How Drupal is Changing My Life (and Business)

24 Nov 2008

Posted by CrashTest_

A tiny bit of history...

Four years ago, a very cool musician/web guy asked me to help him do some CSS work for another musician's site he was developing, on a platform called Drupal. I didn't know Drupal very well, but I had played with it, and knew CSS, so I said Sure! The site was cool, and I recall that I was editing all kinds of CSS files in all these different places (where I shouldn't have). It all seemed very complicated with these modules having their own style sheets. I was intrigued! But I was also confused by the taxonomy, and felt it was too complicated for the little sites I was doing at the time. After that project, I returned to doing things the way I had been doing them.

It is really too bad I didn't see the real beauty of Drupal at that time, that I didn't understand it's power, flexibility, and community. They were all there four years ago, but I didn't see them. If I had, who knows what I would be doing now? I might have been smitten by the drop, like that cool musician, Robert Douglass. That was his first Drupal site as well.

A short two years ago saw me doing freelance web design, implementation, and graphic design for any customer that would take me. I didn't know anybody in my industry, didn't have much of a network outside of it, and didn't like the prospects for the future. I was not doing well, at all. At that time I was creating sites on Joomla, and implementing stores using Zen Cart or OS-Commerce.

I was finally starting to get referrals from some of my Elance and Guru customers, but like those customers, the referrals didn't seem to care as much about quality, as they did price.

That was when I made a decision. It was simple, I wasn't making enough money to live on doing freelance design, and implementing simple carts and Joomla sites, I needed to get to the next level. I chose to get back into development. I started right away getting better acquainted with PHP, MySQL, and JavaScript. I found Code Igniter, and built my own CMS and blog (who hasn't?!?) and felt mighty!

Ha! I felt so mighty that I took on more than I could chew for an old customer. Humiliation taught me a couple of awesome business lessons, it can be good (sometimes GREAT) to say "no", and know how far beyond your limits you can really strive for. (Happy ending: he deciding that the site actually didn't make sense, wouldn't make money, and so we shifted his deposit to a more profitable venture, one that was possible, one that was based on Drupal. He is still my customer today.)

At that time, I was bouncing around some "open-source" projects and looking for something that fit me. I worked with Code Igniter, and really enjoyed it, they had a great documentation page, and good people. I also worked a bunch in Magento Commerce, which is a very nice application, but because of how it is offered, seemed not "open" enough for me. Very soon after finding Magento, I began working with Drupal again, and this time, it didn't just stick, it swallowed me. I finally "got it."

This last year has been a whirlwind. I haven't done everything right, and being an actual human being, I may have even possibly done some things wrong! I have flitted from one bright shiny Drupally thing to another, most likely annoyed many Drupal luminaries that I highly respect, and in my enthusiasm have stepped on toes or hurt people's feelings. But I have also found a community of people that have renewed my faith in people, made me see that people really can selflessly come together for a common goal, that even any one person, with redoubled effort, can make an enormous difference. That's a lot to say for a software project, but Drupal has been that impactful to me.

I came here, overly eager because I finally saw possibilities, I finally had found a project that people were fervent about, and very committed to. Drupallers LOVE Drupal, they don't just work on it. These geniuses transformed code into art while I watched, yet at the same time would again and again, very patiently, and with much decorum, entertain newbish questions that I know they had answered hundreds of times before.

I thought that it was probably the pink visor effect, that after a while, I would float back down from my pink Drupal cloud, and see that these were just the same as other people, that they couldn't possibly be that different, that good.

I was once again wrong, happily so. You, Drupal, bring out the better side of the people you attract. I am proud to be a part, even if it is a nearly non-existent part, of this project and community. Thank you.

And that brings me to today, and how just this much exposure to Drupal has changed me, and how I think, and how I am changing, and how I plan to do business differently (when by the way business is going bonkers, it seems counter-intuitive to change anything). It brings me to my goal, which has been many years germinating, and has now been given the water it needs to become fully realized.

I am finding it hard to continue to think small. I have a vision of creating more. My goal that I am dedicating myself to is creating my business differently, from the inside out. I aim to find terrific people who _care_ about people, and I am going to show them Drupal.

I mean to infect these people, to put them up on my pink cloud, and see if they smile. I mean to enrich them and this community at the same time. If I can find those people, and treat my customers and the Drupal community at large, to their good spirits, my goal will be half reached. My goal will be fully reached if I can in any way influence others to understand my belief; that caring, loving, pleasant people, make for much much better business.

I am very interested to see what will happen next, and intrigued by who I will meet on the way.

Sitewide Terms: 


That was basically amazing. Thank you for sharing your story.

Excellent story. Drupal: it's not just a piece of software. :)

Great read :). Drupal is definitely more than a kick ass web app framework, it's also a solid tight knit community. I've been a lurker in the community for the longest time, maybe I should jump in and participate.

Pat, it's been great working with you right from the start. I'm glad you see in Drupal all the things that I do, too.


Man, you starting in the Drupal World is so similar to mine... hacking core and stuff :) I'm glad I'm finally on the Drupal way of doing stuff.

Get from the library some Stephen Covey's book.

wow, I love your writeup, glad that you found your tribe.

Drupal : come for the software, stay for the people (and the software)

Thank you all for your awesome comments!

@Rob - Of course!

@JEG - Covey is on my audio and physical bookshelves, has been for a while :) Another author to have is Tim Sanders, Love is the Killer App man! Oh, and on a phenomenal recommendation, check out Small Giants if you are in the mood (thanks Matt!)

@peach - Funny you should mention that, I was just listening to a podcast with Seth not too long ago talking about "Tribes."

@Adrian - You pretty much summed up my whole post in one sentence. I wonder if I should try to develop a sense of brevity, could have made my hour of blog posting take less time, heh.

You, too? My career has definitely taken a turn for the better since I started learning and using Drupal. I went from pestering old clients to see if they had anything for me to having to hire contractors to keep up with the demand.

I should write out my store sometime. These histories are compelling.

Thanks for sharing your story. I've dipped my toes in the community and written a few how-to's based on my experience of the platform so far.

Your analogy of developing your own CMS made me laugh - how many of us have tried that when there's a brilliant free CMS available? The power of the Drupal community (and others to a degree) mean that the need to develop bespoke web apps never arises anymore.


I like hearing success stories, I guess it helps others also.

That was a good read you spoke from the heart.I myself have just installed Drupal on my server and currently working on my first site.I also have Joomla any experiences on Joomla?

I'm finally on the Drupal way of doing stuff.


I don't know drupal much.

I was advised to go to wordpress. Do you think I should have gone to drupal instead?

Hello, maybe this is off topic but anyway, i've been browsing around your site and it looks really really neat. I'm building a new blog and struggling to make it look good, everytime i touch something i mess it up. How hard was it to build your site? Could someone like me with no experience do it, and add family update pages without wrecking it every time?
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May be it worked some wonders for you but I personally feel its not so good. There is a thought saying one who enjoys in sunlight haven't enjoyed the rain. Thats what happening in your case. Try wordpress. You will love that more than this and everything else.