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  1. #1
    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series: Rod | rod.collins

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    Age: 46
    Hometown: Calexico, California
    Living in: Ajijic, Mexico
    Favorite Food: Tacos
    Must Read Book: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
    Sites:
    playorgambleonline.com
    fivestarcasinos.com

    We know that you're living in Mexico now, but you list your native language as English. Were you born in Mexico? If not, where were you born, and when did you move to Mexico?
    I was actually born in Calexico, California, on the Mexico border, and lived in a small agricultural town called Holtville in California. My mom is from Oklahoma and my father was a California native. He always wanted to move to Mexico. In 1974 we moved to Ajijic, Mexico, which has always been a popular expat retirement community.

    You started working in SEO way back in 1994, long before most people had Internet connections at home. How has the online business changed in the last 20 years? Is it easier or harder to succeed now? What tools available now do you wish you had then?
    Back in 1994 I started a couple of small websites and hosted them on an old Mac Quadra 600 AV with a 64 Kbps Internet connection, and in 1997 I started my own small ISP company called Lagunanet in Ajijic, Mexico. The only other option for Internet was 40 miles away, which was long distance and very expensive.

    SEO has changed drastically over the last 20 years. Back then you could rank a page in a couple of days and design was all done with manual HTML markup using a text editor.

    There were a lot of quirks with browsers back then. Netscape and Mosaic were the popular browsers and rendered pages very differently, but then again there were fewer Internet users and while pages ranked quickly people were very uncomfortable doing any kind of online purchasing.

    As far as being easier or harder to succeed now, I believe it is much more difficult, especially in the online gambling industry, where trying to stand out and be unique with different content – which is what needs to be done – has become very hard.

    When it comes to tools I believe the whole industry has changed for the better. Content management systems such as Joomla! and WordPress give you the ability to knock out a site in a matter of hours, which back in the day, using Notepad, could take weeks.

    When did you launch your sites?
    I began playorgambleonline.com in 2007 and fivestarcasinos shortly after that.

    How is your Spanish-language site (casinosyruleta.com) performing for you?
    I have really not done much with that site, mainly because I write my own Spanish content and looked at casinosyruleta.com as a long term project. I was starting to do OK with both my English casino sites but took a big ranking hit after Penguin so I am really focusing on them right now.

    How did you become involved in the industry?
    I have always loved technology and I guess I just kind of grew up with it. It was very easy for me to adapt so I have tried to take advantage of the business opportunities it has offered, first with a small ISP and later with online marketing.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money?
    With my casino sites it took me about four years and that was working part time three or four hours a day.

    Are you satisfied with the progress your gambling sites have made so far?
    That’s a tough question, but yes, it has definitely been a roller coaster ride with the search engines, mainly the big G, which we all know is the main search engine the average person uses.

    Trying to keep revenue consistent has been much harder and things are changing so quickly from day to day with search algorithms, it’s hard to nail down the best SEO practices.

    You’ve posted that you also have some sites that are not casino related. What is the focus of those sites? And how do they compare to your gaming sites in terms of traffic and revenue?
    I have several different sites promoting anything from acne products to health and weight-loss supplements. As far as revenue goes it is less, but it is more consistent, and many products are easier to rank compared to trying to achieve high rankings with casinos.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    That’s a good question. I think when I started I did not get a lot of support from casino affiliates other than receiving weekly promos, but I think an affiliate manager should be open and steer new affiliates in the right direction.

    I feel many affiliate managers have a lot of good insight as to what ranks and what does not, but many are reluctant to provide a lot of that info for one reason or another. I have found that most affiliate managers do not even acknowledge you until you actually begin making some money – at least that has been my experience.

    I think casino affiliate managers could learn a lot from managers in the health and supplement industry as they are literally willing to hold a newbie’s hand to draw in those sales.

    If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be?
    Be persistent and determined to achieve your goals.

    Do not give up; this business is no different from any other; it takes time and hard work!

    Keep an open mind and do not be afraid to try new things. This industry changes all the time and we need to change with it.

    Diversify. As the saying goes, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Always look for a different niche and marketing opportunity and slowly build upon that. It’s not impossible to maintain four or five websites; it’s all about managing your time well.

    Do not be impatient. I think many people really do expect overnight success and give up much too soon. Being a casino affiliate is not the only marketing opportunity; there are thousands out there. Pick something you like and truly enjoy and you will succeed.

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?
    I was looking for others in the same industry and stumbled onto the GPWA website. I love the forum as there is a lot to be learned and a wealth of information there. I would recommend that any newbies just starting out should join; there is a lot of information that can get them started on the right track.

    You’re a big fan of this magazine. Has the Mexican postal system been doing a better job lately in getting the magazines to you?
    The Mexican postal system still has a lot to be desired, I keep hoping it will get better – it is still hit and miss. I am so glad you publish the full version online.

    What do you like about the industry?
    I love the freedom it gives me to work and still enjoy my family. The other thing I love is that what you earn is all due to the hard work and effort you put in.

    If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
    Less competition, but then again that is never going to happen!

    What surprised you most about the industry?
    I guess my biggest surprise was the amount of revenue it can generate if you work hard, along with the versatility it offers to those who cannot actually go to a state or country that offers gambling.

    What do your family and friends think of your work as an affiliate?
    I don’t even try to explain anymore. Most people say, “You do what? Online marketing?” And then after a pause, “That sounds interesting.” My family was totally skeptical until they actually saw the money coming in. Now they do see it as an actual job.

    How long do you give yourself for answering e-mail?
    I try to answer within 48 hours or sooner. It all depends on my workload.

    How do you manage your “to-do” lists? Do you use any special software to help you out?
    I use Outlook and do notes on my tablet, and many times just scribble my tasks on a piece of paper, I am pretty good at multitasking and seem to never forget what needs to be done.

    How much time does it take to keep your sites updated?
    I would say I dedicate a minimum of three hours a week per site.

    How much time do you devote to SEO and/or social networking in order to drive more traffic to your sites?
    This is hard for me to keep track of but probably a minimum of two hours per day, sometimes more. When I am sitting on the couch with my family, I usually have a tablet in my hand that I use to submit RSS feeds, site submissions and comment on Twitter and Facebook.

    Are you a Google person these days, or more of a Bing person? And what are your thoughts on the Penguin update of a few months ago?
    I have recently been using more Bing for searches. I am not a big Google fan. As I mentioned before, you optimize for what Google wants and then they change their algorithm, which really hurts. While Google says they are happy with the changes they have made, I personally think that their search results have deteriorated.

    Doing a search now will usually bring up Wikipedia and YouTube videos. Personally when searching I would rather read text than watch a video. This is just another way for Google to continue monetizing and becoming richer. They have come a long way from being just a simple Web crawler, but I guess they have to keep their shareholders happy.

    If someone were visiting you, what’s the one place you’d definitely take them to see?
    It would definitely be the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. There are lots of old colonial buildings and lots of history, along with great nightlife and great Mexican food.

    What’s your favorite vacation spot?
    I love a place called Melaque in Jalisco, Mexico. The beaches are beautiful and it’s really hard to find an Internet connection, which is great because then I have total down time from work – and the seafood is heavenly.

    You mention that you love taking trips to Las Vegas and that you love to gamble. What's your game of choice? And do you play much online?
    I have not been to Vegas for a couple of years. I love online slots – they are cheap and I can play for hours and clear the mind – but I also love online poker and blackjack. I do play often because it keeps me in tune with current games and keeps what I promote real.

    If you could have one “superpower,” what would it be?
    I guess the ability to be a super healer, with the ability to cure people with severe ailments, especially children suffering from cancer.

    What’s your all-time favorite movie?
    Star Wars has always been my favorite, I guess because I think George Lucas put out something way before its time and it never seems dated.

    If you were casting a movie with yourself in the leading role, who would play your romantic interest?
    Meryl Streep. I think she is a very sophisticated woman with a lot of class and talent.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    Steve Jobs, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Ford, Isaac Newton and Hedy Lamarr. I think that would be a great dinner party – tons of knowledge, and they were all innovators in what they did.

    What are three things that nobody knows about you?
    Even though I might seem calm in a crisis I do get really stressed.
    I work really well under pressure.
    While people may think I am social, I am a total introvert and don’t really like dealing with the public.
    Last edited by GPWA Aaron; 19 December 2012 at 3:01 pm. Reason: fixed a typo

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  3. #2
    Topboss is offline Private Member
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    Very nice interview. Was great reading it and Thanks for sharing it with us Rod

  4. #3
    Anthony's Avatar
    Anthony is online now Forum Administrator
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    Thanks for sharing Rod, great interview.
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  5. #4
    Maria F is offline Former AM
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    Nice interview!

    Mexico is one of the places that I would love to visit, but I think my weight would shoot up rapidly because I love Mexican food.

    I liked the site casinosyruleta, your Spanish is very good.

    All the best for 2013!

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