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  1. #1
    GPWA Daniel is offline Associate Editor
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Nemanja L.

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    (This interview was originally published in the December 2020 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine)

    You have been a professional writer for over a decade. How did that lead you to the iGaming industry?


    Actually, my first job after University was as a content writer and translator for a local sports betting affiliate. Their sports betting sites were pretty big at the time, and I spent a couple of years there before the owners were arrested and the company fell apart. They had done nothing wrong and were cleared of all charges five years later, but the situation forced me to look for other freelance gigs. I found quite a few of those and slowly got acquainted with casino, poker and other iGaming verticals. When one of my clients offered me a full-time position, I didnít want all the other freelance gigs to go to waste, so I delegated some of those to a friend of mine. As the workload kept increasing, I started hiring more people to help out and that is how Teamwork was born as a content writing agency.


    Teamworkís primary area of expertise is generating localized casino content and creating and translating content in over 25 languages. What is your client base like and why did your company decide to take this path?


    I decided to focus on casino rather than sports betting after my first sports betting website proved to be a failure. Actually, the site got a staggering number of natural backlinks (some from Wikipedia) and ranked pretty well in Google, but I didnít know the value of backlinks at the time. That was some six or seven years ago. Having spent a lot of money on the writers creating match previews, I decided to call it quits and focus on the casino vertical.


    Our client base mostly consists of casino affiliates, we also work with some online casinos and sports betting affiliates. Until a couple of years ago, we were only producing content in English, but I noticed the demand for other languages and acted accordingly. We spent a lot of money and effort towards finding good writers for each of the languages currently in our portfolio, only accepting writers vetted by three independent native speakers. The decision proved a very good one. We have mostly been getting orders from long-term clients for other languages, we have yet to properly promote our localization services to a wider audience.

    We often hear that ďcontent is kingĒ when it comes to building an affiliate website. What tips would you give to someone just starting out and may not be familiar with creating content?

    I do believe that content still has a very important role to play in developing affiliate websites, but finding a proper niche market and right content strategy are probably even more important. As we all know, the competition in the online casino business is quite fierce, but there are still more than enough opportunities for new guys to succeed. There is no easy money in this business, at least not anymore, and they need to spend endless hours on research, formulating and executing content strategy, testing various SEO strategies and seeing what works for them.


    As for the content itself, my advice would be to think long and hard about what the potential site visitors are searching for. You obviously need to have in mind latest SEO guidelines, but donít obsess over keyword density, donít cram the keywords into your content. Simply create well-structured articles, ideally with custom images, that correspond to the main subject and answer the user query as best as you can. If you are writing in English, donít forget that the majority of readers will not be native English speakers, so use simple phrases and shorter sentences.


    Please tell us about your CasinoBloke site. When did it launch and what has its progression been like?


    CasinoBloke launched in April 2017 and it was my first casino affiliate site. It started as a side project as I had still worked close to full-time for a big affiliate company, managing their sports and casino sites, while also managing my own content writing agency. My plan was to create some content whenever we had fewer orders from our regular clients, but that hasnít happened yet. Once it was up, I couldnít resist working on it constantly, adding new pages, covering news stories before everyone else, and such an approach helped the site grow and earn a decent number of natural backlinks. Obviously, with a big help from my team of writers.


    There were virtually no earnings within the first year, but the traffic was decent and there were some sign-ups, so it was just a matter of time. Then in June 2018, the affiliate I had worked for full-time since 2013 offered to buy a majority share in the site and it has been a joint project ever since. My team has continued to manage the site and in July this year we launched a new and vastly improved version.


    Teamwork has seven full-time employees, a dozen freelance writers that we work with on regular basis, and around 100 writers/translators that we use for these other languages when we receive an order. We have six to seven people currently working on CasinoBloke, and there were even more hands on deck when the new version was about to go live.


    The content on CasinoBloke is quite extensive and detailed with everything from casino reviews, bonus offers and software providers to strategy articles, news and game reviews. How did you go about creating such a comprehensive content strategy and how do you go about keeping it updated?


    The content we now have was a natural progression as we wanted to give our visitors everything they needed to make educated choices and enjoy their online gaming. We adapted some old content and created plenty of new content for the new version of the site, so we are happy with what the site has to offer at the moment. We are not stopping there, obviously. We have formulated a monthly plan for casino news, strategy articles, banking reviews, software reviews and game reviews, which is executed every single month. There are usually three members of our team involved in every single piece of content that is published ó writer, editor and the person uploading the content ó and this has proved to be a very good quality control strategy.

    What's your approach to SEO and drawing traffic to your sites? How much time do you spend on SEO specifically?


    I am a firm believer in organic traffic and on-page SEO. We ensure to always follow latest Google SEO guidelines and give our best to understand user intent and satisfy the search query. We use tools like Ahrefs and Google Analytics to identify the keywords we could target, but we donít do any keyword stuffing. Weíll create a well-structured page or article with nice custom images designed to give the user all the information they need on the subject as well as ensure a quality user experience. We believe that this kind of approach results in building trust and generating conversions. Having said that, we donít spend too much time on SEO in the conventional sense, but both myself and our writers always have SEO in mind when formulating a content strategy, creating content briefs and writing the articles.


    What have been some of the biggest changes to the industry since you started and how have you managed to adjust and survive?


    I first entered the industry back in 2008, but I started taking a keen interest few years later. A lot has happened in those 10 years, including regulation changes in the U.K., U.S., Sweden, Australia, Netherlands and now Germany. Also, big investment companies have entered the industry and bought out successful affiliates. And then the emergence of markets such as Canada, Japan, India, Brazil, Asia and LATAM. Letís not forget the switch from desktop to mobile and the increasing popularity of live dealer games.


    I never allowed myself not to be aware of the latest developments in the industry, following the changes daily and making sure to act accordingly where needed. I believe we did well to ditch sports betting and focus on casino for both our own sites and our content writing company. Also, we recognized that affiliates were starting to turn to non-English markets due to less competition and included over 25 languages in our offer.


    How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you both personally and professionally?


    The pandemic has obviously changed everyoneís lives, and I was angry with our authorities for imposing long curfews and constantly manipulating data and lying about the actual situation. But, I did go to the office every day and that definitely helped reduce the stress imposed by isolation. Also, I spent some quality time with my family. During the curfews, I read some books, got some work done in our flat, painting the balcony and railings, and so on, keeping the missus happy.


    I was especially happy to see that my company had no problems whatsoever during the pandemic, we even did better than usual. Most of our full-time employees and obviously all the freelancers already worked from home, so there were no problems there. We had plenty of orders from our clients and one of our casino sites performed impressively during the pandemic, and we, in turn, decided to sell it a couple of months ago.


    Please tell us more about the new casino website you are building?


    I decided to sell the site as I had an idea for a new, larger project and wanted to invest the money from the sale into it. For a few months now, we have been working on CasinoBankingMethods.com, and we expect to launch by the end of November. The website is meant to serve as the most comprehensive directory of payment methods used for casino deposits and withdrawals on the internet. Each banking option will feature an in-depth review with the best casinos that support it, and other useful information that players might need when choosing the suitable payment method for their casino gaming. A lot of thought has gone into our new project and we have high hopes from this one.


    Do you gamble online? What about in brick-and-mortar casinos? Why or why not?


    I donít gamble much online. I play blackjack and some slots online, maybe once every couple of months. However, I really enjoy playing blackjack in brick-and-mortar casinos when on vacation. I see it as a good night out, I donít bet a lot of money. I have so far visited casinos in Mallorca, Rhodes, Malta, Prague, Montenegro. Definitely plan to add to the list.


    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager and affiliate program?


    I enjoy working with affiliate managers who are not pushy, but do let me know when theyíve got news or promotion we can share on our site. I hate it when I can find more information about their own brands than they can. We sometimes need their help when we cannot find full list of payment methods offered or restricted territories and I would think those are the basics affiliate managers need to know. From affiliate programs, I expect them to have fair terms, to pay affiliates (delays are not a problem as long as we get paid eventually), to show or at least let us know the effective revenue share percentage. Not advertise 50% rev share and then effective is less than 25% when all the admin fees are deducted. Obviously, for their tracking to work properly and stats to be updated at least once a day.


    You have been a GPWA member since 2013. How did you hear about us and how has being a member benefited you and your business?


    To be perfectly honest, Iím not sure how I heard about you guys. Could have been at the 2013 Barcelona Affiliate Conference. But I do know that GPWA has helped my business tremendously from the very start. The majority of clients we have worked with over the years are GPWA members and I do consider some of them friends in addition to business partners. At the same time, I have learned so much about the industry, about running my own affiliate sites from fellow members and I really cannot thank everyone enough for all the advice over the years. It is fair to say GPWA and the community are a big reason why Teamwork and myself are where we are at the moment. I now feel an obligation to help new members and those getting started in the industry the way you have helped me when I was just starting out.

    If you could change one thing about the industry these days, what would it be and why?


    Pretty sure many before me have said this, but I would like to hold affiliate programs accountable when they close affiliate accounts for no good reason or confiscate earnings from affiliates just because they can. If casinos can have regulatory bodies, so can affiliate programs, and I would have their license revoked the first time they cheat someone out of their hard-earned money.


    What do you think the industry will look like in five years?


    I believe there will be even more big players, such as Catena and others, as smaller affiliates could have issues with new regulatory demands all over the world. The U.S. market will become huge as more states continue to legalize online gambling, while Asia, LATAM and even Africa will be popular, as well. With increased regulation that will make it increasingly difficult for both casinos and affiliates to turn a profit, we could see more and more brands turn to unregulated markets, which could in turn see cryptocurrencies become even more popular. Live dealer games will continue to thrive, with Evolution likely to dominate the U.S. market, as well. Hopefully, they wonít be the only major provider after acquiring both NetEnt and Ezugi, as the lack of competition is never good.


    What do you do to stay in shape Ė both physically and mentally?


    I have played football and futsal at an amateur and semi-professional level for some 30 years. Nowadays, we have a pretty intensive five-a-side game every Monday that at times features former internationals and I also work out at home several times per week with Home Workouts app.


    With my daily tasks occupying my mind virtually every waking hour, I enjoy whenever I can spend some off time with friends and family, especially my niece and nephew. Spending a weekend with the missus on the mountain or an afternoon with my friends playing poker or PlayStation usually helps take my mind completely off work.


    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?


    Marcelo Bielsa, Jose Mujica, Ricky Gervais, Emma Thompson and Micko Ljubicic (local humorist).

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

    1. I once drove around 1,100 kilometres, making just two 10-minute breaks in the process.
    2. I was pretty independent from a young age. I was left home alone when I was 7, went to away games and away training camps alone when I was maybe 8 or 9. Knowing that I wonít give up, my mother started coming with me to the away games and she was often the only female on the bus.
    3. I get my best ideas when I wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall asleep. I often fear I might forget them when I get up in the morning, but, thankfully, that never happens.

  2. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to GPWA Daniel For This Useful Post:

    AussieDave (11 March 2021), drifter8 (11 March 2021), GPWA Maria (11 March 2021), Nenad (11 March 2021), nikolasbp (11 March 2021)

  3. #2
    eenzoo's Avatar
    eenzoo is offline Private Member
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    Lot of content here

    Great guy, great work ethics, always a pleasure. Keep grinding mate.

  4. #3
    Juan Roman is offline Private Member
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    Yeah, definitely too much for a forum post

    Cheers mate!
    TeamworkContent.com - Content Writing, Translations and Graphic Design Services. 25+ Languages.

  5. #4
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    GPWA Maria is offline APCW/GPWA Program Manager
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    Thank you Juan for the interview , have a great 2021!
    Feature your Affiliate Program with us and enjoy the rewards!

    Regards,

    Maria Florides
    GPWA Program Manager
    GPWA.org | iGamingAffiliatePrograms.com | FinanceAffiliatePrograms.com | GPWAtimes.org | iGamingPocketDirectory.com | APCW.org

    Mob: +35796453758 | Skype: Maria.florides1 | Email: Maria@gpwa.org

  6. #5
    Juan Roman is offline Private Member
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    Thanks Maria, you too!
    TeamworkContent.com - Content Writing, Translations and Graphic Design Services. 25+ Languages.

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    Cash Bonus's Avatar
    Cash Bonus is offline Private Member
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    Great interview, Juan. You've gone into great lengths and effort with putting it together for us. The best answer from you was to the question of what do you think the industry will look like in five years.

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    Thanks for the good interview, Nemanja.

    Devoted and disciplined man.

    Definitely , new-comers in our business have to read what a struggle means and how the success comes.

    Not on the last place this forum is a place to meet common souls and to walk the road with a smile, even when they are appearing : hard times, shaving of affiliate commissions, closing of programs and many more things on the way.

    I miss the conferences and do believe that in an year or two we will all have the chance to meet up and speak face-to-face, those virtual conferences are not piece of cake definitely.
    Seven times fall, eight times stand.

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  12. #8
    Nenad is offline Public Member
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    Good interview Nemanja!
    You have been very busy during these years, I see. Good to know that there are very successful people from this part of the world

    All the best to you and your company!

    Keep in touch!

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    Juan Roman (11 March 2021)

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    Legend!
    Always looking to trade links for some Wagyu.

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    Hey Juan, thanks for the interview. Great to keep up with some iGaming infos during the Covid times via forums such as this.

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