Ivana Ćirković is a digital marketing evangelist with more than 10 years of experience in online marketing, content strategy, content ideation and process, copy-writing, and managing PR and communication of various digital agencies. She is currently serving as the general manager of KickStart.rs, a consulting, digital marketing, and public relations agency in the field of Internet and social networks.
Cloudways: Hi Ivana, thank you for joining us today. First of all could you please tell our readers a bit about yourself? How did you start your career? Who motivated and inspired you?
Ivana: Hi and thanks for having me. I am a digital marketing consultant for over a decade now, my field of work is everything around one’s representation on the Internet. It all started as a hobby that, in time, evolved into a full-time business.
And regarding inspiration, I find it from people around me, both off and online. I find it when traveling, giving speeches, trainings, and basically, every time I connect with someone, there’s always some spark that lights the beginning of a new idea.
Cloudways: You have been working in the Digital Marketing for more than 10 years and must have completed successful projects. Could you share us the projects’ name you are proud of? What are your thoughts?
Ivana: I’m happy to be working with and for everyone through that time. Each and every project I did made me better and who I am today and, for that matter, they are all very dear to me. Of course, there were some of them that really made a big impact – both to my career and the people I helped to so, just to name the few: I’m proud to be working with the Ministry of Economics and Finance where I did digital PR and Social Media presence. In that time, that government institution was the very first fully opened and transparent towards its citizens and we were doing as much as we could to help people get the information they need or to resolve some issue they had regarding our jurisdiction. Or that time I did projects for the local UNICEF, in having a better online presence and connecting with people on Social Media. And not to forget the Novak Djokovic Foundation, where I worked as Blog, Social Media and analytics consultant, helping them shape their surroundings, reach out to both local and foreign community and helping kids get a better opportunity in early development and education.
Cloudways: As a General Manager of KickStart, could you please tell us about your experience? Or what are your responsibilities there? Would you like to share any interesting stories which can benefit and inspire others?
Ivana: The decision to start my agency emerged after several years of freelancing and working as an outsource for other agencies. It was like a natural process, after years of learning and growing professionally and it was something I wanted to do a lot. My responsibilities are to maintain the image of an agency as well as to be the one that sets up ground rules that we as a team polish and improve in order to have a successful business. It’s my job to have a responsible and professional team and to set up business plans and strategies aligned with the goals we need to achieve. And, like a cherry on the top, one of my favorite responsibilities is giving trainings and workshops for all the people who are starting or thinking of starting their businesses.
Cloudways: What are the challenges you face and opportunities you get during your professional career? What would you like to suggest people who would love to open their agency and make it a success?
Ivana: The biggest challenge, I would say, is to be on top of the information. Internet never sleeps, working with digital marketing means you always have to know the changes, the trends, the upcoming releases in order to stay relevant and professional for your clients. It can be intimidating but at the same time, is so rewarding and creative because you get all that knowledge that helps you be more successful in what you do. My advice to everyone who’s starting their business path – no matter if it’s freelancing or an agency – never stop learning. Whatever you do, always find some time in your day to learn. Whether it’s an article about new algorithm change, or a webinar about some new features, podcast or a course – learn something new every day. Also, what helps me a lot is to have a notebook by my side always. Yes, I work in a digital environment, but I’m still this retro gal who likes to write down on paper things that spark my creativity or help me in making some decisions later.
Cloudways: You’ve built a strong team of professionals over time. What do you specifically look for when you hiring new team members and what sets them apart from the competition? Which one quality you prefer?
Ivana: The most important thing I look for people is their willingness and passion for work. It helps to have an experience but it’s not mandatory. Sometimes, being open-minded and creative and open to new experiences makes up for it, big time. And, just like from myself, I expect from my team members to do their tasks on time and with as much proficiency as they can.
Cloudways: Since the Internet has evolved the shape of Digital Marketing in the recent years, what are the best trends to market your product and services? Which tools and strategies you prefer to choose? Would you like to mention a few?
Ivana: Well, it’s hard to be that specific, giving the fact that it all depends on the industry you come from. Sure, we know that video is the go-to trend these days but does it really works for all? There is no really one solution for all and it can be little intimidating, sure. But at the same time, it makes marketing all that much fun. Marketing in the age of digital pushes us to be more creative, more versatile and more outgoing towards the audience we are communicating with. So, knowing all that, I would say that my go-to strategy would be to dig in and dig deep. Find out what it is your audience wants and need and try to fill that need. Be present, be outspoken and relevant to your targeted audience and provide value. In short: give to get.
Cloudways: How did you meet with WordPress? Is there any interesting story behind this? What are your views on the future of WordPress? Will its market share continue to grow? What is that one feature you would love to see in WordPress?
Ivana: Actually, when I first started my online journey, I did it by using Joomla (poor choice, now I know, but back then..) It was 2008 and at that time WordPress really didn’t seem like the right choice. It had no appealing themes, it was very basic and not what I needed. So, I worked with Joomla for years and then it was my husband and this young WordPress developer that I met in 2014. who started saying to me that I should transfer all my sites to WordPress. After several months, I listened to them and gave this guy a permission to switch my online babies to WordPress. Safe to say, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Now, working within WordPress environment all these years convinced me that the future is bright. I look forward to the Gutenberg Editor full release and all the good stuff it brings.
Cloudways: Do you think that WordCamps are one of the great reasons that WordPress is getting the right exposure in regional communities? What more can be done to grow the community?
Ivana: I am sure they are, along with the local meetups. The community, as well as WordPress, is still growing and it’s an ongoing process. So we all need to think of ways to contribute more to the community, to talk about all the WordPress’s benefits and ways it helps people in order to grow both as a community and as a platform itself. Network and share knowledge. That is a key.
Cloudways: You were the speaker of WordCamp Bucharest, October 2017. Can you tell us how WordCamps help WordPress community? How does speaking at WordCamps help your career? Do you have a group of buddies that you love to hang out with at WordCamps?
Ivana: Yes, for the second time. WordCamps are a great learning and networking opportunity. What better way to meet new people, get inspired and learn something new and useful regarding not just WordPress but overall business? By educating people we expand the WordPress influence and give and opportunity for people to start something new and inspiring, whether it’s a hobby or a new business.
As for me as a speaker, talking at conferences gives me a chance to share my knowledge and help novice people as well as gives an opportunity to reach a wider audience and connects me with people from the industry. Not to mention, new clients afterwards ☺ And, of course, there’s the beauty of seeing old friends and meeting new ones, that is something so pure and precious that I recommend everyone to experience ☺ Most often, there is always someone from the local Serbia WordPress community, given the fact there are so many of us (more than 6000) and, apart from them, I always like to meet and hang out with organizers, to hear their stories and motives to join the community.
Cloudways: Just like Digital Marketing, hosting industry has also evolved in the recent years. Have you ever had an experience with cloud hosting? If you’ve ever tried Cloudways, what would be your thoughts about it?
Ivana: I never had the pleasure of trying out cloud hosting, although I am thinking about it. I still use it for smaller things like keeping my phone pics in the cloud, or documents and files on Drive, just not sites yet ☺ Not that I have a solid reason for it, just hasn’t clicked to me to do it so far but I am open to it ’cause as Emanuel said it – the future is in the cloud. ☺
Cloudways: On the lighter side of life, human beings like us are full of life. You share your stuff a lot on social media which shows you are quite social in daily life. Do you have any interest in sports or food or traveling or anything else?
Ivana: Funny, just the other day, my husband asked me how much can I post on Insta-storied within one day and it’s true – my life is like an open book and I do tend to share a lot. I love to cook like really love and do it a lot. Which is normal, since I have a big family. And from that love emerged my willingness to become one of the ambassadors of Food Revolution project started by Jamie Oliver. Just like in my home, I try to inspire and help people make better food choices so that the kids can have healthier meals and less risk of obesity and diabetes.
Apart from that, I love to travel and I do that a lot. Both WordCamps and digital marketing conferences are giving me an opportunity to learn, to teach others and to travel to most wonderful places around the world. And I share that a lot, too ☺
Cloudways: In my meantime, I got to know that you are a mother of three. This is awesome! Can you please share your experience as a mother while being a professional. How do you manage your family and professional life?
Ivana: I would say that the most beautiful thing my work gave me is the ability to be with my kids a lot. I am not obliged to have a 9-5 job, instead, I have that type of timeline that suits both my clients and my kids and family. It’s all in the preparation, I work while kids are in school, then they have me until they go to bed and afterward it’s my time or more work – which is sometimes the same thing since I love what I do very much ☺
Cloudways: Finally, here’s your chance to freestyle :). Write anything you think could be interesting or useful to our readers.
Ivana: Well, I would like to pass on one more thing which is: be open to new things. Whatever your background is, you can enhance and improve it by improving yourselves. Thanks to the Internet, we can learn wonderful new things and become who we want to be – if we’re open to the new possibilities. So, be. Digital marketing and WordPress became mine, what will be yours? ☺
Cloudways: Just to acknowledge our readers, can you please send us an image of your workspace? That would be all!
Ivana: Sure, here you go ☺
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Saud is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WooCommerce Hosting Platform. Saud is responsible for creating buzz, spread knowledge, and educate the people about WordPress in the Community around the globe. In his free time, he likes to play cricket and learn new things on the Internet. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org