What if our journey as WordPress entrepreneurs were like an epic MMORPG? You know, a massively-multi-player-online-RPG?
We choose our profession, hone in on our skill set’s and set out into the world to gain XP.
Folks know that I have a passion for interviewing entrepreneurs who make a living using WordPress. What they might not know is, I love to boot up the popular MMORPG game Guild Wars 2 from time to time.
So I decided to take the lessons I’ve learned from other freelancers and business owners to see how they relate to my favorite action packed massive multiplayer.
Sound like fun? Let’s go!
Before We Begin…
Wait. Before the game begins we need to pick a profession and decide on a path. Are we going offensive or defensive? Melee or caster? Some form of Hybrid?
When you start your first character you receive a set of skill (think: project’s) points to spend.
You only get a handful, so don’t spread them out too thin. Most likely, you want to focus on your offense or character’s damage count. In real life, we want to focus on landing projects to start paying the bills.
So what’s your real life offensive trait?
Choosing Your Profession
Each profession comes equipped with unique a skill set.
My strengths are business development, project management, and client relations. So I focus my efforts in this space to level up:
- Scout for new clients
- Conjure up new business
- Cultivate a network
- Craft new products
- Heal my team
Before the game begins, we’re given the choice to choose our professions. It’s important you do the same before you begin your WordPress journey.
We want to hone in on our particular skills and continue to refine. Just like spending our initial skill points we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin. If you’re a developer — develop! Need Photoshop work? Find a designer.
As our journey unfolds, we’ll learn that spreading our focus too thin can really hurt us.
The XP Grind
We have selected our profession, equipped our cloth Hauberk, and preparing our level 1 sprout.
Time to find the XP! Each encounter we face will grant us XP. You might think it’s just the client work that will move the bar — but you’re wrong.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t learned anything of major value when I land the right client.
Everything goes great, we get paid on time, they love our work, the final product is awesome and everyone is happy. This is exactly what we set out to do, no bonus points here.
Earn bonus XP when:
- A client project goes south
- You stumble upon a missing clause in a contract
- You’re grouped with the wrong team
- Pivot to a new offering
- Find further focus
- Riposte a bad client
When we initially fumble at the scenarios above, we lose some hit points. We take a bit of damage, shout for a bit, and then recover. These unexpected encounters aren’t easy to navigate but will earn us the most experience per encounter.
Think about the first time you stumble upon a missing clause in the contract:
Hey there WordPress freelancer, we got your final invoice for payment but noticed you didn’t move over our 247 pages of content and 800 products. Let us know when that’s all set and we’ll shoot over the final payment.
Ah. Crap. CLIENT HITS YOU FOR 1,359 DAMAGE!
Stumbling back you check your contract and notice you don’t have a clause about content migration. You quickly correct this hole in your armor and charge on. As you continue to roam through the world, another experience approaches with the same situation:
Hey there WordPress freelancer…
YES! YOU DODGE THE ATTACK CASTING GLYPH’S OF GLORY. YOU EARN 103 XP.
As we progress through the world experiences will become harder, longer and more rewarding. These encounters help level us and make us better players. The more challenges we face on our journey, the better we become.
Let the game’s begin!
Levels 1 – 20
You know how it starts, completely naked with just a rock and a twig for a weapon. It’s time to grind!
These early levels define us as a players. Just like the early days of our careers. We’re setting the foundation for where we want to spend our points and time leveling ourselves.
Go out and find your adventure:
- Seek out experiences in the world
- Collect and gather useful items for your profession
- Learn the basics of your skill set
- Explore the map and find important zones
- Earn testimonials to aide in your journey
Your going to level fast in the early days. Each encounter will be fairly easy to overcome, no real trick questions. You’re not charging a lot or launching complex projects.
But fret not fearless champion, more dangers await!
Levels 21 – 60
What’s this? New armor?! Damn you look good.
Once we get into the 20+ levels the game starts to get even more rewarding. We now have more skill points and we’re learning new traits.
Our profession is maturing, we’re maturing, and wait — we’re joining a guild?
That’s right, you can’t do this alone.
Remember the early years. Head down, cranking away at project, cobbling together whatever you can to call yourself a freelancer. What happens when the flow of experiences dry up? Or you want bigger and better experiences?
Time to journey further into unknown lands and find the rare client project.
How to connect with others and stand out in the realm:
- Join a collaborative workspace
- Contract with a virtual team
- Attend a WordPress meetup
- Champion WordCamps
- Explore social media channels
- Plot with mastermind classes
- Seek elders to continue your education
- Market yourself to a niche audience
- Collect your accolades and show them off
By this point we should be looking to scale ourselves and go further. We can’t solo a dungeon without a strong party, slay a dragon without a guild or claim the realm without the realm.
It’s no different when we get into our later freelance years. Some projects will need the aide of a designer, the collaborative effort of a well rounded team or the support of the community.
This is the time to ensure your feet are properly planted and you’re ready to scale. Get out of your office and start building your network.
Experiences will no longer come your way, you have to seek out the next challenge.
Levels 61 – 80+
You are legendary. Gripping your badass greatsword, you’re an unstoppable juggernaut. Respected, sought after, righteous.
You’re well on your way to finishing off your profession and fine tuning your skill set.
So now what?
It’s time to explore the many ways to become a leader:
- Form your own virtual agency
- Lead a WordPress meetup
- Contribute to WordPress core
- Support community plugins and themes
- Organize a WordCamp
- Help with documentation
- Blog about your niche profession to help others
- Create unique plugins or themes
- Author a book about your journey
- Become an advisor to other startups
When we’re no longer grinding the lower levels we are afforded the time to step back and engage our interests.
Many of the WordPress entrepreneurs I interview are making the transition from client services to digital product or building out a full service agency. Because WordPress adoption is still rising we’re seeing exciting growth in this startup space.
What’s your call to arms? Are you aiming for growth or are you conquering your journey as the lone ranger?
Congratulations, you win! What’s next? Roll another toon and do it all over again?
Well this is where the game ends and you have to make the real life decision.
If we consider ourselves entrepreneurs, we should set far reaching goals for ourselves. Understand who we are and where we want to go. Ask for guidance and support from others. Lead and share our knowledge with the community.
Do you want to scale or stay the solopreneur?
The good news is, you get to forge your own road. So my friend, where will it take you?