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  1. #1
    GPWA Dan is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series: JC Troy - jctroy440

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    Hometown: Fort Thomas, Kentucky
    Living in: Cancún, Mexico (World’s Largest Open-Air Insane Asylum)
    Favorite food: Ribs and seafood
    Must-read book: First-page Google rankings in less than one hour (yeah, right)
    Web sites:,,,,

    As a Kentucky native, when and why did you decide to live in Mexico and operate your sites from there?

    I lived on the island of St. Thomas, USVI for three years back in the early 90s. I enjoyed the relaxation of tropical living and always wanted to return to it. Operating a Web site can be accomplished from anywhere with an Internet connection so I decided to try Central America this time and ended up in Cancún this past August. I really love it here.

    What do you miss the most about living in the United States?

    Unfortunately I don’t miss the USA at all. I feel there are entirely too many laws and regulations and too much public hysteria to deal with. The Twin Tower attacks of 9/11 marked the beginning of the end of personal freedoms and rights in America as we once knew them. Invasion of privacy (in the name of National Security) now closely parallels the Soviet Union of the 70s as government control has now begun to regulate social behavior both outside and unfortunately inside our own homes. A recent report in the New York Times noted that you can’t walk more than half a block in Manhattan and not get recorded on a surveillance camera. This is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in Poland in 1939, but with high tech. Not my style.

    What do you enjoy the most about living in Mexico?

    The people here are very open and friendly to Americans. The food is fantastic and life is led at a much slower pace than the in the U.S. (except for the bus drivers, who drive like Juan Pablo Montoya). The exchange rate is about 12:1 so it’s inexpensive to live here, too.

    What did you do before you became an online gambling affiliate?

    Wow, name something. In the early 70s and 80s I owned an auto speed shop in Cincinnati, Ohio and was a sports pool bookie/ponies handicapper. Lived in Indiana for six years and was an engine builder on unlimited hydros. I then moved to the USVI for three years to work for Sumitomo/Mazda. After that I opened up an auto-repair facility near Atlanta, Georgia, sold it and moved to Chicago for three years, where I supervised the repair and redesign of damaged military armor. There’s probably a job or two I missed, but those are the general highlights.

    How long was it before your sites started making money?

    Well, I guess everyone has their own definition of success and I would have to say right now that my gambling portal business is still a work in progress. I was fortunate enough to personally know a few people who like to gamble online and was making a small amount from the beginning. I started this past August and in November I finally broke into four figures in commissions, but I envision five to six figures per month before I consider this effort “making money.” I have made a ton of mistakes along the way but marks in the success column are finally close to the marks in the mistake column. The amount of money one can earn here is virtually unlimited when you see the total number of people who are gambling online at any moment. But new people must realize that unless you have a rich uncle who likes to gamble (preferably on your site), you’re not going to make any real money for the first six months to maybe a year. I don’t consider myself a veteran yet but I do see light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a long and sleepless four months.

    What do your friends and family think of your work as an affiliate?

    My friends think I joined the Mafia. (I’m not Italian.) As for the family, I’m being stereotyped right up there with Al Capone and Louie the Knuckle. Add to that the usual “taking advantage of the weak” and “how could you do such a thing?” speeches, and Mexico is not far enough away sometimes. Nooooooo further comment.

    What’s the most difficult thing about operating your sites?

    This question will undoubtedly get me some hate mail but . . . the biggest obstacle I have is finding affiliate programs that have quality support, integrity, half a brain and honesty. I have struggled with this for many months but now honestly feel that any affiliate manager who operates his/her own portal has no business being an affiliate manager. I have dealt with three so far who did, and in each case I was (in my opinion) not treated fairly; one even encouraged me to use black hat SEO. I no longer endorse any of those programs. This is my personal opinion and in no way should reflect on the programs I dropped as all are GPWA members and apparently doing well. It’s just one of my personal rules to help eliminate spikes in my blood pressure. Learning and conquering SEO is hard enough without having to compete with your affiliate manager’s six or seven sites on the first page of Ma Google. You’re just not going to get good advice from that kind of conflict of interest.

    What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?

    Slow down and take the time to learn SEO before you publish your first portal. Plan on 8 to 12 months of basic expenses before you realize a profit. Don’t shotgun; pick a niche that interests you, learn it and stick to it. In other words, don’t do all the crap I did wrong and learn the hard way.

    I think this industry will continue to grow in spite of our shortsighted and greedy lawmakers, so my advice for anyone thinking of publishing a portal Web site would be, “Go for it!”

    What prompted you to join the GPWA?

    I honestly don’t remember but I believe I found the GPWA by searching Google for or something similar. The GPWA site seemed more active than the other forums I found and the members here were very responsive to new people and their questions. I guess that’s why I stuck here.

    Has being a member helped you in your work?

    Currently all of my affiliate associations have come from GPWA members and the majority of help and constructive criticism has come from the forums, which have been a tremendous help overcoming a steep learning curve. I’ve hurt a few feelings along the way and I rant and rave like a madman sometimes, but I believe in this industry and love it. That’s who I am, like it or not. If you don’t have thick skin in the “portal purveyor of poop industry” you need to find a different line of work. But if you listen carefully, sort the good advice from the bad, you’ll grow quicker. I compare the forums to a smorgasbord; look at it all and take what fits your taste. Always remember that it’s your business to run as you see fit, but taking quality advice from a veteran is usually a good odds-on wager.

    If you had to pick five keys to success as an affiliate, what would they be?

    1. Understand your market before you jump in. Decide on your niche and then decide on your market demographics. Marketing to U.S. players is markedly different from marketing to Europeans; i.e., U.S. English is not the same English in the U.K.

    Marketing for “punters” in the U.K. will get you players on your sports betting portal while marketing for “punters” in the U.S. will get you a job application from the field-goal kicker of the Bengals. Terminology is paramount.

    2. SEO. Overcoming a published site with poor SEO takes longer than the month you could have waited to publish your new site after learning proper SEO practices. (Been there, done that, have the T-shirt.)

    3. Investigate your affiliate programs in depth before you sign on. The vision of piles of cash being dumped into your bank account and stories of grandeur and success often cause one to rush to get as many programs signed on as possible. The reason affiliate programs offer 50 percent the first three months is because they know it takes six months+ to get your first customer. (Duh!) In handicapping ponies we call that a suckers bet. In any case, slow down and take time to ask questions of your affiliate managers; search the forums for feedback on their programs and on them. Anyone who tells you you’ll be making money in two to four months is lying to you. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule but realistically plan on eight to12 months before you light your first cigar.

    4. Never Never Never Never Never Never . . . Give Up. Winston Churchill.

    5. Offline marketing. If you have the time to say hello to someone new, you have the time to hand them a business card with your ad line on it. Offline marketing is often overlooked and by and large ignored. Before you get those 45 to 90 HTML pages SERPing the number-one position on Ma Google, you need to get people to your Web site using other methods. I walk through the marinas in Cancún and hand out business cards with poker and casino bonuses printed on them. I figure if you can afford a $250,000+ boat you probably have an extra $500 to plunk down on the Alabama/Florida game this weekend and I have the perfect sportsbook for you to do it at. I also pass out cards to tourists in the malls and hotel areas when I get a chance. Be proud of your business and talk it up to everyone you meet and know! A new customer will be more likely to sign up on a gambling portal after he has met the “owner” as opposed to picking a Web site at random from the 3.5 million sites on Google. It sure has worked for me.

    Here is an interesting concept for newbies. If you have a site with 40 casinos and have eight affiliate programs with five casinos each, it will take you longer to get a check than if you had two affiliate programs with 20 casinos each. Each affiliate program has a minimum threshold that must be met before commissions are paid. If you have eight affiliate programs with a minimum of $200 each, then you would have to amass $1,600 before checks start rolling in. A site with two affiliate programs and 20 casinos each would only require $400. Do the math!

    You posted a few months back that picking a good affiliate program to work with is like searching for a good-looking woman at the Miss America pageant. What did you mean?

    Hell, they all look great! I meant that all of the affiliate programs look great on the outside. The task is finding the one(s) you can live with. Affiliate programs have different “personalities” (terms and conditions vary widely, for one thing) and you need to determine whom you want to dance with and whom you want to marry.

    Have you established your own criteria for selecting good programs? If so, what are they?

    Here comes the hate mail!

    1. GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE (read my rants and raves in the forums).
    If I can’t get an e-mail response from an affiliate program manager in a reasonable amount of time, then it’s safe to assume that they are incompetent or they just don’t care. I don’t need that and neither does any other new guy or veteran. This business is psycho-intensive and ultracompetitive and I’m not getting any younger. Taking you off of my site is much easier than putting you on it. If you can’t answer a simple e-mail, then chances are your check will be late, too.

    2. Reasonably good track/payment record, no one is perfect, especially in this business, but if they have more than 50 percent bad press in their blog I tend to wonder about their integrity.

    3. No internal competition from full-time affiliate managers without their own Web site.

    4. No negative carryover.

    You mention you've been a "part-time sports pool 'bookie'" your entire life. How did you get into that? Do you miss doing that? What prompted you to become an affiliate? Please talk a little bit about the differences between the skills you need in booking private sports pools vs. the skill set you need to be an online casino affiliate.

    I started booking private sports pools when my computer was 10 fingers and my database was a notebook. I grew up around numerous horse racing tracks in the 70s and was friends with several bookies/bar owners. To keep the peace among the tribe I let the big boys play phone tag in the back room and quietly started my own niche of football pool sheets among my friends and acquaintances. It grew from there and became a part-time/full-time “business.” Once the computer came on the scene I bought my first Tandy TX-20 in 1985 and expanded from there.

    There is really no comparison in skill sets; they are two totally different businesses.

    Since discovering online portals I don’t miss sports pools at all because they’re largely illegal. The skills are black and white. My business was by invitation only so I didn’t need a “visible” Web site. My sports pool Web sites (when I eventually had them) were password/cloaked. If you weren’t invited, you didn’t know they existed and if you found them you couldn’t access them anyway. I have since converted a few of my former players to my sportsbook but most still play pools only. There are distinctly different types of gamblers, and trying to convert a pony handicapper to rate the dogs in Alabama is just not going to happen. It’s the same with pool gamblers.

    I became an affiliate because the greater potential to make more money is in online casinos/sportsbooks opposed to covert underground sports pool operations. My casino Web site can be accessed by the entire world, as opposed to my having to personally find and screen new players in the sports pool business.

    In addition to your online casino portal, you have an online sportsbook portal as well. What prompted you to add the sportsbook portal? And which endeavor is currently generating more income?

    Hands down the sportsbook is killing my casinos by 80 percent. To be quite honest, I should have left the casinos in the second-fiddle chair and started the sportsbook(s) first. I enjoy marketing the sportsbook more than the casinos because I know the language, and right now most of my income is from the sportsbook even though the casino sites have been active twice as long. Finding sportsbook players offline is much easier than finding slots players, and most of my current customers have come from personal contact in and around Cancún. I’m not dumping the casinos, though, because I know there is eventually good long-term money there, too. The sportsbook is cyclical and seasonal where the slots are rather steady. It’s a good idea to eventually have both.

    I think the most important skill set a new person needs to learn in this business is SEO that is specific to this industry without going black hat. I am using a $45 drag-and-drop Web site builder program because I know nothing about coding. I’m sure I’ll get some flak on this statement but my customers don’t seem to care about “state of the art” Web site design. They want to gamble, and getting THROUGH my site takes a quick read and a short click. My SEO (and SERPs) on these sites gets better with each reload and right now I have all green arrows facing up in my webmaster page rank pages. My sites are simple and to the point and I have yet to have a customer tell me that one of my sites stinks.

    I’ll leave the bells and whistles to the sportsbook/casino landing-page designers. I feel that too much hype is given to areas that are relatively unimportant. Everyone touts about what customers want, but the truth is, nobody really knows because gamblers won’t take the time to fill out a questionnaire about themselves and their habits anyway. If you search the top ten SERPs of various gambling-related Google searches, about half of the top 10 sites are pure trash and designed rather poorly but still rank on the first page and obviously still get sufficient traffic to stay there. There’s no difference between a fish in a $100,000 bass boat and a fish in a $500 john boat; it’s still just a fish. I want my customers to click through, not read the latest and greatest $700 a month industry RSS feeds for 30 minutes and then go somewhere else. I don’t need detailed stats and odds on my index page because my sportsbook landing pages already have all of that, and that is where I want my customers to go.

    You’ve said that your first bet was placed trackside at the 1968 Kentucky Derby. Did your horse win? Are you still a betting man today? And do you do any other gambling?

    Yes, Forward Pass won that day in 1968 and is the only horse in the history of the Kentucky Derby to have been declared the winner as the result of the disqualification of the winner. Dancer’s Image was ousted when they found drugs in his blood in the post-race urine test. Henry Forrest of Calumet Farms was a mentor of mine and the trainer of Forward Pass, so I put all my money on that stud to win. I retired from handicapping in the early 80s but I do play blackjack occasionally . . . only for amusement.

    How important is SEO to the continuing success of your sites? And regarding keyword density, how much is OK, and how much is too much?

    Newbies, copy and paste this where you can read it! SEO is the most important aspect of “portal science” in today’s market environment. My portal business is full time and I study SEO diligently at least one hour a day in one form or another. I have gained the most success from ensuring that my Page Name, H1 Header, Metas, Description, Content, Anchor Tags and Keywords all match relatively closely. When this happens, these pages seem to rise faster in the SERPs than those that aren’t “tuned up.” I also look for keywords and anchor tags that have a reasonable amount of searches per month but have low competition according to Ma Google. Press releases, articles and adwords are all great, but you must have a solid foundation from the start or none of it will work correctly.

    In most web discussion groups, webmasters go berserk over keyword density, content, etc. Google looks at over 200 variables in determining where your HTML page fits into the search. As I understand it, keyword density over 10 percent might get you tagged as a spammer. I try for 7 to 9 percent and no more than 9.5 percent ever. The first 250 words of your content are the most important and where the density should be accurate.

    Do you use Facebook, Twitter or other social networks to promote your sites? If so, which ones and how?

    I use Twitter, Facebook, Delicious and a few more. I get better results from posting an article to e-zine or Digg than the entire social network combined. Most of my followers are other portal purveyors of poop who seem to think I want to gamble on their site and continually spam me with direct messages. (Double duh!)

    Time management is one of the biggest issues facing affiliates. What time management tips can you offer your fellow webmasters?

    None. I work this full time and as I understand it, many who have portals have full-time jobs so I’m not much help here. If I’m not working online, I’m on the street shaking hands like a politician and handing out cards. I live, breathe and sleep this business.

    What’s your favorite vacation or getaway destination?

    I’m not much of a vacationer. I enjoy taking a day or two off to go deep-sea fishing or rent a plane and fly somewhere new. I’ve lived in so many different places, my life has been one big vacation.

    If you could have one “superpower,” what would it be, and why?

    Hmmmmm. Well, I’m not much on superpower stuff but all I can say is if I had “an erection lasting more than four hours” (from Cialis or Viagra), my doctor is the last person I’d be calling. (You never can find those “hot chicks from the Ukraine” when you need ’em.)

    What’s your all-time favorite TV show, and why?

    The Red Skelton Show, starring Red Skelton, the greatest comedian of all time.

    If you were starring in a movie, who would be your co-star?

    Alan Alda (second-greatest comedian of all time). Our humor is similar.

    What are three things that nobody knows about you?

    You can’t be serious . . . I’ll get arrested. (Not really.)

    If you could have dinner with any five people, alive or dead, who would they be? And what would be on the menu?

    Five of the people who told me back in 1974 that building race cars for a living would never work. Entrée: crow for them, and I’ll have lobster . . . zoom zoom.

  2. #2
    Moonlight Cat's Avatar
    Moonlight Cat is offline Private Member
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    Great Interview. Very interesting.

  3. #3
    casinogod's Avatar
    casinogod is offline Private Member
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    That was indeed a great interview, I enjoyed reading it.

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    wagerjunction's Avatar
    wagerjunction is offline Public Member
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    One of the best interviews I've read till now.

    Absolutely love your sense of humour Troy
    Affiliate Manager
    WagerJunction | Facebook

  5. #5
    Niti Nielsen is offline Public Member
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    Great interview!
    Ace Revenue

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