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How Did You Start in the Gold Industry?


Andy in Texas asked me how I got started working in the gold industry – and what I would recommend to someone starting out in the field.

Alison MacdonaldBullion.Directory’s Ask Ally Service
By Alison Macdonald
Commercial Editor at Bullion.Directory

Thanks Andy, I’m not sure my exact route into working with gold could be replicated (or would even WANT to be replicated) by anyone – but the underlying path could definitely work for you, as it has done for hundreds of others.

I got into gold initially on the marketing side – so anybody with an interest in sales and marketing could have a shot.

First up, I don’t have any formal training in sales and marketing, in fact I studied industrial and product design at uni, but I’ve always been fascinated by the power of persuasion.

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Growing up I’d read all the usual suspects from Napoleon Hill to José Silva and I then moved onto reading famous copywriters like David Ogilvy, Gary Halbert, Dan Kennedy and Clayton Makepeace.

I found it incredible the power that words could have on making people take action.

I went to university, didn’t particularly enjoy the experience, but during the summer breaks I’d work in direct sales – selling anything from kitchens to bedrooms and windows.

Around this time, The Internet was becoming a thing and I realized quickly that combining the reach of this new ‘WWW’ with the power of persuasive copy, I could maybe become a bit of a success.

One of my best friends from uni, Mac Saxe, was himself transitioning from Architecture to a side-hustle in this new online marketing opportunity – only he was more interested in the SEO (search engine optimisation) side of things.


Getting Fresh

bring-the-fresh-logoBetween us, we were looking for answers and ways to make a real success out of what was still a new market, when we found a now long-gone forum called “Bring the Fresh.”

Bring the Fresh had been set up by a great guy, who’d go on to become both a friend and client of our rapidly growing digital design business – and someone who has single-handedly made the biggest difference to both Mac and my lives.

Through Bring the Fresh we learned an absolute ton of online strategy for SEO and ranking niche websites – being taught to go for hungry markets.

I took this too literally building a website about Shawarma, but hey. We all make mistakes.


Enter Gold – Stage Left

Now Mac had always liked Gold, having grown up in Saudi Arabia and he was I guess an early ‘gold bug’.

When the founder of Bring the Fresh began working for a gold company and asked forum members if they’d like to help promote it, this seemed to be the answer we’d been looking for.

This was the beginning of the gold affiliate space and Mac and I were early adopters – making several little websites to rank for key search terms. We got a few sales between us and decided this was absolutely it.

We decided to put all our efforts into building a big authoritative site over hundreds of hours and we called it New Gold Investments.

The site was promptly hacked and destroyed by a rival.


The End of the Beginning

Then suddenly all of these gold affiliates began to take over the search results – and established gold companies were very VERY unhappy, suing both the individual affiliates and the company behind them all.

I was going through some personal things and had to leave the UK quite suddenly (yes it was THAT bad) which coincided with the rout on gold affiliates and so – it wasn’t a hard decision – that was me out of the game.

Fast forward to 2014 and Mac had decided to set up a new website that would be far removed from the types of sites that had been taken down by these various lawsuits. It was to be completely impartial, fully neutral, and eventually list every bullion dealer in the world.

That site was Bullion.Directory.


The Start of the End

Of course I’m fickle – and so I was back in again, and between Mac and myself, we manually typed in the details of hundreds of dealers and approached hundreds of financial authors to write for the site.

2 replied.

Needing writers, I decided to learn as much as I possibly could about gold – and in so doing I began to absolutely love the metal.

Using my copywriting skills and this newfound knowledge, the directory began to take off and we soon offered numerous specialist marketing services to gold companies. Mac would design advertising banners and I’d write sales page copy. We’d design websites and we’d build e-commerce stores.

If it was gold and involved computers we were into it.

All this time we were self-funding Bullion.Directory by working for these gold companies, either directly or through our design company and my market knowledge grew. (Fun fact: Bullion.Directory itself used to make almost no money directly as we had a free listing option – and 99% of companies used it.)

Whilst we may not have been financially successful, Bullion.Directory soon passed the 1000 listings mark and was now an established authority in the market.


Gold Affiliates 2.0

Mac and I used this success and continued working for gold companies, usually in a sales-related role and it was around this time that we saw gold affiliate programs were making a comeback.

This time around all affiliate activity was heavily regulated (thank goodness) and sites had to pass muster with legal departments at every company involved. Mac worked directly with a few companies on developing their new programs and naturally I built out little sales funnels to promote them personally as an affiliate.

This time around we were more financially savvy and our promotions made us a solid return on investment. I made more money than I’d ever dreamed possible.


All Good Things…

Fast forward another three years and the market is changing again.

Once again it’s getting dirtier and cheap copycat programs are opening up, created by new companies with less than clean moral compasses.

Fact finding trip to Saudi, August 2023

Fact finding trip to Saudi, August 2023

Due to the extremely competitive nature of the market, affiliates themselves are getting dirtier and taking shortcuts by destroying other affiliate’s work.

The companies behind these rogue affiliates are themselves starting to be taken down by 3-letter agencies for fraud and miss-selling. Once again.

So once again – I’m out of the affiliate market.

Whilst Mac continues to develop affiliate resources as part of his work, I’m concentrating on building out new on-line presences in the gold market, such as in the Middle East. And we’re doing a lot of work with AI.


There Was a Point in Here, I Swear

So to summarize, I kinda fell into gold. It was never my plan – but once in, I was captivated and fascinated by the metal. I’ve personally invested in a lot of the metal itself and plan to keep building my ‘stack.’

If I was to start again, would I work in metals? Probably not. It has been a lot of work, which whilst profitable (at times) has also been a very stressful role – surrounded by hustlers and the less savory side of the human underbelly.

But I’m in it now, and I’m addicted. It’s an addictive market and an addictive investment, and if you have an addictive bone in your body it will suck you in and do what it will.


So, Would I Recommend You Start Working in Gold?

Absolutely, if you’re passionate about the subject.

If not there are easier fields in which to work – because under the surface sheen the gold market is and always will be a little grubby. We’ve done jobs for which we’ve not been paid, we’ve seen companies purposefully under-report to those working for them by massaging sales results, and we’ve seen outright fraud – first-hand.

I’ve known a straight-up supposedly good guy abscond with millions of dollars in client money.

But… I digress.

On the practical front if you’re still so inclined, the work you could do would depend on your unique skills set.

If you have sales or marketing experience there are always jobs at gold companies in sales. If you have tech skills, there are positions in web development and e-commerce. If you’re into the engineering or design side – there are always jobs in either field at production level, at mints and refineries.

It’s like any market really – only while it sounds glamorous, working in gold is anything but!

Now maybe it was my own personality that somehow got me mixed up with some bad gold companies. Maybe I was just unlucky. And maybe everyone I’ve met and known in the industry was similarly blessed. But the industry as a whole is massive.

There are thousands of legitimate, honest and phenomenal companies across the whole spectrum of what is the precious metals investment market.

And legislation is coming, very soon, to catch those who are anything other than squeaky clean.

Gold is immortal. It has been a store of value for millennia and will remain as such for as long as there are eyes to gaze upon it.

And while my experiences have been a mixed bag, I feel so blessed to have been, and still be part of it all. I’ve made firm friends, seen the world, and personally handled millions of dollars in gold bricks.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Make of that what you will!

Alison author Alison Macdonald

Ask Ally, is your direct line to gold investment wisdom. Alison “Ally” Macdonald, with her extensive experience and sharp tongue, cuts through clutter to offer honest, insider takes on your gold investment questions.

Need insights or industry secrets? Ally’s ready to deliver, combining professional expertise with a smattering of Glasgow patter. Get ready for straightforward, expert guidance from a one-time gold shill turned good guy. Ask Ally Today

The responses provided by ‘Ask Ally’ are strictly for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. Alison Macdonald’s insights and opinions are based on her personal experience and knowledge of the gold industry and should not be taken as professional financial guidance. Before making any investment decisions, we strongly recommend consulting with a qualified financial advisor. Bullion.Directory and Alison Macdonald are not liable for any financial actions taken based on the information provided in this service.

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  1. Hey AllyMac I remember you in Bring the Fresh! That was such a great community I wish Kelly had never shut it down but I can understand why. It’s amazing how you and so many of the guys from BTF are still in Gold, most of the big affiliate sites I see now are all ex BTF members!

    • Sam I loved BTF and still miss it. Yes the long-term affect BTF has had on the US gold industry, good and bad, is beyond dispute!


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