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  1. #1
    GPWA Abby is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Matthew - Mattbar

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    (This interview was originally published in the July 2017 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine.)

    Matthew White
    Age: 33
    Hometown: Liverpool, England, U.K.
    Living in: London, England, U.K.
    Favorite Food: Chili
    Must-Read Book: A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking


    You used to be a scientist; what kind of scientific work did you do before becoming an affiliate? How have the skills you developed a scientist helped you in iGaming?
    I studied for a master's degree in immunology Ė the study of the immune system Ė back in 2006 at Imperial College in London. This is where I met baldidiot (GPWA username). At the time, baldidiot was just getting into iGaming affiliate marketing while studying for his M.Sc. in immunology.

    Chasing my dream to be a scientific researcher, I continued my studies, completing a Ph.D. in immunology. My research considered techniques of how to train immune cells to detect and destroy cancers, and for the first year of my Ph.D., I lived with baldidiot in a flat share.

    The following year we went our separate ways, but we stayed good friends. In 2011, I completed my Ph.D., becoming a doctor of immunology, and this led to my first post-doctoral position as a research fellow at world-leading London University, where I led research projects into the immunology of vaccination in the U.K. and west Africa.

    Although I found the work fascinating and hugely rewarding, after a few years I began to become despondent. The world of academic science is heavily political, and frankly, it is an old boys' club. I found myself spending less time in the lab, planning experiments and teaching Ė the things I enjoyed Ė and more time "networking" my way to the top.

    The whole system of academia is based around who you know, not what you know Ė and, unfortunately, as science is based on convincing others to give you funding, this means the best ideas do not always get the recognition they deserve.

    I donít believe this is a good foundation for science. I respect the fact that all industries are political to a degree, but I feel science, especially publicly and charity-funded science, should be more of a meritocracy.

    For the first time in my life I was lost. All I had ever wanted to do was become a research doctor and test my own ideas. I achieved this, perhaps too early in life, and once the realism of working as an academic scientist set in I wanted to leave, but I had no idea what to do.

    I went to see some recruitment consultants and they all gave me the wrong answers, telling me I should retrain as an investment banker or a lawyer. Following my studies, I had avoided going into industries such as banking and consultancy, as many of my peers had done. I am genuinely not motivated by solely making money or improving my own lot, and I certainly didnít want to make money for some corporate conglomerate.

    I have one other major love in life other than science, and that is sports, and betting on sports. Moaning away to baldidiot in the pub one evening about my career, I was shocked to find that he thought my skill set would be perfectly suited to running an iGaming affiliate business. I understand sports and gambling, I am not misled by false positives or negatives, and I am largely objective and rational in my assessment of data and trends.

    One thing led to another, and within the space of six months or so, baldidiot helped me set up a couple of websites as an iGaming affiliate. That was mid-2015, and since then I have never looked back.

    I am not going to pretend that running iGaming websites is as intellectually challenging as being a scientist, but it is very rewarding in a different way to work for yourself. Being free of the shackles of other peoples' expectations and defining your own destiny is hugely empowering in itself. Besides, I still teach part-time for a university, so I still do get the best of both worlds.

    Iíve tried to bring a lot of scientific method to running my websites. I am not distracted by flash-in-the-pan ideas, and I try to go for a mix of what is proven to work while experimenting with new techniques. I am, as you would expect, good at research, and I can usually tell the credibility of a source in a split second.

    Tell us about your sites. How long did it take for them to start making money?
    I launched my first site in July 2015 ( as an in-depth guide site to betting online in the U.K. This site served two purposes. Firstly, it allowed me to use my experience of sports and bookmakers to write unique comprehensive reviews, and secondly, it allowed me to learn more about the industry on the job.

    In parallel I set up an offers site, Ė again U.K-facing, as this is the market I understand the best. This is the yin to OnlineBettingís yang and, as the name would suggest, focuses on betting promotions. Between these two sites, I have been able to extend my knowledge base while also targeting diverse traffic sources.

    I picked up my first FTD late in August 2015 and made £60 in the month. By the following August, I was doing over 100 accounts a month and single-figure thousands in revenue. I have continued to grow the business and never looked back since.

    I owe a huge debt of gratitude to baldidiot for helping me so much in those early days, and indeed for setting me up with those two great domain names to get me started.

    Which of your sites gets the most traffic? Which do you spend the most time on?, mainly because it has deep, rich content that allows me to rank for many terms. This is around a 1-million-word site (so far), and I would say this is where I have spent most of my time.

    Steadily I am increasing my portfolio, and now that those two initial sites are established I am spending more time on other projects.

    Are you a full-time or part-time affiliate?
    I am a full-time affiliate, part-time university lecturer.

    Do you have employees, or do you run your sites by yourself?
    I run the sites myself, although lately I have started to use a few freelancers for content.

    Do you have plans for further sites?
    Yes, always Ė this is not an industry to sit still in, and even if it was I would get bored. I love experimenting, it was what I was born to do, and there is nothing more fun than developing an idea from scratch into a fully functional website.

    I am also trying to develop a range of nongambling sports websites. These take much longer to develop and need more traffic, but I think it makes sense to have a few irons in the fire Ė insurance in case iGaming affiliate marketing doesnít last forever.

    Sports betting can be a tough sector, especially when players are doing well. What do you do to keep your finances stable?
    Right now, revenues can be fairly volatile while my account base grows. I am in this for the long term though, and all my deals are rev share to reflect that.

    I earn a little from teaching, and this has helped me balance my finances. I also spend less on commuting to work, which helps. Inherently this is an industry with low overheads, so it hasnít taken me too long to make the business solvent.

    I was lucky to have Euro 2016 in my first full year, and this helped me stabilize early revenue. I am not, however, looking forward to summer 2017, when I expect my sports revenues to plummet. This is one reason why I have been actively developing casino and bingo affiliate marketing to iron out the fluctuations in sports.

    In addition to your sports betting sites, you run a bingo vertical. What made you decide to add a bingo site to the mix?
    That is 100% baldidiotís fault. He just kept banging on about how I should do bingo, so now I have a bingo site.

    To be fair, once youíve set a bingo site up it doesnít require as much attention. It sends a trickle of accounts and pays for itself. My only issue is I find bingo inanely boring Ė I struggle to keep focused reading even my own content.

    The site gets a few hundred visitors a month. It is starting to rank for some generic terms, and I am planning on giving it a kick this summer.

    What makes your sites unique? How do you help them stand out from the competition?
    Honesty, simple and clear. Content needs to be rich and real Ė writing anything else will lead you to fail. Yes, you can throw up a thin site and smash it with links to get it to rank, but that isnít going to give you long-term success.

    Diversification is also key. My sites do different things, target different terms and sources. A balanced portfolio is key to success, in my opinion.

    How do you decide what operators to promote?
    Largely because I had already used them as a customer, and so I already have a relationship with many brands that I work with.

    This is another area where baldidiot was immensely helpful. His experience of the industry helped me avoid the bad brands overall.

    Do you bet on sports yourself? Online or in betting shops? What teams do you support?
    Yes, mainly online, or at the track if I am going to the races. I love the races. I stopped betting in shops with the rise of the FOBTs; they have ruined betting shops for me. The whole atmosphere has changed now for the worse.

    I support my home city club, Liverpool FC. You can probably see from my GPWA profile pic that I am a big red. I get to all of the south-east away games, along with the odd home game.

    How often do you get to see and interact with other people in the industry? Have you attended any conferences?
    LAC is fantastic, mainly because it is so big and fun, but also because it is on my doorstep.

    I see baldidiot a lot socially, and heís introduced me to a lot of good people in the industry.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    Leave me alone and let me get on with things. I am a man of my word. If I say Iíll do something, I will. Iím not someone that moves brands around constantly playing them off each other, and AMs that e-mail you every five minutes asking for more traffic donít sit well with me. The more you pester me, the less you get.

    With affiliate programs, I am looking to build long-term relationships. I wonít just promote a brand because they give me more revenue or cool freebies Ė I will only promote those operators who I believe have a good chance of surviving. I will also only promote those who are fair with affiliates and donít retrospectively introduce quotas or change terms.

    What's your preferred method of communication with affiliate managers?
    E-mail. Always keep everything in writing.

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?
    Baldidiot told me about it. It has been a massive resource for me over the last two years and has helped me solve many problems. The feedback I got on my first sites was so useful and saved me months of faffing about.

    The GPWA is also a great way to put pressure on dishonest programs and practices. I have been able to resolve many complaints by raising issues on the forums.

    What do you like about the industry?
    It is judgement free Ė anyone can succeed if they believe they can. Itís almost like the old American Dream ideal.

    One thing I love about the industry is how friendly it is. At the end of the day most people are out for themselves and competitors of each other, yet there is no animosity or back-stabbing going on.

    If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?
    We must find a way as affiliates of standing together more often. Too many programs are moving the goalposts, introducing levies, fees, quotas, closures, etc. It is eroding the industry and, overall, they are largely getting away with it.

    If we can find a better way to stand up to these programs, they will think twice before screwing us and our livelihoods.

    What do you think the industry will look like in five years?
    It will be many times bigger. Online gambling is only going to grow and grow, and I expect to see more operators, affiliates, websites and competition. Regulation is also going to increase, but I think this is good: the more trust in this industry, the more mainstream it will become.

    The trend of big mergers will continue, although I am not sure that is a good thing for the affiliate or the user. I worry if you have too many massive betting companies, then competition will start to break down.

    What do your family and friends think of your work as an affiliate?
    My family loves it. I am at home when they go out and I am at home when they come back. I get to spend time with my young son in ways that many other fathers who commute to places of work canít.

    I am not sure most of my family understand what I do, though.

    How do you manage your to-do lists? Do you use any special software to help you out?
    Iím old fashioned; I use written lists and Post-It notes. I manually do my accounts each month Ė I think this is better than using software. The only way to understand your business is to know it inside out and from top to bottom.

    How much time do you devote social networking for your sites?
    Very little right now. I find that social media accounts can be easy to pick up, but are largely poor in value.

    I think to go after social you need to do it properly, and it is something I am experimenting with on the side from time to time. Once Iíve got my conventional marketing model up to speed I may put more effort into social.

    What's the most difficult thing about running your sites?
    Loneliness. It is a chronic problem for many affiliates, especially starting out.

    What's the best thing about running your sites?
    Freedom. They are my sites, my ideas and my property. No one can tell me what to do, where to be or what to work on.

    What do you do to stay in shape Ė both physically and mentally?
    The biggest benefit of not commuting is I feel like Iíve freed up 2.5 hours each working day. I therefore use some of this time to go swimming. I love to swim; Iíve done it as long as I can remember, and I am able to get an off-peak membership and use the pool in the middle of the day when it is quiet.

    Swimming also keeps me mentally fit. It is an opportunity to spend time in your own head. I plan most of my projects in the pool.

    What do you do with your spare time?
    Spend time with my family and friends, watch sports, go for a beer, DIY and keeping up with the latest scientific research.

    What did you dream of doing, both professionally and personally, when you were a kid?
    I wanted to be a scientist, to work in a lab and test my own ideas. I did it; job done.

    If someone from out of town were visiting you, whatís the one place you'd definitely take them to see?
    The pub! Seriously, there are some amazing pubs in London and the U.K. Going on a pub crawl is a great way to sightsee and socialize at the same time.

    When you need to get as far away from work as possible, where do you go?
    I like going back to my hometown of Liverpool and seeing my parents. It reminds me of simpler times, and it helps me switch off and relax from the stresses of work and life.

    What's your all-time favorite movie?
    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Ė I am a massive Trekkie. It must be where the whole science thing came from.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    Einstein, the Queen, Ronnie Barker, John Lennon and Ranulph Fiennes.

    Name three things that people reading this magazine don't know about you.
    1. I am dyslexic. It has not held me back, but it does make writing and proofing my content a little difficult at times.
    2. I swam for the England Under 16 team back in the day.
    3. I hate mushrooms; they are the incarnation of the devil. The world would be a better place without them.

  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to GPWA Abby For This Useful Post:

    Moonlight Cat (17 October 2017), Planet Mark (13 September 2017), PromoteCasino (13 September 2017), Sherlock (16 October 2017)

  3. #2
    eenzoo's Avatar
    eenzoo is offline Private Member
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    What did you dream of doing, both professionally and personally, when you were a kid?
    I wanted to be a scientist, to work in a lab and test my own ideas. I did it; job done.

    Awesome! One of the most interesting interviews iīve read here.

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    Mattbar (13 September 2017), Renee (13 September 2017)

  5. #3
    PromoteCasino is offline Private Member
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    Hey Matt,

    Cracking interview and shows what can be achieved for someone starting out small. An inspiration for those beginning their journey in to this sphere.

    I am in London too, would love to meet sometime and butt ideas. - Latest offers and bonuses from reputable UK bookmakers. A New project underway but a long way to go Bookie Rewards

  6. #4
    Simseen is offline New Member
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    Such an awesome story and interview! I just stumpled over it while looking for motivation!

    I've been in the affiliate niche for years, but just recently bought my first gambling domain, which is something special. I've been writing articles for the last 13 hours, so i just needed some motivation before going to bed!
    Awesome history!

  7. #5
    Miles_Videoslots's Avatar
    Miles_Videoslots is offline Former Affiliate Manager
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    Cracking interview love the humor well done

  8. #6
    OddsFactor is offline Public Member
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    Great interview and a great read.......apart from the mushrooms bit

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