Some years ago I started doing training sessions for WordPress newbies. The wpstress.com domain was the second instance of a planned WordPress training project. It still is, but I haven’t been available for training sessions for a while. This site has been somewhat abandoned because of that.
The original idea was having this support site where someone could get to know the content of the sessions, and also find answers for common questions, questions almost every non-developer has when starting with WordPress. Hence the stress in WP Stress.
As with the training sessions, this idea of a support website would also answer my own questions, the ones I’ve been asking for a long time.
I started with WordPress almost by accident. I’m not a developer, I worked in the publishing industry since my first job, in newspaper advertising, as a designer trainee, and, after that, mainly with books, as an editor, translator, proofreader, designer and publisher.
At the same time, while working in these areas related to editing and publishing, I graduated in Clinical Psychology.
In 2006 I had my own micro-press called ovni. I was doing some independent work for several publishers and also publishing micro-fiction books. I needed a website and, of course, as I believe almost any designer in 2006, I did it with Flash (the software, not the DC Comics character). I knew nothing about Flash, and even less about HTML and CSS. I managed to put up a minimal but rather effective website, with a bit of luck and some templates.
One or two years later, a friend of mine, also a designer, with whom I played tennis in a local sports club, talked to me about a CMS, something called Joomla. He showed me its possibilities, how one could build up a structure for lots of content.
By that time I had a blog on Blogspot. Just to play, nothing serious. I was yet to know anything about HTML and CSS though.
I started reading about Joomla, one or two user manuals I’d pick up from the web, trying to make sense of all those terms like categories, templates, options, backend… It was hard to grasp, really. I had always work with local software, the kind you install in your local computer. Remote software, sitting in a webserver, connected to its own database, it was all new.
Eventually, we did manage to put it together. We had a project for our sports club and we built the website. I was proud. It took me a lot of time and a lot of reading, but I did it.
The club staff was delighted with the frontend. We did some training, so that they could update the site on their own. A few months later the site was exactly the same. They hadn’t publish anything.
By that time we’re already regretting to have chosen Joomla. We started playing with WordPress, first in WordPress.com, later with our own install. And it was so much simpler for the user… If we only knew.
Now I had two more tasks. Rebuild the club’s Joomla site with WordPress. And rebuild my own site with WordPress. The first was a success, the frontend was not exactly the same – we used a WooThemes magazine theme –, but was nice. The backend, however, was so much better for them to use that they never stopped. It is still updated, if not daily, more than once a week.
The second task was actually my debut on e-commerce, built with WordPress and a very simple plugin that enabled me to sell the books we published online (I’ll edit this part if I can remember the plugin’s name. It’s not available anymore but it sure deserves the credit). I used a Graph Paper Press theme (I’m so glad GPP still exists and has a lot of cool themes, mainly around photography) and done a lot of rookie mistakes.
“I have the power”
When you find out there’s a tool that can actually open a door to the future, you don’t stop. At least I didn’t. I could have thought of WordPress as a momentary solution, and move forward without thinking what else I could get from it. Truth is, I was available to embrace the idea that online publishing was the/my future.
I definitely wouldn’t have the same confidence if it were not for the extraordinary community around WordPress, and the sense of belonging that grows as we communicate and coexist with it. As opportunities arose, the need to learn more, correct mistakes, and follow best practices was also more imperative.
I began to realize the dimension WordPress gained, what we could do with it, and how easy it was to get started. But this easiness was, after all, still relative. If you are not a developer you will be able to install WordPress and choose themes and plugins, do some basic customisation and create content, no more than that. And even this assumes you have a basic interface experience and know how a management panel works.
So, there was also a need (hence, an opportunity) to help new users onboarding. Coming from a non-dev background has helped me to understand how difficult it can be to start your own project with WordPress. I guess that gave me some advantage in how to approach support and training for new users.
Rising entrepreneurship – much due to the financial crisis from which my country was not spared – has also created a shift towards the online market, with many small businesses wanting to secure a web presence with limited investment.
Suddenly, there was a demand for trainers who could help small business owners or implementers start using WordPress in their business. And that’s how WPlearn.it came to be, and then WPStress.com.