Most people don't know much about our team or who we are. Many of us are self-taught. We've seen that anyone who tries building websites and enjoys it can be successful.
Where I started
My success has been a result of my passion for development and seeing others succeed. But you know what? I haven't always been a developer. I worked as a Registered Nurse (RN) for 4 years in a hospital, a nursing home, and finally pediatric home health.
Nursing is a rewarding career, but is also high-paced and high-stress. Despite the schedule and pace, I enjoyed it and planned to continue working, but God had other plans.
A couple of weeks into maternity leave with my first baby, I didn't know what to do with myself. I spent a lot of time holding my baby girl. I found I could even use two hands to play World of Warcraft if I put her on top of a Boppy on my lap with a bottle propped in her mouth.
That could only entertain me for so long and I wondered what else I could do to pass the time.
An unexpected mentor
Then along came my cousin Blair Williams, author of Pretty Link, Affiliate Royale, and MemberPress. At the time, he had several Ruby on Rails contracts and was desperate enough in his search for subcontractors that he was willing to recruit anyone who had HTML experience or an interest in web development. Honestly, I had neither.
But my husband Steve had learned a bit of HTML in high school and was interested in learning more. So Blair gave us a small training session on how to set up a local computer to work with Ruby on Rails. I tagged along as a potential cure for my boredom, with expectations of it going way over my head.
After attending the first training session, setting up my Windows PC, and a memorizing the HTML tags on w3schools.com, I started on my first Ruby on Rails site for my sister. There was no database connection and other than a dynamic header and footer, the whole site was static HTML.
That $400 project ended up being one of the biggest milestones in my life. I learned that I love writing code and craved more. Once I learned I could do it, my confidence grew to the point I felt like I could try something bigger.
Blair handed me more and more work and I kept learning and getting better. From Franklin Covey HTML email templates, to an attorney that needed a full site (that has rightfully been rewritten on WordPress since then), to managing a project with a single developer.
I was determined to make the deadline on the project I was managing. The developer I was working with must have been less than thrilled with my aspirations. Despite my determination, the deadline was slipping.
So I took matters into my own hands. I dug into the code and went after the least-daunting of the bug list in the Ruby on Rails app. And I fixed it!
So I tried another and another. This exploration came hand-in-hand with increasing confidence and more projects to work on.
Pressure makes things happen
Enter personal life. Steve took an "exciting" job in San Diego during this time. It was going to be a "great opportunity." Right? Not so much.
The company didn't have the investment they claimed. So we came back, desperate and frustrated, two months later.
After the moving expenses, California rent, and the mortgage for the house that luckily hadn't sold yet, we were down to $200 left to our names. Not nearly enough to cover the mortgage.
Turning down stability for flexibility was a risk that we deemed worth taking. Steve turned down his sole job offer in a down 2008 economy. And I still wasn't ready to leave my 7-month-old to go back to work.
Now that we were both unemployed, we hit Blair up for more work. Steve started learning HTML and CSS too, and I got my hands into a new, large-scale Ruby on Rails application for a start-up company.
An introduction to WordPress
After a couple months, we started taking on our own clients.
A college buddy of Steve's contacted us looking for cheap development on an existing WPMU site (now WordPress multisite). We bid out the job and agreed to a flat rate. We made it clear this would be a learning job as I started into the unfamiliar territory of WordPress and PHP. I wrote a single, 2000+ line file with no organization, and tried to retreat back to the comfortable organization of Ruby on Rails.
Luckily, a platform as incredible as WordPress won't be ignored. We took on more WordPress client sites. Steve created the themes while I wrote the plugins. Formidable started in here somewhere too, but that's another story.
WordPress came knocking from every side when our bread-and-butter client decided to convert their large-scale Ruby on Rails site to WordPress. This client then became our employer. We were lucky enough to both have jobs and be able to switch off on who went into the office each day.
Taking the plunge
Aside from my day job responsibilities, Formidable monopolized my days and nights off. A year after the Formidable launch, we replaced the stable paycheck, office politics, and stress of a lame CEO with independence and freedom.
We've been completely free of client projects and micromanaging bosses for 11 years now. For me, that is the dream. I'm not great at being managed, as my husband would readily confirm.
Getting here has taken a lot of late nights and a periodically neglected family. The cost has been high at times, and the balance between work and being a wife and mother is a constant struggle. Enjoying work makes that balance incredibly difficult to pinpoint and maintain. I have to rebalance over and over and over and over.
It's never too late to start
Discovering my love for writing code has made all the difference for me. I see so many well-known and super savvy developers in the WordPress community and come to learn most of them started much younger than I did.
But you know what? It doesn't matter.
It takes time, dedication, and probably some world-tuning-out hyper-focusing no matter when you start. But if you think you might possibly like it, there's no reason not to start.
Find out if you enjoy it and then do what you enjoy. Then love your work to keep it from feeling like work.