My WordPress Origin Story

Today, May 27th 2023, is the 20th birthday of the WordPress open source platform. To celebrate, the WordPress community is doing a 20 day campaign encouraging sharing of everything from WordPress origin stories to WordPress wish lists.

I’m going to attempt to complete the full 20 day challenge, albeit starting on the #WP20 anniversary instead of ending today!

So without further ado, here is my WordPress origin story, for anyone who finds it of interest. Happy Birthday, WordPress!

2016: 1 Year BWP (Before WordPress)

It was 2016 and I was having the best time (professionally) learning and playing with SQL (thanks to my employer at the time, Fortescue Metals Group) while simultaneously experiencing one of the worst periods of my life with regards to my mental health (thanks to a legal battle with a former business partner). At work, I was thrown in the deep end in 2015 learning how to be a product owner for the software development team and I had loved every minute of it. I’ve always been passionate about data, and being able to learn from the phenomenally smart humans I worked with in both the development and engineering teams was something I’m still immensely grateful for.

Unfortunately, as the year came to a close I found myself faced with a choice – I could go back to working on site in my old job as a metallurgical engineer, or I could take the opportunity to part ways with the mining industry and pursue my newfound passion for creating cool stuff with tech.

For anyone that has met me in the past five years you already know what my choice was, but I promise you it was not easy to give up a lucrative career working as an engineer in the mining industry to start my own business!

2017: A Year of Discovery

My old mentor used to have a saying that he recited every chance he got:

“In god we trust. Every other #&%er must show data.”

– My former mentor

It’s not an original saying but it was new to me, and something that I embraced as a personal motto and continue to live by to this day. So when I left behind the mining industry to start my own consulting business, you can bet that I researched everything!

I’d already had a bit of experience with digital marketing (at least something good had come out of the ill-fated business venture I alluded to earlier) and had been fortunate to attend the Traffic and Conversion Summit hosted by Digital Marketers Australia in Sydney in 2015. One of the buzzwords I kept hearing at the conference was ‘WordPress’ so when I started to research options for building a website for my fledgling consulting business (Business Excelerator – pun intended) and kept coming across advice to use this platform, I started to give it real consideration.

The Argument.

Enter Stage Left: My wonderful and supportive husband Ross. A business owner since 2006, and a software developer since before WordPress existed. He used to write programs to play computer games for him when he was in high school. Waaaaaay more experienced than me when it came to all things tech, as well as running a business. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “I think I’m going to build my website with WordPress. It’s by far the most commonly recommended platform and I need to do blogging to rank for the keywords I want.”

Ross: “WordPress!? What! WordPress is SO INSECURE it is THE WORST we see SO MANY PROBLEMS WHEN PEOPLE USE WORDPRESS Lorem IPSUM dolor sit AMET, consectetur ADIPISCING ELIT, sed do eiusmod TEMPOR INCIDIDUNT ut labore et dolore magna ALIQUA!”

Apologies – I tuned out about half way through the rant. I had the data on my side.

Me: “Cool, I’m using it anyway. I think you’re biased and wrong, and data doesn’t lie.”

I then proceeded to set up my first WordPress website… and failed. Miserably.

All those things that I now tell people not to do? I did them. That’s how I know what not to do…

He Came Around!

Luckily when I came crawling to Ross for help, he was a godsend – and together we navigated building our first WordPress website. By the end of it, he was so sold on the ‘significantly improved WordPress from when he last used it’ that he agreed to let me rebuild his hideous old clunky non-mobile responsive websites for both Devhouse and IT House. After all, I needed something to keep me busy while I found clients for Business Excelerator, and after my first taste of WordPress it was my new favourite thing!

Fast forward a few months and I had built three business websites, plus a website for our local community group, and another few for personal projects. Then one of his clients reached out to him.

Client: “Hey, do you remember that website we got you to build us that we never launched?”

Ross: “Yes, vividly.”

Client: “Cool, we want to launch it BUT we’d like to re-do it with WordPress. We want a blog, and someone told us WordPress was the best thing for that. Plus we need to be able to update content ourselves. Can you build us a WordPress website? We saw your new website by the way, we really like it!”

Ross: “Funny story, we (Devhouse) actually no longer build websites – we’ve realised that our focus is best suited to custom software. However, my wife actually built both of our websites (IT House and Devhouse) and she might be convinced to do yours, if you’d be open to a connection.”

The rest was, as they say, history. That was my first client, and I am actually lucky enough to still have them as clients (though we’ve rebuilt their website since then and let me tell you – it’s MUCH better than version 1!).

2018: House Digital

After successfully selling my first website, I learned a tonne and realised this was something that I could see myself doing long term. I wasn’t ready to completely give up on Business Excelerator, but I definitely didn’t get the same buzz from building Excel spreadsheets as I did building beautiful websites. Finally, I got to combine my passion for creativity and my passion for tech into something that was actually valuable!

I joined a business networking group, got some business cards printed, and joined a community of other WordPress business owners because while research is great it is no replacement for experience. Unfortunately, most of the connections I was making in the new industry I’d found myself in were located… not near me. I went from having a thriving local community (after all Western Australia lives and breathes mining) to having nobody to nerd out with. I started looking for ways to meet other WordPress nerds, and came across the Perth WordPress Meetup on


Only much to my dismay, there hadn’t been any meetups for nearly a year 🙁

So, I reached out to the organisers. Was there anything I could do? Were there more planned? How did the meetups work? Did they need help?

As it turned out, Maeve Lander (former meetup organiser) had gotten herself a job with the WordPress VIP team at Automattic (the folx behind, WooCommerce, JetPack, Gravatar… the list goes on) and no longer had time to run the meetup. She asked if I wanted to take over the reigns, and given that I had recently found myself a new home working from the amazing Spacecubed coworking space, I agreed to become the new lead organiser for WordPress Perth. I hosted my first meetup in March 2018, and since them the Perth WordPress Community has hosted 30 meetup events with more to come.

2019: My First WordCamp

As much as I loved running the meetup, I was keen to experience the full WordPress community experience – so when I found out about WordCamps I did everything within my power to get along to one. Only, one turned into five in a year, and I spent most of 2019 scraping every penny I could save to jump on planes and join other WordPress nerds – first at WordCamp Cebu (which I was sponsored by our local conference bureau to speak at), followed by Brisbane, Sydney, Port Macquarie, and Auckland. I was also scheduled to speak at the inaugural WordCamp Asia, but COVID happened and I wasn’t able to make it to the event when it finally happened earlier this year.

2023: Fast Forward

During the pandemic I started stalking all the Make.WordPress slack channels to try and find a way I could still contribute to the community when in-person events seemed like they were a thing we’d never again be able to enjoy. I fumbled my way through onboarding on a bunch of teams approximately seventy billion times, and eventually (quite recently) have found a home with the and WordPress Documentation teams. We’ve also restarted our in-person meetups (finally) after a few failed attempts last year.

Tonight I’ve applied to speak at WordCamp US, and whether or not I’m accepted to speak I hope I’ll still be able to make it to Washington DC this year because I’ve also been invited to attend the WordPress Community Summit to help work out how we (as a community) can continue to attract and retain contributors to the WordPress open source platform.

Wish me luck – and thanks to everyone in the WordPress community who has helped me become the woman, the developer, the contributor and the human I am today. I couldn’t have done it without you!

A cupcake with candles and the words 'Happy Birthday' on a colorful confetti filled background.

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