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Renegade Publishing’s Joe Connor an interview

Tell me about your company and websites?

Renegade Publishing Ltd was formed in 1998 to look after Atari Computing printed magazine and has evolved to become a new media publisher with a portfolio of successful affiliate marketing websites including discount voucher code sites Cantbarsed.com and DiscountCodes.TV, plus price comparison site Billy Bargain.co.uk.

CantBarsed was the website that got me involved in affiliate marketing and over a decade later it’s still a lively site and a great one to have in our portfolio – once heard, never forgotten! On the downside it’s a hand-coded static site but we are working on a CMS. We automated the promo code handling to remain IAB compliant.

We’ve also considered revamping the look and feel of the site but it’s part of internet history now and it wouldn’t feel right to change it drastically but we are going to try to make it a bit easier to navigate.

Visitors to DiscountCodes.tv can browse or search voucher codes by retailer, keyword or brand name and drill down through the results to discover top deals. This functionality is fairly unique and cannot be performed on other code sites which are typically nothing more than a flat database of codes and retailers. We also generate our own video content in-house, which makes sense of the .tv domain.

Billy Bargain is our price comparison site which makes it easy for users to compare prices on books, CDs, DVDs and console games. I’m always amazed at the variation in prices for the exact same product across the listed stores. Billy is an online shopping Superhero!

I always describe Renegade Publishing Ltd as a one-man-and-his-mates business because we never expanded into offices or took on staff. Instead, I work where I sit with my laptop in collaboration with other affiliates on a revenue share basis (feel free to pitch any proposals to me) and we outsource stuff I can’t or don’t want to handle myself.

In common with many others we also have a whole bunch of other websites in various states of decay and/or development which we’ll get around to one day – maybe!

How did you get into affiliate marketing?

I got involved in affiliate marketing thanks to Buyagift’s Dan Mountain, who asked me to add Buyagift gift experiences to cantBarsed.com on their in-house affiliate program and after we made our first sale a light was turned on in my mind which lead to CantBarsed.com evolving into a shopping directory and everything followed on from that moment, so thanks Dan!

What are the main things merchants do that you wish they wouldn’t? 

Merchants removing affiliates from their program without warning, especially from a [email protected] email address, is my number one gripe. However these emails typically come from merchants who haven’t got a clue how to run an affiliate program so it’s usually their loss, not ours.

I’ve spent a lot of time educating merchants over the last decade and frankly it’s a lot easier to bung some Amazon, eBay and Google Adsense ads on their page along with their competitors and wait for them to change their mind than get my hands dirty trying to persuade them to let us stay on their program.

Merchants who obviously haven’t read our affiliate profile or talked to network staff before rejecting us or asking questions we have already answered in our profile is another irritant – but one the upside, at least they got in touch.

Where do you see growth in affiliate marketing this year? 

There’s got to be growth in the mobile apps market this year, and I was interested to see the first QR Code landing in my mailbox this week. I’m not convinced people will make major buying decisions on mobiles but there’s clearly opportunities for supermarket shopping and digital downloads.

What was your first experience of social media?

I was an fairly early adopter of MySpace and Second Life, and opened accounts in our domain names before Facebook dominated the space.

I was disappointed when Second Life didn’t get the traction I thought it would and I spent lots of real world dollars and far too much time messing around in there before I gave up. Nowadays the combination of Twitter and Facebook works fairly well and we try to mix our adverts in with proper content.

What is the biggest tip you would give to a newbie in social media?

It’s not my specialism but I’d say don’t overdo it or neglect your social media accounts either. A steady trickle is best.

What new ideas are advertisers coming up with to take advantage of new traffic sources?

QR codes are the obvious one here. I also thought the Coull video marketing network was a perfect fit for DiscountCodes.tv but their interface was impenetrable.

What do you do to improve the world?

I believe that what goes around, comes around so I try to do the right thing – although that can be harder than taking the path of least resistance.

I got into tai chi around eight years ago and apart from the exercise benefits, it has really helped me sort my head out which in turn helps other people!

I use Kiva.org to help people around the world who are trying to help themselves to a better future and I would encourage any affiliates to join our team: http://www.kiva.org/team/affiliates

Amnesty International is my favourite charity because it stands up for people who also tried to do the right thing and find themselves in jail, tortured or worse all over the world.

What do you do that is green?

As a family we recycle all our plastic, aluminium, glass, clothing and footwear. We also collect rainwater for garden use and we compost all our vegetable waste.

Business-wise we’re moving to online accounting and still striving for a paperless office. We also use Apple hardware which claims to be the greenest around.

What is on your iPod?

I don’t have an iPod. I’ve also given up on the concept of owning music and I’m much happier. I used to try and force myself to like music I’d paid for and the thought process of deciding what music to buy was affecting the music I listened too – a Schrödinger’s cat paradox!

Since joining Spotify as a monthly subscriber, I’ve found myself listening a much broader range of artists and discovering music I would never have bought on a CD. I do have a top30 playlist which already isn’t my current top30 but anyone interested is welcome to take a peek here: http://open.spotify.com/user/cantbarsed/playlist/0diR4EhgCXmaoiSAGlh7Ly

What are the must-have apps for your iPad?

I recently wrote a couple of blog posts about how I don’t get much use out of my iPad but there are are a few Apps worth mentioning:

PingChat – A good free alternative to text messaging especially internationally

Evernote – Great for sharing and syncing documents across my Macs and iPhones and it has some great features

Shanghai – This version of Mah Jong looks great and is a pleasant diversion when I need a break

Pulse News – A great way to read RSS feeds and make your own newspaper
I also use Skype, Dropbox and MobileMe for cloud based working.
What’s your favourite book?

I don’t read books any more. Back in the 80s I commuted 4 hours a day for 4 years and I read more than enough books to last a lifetime. I do read – a lot – but I choose articles, blog posts and other stuff online.

What are your contact details (email, company, blog, Facebook, MySpace, forums etc)?

CantBarsed Blog: http://blog.cantbarsed.com/

CantBarsed Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/CantBarsedcom/18827354712

CantBarsed Twitter: http://twitter.com/cantbarsed

BillyBargain Blog: http://www.billybargain.co.uk/blog/

BillyBargain Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BillyBargain

BillyBargain Twitter: http://twitter.com/BillyBargain

DiscountCodes.TV Twitter: http://twitter.com/discountcodestv

Renegade Publishing Ltd: http://www.renpub.co.uk

My handle on the a4u forum is renegade: http://www.affiliates4u.com/

What one thing can people do to help you?

Use Skype or MSN to text/voice chat instead of emailing, texting or phoning me. I rarely pick up the phone anyway and emails get missed. Skype and MSN are both hands free so I can work and action stuff immediately while chatting at the same time.

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