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  1. #1
    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series: Gary Lester | Freebetsuk7

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    Age: 48
    Hometown: Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
    Living in: Bradford
    Favorite Food: Pizza
    Must Read Book: GPWA Times Magazine
    Sites: free-bets-uk.org, bonus-betting-offers.com

    How did you become involved in the industry, and what did you do prior to becoming involved in online gaming?
    When I left school at the age of 16 I got a job as an apprentice plater/welder and became a fully qualified plater/welder with City+Guilds Certificates at the age of 21. I did this job for 27 years until I had an accident at work, trapping my right thumb under an iron girder and very nearly having to have my right thumb amputated as it was a bit of a mess with the bone broken in 30 places. I was working on the night shift at the time of the accident with one other person and I had to drive to hospital at 4 a.m. with the bone of my thumb sticking out and a mound of flesh dangling at the side of it. My biggest concern was that I was going to bleed to death before reaching the hospital as there was blood everywhere. I still have my right thumb, but it is very badly disfigured and I am unable to bend it at the knuckle at all. I have tried doing my job as a plater/welder since I had my accident but really struggled attempting to do the job without the aid of my right thumb and so I decided I needed a change of career. Although I no longer gamble as heavily now, I did have a bit of a gambling problem, losing well over 100,000 since the age of 18, and I thought a great way to recoup all my losses and have a change of career too would be to go on the other side of the fence and become an affiliate. If you can't beat them, then why not join them?

    Tell us about your sites. What makes them unique? How do your sites differ in their approaches to the market?
    I would say that including some of the no-deposit offers on my sites makes them unique, as I have noticed that not many sites are prepared to do that. Having noticed how much of a drain the no-deposit offers can have on my commissions, I can fully understand why a lot of sites are not prepared to offer any no-deposit offers at all. I just think that by having the no-deposit offers on my sites as well as all the other offers, people might be tempted to return to my sites.

    When did you launch your sites?
    I launched Free-bets-uk.org on April 18, 2011, and Bonus-betting-offers.com on June 18, 2012.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money?
    It took me 14 months before I started making a penny and I have thought about throwing in the towel on more than one occasion!

    Are you a full-time webmaster or do you also hold down another job?
    I am now a full-time webmaster and I have been self-employed since June 2012.

    We know the idea appeals to you, so we have to ask: Do you feel as though you’re getting closer to the day when you can sponsor a televised horse race? And could you please explain why the idea appeals to you
    Yes, the day when I can sponsor a horse race is not looking too far away now as I am earning a lot more money than I did as a plater/welder and it is something I would love to do. I have had a great interest in horse racing since watching Red Rum win the Grand National three times when I was a little boy. I suppose I will know I have finally made it when I am in a position to sponsor my first horse race.

    How have your sites changed, and how have your players changed, over the past few years?
    Well, Free-bets-uk.org was doing great until getting punished in the Google Penguin update of April 24, 2012, which put many people out of business overnight for over-optimization of their websites. I have tried removing as many banners as possible and I am hoping it may recover one day, although I very much doubt it. Matt Cutts, the chief spam engineer at Google, said in his blog that anybody caught up in the Penguin or Panda updates should seriously consider starting again, and that is what I have done by launching my new website, Bonus-betting-offers.com. I am still quite new to the game to be commenting on how my players have changed over the years.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    The one trait that I value most is honesty. I like affiliate managers who are very quick to solve any problems that may arise and are very speedy at answering my e-mail. I like affiliate programs that are updated daily. They all use similar automated software and claim to update their figures daily, but in my experience the only affiliate program to update their figures on a daily basis each and every day is Sky Bet, which gives me confidence that everything is as it should be with them. All other affiliate programs should be looking to follow their example. Doubts creep into my mind when some affiliate programs are not updated for days or weeks.

    How do you choose which sites to work with and promote?
    I like to promote the well-known brand names that have a good reputation.

    Mobile gaming and social gaming are attracting legions of new players to online gaming. What if anything are you doing to bring these people to your sites?
    Mobile gaming and social gaming are things I have not yet thought about promoting in a heavy way, to be honest with you. But they’re something I will think about in the future.

    We understand that you’re not too keen on paying outside SEO companies to do the work for you. How much time do you devote to SEO and/or social networking in order to drive more traffic to your sites? Yes, I like to do all my own SEO. The hardest thing about SEO is understanding how search engines work. Once you know why search engines place one website above another website in their search results you will find that SEO is not that difficult to master. It is very time consuming collecting “natural” backlinks, as any webmaster will tell you, and I would much prefer to spend most of my time writing quality content for my websites.

    Which skills did you need as an affiliate that were the most difficult to acquire? Which skills did you already have when you entered the business?
    Well, coming from a welding background and having no IT experience at all before I started, the most challenging thing for me was building my own website. I got stuck on very simple things, like creating a copyright symbol!

    If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be?
    1. Patience - It takes several months to achieve high rankings in the search results. If you are targeting highly competitive search terms like “Free bets” then you can expect to spend six to nine months in the Google “Sandbox” with a new website. There is a lot of debate about whether the Google Sandbox exists or not, and in my experience it does exist for highly competitive search terms like “Free bets,” but I have found it is possible to rank highly for less competitive search terms within weeks. If you are expecting to earn money instantly, then you are going to be very disappointed.
    2. Dedication - There is a lot of hard work involved in collecting natural backlinks to place you highly in the search results. The easy bit is getting a website up and running; the hardest bit about having a website is getting people to visit it.
    3. Good SEO - I would rather have 100 quality backlinks than 10,000 poor-quality backlinks any day of the week.
    4. Diversity - Don't have all your eggs in one basket and depend on one big fat check coming from one bookmaker each month. I would much rather have 20 small checks coming in from 20 bookmakers.
    5. Long-term outlook - The best piece of advice I got when I was first starting out was that “it is a marathon and not a sprint.”

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?
    I joined the GPWA because I noticed that a lot of the best gambling sites had the GPWA symbol on their homepage, and they looked very professional having the GPWA symbol on their websites, so I decided I would like to have it on my websites. Having the GPWA symbol on my websites gives them a more professional feel, and the GPWA forum is a great place to pick up tips from other webmasters. It is the friendliest forum I have ever been on. You are allowed to put links in your signature on the forum, too, and I have found the GPWA forum backlinks a very useful SEO tool indeed.

    If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
    I would like to see ALL affiliate programs updated DAILY.

    What surprised you most about the industry?
    I was very surprised at the number of times I was showing a negative balance in my commissions. The stats show that 98 percent of gamblers lose and only 2 percent win, so I would expect my negative months to be very few, if any, based on those stats.

    What do your family and friends think of your work as an affiliate?
    I try explaining what I do to my family and friends, but to be honest nobody seems to be able to grasp exactly what is involved. They all seem to think that people gamble on my websites.

    How long do you give yourself for answering e-mail? What e-mail tips can you offer?
    I do not get much e-mail, to be honest with you, but when I do I like to be speedy at making a reply.

    How do you manage your “to-do” lists? Do you use any special software to help you out?
    I use an A4-sized desk calendar to write all my “to-do” lists in, and I do not use any software at all.

    What’s the hardest thing about operating your site, and what annoys or distracts the most when you’re trying to get some work done?
    The hardest thing is trying to please Google. I know by experience that it is soul-destroying to get a Google penalty, and very hard to recover from one. The search results have been turned upside down over the last 12 months or so with all the Penguin and Panda updates, so my main concern is not to get another Google penalty. The thing that distracts me the most is receiving numerous phone calls from companies wanting to sell me something that I don't need.

    If someone were visiting you, what’s one place you’d definitely take them to see?
    I would take them to see Knaresborough, a small town near Harrogate in Yorkshire about 20 miles away from me. It is very quaint and picturesque and has many rowing boats on the river that runs through it. It’s the place I go to when I’m feeling stressed as all my worries seem to drift away when I’m there.

    What’s your favorite vacation spot?
    I would have to say the Costa Del Sol in Spain. I’ve only been twice, but on each occasion I was lucky enough to have had a holiday romance and ended up both times making love on the beach!

    You’re producing, directing and starring in a movie. You need a costar, and your significant other is either unable or unwilling to participate. Who should share top billing with you?
    Well, I have always had a crush on Pamela Anderson, so I would choose her.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    1. Albert Einstein - I would love to talk to him about his views about the Big Bang Theory.
    2. Pamela Anderson - I have had a crush on her for many years.
    3. Alexander the Great - I have always been fascinated by how he conquered so much of the world and died so young, too.
    4. Harry Findlay - He is the U.K.'s biggest gambler, betting millions each and every week, and I would like to know how he is able to make consistent profits when most gamblers seem to lose.
    5. Bobby Campbell - He was a center forward for the local football team that I support, Bradford City. He is my favorite Bradford City player of all time.

    What are three things that nobody knows about you?
    That would be telling!

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  3. #2
    Paolino's Avatar
    Paolino is offline Security/Membership Team
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    Nice to know something more about you Gary
    -----------------------------------------
    Paolo

    Online Gambling Guide - casinoimpact.com.
    I sell Cheap Web Hosting.

  4. #3
    Maria F is offline Former AM
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    Hi Gary,

    Back in the day I was doing welding (beginner), but my path also took me a totally different direction.

    Thank you for the interview.

  5. #4
    LukeC is offline Non-sponsor Affiliate Program
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    Good interview Gary!

    I read an article recently where Harry Findlay said that "In my lifetime, I'm not in front." Might answer your question! Patrick Veitch and Alex Bird have both written interesting horse racing betting books which you might enjoy if you haven't read them already.
    Head of Affiliates at Digital Fuel

  6. #5
    IhreConsulting's Avatar
    IhreConsulting is offline Public Member
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    Thanks Gary for sharing more about yourself!

    I love this:

    What do your family and friends think of your work as an affiliate?
    I try explaining what I do to my family and friends, but to be honest nobody seems to be able to grasp exactly what is involved. They all seem to think that people gamble on my websites.


    I actually have problems explaining to my friends and family what I do and almost 9 years later some of them still don't get it
    Edward Ihre / Claire Wellard / Katerina Milfaitova

    www.ihreconsulting.com
    affiliates@ihreconsulting.com

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  7. #6
    thebookiesoffers is offline Former Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazyrewards-Maria View Post
    Hi Gary,

    Back in the day I was doing welding (beginner), but my path also took me a totally different direction.

    Thank you for the interview.
    really can't picture you having the big welding mask and gloves on lol

  8. #7
    Maria F is offline Former AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebookiesoffers View Post
    really can't picture you having the big welding mask and gloves on lol
    I know LOL I looked that girl from Flash Dance jeje.

    Attachment 3217

  9. #8
    Anthony's Avatar
    Anthony is offline Forum Administrator
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    Very insightful interview. Thanks for sharing Gary!

    ...and for saying The GPWA Times is a must read
    Affiliates - Become involved in GPWA to truly make the association your own:
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  10. #9
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    davemerry is offline Public Member
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    Very interesting interview!

    Got to agree with the below, I've found the vast majority of people hear about money in the industry and put a lot of effort in for a short amount of time, when they don't see the returns they give up quickly.

    If you focus for the long term and make good decisions there is a big enough pot to go round.

    Quote Originally Posted by GPWA Aaron View Post
    5. Long-term outlook - The best piece of advice I got when I was first starting out was that “it is a marathon and not a sprint.”

  11. #10
    moranpob is offline Sponsor Affiliate Program
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    great stuff! thanks!

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