HeroPress: The Making of a WordPress Journalist

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I went from being an Electrical Engineer to a WordPress Journalist cum Researcher. I review products, provide WordPress support and handle technical documentations. Here’s my story.

October 27th, 2010 — The day my passion became my paycheck, and I was hopeful and excited about trying out something I always wanted to do i.e. to blog!

The Backstory

I was always a shy kid. But had a great inclination towards all the creative writing opportunities which were offered in the school. Be it contributing to the school’s annual magazine or joining the editorial team of the Buzz (the monthly newsletter), I always considered myself an amateur writer. I also remember how anxiously; I used to wait for the weekly edition of the US Magazine and used to pile up all its copies neatly in a big plastic folder bag. (I still have that big bundle stacked in my cupboard. 🙂 )

Throughout my school, the laser focus on my career was to become a doctor and take up writing as a side profession. Even if I wanted to take writing as a full-time career at that time, my parents would not have allowed it (every parent wants their kids to be an engineer or a doctor — professions with less uncertainty).

So, I knew that just aiming to become a professional writer would only do more harm than good. Anywho, long story short, I ended up joining the Engineering field mostly because the profession ran in my blood. (Duh… my dad is an Engineer).

The general perception is that if you’re passionate about something, you’re more willing to take risks. But this wasn’t true for me. Honestly, I’m not a life-hacking kind of girl. Nor can I pretend to be one who has fully recovered from giving up on her passion. But somewhere in there I still wanted to write (as in professionally).

The Hard Truth

I was now on track to become an Electrical Engineer, which was not anywhere close to writing, except for that only Communications Skills course which included a few PPT presentations, technical writing and a 20-page report as a semester project. There was nothing creative about it since we were supposed to write like they write a research paper. There was more fuss about syntax than the content itself. It’s safe to assume that I didn’t enjoy that kind of writing.

Stepping Forward Professionally

Five years ago during my 4th semester at the university, I met an amazing team of entrepreneurs led by Ahmad Awais; it was a small team of passionate developers and bloggers. Better yet, they were looking to add one more resource to their team. I knew this was my chance to be a writer again.

For me, writing meant putting my voice out there and wanting it to matter even a tiny bit. After a few articles that I contributed, I was offered a part-time job, and I quickly jumped on it. I was like “Holly Smokes! It’s getting real”. I got started by writing on different niches like technology, design, food, fashion, hospitality, the web, etc.

Re-living my passion once again induced new hope and rejuvenated me a lot.

Whatever I wrote, came profoundly from my heart and this instinct made me believe I might have a chance to take a stab on writing once again. But writing for technology blogs wasn’t that simple as I had hoped.

Defining Parts of a Copywriter

Becoming a professional and sound copywriter is an intimidating struggle because there’s a lot of jargon. Unfortunately, you’re going to find some new mantra each time you browse this topic. So, I’m just writing what I found is necessary for one to become one such copywriter.

  • Writing (of course!)
  • Code
  • Design

One needs to know at least the basics of these three bullet points listed above. So, that was my goal. Mostly, because I worked with a team of developers and being an engineer, development was not a remote concept either. I knew that having basic design and development skills will only allow me to push beyond the limits of a normal copywriter.

A Turning Point!

Ahmad had always been a big fan of WordPress, and all three of our blogs were built with WordPress. The CMS was entirely new to me but when I gave it a spin found it surprisingly easy to learn. We had internal workshops about WordPress almost every other week. I made a point to sit through these workshops and even went through project RFP’s and init meetings. During the next semesters, I had fallen for two things, writing and yes, you guessed it, WordPress.

Now the biggest challenge for me was to pace things up as quickly as possible so that by the time I graduate, I don’t end up working in a Grid Station in a remote area. (I mean no offense to the Electrical Engineers out there. But it wasn’t the thing for me.)

I started getting a firm grip over WordPress. I kicked off with video tutorials from Lynda and then started reading authentic web resources like WPBeginner, WP Tavern, etc. After toying around with the basic setup and configurations, the next step was to face my biggest fear i.e. coding.

Did I mention that initially I knew very little of code?

Encountering the Gap

My first real interaction with the code was via C Programming in the first semester and believe me it was a deeply rooted bizarre.

I found the fact development jobs “are for men” ridiculous and therefore, continued to focus on progressing my career.

This was only possible if I would learn how to code.

I learned HTML5 followed by CSS3 and then jumped to high-level programming languages like PHP and JavaScript. And guess what… just after six months of coding, things started to make sense. I began with teeny tiny modifications of simple HTML templates and worked through the complex frameworks like Redux and Titan. I think this was because I was more focused on speed than I was on building a solid understanding of what I was doing.

It Isn’t Enough

With time, I started noticing an encouraging shift in my life. I knew I was up to something. My next step was to evolve with the local community and hence, I started attending design conferences and workshops. Why design? Because this would fulfill my third component to become a professional copywriter and it let me interact with people around me. Images play a vital role in making your content appealing, and a basic knowledge of Photoshop would be sufficient to achieve my goal.

My next step eventually hit the brick wall, and I started speaking at workshops too. I assisted the leading speakers at most of the workshops which made me gain experience that proved its worth just some time later.

Be The Change

By the time I graduated, I was leading the team of bloggers and had expanded my team to about 15 people. Believe me; it feels great to be working on what I want and when I want! Delegating to a team of emerging writers was an achievement itself. Obviously, it’s not an easy thing, but I enjoyed every single bit of it.

At that time, we thought of starting a new company focused on teaching people all things web. That also meant selling our blogging network. So, we have begun prepping for that and by the end of the year, we had have sold almost 80% of our blogs.

The Startup — FinkTanks

By now, I’ve realized that the only person who can get in the way of your career progress is YOU. One has to keep moving forward regardless of what you’re up against. The work you do may not bring drastic and immediate results, but your efforts will not go to waste. And I knew that the career path which I’ve opted for can directly impact the future of our next generation of women.

So, it just hit me that I should teach others how I did it, not much of a success story, but at least I could spread the word. Then I came up with the idea of a startup with my team. FinkTanks — as we called it was launched in 2013 and then again in 2014. I searched for my target audience and the perfect fit for this venture were the young girls just like me — fresh graduate looking to learn a few extra skill.

When Women Engineer…

I surveyed a little and realized that a number of females were interested in working from home (mostly coz it is easier, flexible and no transportation mess). There could not be a better choice for them other than blogging & copywriting. I mean you don’t have to go for a job you just need to work hard wherever you are. All you need is a laptop and an uninterrupted internet connection which fortunately is available to almost all of us. So this was my biggest inspiration and hence I got started.

Small theatre-style classroom filled with women
Small theatre-style classroom filled with women
4 men and three women holding up award certificates.

I conducted training sessions on a monthly basis where I taught how to be a blogger and how to be self-employed. I taught all the essential components which a blogger needs to know starting from WordPress to design, code, and of course copywriting.

So far, I’ve trained more than 700 women from almost every walk of life, and about 80% of them are now earning a living with WordPress.

WordPress is my new gluten

All this was only possible because of WordPress. Had I not started early on with this open source script I had never been able to positively affect so many lives. WordPress had started to change my life.

When I started publishing content with WordPress, I knew little about its technical insights but gradually became aware of it. I started as a 360 writer who could pen down her thoughts on any niche, but soon I realized that instead of doing something of everything, I should learn everything of something. And that everything was WordPress.

Yes! WordPress is my new gluten and since 2013, this open source script has become a life-changing experience for me. I think that my passion for writing is the best fit to convey my thoughts and opinions on WordPress. Currently, I’m a part of WPTie and working as the Creative Director.

A Competitive Advantage

My day to day routine involves reading about WordPress (and boy I read a lot of it), slacking through WP Slack, improving documentation of our products, providing WordPress support and blogging about WordPress. I also try listening to the popular podcasts. I follow folks like Chris Lema, Tom McFarlin, and Matt Cromwell. Recently, I’ve also started a new venture with Ahmad Awais, i.e. a blog about stuff that couples well with WordPress WPCouple.com.

Working at WPTie has been amazing. It has provided me with an excellent opportunity to work with a talented lot of the community ranging from beginners all the way up to professional developers, bloggers, designers, and WordPress core contributors, etc. So, interacting with like-minded people who are heading towards the same career goals as me is fascinating.

All Set To Grow as a WordPress Journalist

I have turned my life around from being an Electrical Eng. to becoming a WordPress Journalist. By now, I have reviewed several plugins, themes, and frameworks, and now I’m heading towards a big goal. My team and I are working on a brand new online content agency through which we can offer copywriting services to the WordPress community.

One of my goals has to never be just a copywriter, and that’s what I am up to. I write on complex WordPress topics which help me experiment and learn how to develop with WordPress while following the coding standards set by the community.

If you think my story has a lot of WordPress in it, then you cannot be more right.

I believe that sharing more than 26% of the web; WordPress has empowered many ordinary people.  I also find myself gearing for the same queue. My prime focus will be towards reviewing WordPress products as they are here to stay for sure. Likewise, I’m also brainstorming about my content agency.

With that said, I am planning to enter the services market, and one of my huge inspirations and motivations have been Jennifer Bourn. I truly admire the way she is maintaining a perfect blend of both personal and professional life. Because there always exists a big either for most of the women when it comes to choosing a professional career versus being a traditional housewife. Likewise, I’m planning to attend WordCamps next year and looking forward to meeting her.

I’ll conclude by stating the obvious ~ It’s hard to write about yourself. I don’t call myself a hero, hell I am no hero. On the contrary I am embarking on a journey to be better at what I do, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for me. Right now I’m happy and satisfied with what I do, I am surrounded by great people trying to accomplish great things and not many people can say that about their career. That’s because of WordPress and the community around it. So, Thank You, WordPress!

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear back from you. You can reach out to me on Twitter or at my personal blog.

The post The Making of a WordPress Journalist appeared first on HeroPress.

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