Casino Affiliates - Tips For Success

Casino Affiliates - Tips for Success
Introduction

Having enthusiasm for gambling and knowing enough to get information on the web is a great starting point. You may even know a little about SEO, three things that are crucial to becoming a gambling affiliate. But do you understand "business"? By which I mean, how to operate a business. The sort of knowledge that can only really come with experience?

This article is designed to make an iGaming affiliate (or even affiliates in other sectors) think a little more on business principles that are crucial to being successful. Anyone with the basic knowledge I outlined above can make a few bucks from affilation but to make a sound, long-term living from it, you will probably need more.

About Me

Prior to becoming an affiliate I set up, ran and left two "real" businesses: one a development agency (which still operates today nearly 20 years down the line) and the other a publishing company, sadly now defunct but that was mainly due to my not knowing then what I know now!

But one thing I can say for sure is, I wish I'd become a casino affiliate earlier! It's a lot of work but when gambling is your hobby too (I play a lot of slots and video poker online and in land-based), it doesn't feel that way and it wasn't long after starting that it became my full time job.

And so to what I have learned...

 
Tip #1: Relationships

Any businesss owner worth their salt will tell you that a business thrives on good relationships. However, with an online business there are traps that are easy to fall into, the most obvious of which is anonymity.

When people are anonymous, they tend to worry less about how they are perceived. You see plenty of affiliates complaining about things on various forums where in face-to-face conversations, many would probably refrain - or at least, rephrase! Forums are possibly the worst possible place for an affiliate to vent. Let me explain why...

When you post on a forum, lots of people will formulatimg opinions about you from what you write. Not just people you know or are addressing but people you don't know and who might be in a "positionof influence" down the line. You might think what you are saying will get you respected/liked/appreciated (delete as applicable) but will it? And if it does, will it be from people who have the respect of others, or will it be from the ones most commonly seen moaning and whinging?

If you are serious about being taken seriously and advancing your business, I'd suggest those are not people you want to be grouped in with. Aside from which, you will probably end up wasting an awful lot of time trying to convince someone whose mind is already made up - time which would be better spent developing your websites! If you get involved, I'd make your point once and don't be lured into a common mentality that you have to keep bashing away at the same point so as to be seen to be right. From a purely business perspective, how people perceive you is far more important than satisfying your ego.

Staying on the subject of reputations: try not to burn bridges. As tempting as it can be to be "direct" with your affiliate managers, people you work with or even people you don't, stay polite. You can still be forceful but I'd be respectful with it! People appreciate being respected and if they see you are, they are more likey to form a mutually beneficial business relationship with you. Act like a tw*t and at the end of the day, the only person to lose out will be you.

If you have a problem you need to address with someone you see as potentially responsible, try and approach them amicably, even if you don't like them. Most times, these relationships also have to be mutually beneficial to work and invariably those same people will have opportunities and news come up that can be hugely useful to you down the line. If they find you hard to work with, or simply don't like you, they're more likely to go elsewhere. Plus, affiliate managers and staff turn up elsewhere and all know each other pretty well!

 
Tip #2: Conferences

One word: go! Once again it's about relationships but the bottom line is, face-time is way, way better and more advantageous than the written word or Skype. You'll build friends in this industry, it's very positive, great fun and I learn as much from one conference as I will from a year of forum trawling!

Anyone who tells you they are a waste of money or not worth it hasn't been. Or they went with the wrong agenda. I guarantee it.

There are several conferences every year: most are in Europe and when the US regulates, I'm sure we will be back there too. Canada has one and there are several local ones. The big ones are the iGB conferences - I attend all 3 without fail. Haven't missed one in 7 years.

One tip: if you are relatively new to the game, go to build relationships, don't go with the aim of getting "better deals". Those will naturally come your way as the relationships strengthen and if you treat the relationships you build as a 2-way street, those opportunites will come your way.
 
Tip #3: Know Who You Work With

The conferences are great but they don't always tell you everything you need to know. Unfortunately, there are bad apples in this industry much like their are in any other and more often than not, anonymity helps those apples hide.

You'd be amazed at how many big affiliate sites out there are promoting programs who are not only "rogue" but in some cases, possibly even criminal. Not only do these affiliates compromise their players and their data, they are probably getting ripped off themselves.

If you can't find out who is behind a company you are working with, why are you working with them? You're either a person with no ethics and someone who lets this industry down or you are very, very naive. And when it goes tits-up as it always does, you only have yourself to blame.
 
Tip #4: Spreading The Risk

So you have a website. Google loves you and you dominate the UK casino market. All the top rankings, lots of players. You now employ 3 people and you're earning a handsome sum from a handful of casinos month-in, month out. Life is rosy. But don't make the mistake of thinking you have a business. All you have is an income stream and a precariously balanced one at that. You could wake up tommorow and find it all gone.

The key is to spread your risk. I aim for the 80/20 rule...it's very hard to achieve but the closer you get to it, the closer you get to having a stable business. Break the website up, or build new ones. Let me break it down and highlight what you can do:
  • Don't stick with one website. Build more. if a website gets penalised or loses it's rankings you then have options.
  • Try to get traffic from beyond Google. This is the hardest part but it's essential. A business that relies too heavily on a 3rd party is an accident waiting to happen.
  • Diversify products. Don't rely solely on casino, bingo or poker. You might find regulation changes, the market becomes saturated or affiliate opportunities get harder in a sector.
  • Aim to get a maximum of 20% of your traffic from any one country. Again, regulation is an ever-moving target right now and wherever you are, it's not something you can rely on. Every election could bring new uncertainty.
  • How crucial are you to your business and is anyone reliant on you? If the answers are "very" and "yes", you need to start thinking about a Plan B. For a significant other, a pension might be a simple option but ideally, someone trained up to run the sites would be best!
 
Tip #5: A Good Starting Point

The list of online casinos here at AZOC is a good place to start. I've actually physically played at all the groups represented and I know who is behind them. While that in itself is no guarantee I am aware, it's about as good as you are going to get!

It's actually become quite a popular resource for casino affiliates as well as players judging from the comments I've had from other affiliates I am friendly with. I update it very regularly too.