By Michael O’Brien May 24, 2017

A Guide to Becoming a Rockstar WordPress Developer

As with most professions, becoming a Rockstar WordPress developer is not an easy thing to achieve. Aside from the fact that it takes patience, time, and energy, it also requires determination and hard work.

So, if you are looking for hacks to easily work your way to the top, all I can say is that you need more than just hacks to become great at WordPress.

I hate to break it to you, but knowing how to install WordPress or learning to tweak the themes does not make you a Rockstar WordPress developer. Of course, you can still call yourself an expert—but you aren’t truly a rockstar.

WordPress developers are professionals who are skilled in analytical thinking, PHP, and MySQL. They can create custom plugins, themes, and modules designed for WordPress.

Yes, a real top-notch WordPress developer knows far more than the basics, explores the boundaries of the programming, and continues to excel in his or her job. They innovate and are open to sharing their expertise with others in the community.

Whether you're just getting started with programming or you've been working with WordPress for a while, it is worth noting that while learning to be a Rockstar WordPress developer might be a lot of work, the payoff is great.

Allow me to share ways on how you can rock the WordPress realm.

Ways to Become a Rockstar WordPress Developer

If you want to make your way to the top, there are a few things that you have to do. These include:

Allocate one hour for reading about WordPress every day

There are new features and tools introduced every single day, so it helps to spend time reading about WordPress. Begin by reading any article related to WP during your office breaks. If you think that works, stick with it. Otherwise, find other free time to familiarize yourself with the platform. Yes, it may be hard at first, but there are no shortcuts; becoming a master of WordPress will take time.

Use the right resources

The amount of reading materials available about WordPress can be overwhelming. Sad to say, finding the best quality resource is like finding a needle in a haystack. There’s a multitude of WordPress developers claiming to be the best at sharing tips and suggestions, yet some of them are misleading.

Don’t worry, though. Once you’ve found the right materials, like books made for learning WordPress from scratch, you can concentrate your efforts on reading everything you can from those places. Among the most reliable resources available are:

  • WordPress Codex – It is technically a repository for everything related to WordPress. Here, you will have access to the very foundation of the platform and can focus more on mastering its interface from a user’s perspective.
  • WordPress Blogs – If you do a quick search today, you will find a plethora of blogs talking about WordPress, but not all of them offer relevant information. Use your personal judgment; you know for sure whether a blog provides value for readers. If you find one that is interesting and information-rich, it’d be great to subscribe to their feeds. By doing that, you will have regular updates from its authors. I highly recommend WPBeginner—it’s a dedicated WordPress blog that is updated regularly with fresh, relevant content.
  • WordPress Books – Begin with something very basic. “WordPress for Dummies” is a good read if you really don’t know what WordPress is. It discusses everything you should know about how to use WordPress and how to navigate around this platform. For developers who are established on WP, you may read advanced tutorials. Do a quick search on Google for a certain topic you wish to learn.

Connect with the right people

As the old adage goes, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” Makes sense, right?

In the WordPress realm, you become like the people you connect with. That means if you want to be among the best of the best WordPress developers, you should spend ample time with them. Find them on LinkedIn or other social networking sites. Their experience and portfolio should speak of their greatness on WP.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have coffee with them and talk in person. You can follow them on social media or even attend their discussions through webinars, which you can join for free. Check out their social media pages or profiles regularly to know their schedule.

You will see that, at the end of the day, these connections can benefit you. To form a strong connection, you will be interacting with them on various channels more often. You will be attending their seminars and reading and asking questions on their posts, too. Constant interactions like these may even generate career opportunities; if these Rockstar WordPress devs notice you are truly passionate and willing to learn, they might recommend connections that may help you grow and hone your WordPress developing skills. These rockstars will know if your interest in WP is genuine by the way you ask questions and by your consistent attendance in their seminars.

Understand the WordPress platform

Simply said, WordPress is one of the world’s most powerful blogging platforms or content management systems available today. It is one of the most user-friendly, too.

While it may be one of the easiest to use, developing on it requires understanding the ins and outs of the platform. If you are a developer that hasn’t tried programming with WordPress yet, then it is time to do some reading. Here are some helpful places to begin.

  • Learn MySQL and PHP – Since WordPress is written in PHP and uses MySQL, it is important that you know the right practices for both of them. If you already know a bit about them, you’ll still benefit from learning more. Begin with Lynda.com to understand MySQL and Java better.
  • Familiarize Codebase – Do not hesitate to explore WordPress on Xref. Go over every documentation if possible. Ask questions in the discussions if there is something that does not make sense.

Why You Must Be a Rockstar WordPress Developer

Do you just want to be an ordinary developer? Don’t play it safe when you know you can do better. The market is already oversaturated with average WordPress developers. As a top WordPress developer, you can enjoy the following advantages:

Earn More

Nowadays, the demand for WordPress developers is incredibly high. According to Lorelle, “As a job resource, the demand for expertise and experienced WordPress developers represents $30 to 50 million in projects for 2014, expected to double or triple in the next two to five years.” One reason for such high demand is the fact that most e-commerce and revenue-generating blogs run on it. Whenever errors arise or anything needs to be updated, the owners of these websites and blogs call for a WordPress dev.

The demand is there. So believe it or not, clients are willing to pay for these professionals—especially if they have proven themselves to be of the best in the industry. Likewise, Rockstar WordPress devs charge clients higher rates, even for smaller projects, because they know they have the experience to back it up.

Work with the Best Clients

If you are among the best, you can decline a project you do not want. You also get to accept only projects that you feel like doing. Since you are equipped with the right skills and experience, you can set your price and work within the range you prefer. The decision is yours. Just be sure your rate suits your experience.

Now, what makes a client good? The answer is simple. He allows you to improve career-wise by welcoming any ideas you think are beneficial and trusts your skills in implementing them—and if what you did is satisfactory, he gives you credit.

Start a New Themes/Plugins Business

As a WordPress developer, you now have access to the incredibly lucrative (if competitive) world of selling themes and plugins for the most popular CMS on the planet. Once you've learned the ropes of stuff such as converting a PSD into WordPress theme, possibly using this resource from CollectiveRay—you can keep on refining your theme until you make it available for selling to the masses.

The themes industry still remains one with incredible potential for earning money. If you're not into themes or you think they are too competitive, carve yourself a niche in the plugins market. Find something you are passionate about, or where you feel there is a deficiency, and you can easily dominate it. With such statistics as those of the WordPress industry, the numbers are in your favor—making it highly likely that you'll be able to wean yourself off services or projects onto a full-time product business.

Be Influential

As one of the best, you can change the future of WordPress and influence everyone on it. You can set trends and develop new WP coding ideas. Work hard and who knows, maybe you’ll even get noticed by the creators.

To become a WordPress developer superstar, you definitely need willingness and determination. If you give it your all, everything is possible—and the title Rockstar WordPress developer will be well-deserved by you. Now, aim high, be a Rockstar WordPress developer, and be tagged the best of the best.

About the author

Michael O’Brien

Michael O’Brien is a lifelong entrepreneur and co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Michael has been a web designer and developer since the ripe age of 16 and has always been a complete nerd for technology. He has been the CTO for a magazine as well as a TV show, co-founded The Open Source Project, a collaborative workspace, been project manager on numerous mobile and web apps. Follow him on Linkedin.