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My Two Cents on How to Become a Top WordPress Developer

Siobhan McKeown, a writer for Smashing Magazine, just published a great post on How to Become a Top WordPress Developer, in which I’m quoted several times.

When she initially approach me about the article a while back she gave me four questions and wanted to share all my answers in full with you here. So here goes:

1. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Cory Miller, in 2006 I started a blog with WordPress as a newbie, former newspaper journalist with no real web design experience, who eventually learned web design by releasing themes for the community. In January 2008 I founded iThemes, which now offers professional WordPress themes, plugins and web design training.

I am an entrepreneur passionate about “making people’s lives awesome.” But honestly, I’m more excited about being called “dad” next year as my wife and I are pregnant with our first child.

2. Why get involved with WordPress?

Next year WordPress turns 10 and I think we’ve only hit third gear with plenty of acceleration to go.

There is a HUGE and growing community of users who need help building awesome stuff with it, and designers and developers contributing back to it and making it better and better with each new version.

With WordPress you’re not sleeping on someone else’s couch. It’s open source software that you control. You can do whatever you want with it, whenever you want. You’re not reliant on someone else’s stupid terms of services changes, or that you can’t touch the code because it’s locked away on someone else’s servers. I think we take for granted that freedom too often, or maybe forget it when the next [insert hot social media platform] rises up.

But the biggest reason for being involved with WordPress is … it just makes web publishing easy. Virtually anyone can have a blog or website on the web with WordPress. And that opens up some amazing opportunities for everyone involved.

3. How might someone with no development knowledge get involved with WordPress?

You’re involved with WordPress the minute you use it for yourself. That’s the beauty of open source software and community. Your initiation into it is your “Hello World!,” or your first site and blog post with it.

So just start blogging and fall in love with it like I did 7 years ago.

Then join a Meetup group near you, and plan on attending a WordCamp soon. WordPressers are some of the most passionate people on earth and you’ll find it infectious.

At some point, you’ll find your unique place in the community.

4. What tips would you offer to WordPress professionals who want to get ahead?

  1. Immerse yourself in all things WordPress. It might not mean getting an actual WordPress tattoo but you need to live and breathe everything WordPress. That’s what I did. And if you do that you’ll contribute back to it naturally. This can mean everything from setting up WP for a friend, contributing to the Codex, attending a WordPress Meetup group or WordCamp near you, releasing a free theme or plugin, to writing a simple tutorial on your blog.
  2. Look for people’s pain points and frustrations. Those are opportunities to serve people AND make money doing it. The best products and services fill gaps in where WordPress can’t or stops short. Innovate and make something better, which often means saving people time, energy, headaches, and money.
  3. Learn and grow, then teach and share. Hone your skills. Never stop learning. Don’t be content to be a CSS master and not dive into PHP. And as you’re growing, share that with others who are following behind you. The spirit of open source is sharing.
  4. Do the right thing, always. You never get ahead by stepping on someone else to get there. In business, I’ve sought to do the right thing every time by people (your peers, customers, and the community). I have failed at times at this, but consistently focusing on doing the right thing has paid off both in my conscience (being able to sleep soundly at night) and in the community (building a business and personal reputation within WordPress).


Read the full story on How to Become a Top WordPress Professional on Smashing Magazine.


  1. Love. This.

    This has been on my mind lately and as I interview more and more WP folks it’s becoming much more relevant.

    I always bring up that there’s WordPress “professionals” and then theres the guy that will “do WordPress” for 500 bucks.

    Now you might know who I’m talking about. And it’s not the sticker price that get’s me, its the fact that there’s no care for doing “things right.”

    Choosing right plugins. Proper themes. UPDATING core WordPress – the list goes on.

    There is that low barrier of entry for WordPress that enables this and it’s our job to try and educate the WP service/product buyers at large to look out for these pitfalls.

    /rant off 😉



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