How I became an iGaming affiliate with Håvard Lehn
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How did you get involved in affiliate marketing?
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to have a chat with you guys. I must say I really like what you are building and hope to make use of it myself somewhere down the line.
How I got involved with affiliate marketing is actually quite an interesting question, I started out like very many of the other affiliates. With rakeback for Poker back when Poker was the big thing online. I started out by playing poker myself both live and online, and noticed early that there were a couple of guys that were making money by referring other players to online sites. I grabbed the opportunity and started out by myself, and I started building a network of high stakes players on the Microgaming network.
Soon the landscape changed a bit, and I was not able to travel to the big tournaments anymore since I needed to go to do Military Service. I was stuck in Northern Norway as a borderguard, and needed to rethink my business model. This was when I discovered SEO and I started learning this. In the beginning it was very much Exact Match Domains, and a network of free blog links, which I guess you can spam - but it worked at the time. You can say things have changed quite a lot since these days.
When I came home from the army, I started a job as a door to door salesman for cable tv and internet. But I soon needed new challenges, so I applied for a job in Malta on a Thursday, had an interview on Friday and was on a flight on Sunday. In Malta I started out as an Customer Support Agent in Betsson, before I moved on to be working with affiliates on the operator side of things. During this time I learned a lot, and I think it has helped me to have worked on both sides of the industry.
I got an opportunity to start working for a SEO Affiliate which during those days was one of the biggest ones in Scandinavia, and together we built and sold our first company back in 2017 to GIG. A really good experience indeed. In 2019 we started out again, the same three partners and in the summer 2022 we bought one of the partners out. Which leaves us with two 50/50 partners in Nordic Affiliates ltd at the moment. I think this is a huge advantage compared to the bigger companies. We are able to be flexible, agile and ready to adapt for changes faster.
What training or education did you do that helped for your career in online marketing?
I am very much self taught. I have always been very interested in how the dynamics works in online marketing. It also helps me that my experience from earlier has been within sales. My day to day job is very much B2B sales, in combination with SEO and Business Development. Not a single day is like the other, and that makes me more eager than waking up and getting the job done. Also working alongside a partner which I have known and worked closely with for the last 13 years really makes it a true pleasure.
We know each other, and we know the strengths and weaknesses of each other. Which makes it really easy to be honest and straightforward. I think that's a really good thing when you are choosing your business partner.
What markets do you focus on and can you share some of your websites?
We are mainly focusing on the regulated North American Market, which I do believe you will have a chat with my colleague Catie Di Stefano about. Our flagship is OnlineGamblers, this is where we put our long term efforts in. But we have several sources for the Scandinavian market such as NettCasino.com, NorskeAutomater.com and NyeCasino.me.
We are constantly searching for new markets and possibilities, and I can say that we are exploring the Latin American market as well. It's a very new and developing market, and a very different market from what we are used to in Scandinavia. So it's a process for sure, but we are getting there.
Do you think the Scandinavian markets are over-saturated with affiliates?
I do think so, yes, the competition is hard and the amount of new casinos launching are ridiculous. Scandinavia is a small market, and we have chosen a strategy to work long term with a few partners rather than taking on any casino that is launching. We believe that working closely with partners on revenue share will make our long term profits better for both parties. Call me Old School if you like, but that's the road we have choose to take.
Do you think that some countries have over-regulation?
I am not sure to be honest, regulations are still quite new so I guess it's a learning process. However I do hope for a license in the Norwegian and Finnish markets, and I also hope that they will learn from the mistakes done in the other Scandinavian markets. A regulation would be better for both the players and the company's operating in the market. Sustainability is key, and I don't see it being that at the moment. I will leave it at that.
If a stranger asked you how to get started as an iGaming affiliate, what would your best tips be for them?
It would be to look at the bigger guys, and what they are doing. They are doing something right, so have a look at what they are doing and do better. There are also a lot of long tail keywords just laying around ready to be monetized which the big guys (and medium guys such as us) do not have the time to focus on. I would also give them tips to choose the market/s carefully, read up and get familiar with the market you are going to focus on.
I am in general positive about the iGaming industry in the future, I think we will see a lot of regulations and things will get more sustainable for all parties. The players are the ones who are losing on it being not regulated.
If you had to start over in iGaming and only had a $100 budget, what would your plan of action be?
Wow, that's a hard question. But I guess if you had only 100 dollars, it would be to identify a long tail keyword with enough traffic but little competition. Then I would spend the 100 dollars on buying a domain, and getting to work with content and link building myself. Find a wordpress theme which could be used, and learn coding yourself to make changes in the theme which are needed.
Thanks a lot for the chat, and good luck with Statsdrone. I am looking forward to see the ready product, and cheering for your success.
You can follow Håvard on his LinkedIn account here.
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