It's been just over nine months since I wrote my first blog post, so I figured it was about time I wrote another one to let you guys know how things are going and more importantly, to let you know about a major opportunity that came my way recently that I could simply not turn down.
Back in July I was approached by Buzz Bingo to do a bit of competitor analysis for them, to help them understand what other sites were doing and how they could improve their own online bingo offering. It was supposed to be a quick two-week assignment, but at the end the project I was presented with an amazing opportunity.
They asked if I would be willing to join them as a Bingo & Promotions Executive, covering an employee who was going on maternity leave. I wasn't sure at first, as things were starting to take off with HowAbout Bingo and I didn't want to suddenly have to give up on what I had worked so hard to get going.
However, after speaking to the Head of Digital Operations, David Swaine, I quickly learned that the role was important within the digital ops team, and it would mean I would be responsible for online bingo product at Buzz. I would get the chance to develop the bingo rooms, the game schedule and come up with new events, promotions and features.
All very exciting stuff, and something I never thought I would get a chance to do. I coudn't miss this opportunity to work for such a great brand and to see the industry from an operator's perspective.
So where does that leave HowAbout Bingo?
Well I'm writing this blog and the site is still being updated, so Buzz clearly are allowing me to carry on with it. The only difference is I'm now doing it all in my spare time. I always ensure I have one day a week dedicated to my own projects (including BingoData.co.uk) and I pick up extra bits on an evening. Other than that, my time is all about Buzz Bingo at the moment.
The truth of the matter is I had already been spending less hours on the site even before Buzz came along. For a few months prior to that I was working three days a week for Palatial Leisure, who own three online bingo sites as well as a couple of bingo halls, a casino and two local cinemas. In that role I was responsible for all their social media pages, writing and sending out their promotional emails and even designing banners and images.
I enjoyed working for them, but the owner was never quite comfortable with me not being a full time employee. For that reason it didn't quite work out, and at that point I was looking forward to going back full time again on HowAbout Bingo. However, I think it was only a week later that Buzz offered me a job and I had a decision to make.
Despite spending less time on the HowAbout Bingo site, it is doing better than ever. Traffic continues to grow month on month, and last month I cashed in my first ever affiliate commission from one of the operators! It was only £210, but it was the first return on well over a year of hard graft.
Affiliate lessons learned
When I first started out, I knew that it would take a while to get traffic going and that potentially I could be looking at a year or two before I could get enough traffic, and therefore earnings, to support me doing this as a full time thing.
However, despite an early success in the first month where I got a whole bunch of depositing players at one brand, the next few months were really barren. By this I mean I got loads of visitors to the site, but those visitors were not then going to the sites via my links and therefore not generating any revenue. It was at this point I realised I needed to get some other work to support me while this site grew - hence why I started working with Palatial Leisure and taking on other consultancy work.
One of the lessons I learned early on about being an affiliate is that when you earn a commission from a bingo site, you often can't withdraw that commission until you've hit a certain milestone. For example, there is one operator where I earned over £100 in revenue share the very first month from a few big spending players, but ten months later I haven't been able to withdraw those earnings because the threshold is set at £200. So that money just sits there until I get to that amount, and only then can I request a payment.
I must be signed up to around 30 different affiliate programs with various operators. Some have generated absolute zero (and one even kicked me off their program because of this), whereas others have a few pounds earned, some around £100 or so. Only one, as I mentioned, where I made enough to actually get paid.
You really do have to be in this game for the long term, as it does not make that much money in these early days. I'm just glad the majority of affiliate managers know this, and have more patience than that one operator who ditched me early doors. I won't forget that by the way when my site is doing amazing in a few years and you come back asking for exposure!
Something's gotta give
Spending less time on the website does have it's downsides of course. It has meant I've had to be really careful with my time, and that means cutting out some of the more time consuming areas of the site.
One of the first things to go was my promotions page. I mentioned it in the last blog, where I had built this cool repository of all the different promotions and was keeping it up to date on a weekly basis.
Keeping it up to date and getting the images and T&Cs for it was an extremely time intensive task, and what my stats showed me after a few months is that visitors to the site just weren't interested in it. So while I loved it and was really proud of what I built, I made the decision to cut the page entirely. No point putting all that effort into something with next to no reward.
Similarly, the amount of video content I'm now doing has been cut down considerably. It usually takes me a day or so to plan, record, edit and post-produce a finished video and I just don't have that kind of time anymore. The last video I published was about the new Bubble Up Bingo game on Gamesys. I filmed it the first day of launch, but only found time to edit and publish it over a month later.
Thoughts on the future
At the moment I'm faced with an uncomfortable truth about my future, and that is the fact I am absolutely loving life at Buzz Bingo!
I had forgotten what it was like to work with a great team of people, who support you and yet give you the automation to get on with your work and creative freedom to try new things and new ideas. It's also nice being paid a regular wage, and not scraping by on the occasional invoice every few months from contract work!
This was always meant to be a 12 month thing and then I have to hand this job back to it's previous owner. I'm a bit sad thinking about that but I'm keen to leave my mark on Buzz before it gets to that point! Who knows what happens next. They may want me to stick around a bit longer.
Whatever happens, I'm learning so much more about this industry which will only make the content I do put out on HowAbout Bingo that much better.