Interview with Varvara Lyalyagina

Hello my fellow “ShanPreneurs” I am Shan Naqvi with another amazing guest. She is Vavara, I’m not gonna introduce her today, we’ll learn about her by asking some questions. Let’s talk to our amazing and beautiful guest and ask some questions to learn about her.

  • Hey Varvara! How are you doing? I am so excited to interview you.. First and foremost, I will ask you to introduce yourself in the audience and tell us what you actually do?

Thanks a lot for inviting me. It’s a great pleasure.

I work with creative entrepreneurs and help them to spread the word about themself via blogs, websites and all kind of communications, where it is online or offline. I am running my creative business called Start Blog Up and I do consulting, group trainings, online courses and currently I am working on launching a membership site for Russian speaking creative entrepreneurs.

I also run a lifestyle blog Home Where You Want to Come where I write about interiors, memory keeping, goal setting and all kind of creative projects. This blog for me is a place for experiments. I find it awkward when people teach how to do webinars on a webinar and give examples of the great webinar about webinars. Ahhhhrrr… So, when I talk about blogging I have examples of how I did all I teach on my lifestyle blog.

  • How did you first get into blogging? Tell me about your proudest achievement?

I started blogging in 2002, 16 years ago! Who would believe it? I was a student in the University and my friend send me a link to the Livejournal blog of a girl. I wanted to have the same thing immediately. But that time to create a blog I had to wait the whole summer to get the invitation code. So funny to remember that days.

Of course, that time it was totally different blog. It was more the online diary with the mix of everything. No strategy, no promotion, no monetization. Nothing. T was a place for me to share my life with my friends. That’s it.

I had several blogs through the years and finally in 2014 I created “Home Where You Want to Come” and started to take it seriously. I was so excited by blogging and all the opportunities that it provides that shortly I quit my corporate career in Procter & Gamble and started my own business in blogging consulting. Sounds straightforward and easier than it was but more or less it was it.

I can tell you how I won the Blogger Battle fighting with the strongest bloggers of Russia, how I went to London as that trip was a reward for the winner… but I honestly think that the biggest achievement that I have is that blog helped me to realise that I am brave enough to quit the corporate world, I have everything to start my own online business as I have readers who will support me.

  • As we know, you have a degree in journalism than why instead of having a job you chose to be an entrepreneur?

For a while I was pretty frustrated that I could not realise myself as a journalist but at some point I understood that all that I did in my life was about communication. Even when I worked in P&G I was responsible for employer branding, for working with media, then communication with employees. I still work as a freelance journalist.
It is all interconnected and I use this skills in my entrepreneurial life. For example, I help my clients to work with media because I understand how they work behind the scenes.

  • I’ve heard you give coaching to bloggers as well, so can you tell us about this program?

I have two coaching formats. The one when the client has some questions and is ready to get the guidance on these questions and move forward with no close support. For example, clients come to me with the question “I want to start a blog but I need to understand which platform is better to use in my case, how to find a developer to help me with this and what should be my steps to set it up in a right way? ” Then I offer 1 or 2 meetings when we meet via Skype and discuss all the issues, I give the answers and the client is ready to go to make it happen.

The other case is when a person comes to me and want me to guide them through the whole process to launch or to restart their blog. Then I offer a series of 8 coaching sessions where we talk all starting from the strategy to the promotion of the blog.

  • What is unique about your business?

The unique thing about my business is the community that I am building. If you work with me you do not just get the coaching, knowledge, materials and when is done, then bye-bye. No.

You will get into the close circle of those people who are like you. Who have the same questions, doubts and issues. And you will never be alone or have your question unanswered.

Currently I am launching my new program, membership site Studio. The idea of it came from my clients. They wanted more interaction, more accountability, more “me”. In the Studio we will have monthly trainings, live workshops and support from the group and from myself. This format is still pretty unique for Russia.

  • What will you suggest to those, who want to start their new blog?

Start! I see too many people who are spending too much time on overthinking and trying to make it all perfect from the very beginning. Just start! The beauty of the blog is that it is a marathon. You will be able to change everything later on if you do not like it. At the end of the day it is just the Internet, you can delete it all if you want it.

  • How do you think I rate your blog as an interviewer?

Not sure that I understand the question. I do not like when people give the feedback without the request. I myself do not rate anything until I am asked about it. I think the best measure is the results that I am getting. My website brings me trafic, clients and is a key engine of my business. I love how it looks. These factors are enough for me to be happy with it.

  • I heard something strange, it was very much difficult for you to find a web developer for your website? Am also a developer! Why didn’t you find me? (Just kidding) Tell us about your experience.

Indeed it was not an immediate thing. I was looking for a person who will share my values, who will be technically savvy and will have an eye on beauty and my aesthetics. Moreover, I did not have a huge budget for this as I have just started. Finally, though the WordCamp Moscow, conference for WordPress community I have found Dmitry Mayorov and was very happy on how we collaborated together.

  • If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Treat your project as a business from the very beginning. Do not treat yourself as a freelancer, someone who is “I am just starting”. Build you tine empire. Set up systems, think sustainable. When you treat yourself as a business you will build a business.

  • Any message for our readers? It can be anything from motivating them to guiding them in some way?

My favourite quote is “Choose love over metrics”. In our likes-followers-statistics driven world we sometimes are to focused on numbers. Think about your readers as a human being, about their needs and about their desires. Choose their love not number of likes.

Thank you Vavara for being a guest on my show!  Varvara is so kind and talented. I hope you liked my chat with her. If you want to learn more about her, I’d request you to go here: www.startblogup.com.

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