Emanuel, a writer and entrepreneur, co-founded the first Croatian WordPress firm with his brother Lucijan and Zoran Ugrina. He has a background in journalism, web design, and planning WordCamps and meetings in Croatia. Emanuel started working as a journalist before turning 18, and later worked as a full-time reporter covering politics and designing and hosting his own travel-related television show. He co-founded a business with coworkers and began working with local businesses and non-profit groups. Emanuel is particularly interested in WordPress, which represents his worldview and is open-source. He started using WordPress in 2005 and found its simplicity, documentation, and community to be the most appealing.
Emanuel began his career as a writer but soon transitioned to entrepreneurship. He co-founded the first Croatian WordPress firm that specialized in full service alongside his brother Lucijan and Zoran Ugrina. When he politely agreed to answer a few inquiries about his background in journalism, web design, and planning WordCamps and meetings in Croatia, we were overjoyed. He contributes significantly and actively to the WordPress community. Please feel free to ask Emanuel any questions in the comments section below.
Please give a brief overview of your training as a journalist, web designer, and business owner.
My first love is design, but journalism is without a doubt my second. I started working as a journalist before I turned 18 and after a few months, thanks to my mentors, seasoned Croatian journalists, I started working as a full-time reporter covering subjects like politics. I eventually had the chance to design and host my own travel-related television show. I put in a lot of effort at that time period of my life, and when I eventually stopped, I understood how ego-boosting working on television might be. a crucial thing to learn.
I co-founded a business with two of my coworkers in roughly a year. Being a graphic and web designer would let me express my creativity better. Around the time I started working mostly with local businesses, I started helping with non-profit groups as I began to understand I could make a difference. Additionally, becoming an entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to instruct a lot more people, particularly young people, on how to do things correctly. And I was and still really appreciative of that chance.
What features of WordPress intrigue you the most, and how did you learn about it?
My entire worldview is represented by WordPress. It is open source, and tens of thousands of people work every day to make it better. The community is amazing. I started using WordPress about 2005. After testing with numerous other CMS choices, WordPress’s simplicity, documentation (Codex, anyone? ), and community completely blew me away. I could finally complete a website from beginning to end as a designer thanks to WordPress. Prior to this, I was unable to achieve this.
What did you learn throughout this demanding web design phase working with your sister at your web design company?
Then, in 2010, Lucijan and I started cooperating, and we established Blagonic Brothers as our own company. We were continuously pushing the edge since we worked remotely and on so many projects at once. Then, I would frequently make the three-hour trip to Zagreb, where Lucijan lived, to collaborate with him for a few days. We worked 12 to 14 hours a day on average, eight during the day and four to six hours at night. Our workday occasionally ended around 4:00 in the morning, which was strange considering that we had appointments with new clients the next morning. It was demanding, but we were young, and it was undoubtedly the pinnacle of our professional lives.
Whatever you do, you must do it with enthusiasm, and you should constantly aim higher, I’ve learnt. Role models in your work must be more accomplished than you are if you want to advance over time. Being a part of the WordCamp Europe organizing team for the second year running puts me in the company of some of the smartest individuals I know, which makes it a fantastic chance for personal growth.
By the end, our working habits had significantly changed. I came to the realization that as a result of that trying time in my life, I am happier working on community initiatives and projects with the non-government sector. These days, for me to select a project to work on, it must either be really challenging or have significant advantages for the neighborhood or wider community.
What guidance would you offer a company owner that wants to build a WordPress website?
What should be considered first among all other factors?
Clearly state your goals. The biggest problem I run into when dealing with customers is that some of them don’t define their objectives very well. In fact, they set them pretty low, as if they don’t have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. The most important lesson I try to get through to workshop attendees is “how to define your goals correctly.”
I suggest that people focus on conversions, how to sell things on their website, and how to obtain client information. A website with a stunning picture is the digital equivalent of throwing cash into a fire. You ought to operate a profitable website. Everyone should set challenging but attainable goals.
Can you give some real-world instances that have influenced your work?
In reality, I get my ideas from anywhere. I am continuously watching the “outside” environment since I am a designer. Great design can be found everywhere, from store shelves (check out the product packaging and typography) to museums and exhibitions (search for amazing brochure samples and interactive installations).
I usually give these two things priority while developing websites. Answering the question “Why do we need this?” and figuring out how users will engage with your website are the first and second steps, respectively. I use utilitarian design as opposed to just adding purely decorative features.
What can you say about the Croatian WordPress scene? How did you first get involved with it? What do you expect to change in Croatia as a result of your meetups and WordCamps?
The first WordCamp Europe served as the catalyst for everything for us (as it probably did for many regional European groups). Since our founding in 2013, we’ve conducted two WordCamps and about thirty gatherings in five different cities. The Croatian community is strong and expanding, but we need undoubtedly think about ways to give back, just like other groups. What do we expect to achieve by holding conferences and WordCamps in Croatia? First, develop the community, then use WordPress to earn a better living, and last, give back more.
What are your go-to strategies for putting together a WordCamp? What are the rules in the case?
It’s hard to say. It was a great privilege to be the organizer of the inaugural WordCamp in Croatia, but because it wasn’t my first event, I might be prejudiced when I claim that it wasn’t too tough to put together. Consequently, writing everything down is imperative. Reading the WordCamp organizer manual should be the first thing you do even before applying. Once you’ve been given the go-ahead to plan a WordCamp, it’s important to put together a solid team of co-organizers and ask your WordCamp mentor for help (by getting any queries you might have answered). For the event (which includes cuisine, wifi, AV equipment, and location), the speakers, the sponsors, the volunteers, and the communication, separate organizing teams should be established. The process of planning a WordCamp ought to be rewarding and empowering for you and your neighborhood.
You’ve spoken at several occasions, including Word residency camps. What suggestion would you provide to someone who wants to talk but is quite shy?
Each person has an own comfort zone. I gave speeches at several occasions in Croatia, but it took me five years to get out of my shell and start speaking in English. If you want to start speaking in front of groups, start with a neighborhood meetup. Watch how it develops, then go to your neighborhood WordCamp. Additionally, get to know as many speakers as you can if you’re attending a WordCamp. To find out more about them, pose questions to them.
This may be your chance because I know that finding lecturers is a common problem for WordCamp organizers. Speaking to people is the finest way to impart your knowledge and skills, and by doing so, you are also helping them.
You’ve taken on so many projects…You’ve dealt with both significant and little clients. What are your favorite projects, and why?
I’m not sure whether I have a favorite activity. I’ve finished more than 500 projects with my team or on my own, and each one was different regardless of the size of the customer. Because I am constantly looking for more and better, I never feel entirely content with any activity. However, I like initiatives that have surpassed their initial goals.
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