I was always interested in computers but I did not know I would become a developer. As a kid, a dream job, was playing and reviewing video games. I believe, many kids had a similar dream job. I guess, that’s where I started seeing a dream job would be a job where you would be happy to go to and maybe even sad when going from it.
Today, I see myself as having a dream job. Let me tell you how I got to my current situation.
Programming was not for me
While going to high school, I was introduced to programming. We did some Turbo C++ and I could not understand a thing. Even a simple for-loop was hard for me. I would rather play Counter-Strike with friends who attended that class. After that, as I did not understand programming, I chose not to follow such career path. I did not want my parents to pay for my college expenses since I would have to go to another city. Especially since I realised I don’t understand how to code.
Since I live in Croatia, I did not have access to a high speed internet. At that time, a high speed internet was an ADSL with a download speed of 200kb/s.
I was using the 56k modem which was too expensive so I had only 2 hours per week to spend on it.
I used those 2 hours for playing games instead of learning.
Once I got the ADSL, somewhere near the end of high school, I was able to get my hands on Photoshop and learned how to manipulate images. After high school, I went to the Maritime College but soon after I knew I did not want to spend years and years working on ships, not seeing my family or friends. That was not my dream job.
I decided to give another chance to programming, but with a different learning path. Since I already knew how to use Photoshop, I realized there was an option “Slice for Web..”. That was my first introduction to web development.
I knew having a web page composed of images from Photoshop was not how it should be done. I was used to 56k modem and I knew how a page like that would take long to load.
The luck was on my side now since I had ADSL and I could spend hours and hours weekly search the Internet. I searched how to slice images and prepare them for web pages by reading PSD Tuts+. Back then there were only PSD and Net TutsPlus sites in their network.
I learned a lot on PSD to HTML and how to use CSS to style your web sites. After that, I wanted to learn how do blogging sites work. How do they show those articles. I mean, it couldn’t be that for each article, they would open one HTML file and edit it. That’s just too much work. So, I found about PHP and MySQL and got some courses on Lynda on that.
I learned about creating a blog using PHP and MySQL. I also learned a little on advanced coding and I was really happy with my knowledge. All that was just a month or two from where I knew nothing on programming.
Looking for a CMS
With my knowledge, I knew how to build various types of sites. I asked other businesses if I could build a site for them in return of a favour or even product. Some of them were up to that. I didn’t want to charge since I knew I still had a lot to learn.
After a while, I was a bit tired (read: lazy) of building SQL tables and all the base functions for each project. I wanted to see if there are some tools I could use for a faster development. Something that would give me a starting point with basic functionalities such as content, users, settings etc.
After reading a lot of tutorials on PHP, I also read about Joomla, WordPress and similar. So I went for both. I was so confused by Joomla and how everything I wanted to do required me several clicks. After that, I tried WordPress. I loved it. Joomla had articles, which you could set as pages. WordPress had Posts and Pages. I really loved how everything was so easy to setup. At that time, there were no custom post types or featured images, but I did not need them yet. I was just beginning my journey with WordPress.
From there forward I downloaded many themes and plugins just to read their code and learn how they’ve been developed.
The First Breadcrumbs & Disappointments
Even though I did not know too much, I did know how to develop something, how to use a library and integrate it into my own and so on.
The first time I realised that WordPress could help me have a dream job is when I created a simple Dropbox plugin for my own needs.
Once I’ve built it and scanned through CodeCanyon, I saw there was nothing like that (now there are several). So I went and uploaded it there. It went live after a week or so.
I did not expect much from it. I could gather around $300 from it after several months. As a college student who didn’t work on a side job, such income was really great for me.
That is where it all started for me. I decided to use WordPress for any new projects and build custom ones to learn more.
Don’t get me wrong. It was not so easy to get new projects. I did get a job as a student which was a failure in the sense that I did not get paid for it. I also had another freelancing experience that was not good. But that did not let me down.
You WILL get those clients from hell. It is something I think most of us get to know. But in time, you will learn how to identify such clients and pass on such projects.
Fast forward a year and I got a job where I did not use WordPress. But I did not intend to leave it. I joined Elance (now Upwork) so I could earn some side money using WordPress.
I did not earn anything on Elance and on my daily job, for a year, I was getting only 60% of the monthly paycheck because the Company did not have enough money. Somehow they did get the other 40% by the end of the month.
But can you imagine how stressful was that? You can never know if you can travel or save some money. I could not afford purchasing a course which could improve my knowledge.
I had a job where I liked to work, but the money situation was really stressful and I did not want to rely just on the company. WordPress to the rescue!
Not long after, I learned about WordPress Croatia. Before that, I never used social media for such discussions and networking. That Facebook group was the first group I joined to discuss about WordPress and help each other.
That was really a great experience. I learned about WordCamps and Meetups and that group pushed me into making my first eBook on WordPress. Another product I was able to earn some side money which involved WordPress. My mindset started to change.
By helping others through teaching and discussion, I can also help the WordPress Community.
My first experience on public speaking was on a WordPress Meetup in Zagreb. I would never go if I was not invited by Emanuel Blagonić. A great guy who with his brother Lucijan and several other folks really started a WordPress movement in Croatia.
I never seen anything like that before. People helping each others, going so much to take their own free time to fix or at least investigate a bug on someone else’s site. I really liked it and wanted to be a part of such a community.
Even if such a community does not help you directly to land a job or get a new gig, it really does help you indirectly with all the knowledge that is shared (from development to business).
Teaching & Job Opportunities
Because of the WordPress community in Croatia, I wanted to help by teaching others. So I also started a site where I have written a lot of tutorials on WordPress development. That site was in Croatian so people can start much sooner (even if they don’t know English).
I used to sleep only for 2 to 3 hours so I could get up much earlier and start to write tutorials or make videos. I did not have a microphone at first, so I used a webcam as a microphone. You can imagine how awful the audio was. Even if it’s in Croatian, you can check the quality of it on YouTube.
But I was really happy I could help someone who knows less than me.
By teaching, I have learned a lot and I am so thankful to the community which was one of the reasons I kept going like that. I also got invited to several WordPress projects just because people saw me as someone who understands WordPress.
WordCamps & WebCamps
We have become friends through the community on social media. I’ve met them all just after a year or so on WordCamp Zagreb 2017. But we talked as if we were friends for years and years. I’ve seen how people from all over the world talk to each other and how a friendly and welcoming this WordPress Community is.
Even today, I frequently talk to all of them and we help each other as we can. That is something that you can’t have everywhere.
My dream job progress came after WebCamp Zagreb 2016 where I met other people from the IT community. I got introduced to Toptal and just a month from it, I joined Toptal. Codeable was also something I wanted to try and I did. As if those platform communicated together, I got invited into Codeable a week after I joined Toptal.
That is where it all has started getting real to me. I was able to freelance as much as I wanted and when I wanted. It was the first time I could go do my hobbies without worrying about money.
The Dream Job we all seek
My definition of a dream job is the feeling when you’re waking up happy and not sad because you have to go to work. Such job should also challenge you so you learn something new. Sometimes it may even get you out of your comfort zone, but you’ll be a better person because of it.
I still have an occupied day, working on a daily job and then working with my own clients. It may not suit all. But I am finally able to feel somehow financially free, going happy to work and making friends while doing it. Even if I don’t have any side projects, I am working on my plugins and writing tutorials on my own site (I love it).
Today, for the first time, I am planning to go to a WordCamp outside Croatia.
That is all thanks to WordPress.
You know that you should never stop dreaming, right?
I guess, I wanted to let you know that WordPress can help you get a dream job! It can be something totally different, but as long as it involves Internet, I think WordPress can help you with it.
WordPress would not be where it is today if it was not to the whole WordPress Community. So, thanks to all involved in it!