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  1. #1
    GPWA Daniel is offline Associate Editor
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Aksana Radaman

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    (This interview was originally published in the February 2019 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine)

    What are the biggest changes you've seen in the industry since we last interviewed you 10 years ago? How have they impacted your business?
    There have been several big changes. Online gambling has moved to mobile, and it has become legalized in many countries. Google algorithms have become stronger, and the online gambling industry is more competitive. Ten years ago, I could manage my casino website alone without any help and almost without any SEO knowledge. Today, that would be almost impossible.

    Of course, these changes have impacted my business. After eight years I had to close my first casino website and all my other casino sites. I had to leave the international market and enter the Russian-language market, and I started my first sports betting website for the Russian-language market.

    What advice would you give to a new iGaming affiliate just getting started in the business?
    Believe in your success and you will achieve it. But sometimes, itís very difficult to have such strong faith in yourself. That's how I felt when I started my business, but my faith in God was very strong, and now even I canít understand how I achieved such success in my business. I can only thank God.

    What is it like running Russian-language sites? How has it been different than running only English sites?

    I had the idea to launch a Russian-language casino website 10 years ago, and I launched it in 2008-2009. It was one of the popular casino sites in the Russian market. Several years ago I had to close it due to the Russian governmentís bans, and I started a Russian sports betting site.

    Running a Russian-language site is much easier, because Russian is my native language. When I launched my first site in the Russian-language market, the online gambling industry there was not competitive and it was very easy to be in the top five in search engines, but there also were not too many players. Russian-language players preferred to play in offline, land-based casinos, but over the last several years almost all of them have moved online.

    There are some differences between Russian-speaking players and the players I get on English sites. Most Russian-speaking players always want to win, which is almost impossible. But players from my English sites are looking for entertainment Ė they want to have a nice time. These differences are very noticeable in sports betting. For many Russian-language players, sports betting is not a hobby, itís their work. They practice in sports betting, they become professionals and they earn money. For example, one of my administrators has been a professional sports bettor for more than 20 years.

    Of course, working in Russian is easier for me, but two years ago I started an English-language sports betting website. I can work in both languages if I have a strong, reliable team.

    All your sites are currently sportsbook sites. Why did you choose to focus on sportsbooks? What are some of the biggest challenges of working in that vertical?
    I chose to focus on sportsbooks because this niche is more interesting for business. It was a challenge for me to create a useful website, not just for advertising, but also for players. Honestly, all my previous casino sites were only for advertising and for earning money. I didnít think about players. But now I have other views, principles and aims for my business. I want my sites to be useful both for bettors and for sportsbooks. And with my team, weíll do our best.

    One of the biggest challenges of working in that vertical is to provide visitors with fresh forecasts. Online casino sites do not require such daily fresh content, but here in sports betting, our site must be like a newspaper, where new forecasts are published very frequently.

    When we last spoke, you mentioned that the internet in Belarus was very expensive. Is this still the case? Has anything else about working in Belarus changed over the past 10 years?
    Today the internet is very cheap in my country and available to everybody. Belarus has become one of the best places for working. Earlier I had some thoughts that maybe it was better to move to another country, but now I like everything in my country. Itís one of the first countries in the world where crypto business is officially allowed, and there are no any taxes for crypto business for the first several years. Online gambling is also allowed here, there are low taxes, and there is no war or any migrants. Belarus is a very clean, beautiful, peaceful and civilized country where I really enjoy living.

    What trends in the iGaming industry are you most excited about?

    Iím most excited about the legalization of online gambling in many countries, including Russia. During the last several years, the Russian government was blocking my websites, including my sports betting sites. It was almost impossible to work in such a situation. But now all the well-known sportsbooks are fully legalized in Russia, and my sites can partner with them legally. Even bwin has officially entered the Russian market. Iím very excited about this.

    What makes your sites unique? How do you help them stand out from the competition?
    My team works very hard to offer our visitors one of the best services. My site runs one of the best fair competitions every month, where our members publish their forecasts and win real money. Now, my team is developing a new script for our competitions, which will be very functional and useful both for participants and for visitors. We have many other plans, but for now they are secret.

    We have an online chat on our website, where our members like talking to each other. They even watch sports events together through the chat.

    For me and my team, itís very important to have a very solid reputation in the Russian-language market.

    How do you decide what sportsbooks to promote?
    Usually I ask my administrators when I need to decide whether itís worth promoting a sportsbook or not. I know nothing about sports betting, really any types of sports, except kung fu. Moreover, sports betting is not interesting to me at all, but I have my own advisors. These guys are professional bettors. They know everything about sports betting, so they know bettorsí needs very well.

    Do you ever use freelancers or contractors for any part of your business?
    Previously, I was a one-woman shop. I used freelancers for some part of my business, but usually I worked alone. It was a big mistake, and I had to close all my casino sites. Now, I have two administrators, one software engineer, and a girl who helps my first administrator and also will do social media work. They all work full-time on my sites.
    Also, I had an SEO manager, but he was not a part of my team; he was a freelancer. I prefer to have own specialists on my team who are ready to work full-time on my sites.

    Do you gamble online? What about in brick-and-mortar casinos?
    No, I donít gamble, neither online nor offline. But I had some bad experiences in forex trading. I prefer to work fair, and I donít find easy ways of earning money. And I donít find gambling enjoyable for myself. Itís just business for me.

    How often do you get to see and interact with other people in the industry? Do you attend any conferences?
    I talk to other people in the industry very rarely. The last six years were very difficult for me, and time for me has become very important. Thatís why I donít spend too much time on forums. I donít spend too much time talking to other people, and I donít really attend conferences. Now I donít need it; maybe later I will have another view. I have several webmasters, and sometimes I talk to them on Skype.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    An affiliate manager must not be annoying. He or she must be tactful, calm and always in touch. An affiliate program must have detailed and correct statistics, fast payments without delays, reliable brands and, of course, fair T&Cs without hidden conditions.

    Is the GPWA still as useful to you as when you were a newer affiliate?
    Iím not active on the GPWA due to my business, but sometimes I use it and itís still useful for me. Of course, when I was a newer affiliate, the GPWA was my home, my school and my university. I also used other gambling webmaster forums, but the GPWA was and still is No. 1 for me. And when I need to find some information or any answers to my questions, I use only the GPWA.

    What do you like best about the industry?
    The industry allows me to have a high-paying job that doesn't require full time. Iím so far away from gambling, but I like to manage my sites and organize the work of my team.

    If you could change one thing about the industry these days, what would it be and why?
    I used to face difficulties, so I donít know what I could change in the industry. Maybe I could legalize online gambling around the world. Online gambling is impossible to hide, and itís impossible to ban, so the best way is to make it legal, safe and secure for people.

    What do you think the industry will look like in five years?

    I think online gambling will move to blockchain.

    What's your approach to SEO and drawing traffic to your site?
    SEO is very important in my business. I had a SEO manager who did this work for my sites, but it was not enough. Now, we are ready to spend almost 80% of our time on SEO, because we are sure that we really offer the best services for bettors.

    How much time do you devote to social networking for your site?
    Almost none. We have groups in popular social networks, but we donít update them. We are planning to give this work to our employee. Social networking is very important in our industry.

    What's the most difficult thing about running your site?
    CMS is the most difficult thing, but we are planning to develop our own CMS.

    What do you do to stay in shape Ė both physically and mentally?
    I spent five years to find my method to stay in shape, and I have found it. Meditation Sahaj Marg (or Heartfulness) for my spiritual growth and kung fu for my physical health are best for me. Both of these methods give me energy, strength, a clear mind, and harmony inside and outside.

    What did you dream of doing, both professionally and personally, when you were a kid?
    When I was a kid I dreamed of having my own shop and owning a business. My mother told me that it was impossible, because my parents didn't have enough money, but I told my mom that I would have my own business and would become independent.

    Also, when I was a little girl I had some thoughts about God. Nobody could explain me the nature of God, and I always wanted to know more about God.

    If you won $10 million playing the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?
    Nothing. Really, I donít know. I would meditate, meditate, meditate until I heard my soulís voice with further instructions.

    If someone from out of town were visiting you, whatís the one place you'd definitely take them to see?
    Park Drozdy. It's my favorite place in Minsk.

    If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you and why?
    A pad for meditation, a lighter for fire, and a knife for coconuts and other fruits.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    Both of my meditation teachers, Master Kamlesh D. Patel, Master Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari and Master Ram Chandra Babuji. Also, I would invite a sixth person Ė my Master of Kung Fu, Li Hong Tai. Iím very happy that I know such great people who help me grow internally.

    Name three things that people reading this magazine don't know about you.
    1. I wake up at 5 oíclock.
    2. I practice meditation Sahaj Marg.
    3. I have a black belt in kung fu.

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  3. #2
    drifter8's Avatar
    drifter8 is offline Private Member
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    Ver good and helpful interview. Thx
    Seven times fall, eight times stand.

  4. #3
    Moonlight Cat's Avatar
    Moonlight Cat is offline Private Member
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    I know Aksana many years. She is very nice person.

    p.s. Aksana if you read this, pleas PM.

  5. #4
    sweetbet's Avatar
    sweetbet is offline Public Member
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    Great interview and I love your website.

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