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  1. #1
    GPWA Dan is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Dominique (Dominique)

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    Age: 25, but some old woman keeps playing tricks on me in my mirror
    Hometown: The city of beer, Munich
    Currently residing in: Oregon
    Favorite food: Scampi
    One book everyone must read: The Little Prince
    Site: www.GamesandCasino.com

    When you launched your first gambling site in 2002 you posted that you had one other site – hawkheadhaven.com. What was that site devoted to? How did you decide to get into the gaming industry? And what did you do before becoming involved?

    Hawkheads are very pretty parrots, and I used to breed them and handraise the babies. I was selling them online. Hawkheadhaven provided lots of information on how to properly keep parrots as pets. I was also raising a lot of other birds, but eventually it became too labor intensive and I sold out. My career has been quite illustrious, I have always been an entrepreneur. I stumbled into gaming when I used some free casino games on a free game site I built for friends. I got checks in the mail and couldn't figure out for some time where they came from. Once I did, I was intrigued... The original site is still a page on GamesandCasino.

    How long was it before your work as an online gambling affiliate started earning you money?

    It took around a year before I made any money worth mentioning, and for some time I plowed all earnings back into the business...and I still reinvest most of it all the time.

    You’ve seen the online gambling industry really evolve. If you don’t mind, talk a little bit about what it was like when you first started working in the industry. And how does it compare to working in the industry now?

    I had a lot more trust back then; there was more individual contact with managers. Conferences were very small, but you really got to know people there. Now the industry has grown so big that it has become impossible to connect all the faces with names and Web sites and forum pseudonyms and I have to admit that half the time I don't know who I am talking to anymore when I go to conferences. Some things always stay the same, though – when I got started people told me I was too late and the competition was too big. And the same is told to new affiliates today. There is always room for newcomers in this industry.

    What common mistakes do you see new affiliates making right now when they first start off?

    IMO the most common mistakes are copying what others have done already and promoting dodgy places. That's a recipe for failure; the new site has nothing that makes it memorable, and if players do remember it, it's because they had a negative experience. It is also unlikely Google will value it over older sites with the identical info...

    Besides the UIGEA, what three or four things have changed dramatically about the industry?

    Well, I think most of the changes to the negative are really UIGEA connected. Payments are more irregular, obviously because of UIGEA. Software companies have pulled out of the U.S. Add in the current recession/depression and business has taken a serious hit. In the positive, software companies have generated a load of nice games, lots more than they used to. Customer support is better. And new affiliate programs for the most part are benefiting from the changes the industry has gone through over the years and have well-thought-out T&Cs for affiliates.

    You’ve been a longtime participant in online gambling forums. Why is it important for affiliates to participate in them? What can affiliates, and affiliate managers for that matter, get out of forums?

    Forums are invaluable for learning the trade, staying up to date and forming relationships. I have learned much of what I know in forums. Everyone can find support in forums and a lot of wrongs have been righted over the years because of forums. They can also be a slippery slope where misinformation is passed on, wars break out and lots of negativity can be overwhelming. As a forum user, always think twice before you hit the "post" button. Do I really know this for a fact? If it's just an opinion, did I say that, too? Are there any additional facts I should research and present to make the post informative? Am I just venting, and did I point that out? Am I hurting others with my post? As a forum reader, ask yourself the same questions when you gather information. Without forums, affiliates would be in much worse positions in this industry. Forums provide support and knowledge, and they are most certainly here to stay. There is not a day where I haven't learned something new in a forum.

    Please describe the perfect affiliate program for you. What about the perfect affiliate manager?

    My dream affiliate program will have clear and concise T&Cs, a good current banner selection, well-thought-out promotions and a Web site where you can reach every destination with one click. It will send regular emails with new promotions, games and banners. The affiliate manager will be available to answer questions, answer emails in a timely manner and act professionally. I also prefer programs that have a forum presence and use StatsRemote.

    Working as an affiliate can be lonely, yet you’ve done it successfully for several years. How do you manage to get the social interaction you need to stay sane, while continuing to put in the time necessary to be successful as an affiliate?

    Who said I was sane? I went mad years ago! I think what keeps me happily productive is the fact that I love the work, that I find support and camaraderie on the message boards, and that I have a saint for a husband. I am also a nature lover and my lifestyle includes lots of walks with my dogs and relaxation out of doors. I love to grill and do it almost daily, regardless of weather. I have traveled extensively over the last decade and just took a break from it this year to enjoy my garden. I also start work very early in the morning and close shop at the latest when it gets dark, which is very early in the winter. That gives me lots of time to socialize or pursue other interests.

    Trust is often cited as one of the most important factors affiliates look for in affiliate programs. Do you find you have more trust or less trust than you previously had in the industry? And why do you think it’s that way?

    I trust considerably less than I used to. I have come to learn the hard way that "commission for life" does not mean what it says. I make very sure my eggs are spread out over many baskets so that the loss of any one source of income is fairly easy to adjust to. Partially it's that way because the competition is huge, and also because the economy is bad. Sometimes programs just face financial difficulties and pass them on out of necessity, but obviously affiliates battle the bad economy also and rightfully insist on programs sticking to their contracts. These are lose/lose situations, something you never want to see in business. With all that going on, it's quite difficult to place trust in any one program anymore.

    What’s the hardest thing about operating your sites, and what annoys or distracts you the most when you’re trying to get some work done?

    I outsource many, many things, and while it has helped my business tremendously, it is very frustrating not to be able to see the people I work with. It is difficult to coordinate people to meet schedules and progress at a good pace. I have been doing it for years now and yet I am still struggling with the same issues. The most distracting thing is the phone, and I just quit answering it all together. You can't multitask when you are on the phone. Next come the messengers, and I have them turned off most all the time now. I can't work when 10 messengers are blinking, and often I conduct several conversations at the same time and end up typing my comments in the wrong messenger. It's gotten to where the only way to reach me is email.

    Do you gamble online? If so, what do you play?

    I love to play slots and enjoy blackjack, but since I live in Oregon, I do my playing in Vegas.

    How do you spend your time off?


    What time off? Lol! I spend time with my husband, take long walks, travel, play with the dogs, garden, grill and entertain some.

    What’s your favorite vacation spot?

    The Greek Islands and the Alps.

    If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be and why?

    1. Be unique. You don't want to be one of a million sites that look the same and have the same content. And there are a million nondescript sites out there!

    2. Know your customers; what are their demographics? Build your site to appeal to the specific people you want to attract.

    3. Provide all the hard-to-find info you wanted to have when you first looked at online gambling.

    4. Start with very specific gambling information; you will rank faster.

    5. Make sure the programs you promote are approved by Affiliate Guard Dog and Casinomeister. That way there will be no nasty surprises.

    6. Visit forums to gain support and knowledge.

    7. Go to conferences and meet others in the business. Attend some lectures.

    8. If you have an idea you really think can work, don't let anyone tell you it won't. When I started GamesandCasino everyone told me I would never make it. I was going about it all wrong. Don't be afraid to swim against the stream. You might fail, but you might also succeed beyond what you imagine.

    – Hmm, sticking to 5 didn't work too well, did it?

    If you could change one thing about the gaming industry, what would it be, and why?

    I would put rakeback in the hands of the affiliate programs and not affiliates. Rakeback results in a lot of theft from fellow affiliates and it's just not morally justifiable. I would establish a better communications line between operators and affiliates. IMO both groups know too little about what issues the other group faces. Things would go a lot smoother for all if we understood each other better.

    What do your friends and family think of your work as an affiliate?


    Mostly they don't quite understand what I am doing. The ones that do find it fascinating and some are interested in getting started themselves.

    What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?

    Find a unique approach, don't believe everything you hear, do your own research and provide content, content, content.

    What’s the first concert you attended in person?

    The Isle of Wight festival.

    If you could visit any three places in the world, what would they be, and why?

    Australia, South Africa and Indonesia. I’ve never been there and there is so much to do and see in those places.

    If you could have one "super power," what would it be? And why?

    Click my heels and go to any place I want. I love traveling but am really sick of 11-hour plane rides.

    What’s your all-time favorite TV show?

    Sorry, I don't watch much.

    If you were casting a movie starring you, who would play your romantic interest? And why?

    My husband. Really. He makes me happy.

    And finally, what are three things that nobody knows about you?

    I am pretty much an open book. I guess most people don't know I am involved in animal rescue. I am also pretty much a technophobe – Lord knows how I ended up working online. I never got rid of my hippie beliefs; I still think love and peace would solve most human misfortune. Just now I don't think it will ever happen...

  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to GPWA Dan For This Useful Post:

    Anthony (2 June 2010), JuliaS (3 June 2010), pgaming (2 June 2010), TheGamblingGuru (2 June 2010)

  3. #2
    Nandakishore's Avatar
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    An excellent interview. One can learn a lot from it.
    What a pity, she doesn't live in Munich. We could have met for (more than) a beer.

  4. #3
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    WTG Dominique excellent views!

    What’s your favorite vacation spot?


    The Greek Islands and the Alps.
    Would be my top spot no question. I am inching closer moving to Greece.


    Would be my top spot no question. I am inching closer moving to Greece.

    Be unique. You don't want to be one of a million sites that look the same and have the same content. And there are a million nondescript sites out there!
    Without doubt IMO being creative, unique or standing out amongst millions determines whether I stay one the go.

    And yes when people say you can't it only means you can.

    Anyway before I get carried away loved the interview.

    greek39
    Last edited by pgaming; 2 June 2010 at 4:31 pm.

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    Intresting interview. I remember when Dom first started posting on GPWA, oh how things have changed!

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    Great interview Dom
    I am here to help if you have any issues with an affiliate program.
    Become involved in GPWA to truly make the association your own:
    Apply for Private Membership | Apply for the GPWA Seal | Partner with a GPWA Sponsor | Volunteer as a Moderator


  8. #7
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    Lol, I just noticed that if I am asked to give 5 points, I give 8, and when I am asked to give one point, I give at least two.

    I'm going to have to learn to count...

    Nandakishore, next time I am in Munich we'll have to go for a beer for sure. I haven't been in over a year, taking a break from the conferences, but I think I am being talked into going to Budapest in the fall. If I do, I will definitely stop over in Munich for a bit.

    Andybonus, I remember it well too. It was quite a different scene then...

  9. #8
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    Dom it seems that every conference you go to we will miss each other! Can you be talked into going to London in January?

    BTW we will welcome you with open arms if you do decide to come to Oz.

    Which Greek island is your favourite? Gotta say Krete was mine.. There was an absolutely beautiful beach in Fallasarna.
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  10. #9
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    Crete was wonderful, but they are all great.

    I don't think I am going to London anymore, I always catch the mother of all flu viruses when I go there. London in January when the weather is miserable and it's flu season isn't exactly on my top wish list.

    If I lived in Europe I'd likely go to all of the conferences, it's always great to meet people in person and I always come away having learned something new. But the long flights and the way one is herded around in the airports nowadays are a big deterrent for me anymore. And I am not much of a party goer... although Calvin's party was more of a show and looked very interesting.

    In any case, I decided to go either fall or spring, so maybe Budapest and maybe whatever takes the place of Prague next year. We do keep missing each other, Renee.

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    Great interview, and some really solid advice. I think these points are especially wise:

    Some things always stay the same, though – when I got started people told me I was too late and the competition was too big. And the same is told to new affiliates today. There is always room for newcomers in this industry.
    Know your customers; what are their demographics? Build your site to appeal to the specific people you want to attract.
    Thanks for sharing Dom!
    Julia Stead
    Affiliate Manager, Income Access
    julia@incomeaccess.com

  12. #11
    Nandakishore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dominique View Post
    Nandakishore, next time I am in Munich we'll have to go for a beer for sure. I haven't been in over a year, taking a break from the conferences, but I think I am being talked into going to Budapest in the fall. If I do, I will definitely stop over in Munich for a bit.
    Dom, I am waiting for an alert from you!

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