Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    GPWA Daniel is offline Associate Editor
    Join Date
    June 2018
    Posts
    37
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 128 Times in 31 Posts

    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Andrew F.

    Name:  AIS_Andrew_F.jpg
Views: 186
Size:  19.2 KB

    (This interview was originally published in the February 2020 edition of the GPWA Times Magazine)


    Well, Andrew, you have been in the iGaming affiliate business for over a decade. We interviewed you for our May 2008 issue when you were a part-time affiliate and running your site as a part-time gig in addition to your full-time job.
    Then in 2012 you were doing well enough to go full-time as an affiliate. You took on a staff, hired freelance copy writers and things seemed to be on the right track. But, for a variety of reasons, things didn’t go as planned since that time and today you are back to being a full-time worker and part-time affiliate. Can you please take us through what happened?

    Yes, 2012 was our best year. As you say, we finally earned enough to be able to go full-time. Even got invited to an awards night as a guest of Betfair. At that point, it seemed like a reward for six years of hard work.

    At the start of 2013, I decided to venture into different websites, looking at live dealers, Asian markets. Spent thousands on translations, etc. Looking back, I really should have invested that money into Fortune Palace, as that was what had generated the income, but at that point I felt diversification was a better plan.

    In October 2013 I got hit with a Manual Action from Google for “unnatural links,” which saw rankings and income plummet. The issue was with links embedded in syndicated articles, which in 2006 was approved and widely used, but suddenly became against Google's TOCs. I had never bought links, and articles were my main way to obtain them organically.

    I spent the next nine months trying to salvage rankings, disavowing links, resubmitting considerations every few weeks. I eventually got the penalty overturned, but rankings and income never really got back to the same level. Having said that, it was still earning enough to be happy with its performance.

    But then things started to decline. I had the usual problems that all affiliates do – committing to operators who turned out to be rogue, and with apparently legitimate operators, who suddenly dumped U.K. affiliates.

    In the U.K., the Gambling Commission seems to have online gambling in its sights, so operators were rightly nervous, but possibly overreacted. bet365, for example (who remain a great partner) have restricted what affiliates can write about them to the point where all reviews just contain the same bland, non-factual information. The whole point of affiliate sites is to compare and contrast, so this becomes very difficult.

    The need to display (terms and conditions) of bonuses at every point of mention made site design very clunky. For a while, I just removed all bonus offers, (which wasn't a great move!) but eventually redesigned the site to be able to include them. Still don't like the aesthetics, but it's now 100% compliant.

    In 2019, the final nail in the coffin was the insistence on age verification for free play games. As it's impossible for an affiliate to do this, I had to remove them. Part of the initial ethos of the site was to allow users to practice strategies before committing to a casino and the free games generated a lot of traffic. Although these visitors were, by definition, non-transactional, there were enough of them that the small percentage that converted were worth having. That traffic stream is now gone.

    Some of the things that worked against you were out of your control and unpredictable. But looking back, what would you have done different, if anything?
    As I said above, I would have consolidated and expanded the site before trying to diversify. In the initial site design, I tried to find a niche, but probably limited things too much. I should have made it much broader, though time was always an issue. On that same topic, I should also have tried to network with others a bit earlier. Freelance copy writers, coders, designers, etc. all became essential to the ongoing running of the site, but I realized that too late, having tried to do it all myself for years.

    Earlier this year you were approached by a company that wanted to buy the site. But, even after all you have been through, you decided against selling. Why?
    Yes, I was very tempted. It was a decent offer, but I calculated the lifetime value of the site would be more than they were looking to pay. It's the old “bird in the hand” argument, but I always feel that things might pick up again and I'd regret cashing in too soon.
    My mindset now is less positive (as you can see!) so I may still be tempted to sell if someone came in with a decent offer. I've put a lot of time and effort into the site and would be sad to see it go, but the right offer would compensate!

    How do you see the role of a U.K. casino affiliate evolving over the next five years? How about the industry as a whole?
    I honestly haven't a clue! If our role isn't to act as a “middle man,” offering impartial advice to consumers looking to make purchasing choices, I'm not sure what it is. I'm always happy to write “educational” articles, such as Blackjack Switch strategies, but if we can't ultimately help players choose casinos, there's not much value in it.

    I know a lot of sites have gone down the “community” route, publishing people's individual reviews of sites, but from a user's perspective I always find those to be either shills or disgruntled punters who didn't read the terms and conditions of bonuses properly. If I’m ever buying something online, I'd always rather read a balanced pro and con review of the product by an independent researcher than user reviews or official press releases. That's what I felt the role of an affiliate should be, and was.

    If someone told you they were thinking of trying to pull off exactly what you were doing in 2008 (working a full-time gig, while running an iGaming affiliate site on the side for extra income) what would you tell them if they asked for advice?
    I'd probably advise them against it. I think the market has changed considerably since then and “Lone Ranger” affiliates are in competition with some serious organizations with lots of staff and huge advertising budgets. I'd suggest trying to network with other like-minded individuals who share a common strategy, but also have something unique to add to a very crowded marketplace.

    What has your wife, friends and kids thought about this journey for you over the last 10 years?

    They've all been interested. Friends are always curious to know the mechanics of how it works, and are always slightly incredulous when I explain! My wife has been there all the way through, from when it looked impossible, to when it took off, to where we are now. The kids have grown up with it, so they know that now and again a “casino bonus” means we can treat them to stuff or take them on holiday. To them, it's just a part of what I do.

    You told us in our previous interview that one of the reasons you got into the industry is because you liked to gamble yourself. Do you still gamble?

    I still gamble online, but only a few tens of pounds and just for entertainment. Mainly blackjack and baccarat, never slots! I'm also part of a poker group with five or six friends and we get together whenever we can, though it's not often enough.
    Again, it's far more about the entertainment – no one ever loses more than a few tens of pounds, but we have plenty of beer, pizza and laughs. Always great fun into the early hours.

    You have mentioned that you sometimes struggle with the “morality” of making a living that depends on other people losing money and that’s a common thought process for a lot of affiliates. How do you cope with these thoughts? Does it get any easier the longer you are in the business?
    If I'm honest, it's always bothered me and hasn't really eased over time. The rev-share model gives the potential for huge monthly wins (and losses!), but there's always that nagging sense that someone has lost it. I accept the argument that they'd probably have lost it anyway and at least they were playing at a regulated casino, with much tighter controls than playing FOBTs for cash in a high street bookmakers. But I'd still prefer a model where we got paid a percentage of deposits, rather than losses.

    I understand that people have different views about the best way to monetize this industry, but I haven't found a way that makes me totally comfortable. On a GPWA thread I made the point that we were just encouraging gambling as a form of entertainment, but someone rightly said that we need those huge losers to really make anything out of this. If I left online gambling, I'd miss the income, but I think my conscience would be a little clearer.

    What were you like in high school and what did you want to do as a profession as you were growing up?

    Quite boring, to be honest! I didn't really enjoy school, but saw it as a means to an end so just put my head down for five years, did what I could and got through it.

    For as long as I could remember, all I wanted to do was join the Royal Air Force as a pilot, so my studies were focused on that – lots of math and science subjects. Nothing “artsy”! In the end, I failed the medical due to an irregular heartbeat so that was the end of that! Spent the next few years trying to work out what to do with my life. Probably still haven't resolved it!

    What are your hobbies?
    I love walking and hiking. I think it's very important to get away from the noise and bustle of urban life and try to reconnect with nature. It's a bit like clearing your cache. I can get back to work with a slightly clearer mind, or at least a clearer focus on what's important.

    I also have a lingering desire to be able to paint. I have all the equipment and have attended lots of courses, but still struggle to be happy with what I churn out! We buy a fair amount of original art work for the house and although I can produce something decent, I just feel I haven't got that spark of talent that I can see in other artists. But I'm still persevering, so I remain optimistic!

    If someone from out of town were visiting you, what’s the one place you'd definitely take them to see?

    We're very lucky in that we have some really gorgeous parts of the U.K. within an hour's drive. We can very quickly get to the Lake District, the Peak District and Snowdonia (National Park).

    We're also less than an hour away from some decent-sized beaches if you fancy a walk by the sea. It can be bracing (code for cold and windy!) but also lovely in the summer. We're also very close to two big cities in Manchester and Liverpool so if anyone visits who's into boutique shopping or fine dining, we'll take them there. Similarly for those into soccer – we're surrounded by Premier League teams and grounds if that's your thing! And we're less than two hours away by train from London.
    So although there's not much in St. Helens per se, we're very well placed to cater for any visitors who come our way!

    If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you and why?

    My espresso machine.
    A solar panel to generate power for the espresso machine.
    A huge, refrigerated, vacuum sealed pack of hundreds of kilos of freshly roasted coffee.
    Why? I like coffee.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    Isaac Newton, Dalai Lama, Winston Churchill, Dara Ó Briain, Miriam Margolyes.

    Name three things that people reading this magazine don't know about you.

    1. I'm an ex professional opera singer.
    2. I'm a trained barista.
    3. I'm undertaking training for my private pilot license.

  2. The Following 14 Users Say Thank You to GPWA Daniel For This Useful Post:

    AmyWoods (25 May 2020), betfinder (21 May 2020), Cash Bonus (19 May 2020), Doolally (21 May 2020), drifter8 (20 May 2020), GPWA Gary (20 May 2020), GPWA Maria (19 May 2020), Robbie Billiams (20 May 2020), Slawete (20 May 2020), sweetbet (22 May 2020), TheGooner (19 May 2020), Topboss (20 May 2020), Vibes (22 May 2020), WagerX (20 May 2020)

  3. #2
    TheGooner's Avatar
    TheGooner is offline Private Member
    Join Date
    March 2007
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,174
    Thanks
    1,897
    Thanked 4,098 Times in 1,948 Posts

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to TheGooner For This Useful Post:

    RooW-LotteryOffice (19 May 2020)

  5. #3
    Renee's Avatar
    Renee is offline Sponsor Affiliate Program
    Join Date
    August 2005
    Posts
    9,046
    Blog Entries
    6
    Thanks
    6,580
    Thanked 3,502 Times in 2,192 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GPWA Daniel View Post
    1. I'm an ex professional opera singer.
    Now that is bloody cool.
    __________________
    Renee, Affiliate Program Manager
    http://www.RewardsAffiliates.com
    Affiliate Program for CasinoRewards.com
    Best Affiliate Manager - CAP Awards 2008
    Best Casino Affiliate Manager - CAP Awards 2009
    Best Casino Affiliate Manager - iGB Affiliate Awards 2010

  6. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Renee For This Useful Post:

    Cash Bonus (21 May 2020), GPWA Gary (20 May 2020)

  7. #4
    WagerX's Avatar
    WagerX is offline Public Member
    Join Date
    March 2006
    Posts
    2,263
    Thanks
    74
    Thanked 91 Times in 67 Posts

    Default

    Thank you for sharing. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I think you are not giving yourself enough credit. You did great and had a great run, and will certainly continue to do so with Fortune Palace.

    I was reading your interview and nodding to myself as you recalled what your strategy and how your business evolved. That sounds eerily similiar to my assesment of the same time period and strategy. I am sure that resonates with a lot of affiliates from that era.

    Scaling a business using the tools you learn from an ever changing market is tricky. It's easy to look back and see what "should have been done". I think your strategy of diversification was sound. Especially considering Google's role in providing organic traffic.

    Are you the same Andy F. from liveroulettetv.com, whom I've met before at LAC ?

  8. #5
    RooW-LotteryOffice is offline Non-sponsor Affiliate Program
    Join Date
    April 2020
    Posts
    38
    Thanks
    26
    Thanked 10 Times in 5 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Renee View Post
    Now that is bloody cool.
    You can sing can't you Renee!
    Roo

  9. #6
    drifter8's Avatar
    drifter8 is offline Private Member
    Join Date
    March 2017
    Location
    Bulgaria
    Posts
    909
    Blog Entries
    1
    Thanks
    1,516
    Thanked 462 Times in 352 Posts

    Default

    Very interesting read.

    Many thanks for it.
    Seven times fall, eight times stand.

  10. #7
    Cash Bonus's Avatar
    Cash Bonus is offline Private Member
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Online
    Posts
    3,385
    Thanks
    8,979
    Thanked 2,252 Times in 1,572 Posts

    Default

    I enjoyed reading this affiliate interview series in particular. I laughed when I read about the 3 things you would do if you were stranded on a desert island because I for one am addicted to coffee on a daily basis and it's something I could never live without. It really works wonders and helps me get through my days. You don't want to have too much though, lol.

    Keep up your magnificent work with these interviews, GPWA Daniel. Appreciate it!
    Last edited by Cash Bonus; 21 May 2020 at 1:36 am.

  11. #8
    Doolally's Avatar
    Doolally is offline Private Member
    Join Date
    February 2003
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    4,577
    Thanks
    475
    Thanked 728 Times in 570 Posts

    Default

    Nice to read an open and honest article that reflects the story of so many good, hard-working affiliates.

  12. #9
    Renee's Avatar
    Renee is offline Sponsor Affiliate Program
    Join Date
    August 2005
    Posts
    9,046
    Blog Entries
    6
    Thanks
    6,580
    Thanked 3,502 Times in 2,192 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RooW-LotteryOffice View Post
    You can sing can't you Renee!
    Yes but nothing compared to that kind of talent. I love opera so much. Would love to hear Andrew sing live.
    __________________
    Renee, Affiliate Program Manager
    http://www.RewardsAffiliates.com
    Affiliate Program for CasinoRewards.com
    Best Affiliate Manager - CAP Awards 2008
    Best Casino Affiliate Manager - CAP Awards 2009
    Best Casino Affiliate Manager - iGB Affiliate Awards 2010

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •