WordPress has changed my life. Wait! It’s not the religious type of change, but it was a very good change, so hear me out. While it wasn’t the reason I got into blogging, developing, and designing, it got me into becoming more focused on making more meaningful relationships with people. I listened to a lot of people, in fact, thousands of people, over the last 14 years on my blog. I’ve learned a lot from reading the comments, and talking with my readers. To this very day, I’m still learning!
Years ago, when I moved from b2 cafelog to WordPress, it’s because I saw a community wanting to step behind a project and let it evolve. I grew with other people who were wanting to do something with WordPress, whether build plugins or themes, or teach others on how to use it. I grew and learned from people building a business that was WordPress-focused.
In early 2007, something major happened in my life. I went through a divorce. It was rough. While I worked a full time factory job, was building my freelance business, and had a family to take care of, I had nothing to my name, except my computer, my clothes, and my car.
It was hard to do anything for the first year after the divorce. I cried a lot. I went and saw a counsellor, and took medication for depression. I had to deal with my son not living with me sometimes. I had a hard time getting up each day. It was like having a fight with myself every day… so tiresome. I was a total mess. Some of my closest, and oldest friends online were aware of the situation. The rest of the people who visited me site, pretty much saw the life go out of my blog posts. They had no emotion. Those posts sucked.
Sure, I have family. They’re very supportive emotionally, but I was raised to be independent. So, there was no asking for things. I just worked like crazy, always scrimping, and saving.
I’ve always had this drive to succeed. I’ve also had this passion to help, do something creative, and teach others. Although my divorce had taken the wind out of my sails, I hadn’t lost sight of my goals. They got delayed until 2009. Sure, my friends were supportive, and they were the ones that kept me afloat when I was depressed, but I was still kind of dead in the water.
I went to WordCamp Chicago in 2009, as an attendee (yes, I have done this, to the surprise of some people), and met people like myself who freelanced, or did something with WordPress. (Some of these people have remained contacts or have become very good friends with me.)
In 2010, I spoke at WordCamp Chicago. It was amazing. I met so many people that I was able to help, and also made a lot of great connections. I’m ever grateful to Lisa Sabin-Wilson and her organization team for WordCamp Chicago that year, for giving the chance to present. At that WordCamp, I had found my calling. I met people who actually were raving fans of my website. Yes, raving fans of MY site. That blew my mind! Sure, I had a lot of followers then, but until I’d met these people face-to-face, it hadn’t seem like a reality.
These people helped me make important connections in the WordPress community, and gain advice on how I should run my business. They listened to me when I was down, and also when I was probably out of my mind. In fact, I met my best friend, Kimberly Castleberry on Twitter, because of WordPress, and the fact that we lived close to each other!
I somehow can’t believe to this day of making a great connection with Joost de Valk and Team Yoast. I had wanted to work for Automattic, but when I mentioned that I was looking for a support position, in a thread at All About WordPress on Facebook, he reached out to me, and gave me a support position when I needed it. Things like this don’t usually happen to me. Believe me, if you’ve known me, I’ve really worked hard to get to this point. It was great to be given such a chance with one of the people I look up to.
Because of WordPress, I’m not working a factory job, or fast food, or hotel desk clerk, like I did in the past. I’m not depressed anymore. Because of WordPress, I have more than the clothes on my back. I’m finally doing exactly what I’ve wanted to do.
Am I totally in the free and clear? No, but I’m on the way.
The reason why I write this post is not to brag. It’s not to say that WordPress is the solve all problems for freelancers. It’s the fact that the people in the WordPress community were there for me. I know they’ve been there for others. I’ve tried to be there for others because I know life is rough.
Each one of us when we close up shop for the night, are more than just WordPress users. We’re parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, of someone else. We experience extreme joy, extreme sadness, and everything between. We are a community of people.
So, maybe the title should read “How the WordPress Community Has Changed My Life”? No… I’ll keep it as it is. 😉
If you’re reading this, and you’re in hard times, and see no way out of the dark, reach out to someone. Believe me, if I hadn’t gotten off the cold floor after a night of crying until there was nothing left to cry, and had gotten online to reach out to someone, I don’t know where I would’ve been today. Our community in WordPress can be great. If you think you don’t know anyone… well you’re reading this post. You can reach out to me.
Has WordPress helped you? If so, share your story below. 🙂