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  1. #1
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    CityGuard is offline Former GPWA Program Manager
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    Smile Portal Webmaster Interview Series: Christine M. - bonustreak

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    Bonustreak – “Definitely not Lindsay Lohan”

    City currently residing in: Chaos most of the time!
    Age: I’ve been 29 for a while now….
    Favorite food: Seafood
    One book everyone must read: I don’t really get much time to read for relaxation – but when I do, I do enjoy a good mystery; it takes my mind away from a busy day.
    Your gaming sites:
    Bonustreak.com
    Casinobonusstreak.com
    Microgamingbonusstreak.com
    and the new baby Streakgaming.com

    How long have you been working in the online gaming industry?
    Since late 2004

    We understand the first game you played online was bingo. When did you start playing bingo online?
    In the very boring winter of 2003 I would have to guess.

    Why did you start playing online?
    Well I was at a friend’s house and she told me about this site where you play bingo for prizes, I think it was Moo Cow or Cash Cow bingo, something like that, and well I bore easy so I played that for about a week and got pretty tired of it. I started searching for more free chips to play more bingo… and came across casinos which also offered free cash to try their slots.

    Do you still gamble online? If so, what's your favorite game?
    IF I did gamble it would be playing Ladies Night or Thunderstruck (Thor is the man of my dreams… ). I do play the new slots that are released in free mode so I can get a feel for a slot before marketing it to players. This is just to be sure I can market the slot as a player to my players.

    We've noticed that you promote bingo on your sites. How has bingo done for you?
    I have to be honest and say not very well at all, I find bingo very hard to convert for us. Maybe we haven’t spent enough time marketing to the right demographics. This is going to change over the next year. We plan to do more geo targeted marketing with bingo. When I was in Barcelona I found out that bingo was very popular there, so I think Europe will be our main focus with bingo.

    How is promoting bingo different from casinos and poker?
    Bingo for me has simply been a tough sell. Not really sure why that is, either. I mean, when I think of bingo I think of all the older (no offense, Mom) ladies sitting at the table with their cards all nice and neat, daubers all around, several knickknacks (you know: the acorns, onions, and don’t forget the bells). Maybe that generation just don’t go online? Poker we are just now getting into that market as well. We never really promoted poker because we simply don’t know much about that game. To me, if a person wants to market poker right he needs to learn poker better so he’ll be confident that his players are not getting false information from any of his sites.

    What about online gambling fundamentally interests you?
    Online gambling in essence is a whole different world from the traditional “land based casino.” I love the fact that if I just want to sit in my home and relax with a glass of wine and spin slots I can. Online gambling is a roller coaster of changes right now; I guess you can say I enjoy the thrill and challenge of the ride.

    What about the industry interests you?
    The online gaming industry is almost like exploring a new universe; it is an ever changing industry and you have to stay on your toes to keep up with the daily changes. I have really enjoyed meeting so many great people from all over the world. There is so much to learn and so many unexplored avenues in this industry I am quite sure I will have no problem finding projects to keep me busy.

    After you started playing online, you started to participate in forums. What attracted to you to forums?
    I would have to say the community of other players, and the constant postings of new promotions.

    After some time, you became a moderator of a forum. Which forum was that?
    No comment.

    Is it still around?
    Nope.

    And what lessons did you learn there that you've carried through to your own forums?
    The lesson I learned was there are people out there who will say anything and do anything to get good hard working people for every dollar they can. I quickly realized there are forum operators / owners in this biz, not many, but some who are going to push players and tell players what they want to hear to hand money over to casinos.

    I was determined to not become one. Having player loyalty and having players trust your opinions are more important to me – they will stick around if you are honest and have conviction. I think you also need to make yourself available to them. I am a slots player after all; I treat my players as I would want to be treated.

    How did you discover the affiliate marketing business?
    When I was a mod there were times when I would contact casinos for prizes to use for contest on the forum I was working on. From there I learned that you can make a comfortable living by marketing. It just felt right, and came easily to me – it’s work, but it doesn’t feel like work if that makes sense.

    What drew you to it?
    The first thing that drew me was actually the simple reason of being able to give back to the forum members. I love to give things away and so does my business partner, which is another reason we have been in business together for so long.

    What distinguished it from other possible businesses you were thinking of entering?
    I wasn’t really thinking of starting a business, but what really led me to start a players’ forum was that it was something that would let me stay at home, work a few hours a day on, make a little extra income to keep Carey (my business partner) and me happy.

    The forum kept me occupied – I bore easily and this wasn’t boring me. Even now, I don’t find it boring. I wake up each morning, get the boys ready for school, grab a coffee, and I look forward to a day of reading industry news, updates, contacting casinos and keeping everyone on the forum happy.

    What was the thought process behind it?
    It was really a case of situation; I really wasn’t thinking of starting a business. I had been running the forum for a couple of hours a day for about 6 months with Carey to make some extra pocket change. Initially I didn’t think there was too much involved in running a forum – I thought it was really a case of, if I build a forum and I put out good offers to build a community, they will come. But I was in for a steep learning curve.

    What really got me motivated with the forum was when my husband, who was the breadwinner in the family, unexpectedly passed away – I was now a widow with kids, trying to keep house, play the man and the woman. I needed to stay home. With the forum work I had done for the past 6 months, I decided with my business partner that it was time to start ramping things up. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but looking back Carey and I had the right business sense. Ears open, learn, and treat people like you would like to be treated.

    I threw myself 100% into the forum, and made it my full time job. It was a steep learning curve. I had to quickly learn the mechanics of Internet marketing, and I learned a lot from the more established affiliates, affiliate managers, and industry professionals. There are a lot of people in the industry who are more than happy to get you started and give you the guidance as long as you show the initiative and effort.

    What role does the forum play in your business model?
    The forum is important to our business; it comes first in our business model.

    How much time does it take to administer the forum?
    Even with a large staff our forum takes more hours than I would like to think to maintain. Even with so much automation there is still quite a bit of monitoring, updating, and taking care of forum members.

    What's the easiest part of managing forums?
    There really isn’t anything easy about maintaining a large, active forum…

    What's the most difficult?
    I think I am speaking for the Streak staff when I say, the most difficult part is not being able to make everyone happy. If we could run a contest where everyone wins all the time that would be so awesome!

    How important are forums to getting conversions?
    Very important. We are able to talk and socialize with our members. With a portal, players just see a list of casinos with promotions. When they go to a forum they can socialize and talk to other players about casinos, games, industry news and so forth.

    Repeat business?
    80% for 4 years. I can say that with confidence.

    How many people do you employ to work on your forums?
    Other than myself and Carey, we have 2 Admins - Iataz, Dani, a Supermod - JudyB and 3 Mods - Jobill, Mizzpa and Violet. The mods and admins are the backbone of any good forum and they get a lot of respect from us. These girls are family and we all stick together through the good and the bad times!

    What are the easiest and most difficult aspects of managing them?
    Easiest is, the girls have a lot of initiative and we’re all on the same wavelength so we know what needs to be done. Saying that, the most difficult is probably me. I do like things to be perfect, and sometimes step in to change layouts and promotions to what I think would work best. It’s a good balance.

    For people who are considering opening forums, what advice would you give them?
    It doesn’t come easily – it’s a tough battle which can be won. Ask questions, and look at how other people are doing things. Persist. If you think it’s a walk in the park, then you’re in for a surprise. It can be a roller coaster from month to month. And always, treat other people with respect – players, affiliates and operators. I think it helps if you can handle customer care or customer relations. If you can’t, then you’ll have problems socializing with your members and your forum won’t perform.

    You've recently launched a new brand, Streak Gaming. What was the thought process behind putting this brand together? What's the purpose of the site? How does this brand affect your overall business?
    We’d like to spread out risk, not put all our eggs in one basket. It made sense also for us to be running on systems we had control of, and could manage as we saw fit, making modifications. There will be future launches of other websites, but all to diversify and spread our risk.

    Why bonustreak with just one "s"?
    Simple, 2 s’s was taken.

    What makes a good affiliate manager?
    Good affiliate managers communicate with affiliates and make themselves accessible. They should be willing to make deals, do what it takes to keep affiliates informed, up to date. Keep the presence of the casino out there for us to promote. I think affiliate managers do have it tough because they are the buffer between affiliates and the gaming group, and when things don’t go right, they are really the only people the affiliate community can talk to to get information. I haven’t come across an affiliate manager yet who hasn’t been willing to help.

    What do you look for in an affiliate program?
    Good looking casinos, great customer support for players, a decent gaming platform and decent promotions to keep players interested and involved. An affiliate program can offer you the world, but if the products they have aren’t up to scratch, you’ll find it hard to make money there. It’s really a bit of everything.

    What advice would give to an affiliate just starting out in the industry?
    Persist, look at what other people are doing, become involved in affiliate forums, and have patience.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money with your sites?
    From the first month, and it has grown over time.

    How does the GPWA help you in your work as an affiliate?
    They are fantastic for resources, getting in touch with affiliate programs – a great forum to find out what other affiliates and casinos are doing.

    What's your favorite activity away from work? And why?
    My family is very close to me. I try to spend as much time with them as I can.

    What's your favorite vacation spot? And why?
    Wow… that’s a tough one. I really enjoyed the Bahamas, but I also enjoyed the history of European countries. It’s the company which makes the vacation!

    If you could pick someone to play you in a movie about your life, who would it be and why?
    Definitely not Lindsay Lohan.
    I have left the industry and earned a law degree at Indiana University Bloomington, Maurer School of Law. Here are ways to stay in touch with me:
    > Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StevenCorfman
    > LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevencorfman
    > Skype: StevenCorfman
    > Phone: +1 617 785 9324

    Inquiries intended for an administrator or staff member can be directed to Anthony Telesca through the forum (username Anthony) or to the general contact address manager AT gpwa DOT org.

  2. #2
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    Great interview! I really enjoyed reading your interview. Thanks for sharing! lol

  3. #3
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    I enjoyed reading this interview, too. Very nice.

  4. #4
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    Good to know you you a little better Cristine

    btw. I'll have a few drinks for you in Cyprus....

    cya in Barca maybe

    Take care!

  6. #6
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    Nice read! Best wishes for much success Christine.

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    Great interview! Now I know all your secrets muahahahahaha.

  10. #9
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    Great info! I love to get to know folks beyond the facebook profile!
    Owner, Cognitive Powers, Inc.
    Soon to be ex-webmaster
    Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In

  12. #11
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    Great interview Christine. It's nice to see there are real people behind the usernames/avatars!

  13. #12
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    Hi!
    Nice to see your smiling face again. We had a beutiful dinner together on the PlayTech party in London in jan 2007. (Remember?)
    Are you going to Barcelona this year? Sendme a PM!

    "The SEO Man"

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    That was a really nice dinner and how cool was that place! Ohh the SEO guy, I remember now! Thanks for the advice and all the drinks that got me totally messed up
    I will be in Barcelona for sure!

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    Great interview Christine!

    Seems like just yesterday when we were both on ezboard. Time fly bye when you're having fun. hehe

    You and Carey have come a long way. Congrats!

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    Thanks Robin, looking back I don't think we would really change much except for moving off ez sooner I am so glad we were able to spend more time getting to know each other in Amsterdam and hope to see you in Barcelona, only thing is don't expect me to show you around Barcelona like I did in Amsterdam because I really don't remember much of it..

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonustreak View Post
    I am so glad we were able to spend more time getting to know each other in Amsterdam and hope to see you in Barcelona, only thing is don't expect me to show you around Barcelona like I did in Amsterdam because I really don't remember much of it..
    I am too Christine! I was looking at the pictures and videos today and it brought back the memories. You are such a great person to hang out with and I'm glad that I got to met you in person and know you better.

    I was basically alone on the London trip and it sucked so having you as a guide in Amsterdam was a blessing. It made that trip the funnest conference ever for me and I'm proud to say that I'm no longer a 'One Shot Wonder" and I have you to thank for that. LMAO I guess now I'll start going to the parties like you instead of just the workshops and classes next time!

    Those international trips take a lot out of me, but I hope to be well rested by the time Barcelona gets here so I just may see ya there!

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    Very interesting, Christine, you are very nice, I like your picture

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