The continuing success of Netokracija, the platform I built with the best media team in the region, has always been based on the success of its community. Which is why it’s so fitting that I had the chance to talk about Netokracija at one of the most community-driven events in the region: WordCamp Zagreb 2017.

300 people participated in this year's conference!

300 people participated in this year’s conference! (Photo by Mauricio Gelves)

After my pitches for social media and startup topics started being declined (“pfff, who cares about Facebook?”)  by the old guard of tech magazines I was writing for, it was the new tech media publications like Techcrunch and Mashable that gave me a solution: WordPress, then in its 2.8 version and already powering over 35% of the world’s top blogs according to Technorati.

Drawing parallels between the evolution of WordPress and the growth of Netokracija in my talk, I tried to explain:

  • How the WordPress platform helps businesses like Netokracija iterate fast;
  • How the WordPress community ethics and principles are a great analogy to sound business strategy;
  • Why what you want in business might not actually be what you really want.

You can watch my 40-minute talk on YouTube at 2 hours, 7 minutes in of the complete WordCamp Zagreb video:

…while the slides are up on both Slideshare and Slidedeck:

I’m looking forward to taking this talk on the road to other WordCamps around the world. It’s not just a case study, but uses the elements of the WordPress community and ecosystem itself as an analogy of the success of a project based on the platform.  If you’re organizing a WordCamp and would like to have me talk about this topic, don’t hesitate to email me!

Zašto je osobni brending važan dizajnerima, freelancerima i – malim tvrtkama

Ivan Brezak Brkan is going to tell us a love story between WordPress and Netokracija – the leading Tech Blog in the Balkans

Sometimes you have to start at the beginning – which is why the beginner-friendly e-book “How to Start a Blog“, edited together by .Me blog editor Sanja Gardašević will help any new and up-and-coming blogger.

Filled with everything you need to know about essential blogging topics, this e-book will help you:

  • Optimize your blog for search engine rankings;
  • Deal with comments on your blog;
  • Choose a great domain for your blog;
  • Experiment with different types of content;
  • and much more…

According to Sanja, the e-book proves that “it really takes a village to create something beautiful”, which she has done by gathering content from the .Me blog by authors such as .Me marketing director Nataša Đukanović, blogger Danica Kombol and founder Jill Robinson.

About Comments… And Content

Sanja asked me to contribute to the chapter on blog comments, where I compared them to the dynamic duo, as I did originally at the Blogomanija conference in 2013.:

The thing is, we don’t actually want to turn away people who comment on our posts. Their feedback is valuable to us. They are the feedback we need to grow as bloggers and writers and reporters.

Content and comments are like Batmanand Robin, the dynamic duo making the blogosphere and Robin, the dynamic duo making the blogosphere
a better place. While we like to think comments are something that only emerged in the last decade, in the digital era, people have always sent their feedback to the press – it just used to be done in form of a letter or by picking up the phone. By censoring the comments we put an end to this long tradition of writer (or blogger) – reader interaction.What I tried doing is contacting the flamers in

What I tried doing is contacting the flamers in person – well, through e-mail at least. Saying, hey I read your comment, what seems to be the problem? Do you want to talk it out in person? (They never do)Instead of censoring comments,

Instead of censoring comments, lets try to influence the people who comment and create a new generation who do not hate everything on the Internet just because they can.

You can get the e-book for free by downloading it at the .Me domain website (direct PDF link).

A friend asked me recently why I love working on Netokracija. Financial security and writing about interesting startups aside, it’s the true impact you can have by helping others through writing and networking with the digital community.

But never has this rang true than when I saw the comment fellow media entrepreneur Marko Matijević, gave Croatian magazine Telegram in their wonderful write up of Marko’s vertical media platform for students – Srednja.hr:

Sljedeće jutro zvao ga je Ivan Brezak Brkan s portala Netokracija. Brkan ga je pitao je li istina da gasi portal i u čemu je zapravo problem. Marko mu se požalio na za njega katastrofalnu posjećenost od 50.000 klikova, na što ga je Brkan pitao je li zainteresiran za prodaju, jer on zna ljude koji bi bili zainteresirani za kupnju portala za mlade koji ima toliku posjećenost. Marko kaže da mu tada nije bilo jasno na što Brkan misli. Mislio je da portal nema nikakvu vrijednost i uopće mu ta mogućnost nije padala na pamet. Brkan ga je uspio uvjeriti da bi gašenje bila greška i dogovorio mu sastanak u Algebri, još jednim ključnim partnerom portala danas.

If you don’t know Croatian, let me translate:

Netokracija’s Ivan Brezak Brkan called me the next morning and asked had I really decided to shut down the site, as well as what the problem was. Marko told him that just 50.000 clicks were catastrophic, after which Ivan asked him is he interested in selling, since he knows people that would buy a website like Srednja.hr, aimed at students. Marko says that he wasn’t sure what Ivan ment at the time. He thought that Srednja.hr wasn’t worth anything and the idea of selling never occured to him. Brkan persuaded Marko that shutting down was a mistake and got him a meeting with Algebra, a key partner of Srednja.hr to this day.

Wow. I cried. Shup up.

http://www.telegram.hr/price/dosta-smo-sigurni-da-je-prica-o-marku-decku-koji-je-iz-dedine-stare-radione-pokrenuo-srednju-hr-najbolja-koju-smo-ovaj-tjedan-objavili/

Believe in Someone More Than They Do In Themselves

I’ll be honest: While I saw great potential in Marko and Srednja.hr because of how dedicated he was as well as knowing the media business, that call didn’t seem that crucial.

But to Marko, at his moment of entrepreneurial self-doubt it was.

It shows that a single positive action on part of any of us can greatly help if it happens at the right time. My call told Marko:

  • Someone who has experience in his industry believes in his project (enough to actively contact him);
  • They don’t just believe for the sake of being nice, but are willing to actively help (by connecting him with a business partner).

Marko thought twice and created what Srednja.hr has become – a leading vertical media business for its audience of Croatian students.

But even if he didn’t, let’s be honest: Every entrepreneur has doubts in their project at one time or another. Forbes has coined it ‘The Valley of Doubt’ that entrepreneurs need to escape from.

How To Reach Out

While doubting your project for not meeting yours or others expectations might be normal, entrepreneurs shouldn’t be left alone. As Marko’s example shows, if you see a situation where you doubt the doubter – contact them:

  • Don’t wait for them to ask. Instead, proactively contact them via email, messenger or just call them up. They might not be expecting it, but they need a kick in the butt! 
  • Listen to the reasons that are driving their self-doubt so you undestand where they are coming from;
  • Create a situation that shows them the other option! While Marko could have contemplated if other companies would be interesting in working with him, connecting them with Algebra made that option real. No longer was Marko thinking of it as mere theory: It was a real option.
  • Do the one thing I didn’t do: Follow up in a few days or a week.

Your counsel might be the one thing standing between an untimely ended ‘side project’ and a potentially successful startup.

Thanks to Marko for running with the comments he got not just from me, but others who believed in his vision, and creating one of the most promising vertical portals in Croatia. Read more about Srednja.hr in Telegram’s detailed article

I learnt how important evergreen or pillar aticles were for successful blogs while working for the largest freelancing blog in the world, Freelance Switch, back in 2011.

Freelance Switch and Envato founder Collis Ta’eed explains in his book “How To Build A Successful Blog Business” how a single post I wrote was among the top 5 pieces of content on that website even 2 years after it was published:

One of the early posts on FreelanceSwitch was by the writer Ivan Brezak Brkan who penned “35 Absolutely Essential Mac Apps” for the site. It was an atticle about Mac apps for freelancers that experienced success on both Digg and Delitious. It was a classic evergreen article that attracted lots of traffic and was a big success. However, a month or so after the post was published, I pretty much ceased to think much about it.

Two years later when browsing throught Google Analytics I happened to notice that one of the top keywords that FreelanceSwitch ranked for on Google was “Mac Apps”. A bit of research revealed that in fact the one article by Ivan had been consistently sending high amounts of search traffic month after month.

The traffic these search rankings sent made that single article one of the top posts on the site virtually every single month.

The success of this post, explained Collis, lead to envato launching a dedicated Mac apps blog in the future.