Usually we talk about working for online poker sites but there are a lot of opportunities to work for affiliates who are a major part of the industry.
1. What was your background before getting into the online gaming industry?
I was a college instructor and speech and debate coach at various universities across the US. Before that I was just a college student lazing my way through a Communications degree.
2. How did you find your way into the business?
Part of the above described odyssey led me to teaching in a small town at a college in the southern US. It was the sort of town that had a college and a couple of industrial elements, which means the typical resident was either 19 or 39. Being in my mid-twenties at the time, that left me with few opportunities for a social group, so I started playing poker. This was back around the time when Paradise was still the industry leader.
3. Can you explain to the readers a little bit about what Part Time Poker is and what it does?
PartTimePoker is really a few sites rolled in to one. The original goal of the site was just to be a content site, and we still do a ton of content – strategy articles, hand quizzes, poker news, photos, interviews, etc. The general gist of the content is to appeal to people who are interested in and serious about poker but who still have some core priority other than poker in their lives – hence the name of the site.
A couple of years ago we bought a site called NeverBeg. We were basically looking for a forum, as ours wasn’t super-active. NeverBeg also had a staking system built in, which interested us. We ended up pretty much gutting the system and rebuilding it from the ground up, rolling that site into PTP, and now it’s the largest staking site online by any measure that we’re aware of. We’ve also, by extension, become one of the largest poker forums online.
4. What’s a typical day like for you?
A weird patchwork of tasks that inevitably leaves me spending too much time in front of my computer. I spend a good amount of my day answering a variety of emails, managing ad sales and inventory, generating content (or coordinating content with freelance writers) handling tasks as they come up on the forum, etc. I basically spend 80% of my time reacting to the needs of the site day-to-day and the other 20% trying to map out / make progress on a long-term strategy.
5. What would you say is the most satisfying part of your job?
For me, the autonomy is the greatest reward. Obviously, I don’t have total autonomy – I’m still responsible for the site, and that’s something that controls what I can do, but since I can do almost all of my work from a laptop with an internet connection, I can at least control where (and when, to some extent) I do the work, which is nice.
6. What is the least satisfying?
A lot of your work in this business is just about maintaining things. That’s essential work, but it sort of disappears into the ether – you don’t always have much tangible to show for it. If you spend your whole day answering emails and fixing things on an internet forum, at the end of the day it’s very easy to look back and say “wait, what the hell did I accomplish today?”
It’s a lot like playing MTTs. You have a ton of days where you make no progress (or get stuck in reverse), and after a few of those days in a row, you really start to feel like you’re wasting your life.
7. If someone was deciding between going out on their own and becoming an affiliate or working for an existing affiliate which route would you suggest?
It all comes down to their individual temperament. If you prefer stability and someone else handing you a structure for your days, a task list, etc, then I’d go with working for an existing affiliate. If you respond well to self-managed situations, then consider striking out on your own. I will say that building a traffic base and a revenue base with a brand new site seems like a tall order to me in the current market, but there are probably people who are a lot more motivated than me out there who could make something of it.
8. When you’re considering a candidate for a position what are the most important things you look for?
Reliability is the key for us. A lot of our tasks that we outsource aren’t the toughest tasks in the world, but they need to be done day in and day out. It’s not always easy to find people who can commit to that, especially when the pay isn’t spectacular. It’s especially difficult if you’re recruiting from within the poker community, as most people would rather play than work, even if the hourly they get from working is competitive with their play hourly.
9. What would you say the major difference is between working a regular job and working in online gaming?
I suppose there’s an issue for some of how others perceive what you do. Online gaming has a stigma attached to it in a lot of communities, and that’s going to be an issue for some people. It’s also an industry that’s very young in a lot of ways, so it’s not as stable as some other careers might be (but really, what is stable nowadays?).
10. Any last advice for readers who are thinking about getting into the business?
Have a plan and realistic expectations. Online gaming affiliate work is generally a volume game, so it’s usually going to take quite a bit of time to build any substantial base. It’s also a very competitive field (or at least a crowded one) so putting some extensive thought in beforehand about the type of content / service you’ll provide, why it’s unique enough to attract traffic and how the type of traffic it is likely to attract can be monetized can save you a lot of wasted time and energy.