It was one beautiful Sunday morning when I sat thinking about how I’ve grown as a WordPress developer in my career. And I realized that I’ve made spectacular progress. The idea of where my competitors stand also crossed my mind. It’s been an ever-learning process. And it thus dawned upon me that of so many types of WordPress developers, there are primarily seven.
For an end-user it’s necessary to know who they are hiring and for what price and skill-set. This also gives us a good assessment of the final outcome. Due to time constraint I’m not able to make this article gender-neutral. But I do pray that you’ll allow me to get away with this callousness.
The WordPress Noobie
The first is a WordPress noobie. Classifying the guy as a developer is questionable. Though he poses as one counting on the ignorance of others or his over-confidence. This guy doesn’t take commercial projects. He pitches his skill to the unsuspecting family and friends who have no clue about what WordPress is. He makes himself sound like a WordPress wizard. He knows how to download and install WordPress, type in the url and show a working website and gets a grand applause from the audience. If you find him on the net, chances are he prefers to not get into the jargon and is more than happy to work for free. To identify this guy, just ask for his own website and take a look.
The WordPress Tinkerer
This guy knows how to setup WordPress. But he really is trying to work his way around WordPress settings and configuration screens. He is not sure how things work and which option does what. But in this quest he explores all he has. He is lost in so many configuration screens, only in a mere quest to get something basic working perhaps pretty permalinks. Will he work for you? Maybe. He is busy fixing his own.
The WordPress Trainee
This guy has his hands dirty in the WordPress engine. He knows about the themes and the plugins. But he isn’t able to get a plugin work. He is the WordPress.Org forum surfer. In his quest to get things going, he is unknowingly developing a critical skill — searching the net for solutions. He knows which files to edit and expects things to work. Ultimately he celebrates his success at the end of the long hours or shuts the lid of his laptop after carelessly pronouncing the well rehearsed expletives. Don’t worry, he’ll take time but ultimately he’ll get it done. This guy has clients from across the web but he is working for free or peanuts.
The WordPress Rookie
This is the confident guy. He know how to get things to work. He has his hourly prices listed on freelance sites and bids furiously while aggressively pitching the features of his services. The clients he gets are cheapskates (if I may say so since they do exist). They want a professional WordPress site with all the bells and whistles for $200. The guy takes up the project, gets the things working and proudly shows it to the client. The client is all happy and dancing until the site goes into production. Then there are bugs and more bugs and yet more. The client ultimately hires someone else to redo the design from scratch. The client has money but isn’t willing to hire a professional. So he’ll hire someone better than a WP Rookie.
The WordPress Fix-It-Guy
This guy has a portfolio. He knows his job and how to get things done. An average client can’t tell this guy from a professional or an architect. He’ll take the project for reasonable prices and get things going. He’s working to get some testimonials for his own site, portfolio and wants to build some goodwill in the market. Business is tough so he is trying all the venues to get the clients. To identify this guy, ask him about the WordPress theme he uses to design a site. The answer is (yes you guessed it right) — twenty-ten or any two numbers in that sequence like twenty-fourteen or thirty-fifteen (possible coming soon ). Do not forget to ask him about SEO and HTML semantics. Chances are, he has no clue but will not abstain from demonstrating his expertise and may be convince a routine client.
The WordPress Professional
This person has earned the respect of his clients. He truly is a professional, knows his stuff and commands his price in the market. Chances are that he isn’t going any where any soon and will stay at this level for a few years before he changes his line of business or matures to an architect. His work is premium, built on commercial themes, frameworks and plugins. This is the most wanted WordPress developer; because at the end, the solution that he delivers truly works. You have paid for peace-of-mind and he delivers it. You can assess the success of the project in measurable stats like boost in revenue, lead-generation, search-rankings, etc. To identify this guy, ask him to review your existing site. He’ll take a quick look and identify several issues with the site. If you want a report, he’ll charge you for it. You may feel this guy is criticizing your site just to get more work. Check again, he doesn’t work for money. He’s made some kind of contribution to the WordPress community or the core code. If you are on a budget, he is not the guy you want. Hiring a rookie is lucrative instead, if only you’ll be spending more money rehiring someone else again. If you want state-of-the-art solution, hire him before he gets booked. This guy works in the range of $1000-$5000 and delivers several times the worth. He takes pride in his client’s success. He won’t take projects he is not comfortable with or doesn’t match his budget or skill-set. Oh, did you check again if he is still available?
The guy has been there, has done that. He doesn’t code anymore. He has several feathers in his hat. This guy makes many presentations at WordPress and business events. He has a team who delivers the work. He has to manage, scan, review all the work and takes the responsibility of delivering work that is up to his standards. The entire solution is managed under one single umbrella of his seasoned expertise and this guy calls himself a “WordPress Business Consultant“. He is not short of money or business. He will thus never negotiate on prices. But he knows what your project needs, where to find it, at what price and quality. In summary, he will manage the task of establishing your business, be it marketing, branding, selling and what not. To identify this guy ask for a quote. Chances are that he’ll not take website design or WordPress design is case he is available (chances are that he is not). He will take the responsibility of your entire web presence and deliver you a business. The price of having someone else build you a business (think of the goose that laid golden eggs) is high. It’s tens of thousands of dollars. Chances are that you can’t afford the luxury of his services. But in case you sell off your car and and hire him, do have a killer business idea else the entire investment will be dead if only for your callousness. Hiring him is pretty much like investing in a new car, the one that takes you more money to buy it.
Bonus: The Types That Matter
Now that there are 7 interesting but confusing types, which ones do you hire? And what are the costs involved?
- Guaranteed To Fail: With due respect, the work of developer types from a newbie to the fix-it-guy are unreliable for a professional website solution. They work under pressure not quality. They charge less than what they deserve and are hired the most just for their cheap hourly prices. The need for hiring someone better is almost always guaranteed. But clients will hire these nonetheless. The idea of getting work done for cheap is so tempting that many will take the risk of the guaranteed failure. Later after lamenting on how it costed them in terms of business and lost revenues, repeated headaches, the client will go on a hiring spree again.
- Guaranteed To Succeed: This is the professional. No matter whether your requirements are small or big, you get what you paid for. The work quality is the best in the industry. You’ll never have to worry about your website (until you expand your business and want a new site).
- Success Insured: Get a WordPress Consultant (the architect), if you have a large and flexible budget. This guy charges way more than the hourly price the task is worth. In a way you are paying for an insurance against failure. The benefit is you get it all under one roof and don’t have to worry about quality and delivery, etc. If you take over such an endeavor upon yourself, you can get it done at half the investment without any compromise. Hire a professional for each sub-project like online marketing and SEO, another for branding design, site development and so on. Let me explain a little more about the insurance part of the experience. This guy knows how various aspects of a web-business interact with each other. This ensures that things will work. You are paying (a premium) for his experience making all the various aspects of business work together.
So where do I stand after about 10 years loving WordPress? Let me say that by the virtue of my personal working style, I took a long time to go from a noobie to a fix-it-guy since I had a full time job. It took me two years to get there after which I felt I had to go full-time. That was in the year 2008. And at that level I was (and have been) a professional WordPress developer. I stayed there and still stay put for the last several years. I’ve been juggling a lot of business-ideas. It’s only a matter of time before I classify myself as a WordPress architect. And the line of difference is thin. Most don’t realize when they are ready to start WordPress business consulting. It’s more about comfort and the willingness to expand.