Taking a longer-term view on people

By Liam Reese

When it comes to content, the use of freelancers and contractors has always been common in the affiliate world. Finixio’s HR director Liam Reese explains why the company sees it as time to move away from that model

If you put the words ‘gambling’ and ‘writers’ into Google, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll find a bunch of job listings for freelancers to write about gambling, alongside a bunch of freelancers offering their services to those in the gambling industry.

A lot of the time the work involves producing content for affiliate sites such as ours and until recently, it may well have been us advertising for independent contractors to help increase and improve the content on the many igaming sites we’re now running.

But we’ve had a bit of a rethink as our igaming business has grown and decided to move away from freelancers and focus on permanent staff instead. There are a number of factors behind this decision but at the core of it is the idea that if we want to build a sustainable business, we don’t think an army of people with no real commitment to or investment in our business is the way to go.

So right now, if you google ‘gambling’ and ‘writers’, along with the aforementioned ads, what you will hopefully also see on the front page are at least a couple of links to the many jobs on offer at Finixio.

Long-term focus

We’ve recently expanded our gambling content team by 25 permanent staff and are keen to grow this even further.

While there may be a shortage of writers knowledgeable on the gambling market, there are many writers with significant experience in sports journalism who are finding their prospects in traditional media are dwindling. The recent news of 450 job cuts at Reach showed just how dire the UK’s media landscape has become and the UK is by no means unique.

There are many writers with significant experience in sports journalism who are finding their prospects in traditional media are dwindling

Given many of our sites focus on sports, hiring ex-journalists with sports expertise seems like a win-win. For us, these hires add the author authority and content quality Google demands these days and for the writers, we’re providing a new career path that for many will turn out to be more secure than the newspaper industry. Our latest hiring round included recruits from The Daily Mail, The Daily Express and The Telegraph.

And what new hires may lack in gambling industry expertise, we can train them in because when they’ve been taken on as full-time staff, the investment seems worthwhile. On the other hand, paying to train a freelancer who may never work for you again after an initial task makes less sense.

We’ve recently hired our first head of gambling content, Sacha Kinser, who came to us with significant igaming industry expertise after having spent five years at Game Lounge. We also have other industry experts on the content team, so we have the in-house knowledge to get people new to igaming up to speed quickly.

Getting in from the ground up

As well as helping people move into new careers, we’re also keen to be the first choice for some of those just starting out in the world of work.

We’ve been looking into the best way to work with career starters for some time and in April 2022 we decided to get involved with Manchester-based The Juice Academy, which works with employers to provide paid digital apprenticeships.

Our first apprentice, Max Barlow, started his digital marketing apprenticeship back in April 2022. For one college year he worked for us as a paid intern four days a week, undergoing classroom-based learning on the final day each week.

After working in various departments of the company’s sports publishing team, including content creation, social media, graphic design and digital PR, he took a full-time role in our PR team in May 2023. He’s now acting as a mentor to the next two apprentices we’ve taken on via The Juice Academy programme.

Our first apprentice, Max Barlow, became full-time in our PR team in May 2023 and is now a mentor to the next two apprentices we’ve taken on via The Juice Academy programme

We’re also looking into how we can work more with universities to deliver graduates suitable for a career in digital marketing. We initially approached several universities and looked to hire undergraduates or graduates from sports journalism courses, many of whom have now become full-time members of our news team. We intend to continue this and have already fostered strong links with universities around the UK.

Attracting these early-stage candidates is especially important in our industry. The world is changing fast and these people are typically from a generation that grew up with sports, products, channels and consumption methods that more experienced people didn’t.

Who knew 10 years ago that watching a video game streamed through YouTube while live betting on your phone using cryptocurrency would be a thing? But it is, and hiring the generation who has grown up with experience of this type of innovation is critical for companies in a space that is always looking to appeal to the younger demographics.


We think the investment in permanent staff is worth it because it should protect us from some of the risks involved in relying too heavily on freelancers

Weighing up the cost

Of course, all of this comes at a cost. Rates for freelancers are relatively low and the cost of permanent staff is inevitably higher, especially when bonuses, benefits and holidays are factored in.

But we think it’s worth the investment for various reasons. First, it should protect us from some of the risks involved in relying too heavily on freelancers. There have always been risks in the form of plagiarism and duplication, which Google has taken real issue with in recent years. But the emergence of AI has thrown another spanner in the works and we’ve increasingly seen freelancers (and even jobseekers) produce copy that’s obviously AI generated.

This type of copy is unlikely to impress Google or our partners and is therefore a risk to the company. Also, as the market becomes more international, there’s a growing danger of using writers who lack expertise in the regulatory environment of a particular jurisdiction. With compliance requirements on the rise all the time, operators are scrutinising their partners more in this area.

Second and most important, if we provide good career opportunities and progression, we should be able to attract and retain good people. This, in turn, should mean we provide a better service to our clients and therefore that we are able to establish ourselves firmly as one of the industry’s leading affiliate partners.

Liam Reese

Liam Reese is HR Director at Finixio. Prior to joining the team, he worked at Kindred Group for more than 10 years, most recently as Director of Human Resource Operations.

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