In this series, we share some of the inspiring stories of how WordPress and its global network of contributors can change people’s lives for the better. This month we feature Carla Doria, a customer support specialist from South America on how WordPress opened up a new world for her, and gave her the ability to help the local community.
For Carla, working with WordPress is a vital part of her life. It gave her a career and a community, in which she she would organize the first WordCamp in her city, Cochabamba, and the first in Bolivia.
Carla studied industrial engineering and has a master’s degree in environmental studies.
Her first experience with WordPress was when she decided to start a small business designing and selling cushions and bedclothes. While Carla sat in the small store she had rented, hoping that people stopping at the shop windows would step in to buy something, she decided she needed to create a website.
First steps with WordPress
Carla had no budget to hire somebody, but she felt confident she could learn things on her own.
“Learning to use WordPress requires no code skills or a technical background. It needs an adventurous and playful spirit.”
She had always been studious, and decided she would figure out how to build a website herself. Carla ended up building a simple blog with WordPress. At the time, she didn’t even have a budget to buy a custom domain, so she used a free subdomain.
“Learning to use WordPress is easy. It requires no code skills or a technical background at all. It only needs an adventurous and playful spirit,” said Carla
There were no profits, and any income mainly went to pay the store’s rent. At the time, her previous company contacted her for a job opening that matched her profile. Carla needed that income and decided to closed the store and forget about being an entrepreneur.
Back in employee mode, Carla started her new job as a technical writer for a software development company. Since Carla had completed her master’s degree in the UK, she was proficient in English. Her close affinity for computers and technology made it easy for her to translate complex software jargon into simple tutorial steps.
As Carla got more interested in technical writing and started to improve her writing skills. This reconnected her with her previous enthusiasm for writing, and she decided to channel that interest into a blog.
Creating her blog helped her become more familiar with WordPress and building websites. In 2015, Carla blogged about writing, her thoughts, book reviews, and everything that came to mind.
Through looking for answers to specific issues using her WordPress blog, Carla found the support forums a useful place to go. Soon she realized that she could also help answer other people’s questions.
Carla began checking the forums as a hobby. She liked that she was able to help people and learn more while doing so.
Instead of surfing social media during her work breaks, Carla focused on checking the WordPress forums. Through this she learnt about a support job in one of the global firms.
She felt the job was made for her and was excited to support people in building their websites with WordPress. The role offered the possibility to work remotely and travel while still working.
After three years as a technical writer, her career felt stuck. She was certain she did not want to return to any job related to industrial engineering.
Carla did not get through the selection process the first time. But after nearly 18 months between three applications and learning HTML and CSS, Carla finally secured a support job in 2016. With this job, WordPress became her main source of income.
Leading a local WordPress community
On the job, Carla learned about the WordPress communities around the world and WordCamps. But when somebody asked about the WordPress community where Carla lived, she didn’t know what to say. Was there a community?
She discovered no local group existed, so she researched what was needed to setup a meetup. Carla discussed the idea with others, but hesitated as she thought it would require an expert WordPress developer to organize.
But after trying to gauge interest, Carla realized that the only way to find community members was to start a community. In 2017, the WordPress community in Cochabamba was born.
WordPress meeting in Cochabamba explored creating your website with blocks
The group has had ups and downs, probably similar to any other community. Although Cochabamba is not a big city, they had issues finding a location that was free and available to anyone who wanted to join. People came with different levels of knowledge, from people with vast experience with WordPress to people with no experience but who wanted to learn.
The community grew during the pandemic, as meetups went online and people from other cities in Bolivia were able to attend. After restrictions were lifted, there was a lot of excitement amongst members to meet each other in person.
Giving back through speaking
The community also helped Carla to develop a new skill in public speaking. She applied to be a speaker at WordCamp Mexico 2019 and 2020, WordCamp Guayaquil 2019, and WordCamp Colombia in 2020. Her confidence grew while she enjoyed connecting with other communities and meeting people who were on similar pathways. Not all of them were developers, as she had presumed. Many, like her, started out as bloggers.
Finally, after three years, Carla applied to organize her first WordCamp in 2021 in Cochabamba. She had never imagined organizing any WordCamp, and through this having the experience to talk to sponsors and contact companies, and lead a group of people with different talents and backgrounds. Carla felt she had learnt so much from the experience.
Thanks to WordPress, Carla found a job she enjoyed, was able to work remotely, and help build something in her community to help people learn skills and find career opportunities.
Carla feels grateful for all she has been able to do thanks to WordPress. She said: “WordPress has led me to find good jobs. It also has allowed me to contribute to a community of friends that love learning about WordPress.”
Share the stories
Help share these stories of open source contributors and continue to grow the community. Meet more WordPressers in the People of WordPress series.
Thanks to Alison Rothwell (@wpfiddlybits), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Larissa Murillo (@lmurillom), Meher Bala (@meher), Chloe Bringmann (@cbringmann), and Surendra Thakor (@sthakor) for work on this feature, and to all the contributors who helped with the series recently. Thank you too to Carla Doria (@carlisdm) for sharing her experiences.
Thank you to Josepha Haden (@chantaboune) and Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe) for their support of the People of WordPress series.
This People of WordPress feature is inspired by an essay originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories might otherwise go unheard. #HeroPress