The summer is nearing its end, and the 'good times' are coming. Just like most other gambling affiliates, I suffer badly during the months of July and August - less traffic, less rake, and so on. During the 2009 summer I lost about 50% of my income, which scared the crap out of me, but thankfully this year, mainly because of investing a fair amount of money into SEO, I managed to keep a stable income. Fair to say, I hate the summer just as much as I love it!
Thursday we came back from our family vacation. This year we've spent two weeks in Estepona (15 km from Marbella) South of Spain. This is also the region we are planning to move to, at least in our dreams (until I convince Lydia that there are plenty of decent schools for our children). The climate is very good all year around, the Spanish people are really friendly, and life over there seems to be a real bargain compared to the Netherlands. And let's not forget, with a possible government ran by Geert Wilders' party... who wants to be here after all.
Anyway, the vacation was rather good, although the hotel could have been much better for a four star hotel. The room was nice, the hotel looked nice too, including the pool side, but these douche bags were charging us for about everything you can think of! If you ever think of going to Estepona, think again before booking the Pierre et Vacances - Calendonia Golf Resort.
Three weeks before leaving I decided to do what Tim Ferriss says, the author of the 4-Hour Workweek. I decided to focus on projects that are currently generating the most of my income, to make even more with them, instead of putting my energy into newly launched projects. So I redesigned Poker For Free, the site got a complete overhaul. While I was doing so, I was split testing the homepage to see if the new design outperformed the old one, and it did. So after working day and night for three weeks, I decided to put the site live just before flying to Spain. Quite a risk, but I was so excited that I didn't want to wait. Fortunately it didn't turn out to be a bad decision.
While I was gone I used my iPhone to periodically check my e-mail and my statistics, and was happy to find out that Poker For Free's traffic went up by 50%!!! Of course this had nothing to do with the new site, but all with the $20,000+ which I invested into SEO over the past 8 months. With my site performing so well, I couldn't wait to get back and work, but on the other hand I was really enjoying the time off with the family - so I let it rest.
As Pursuing Success is my personal and marketing blog, it's about time that I should write somethings interesting about affiliate marketing, right? So my next blog will be about the new Poker For Free, and what I did prior to merging hundreds of pages into the new site. That's a promise! But for now I will keep it a little bit more personal though.
While in Spain, I kept going to the gym every other day while Dante went to bed for his siesta. Since I started working out in February, it has become one of my favorite pass times. I managed to lose 7 kg already (my current weight is 82 kg), but I think that it must be at least double as much in fat effectively, as I gained quite a bit in muscles too, obviously. I am now proud to announce that I have a Four-Pack, and it won't be too long before I get to that much admired Six-Pack!
August 18, 2010 - I'm continuing where I left off 10 days ago, and of course many crazy things have happened in the mean time. God, don't you love the affiliate life! One of the things that worries me is PokerStars. They are so big and powerful, and think they can keep screwing affiliates... over, and over again. And the shittiest thing about it, is that I have just reinstalled them on Poker For Free, as a service to my US visitors, about 40% of my total traffic. Want to know why I don't feel comfortable with my recent decision to continue working with PokerStars, please have a look at this PAL thread: PokerStars Partners are Fucking You Over. Read, or scan it, but you will get the point.
Before I left to the South of Spain, I received an email from Barry with Heaven Affiliates. One of my domains, pokerheavenreview.com, infringed their registered trademark, and he politely asked me to take it down, either by handing over the control to them, or redirect it to another domain. I wouldn't be me if I didn't try to get something out of it, and asked them for a compensation of $250. Unfortunately they denied it, but in a very decent matter, so I let it rest and told them I would take it down after I got back from vacation. So today I finally moved my Poker Heaven mini-site to its new location, and 301 redirected the old URLs. The new location, DepositPoker.co.uk, is a site I bought from a guy at the forums, which I already wrote something about in one of my previous blog posts.
During my daily workouts sessions at the gym, I have given some special thought to my next blog post. As you could read earlier in this one, my next post will be about redesigning an existing website with reasonable amounts of traffic. I think I might have found a few ideas to come with an interesting article, and with the transition of PokerKamers.nl the other day, the Dutch equivalent of Poker For Free, I also managed to refresh my own memory a little bit. I am actually looking forward to writing it, but I have some other real important things on the agenda first, such as the translation of the almost 3,000 words counting Poker Crusher Review. I shouldn't be making any more promises, except to my kids!
Last topic, before I call it a day and visit my brother in law for a cup of coffee, is something I discovered while exploring my site's statistics. I noticed a lot of hits coming from two specific freeroll forums. I am not mentioning their URLs on purpose, because I believe password thieves are about the lowest scum of the affiliate industry you can get. Back to the point, it came to my notice that the hits from these specific referrals were occurring because of an externally linked image causing a 404 error, an image that was deleted when I launched the new Poker For Free site. Today I gave them a Dutch treat, and replaced my image with a new one telling their visitors: "Type pokerforfree.org in your address bar." I don't know, and honestly don't care if I actually get any traffic of it, I just had some fun doing it. Next time you steal from me, or which ever hard working affiliate, think again bitch!
Yesterday I've been mostly busy moving the German Max Poker Bonus to a new environment and upgrading the scripts to our latest's. When Kurt and I started working together and created our first Max Poker Bonus site, we decided to host it on a server located in Austria (instead of Germany) because of a German law that prohibits sites linking to online gaming sites. This law is also the reason that we chose to use a .com, instead of a .de domain. So we found a small, but reliable host, where the wires are short when you're in need of assistance. Host Austria that is.
Unfortunately, Host Austria's infrastructure was a little bit outdated, and because of that many of the scripts I've created for the Dutch Max Poker Bonus and UK Max Poker Bonus didn't work. We could easily have moved to another host, but we decided to stay, as quite frankly we were more than satisfied with their service.
Long story short, yesterday was the big day! Christian from Host Austria copied our site and database to a new server, and I made sure that all scripts got upgraded and verified that everything worked as it should. After changing the DNS over night, I woke up this morning to find our site running flawless. Great!
Today I will finish off the big overhaul.
As many of you already know, Google recently released Site Performance, a tool that you can find under Labs in your Webmaster Tools. This, together with Google's Page Speed tool and Yahoo's YSlow tool, both add-ons to Firebug, gives you advice in which areas you can adjust your to improve it's performance. Things like enabling Gzip compression, or parallelizing downloads can really speed up your site. I've done this (and more) for a few of my sites already, and I really recommend doing it if you own a site with a fair amount of traffic. Case studies have proven that a faster loading website drastically improves user experience, thus conversions, and we all know what that means!