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  1. #1
    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series: Dave | DaveL

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    Age: 40
    Hometown: Cardiff, Wales
    Living in: West Wales, U.K.
    Favorite Food: Fried rice
    Must Read Book: Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad

    Sites:
    PlayingBingo.co.uk
    BingoCodes.co.uk
    Mobile Slots.org.uk
    Bingo.vg
    Mobile Bingo.me.uk

    When did you launch your sites?
    My first site, Playing Bingo, was launched in 2005, with Bingo Codes following in 2006. Bingo.vg launched in 2009 and Mobile Bingo this year.

    What is it about online bingo that has led you to launch four bingo-oriented sites?
    I was a bingo caller for a few years back in the '80s and '90s. I originally built the first site about the land-based game to help workmates who wanted me to take groups of them to go to their local bingo hall for the first time. Believe it or not, Playing Bingo spent a year without any affiliate links or mention of the online game. Iíd originally built the site because I liked the retail game and its culture. All subsequent sites have been to either try new areas or replicate the success of the first site.

    How much of your traffic comes from mobile bingo and/or casino players?
    I would say about 10 percent of my traffic is mobile based and most of it is bingo related. Iíve haven't really gone for casino traffic until recently, and thatís currently around 3 percent of my traffic, to the casino-featured sites.

    All of your sites are .uk sites. Do you have any plans to target traffic outside the U.K.?
    No, I know the U.K. market best. I do have some nice .com variants though, so maybe one day when the USA gets the OK for online bingo, I might make an international-facing site.

    Do you accept American or Australian players on any of your sites?
    Theyíre welcome to read the content, but we only feature U.K.-facing sites, so their opportunities to sign up are limited.

    How did you become involved in the industry?
    I spent a few good years in my late teens working in a bingo hall in Cardiff. I loved the old building, the people and the fun of the job. Years later when I discovered how to make websites, it was easy to fall back into it and build a site about the stuff I loved to do with the land-based game. When that site was live, I started being approached by online bingo sites that suggested I should start featuring online sites, so eventually I did. The rest as they say is history.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money?
    Iíd say about a year. It really took off thanks to some kind words from an online bingo operator I was in contact with as he wanted his site featured. His advice got me into Google AdWords, where I was running bingo ads long before it was allowed. I developed some great tricks at that time that allowed me to keep campaigns running for about a year without their ever being closed down by the AdWords staff. Without this period, I wouldnít have made enough money to go full time and build the sites out and get them ranking well. As my organic placing picked up, I stopped using AdWords, and havenít since as the returns from organic were much better for me, and the CPCs were getting silly. I remember getting top placement and sending good converting traffic to Gala and Mecca Bingo for 10p to 20p a click Ė happy days!

    Youíve said that a well-designed website homepage will be ďsimple and elegant.Ē What, in your opinion, constitutes simplicity and elegance?
    Itís not just the homepage; I believe every page should be. Nothing ticks me off more than a page with a dozen flashing gifs and tiny text featuring a hundred different offers. I canít see whatís going on, and if I canít, Iím sure your less savvy user is even more confused. My sites may look simple, but theyíre highly designed and edited to make them look that way. When someone lands on a page at my sites, I want them to have one thing to think about and click on, rather than bombarding them with a dozen different options. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) is my credo, and I think the fact that sites like Amazon have a similar approach vindicates my approach to web design.

    What do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    I look for a hands-off approach. I like AMs to be responsive to any e-mail I may send, but not pushy or aggressive. I know whatís best for my sites and audience. AMs often tell me their program is the best converting, but I take everything on my personal experience and donít like that sort of BS. As for programs, I look for up-to-date banners and regular payments from processors that leave a recognizable payment provider reference (yes, Envoy, Iím looking at youÖ).

    If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be?
    Willingness to work hard, experience in the subject they cover, willingness to generate original content rather than being provided it, being player focused rather than money focused and a keen willingness to keep editorial integrity in their content.

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?
    Having picked up the magazine at various conferences, and seeing the badge as a positive sign of quality I decided to join and see if I could get one. I also like forums as a way of getting the skinny on the industry Ė I read them often, but post less so due to time constraints.

    What do you like about the industry?
    Itís something I can do. To be honest, thereís a lot more I dislike about the industry than I like. I have made some good friends though, and that for me is the best thing. I also like the fact that I can work to my own timetable, in my joggers, at home. If I want to go down to the beach with the kids or pick them up from school, I can. I donít work well for others so this is ideal for me.

    If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
    Thatís easy: Only people with an interest in the niche and its players would make sites with affiliate links. I hate some of the useless, dishonest content I see on some sites, either supplied by the affiliate programs or slavishly copied by the affiliates who care only for money. Not a popular view, I know.

    What surprised you most about the industry?
    The fact that I could make a living out of it!

    What do your family and friends think of your work as an affiliate?
    Many of them are regular retail bingo players; they know my past experience in the game so it seems quite natural to them that Iíd do this. They donít really understand the nuts and bolts of it, but they see me making a living at it so they are supportive. I often use their experience as a barometer to what I do and what I want to see from online bingo sites, so it cuts both ways.

    How long do you give yourself for answering e-mail? What e-mail tips can you offer?
    If itís worthy of a reply, then I reply within a couple of hours of receiving it Ė instantly if Iím online and I think it needs a reply. If itís not hit my e-mail on my iMac, then Iím answering via my iPhone. If itís not worthy of a reply or my time, I delete it. While the people sending might think it needs my full attention, I often disagree. You have to be ruthless with e-mail; Iíd say I get around 150 a day, and if I answered and read them all Iíd never get anything else done. Thank god for Thunderbirds spam filters or it would be double that.

    How do you manage your ďto-doĒ lists?
    Do you use any special software to help you out? Basically, my e-mail inbox is my to-do list. I try to keep it down to less than 10 e-mails. I either action stuff instantly or delete. Iím ruthless about that, if my inbox gets up to 30 or 40 e-mails, I feel like Iím failing at my work and do a purge.

    How much time does it take to keep your sites updated?
    I have two staff working full time at keeping the sites up to date. However, they also work on developing other stuff and in other affiliate arenas. I would say that 75 percent of their time is updating, the rest developing new stuff.

    Do players really care about the grammar and spelling of a siteís content? Youíve posted that seeing lots of mistakes in the copy of a site is a real turnoff.
    Absolutely. Once again Iím going on personal experience, but typos and gaffs are a turnoff and show a lack of professionalism Ė so much so that Iíve employed a proofreader to double-check my sites.

    Youíve also posted that youíll gladly pay a writer 2.5 to 5 times more than the going rate for good content. Why so generous?
    Hell yeah. Iím a great believer that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. The most expensive pieces of content on my sites have cost close to £1,000. Thereís a reason why, and you wonít find anything else like them on any other site on the Internet. You can pay $5 a post from some content hack and frankly, it shows. If you want Google to love you, you have to be giving something unique and something of value Ė 99 percent of gaming affiliates completely miss this point. It might sound highbrow, but seriously, how many gaming sites are actually worth reading? Not many, yes?

    You once wrote that you have altered images when you find that someone is pirating them from your site with a direct link. What are some of the more creative things that you've done in that regard?
    Ha ha, yes. One site was grabbing images from me for their review of a bingo site. I swapped the image out for a 1000 x 1000 px image that basically said, ďThis site is ****, if you want an unbiased review of this site visit URL.Ē Webmasters need to be professional about how they build and run their sites. Hotlinking and content theft show a complete lack of it. Iíve also made 10000 x 10000 px transparent gifs for sites that are using image hrefs without size attributes, as it plays havoc with the layout of the target site. Iíve never gone as far as using donkey porn, though, but I know plenty of others have.

    How much time do you devote to SEO and/or social networking in order to drive more traffic to your sites?
    In truth itís really very little. For my money, if you provide content that no one else is providing, it will find its way to the top of the SERPs as others link to it. Iíve got great links from the likes of the BBC and other authoritative sites that see the value of our content. I do believe content is king, but sadly too many affiliates are happy to perpetuate sloppy content and ideas on their site. Weíre growing our social side more these days, but for me the search traffic is still the most useful and convertible.

    If someone were visiting you, whatís the one place youíd definitely take them to see?
    Iím lucky to live in one of the most picturesque parts of Wales, so Iím spoiled for choice. If I had to decide on one spot, Iíd choose a boat, mackerel fishing off Saundersfoot Beach, around Monkstone Point. Beautiful.

    Whatís your favorite vacation spot?
    St Davidís, in the far west of Wales. Itís just magical; you feel a real affinity to the land and the past when youíre there. I love it.

    If you could have one ďsuperpower,Ē what would it be
    It would be an ability to destroy intolerance and lack of reason in people. The world is too full of people whoíd rather segregate by some idiotic belief in magical beings than enjoy life and accept others for what they are.

    Whatís your all-time favorite movie?
    Oh, thatís too difficult for me. I love film and itís impossible for me to pick just one. I can give you a top five, any one of which I would happily be represented by and sit and watch time and time again. They are Blade Runner, Wings of Desire, Local Hero, Day of the Dead and Martin.

    Youíre also in the movie business. Howís that going Ė youíre making your second film now Ė is that correct?
    Yes, I used my affiliate earnings to move into a field Iíve always been passionate about. I worked in TV production before becoming an affiliate, so film production was not too big a step up. A major international distributor picked up our first feature film, Devilís Bridge. It had a U.K. cinema release and is currently available on DVD from all major retailers. Weíre currently in the position where a major international distributor wants our next project, but we need to raise the money to develop it and get the script completed for them. If any affiliates out there want to put their affiliate earnings to an alternative use and diversify their business interests, then weíd love to hear from them. Feel free to contact us via GPWA if youíd like to become an investor and step in to the world of cinema.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    Iím all about music and film; thatís the stuff that gets me excited. If I had to choose five, well, I think they would be George Romero as I love his cynical worldview and films. Representing the world of music would be Iggy Pop and John Cale as both are a real inspiration for me. The painter Edward Hopper would be there as I love his work and composition. And my gramp would be there to look funny at them all and take the Michael.

    What are three things that nobody knows about you?
    1. I have a degree in Fine Art as a painter and qualified as an art teacher.
    2. I worked for the BBC for many years.
    3. Iím a published photographer, illustrator and writer.

  2. #2
    Renee's Avatar
    Renee is online now Sponsor Affiliate Program
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    I love reading the personal questions in these interviews, but this one is one that I've enjoyed the most.
    It's amazing what you can learn about someone in a few general questions.

    I love your superpower btw.
    __________________
    Renee, Affiliate Program Manager
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  3. #3
    SlotsAff is offline Public Member
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    Good interview - donkey porn made me laugh

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