The poker affiliate industry is one of the most exciting, challenging and lucrative online affiliate markets and has experienced tremendous growth over the past five years. With hundreds of would be affiliates looking to enter the market each month, there are some important considerations that any new affiliate must address in order to be ready for the challenging first year that most, if not all affiliates face. This article covers some essential things you should consider before building your first affiliate portal and as you progress in the industry.

Let me first start by saying that everything in this article is from my first hand experience. There have been a lot of things that I have done wrong, so I am sharing them with you in the hopes that you will do them right.

Building Your Site From The Ground Up:

Site design, content, focus and usability is one of the most crucial points that new affiliates should be concerned with before building their first website. How will your website look and how will you layout your content? Are you focusing on a specific niche (i.e. Poker Leagues) or wanting to make a broad poker portal? Will you go old school HTML or are you going to incorporate a CMS such as WordPress or Joomla? These are some of the things you should be thinking about before you do anything, because proper and efficient planning at this stage will save you lots of headaches in the future.

To Niche or Not To Niche?

As you are planning to start your website, you need to figure out how you are going to differentiate yourself from all the other poker sites that are competing against you who have much more experienced (for now) webmasters behind them. A good way for new affiliates to break into the industry is to find a specific niche that they can focus on such as a single poker game or maybe a city specific poker site. This is good practice for new affiliates and will help curb some of the frustrations associated with being a new poker affiliate as you may see the results of your work sooner.

Site Design:

In the poker affiliate market you will find many varying designs from just plain ugly to stylish and web 2.0. Although your site doesn’t have to look amazing, you should spend a considerable amount of time planning its’ look and layout….here’s why. You should never forget that whatever reason you got into the industry, the bottom line is that you want to attract players to your website, get them to stay their and perhaps (if you’re lucky) get them to sign-up at a site. In order to do this you need to really take a step back and remember what it was like to be a new poker player sitting on your computer searching for all things poker related. What sites did you like? What information was of interest to you? Which sites did you think were bad? Answering some of these questions will help you to generate a concept for the design, layout and content structure of the new site you are going to build.

In terms of the actual physical designing of the website I would highly recommend outsourcing this task to a qualified professional. With globalization stretching to all corners of the net, there are tons of resources available to you to get a decent design at a reasonable price. Here is a small list of resources to get you started:

SitePoint
Digital Point Forums
Rent A Coder

This is one of the areas that most new affiliates ignore either because they want to do it themselves or just do not want to invest the upfront money in a good design. If you are not versed in website design, you should really consider outsourcing because you will get a better looking site that will pay you back in the long run.

Content Management Systems:

In addition to custom designs, there are also many free content management systems that are available for you to use that will help with adding content and general management of your site. Using a CMS is a great tool for new affiliates who are not knowledgeable in programming languages such as HTML and PHP. The most popular CMS’s currently used are WordPress and Joomla, which both allow you to manage your entire site from an administrative panel.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

If you are serious about becoming a great poker affiliate this is a term that you will become extremely familiar with. Search Engine Optimization a.k.a SEO is vitally important to building your empire and getting your site out there. There are way too many things to cover in this section so instead here are some great resources for learning about SEO:

High Rankings
SEO Chat
SEO Moz

Relationships & Reputation As You Move Forward:

Fellow Affiliates:

One of the most remarkable things about the poker affiliate industry is the willingness of others to help out. In such a highly competitive market, this has always been something that has amazed me and I have learned so much from my friends/competitors in the affiliate community that I would have never known without them. Keep this in mind when you get your start in the industry. You want to be a well liked, respected and trusted affiliate because this will benefit you way more in the long run than being someone who is in for the quick buck with no concern for other in the industry. Jeremy Enke wrote a great article about this topic on his blog, you can read it here.

Affiliate Managers:

You should think of your affiliate managers as your business partners and always be doing things that will make your relationship beneficial. Treat them with respect and courtesy and you will be much further off then simply seeing them as a person who provides you with income. Also remember that being an affiliate manager is a hectic job and just because they don’t respond to your email within two hours doesn’t mean they dislike you or your site, there we’ll….just busy. Another tip for building a relationship with your AM is to not ask for too much if you can’t provide a return. Sure some ideas will fail but there is nothing that AM’s dislike more than a new affiliate who has yet to send one player asking for private tournaments and exclusive bonuses. Be patience, build your relationship and prove yourself and then you won’t have to ask for a thing.

In Closing I would like to wish you great luck and success in the industry. I would also highly suggest that your register at the PokerAffiliatePrograms.com forums where there are tons of resources available for new affiliates and plenty veterans willing to help out.