A post on another poker affiliate blog contends that “thinking outside of the box is idiotic advice“. The phrase IS trite, isn’t it? And the people who repeat that phrase like a mantra are the least likely to actually think outside of the box.

But it’s far from the worst poker affiliate advice I’ve ever seen. The problem is that most poker webmasters don’t know how to think outside of the box. In the spirit of offering some useful advice to poker affiliates, here are some tips for how to think outside of the box:

  1. Think outside of the box when you’re writing content. If the poker reviews on your site are no different than the poker reviews on everyone else’s poker sites, then you’re putting yourself at a tremendous competitive disadvantage. Poker reviews are one of the easiest types of content to write from outside of the box. Stop writing about how PokerStars is the biggest poker site on the Internet, and start writing about how much money you‘ve lost at PokerStars this year. Stop writing about how big the signup bonus at Full Tilt Poker is, and start writing about how often jerks hit you with bad beats. Unique, compelling poker content is easy when you make things personal. Writing personal poker content is way outside of the box in the industry today. Want some easy outside-the-box poker content to write? Invent your own poker game and write the definitive 100 page guide to how to play it and how to win at it.
  2. Think outside of the box when you’re doing “keyword research”. If you target the same keyword phrases as other poker affiliates, then you’ll probably get caught up on the same endless link buying treadmill your competitors are on. Other poker affiliates will closely examine your siteto figure out what you’re doing well. They’ll target the same keyword phrases and create more competition. They’ll aggressively pursue links from your linking resources. Target keyword phrases that other poker webmasters ignore though  ignoring, or create your own keyword phrases to target, and you can work and earn with minimal competition. It might be hard to find unique keyword phrases, but it’s not impossible.
  3. Think outside of the box when you’re getting links. If you submit to the same ten directories I did, and you buy links from the same ten sites I did, and then you trade links with the same ten sites I did, then you’ve built yourself a 30 link backlink profile that’s identical to mine. Copying other sites’ linking strategies is a guarantee of mediocrity. You could have at least a dozen sources for links to your sites that other people don’t know about it. Getting links from outside the same box that other poker webmasters are getting links is called having a “competitive advantage”.
  4. Think outside of the box when you read poker affiliate forum advice. Have you noticed how many “me too” posts there are in threads with poker affiliate advice? If you blindly follow the advice you get in a poker affiliate forum, you’ll never learn to think for yourself. You’ll guarantee that your thinking will stay inside the box all the time. If I tell you not to use multiple H1 tags, and everyone in the forum agrees with me, then try launching a 20 page site with 4 or 5 H1 tags on each page . See what happens. If some poker webmaster tells you to avoid targeting super competitive phrases like “online poker” or “texas holdem“, ignore her and compete for those phrases anyway. If someone tells you not to trade links and focus on one way links, build a site that uses reciprocal links as its only linking strategy, and watch how it performs. Blindly following every piece of poker webmaster advice you find in a forum guarantees mediocrity. Do the opposite of what the people in the forums advise for a month or two and see how your business performs. You might be surprised. You’ll definitely learn something.
  5. Think outside of the box when you’re monetizing your site. “Valuable players only play if they have rakeback deals.” That isn’t true. “You’ll make more money as a if you always do rev share deals instead of CPA.” That isn’t true either. “You have to diversify your advertisers if you want to succeed in this business.” Ask the Wizard of Odds if that’s true. (He’s had an exclusive sponsor for his site for years.) Webmasters often put huge lists of cardroom affiliate links front and center on their homepage, but that isn’t the best way to monetize your poker site. “the rakeback niche is impossible to compete in unless you have at least a year and lots of money.” A creative webmaster could blow away the existing rakeback sites in 3 months if they’d just break out of the box. (And no, I won’t tell you how.)

When I make these kinds of suggestions on webmaster forums, I’ll often see responses about how impossible it is to write unique content. “Everything’s been written,” they’ll say. Come on, though – are you really creatively bankrupt? Or are you just not wanting to do the work? The Internet doesn’t need another page explaining “Texas holdem rules”, so write and publish something else.

I can already hear the response to writing a 100 page guide to a new poker variant that you invented already. “No one’s searching for that, so you can’t monetize it.” But there was a time when no one was searching for the phrase “poker bonus codes” too. You want to get rich in this industry? Get ahead of the curve. Create the curve.

“There are no unique, noncompetitive poker keyword phrases.” I read that 50% of the searches done on Google are for phrases that have never been searched for previously. Is it impossible that some of those keyword phrases are poker-related?

I’m not refuting the post that said thinking outside of the box was useless advice. His point was that the people saying “think outside of the box” AREN’T thinking outside of the box AT ALL.

Telling someone to think outside of the box IS useless advice.

Telling someone HOW to think outside of the box is useful advice indeed.

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9 Responses to How to Think Outside of the Box

  1. Kaus says:

    I think the problem is most affiliates become complacent with their sites and their income. It’s easier to say “Think outside the box”, than to actually do it.

    Anyway nice follow up post Randy.

  2. Randy Ray says:

    Well, yeah – complacency is a huge issue. And it’s definitely harder to actually act on your “outside-the-box” thinking than it is to just talk about it. But the most rewarding things in life are the ones that take effort.

  3. Hazo says:

    Hey Randy,

    Great follow up post. Your last two lines highlight exactly what I’m getting at. Affiliates are congratulated and pat each other on the back like they just gave everyone gems of advice. But, does simply telling someone to “think outside the box” really help? No. It is useless.

    This post in itself is a prime example of helping and actually IMPLEMENTING advice. I know when people say vague catch phrases like the one in question, I don’t actually think about what it means.

    Your post stirs thought. It makes (me at least), think about HOW I can think outside the box.

    P.s What a stupid phrase anyway. I’m going to make a new one.

  4. Greg says:

    I wish I could add more than to just say “great article”, but whatever, great article Randy. A great motivator for creating some unique stuff.

  5. Randy Ray says:


    Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.


  6. Randy Ray says:

    Glad you liked the post. I think tomorrow I’m going to argue the other side by writing a post titled “Don’t Reinvent the Wheel”.

    Combined with this “Think Outside the Box” post and my other post about “Poker SEO Cliches”, I’ll have a three part series about cliches!

  7. SmackinYaUp says:

    I just read this article over my lunch break and wanted to say thanks for the great writing. Not just this article but all of them. Keep up the great work.

  8. Randy Ray says:

    I appreciate the feedback – good to see you hear, SmackinYaUp.

  9. Peter says:

    This is one of the best posts about diversification and creativity.
    Randy, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom with us!