While deciding on whether or not to attend next years London Affiliate Conference, I was thinking a lot about just how great the gambling affiliate community is, and how many friends I’ve made within this industry.
But what really got me thinking was just how many people I’ve met over the years that have moved on from being purely a gambling affiliate to other areas of marketing and business on the internet. For example I was at the Budapest Affiliate Conference in 2009 – and over half the people I spent time with at that conference aren’t even in the gambling affiliate business anymore.
With all this talk of diversification, as well as regulation seeping more and more into the gambling affiliate world, I thought I’d take some time to talk to 3 such persons whose primary income was initially based on gambling(and mainly poker) affiliation, and now not so much.
The three people I’m interviewing today are Jeremy Enke, Mike Wittmeyer and Greg Powell.
Jeremy is one of the most famous poker affiliates who has been back and forth with poker affiliation for years. He runs the best gambling affiliate community in PokerAffiliateListings.com and while rather quiet for the last few years when it comes to poker affiliation, he is clearly now reinvigorated and motivated due to the regulated markets opening up in the USA.
When you think of “blessing in disguise”, you think of Mike Wittmeyer. A series of events such as Black Friday and the fall of a gold/silver affiliate program all ended up being the best for Mike, who is now the co-owner of the highly successful JMBullion.com, one of the largest websites on the net for purchasing gold and silver.
Finally, Greg Powell is one of the pioneers. If you remember the Paradise Poker iPod deal, Greg was one of the brains behind that. Greg now focuses both on affiliate management and consultation for affiliate programs with a focus on poker and gambling affiliation as well.
I’d like to thank all three of these guys for taking the time to do the following interviews and participate in this roundtable:
- The online poker industry and affiliate landscape is constantly changing, sometimes for the good, and other times for the bad.
- No matter how much money you are making from an individual affiliate program, it can all disappear within the blink of an eye. It happened to many of us in 2006 with the UIGEA, and again in 2011 on Black Friday.
- I learned early on the importance of diversification and working within multiple affiliate verticals.
The other side of affiliating as a learning opportunity was really just meeting people at conferences and opening my eyes as to what was possible on the Internet. I started out very young, and initially viewed affiliating as a way to avoid having a job in high school and college, but not much more.
Once I started making more money and taking the business more seriously, as well as networking with people on Skype and meeting fellow affiliates in-person at conferences, I really got hungry to get on their level. It was truly just mind-blowing to see people around my age and how they could live their lives as a result of being a “super affiliate”. I think this was probably my best takeaway from affiliating – the drive to become successful like those people I had met, as well as the belief that it was actually possible.
My most important lesson learned was the process of repetition. Along the way I found several marketing angles that worked, The better I became at not getting bored with the same things and instead focusing on refining those channels and re-investing into what WAS working the more successful I became.
Then in 2011 after Black Friday, I had almost had enough to completely leave the industry. But I’ve always believed in doing what you love, and I actual have a great passion for online gaming, especially the business side of it. So with that, I gravitated more towards consulting roles and non-affiliate marketing work while the industry was in a holding pattern awaiting regulation.
Personally I have been waiting for the opportunity to work in a regulated U.S. market for a long, long time. And while I am not actively doing as much individually as an affiliate, I am still very connected to this side of the business and plan on continuing to work closely with both operators and affiliates for many years to come.
After being in the industry so long and developing so many great relationships, I think it’s just a natural progression to become more immersed in the business of affiliate marketing than actually just being an affiliate.
We were left with a good chunk of people visiting our sites looking to buy gold and silver, but nowhere to send them. My partner suggested we give retail a shot to see if we could monetize our existing traffic and perhaps grow beyond that. I was quite hesitant as I had never done anything outside of affiliating before and knew absolutely nothing about the metals industry or online retail, but fortunately he talked me into it and we sort of just winged it from there.
Secondly, there is so much to learn as an affiliate. After a decade, I am still learning each and every day. Surround yourself with other successful affiliates and absorb everything you are able to learn from them.
Lastly, life is short; don’t waste it typing on a computer hoping to be the next internet millionaire. Have a fun life, a balanced life, and make money at the same time!
Some other general bits I’d recommend are:
– Have a working knowledge of as many things as possible and always keep learning. Affiliating was a bit more cut and dry for me, as far as buy links/buy content/put it together and repeat sort of thing, and I really got lost in that and ignored everything else for so long. Working on JM has required us to learn about hedging, corporate finance, recruiting and managing employees, working with partners, supply chain, vendor relations, on and on. The Internet is an incredible resource for reading and learning, so take advantage of that as much as possible.
– Surround yourself with the right people. We have a really great ownership group, and everyone brings something unique to the table. I’ve learned a lot from the guys I work with, and they’re all quite smart and successful, so it gives you something to strive for as well as great resources to lean on when you need help figuring something out.
– And finally, respect the money. When times are good (like when I sold my first network), you feel invincible and want to start 100 things at once and throw money at all sorts of projects, because of course they’re all going to work out and make you more and more money. Going bust on so many of my post-gambling things really taught me to treasure a successful business for what it is – an extremely rare and fragile thing that isn’t to be taken for granted.