Nikola Stulic is a Certified Codeable Expert and one of the top WordPress developers. With more than 15 years of experience, he specializes in theme/plugin development and customization, QA, and project management. To know more about him, let’s read from the man himself!
Farhan: Hi Nikola, it’s a pleasure to have you for this interview. It would be great if you could give us a short introduction about yourself?
Nikola: Hi Farhan, thank you for the invitation!
I am a co-founder and a lead developer of a small web agency that provides a conversion-focused custom design that thoroughly addresses customer needs. We specialize in creating WordPress-based websites for small to mid-sized companies in several niches (mainly in the tourism and fashion industry), e-learning platforms, and for political and non-profit organizations.
I am involved in the WordPress community and I contribute 20-25 hours per month as an organizer of different events, speaker, and translator.
Since 2019, I am also a Certified Codeable Expert.
Farhan: How long have you been working in the WordPress industry? Why did you specifically choose WordPress for your career? Can you give our audience some insights into your WordPress journey and life?
Nikola: It will be 14 years this July! My long-term business partner Ena Jovovic wanted to try something new in our projects, so we decided to use WordPress for some cool new websites we were building during the summer of 2007. It was much more intuitive for administration than the CMS we were using at the time and when I compared the two under the hood. Well, I had only one comment: “Code is Poetry”. Though we were learning to significantly reduce our delivery time and since then, we created only 2 non-WordPress sites.
Farhan: Since you joined Codeable in 2019, you have completed more than 200 projects. Where did you first hear about Codeable and what was your initial impression? How is Codeable better than other freelancing platforms?
Nikola: My dear friend and brother-in-law Mitko Kochkovski suggested that I should apply as an expert, but I never had enough time. The breaking point was WordCamp Skopje 2018, where I was a speaker and where I met Tomaz Zaman, the co-founder of Codeable. I applied as soon as I came home and after several months I was asked to join the Codeable family.
Straight away, I noticed better energy than on any of the other freelance platforms we had profiles on.
I was thrilled when I realized we are bidding inside workrooms where experts cooperate in private comments or on the team’s Slack, where dumping is strictly forbidden, and where experts with more than 1000 completed tasks excuse themselves from the workroom in order to give those projects to newcomers.
What makes Codeable unique is the atmosphere between the experts, clients who have more patience and willingness to cooperate, and the projects we work on enable us to constantly grow and improve our skills.
Farhan: WordCamps and WordPress Meetups are great events or conferences that help anyone connect and interact with the WordPress community. What’s your experience with these events so far? Should one regularly attend these events?
Nikola: The community is the moving force of WordPress and WordCamps and WordPress Meetups are the best place to get involved. Attending talks and workshops will help you to learn new things and techniques, but the interaction between attendees is priceless.
Not only will you meet new people, but you’ll also be able to hear their stories and experiences, which in turn will enable you to continue perfecting your work methods. During my first WordCamp, in between two lectures, I found a solution to a problem I didn’t even know I had. It was at that moment that I decided to get involved in the community working not just as a translator and lecturer but also as an organizer.
Today, I am one of the organizers of meetups and WordCamps in my hometown (Belgrade, Serbia), and proud to be a member of the organization teams of WordCamp Europe 2018 (local team) and WordCamp Europe 2019 (community team).
Farhan: I had a chat with you where you shared that you are working on a WordPress-related project, and you mentioned that you’d provide a collection of free resources, courses, and tools to the WordPress Community. What’s your motivation behind this idea?
Nikola: I was working on a project once with a tight deadline and needed instructions around a specific request. I found a YouTube video in which the author described what I needed amazingly well. What surprised me though was that the video had merely 50 or so views in 3 years. It didn’t take long before an idea popped up and WP Scout was born a few hours later.
WP Scout intends to be a resource hub of courses and tools (free and commercial) that can aid in the development of those who use WordPress in their everyday work (whether they are programmers, designers, SEO experts, or people who work in digital marketing).
We will have in one place announcements from hundreds of WordPress-related blogs, latest tweets but also promote content that hasn’t gotten enough attention from different social networks as well as introduce authors who have, through the use of WordPress, created products worthy of attention.
WordPress has given us so much professionally speaking and this will be our way of saying thank you and trying to give back to the community as much as we can. This way, we hope we’ll be able to help the further development of the community as well.
Farhan: It is sometimes difficult to manage work and personal life, especially when you are involved in multiple projects. Could you please share how you balance your professional and personal life? What do you like to do in your free time?
Nikola: During the first 8 years of my career, I was available 24/7 for my clients. I had no weekends and no working hours.
But then my older daughter was born, and I changed my habits completely. I still don’t have working hours, but I work only when my daughters are in school or when they are sleeping. I also rarely work during weekends.
When I work, I am completely in DnD mode. During those hours, I don’t even check my personal email. I have used the Pomodoro technique since 2017 (though I work 40 minutes before each break). Oh, and yes, I don’t have a laptop used for work and my job never leaves my working room.
I try to spend my free time with my family and friends as much as possible. When I have “me time”, I either read or watch crime and mystery TV series.
Farhan: WordPress is a priority for those who want to start their career in web development. Could you share a few tips for beginners interested in custom theme and plugin development? What tools and workflow would you like to suggest?
Nikola: To become a top WordPress expert and to have a career in WordPress development you need to follow these principles: learn, specialize, plan, involve.
Constant learning is probably the most important thing for any developer (not just a WordPress beginner). Even now, after almost 18 years in the business, I spend at least one hour per day on research. This helps not just to learn new things, but to learn how to better use things I already know, to optimize my workflow, or to better organize our projects. If you want to achieve success in this business, you must strive to go beyond WordPress fundamentals.
Every successful career depends on so-called premium projects. To get these kinds of projects, you really need to become a master in a particular field of expertise (theme or plugin development, niche sites, etc). Of course, this is general advice, so if you are so talented to master everything – go for it!
To become successful, you must be organized, especially if you plan to work as a freelancer. Create milestones, track your time even for small tasks, and always make sure to communicate both with clients and your coworkers.
WordPress is built by volunteers who like to share their knowledge and help each other. Get involved, and you will see the benefits of being a part of the community very soon.
Farhan: Would you like to share your favorite themes and plugins? What makes them stand out from the competition?
Nikola: Every site has its own specific requirements. Whenever it is possible, we will create a Sage-based theme. However, through the years we found some themes and plugins which helped us to speed up our development process.
- Advanced Custom Fields Pro
- WP Forms
- The Events Calendar
- MotoPress Hotel Booking plugin
Farhan: Hosting plays a crucial role when it comes to WordPress performance. Which type of hosting would you prefer for your clients? What are your thoughts on cloud hosting and how do you compare it with traditional shared hosting?
Nikola: When we create sites for us or for our clients, I want to focus on our work. Cloud hosting offers high performance and better security than any shared hosting, but I don’t want to spend many hours in server configuration.
All I want is 99.99 percent uptime, an intuitive admin panel with a staging feature, and GIT deployments. Though we used DigitalOcean for all our projects when we switched to Cloudways completely. I realized that I save several hours per month because now we have complete service with stellar 24/7 support.
Farhan: Thanks once again for this interview, Nikola!
Nikola: Thank you! It was a pleasure talking to you.
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Farhan is a community manager at Cloudways. He loves to work with WordPress and has a passion for web development. Mostly, he spends his time interacting with the people in the WordPress community. Apart from his work life, Farhan spends his time gaming and playing sports. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]