My experience with WordPress goes back to at least 2008, if not a little before that. When I first started using WordPress, it was purely for my own websites. I only used it to blog on various topics that interested me. I never created a theme or a plugin at that point in my life, but that was OK. Not everyone who uses WordPress needs to make things for it. What’s not OK is that it never crossed my mind to try giving back to the WordPress community.
- I wanted to write about things that interested me.
- I chose WordPress largely because it was free, and didn’t cost me anything.
- WordPress saved me time versus hand coding HTML in each page on my site.
- The WordPress community wasn’t even something I was aware of at the time. WordCamps were relatively new then, and I didn’t even know they existed. Even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have attended with the goal of contributing. How would that have benefitted me?
In hindsight, when I first started using WordPress, I was pretty selfish. Here I was benefitting from a software that I spent exactly $0 on, and I didn’t think to give back in any way.
In the years since then I have:
- Contributed 14 free plugins to WordPress.org’s plugin directory.
- Shared my knowledge by speaking at local WordPress meetups and conferences. My first WordCamp talk will be in less than a month from now.
- Helped answer questions on various support forums including WordPress.org, StackOverflow.com, Facebook groups, Twitter, etc.
This post isn’t about me though. I just felt like I needed to not come off as not so selfish 🙂
What I hope to accomplish in this post is to create a guide for giving back to the WordPress community. Whether you are a developer or an end user of WordPress we all have something we can contribute.
The Ultimate Guide to Giving Back to the WordPress Community
There are so many ways that you can be giving back to the WordPress community. The question isn’t do you have something to give back, it’s what are you willing to contribute?The question isn't do you have something to give back, it's what are you willing to contribute? Click To Tweet
Why should you be giving back to the WordPress community?
The WordPress software is 100% free to use for whatever purpose you want to use it for. Not only that, but there are thousands of free plugins and themes available to use as well. All of these contributions took someone time to develop in which they received $0 in compensation for. All of the contributions have provided some benefit to someone (including you) who paid nothing for it.
Could you imagine what it would be like if there was no “free” WordPress? What would it be like if everyone who contributed to it demanded compensation for their time?
WordPress certainly wouldn’t have the 28% market share that it has today. There would be far fewer websites built. Far fewer opportunities created for that idea someone had to bloom into something awesome.
Whenever anyone in the community grows, it helps push forward the entire community. It makes for a better product and experience for everyone.
But it takes an effort to give back.
Ways to be giving back to the WordPress community
In order for the WordPress community to thrive, people like you need to be willing to give back to the community. Without an army of volunteers contributing to the community, we wouldn’t have the WordPress we know and love.
Speak at local meetups
Fortunately, there are thousands of meetups related to WordPress all around the world. Chances are good that there’s one near you too!
Your talk can be a great way to share what you know. It doesn’t have to be a “techy” talk. All sorts of topics are useful for giving back to the WordPress community.
For those who are nervous talking in front of groups, speaking at a local meetup is a great way to start.
- The meetup groups tend to be smaller than a WordCamp (many are less than 30 people).
- Once you get to know the people at your local meetup, it’ll just be you talking to friends. You won’t be talking to an intimidating audience.
- Let’s you practice presenting without a lot of pressure.
If there isn’t a meetup near you, why not start one? Even if it’s you and a handful of other people, there is likely something everyone can gain by meeting together. Even if it’s just making a new friend!
Speak at a WordCamp
Speaking at a WordCamp can be much more intimidating to someone who hasn’t presented to a group before. But it shouldn’t be!
The people who make up the WordPress community are super supportive. Even if you fumble over your words, make a joke of it and move on.
While not a WordCamp, my first large group presentation was a lightning talk earlier this year at Pressnomics 5. Had I not spoken there, I most likely would not have made some of the connections that I made.
The connections are a huge plus, but for me, the most rewarding part of the whole experience was when someone came up to me afterward and said that my talk had motivated them.
Volunteer at a WordCampWordCamps take a lot of manpower (and womanpower) to pull off. Click To Tweet
WordCamps take a lot of manpower (and womanpower) to pull off. Every WordCamp needs volunteers in order to be successful, and it’s a great opportunity for giving back to the WordPress community.
Some of the duties needed at a typical WordCamp include:
- Audio/Visual tech support.
- Venue setup and take down.
- Greeters, especially if it isn’t obvious where attendees need to go to get to the meeting area.
- Registration desk help to get attendees their name tag, t-shirt, and other goodies.
- Set up and maintain food and beverage area.
- Conference room assistant, to help with equipment, or other things needed in the room like more chairs.
- Speaker’s helper. Help set up speaker’s laptop, fit the speaker with a mic, make sure speakers are where they need to be, get speaker water if needed, etc.
- Speaker selection. Review applications from volunteer speakers, to help select the best choices for speakers.
- Artwork. Many WordCamps have some sort of logo to distinguish them from other WordCamps. Your artistic abilities may help create a new WordCamp logo.
I’m sure this is a simplistic overview of the duties needed to run a WordCamp. If you have a skill not listed here that would be valuable to the organizers, let them know!
Most WordCamps have what’s referred to as a Happiness Bar, which is a place where you can go ask for help on a specific problem you’re having. That’s a great place to hang out, meet new people and help solve problems.
Some local meetups even have a block of time where people can ask for help, advice, and recommendations.
I have been giving back to the WordPress community this way, and it is very rewarding. The “thank-you’s” and other grateful comments really mean a lot, and I’m happy to help out this way.
Even if the problems seem minor to you, it could be a major pain point for the person asking for help.
If you speak more than one language, WordPress needs you!
WordPress is written in American English, but in order for users around the world to be able to use it, the community needs Polyglots to lend their linguistic skills.
Without multilingual folks giving back to the WordPress community, WordPress would struggle to expand past the borders of the English speaking world.
There are a lot of opportunities to contribute if you have an ear for languages.
Hang out on support forums
Chances are you’ve run into an issue with WordPress – perhaps nothing was really wrong, but maybe you just didn’t know how to do something.
Chances are even better that you’re not alone. When people have problems with WordPress one of the first places people go is to the Support Forum. Those forums get responses from people just like you. If you can help solve someone’s problem by sharing how you solved it in the past, you’ll really make someone’s day!
There are plenty of other forums where people will ask for help as well, including Facebook groups, Slack channels, and third party support forums.
Did your site throw an error that you can’t seem to figure out? If it did, you may not be alone and there may be a legitimate bug in WordPress. Reporting bugs will alert the techy folks who work on the code behind WordPress know that there is a problem.
WordPress is tested regularly before it is released, but some bugs still aren’t caught until after it has been released.
The sooner a bug is reported, the sooner a fix can be made.
Giving back to the WordPress community with bug reports provides everyone with a better WordPress.
Help out with testing WordPress before the next version is released.
Developers and non-developers alike can download a pre-release version of WordPress and test it. If you find any bugs, see the section above.
Volunteer to be on a podcast
A cool way to be heard by a wide audience is to volunteer to be on a podcast.
If you have a skill or a story that can be beneficial to the podcast’s listeners, why not volunteer to be interviewed on the podcast?
There are WordPress related podcasts covering a wide range of topics. Find one that you can benefit from your knowledge, and ask if they would like to hear your story.
No one who contributes their time and effort to WordPress expects any monetary return. The plugin and theme developers who have created some outstanding products have done so for the benefit of the community.
Sure, some will be released as “freemium” where the developer can make some money from upgrades to the free version. But there’s no guarantee that anyone will pay to upgrade.
Make a small monetary donation to the developer of a free plugin or theme that you have benefitted from. Even “buying a coffee” for them is a big lift in spirits and will encourage them to keep developing more.
As a developer, I can say that this is something that does not happen very often. Over the last 4 years, I’ve probably received a total of about $20 in donations.
You can also make a donation to the WordPress Foundation, which supports the WordPress community.
Buy premium plugins and themes
Many of the developers who have contributed code to WordPress also sell plugins and themes. Buying those plugins or themes will help support the developer much in the same way as donating money to them will. This will allow them to continue contributing to WordPress as they have in the past.
If you are the techy type, you can contribute to the core WordPress code.
You can also create a plugin or theme and provide it to the community on the WordPress.org directory.
Write blog posts
Have you figured out how to do something awesome with WordPress? Is there a plugin that makes your life so much easier?
Writing blog posts about how you use WordPress can be your way of giving back to the WordPress community. Help other people in the community learn how to get WordPress to do what they want to do.
Here are a few blog post ideas:
- Write a post about a plugin: What does it do? What problem did it solve for you? How do you set it up? Are there other alternatives to using that plugin?
- Write a case study: Did you choose to use WordPress on a website for a certain reason? Were you using a different platform before? How did that site benefit from using WordPress?
- Share your code: Did you figure out a way to extend WordPress in a new way? Share the code you used so that others can benefit and possibly help make your code better.
- Give an opinion: Is there something from a recent WordPress update that you love or hate? Give an opinion on what you like about it or how it can be made better.
There are many websites dedicated to WordPress related topics. Every topic from beginner tutorials on WPBeginner to WordPress related news on WP Tavern help to advance the community. Your blog posts will help too!
Other ways to give back to the WordPress Community
Are there any other ways to give back to the WordPress community that I missed? How have you contributed your time and talents to the WordPress community?