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If you visit Ben Johnsen, there’s a fjord in your future.

Real name: Kolbein Johnsen, but everybody just calls me “Ben”
City currently residing in: Alir (close to Benidorm) in Spain
Favorite food: Spanish tapas

Your Web sites are in Norwegian. In the GPWA member directory, you're listed as a native Norwegian speaker. You appear to be a Norwegian. Yet you are located in Spain. Are you Norwegian? And if so, how did you end up in Spain? How long have you lived in Spain? How's your Spanish? And are you considering developing any Spanish language sites?
Yes, I am Norwegian, I came to Spain as a musician 25 years ago, and have been living here since then. I am still working as a musician (see besides doing affiliate workI don’t have any problem with the Spanish language, but the markets in Norway are smaller and easier to handle, so I don’t have any plans about tdeveloping Spanish sites.

When did you launch your gambling affiliate sites? What prompted to you get involved in the online gambling industry?
I started with my own pages in January of this year.
I got hired to do some affiliate pages for an online casino. When I finished with that, I continued with my own pages, because I like the SEO competition in the gaming industry, plus the fact that it gives me a nice income as well.

Did you gamble online before you started working as an affiliate? Do you gamble online now? And if so, where and what do you play?
I have never gambled myself. I think I have bought 3 lotto tickets in my life, but I have tried to play on the casinos that I am marketing, in order to check out the tracking, but never for more then 20 dollars.

How is the Norwegian market different from other European markets, like Spain?
The Norwegian market is monopolized by the government. There are no land-based slots machines, for example.

There are fewer people there, about 4.7 million, and 70 percent of them are on the Internet.

It is illegal to do casino affiliating from Norway, so I don’t have a lot of competition from others trying to tap into that market from outside the country.

As we mentioned earlier, your sites are in Norwegian. But the ads/banners you run are generally in English. How problematic is that for you? Do you have a hard time getting ads in Norwegian? Would banners in Norwegian be more effective? And how responsive have affiliate programs been in getting you Norwegian creative, or Norway-specific creative?
In Norway we start to study English at school from the age of 8.
I think that at least 80 percent of the population read and write English.
I have therefore never asked the affiliate manager about Norwegian banners, but when I can get them, I use them.

How long did it take for you to start earning money?
I started to earn money the first week, because I managed to get all of my pages on the top in Google from the beginning. After two months, I could make a living out of it.

What do you wish you knew when you got started in the industry that you know now?
Which affiliate programs I should stay away from.

What advice would you offer someone who has just started in the industry?
Learn SEO! It is useless to make nice pages if nobody finds them. And sign up with a forum like GPWA -- you’ll learn a lot!

If you had to pick 5 keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be and why?
  • Don’t give up. You will see that one day, it will pay out.
  • Learn SEO. It is no use making pages nobody can find.
  • Don’t be afraid to work 24/7.
  • Have more than one domain and register domains for the future. Do research on the keywords on your market before you register new domains.
  • Sign up as a member of GPWA; you’ll get a lot of information there.
What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
The affiliate manager should be on MSN so it is easy to get in touch with him.

The affiliate programs have to offer good payout, nice banners, and a good stats tracker program.

In an ideal world, how would you divide the efforts you put into your site? What percentage would go to marketing, updating content, managing your books and other tasks (please list the tasks, include a % and an explanation)?
50% making new pages and updating them.
50% researching the market and marketing through blogs, etc.

You also run a Web design and SEO business (Alfaz Media). How have the skills and experiences from that business helped you in your work as an affiliate? And what kind of SEO mistakes do you see new affiliates making that they need to correct?
I don’t have to pay anybody to get the pages made, and I could get them up in the search engines from the very beginning without any problem.

I don’t buy advertising at all; everything comes from the search engines.
The biggest SEO mistakes I see new affiliates making are their choice of keywords.

Optimize to one keyword, maximum two, and don’t go for the biggest one.
The market is very competitive, and it is easier to get the page up with a smaller keyword than a big one. In other words, it is better to get 3-500 hits a day from a smaller keyword than nothing from a big one.

We went trolling through the forums and discovered you live in a town on the Costa Blanca (White Coast). How distracting is it working near the sea? What are the beaches like there? And how much time do you spend at the beach?
I have been living at Costa Blanca for 25 years, but even though I’m only fiveminutes from the beach, I never use it. Maybe it’s hard to understand, but when the sun is in the sky every day 350 days a year, you don’t always feel like lying in the sun when it is 30-35 degrees Celsius in the shade.
But I have a very big swimming pool at home which I use sometimes.

What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you? And why is it important to you?
I like GPWA because it has a lot of good information. I have learned a lot about the affiliate market from there, and I have received a lot of useful tips.

If you could change one thing about the online gaming industry, what would it be, and why?
The payout commission. The affiliates do a lot of work, and without them, many of the online casinos would have big income problems.

The rate should have been 50 – 50 from the very first dollar.

If someone was visiting you in Spain, what's the one place you would definitely take them to see? And why? What about Norway?
In Spain, I would take them to Benidorm by night. There are a lot of clubs with good entertainment and good food.

In Norway, maybe a fishing trip in the fjords or in the mountains? It is beautiful there.

What's your favorite vacation spot? And why?
We travel around Europe every summer in our motor home, and the place I like most is Venice, Italy. Nothing beats floating through the canals in a gondola, while the gondolier sings “O Sole Mio” for you and your girlfriend.

What is your favorite movie? And why?
“The Old Man and the Sea” of Ernest Hemingway, with Anthony Quinn. It has a great storyline.

If you could have one "super power," what would it be? And why?
Being able to go without sleep. We waste so much of our lives with sleeping!

If you were casting a movie (with yourself in the starring role), who would play your romantic interest? And why?
My girlfriend… because she is the best part of me.

And finally, what are three things that nobody knows about you?
I would not tell anybody!