Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name’s Paul Mladjenovic, and I’m currently a freelance content creator. I first started working in my career within sport by working with Irish Football club, Shamrock Rovers in 2017, since then I’ve managed to create work featured by clubs and organisations all across the world, even the FIFA World Cup! I also have a great passion for Irish football and I’m intent on making a difference and improving the domestic game here in Ireland through content creation and media.
What do you do in your current role?
Currently I freelance between different clubs and organisations creating content, most recently I produced work for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are six time Super Bowl Champions. In late 2020, the lovely people over at 7-League offered me an opportunity to create work featured by the FIFA World Cup. I specialise in a wide variety of areas, graphic design, animation, illustration, video editing and motion graphics so I combine those together to help create content for clients. Along with all this paid freelance work I also create a tonne of content centred around Irish Football, I am very passionate about my own domestic league and it’s development so I do as much for it as I can in the little spare time I have too through promotion.
What does a normal week look like for you?
A normal week for me is quite busy usually, I like to get up early and do some individual training for football/fitness most mornings at the local pitch to get the day going. I am also in college full time too, doing the “Masters of Education” course at NUI Galway, so I’m in lectures for most of the day or on placement, teaching in local schools also. In the afternoon/evening then I tend to work away on design for the rest of the day until the late hours of the night. Even if I am always busy, I have a notebook full of ideas for content, which I keep on me at all times, as I’m always on the lookout for ideas, even if I’m at home watching TV, playing football or going shopping, something can happen which might inspire an idea. My current video editing style is influenced in part by an advert I saw while shopping for clothes in Galway and I’ve grown it from that concept since. So I’m always working on something and keeping my eye on sports content, on and off the pitch.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
It was an interesting beginning to say the least, I have been a Galway United F.C. fan for years now (We currently play in the second division of Irish Football) and around 2016 I used to have a page where I posted updates and so on, I wanted to try and make it look a bit more professional so I started to make graphics for it, after doing that for a year roughly I enjoyed it and decided to make a new account just for these graphics, one of the first designs I made was, of the then Shamrock Rovers player, Trevor Clarke, I tagged the club account and they thought it was great, they followed me back and then we started to work together then for about two years. I helped with day to day media duties, and creation of graphics, particularly on match days. I then eventually moved onto freelance design and it’s been an interesting journey, which all started with the power of social media!
For me, 2020 really helped cement my love for sport, although it was of course a terrible year for most, it did showcase the importance of sports in people’s lives. My opportunities for freelance commissions were as low as ever naturally, so I made a lot of League Of Ireland content, which I do for the good of our league here, it really went down well, people loved it and it showed how much sports means to people and what the sports industry is all about, making a difference in people’s lives. From that moment I knew what an opportunity I have to create change while working in this industry.
What’s been your favourite moment whilst working in sports?
For me my highlight of working in sports came in the early summer of 2020, when I released some personal work, which was a video around the League Of Ireland’s return after Ireland’s first lockdown ending. Although having work featured by FIFA World Cup was great for me, I want to make a difference in Irish football more than anything in my life. Irish domestic football as a whole is under-supported, as the Irish public support big english teams instead. I want to help make a change in the sporting culture in Ireland and that video I created, showcased what our league could be in future and that meant more to me than anything I have done in my career so far. The video started to trend in Ireland, and got hundreds of thousands of views across socials, it even out performed the league’s official promo, even with myself having 14 times less followers. People really got behind it and it offered a window into the potential that the League has here in Ireland. I was very proud of this, it made an impact on individuals and helped bring a sense of normality to their lives during this tough time and also brought a lot of attention to our league. It showed the importance of online media in sports, particularly in this digital age, it is more important than ever to have engaging and targeted content online, we thought that Irish football was under-supported and there is no interest, that video showed with the correct content and targeted marketing, the support is there if we do it consistently, the sky’s the limit.
What do you think is next for your industry?
This year more than any other demonstrated how important the internet and media consumption is in our daily lives. During lockdown it allowed us to keep some sense of normality. Content over lockdown was very engagement driven, it tried to get fans involved even if they are at home. Getting fans to send in videos etc… I think this will be a trend that is here to stay. It also saw a lot of official clubs accounts become a lot more personal and the emphasis of an “admin” personality. Could this be to counteract a lack of human interaction over lockdown? I’m not sure but it really has taken off. It can be very hit or miss as some accounts can go too far and cross the line, as I’m sure we saw Leeds United do recently. Overall though I think there will be a need for more content than ever in sport. 2020 showcased the need for constant engagement, it’s personalisation and how sports media is a lot more essential than a lot of people might have originally thought.
🎉: FOOTBALL IS COMING BACK!!!
📆: Irish football returns on the 3️⃣1️⃣st of July so I created a little promo video around it!
— Paul Mladjenovic (@PaulMlad_Design) July 28, 2020
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
It’s quite simple but you need to get your work out there, my career started by posting a graphic of a Shamrock Rovers player on Twitter. You may think you need a lot of followers but that is not the case, your work speaks for itself. I had roughly 50 followers when I started that account. Anything can happen at any time. In summer 2018 I was down the pub with the lads watching the FIFA World Cup final, and if you told me that within a year or two I would have worked featured by them I would have laughed. My work got noticed through social media and sharing it online. Just set up an account and post what you are happy with. Don’t post just to post, just to get something out there, take your time, you are better off posting work you are happy with once a month instead of mediocre content everyday. Social media really makes the whole world your oyster so you just need to utilise it right and anything is possible if you are intent on working in the sports industry.
How to follow Paul Mladjenovic on social media…
Twitter – https://twitter.com/PaulMlad_Design
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/paulmlad_design/
Email – PaulMladDesign@gmail.com
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Paul Mladjenovic! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.