Just over a year ago now I sat down with my brother who had been running a very modest betting tips page on twitter, under the mantle WMHC Betting Tips. Every Saturday morning, prior to playing football it was a routine of mine (as with many other people across the country no doubt) to pop into the bookies and put a couple of accumulators on, always with mixed success. Usually it was a struggle to find any tipping sites that made sense to me – I just wanted selections made for me with reasonable justification through form and other variables.
Once Will started posting out tips on Twitter to friends and the odd random follower, I began to get involved in what he was doing and as a consequence of that, started winning!
It was at this point that I felt that I could possibly help raise the profile of what he was doing, while giving him a bigger platform to distribute the tips!
So going back to the inception of this article, we sat down, chewed the fat and Accutipster was born.
Initially I had very little experience with blogs, but had some basic idea of coding which I knew would come in useful. My main strength for this came in the shape of my other half, a full time blogger with heaps of knowledge on WordPress!
So how did I get the ball rolling with the site?
Firstly, it was a case of purchasing the domain name (via Go Daddy). This was relatively cheap, and once you have have bought your domain name it’s yours, providing you pay a yearly fee (around £10 p/year) – Accutipster.com was available so this was snapped up.
Next it was our webhosting, this is essentially the space on the internet that you own, which allows you to build, run and upload your website. A good friend of mine works for Fasthosts, so I knew if I bought it from them he would be able to help out with certain things and in the beginning his help was vital to getting the site up and running (Thanks Grant)! We pay Fasthosts around £8 p/month to host our site, which also includes our email system – initially it was half of that for the first 6 months.
Once I had synced up our domain to our webhosting it was time to build. WordPress seemed like the best platform to do this on. Not only did my other half use it (so I knew she could help when I needed it), marrying the site up between our webhosting service and wordpress was a piece of piss. Fasthosts have a really easy transfer method and once this is done, you then have access to the full version of WordPress, with no limitations. Of course, despite everything we have done so far we could have just used the free version of wordpress, but with so many limitations, I felt that building a brand would be really difficult and a lot less aesthetically pleasing.
Once all of the technical aspects were sorted we started to build the site! This was done in about April last year, so we trialed a few posts before the end of the season, and then spent the summer working on the site. The actual building of the site was fun initially but you have to know when to stop, and what is most important to your readers! It had to be intuitive and easy to navigate, which is one of my bugbears about a lot of football tipster websites. When we had finally built the site, it was fairly basic in appearance, but covered everything we wanted and all that was important to us, both as punters and potential bloggers.
As with most things in life nowadays, most of my problems were solved by googling issues. I know it’s a cliche, but the help that other bloggers and experts have provided without knowing is unblievable. It would have been impossible to build the site to the way we wanted without that help and in times of trouble, it has proved vital!
So up until February 2013, the first birth of Accutipster.com was this:-
A far cry from what it is now, sure, but it served us well up until the point where I felt we needed to rebrand and make the site look more professional.
So when the football season kicked off we knew that traffic wouldn’t magically swarm to our site, it was a process that was going to take a long time. On a daily basis we would see anything from 60 to 300 visitors through until January 2014, with a great deal of traffic coming from Twitter. It was the only place that we would generally be seen, but I was delighted with that. It was a start, and it felt good that we were getting that amount of visitors. During that time Jess (my other half), would consistently tell me about SEO. What is SEO you may ask? SEO is a beautiful thing. Search Engine Optimisation is it’s full term and through complex algorithms and other nonsense it’s what search engines validate as useful to a users search in Google, Ask, Bing etc. So once again, I did my research with this and realised that firstly I had to sync my site with webmaster tools for various search engines and also google analytics. Webmaster tools allows you to ‘partly’ optimize your site to make it more searchable, whereas analytics allows you to keep a true-check on your traffic and stats.
As well as using these tools, I also started looking for various SEO plugins to use to help make our site more ‘searchable’ in the hope of increasing our traffic via search engines. I ended up going for the All-In-One-SEO plugin, and immediately got to grips with it, adjusting terms and finding way of making our site more searchable with header tag (H1, H2) and also within the coding <body> of the site – this was in November! While all of this was going on behind the scenes, Will continued to post tips and come up with various ideas for posts. We decided to start writing more ‘blog style’ bits of journalism, without being biased. Being a Man Utd fan (and not one of those that you just love to hate) it wasn’t difficult with the awful season I’ve just had, and with Will being a Newcastle fan with we had to look at ideas that encompassed football and not issues within our clubs that we felt strongly about. This is when we decided to get guestposters on board to write articles for us to publish – this was our idea to try and make the site more of a community for football fans which is something we are still looking to build.
Getting advertising for your site isn’t something you should worry about initially, and it’s something that isn’t easy with the nature of our content. Most gambling related sites aren’t supported by CPM (impression based advertising) ad networks/platforms (like adsense) so it can be difficult to work in that area. We clearly didn’t have a great deal of traffic, but nevertheless I looked at getting affiliates advertisers on board. In hindsight, we started this too early, but I was pushed on by an email we received in October from Titan Bet asking us if we wanted to advertise their brand on our site, for an initial 50% revenue share (basically 50% of losses from someone who signed up through our link to them). Like a kid in a sweet shop, I jumped at this chance and got involved. We had our first advertiser. This then inspired me to look at other bookmakers, which soon followed, but with our low traffic, the turnover was poor and like I said – this was way too early. Part of my problem is that I wanted too much too soon, and seeing the success of my other halfs blog, and how she makes her living of it through advertising pushed me a little in that direction. It was naive, but you live and learn. Whereas Will was only interested in getting his tips shared, I looked further at how I could turn this into a career. Stepping back, and seeing how much I enjoyed running the site as a hobby made me realise that was the very most of what I wanted from this, seeing it grow has been the biggest award!
Onto the new year, and with very little change from how many visitors we were attracting, myself and Will sat down and talked about how we could increase this and talked about investment and paying someone to work with our SEO. This would have been a huge cost, and would have gone completely against why we started this site in the first place. However, no sooner had we talked about this, on a Sunday in the middle of Jan I took a look at our stats and from nowhere we had reached over 1000 views in a day. That continued to grow and with that I thought I would start putting popular related searches into google, and to my elation we had made it onto the first page of ‘football accumulator tips’. That feeling was irreplaceable, it was the biggest achievement for us as a blog so far, apart from providing excellent tips of course :)!
It was at that point that all of the SEO work I did came to fruition, so I continued to work with it, making sure we were up to date and the site was searchable – Luckily, the WordPress platform allows this without much ‘coding’ knowledge.
From that point our organic traffic grew, via twitter, facebook and visitors to the blog. We began to notch up around 4000 visitors over a weekend, and the twitter feed was buzzing with lots of compliments and winners. We started to receive emails from interested parties, and gained a lot of interest within the gambling world.
At that point I decided it was time to shake the site up, so in mid February I planned out a quick overnight turnaround to rebrand. With the site consistently being used, I didn’t want to lose any face. So on the 4th of February at 11pm, I closed the site down and set to work with a new platform for the site, which made things a lot more aesthetically pleasing and essentially made it look more like a ‘real’ website! My other half (part blogger/part graphic designer) helped with the logos and colour scheme, using the knowledge she had learned (through the Blogcademy workshops) and utilised when her and her business partner rebranded their site, which is a wedding blog (so a total parallel with Accutipster)! At one point, it all went horribly wrong, at which point I uttered the words, “I should have never have done this. It was a bad idea.” – fortunately, thanks to Jess who located a fix in a forum on our old mate Google (while I had a nervous breakdown) she managed to sort the issue out and at 6am the following morning, I finally went to bed, after getting the website to a position which it was ready to be released again, and little did I know how much of a difference it would make.
Our views continued to increase, hitting an average of 10,000 visits on a Saturday (our busiest day), and our bounce rate (the rate at which people look at your site and immediately leave) dropped from around 50% to under 0.1% over 6 weeks – this was another great feeling, and brought a sense of achievement to what we were doing.
Within that time we had our biggest winning tip to date, which was a fantastic 202/1. After almost a year in action, things had really started to take shape. The little money we earned from affiliates just about ensured that we broke even in our first year of operation, which we didn’t even factor in to this when we kicked everything off!
We further enhanced our audience in capturing the services of a horse racing tipster, James White, who just happened to be a good friend of mine and was happy to get involved in the project. His first job of tipping for the Cheltenham Races was a great success, and has been posting various tips since. This is an area of the site we’ll develop in the coming months! We also had several guest posters such as Tom El-Shawk, Joe Williams, Adam Kitchin and Marc Hone – big thanks to those guys too!
So that’s our story this year. It’s been hard work, but the amount of enjoyment I’ve had from running the site with my brother has been second to none. Without our visitors, the punters that use our tips – you guys – we would have never got to this position, so thank you for checking us out this year in whatever capacity. The feedback has been truly humbling, and although not always successful, we still believe in a game where you can’t predict a winner, that sites that offer premium areas to which you pay to access for tips are no more or less successful in pointing out clear value. Our mission statement has and always will be to provide free football betting tips.
Whether we continue to grow or not, the one vital lesson that I have learned from my first year in this game is that the most important thing is the feeling of providing a winning tip; everything else is secondary, and if that means we work on this level in the future, then I’m more than content with that.