Our today’s interviewee is Natalia Mokina, founder of nevesta.kg. We thank Natalia for her time spent answering our questions.
Please tell us about yourself. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had my 30th birthday this year. A nice time to sum up my young life. I looked back and didn’t see anything to regret: I am married a wonderful man, my pretty daughter is 2 years old and I am employed in one of the most beautiful industry in the world – wedding sphere.
I don’t remember my childhood clearly, only bright and short memory flashes – some really important things in my young life. I don’t know who I was eager to be – teacher or piano player, or somebody else, and my mother never told me. But I always dreamt to be a part of beauty-related world. But the real world usually differs from our dreams. I studied journalism and management in the university and started my carrier as PR-specialist. I focused my carrier at PR and advertising and now I’m still occupied in this industry. But my dream from childhood to be involved into some beautiful and joyful sphere became true.
Tell us about your Internet project. Who are the users of your project?
I lunched wedding classifieds portal "NEVESTA" (in Russian means "Bride") for all Russian-speaking brides, grooms, their parents and friends. Hundreds of wedding-themed articles, on-line recommendations of stylists and wedding managers, fresh ideas for weddings, bridal forum and much more. It’s all-in-one source for brides to get prepared for their unforgettable weddings. The site is in Russian. Classifieds section includes offers from local vendors (Central Asia) to make the connection between wedding professionals and young couples smooth and easy.
How did you get an idea about launching this project?
It started from my wedding. I was thrilled by the unique cheerful spirit of the organization of my wedding. I was nearly intoxicated by emotions. When it was over I couldn’t stop thinking about those numerous ways to make a wedding day stylish, unusual and perfect. I started to catalogue my wedding tips and share them at forums and through social networks. One day I realized that there was no local wedding-related website in my country. And the idea was rapid and clear – I should launch a blog or a web-site. That was the birthday of www.nevesta.kg.
Every web-site is powered by some engine. I would better say that websites are powered by two interdependent engines – technical engine (the software itself) and human mind engine. I had one clear idea about what I want to create and software engine (iLister by WorksForWeb) helped me to implement the idea. I have chosen the software, I have chosen the company I trust. WorkForWeb made my site up and run. I am not that proficient in IT to make the website installation or something like that. So I left it for professionals. And then it was just a matter of content creation – to fill the website with all those articles, polls, publications. I create content, content attract visitors and the website becomes more and more popular. Popular wedding site attracts advertisers. It works :) My “mind engine” functions as nice as the software engine and the project seems to be successful.
I noticed you are the author of most articles on your website. What are the sources of inspiration you draw from when writing articles for your website?
The sources are numerous. Sometimes I read wedding magazines, catch some fresh idea and try to “localize” it to my country. I have a wedding forum at my website where visitors discuss their ideas – sometimes I just need to summarize their thoughts, add some recommendations – and a new article is ready for publishing. My husband shares some really interesting ideas with me. Actually there is no problem to find a good theme for a publication. Even a very strange wedding idea usually has its fan.
The most important thing for me in launching an Internet project is the belief that you do something useful. When you believe your project is high demanded all the limitations are broken. You easily learn new things, overwhelm any problems, generate ideas, because your project is live, people like it, you do something socially needed.
What appeared to be the most difficult thing to get your project going?
To overcome the fear of failure. Failure to run the project properly. To make it successful.
In your opinion, what was the turning point for your project?
I remember the day I’ve got the first e-mail from a visitor “What a nice site.. so much useful info.. you made me happy, because now I can make my wedding the day of my dream..” Something like that. The first feedback. The first praise. It was a special moment. As for the commercial advantage from the project – it comes later. I was afraid that nobody will pay for this. I wasn’t sure if advertisers will consider my website a deserving advertising place. My friends offered me to place a pair of banners at the site. And the commercialization started :). Later I made all the listings at www.nevesta.kg paid. The price is insignificant for a professional occupied in wedding-related sphere who wants to add an ad, but small money are accumulated and grow into good money.
Can you name several critical factors for your project success?
First, it’s great if you have clear idea of what you are going to offer the users of the project. It should be something they really need. In my case it was a plenty of useful information about wedding traditions, decoration ideas and, the most important, a lot of classified ads about wedding goods and services.
The more classified ads you have at your website the better place for searchers it is. Users won’t leave your site for another one if they can find everything they need here, at your website. And don’t forget about the content quality. Information you present should be unique otherwise visitors won’t pay attention to it.
Are there any specific qualities a successful e-entrepreneur should possess?
All people are different and have different qualities. That’s the reason why we have so many interesting Internet projects. But the only thing is crucial for a web-project owner – you should be flexible. You have to alter the project according to the needs of your user and do it quickly. Internet will not wait.
How do you promote your project? Can you give an advice to those with similar projects for other regions of the world?
Well, my means of promotion are typical for a website – SEO, linking from other related sites, promotion via social networks, wedding forums, etc. From time to time I advertise in local newspapers. Here in Kyrgyzstan Internet is not that popular and I have to remind the target audience about my existence.
Actually I seriously think about the off-line mechanisms for project promotion. Market requires it from me. I organized a kind of regular bride meeting in my town, something like “Bridal School”. The meeting takes place once or twice a season, all brides and grooms are welcomed. I tried this method of off-line promotion and it turned to be very effective. I’m going to use it further.
I think the wedding related projects are resembling all over the world. Only small things are specific and depend on the geographic location. So the promotion methods are similar. And you just need to look at other projects to get an idea for your own website.
If there was no Internet, what would you do?
Floristics. I admire flowers and consider floral arrangements the real art. Besides it’s a way to my own harmony.
How do you manage your time between your work, family, and fun?
It’s a matter of proper time management. I learned how to define my priorities. When the project is up and running you don’t need to choose between work and family. Usually my husband and little daughter inspire me and give new ideas for the project.
In your opinion, what is the future of your project?
Internet projects in Kyrgyzstan just start to get popularity, more and more people use Internet in their everyday life. So the future of the project seems to me quite promising. I learn, I understand users and visitors of my website better and deeper and I’m sure that I can offer them something really interesting and useful in the future.
Do you have plans to launch other websites? Is there anything in particular that you have in mind?
Surely I thought about the possibility to apply my knowledge I’ve got in my first wedding project to another Internet project. I think it’s going to be a children-related project. Children are logic consequence of wedding, at least in our country. So I will be able to somehow redirect my audience from wedding website to children-related website smoothly. Pregnancy, baby nursing, all these things.
Don’t let you fear of failure prevent you from doing what you want. Choose the idea you love, make a plan. No matter if this plan is really huge or it’s written on a small peace of paper. Nurture the feeling inside that everything is going to be just great. Start.
Author: Amanda Morris
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