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Volunteer to Learn

Volunteer to Learn

Help a non-profit while helping yourself! Broaden your CMS horizons and give back to the community at the same time. I’ll share how I learned the Joomla! CMS and how I continue to expand my capabilities. Just getting started with Joomla? Read on.


The Joomla project has volunteer opportunities. If you have some Joomla experience, you can learn more about the project and the Joomla core while helping maintain and advance Joomla. Coding experience not necessary. But if you do know your code, there are technical volunteer opportunities, too. Give an hour; give a day. Every little bit helps. 

Look here to see how you can help: https://volunteers.joomla.org

Learning: How do we learn?

First let’s take a look at the learning Joomla! part. We can learn by observing, by listening, by reading and by doing. In my experience, learning by doing increases the amount that I am able to keep in my head.
To learn by doing, you might jump into a new project, make mistakes and try a different way. Perhaps you fail again but keeping trying different approaches until you get the job done. It’s called trial and error.


open bookI believe we’ll all agree that doing some research on how to do something will decrease the number of errors before getting the project done well. So, do some reading or watching some video tutorials. There are many free sources of basic training for Joomla including the videos at https://community.joomla.org/joomla-training.html created by OSTraining. Several web hosting companies put tutorials on their sites or Youtube. When you find the resource of an experienced voice that makes sense to you, look for more of their material.


Build some mock sites. To try what comes with the Joomla Core you can use the free service at www.joomla.com (hosted by Siteground) to build a live site with Joomla and 5 extensions preinstalled. You could also buy a couple of domain names and some inexpensive hosting. Or, install server software on your computer, such as WAMP or XAMPP. Install Joomla!. Search the JED (www.extensions.joomla.org) for some well regarded extensions and listen to the experienced voices you may have discovered.

Now the Volunteer part:

While you are playing in your sandbox to learn, think about volunteer opportunities you might find to work on. Look in your community for small non-profit organizations that could use a better internet presence. If you don’t have one in mind, talk to your friends, co-workers, and community leaders. Perhaps, pick a need and search for it on the web. Look at sites of organizations you know of. Maybe they need help or just seeing their site may lead you to a similar but smaller organization. You might see that they have a fundraiser that needs more visibility. You could offer to create a related site featuring the event. Got some thoughts on finding groups to help? Please share in the comments.

My Volunteer while learning path:

I got started because my church’s website looked like this in 2011:

FHPC 2007 vs 2011 website 770x501

That’s right, the Highlighted Events were 4 years out of date!

For my church site, I did some research and picked Joomla to use. Set up a hosting account and built my first Joomla site. Then, I volunteered to help another Presbyterian church nearby. And soon, another one. Next, an organization that helped the children of dysfunctional families in the community was holding a fund raising golf tournament. I built a website for the tournament. I built a site for a group that received used clothing donations, sorted them and sold them inexpensively at a thrift store.

Now, I was ready to take on a small business site. My small web design business was born.

But, I continue to volunteer to help charitable organizations in the area. Depending on the people involved, I either train them to maintain the site or offer to do it, maybe at a discounted rate. For training, I give access to screen capture videos that I make and keep updated.

free love helping hands clipart web

In short, volunteering to build websites to bring them out of the Dark Ages will help you to develop also; in more ways than one.


The December Issue
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