WC Nepal 2015

Nepali WordPress Stars: Meet Chandra Maharzan

Chandra is a founder of Nhuja Concepts where he brews up unique ideas for the web. He is also a WordPress Developer and works for Graph Paper Press whose work has been recognized by big guys in the web such as WordPress.com, Mashable, Smashing Magazine and Digital Photographer. He is one of the active members working for the WordPress community here in Nepal. He was the lead organizer for three consecutive WordCamps and monthly WordPress meetups here in Nepal since 2011. He is also one of the co-organizers for WordCamp Nepal 2015.

Chandra Maharzan

Chandra Maharzan

How did you get started with WordPress, and where did it take you?

We (founders of WordPress Nepal) were all working at DigitalMaxSolutions, and we were working in content management systems. We were using Joomla or phpnuke, where there is a lot of repetitive work involved, and it also got bloated really quickly. So we were looking for a new CMS to adopt when we heard of WordPress, which was an emerging platform. Sakin Shrestha, my colleague, who was working in HR decided to take on the job of converting the company website to WordPress. Its potential was proven, and we started working more with WordPress on client projects.

After that, I took time off from work for a while, with no plans. When I decided to return back to the world of technology, WordPress themes were starting, but had very limited features. I wrote some CSS to change the design of an existing theme and submitted it to wordpress.org, and it got accepted. It started getting a lot of downloads. I also had a website wpshoppe.com, which is a little inactive now, and I made a few themes and put them up on the website, and also had a blog with support topics. There were very few resources at that time so people were searching for it, and the site was getting a lot of traffic from Google search, as well as from WordPress.org.

I had a very memorable WordPress related event. When I started out, my themes were all available for free. Once someone contacted me with this question: How can I buy this theme? I was really surprised – There is this free theme, that says “free” everywhere, and someone wants to pay me for it? I said it was free, and he said “No, but I want to pay for it.” He said he wanted to pay me, and I asked him to just go to the “Donate” button and donate there. That was a memorable moment. And I was really surprised that something like this even happened. In Nepal, most people are really out to see how they can get everything for free. There is also a community that wants to support others so much that they wanted to pay for something that was available for free. Someone wanted to pay me for my theme, even though it was available for free.

Since my downloads were free, I added a “Donate” button, and I was making a small income out of it. I was also involved with the WordPress community. One of my themes was also used by Mozilla on its blog. At that time, I thought this had serious potential and I should be involved in it more seriously. I got a job at the company GraphPaperPress, where I handled support. I slowly transitioned to theme development.

What’s your proudest achievement related to WordPress?

The community we have fostered in Nepal. I think the community we have here is more active than in many countries, and has provided inspiration to everyone. Many people have come to WordCamps and become inspired. In 2012, we held a WordCamp, some people who came to that WordCamp started being involved in the community, and formed a company. By 2013, the company was successful enough, and community-minded enough to be a sponsor of WordCamp 2013. And we had many such stories in 2013 onwards. An ecosystem has been created that is encouraging people, and that is my proudest achievement.

Why should someone contribute to the WordPress community?

It will help us gain later. The community is large, and it is international. Whatever you give, you will get returns immediately. If you put up a theme on WordPress.org, you will get traffic from there to your site. There is a rule of 10% on the web, so if you get 1,000 people from WordPress.org, at least 100 people will download something from your site, perhaps 10 people will buy something. If each product is priced at $50, you just made $500 in a day. Why? All because you contributed in the first place. The theme review process is very time-consuming, but Sakin, who contributed a lot of his time to theme review, got sponsored to go to WordCamp San Francisco because of his contribution. He met a lot of people and created a strong network there, which is to his and his company’s benefit. So giving anything to this community is always beneficial to the giver, although these benefits might be invisible at first.

Two pieces of advice for people who want to get started with WordPress?

You have to be passionate and interested, otherwise, it won’t last. First, you need to choose which area you want to be involved in, whether it is design or development, whether you want to work on themes or plugins, and so on.

Persistence is key. The results of your work are not usually immediately visible. If we look for immediate results, you will give up easily. Be patient. Normally, you will need at least 4-5 months, to create a network, get the word out, before you can see the results of your work in WordPress.

What are your top 3 WordPress plugins?

Jetpack, which has plugins inside a plugin, and eliminates the need for many plugins.

I also use Regenerate Thumbnails during development. It is really useful to change image sizes.

Akismet, but that comes by default, so I would say WooCommerce, to support e-commerce.

What is your favorite WordPress related resource?

Apart from wordpress.com, and wordpress.org, I regularly check out Smashing Magazine, WP Tavern, and ChrisLema.com

What is the vision for WordPress Nepal? For future WordCamps?

We want to do a larger WordCamp. We have had 150-200 attendees this year, and it would be great if we could reach about 500-1000 attendees, and create a grand event. I think we should be able to respect time. We tried to set an example at our WordCamps; all sessions start and end on time. Nobody goes over their time limit. Time is everything. If you can respect time, it will solve a lot of problems.

Tell us something about you that isn’t WordPress related.

I am involved in a band. We are a two-people band called Nissim, and we play pop-rock. The other member is my friend since school. He is a doctor though, and is always busy, so we haven’t had time to perform as much.