H.R. Bluff n Stuff
Visit any adult webmaster forum and read what's there. Post a simple, solid question, and see how complicated the non-answer is. They'll tell you the answer depends upon your niche & business model ~ which it does ~ but come back with the same question with those parameters defined, and see how they'll still avoid the answer. Especially if you are asking a question that involves numbers.
No one wants to honestly discuss numbers ~ not the conversion rates they really get, not the income they honestly make, and certainly not the number of hours spent to earn such income.
Many of us believe that you shouldn't ask about money. It's not polite. I not only accept that belief, I subscribe to it. Working on the Internet is very much like 'the real world' and adult web master forums are much like conferences. While you certainly wouldn't ask the guy next to you at a conference how much money he makes, you would ask about less private details, such as percentages in his business, right? But even percentages are part of the hush-hush numbers in the adult webmaster community.
Part of this is that no one wants to post their numbers only to find out they are 'ridiculous' or read "that's a nice start" or are just plain laughed at. Hey, that's part of human nature. So is the loudmouth who keeps spewing forth his annual income figures ~ and you wouldn't trust him at the conference, right? So what you get is a huge number of posers; the old fake-it-til-you-make-it game.
So how does a person know who and what to trust?
Gracie says, "Trust yourself."
Just like in the real world, you have to start somewhere. You research, you read, you begin, you read some more, you try a few things, you compare the numbers, you tweak again, read again, check the numbers again... and when it comes to those numbers, you trust your own.
I don't care if this is day one for you or year 10, the only real numbers you can trust are your own.
I'm not just talking about the number of site visitors, but conversion rates, number of page views, length of visits, number of sites linking to you ~ anything and anything with a number can be, must be, evaluated. Don't worry so much about comparing yourself to everyone else in the industry, or The Big Guy in your niche; compare yourself to yourself. That's how you best judge success.
Is your traffic growing? (Compare number of visitors from last year to this year, last week to this week, yesterday to today.) Are you making more sales and is your conversion rate increasing? (Sales, signups etc vs. traffic.) Are those who visit enjoying it? (Increasing number of average page views &/or length of average visit.) And of course, you compare all these statistics at promotion time ~ and against the last promotion or push.
Not only do you compare the stats, but the dollars & other resources used. Was it cost effective? Was it worth your time? Did it bring in folks but annoy, irritate, or lose others?
As for your reading and research, who can you trust? Well, after time you'll see who's reporting claims that you yourself have seen or which can be verified. You'll see others who make suggestions for things that you know have not worked or are not worth the effort ~ and you'll read them still, but with a more suspicious or intelligent nature always comparing those numbers with your own. You'll begin to see and see-through the bluff n stuff.
Many folks will tell you that becoming an adult webmaster or otherwise entering the world of adult entertainment is big money. Some will tell you it's easy money. But anyone in the trenches who is not part of the H.R. Bluff n Stuff gang will tell you honestly it's not. Even if they don't share their numbers, they should be honest enough to tell you that.
And, you dear adult webmaster, you should tell the truth too. Don't pose. Share information about your percentages. And for heavens sake, be honest about the amount of sweat equity you put in to your business.
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