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  1. #1
    GPWA Daniel is offline Associate Editor
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Sebastiaan Van Nood

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    (This interview was originally published in the October 2018 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine)


    How long have you been in the iGaming business? How did you first get into the industry?


    I've been in the iGaming business since 2002. From early on, I had a fascination for the World Wide Web and the potential to earn an income with it. First, I came in touch with pay-to-surf companies. Before I knew it, I had my desktop full of banners and earned a few cents per view. But it didnít go as fast as I had anticipated. I was looking for a way to earn a lot more, and faster.

    So I decided to teach myself HTML and start my own website through a free domain server, and free-cash.nl.nu was born. Originally, I intended to review pay-to-surf companies and collect the sign-up bonus from new users, and then get paid for the time they were online.

    The first check I got was for $35. I was over the moon about it. And then I spotted online casino banners on some of the PTS programs. I thought that must be more lucrative, and it was. Especially in the beginning, when Google and the competition werenít that hard to beat.

    I started up several sites claiming the .nl extensions of online casinos and e-mailing them to start working with them. Casinotreasure.nl and pkrcasino.nl were two of them (they're not anymore). Before I knew it, the checks were flying in.

    But those glory days are far from over. Sometimes I think back and wish I had been smarter and invested all my earnings in these days. But I was young and wild and I spent it all, and after that?

    Google made it harder, and I started to lose interest. I went back to school doing IT and focused on that.

    But 2017 was a real turning point. I became father of a beautiful son. I thought I could do one final project and give it all I had at becoming a full-time entrepreneur and perhaps building a legacy for my son.


    What did you do before iGaming? What did you learn that has helped you as an affiliate?

    I worked for Shell for a number of years. Then I made the switch to account management at a real estate management organization in Groningen, where I am still working today.


    Tell us about more about your site.

    I started Casinozoekmachine.com on 30 January 2017, a day before the birth of my son. I was super motivated, only fatherhood took up all of my time, which was not bad at all, of course. It's great being a father, but it's very time-consuming.

    Gradually I started filling the website with content, and I started to register with various affiliate websites. Believe it or not, I received my first payout in November 2017. It was not much, Ä11.20 to be exact, but I was hooked on being an affiliate again. From that point on, the payments have come in regularly.

    Your site is focused on the casino vertical. What's one thing you think an affiliate new to the online casino market should know about it?

    First of all, you must have a passion for the industry, otherwise you should not start in it.

    In addition, someone who is completely new to the casino market must first think carefully if he wants to go into this world at all. Because the affiliate industry is so huge and saturated already, you should bear in mind that it is not easy to get your website established.

    The competition is tough, and Google makes it harder each time by adjusting their algorithms. The money is not there for the taking. You have to work hard, invest a lot of time and have a well-thought-out strategy to be better than your competition.

    How has the online casino market changed since you started your site?

    Since I just started again, I'm really not sure. What I do know from the past is that it was much easier back then to really make a living from iGaming. And, of course, the market is hugely saturated and fast paced. All the casinos are innovating. In the early days, you only had to download the casino. Nowadays there are mobile apps, instant play, and I heard that VR is going to be the next new thing. You really have to be on top of things.

    Your site targets Dutch-speaking players. What kind of games do Dutch players like? What's the regulatory situation in the Netherlands like, and how does it impact how you target players?

    What I am experiencing is that the majority of Dutch players enjoy video slots the most, but thereís also a huge interest in sports betting.

    The regulatory situation at the moment cannot really be explained in a nutshell. In short, it is still illegal for Dutch residents to participate in gambling online. But the Dutch state is currently still turning a blind eye.

    But there is hope for the Dutch. The Senate of the Stateís General has made a bill that modernizes the Law on Games of Chance and the Betting and Gaming Tax Act by making online gambling possible under strict conditions. So after years of dragging and tugging, hopefully there will be clarity within the foreseeable future ó I think early or mid-2019.

    It does impact my strategy in targeting players. Some affiliate programs donít accept me because of my traffic. But when I explain that I do not only have Dutch traffic and that my website also has an English version and I target players from all over the world, they mostly accept my website.

    But to be honest, I would really like to focus only on the Dutch market. But that comes as soon as the market opens.

    Do you have plans for additional sites?

    In short, not in the near future. Thereís a simple reason. In the past I had several projects, and every time, as many affiliates might agree on, once you have multiple projects you can never put in all the time you would like to put in. You have to make choices. As a result, every project is only half baked.

    So thatís why I do only one project and laser focus on it. That said, I also think that is the main key to success in this market.

    What makes your site unique? How do you help it stand out from the competition?

    I am not the only one doing this, obviously. But I try to distinguish myself in the way I organize things on my website. I am an organized person, so I naturally want to reflect that. The principle is fairly straightforward. Clean and simple design, organized, but with lots of info.

    If you think about gambling, everything is so colorful everywhere. Many websites reflect that. I think it can be too much sometimes. So I tried to do the opposite. I try to get the people who also find my principles important and get them involved in iGaming.

    I have a whole philosophy behind that, but thatís part of my secret strategy and is what I think ultimately makes my project successful.

    And besides that, I write all the content myself. Thatís what makes my casino reviews and information about online casinos very extensive. To give an example, my main page contains more than 5,000 words of information, and my longest review has almost 2,500 words.

    I want to inform players as much as possible, and I also love to write, so itís a win-win situation.

    How do you decide what casinos to promote?

    I let myself be guided a bit by the market and, among other things, what I read on GPWA and a number of other authority websites. Furthermore, all the casinos I promote, I check them thorough personally. And if they check all the boxes, they get listed.

    Are you a full-time or part-time affiliate?

    Part-time, besides running a household and working full-time in real estate management. Sometimes it gets really busy, but I have lots of energy and I have put my mind to it, having set goals for the future to be a full-time affiliate. A big help and support is my girlfriend, who has been with me for more than 13 years, and as long as she believes I can do it, I eventually will get there.

    Do you have employees?

    No, but there is one friend and colleague, Joachim Peters, who recently got involved. He works independently writing reviews on my platform and has his own affiliate deals. Itís a big help, and itís good to occasionally spar about ideas we have for the site.

    Do you gamble online? What about in brick-and-mortar casinos?

    I did in the past, but nowadays just sporadically, because all my time is devoted to my family and my project. In the little spare time I do have, I occasionally visit a Holland casino. In October, I will be in Las Vegas for a six-day trip celebrating my brother's 40th birthday. Iím really looking forward to it.

    How often do you get to see and interact with other people in the industry? Have you attended any conferences?

    Several days a week I interact with several affiliate managers and other webmasters. I never attended any conferences, but I really need to do this in the near future, because I think I am missing out on some things. Besides that, I read a lot about the industry online. The internet nowadays is our best friend. But I know itís good to get more involved physically.

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

    Speed, openness, honesty, good communication: Those are all the traits of a good affiliate manager certainly, in my opinion. That will also reflect in the success of the affiliate program.

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?

    The GPWA is the only organization that has been a leader in the industry for years. The forums are very helpful, and you really get to know other people, and lots of them are very helpful.

    What do you like about the industry?


    I always liked casinos. The whole bling and glam surrounding it gives you an escape of the everyday world we live in. The industry can bring you independence, both financially and personally. And that has always been a dream of mine.

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

    The huge and wild growth of online casinos could use a stop, or at least it could be a little less. They pop out of the ground everywhere. You donít want to know how many e-mails I get from new casinos that want to get listed. Sometimes it's hard separate the good from the bad and the ugly.

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

    I think the online industry is going to resemble the physical industry more and more. Virtual reality is going to be the next big thing, for sure.

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

    They like that I am so passionate about it. When I start talking about it, I never stop. But do they really understand exactly what I do? No, they donít. But they support me 100%, and that's what matters the most.

    How do you manage your to-do lists? Do you use any special software to help you out?

    I use a lot of tools, but mostly itís in my head. I use SEMrush, Google webmaster tools, and a bunch of free tools to help me.

    What's your approach to SEO and drawing traffic to your site?

    I solely do SEO on my website to get traffic. Itís perhaps the only thing I really believe in. It's free and it gets you, in my opinion, the best-converting traffic. I think 80% of my time I spend on SEO. When Google makes moves, I move with them.

    How much time do you devote to social networking for your site?

    None.

    What's the most difficult thing about running your site?

    No difficulties, despite not having enough time due to still working full-time for a real estate management company.

    What's the best thing about running your site?

    It gives me a buzz, and when everything is running smoothly and my efforts get me results in the SERPS, I feel ecstatic. It gives you the motivation to push on.

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

    I do HIIT exercises a couple of days a week. It drains you physically, but mentally it gets everything organized.

    What do you do with your spare time?

    When I have spare time, I spend it with my girlfriend and my boy, doing family things together.

    What did you dream of doing, both professionally and personally, when you were a kid?

    Professionally and personally I dreamed of being financially independent, not working for a boss. As a kid, I always wanted to be a pirate, claiming treasure and roaming the seas.

    If you won $10 million playing the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

    I would give away half to a good cause, some to my family and the rest I would invest in my project, to get myself a leading position in the Dutch market.

    What were you like in high school?

    A chubby and insecure dreamer. That sums it all up, ha ha.

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

    I think I would take them to the Dutch North Seacoast. We have some great long beaches on some islands in the far north of Holland, with nice dunes and places to see. People from out of town will love them.

    When you need to get as far away from work as possible, where do you go?


    To one of the Dutch islands for sure, with no phone or access to internet. With only the sound of the sea and wind clearing my head.

    What are your worst habits?

    I talk too much, and Iím a little of an extremist in the sense of doing things in regard of work ethics, especially my own project. Always trying to put in the extra mile. Sometimes my girlfriend has to put me back with both feet on the ground.

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

    Items? I would rather take my boy and my girlfriend. I donít really care about material things. They are often a necessity.

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


    Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Michael Jackson, Gordon Ramsay and Neil Patel.

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

    1. Besides being very busy in iGaming, I also lead an official Dutch airsoft team (the scourge division). I really love the adrenaline.
    2. I have phobia of spiders.
    3. I also worked in a chicken factory.

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  3. #2
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    Great read !

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    The personal side of business, after all we all have one. This was a good read and gave me a few laughs too Seems like a hard working guy driven to enjoy life and move forward.

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    A good affiliate interview with Sebastiaan. I too donít have any plans to create any additional websites at the moment. Iím just going to focus on the ones that Iíve already got and are making profit. It becomes more difficult trying to handle a lot of websites and it can become expensive to manage. It does seem that virtual reality and artificial intelligence will certainly become apart of our everyday living and of the future.

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  9. #5
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    SuperiorShareConnie is offline Former Affiliate Manager
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    Hello Sebastiaan,

    Nice to meet you!

    I love your country and the people. I have so many good memories from the last 20 years.
    Good luck with everything!

    Cheers,

    Connie

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    Hi fellow GPWA peoples,

    It has been a while (no i didn't forget you) But time is short. He but here i am! Thank you all for the kind comments here on the forum and messages i got through e-mail on the interview series.

    Great experience, and i am proud the be a in the GPWA series, so proud that i even framed one of the hard-copy issues, its on the wall of my home office. So every time i feel like i'm not going to succeed or having a setback on my project (and i had some believe me), i take a look at my interview on the wall, and then i think hell yeah i can do this and i push on, planting the seeds before harvesting a good yield!

    Thanks again GPWA for the opportunity
    Casino experts Ľ Het beste assortiment casino's van Nederland Ľ Casinozoekmachine.com
    Twitter: @BasNood Instagram: basvannood GPWA Magazine Interview: Issue 42

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