Hard work and perseverance have been the key to success as an affiliate marketer in the online gambling niche for Cameron Diamond.
Cameron, who lives near London, worked as a restaurant assistant manager before he began making a full-time living as an affiliate marketer.
Like many who join the ranks of the internet entrepreneurs, Cameron had a desire for freedom and to be his own boss.
Four years ago he set up a string of websites marketing online bingo, casino games and gambling sites.
Cameron admits that before he got started he thought using the internet to make money would be the key to fast wealth and didn't realize how tough it would be. In fact, he started earning his £30,000+ (about $US47,000+) annual income only in the last six to nine months.
Undeterred by the ethical question mark over gambling, Cameron says he chose the controversial niche because of its earning potential.
“[It was] Money and naivety,” he said.
“The money is obvious, there is loads to be made from bingo/casino, and the naivety bit was thinking it would be easy! It isn’t!”
Cameron (pictured, RIGHT) says when he first decided to try affiliate marketing he was a total newcomer to making money online – he knew how to work a computer but didn't have any skills in web design, programming or digital image editing and creation.
While the customer service skills he developed working in the hospitality industry gave him strong communication skills that could be called upon when dealing with advertisers and online gambling companies, he had to learn about developing websites and traffic generation from the ground up. His skills in programming, marketing and traffic building are entirely self taught.
While he chose not to reveal his traffic figures, Cameron said his sites get enough “quality” traffic for him to make a living. And in terms of traffic generation, he believes diversity is best – his traffic generation efforts focus very little on Google, with more emphasis on email list building, social media and the use of other search engines.
In fact, he said Google is a sore point with him.
“I hardly rely on them at all,” he said.
“Sure Google is great for traffic, but what happens if they change their search algorithms or even go under?”
While some would take issue with what he does, Cameron doesn't have any ethical or moral issues with promoting gambling.
“It's a lifestyle choice people make, not something that is forced upon anyone, and I think in life people should be able to make their own mind up on things,” he said.
While he works hard for his income, Cameron clearly enjoys his new lifestyle of freedom and being able to work how and where he wants to.
However, he advises those new to internet marketing to make some careful considerations before giving up their day job.
“Don't rely on it (the internet) as a source of income, the internet is fickle and it's not easy to succeed. It's a lot of work. I started as I still worked in the restaurant trade and it took nearly all my spare time to even start to get to grips with things.”
Cameron's sites include:
Here's the interview, lightly edited…
Hi Cameron, thank you so much for talking with me today. Could you please start by telling me a bit about yourself and what you do?
Hi! Well, I'm a 38-year-old gambling addict. No, wait! I mean I'm 38, born in Yorkshire but southern bred, live near West London, university educated and run a series of bingo and casino affiliate sites.
What were you doing before you started affiliate marketing?
Before doing this job I was actually an assistant manager in a restaurant – completely different area of work I know. Just goes to show that you don't necessarily have to have a computing background to do this kind of thing.
What led you to try affiliate marketing?
I was looking for a new challenge and a way of working for myself. Something with a low startup cost and which I could maybe do from home and learn in my own time. This was 4 years ago, by the way!
At what point did you start making enough to consider it a full-time income?
Only in the last 6 to 9 months realistically. Before then I was making money but never quite enough to be comfortable.
How much are you currently earning through affiliate marketing?
£30,000 to £50,000 a year.
Has your lifestyle changed much? How?
Well, I'm my own boss, have no safe regular income but have more freedom, no more shift work etc. Oh and I can work in my underwear, highly recommended.
Can you walk me through a typical day, please?
OK. A typical day, takes discipline for starters, but begins around 7.30am with an email check, replies etc, then I usually spend a few hours updating sites, redesigns, anything else that is required for maintenance. This takes me up until lunch. In the afternoon it's all about link building/search engine optimization, research etc., and seeing how to increase traffic. I read a lot, some of it rubbish, some of it not so rubbish. Sifting the junk from the good stuff can be tricky.
Online gambling in its various forms has become very popular in recent years. What have you done that has allowed you to capitalize on this boom?
It's notoriously hard to break into with lots of competition from big money companies. All I've done is simply plug away in the hope that sooner or later things would happen, and the only thing I've done to capitalize on things is to work on it, lots of working on it!
Why do you think online gambling has become so popular?
Like anything on the internet, online gambling is easy to access, can be done behind closed doors without having to dress up for a casino etc, has some massive prizes and, let's face it, can be highly addictive, it is gambling after all. Of course, some people play for fun, but the dangers of the internet do unfortunately see a lot of addicts, some chasing the thrill of a big win, others looking for a way out of their current financial situation. I'm sure the recession has added to this in some way.
Some people have pretty strong opinions about gambling – online or otherwise. Have you been met by any animosity or opposition along the way from people who disagree with gambling?
Personally I haven't, but like most things, as long as it's regulated properly, where's the harm? Yes, it can be seen as vice, but like drink/smoking etc., it's about self control and knowing your limits.
I've looked over your websites and there are a lot of links and deals there – how often are they updated and how do you go about doing that?
I update each site 3 times a week. That's lot of updates, most of which I postdate in WordPress and then the sites auto update on the chosen date, so I can preload offers. Adverts are changed less regularly and all depend who is paying me what and how much.
How do you find the deals you advertise?
I use three different methods, firstly I search for the sites on the internet, secondly I receive emails from interested parties and thirdly friends sometimes recommend a site I should approach or they are playing.
How critical is the frequency of updating to the amount of traffic your sites get?
Personally I like each site to have 3 updates a week, I think it's important to keep things fresh to keep visitors happy, expand the site and help with rankings.
And how many unique hits per month are each of your sites getting?
Enough! I tend to keep my traffic details/earnings private, but needless to say I'm getting enough quality traffic to make a living nowadays.
What methods of traffic generation do you use? Do you rely heavily on Google or do you have other means?
I find it' s best to diversify and try and get traffic from as many different places as you can – search engines, social media etc, it helps to spread the risk.
Do you do any paid advertising?
No, I don't pay for advertising anywhere.
Would you be willing to give me a breakdown of monthly income vs expenses?
Well, as I mentioned I never discuss my finances publicly, but needless to say with a lot of hard graft I earn a lot more than I spend.
I've noticed all of your sites link back to various social media sites. What are the advantages of using social media as an affiliate marketer and how are you using sites like Pinterest and Facebook to your benefit?
Well, in theory social media are target rich environments, Facebook with their likes mean that posts will be seen by people who supposedly are interested in what you have to say. This can lead to sales but the percentage return is relatively small, but nonetheless worth sticking with as a sale is a sale!
Your sites all have a very similar look and feel about them. What platform do you use to create your sites and why? Does it have any features that can be very beneficial to affiliate marketers?
My sites are programmed from scratch, effectively I started with a blank piece of paper, programmed and drew everything, and I initially used Dreamweaver for basic layout and Ulead Photoimpact for graphics.
As for the content, they are dynamic sites drawing in information from a self-created database. The actual posts are written on WordPress outside the site and then called in to display where required. I think most affiliate marketers would be best sticking with WordPress. It's easy to use and great way to learn things and can be tinkered with. Personally I think it's best to know your own site inside and out, which is why I program them myself.
What other marketing methods do you use? For example, I noticed visitors to your sites can subscribe to have offers sent to them.
I have an email list, which gets sent to subscribers when the site updates, I see this, again, as a targeted audience, people on the list have to opt in and so have chosen to receive the offers, which is always a good thing! I also use Facebook, Twitter and have share options on all sites. Oh, and the odd video on YouTube as well.
Why do you use these methods?
Diversity spread the risks … never rely on just on one source for traffic or you could come unstuck.
Let's backtrack a little. When you first started did you find affiliate marketing to be a learning curve? Why/why not?
Personally I found it very steep, I literally started from scratch, I mean I knew how to use a computer etc but had no idea how to program, market, do SEO or even use a Paint package! But, to be fair, I enjoy a challenge and once you get your head around things, it gets easier. Having said that, there is always something new to learn.
Did you have any skills that proved to be invaluable? What did you have to learn?
In a word, no. No, wait, communication, coming from a customer service orientated background has helped with liaising with bingo/casino sites, even if it is by email. Everything else is self taught, I see something I want to do, I learn how to do it, and it can be hard work sometimes, especially at the beginning where everything seemed to be complete nonsense!
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice about being an affiliate marketer what would it be?
It's not as easy as you think and things won't happen overnight! That's two, isn't it?
In your opinion what are the three most important skills or personality traits for an affiliate marketer to have?
- Adaptation – you have to keep up with the times.
- Patience – it won't happen overnight.
- Positive belief – you may not succeed in one area and have to start over again, but without a positive outlook things may never happen.
A lot of people who haven't tried it before firmly believe that affiliate marketing is nothing more than a “get rich quick” scheme. What are your thoughts on this?
My thoughts exactly! No, wait… my thoughts when I first decided to get into this, exactly!
From the outside it looks simple, create a website that sells/offers something, get visitors, and make money. In simplified reality it's more like, spend hours/weeks/months learning how to program a website, find you can't rank it, get no visitors, wonder whether to try something else or stick with it and hope things pick up. Eventually you will, most likely, either make nothing or very little money, unless you get very lucky! There's so much competition out there!
Do you have any words of wisdom you'd like to share with those just starting out?
Be patient, stick with it, things won't happen overnight.
Is there anything else you'd like to say?
If I were you, I wouldn't bet on it! Oh – hang on!
Persevere. The rewards are worth it.
Update your site regularly.
Diversify your traffic sources. Don't just rely on Google.
Build an email list for repeat, targeted traffic.
Figure out what skills you need and learn them.
Keep it simple when you're starting out.