U R W P C A R E E R W O R D C A M P S T L O U I S 2 0 1 7 Heather Acton | @heatheracton Hi! I’m Heather Acton, owner and lead developer of Helio Interactive in Chicago. We build custom solutions for businesses and organizations using WordPress. We’re here to talk about navigating your WordPress career…er…life.
U R W P C A R E E R L I F E W O R D C A M P S T L O U I S 2 0 1 7 Heather Acton | @heatheracton Hi! I’m Heather Acton, owner and lead developer of Helio Interactive in Chicago. We build custom solutions for businesses and organizations using WordPress. We’re here to talk about navigating your WordPress career…er…life.
E Y O U WA N T T O B E ? You came to this talk, so let’s assume your answer is “not at the moment”. Heather Acton | @heatheracton Ask the audience why they came to this talk - pick out a couple folks to ask speciﬁcally. Then share why I thought to do this talk - I see people overwhelmed, feeling directionless, even though they have wonderful skills and huge drive - There are so many options that it can feel overwhelming to try to choose - People feel pressure to take certain paths, for diﬀerent reasons - ﬁnancial pressure, pressure from parents or peers
• Degree in mechanical engineering and worked in corporate for 10 years before leaving that behind to be home with my kids. • While home, I started building websites - for myself and for friends. • Stumbled upon WordPress in 2008 and within a few years was oﬃcially freelancing (while still home with kids). • In 2012 my husband quit his job to be home with the kids, and that’s when I really needed things to take oﬀ. • I continued on mostly as a freelancer but had to bring in contractors to help with things like design, content, and back-end development, and eventually I hired a full-time employee (another developer to help with volume). • Partnership talks started with a few of the contractors I was working with, and after about 3 “attempts”, I found my partners. We formed an umbrella company in 2016, and later that year dissolved it (that’s a longer story, but ﬁnd me after and I can share more about my experience in a partnership). • Currently, Helio is a 2 person company that brings in contract help occasionally, and we have a tight strategic partnership with a creative ﬁrm. This year we plan to hire another designer, developer and a project manager, and the longer term goal (3-5 years out) is to have a creative and technical team focused on providing brilliant digital solutions that help great companies get great results.
Me, in a recent Heropress article Heather Acton | @heatheracton https://heropress.com/essays/screw-blueprint-live-life-terms/ Through all of this, I did a lot of soul searching - what did I really enjoy doing, what were my options, what kind of life to I want, what does success look like to me? I recently wrote a Heropress article about that path, check it out! The highlight is…you don’t have to follow anyone else’s deﬁned “blueprint” to success and happiness in your career or life. • You have the power and capability to pave your own path. • And you’re in the best industry and community to do just that. So I chose to leave a stable job with tons of ﬁnancial security - a “linear” career path…and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I kind of fell into freelancing and while doing that realized how much I enjoyed collaborating with and leading a team. This took years to develop, and I still evaluate my path often.
heart. — Apologies to the author of this quote. I wrote it in my journal without attribution. Heather Acton | @heatheracton Others choose to take on full time roles with established companies, build their own freelancership, build an agency as a sole owner, build an agency with partners, start a theme or plugin company, or do something else related to the industry that doesn’t ﬁt in one of these “boxes” (Carrie Dils, Topher DeRosia, JJJ). • There is no one-size-ﬁts-all option. • There is no right or wrong answer. • Try things and don’t be afraid of failure. Something important is learned from every perceived failure. • You have to do the work to understand what fulﬁlls you, make choices, iterate on those choices, and constantly be evaluating your overall happiness and well-being.
Post Status Podcast Heather Acton | @heatheracton https://poststatus.com/ The wonderful part about the industry that we’re in is that there are SO many options. The overwhelming part about the industry is that there are SO many options! The key is in perspective - embrace these options and be thankful that you have the freedom to choose your path. There is no blueprint - no wrong answer. You have to ﬁgure out what your goals are, what you’re great at, and which path ﬁts best in the life that you desire.
V E D O I N G ? Heather Acton | @heatheracton W H AT A R E Y O U , O R C A N Y O U B E , T H E B E S T AT ? W H AT D O Y O U D E S P I S E D O I N G ? I’ve put together a list of questions that I ponder often, and I hope they help you too. They’ve helped me evaluate the path that’s right for me at the time, and they help me gather my thoughts on what success means to me, in the short and long term.
E N O O B J E C T, W H AT W O U L D Y O U D O ? Heather Acton | @heatheracton W H AT D O E S S U C C E S S L O O K L I K E T O Y O U I N 1 Y E A R , 5 Y E A R S , A N D I N T H E E N D ? I N W H AT E N V I R O N M E N T S D O Y O U F E E L T H E M O S T S T I M U L AT E D A N D I N S P I R E D ?
E L F - D I S C O V E RY A N D A LWAY S B E E VA L U AT I N G Heather Acton | @heatheracton D I V E I N T O T H E C O M M U N I T Y C O N T I N U A L LY I M P R O V E Y O U R S K I L L S S TAY P O S I T I V E , F O C U S E D , A N D A WA R E G E T C O M F O R TA B L E B E I N G U N C O M F O R TA B L E In summary, I’ve put together some inspirational tips. These are things I go back to on a daily basis to encourage and reassure myself, especially in the toughest of times. Also - read Heropress - very inspiring stories about those ﬁnding their way in our industry and community
A C H E X P E R I E N C E Heather Acton | @heatheracton D O N ’ T B E S WAY E D B Y T H E J U D G E M E N T O F O T H E R S B E F U E L E D , N O T S T U N T E D , B Y FA I L U R E B E PAT I E N T T R U S T Y O U R G U T In summary, I’ve put together some inspirational tips. These are things I go back to on a daily basis to encourage and reassure myself, especially in the toughest of times.
Your best resources are in this room, at this event, and in our community • Find people that inspire you and follow them intently • HeroPress http://heropress.com/ • How I Built It Podcast https://howibuilt.it/ Heather Acton | @heatheracton