You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open-source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. WordPress enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress changed people’s lives for the better. This monthly series shares some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.
How it all began
Mary Job at WordCamp Kampala 2020
Mary remembers when cybercafés started trending in Nigeria. She had just finished high school and was awaiting her results for admission to university. She spent all of her time (10 hours a day) and all of her pocket money buying bulk time online at cafes. All the way through university that was true, until in 2008 she graduated with a degree in philosophy and bought her own computer and modem.
She started blogging in 2009. Initially, she tried out Blogger, Hubpages, and WordPress—but found WordPress too complicated.
Growing up as a timid but curious cat
Mary is one of four kids, and the only girl among her siblings. Throughout her childhood she felt shy, even though others didn’t always see her that way.
When she first started her personal blog, it was mostly an opportunity for her to speak her mind where she was comfortable. Blogging gave her a medium to express her thoughts and with every new post she became a better writer.
After completing a postgraduate diploma in mass communication, Mary started a Masters degree in Information Management. This required a three month internship. She decided to volunteer in Ghana in 2015 at the headquarters of the Salesians of Don Bosco in West Africa (SDBAFW) where her uncle was based.
While she was there, her uncle asked Mary why she was not blogging on WordPress, which also happened to be the software the organisation used. She explained how difficult and complicated it was so he shared a group of beginner-level tutorial videos with her.
After two weeks of watching those videos, she started to realize she could have a full-time career doing this. So she immediately joined a number of online training groups so she could learn everything.
I saw a lot of people earning an income from things I knew and did for the fun of it. I found myself asking why I had not turned my passion into a business.
Not long after that, she was contacted by a website editor who was impressed by her blog. With the information available online for WordPress, she was able to learn everything she needed to improve and redesign a site for what turned into her first client.
Mary’s home office in 2016
I visited the WordPress.org showcase and was wowed with all the good things I could do with WordPress.
In 2016 after a year of deep WordPress learning, she had fallen in love with the CMS and wanted to give back to the WordPress open source project.
She volunteered to help the Community team. And when she moved to Lagos later that year, she discovered there was an active WordPress Meetup community. This started her journey toward becoming a WordPress Meetup Co-organizer and a Global Community Team Deputy.
Today the Nigerian WordPress community continues to grow, as has the Lagos WordPress Meetup group. The first Nigerian WordCamp took place in Lagos in 2018 and a 2020 event is being planned. A local WordPress community also developed in Mary’s hometown in Ijebu.
I have made great friends and met co-organizers in the community who are dedicated to building and sharing their WordPress knowledge with the community like I am.
What did Mary gain from using and contributing to WordPress?
- She overcame her stage fright by getting up in front of an audience at her local Meetup to introduce speakers and to talk about the WordPress community.
- She attended her first of many African WordCamps in Cape Town, South Africa. Coincidentally this was also her first time outside West Africa. Before that, she had not been in an aircraft for more than one hour.
- She earned money from WordPress web design projects to sustain her during her learning period. Mary continues to use WordPress in her work and says she is still learning every day!
- She got to jump off Signal Hill in Cape Town when visiting a WordCamp!
Mary moderating a panel at WordCamp Lagos in 2019
Essentially, the community has taught me to be a better communicator, and a better person. I’ve made friends across the world that have become like a family to me.
She now runs a village hub in Ijebu, where she teaches girls digital skills and WordPress as a way of giving back to her town.
Since she started on this journey, Mary has gotten a fulltime job supporting a WordPress plugin. She’s also become a Community Team Rep and continues to build and foster communities.
Mary’s advice to others
Always seek to understand the basics of whatever knowledge you seek. Never jump in too fast, wanting to spiral to the top while ignoring the learning curve. You will likely crash down effortlessly if you do so, and would have learned nothing.
Thanks to Alison Rothwell (@wpfiddlybits), Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe). Thank you to Mary Job (@maryojob) for sharing her #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!