Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, a free, online resource for WordPress beginners. Balkhi has been in the web development industry for more than eight years, and he’s only 21. He started out by “doing online stuff” at the age of 12, not long after his family moved to the United States. Balkhi says he used to be addicted to the virtual pet community Neopets and would get up in the middle of the night to “trade stones.” His cousin convinced him to do something more productive with his time and got him into the business of buying and selling domains. When he began high school, Balkhi spent most of his spare time in the library and learned how to create web proxies that allowed him to access the game sites that the library had blocked. Later, he placed those games on his own domains, which gained popularity among the school’s other students; thus, he put ads on his websites to monetize them. Soon after, he started his own web development firm, creating sites for local businesses.
In 2006, Balkhi came across WordPress, which he says he fell in love with the more he used it. By 2009, he moved his clients’ websites over to the platform so they could modify their own content without his help. While it freed up a lot of his time, Balkhi started receiving a lot of the same questions about WordPress from his clients. Seeing that all the existing WordPress support sites were made for developers, he decided to start one that beginners would be able to understand. The result was WPBeginner, which quickly blew up and got featured on a number of sites including Mashable and Wired Magazine.
Balkhi credits his success with WPBeginner (as well as his previous ventures) to the fact that he created something that caters to the needs of others. He is currently focused on growing WPBeginner and his other website, List25.