’ll be making lots of more great content, starting with a question I usually ask people on my own podcast: how did I build my WordPress Development course?
When I was in grammar school my 2nd Grade teacher, Ms, McCullough, came up to me and asked if I wanted to be in something called, “Drama Club.” I had no idea what that was, but she insisted that it would be fun and I’d be really good at it; I agreed, and we called my mom to get permission.
It turns out Drama Club was both fun, and I was good at it. My first role was a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz (I was very short). I stuck with Drama all throughout grammar and high school, ending my run in college. But it’s something that shaped me and something that I loved to do. I miss it a lot some days and feel part of the reason I love to teach and speak publicly is that it has the feeling of performing. There’s something else that I do that helps me ‘perform’: podcasting.
I started WP in One Month almost a year ago, and since then it’s gone through 2 major evolutions; I wanted to find the right model. The first was moving from live classes to live webinars. Today, I’m excited to announce the next one: the addition of online WordPress courses.
I’m passionate about is teaching. I speak at conferences, write tutorials and books, developed and teach courses. Last week, An Event Apart hosted a Front End Development Round Table and the question, “What makes a senior developer,” came up. The general feeling was someone who can do and teach makes a senior developer. This reinforced what I already thought: teaching is an incredibly important aspect of any job or community. That’s why I’m super excited to announce WP in One Month.
It’s been a little over a week since WordCamp Scranton, the dust as settled, and I have slept. First, I want to thank everyone who came out: attendees, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers. I also want to thank Johnson College for being such a great host. Finally, big thanks to Matt Mullenweg for taking time out of his busy schedule to come make the first WordCamp Scranton truly special.