April 7th, 2020
You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open-source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. Enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.
Computer science in the nineties
Mario has been hooked on computers ever since he got his first one in 1996. He started with digging into MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 first and learned tons by trial and error. Following that adventure, Mario built his first HTML site in 1999. He found development so exciting that he spent day and night learning QBasic and started working at the local PC game club. Mario got involved with several other things related to website administration (translating security bulletins, setting up simple sites, etc) and soon found the technology field was full of activities he really enjoyed.
The Corporate Lifestyle
Mario started studying programming including an intensive high-level course for C#, Java development, and software engineering, and eventually got a job in a corporate environment. He soon became a team leads there, managing all the planning and paperwork for their projects.
But he continued freelancing on the side. He grew his own network of technical experts through attending, volunteering at, and organizing conferences. He also ran a technical forum and regularly spoke at universities and enterprise companies.
Remote Working and Business Opportunity
The combination of a high workload and a daily three-hour-long commute made Mario’s life difficult. Many of his friends were still studying, traveling or unemployed. The blissful and calm lives they lived seemed like a fairy tale to him. And even while both his managers and his clients were abroad, he was unable to obtain permission to work remotely.
So Mario decided to leave his job and start freelancing full time. But he found he faced a massive challenge.
He discovered Java projects were pretty large and required an established team of people working together in an office. All job opportunities were on-site, and some even required relocation abroad. Certified Java programmers weren’t being hired on a remote basis.
As Mario had some PHP experience from previous jobs, he used this to start his freelance career. For his projects, he used both plain PHP and PHP frameworks like CakePHP and CodeIgniter.
For a while, Mario accepted work using commonly known platforms including Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress. In addition, he worked on PHP, Java, Python and some C# projects for a couple of years, after which he decided to switch to WordPress completely.
One of his projects involved a technically challenging charity backed by several international organizations. Unexpected shortages in the team put him in the technical lead position. As a result, Mario found himself planning the next phases, meeting with the client regularly, and renegotiating the terms. The team completed the project successfully, and after the launch, a TV campaign led millions of visitors to the website.
As a result of the successful launch, this client invited Mario to participate in more WordPress projects, including building a custom framework.
“I wasn’t that acquainted with WordPress back then. For me, a conventional person trained in architectural design patterns and best practices, WordPress seemed like an eccentric young hipster somewhere on the line between insane and genius at the same time. I had to spend a couple of months learning WordPress from the inside out.”
As his interest in WordPress grew, Mario stopped delivering other custom platforms, and converted clients to WordPress.
For Mario, one of the key selling points of WordPress was the international openness. He had previously been involved with other open source communities, some of which were US-focused. He felt they were more reliant on meeting people in person. With events only taking place in the US, this made building relationships much harder for people living in other countries.
While the WordPress project started out in the US, the WordPress community quickly globalized. Dozens of WordCamps and hundreds of Meetup events take place around the globe every year. All of these events bring a wide variety of people sharing their enthusiasm for WordPress together.
For Mario, the birth of WordCamp Europe was something magical. The fact that hundreds, and later on thousands, of people from all over the world gathered around the topic of WordPress speaks for itself. Mario has been involved with organizing WordCamp Europe twice (in 2014 and 2015).
“There’s nothing like meeting WordPress enthusiasts and professionals from more than 50 countries brainstorming and working together at a WordCamp. You simply have to be there to understand how powerful it all is.”
Growing businesses and teams
A key WordPress benefit is its popularity – an ever growing project currently powering more than 35% of the Internet . It’s popular enough to be a de facto standard for websites, platforms, e-commerce and blogs.
WordPress has a low barrier to entry. You can achieve a lot without being an expert, meaning most people can start gaining experience without having to spend years learning how to code. That also makes it easier to build businesses and teams.
“Being able to use a tool that is user-friendly, not overly complicated and easily extensible makes introducing it to team members faster and easier. It requires less time for adjustment, and as a result, makes a team stronger and faster. The fact that this tool is cost-effective also allows more startups to enter the market. It requires less time and investments to launch an MVP. This boosts the entire ecosystem.”
Mario also introduced WordPress to children and young people. He taught them how to use WordPress as a tool for homework and class assignments. By using WordPress, they were able to learn the basics of designing themes, developing plugins, marketing statistics, social media, copywriting, and so much more. This approachable introduction to the software meant technical skills were not needed.
He was also part of a team of volunteers who helped a group of young people living at a foster home struggling to provide for themselves. The team taught the basic digital literacy skills necessary in the modern workplace and potentially pay for their rent and basic needs. This included working with Microsoft Word, Excel and WordPress, as well as some basic design and marketing skills.
“When you look at that from another perspective, a platform that could save lives – literally – and change the world for better is worth contributing to, in any possible manner.”
Contributing to the WordPress community
From the core team to supporting and organizing WordCamps, Mario has long been an active contributor to the global WordPress project. He is passionate about the connections fostered by people who are involved in building both the WordPress software and the community around it.
“The WordPress community consists of people of all race and color, living all around the world, working as teachers, developers, bloggers, designers, business owners. Let’s work together to help each other. Let’s stick together and show the world WordPress can help make it a better place.”
Thanks to Alison Rothwell (@wpfiddlybits), Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune) and Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe). Thank you to Mario Peshev (@nofearinc) for sharing his #ContributorStory.
This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. HeroPress highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.
Meet more WordPress community members over at HeroPress.com!