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Ask the Bartender: How To Find Project Partners?

I was wondering, where should I go if I want to find a developer to work with on an idea? I have an idea for a product. I know the market well, I’m part of the target audience, and I just need someone else that would be passionate and interested in the idea just as much as myself to have to agree to work on an open-source project. Tinder for project partners?

Derin

If I am being honest, your question reminds me of my cousin. He is what I call an “ideas” guy. Every few weeks or so, he calls me up with several new rough concepts of things that could make some money. Most of these conversations end with him asking if I could build him a website or an app. “We can split the profits 50/50,” he would say. I then tell him that I would rather be paid upfront and show him my rates. He can reap 100% of the profits down the line. He moves on to the next thing.

As I said, he has loads of ideas. His problem is with the follow-through. Anyone can dream up the perfect product or service. The stumbling blocks tend to be all the steps between concept and production.

It will be hard to sell any legitimate developer on a dream alone. Feeding, sheltering, and clothing one’s family comes first. You must have a way to pay for those things in almost all scenarios.

I have built projects on nothing but faith with others. Some have worked out. Most have not. Having cash on hand to pay for those months in development will provide a smidgeon of security for the programmer putting in the time to turn a dream into reality.

One of those projects I completed for my cousin in my younger and less-financially-intelligent days was a hunting and fishing “magazine” website. It actually saw some early success. The accompanying Facebook group grew to about 1,500 members in the first year or so. The audience was there, but there was no business plan. There were no products or services. No advertising deals. No payday coming for Justin.

I know 100s of developers who have been in the same boat at one point or another. Most of them wise up after the first project or two that goes nowhere.

Most dream projects that folks build will be personal itches that they are scratching. If there is no guarantee of a paycheck, it is something they are already passionate about. It sounds like that is the sort of person you want to work with, so you will need to find someone likely already motivated about the same market as you. Without knowing your particular market, it is hard to say where your starting point might be.

Let us assume your idea is the Next Big Thing. If you need someone on the development end, you should be prepared to take on the other roles to make the project successful. Do you have a business plan? What is your marketing approach? Do you have research that shows there is a market for the idea? Mockups of a potential UI? If you want to pitch someone on coming along for your journey, make sure you have done everything possible to show that it is something worthwhile.

Where to find that elusive partner, though? It tends to be easier to find open doors when you are involved in the WordPress development community. It is about making connections. That can be through blogging or joining a business-friendly community like Post Status. The more involved you are, the more people you can meet who may share your passions or be able to point you to others who do.

My usual advice would be to visit your local WordCamp to meet others in person. Of course, during this Covid-era, such conferences are virtual. There are tons of online-only events that can help you connect with people in the community.

Those human-to-human connections are your foundation, even if they are just over the web.

I do like the notion of a “Tinder” for WordPress project partners, or at least some type of networking place for folks. That could be a unique site and service you could build without a developer — just a domain, hosting plan, and a business model. It could even be the launchpad for finding the partner for your dream project.

If all else fails, there is always the DIY route — I am guessing you are not a developer. Many plugin authors have been born from a dream and not a lick of coding knowledge. I started in this industry primarily because I needed my website to have specific functionality. With no money to pay for it, I just started learning. I even enjoyed the art of programming and built a semi-successful business that I ran for over a decade. It is not some magical skill that only a certain few possess. Anyone can pick up the trade with time and effort.

If you do not have a developer in your corner, that may just need to be one of the hats you must wear as you kick-start your project. Once you start turning a profit, you can hire out that position.

I have probably not adequately answered your question. The truth is that anything I have ever done with success has started by connecting with others in the WordPress community. So, I am going to kick this can down to our readers. How would you approach finding the right development partner for a great idea?