Julie Kuehl

There’s a lot that can be said – both good and bad – as it relates to those who work within the confines of WordPress.

Sure, there are those who spend our days building things for others and who don’t generally converse with the rest of us via whatever social network we prefer, but there’s also a lot of us that do chat daily.

And though the conversations aren’t always as pleasant as they could be (but what conversations are?), one thing that WordPressers (is that what they’re called?) are exceptionally good at doing is coming together for a common cause to help someone go further in their career.

Case in point: Follow along with what’s recently happened with Julie Kuehl and her desire to become a better WordPress contributor.

Julie Kuehl’s WordPress Journey

About a month ago, Julie spun up a GoFunMe campaign to help raise money so she’d be able to trek out to Omaha to attend a course that the team over at Flywheel has put together.

Julie's WordPress Training

In her own words:

Pretty much anyone who knows me at this point knows how passionate I am about WordPress. I’ve been teaching myself to be a developer for a couple of years now, but still struggle to put it all together. The folks at Flywheel are offering just the course I’ve been looking for  — in Omaha.

This course caught me totally unprepared, but it almost feels like they created it just for me. I’m ready to drop everything to make it happen. However, the tuition and lodging are a bit more than I’m comfortable committing to by myself. I’m going to need help to pull it off.

Sounds neat, right? And it can definitely be pricey so setting something up like this is brave. But for someone who has a dream to pursue and has the means to make it a reality, you can’t help but deny that it’s a really cool thing to be doing.

Fast-forward one month and Julie’s project was fully funded, she’s in Omaha, and she’s attending the course that she set out to attend roughly 30 days ago.

But here’s what’s possibly the coolest part: Julie is blogging about her experience in living in Omaha for the time being, attending the course, picking up on all of the things she’s learning, and all that jazz.

We’re getting to see the live (well, okay, semi-live) results of what it looks like to fully fund a GoFundMe campaign and watch someone take full advantage of it.

So for those of who contributed, who are thinking about getting as deep as possible into WordPress development, or who just enjoy seeing the results of a campaign like this, I’d recommend checking out the blog and following along over the next few weeks.

I think it’s going to be more than interesting to follow along.

But Why Does This Matter?

Maybe it seems odd to bring up a single person’s journey into WordPress. And I know – not everyone raises funds to pursue their trips into learning about the application and how to build things with it.

That’s a case-by-case basis kind of thing, and that’s how it should be.

But when you read posts like this that talk about how developers literally dread working with WordPress, and then you see people raising money, and taking trips to learn more about the project, it seems as if there’s a disconnect somewhere, doesn’t it?

I have more of my own thoughts on the link above that I’ll eventually get to writing about, but I think it’s important that we all look at the bigger picture:

WordPress is a massive project with a huge following and people are looking to spend their lives working on it and working with it to make it better.

That’s a really impressive, a really admirable, and a really exciting thing. To that end, we don’t need to lose focus on that.

So as we’re watching our peers trip out to places in order to learn the application all the while reading about surveys and other developers continue to talk about how much they dislike WordPress, we should be mindful of the role it’s playing in people’s lives and how it’s continue to do so.

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Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. Sooooo cooooool. I really admire what Julie is doing and her humbleness about it all. And to blog about it! That’s fantastic. I’m definitely going to follow along as well.

    As far as the divide between the lovers and the haters: the grass is always greener. Burnout happens. There is always adventure somewhere else. I like the long haul myself.

  2. Great write-up Tom!

    It seems that the other technologies on the list are genuinely a pain in the rear to sit behind the keyboard and work with, while with WordPress, there are probably other factors influencing the results.

    I wonder to what extent the Stack Overflow results for WordPress stem from the WordPress business/economy more so than working with WordPress itself?

    Based on my perception alone, it seems that a lot of people jump into “web design” freelancing and start with WordPress. For a sizable number in that group, web design means purchasing a theme, customizing some things via the admin editor, and adding the client’s content. There’s no thought given to the client’s return on investment, measuring results for positive change, or maintaining long-term relationships.

    This commodity model affects everyone, whether you directly participate or not. For every 5-figure WordPress contract, there must be a hundred or even a thousand 3-figure contracts.

    This drives rates down and negatively impacts client expectations as a whole. Sure, there are smart clients who know marketing is an investment. There are clients that get burned on a commoditized marketing purchase and then wise up. But many write off WordPress altogether or carry their negative experiences forward.

    As WordPress grows and the population of beginners grows at a greater than those actually learning the CMS inside and out (do you think this is how growth is occurring?), it would seem that the negative effects of commoditization will grow stronger.

    Those WordPress devs at the very top will continue to secure the 5 figure contracts and I think this group will become smaller and tighter over time in proportion to the beginners/rest of the crowd.

    Other devs will realize that there’s more money in other technologies and say things like they dread working with WordPress because of all of the symptoms brought on by ever-increasing commoditization. Isn’t this just regular old economics and capitalism at work?

    • It seems that the other technologies on the list are genuinely a pain in the rear to sit behind the keyboard and work with, while with WordPress, there are probably other factors influencing the results.

      Personally, I think this can also be said about WordPress. The primary technologies that I’ve worked with over my career are .NET, Ruby (and Rails), and Java. Yes, there’s a lot to like about a lot of the other technologies, but we can always find something to hate about them. There’s no programmer utopia.

      Everything sucks to someone and everything is fine for others.

      This is usually why I stay out of those conversations, but I think you raised an interesting point that others are a pain.

      I wonder to what extent the Stack Overflow results for WordPress stem from the WordPress business/economy more so than working with WordPress itself?

      I have been a member of Stack Overflow for a long time (I’m user #20, even). I’ve watched since the first day it entered beta people basically complain about WordPress.

      It’s the nature of the community.

      But the difference lies in that a lot of stuff on Stack Overflow is about languages and tools. WordPress is an application. There’s a fine line to walk when talking about the two, in my opinion.

      This drives rates down and negatively impacts client expectations as a whole. Sure, there are smart clients who know marketing is an investment. There are clients that get burned on a commoditized marketing purchase and then wise up. But many write off WordPress altogether or carry their negative experiences forward.

      I think this and everything you said above it is spot on.

      As WordPress grows and the population of beginners grows at a greater than those actually learning the CMS inside and out (do you think this is how growth is occurring?), it would seem that the negative effects of commoditization will grow stronger.

      Developers certainly aren’t flocking to WordPress like they are Objective-C or Swift :). It’s kind of a curvy path, IMHO.

      Other devs will realize that there’s more money in other technologies and say things like they dread working with WordPress because of all of the symptoms brought on by ever-increasing commoditization. Isn’t this just regular old economics and capitalism at work?

      Maybe so! I don’t know if it’s oversimplifying the problem or proving the point. I’m not so great at economics :).

  3. Great post Tom! I was really pleased to see all the support Julie got.

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