This month we feature Daniel Kossmann, a software engineer from South America who shares his enthusiasm for WordPress at every opportunity.
The People of WordPress series features inspiring stories of how people’s lives can change for the better through WordPress and its global community of contributors.
Daniel’s adventure into WordPress began in 2009 when he needed a way to publish and share articles on films. From that small spark, he now enjoys an interesting and varied career in Brazil and beyond, and an ever-expanding community network.
Following WordPress and its new features fascinates Daniel and he is always looking for ways to share what it has to offer with others. His initial focus on WordPress for content publishing soon became a wider appreciation of the platform’s capacity for building communities and careers.
Daniel has served as a community organizer for seven years in Curitiba, Brazil and co-organized four annual WordPress Translation Day events in the city. Community building initiatives, like these, bring in new volunteers and help spur on local user groups.
Now working as a software engineer manager, Daniel maintains his interest in supporting the WordPress community through a newsletter in Brazilian Portuguese.
Finding WordPress to publish content can be life-changing
Daniel’s web development skills were initially self-taught, and built on his interest in technology and from his earlier interest in video games. He developed systems in ASP and PHP, and created online resources to teach others how to create websites.
When the time came to choose his academic path, he had no doubt that it would be something related to computers and picked Computer Science at the Federal University of Paraná.
“In order to focus more on content rather than coding, I ended up getting to know WordPress. It was love at first sight!”
In 2009, he launched a public blog about films that became a hub for cultural content related to cinema, literature, and comics. The blog had collaborators from several cities in the country. He found WordPress an easy tool for publishing articles. It allowed him to spend more time on writing content rather than having to use his software engineering skills to write code.
However, once he discovered the range and versatility of the software, he wanted to build themes and features to customize websites.
As he searched for learning materials, he came across a WordPress event happening in his own city. This event, WordCamp Curitiba 2010, had a deep impact on Daniel.
“Other tech events I attended charged more than double this WordCamp, but hadn’t offered half of the things it did.”
Daniel was inspired not only by the talks but also the kindness shown by others at the event. His inherent shyness meant he had to step out of his comfort zone to socialize. However, the friendliness of attendees and the welcome he received made this less foreboding. He was hooked by the community he met, and he pledged to volunteer at the next WordCamp and even apply as a speaker.
Daniel giving a talk at WordCamp São Paulo 2018 about Gutenberg
Less than two years later, Daniel helped to organize WordCamp in Curitiba 2012, and this was where he gave his first public talk. It was an important moment in his journey. He is determined to keep improving his public speaking skills each time he presents, and help others to do so too.
From WordPress user to entrepreneur
Daniel had dreamed of starting his own company since childhood. Following his university graduation in 2011, he decided to fulfil that dream. He started a web development company, envisioning it as a creative project lab.
Initially, he worked with a variety of systems and programming languages. Soon, he realized that maintaining multiple solutions took considerable time and effort. So he opted to use a single platform, WordPress. It offered ease of use for his clients and the possibility of offering various types of websites.
“This decision allowed me to dive even deeper into the system, making better and faster-to-deliver solutions for my clients,” said Daniel.
As the company grew, he expanded the services it offered to include support, maintenance, courses, consulting, and optimized hosting for WordPress. This gave Daniel access to a wider range of clients and greater specialization in the WordPress platform.
Even as a small company, Daniel wanted to give back to the WordPress community. Through using this open source software, the business had not faced the costs of using commercial platforms. He felt he should invest back into the software and its community it as much as he could, from sponsorship of events to collaborating in the Contributor Teams.
His community contributions include speaking at meetups and WordCamps to share what what he has learned in his day-to-day work. “It was always and still is a big pleasure to be able to make these contributions,” he affirmed.
In 2019, he decided to close his company after eight years and start a new chapter in Development Coordination. His focus continues to be on WordPress, both professionally and in the community.
Supporting local: re-energising the Curitiba’s WordPress community
Daniel speaking at a meetup in Curitiba in 2016
After WordCamp in Curitiba in 2012, the community there took a break from organizing events. Three years later, Daniel was eager to help restart meetups in Curitiba. He connected with others in the Brazilian community to find a way forward to support both end users of WordPress and firms using the platform. Through instant messaging tool Slack, a rebooted meetup was organized in August 2015. All the planning was done virtually and they only met for the first time in person on the day of the event.
Although they did not have much initial experience in event planning, the meetup organizers were determined attendees should have fun and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. They wanted people to feel comfortable socializing and to chat before and after the talks. The tips that attendees shared at every meeting were one of the most successful elements of these user-focused meetups.
For Daniel, getting up in front of people to introduce the meetup was still not easy. However, he knew continuing to practice and improve his self-confidence was the only way to overcome his shyness. This determination and sense of achievement inspires him to encourage others to present talks and share the tips he uses when presenting.
The Curitiba meetup continues to flourish. Though Daniel has moved to supporting the community in new ways, he has a lasting fondness for it. It has made him an advocate for local groups at the heart of the WordPress community. He believes the shared interest and enthusiasm for learning at meetups helps to increase attendees’ interest in both the software and its community, and their willingness to participate .
Sharing the benefit of WordPress across Brazil
Daniel presenting at a Curitiba meetup in 2019
In June 2019, Daniel created a newsletter to spread content about WordPress in Brazilian Portuguese and inspire others to create content in the language. Translating, Daniel believes is a powerful way to make WordPress more accessible to people who do not speak English, which is the case for a lot of people in Brazil. In 2021, Daniel started writing regularly about WordPress on his blog too. He continues to publish weekly news, tutorials, tips, and share events.
Advice to future WordPress contributors
Daniel believes that the WordPress community is a key strength of the platform. It attracts people with a range of technical skills and backgrounds, and strives to have a diverse and open space for exchange.
There are so many ways to contribute to WordPress without working with the code. He said: “I’m a big evangelizer of learning in public. A great way to collaborate is to create your blog in WordPress itself and share your journey of using it, and to write about tips and useful resources. This will eventually lead you to the official WordPress documentation and, the more you use it, the more opportunities for improvements you will see. Then you can start contributing to improving it. Besides this, you can pick a plugin or theme that you use and help with its translation.”
He added: “My biggest advice for those who are starting to contribute to WordPress is to start with a small step, maybe solving an easy bug or fixing a typo, and create a routine to consistently work on it, like an hour every weekend.”
Daniel has made several lasting friendships, received professional referrals through his participation in community events, and enjoys a career that continues to have variety and new things to learn.
His final message is to join WordPress meetups locally or online in other cities, and be inspired like he has been for 14 years and still counting.
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.
Thank you to @kossmann for sharing his adventures in WordPress.
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