Gjorgje Ristikj, CEO & Founder of Gamblers Connect, Link Data Media, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Gjorgje Ristikj speaks about Gamblers Connect and its journey in the last two years – follow his story below
When and why did you start considering affiliate business as a career?
I started in 2008/2009 when I created my first websites and blogs. I knew that it would be my profession, regardless of the fact that at the time I was studying and working in a completely different industry.
I understood that affiliate marketing, even at that time, could be done remotely, and that I could start a business with a low-cost setup; and back then I was still a student. Among the many things I love about affiliate marketing are the negotiations and the satisfactions in seeing our impact on performance. In addition, it’s also a business with minimal risk and a great opportunity for a high passive income probability.
How did Link Data Media take off?
I believe that Link Data Media become recognizable when we released our Gamblers Connect casino affiliate website. Thanks to the patience and dedicated work of the entire team, Gamblers Connect achieved huge success in a short period of time.
What can you tell us about your own product Gamblers Connect?
When we first started Gamblers Connect, it offered pretty much the same as most affiliate websites. However, as the site grew, we got new ideas in terms of developing the brand itself. After almost two years, I can say that Gamblers Connect has grown from a small casino affiliate website to a proper iGaming medium. It not only offers the latest news from the iGaming industry, but one of its main sections is a Responsible Gambling one via which we educate visitors.
Gamblers Connect has won the prestigious title of Casino Affiliate of The Year at the 2022 AffPapa iGaming Awards. What did winning this award mean for your brand?
For an iGaming affiliate website, this award truly means a lot. We were pleasantly surprised just to see that we were nominated in three categories, not to mention winning the award itself. Winning Casino Affiliate of the Year only gave us further motivation, new ideas, and positive pressure to justify this great honor and to do even better in the upcoming period.
What do you consider as success and how do you measure it?
My definition of success is to have peace of mind through self-satisfaction and to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.
To measure my success in both business and personal life, I set goals with steps that are both achievable and challenging. When I reach those goals, I feel a sense of triumph because I know that I am growing and learning, consequently moving towards new goals.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
At this moment, some of the main markets we are focused on are the UK-regulated market, India, Germany, Canada, and Sweden. I definitely expect the Japanese and the Brazilian markets to grow more and more, and absolutely the USA market which already has a huge potential.
How do you choose your operators and how do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
First of all, when I have a meeting with an affiliate manager, I want to know if their GEOs match those of Gamblers Connect. Then, if I haven’t come across that brand before, I do a quick check to see whether there are any negative comments regarding payments of affiliate commissions, payments to players, and so on.
Next is the process of negotiating the affiliate deal and all the remaining details, that is until the casino is listed on our website by our SEO team.
Affiliates working in this industry know that some of the AMs are only available at the beginning of the cooperation. I believe that it isn’t solely their fault, but also of the companies that leave one AM managing a large number of affiliates who, let’s be honest, sometimes have a lot of requests. So, despite the many casinos on our site, I don’t have any major problems when it comes to communication.. Moreover, I simply enjoy the work.
How did SEO change in the last few years and what should one expect in the next year or two?
I believe that artificial intelligence (AI) is the next big thing for SEO in 2023. In fact, AI and machine learning (ML) have already become crucial tools for SEO, and as such, are already essential for various tasks such as keyword search, link building, content optimisation, etc.
True, it can be quite challenging to predict which method is currently the most effective, and even more to predict its impact on growth in the years to come. However, drawing from personal experience with SEO, I believe that some of the most effective features are the ones we already utilise, i.e., fast and responsive websites (especially for smartphones), link building, keyword search, and content optimisation.
How was your 300 Spartans’ experience?
The 300 Spartans’ experience was simply put, phenomenal. Above all, it was a wonderful idea to hold such an event. Personally, it has allowed me to meet many new people in the iGaming industry and expand my network. I would be very happy if I could have an opportunity to attend such an amazing event again.
I would like to take the time to once again thank you for the invitation and this one-of-a-kind opportunity.
Are you a regular attendee at the SiGMA events? SiGMA Americas, Asia, Balkans/CIS, Eurasia, Europe – which of these expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2023?
Absolutely, SiGMA is my favorite iGaming event. In 2022, I attended SiGMA Balkans/CIS and SiGMA Europe. I am happy to say that this year I have already booked SiGMA Balkans/CIS and SiGMA Europe.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into Gaming yourself, etc.
My two favorite hobbies are cycling and reading books. I particularly like these two because they make me focus, and consequently they help me clear my mind. I am also a big gourmet. I love to visit new restaurants and discover new cuisines and foods with my friends. Whether it is my hometown or another city, I love it, especially since it is a great activity to share with friends and colleagues.
I have several favorite books. Right now, I am reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb by which I’m truly fascinated. I would really like to recommend this book to everyone.
One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Mark Twain, and it goes like this: “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”