Being a gambling affiliate is an easy job. I mean hell – you don’t even need money to become an affiliate. Get a free forum or a free blog, sign up for some poker rooms as an affiliate, then splash banners on your page and tell your friends to sign up. Congrats, you’re now a gambling affiliate! However to be a successful gambling affiliate, it requires a lot more. Being a successful gambling affiliate is NOT an easy job – actually; being a successful gambling affiliate is one of the most challenging, frustrating and difficult methods of employment there is, and requires more work than you can even imagine.
To be a successful affiliate, you really have to work around the clock. You have to build websites. You have to design them. You have to write unique content. You have to educate yourself in, and then put into practice search engine optimization. You have to do regular e-mail newsletters(or should!) .
You have to do link exchanges, and market your site. You have to keep up with both industry and web related news, and adjust your sites to maximize their potential. You have to analyze data, and understand how best to use that data to increase profits. You have to be constantly updating your sites. Unfortunately, this list is just the top of the iceberg.
Of course, you don’t have to do it alone. No, you can share the workload.
That’s what this article is all about. You don’t have to do it alone – there are other options. Every option has its positives and every option has its negatives. I’ll be listing the options, a description of them, and then adding in my own opinion on the matter.
DOING IT ALONE: The most common option for affiliates, which is starting a site on their own. They will be handling everything about the site – from designing the site to writing the content to replying to all correspondence.
I’m sure most of you reading, whether you’re current, new or even prospective affiliates are automatically assuming that this is the best option. We all know the old adage, If you want something done right, do it yourself. And believe me – this idea has merit.
I’m a real hands-on type of guy; if I have an idea or a concept of how something should be done, I really want to do that myself because I don’t trust how others will do it. When I have a vision, I know what that vision is, and I find often people add their own creativity into things, changing it from my vision.
Also, there’s no better way to learn something in life than doing it yourself. For example, one of the most important aspects of being an affiliate is search engine optimization. If I’m a new affiliate, I’m going to want to understand search engine optimization. Sure it may take some time, but in the long run it’s going to be better that I learn it myself.
As I grow, I’m going to want to know these things so that it never holds me back from starting new projects. It also helps to have knowledge in all areas, so you can combine that knowledge to have success down the road. If I analyze my visitor data, and see that I seem to be getting a visit from a lot of Swedish players looking for bonus codes, I don’t want to sit back and say “Okay…now what?” and have to run to someone I’m working with who handles the search engine optimization, content writing or running of the website, to see what they think.
I want to see that data, understand it, and act upon it myself, learning by my mistakes as I progress, and knowing full well exactly how to react to that data for maximum potential.
Of course, there are downsides to doing it by yourself, and a lot of important ones. First of all – the work involved. To really make money in this industry, you’re either going to have to be very very lucky, or work your ass off. If you’re a gambling affiliate and working less than 60 hours a week, I’d question whether or not you want to be in this industry.
I mean – if you’re doing it just part time then that’s fine, but I’m sure many of you have the goal to make this a full time job, and to do that you ideally should be working at least 60 hours a week. There’s just so much endless work that you could, and should be doing.
Building links, educating yourself via books, forums and other websites, networking, writing content, marketing, studying and analyzing data. These are just SOME of the things you should be doing. I personally work 6am to 6pm 6 days a week, for a total of 72 hours minimum per week. Add in some evening work and an easier Sunday schedule, and I easily hit the 80 hour mark. And I don’t even do this alone!
The mental drain of doing it alone can also be very, very tough. You’ll be lucky to make (a lot) of money when you first start out, and I know some hard-working affiliates who a year into this business still make just three figures a month. It can look bleak at times, and you will look back at the time you’ve spent, and wonder if it’s all worth it.
You have no-one to fall back on, to discuss stuff with, to help motivate you, to take the load off – you just have yourself. Also a good affiliate will seek out other affiliates(such as myself) for a critique of their work, and if you’ve did it all yourself it’s common to gain a pride over that work, and to have someone criticize it can be really depressing, and really hurt your motivation into going forward. Believe me – there’s nothing I hate more than seeing an affiliates site who asked me to review it and having to tell that affiliate that they’re just not going to make a dime unless they start again from the ground up.
Plus, what about when you’re sick, or want to take a vacation? It depends on the site you run of course – but it can be very tough to take a week off from this job, because there’s always so much that has to be done to stay ahead of the game.
OUTSOURCING: The affiliate does not make partnerships or hire employees – they instead outsource certain aspects of their work to others. This work can range from image/website design to unique content to building link exchanges or promoting the affiliates site.
This is an option I’m seeing more and more affiliates using. Can’t design a website? Get someone else to do it! Don’t know how to do search engine optimization? Head over to RentACoder.com and you’re good to go! Can’t be bothered e-mailing people about link exchanges, or promoting(without spamming!) your site on forums? Pay some people to do it for you.
However, there are a lot of problems in regard to outsourcing. First, it requires start-up capital, and I know most affiliates don’t want to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars when first starting out.
Second, you won’t always get what you pay for. I know I’ve tried this before – I paid someone to market a promotion I was doing on poker forums out there. I gave him instructions on how to actually market something on a forum without it coming off as spam, and he ended up ignoring everything I requested and basically spammed the forum.
Also I’ve found the turnover high in this regard – one person who is doing freelance search engine optimization one minute, will be working for a company or going into business by themselves the next.
Third, and most importantly – outsourcing is just a short-term option, and is not a good idea in the long run. If you want to be successful, you eventually will have to learn the majority of this yourself, rather than relying on others to do the job for you.
PARTNERSHIP: The affiliate works on a team of more than one person – with each individual on the team focusing on a certain aspect of the site(or aspects) – for example one person handles correspondence, another works on link exchanges.
On paper, this is an excellent option. Maybe you start out with a friend, or even with a team of 4-5 people. You all split the duties. One person runs the mailing list and newsletter, another focuses on search engine optimization. Another member of the team works on link exchanges, while a fourth handles all content. Or if it’s just two people, you split all the duties evenly.
Working as a team can also be great when it comes to brainstorming sessions, and if a team member critiques your work it’s a lot easier to handle because you’re all working towards the same goal: making money.
Unfortunately, this can end up being the worst option to choose from. You of course have to profit share, most likely on an even percentage. This usually leads to problems however. While at the beginning everyone will be motivated and seem inspired, as time goes on it’s very common for at least one team member to get disillusioned with the operation, and start slacking when it comes to work.
This then can create lots of problems because it affects the other team members who are working hard, and wondering why the slacker should make the same amount of money as them, who are working harder.
Or it can even work the other way: one team member does a lot of work, becomes exceptional in their duties, and wonders why he should have to share the profits with the others, when he feels he is the main reason for their income. This can lead to that person going into business for themselves, causing a gap in one or more departments and requiring turnover.
PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT: The affiliate hires employee(s) on a permanent basis, to work under them and do any duties assigned to them.
This one seems fairly simple – hire someone to do jobs that you assign on a permanent basis. Perhaps it’s to cover a certain area, ie: writing all the content for your site. You can pay them either a base monthly salary, a goal orientated salary, or even give them a reduced percentage of your income.
The latter is appealing because it requires no capital when starting up – they make money when you make money, and it can help motivate them to do a better job.
However there will come a time when the permanent employee asks themselves – why are they doing this? Why are they writing the content for your site and only making 20% of the overall profit? Couldn’t they outsource themselves to various other sites, or even better, start up their own site?
And as you grow, the employee will often realize that, and start making more and more demands for their work, knowing that you rely on them, and would be lost(at least temporarily) without them.
Hopefully I’ve not scared you off by listing the negatives for all these options – that was never the plan. I just want you to think strongly and think carefully before you make business decisions based on the options above.
I see so many people starting sites on their own and getting burnt out within months, and I see others start up sites with friends and then run into various problems, ruining not just the websites, but their relationship with that person in the process.
I’ve seen people outsource and then received results that were less than to satisfaction, and I’ve seen people hire employees, only for the employee to turn around in three months, tell them where to go, and then start up their own competitive site.
I’ve seen all this because I myself, have experienced it. I don’t hyperbole or theorize here – I speak from experience, and from my knowledge of being in this industry. I’ve went into partnership with friends on a site, then questioned why I’m busy working all day while they’re spending their time playing video games.
I’ve hired employees, taken months to coach them and teach them the ins and outs in this industry, and then suddenly they no longer return my phone calls, and I find out they’re starting a competing site, using the knowledge I taught them. I’ve paid money for people to do web design or coding, been told that they can do the job, then sat back appalled as they fail to do any of the goals that were expected of them. And I’ve worked alone.
I’ve felt the stress of this job. I’ve taken the SEO for Dummies book on vacation with me – hell, on days where I’ve been so sick I can’t even leave the bathroom, I bring the laptop in there so I can write articles or respond to e-mails in between throwing up my corn flakes! And I’ve sat there struggling with ideas for a new site, bouncing ideas off no-one but my dog, without anyone to help brainstorm and think of new ways to make profits.
But on the other hand – there’s nothing greater in life than doing hard work on your own, and being rewarded for it. Creating a site from scratch, putting the hours in all by yourself to learn how to make money with that site, and then seeing your first casino whale, or first high limit poker player under your tracker – that’s just an incredible feeling that you have to really experience for yourself.
I’ve hired permanent employees who have stuck with me through thick and thin, never even contemplated going into business for themselves, and doing me proud day in, day out. I’ve outsourced aspects of my site like web design and content writing, and been amazed and delighted at the results, especially for the costs.
And I’ve worked with partners before, and realized how much more progressive things can be when you have brainstorming sessions, with everyone working towards the same goal, and how much easier it can be to really get rolling on a new site.
While I’m on this topic, one thing that is extremely important – contracts. Be sure to, when possible, use written contracts. Let’s say you go into partnership with someone, and after a year to two years of hard work and earning money, they decide to just coast, and not bother doing much, if any work. Or maybe something came up in their life that means they can’t focus on the affiliate work as much as they could.
Should they still have 50%? You’re going to think no, they’re going to think yes. By having revolving contracts, with clauses that cover any potential issues, that are written out before you get into any business, it can make everything so much easier, and more importantly, legal.
To summarize, as with every aspect of this job, before you do something new, do a checklist of the positives and negatives. In your circumstances, would it be better to do it alone or with a partner? To outsource, or to hire permanent employees? And always have a contingency plan in case things don’t go well.
If you hire someone to focus just on search engine optimization, be sure to set some time to actually learn about it yourself. If you’re going into business with a friend, be sure to understand their work ethic first, and try and separate the personal life from business.
And throughout all of this, just remember the most important thing, regardless of whether you do it alone, or whether you have a team of 30 people and fill up a 1400 square foot office, the goal is always the same….
Make Money. Lots of it.