Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do You Need A Blog?

Before I begin my long commentary on how to make the most of blogs, I thought it best to begin with why you need a blog.

As a primer, read Is blogging here to stay? Can you use it?. When ready, proceed...

In the MySpace/Social Networking talks with erotica authors, Autumn Seave of Inky Blue Allusions said:

Blogging is huge in making yourself known. Not just promoting your site, but letting people know who you are and why you do what you do. People tend to do business with people they feel they have a relationship with. So, MySpace is great for blogging and revealing part of yourself that allows people to be comfortable with you.

This is an important thing in our business. You know The Whore is all about being a classy bit of tail, but let's face it: our business has an image problem.

The number of people who have concerns over how we run our business is huge ~ and not without reason. Bait & switch links, memberships that are nearly impossible to end, charging for content that is free elsewhere etc. all these things nasty little crack-whore webmasters and other disease ridden sluts do, these affect public perception every time a person considers your site, publication, shoppe etc.

A blog can do much to counter-act these apprehensions.

As Autumn said, people feel more comfortable doing business with those they know. If they at least feel you are a real person, they'll be more likely to trust you. And your blog can do that ~ how is for later.

This of course is all on the premise that you have a website or business that your blog accompanies. What if you want your blog to be your business?

While it's true there's money to be made by being a blogger with affiliate programs or selling ad space, this is trickier. You are selling the product of another (or many others). So your reputation is just as vital; others will apply your credibility to the evaluation of who/what you are selling.

I don't recommend just signing up for any & all the affiliate programs you can. And I certainly would expect that you have an interest in ~ if not passion for ~ the niche or topics you plan to talk about. Because random uncaring posts are like that skanky crack-whore sex: no one's interested unless desperate. (Sex with a pro may be loveless, but it's not without it's care.) And with so many prime locations already staked out, desperate folks won't even find you.

In recently interviewed Richard Evans Lee, who has more blogs than I can count at this time. Many of his blogs you'll recognize for he's quite a successful sex blogger. I asked him, "You've been doing this a long time, in Internet Years ;) Many "sex blogs" have come and gone during this time. To what do you attribute the longevity of your blog? Any advice for sex bloggers?" And this was his reply:

I enjoy doing it. While I do run ads I never expect it to support me. Too many bloggers start in search of profit. They usually fall by the wayside.

If you don't get some sort of personal fulfillment and pleasure from having a sex blog - or any blog - it is best to not bother.

So I guess the best way to answer the question, "Do you need a blog?" is to decide if you are ready to invest the time, care and even passion into it? If the answer is 'No' ~ or you disagree with what's been presented here and you believe you can make a fast easy buck ~ then I'd say, "Stop being a $5 crack whore licking the public's face!" It's not sexy and you're ruining the images of the rest of the quality escorts.

If the answer is 'Yes', then stick around, subscribe to the newsletter, and I'll tell you more.

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Sugasm is: The best of this weeks blogs by the bloggers who blog them. The list highlights the top 3 posts as chosen by Sugasm participants as well as editor's pick etc.

I just made This Week's Picks (with Arrogant Penis) and that's rather cool. But I'm not just whoring myself here ~ I'm suggesting this as a means to whore yourself.

How Sugasm works is that you submit a link to your sex writing, erotica, or other sexy blog bit via this form.

Once the next week's issue (list) has been posted, and you've made the list, you repost the linklist within a week. This means your blog whores all participants (and gives you some 'free' content to post) ~ and all those participants are also whoring your blog.

It's simple enough ~ but remember, only send in your best stuff. Other bloggers are evaluating you so don't waste their time or embarrass yourself with a bad entry. Better to skip a week than show-off something less than stellar.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Social Networking on MySpace, Part Two

Continuing from Part One...

How consistent are you with managing your MySpace account? I myself intended to make weekly blog updates, but I sometimes feel lucky if I get in for messages etc. Do you think being consistent if not very active is important in social networking?

Carrie: I have to admit to not being that consistent with updating the blog on MySpace, probably because it's not my main writing blog. That is here. I also have a few other writing blogs dotted around the place that also get very few postings published to. I no longer have a personal blog to write on due to too many nasty comments and reactions. I log in at least once a day to pick up blog subscription messages, friend requests and messages. I think it's extremely important to do that because I want to keep the account updated and fresh for promotional purposes.

Jolie: My MySpace page is updated once a week. It's very important to update at MySpace on a consistent basis.

Autumn: I login at least once a day. I blog - well, I try to blog twice a week but I'm happy if I've added something interesting once a week.

Is it important? Definitely. People won't come back to your blog or your space if you don't have anything interesting to read/view/listen to. And if people write you messages and you don't get back to them for a week at a time they think you don't care. Once again, it all goes back to people feeling that they have a relationship with you. And actually developing relationships with people - not just putting in an appearance once in awhile.

What do you use MySpace for? (Here are some ideas, feel free to add your own ~ and if more than one purpose, please guesstimate percentages.)

Marketing/selling to clients/customers.

Networking with other professionals in your field.

To establish connections with press, writers, publications you hope will help promote you.

The free blog service.

Ability to start a group/community devoted to yourself or your works.

Socializing/staying connected with friends & family.

Really, it's just for the free link(s) to your sites &/or projects; you put little thought into its larger purpose.

Autumn: As I've already mentioned, developing relationships with potential readers/clients is important so that's the biggest thing for me. Not just potential buyers, but the ones who like to read for free as well. They are just as important as the buyers. (I'd say 50% is for this purpose!)

Meeting other people in the industry is important as well. There is so much to learn for someone who is so relatively new, like myself. IBA is almost a year old but I started out knowing virtually nothing. A lot that I've learned has come from people I've met ... (About 20% for this purpose.)

The bulletins are a great way to make people aware of new things you have to offer. For instance, my Members Area just opened in January, so bulletins are good for making people aware. I put on a pre-sale special in a bulletin (as well as the blog) so that people here would have a chance to purchase memberships at a drastically reduced price. (10% for bulletins)

Carrie: I use MySpace for Networking with other professionals in my field. I've received a few review requests via MySpace and establishing connections with press, writers and publications. I don't expect anybody to promote me though I've had one or two posts written about me and about my work. I would say it was about 50/50 on the percentages. I don't use MySpace for forming close friendships offline or for keeping in touch with family.

Jolie: I use MySpace for promotion.

Do you have specific goals with MySpace? (Say, hitting a number of friends, targeting specific audiences, recruiting etc.) Or do you just participate and see what comes of it all?

Carrie: I tend to just participate and see what comes out of it all. I'm quite lazy in that respect but really, it's more to do with the lack of time more than anything else. If I'd used it that way when I first started out on the Internet it would have worked out better but I didn't know about it right at the start so I missed out on that opportunity.

Autumn: Sara had some very definite goals. One was to hit 1000 friends by Christmas and I was very impressed that she did that. Another was to visit and comment on every friends page, which she also did. I, myself, not so much. My main goal is to update a couple times a week at least.

Jolie: I'd like to hit a goal of 1,000 friends, but it's not planned. I don't send out friend request. They come to me!

When it comes down to it, MySpace is just another way of networking ~ only instead of a professional organization, it's a much bigger pool with more 'public' to reach. This is good in the sense that you can reach more people, but also each profile or member is a single piece of straw in an immense pile... How do you stand out? What do you do to be found?

Jolie: I have over 800 friends, but I try to keep in contact with about 100 of them. A lot of people have me on their top 24 because of the contact.

Carrie: To increase my exposure I link to my profile from my main writing website, post comments on other friend's profiles on MySpace and I make sure my profile is attractive to look at. Most of the friend's requests I've received are from authors who I've worked with and reviewed their books/websites who have then gone looking for me on MySpace.

If you have a website or blog independent of MySpace, is there any difference between marketing/promoting it as opposed to your MySpace page?

Jolie: I update my website but it doesn't have the people interaction like MySpace does.

Autumn: Blogging, bulletins, and comments. And of course, responding to messages!

Carrie: I do have a website and blog independent of MySpace and I consider these more important for promotional purposes. My main website has been around for 6 years at various domains and I've worked hard to get it where it is today. It still requires more work, though, from me to get it higher up in the search engines. My daily traffic is really low compared to my partner's website! I consider my main website as more important than MySpace as it looks and reads more professional. It holds so much more information than my MySpace profile. I don't like to overload my profile at MySpace because it can then look cluttered and amateurish. There are no ads or pop-ups on my site.

Do you feel you reach more professionals in your area (for ex. authors meeting other authors or publishers) or more consumers (continuing the example, authors meeting book buyers or book reviewers)?

Autumn: So far I would say more professionals.

Carrie: I feel I've reached more professionals via MySpace. Mind you, I can't tell if any of the hits to my book on Lulu.com has come from MySpace or elsewhere! Few people go from MySpace to Hentracks or Sexography, though.

Jolie: Actually, both!

I find that I've had more interaction with and concrete results with professionals at MySpace ~ for example, this whole interview or conversation happened there ;) But when it comes to readers or consumers, not so much. To be fair, it's not always possible to 'see' transactions that occur at other sites. (Hits to my sites, but sales not so much.) Can you definitively state that you have made sales because of MySpace, and if so, pls. describe. If not a direct sale, what other deals or connections have made MySpace worth the time?

Autumn: Definite sales, no. Page views, yes.

Jolie: I don't have a way to tell about the print anthologies, but I have sold ebooks through my MySpace contacts. I've also received book reviews from MySpace friends.

Carrie: I can't say for definite I've received any sales or downloads from MySpace. I've got no way of tracking the hits or download stats of my freebies so I just keep them up there any way! I have had many contacts with authors though which enable me to reach them when I have review offers taking place. This is a good way of networking and it's given me an idea of changing the way I request review submissions. Hopefully, I can increase the amount of requests even further by adding the ability to accept them on MySpace.

I have made linking partners though, which is another important part of increasing your presence on the web.

So, there's a lot of effort which goes into social networking. Overall, do you consider MySpace a worthwhile endeavor?

Autumn: Absolutely. The more effort you put into it, the more you reap the rewards!

Jolie: YES!

Carrie: I would say that it is, definitely. I have had more chance of getting to know people in the same field and genre as me and it has connected me to some excellent erotic magazines thereby increasing my chances of publication. If you don't mind the ads I would recommend it to anyone for networking and promotion.

The Participants:

Autumn Seave: Webmistress of Inky Blue Allusions which features erotic serials (with personal bi-weekly email option or membership option), short stories, and audioerotica. Autumn & company have officially been on MySpace for about a year ~ "But we only really got serious about it around 4 months ago."

Jolie du Pre: Author of lesbian erotica and erotic romance. She also runs GLBT Promo and Ebooks by Jolie at MySpace. Her website is www.joliedupre.com. Jolie's been on MySpace since 2004, but says, "I didn't become active until May of 2006."

Carrie White: An Erotic Writer & Book/Website Reviewer. She also writes sex toy buy guides for a well known sex toy shop on the Internet. Her websites are Hentracks and Sexography. Carrie's been on MySpace for about 3 or 4 years, if not longer.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Newsletter Subscriptions

It has been brought to my attention that there was a problem with subscribing to the newsletter. All gremlins have been removed and it's working correctly now.

My apologies for the errors.

Please subscribe (or re-subscribe) so that you get the newsletters ~ I promise not to trade, share or whore your information and the newsletters are not full of adds. (Less than this blog has, honest!)

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Affiliates and Product Reviews

Valentine's Day is another big adult buying season. You can capitalize on it with product reviews and affiliate links.

Focus on getting those product reviews written & published ASAP. Even those that are published too close to the holiday in terms of shipping time for consumers will bear fruit ~ Remember, folks receive cash and gift certificates. Your 'late reviews' may garner you sales after the holiday too.

If you have 'old' but hot products which you have positively reviewed some time ago, remind your visitors of these gems. You can even make holiday gift lists, "Top 10 Sexy Gifts For Women" etc., which link to those older reviews.

If your site isn't one of those that has been doing product reviews, this is difficult to begin now ~ there's very little time to get product, use it, write & publish reviews. However, there are some ways around this too.

Bloggers have it easy. Simply make an entry regarding all the 'buzz' about some new product. Do not lie and say you tried it, but mention how you predict it will be The gift this year, or mention how badly you want one. If you have newsletters (and if you don't, please remind me to smack you with rolled up newspapers!) you can do the same sorts 'entries' in those publications.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Writing, Publishing & Editing Smut

I (finally) got around to publishing my thoughts at New Publisher Journal and this reminded me of an older post about the status of erotica. (I am not the only one thinking about that.)

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Social Networking on MySpace, Part One

You've likely all heard the hype about MySpace and other social networking sites. Praised as a huge boon for marketing, sites like MySpace sure do have potential and there's no shortage of articles on using social networking sites. Even Rachel Kramer Bussel's chimed in on the subject.

Once upon a time, any professional who didn't have their own URL was considered less than credible. Now enter MySpace and other social sites and suddenly you're told you're missing out if you don't register and begin blogging, posting bulletins and be-friending as fast as you can. If your own domain name and official website were necessary to branding, it now seems that you must be a part of another site in order to be cool ~ or at least accessible to the cool.

A presence at MySpace, FaceBook, Oomph or the like is not only a 'must do' to reach customers, but the number of contacts or friends has even been used like magazine circulation numbers to add to sales dollars. If public comments become testimonials about you & your products become the pull, the number of friends you have becomes business leverage.

Purported to be an easy tool for the marketer who believes in buzz Vs. ad dollars, is social networking the real thing?

I decided to have a few of my MySpace friends chime in with me on the subject. Meet the participants:

Autumn Seave: Webmistress of Inky Blue Allusions which features erotic serials (with personal bi-weekly email option or membership option), short stories, and audioerotica. Autumn & company have officially been on MySpace for about a year ~ "But we only really got serious about it around 4 months ago."

Jolie du Pre: Author of lesbian erotica and erotic romance. She also runs GLBT Promo and Ebooks by Jolie at MySpace. Her website is www.joliedupre.com. Jolie's been on MySpace since 2004, but says, "I didn't become active until May of 2006."

Carrie White: An Erotic Writer & Book/Website Reviewer. She also writes sex toy buy guides for a well known sex toy shop on the Internet. Her websites are Hentracks and Sexography. Carrie's been on MySpace for about 3 or 4 years, if not longer.

I began using MySpace, and any and all social networking sites that I belong to, for the same reasons: I got tired of all my associates and friends telling me to join ~ and that things would be so much easier if I would message them there. I eventually gave in. What brought you to MySpace? Was it a friend, or other social reason, or was it for business reasons?

Autumn: One of my writers suggested it as a means of reaching potential readers. But now that I'm here it is for business but also very social. I love talking to people and getting to know what makes them tick!

I know that part of building a business is having a presence on the Internet and MySpace is one of the biggest places to build a presence.

Jolie: Business reasons - promotion. I started to take MySpace seriously because other authors took it seriously.

Carrie: I don't think I was ever referred to MySpace. I probably came across another author's profile and thought, "Seems like a good idea."

I initially joined for fun I think but then, saw how it could be used for promotion so I started to really push it out. I found places that provided free MySpace layouts and codes and customized my profile to make it look more attractive.

What had you heard about MySpace? Any success stories?

Carrie: Since I joined, I've read numerous articles about the promotional opportunities on the site, and have decided to stick with my account. I've met a number of good writers on here and have been put in touch with many more. So, all in all, I think it’s a good way of networking and finding friends who write in the same genre as you. Another friend of mine, P.G Forte also mentioned how much better her sales of a particular book was after posting details about it upon her profile. So, I've added details of my books to my profile and am just waiting to see how well my sales do!

Autumn: I'd heard good things from others who are musicians and in other forms of the arts and when I realized that the adult industry has it's own presence here I knew I couldn't ignore it.

Is this your first try with a site like MySpace, or have you previously tried other sites like Friendster, Tribe, Ryze etc?

Jolie: This is my first try with a site like MySpace.

Autumn: This is the first time I've been serious. I dabbled in msnspaces (under a different name and for more personal type stuff) and hi5 (I can't even remember my name there!) but only playing around. And I guess I just didn't stay around long enough to really get to know anyone. Oh, and I did spend some time at CherryTap, which is fun, but I prefer MySpace.

Carrie: MySpace was the first site of this kind for me but since then I've joined Xpeeps.com which is an adult version and other community style blogs and groups, though MySpace is the one I'm most active on. I get some pervy contacts from Xpeeps but you kind of expect that to some degree. If you visit, I have to warn you, it's a bit more raunchy on there which includes my profile picture ;)

I think it's really important to get your name out there within your chosen field so I now have profiles all over the place even if I don't update them all the time.

Between blogging, sending/replying to messages, befriending others etc, how many hours do you put into managing your MySpace account?

Autumn: For myself, I'd say a couple hours a week. But my Queen of Marketing and Promotions, Sara Winters (i.e. BlueSW) spent the most time building the profile, editing blogs, promoting, building a friends list, and doing bulletins. At the beginning I bet she spent at least 10 hours a week. She rocks!

Carrie: I put in maybe a couple of hours a week which gives me plenty of time to answer messages, approve or deny friend requests, post on the blog and read comments etc. It's enough time for me to do what I need and keep the profile updated.

Jolie: 1/2 hour a day for all three sites.

As women, how much of your time is spent not only with 'spam' messages, but the unwanted pervy approaches? (Hey, I gotta ask!)

Autumn: I get 3 or 4 spam messages a week and 1 or 2 pervs every week. That is what inspired my latest blog entry "We're People Too!" I mostly ignore them but if they are particularly nasty I send them a message to let them know it is not appropriate. They are usually apologetic and stop.

Carrie: I've been pretty lucky so far and have very few if any spam or pervy comments. My only complaint is despite setting my account not to accept friend requests from bands, some still do trickle through. I've also been notified of a suspect profile on MySpace via my Xpeeps account and have successfully managed to get it closed down. I'm trusting too much some would say and up until now I allowed free rein on my comments. That's all been changed now and my password and email login as been changed too, due to unsuccessful login attempts on my account.

Jolie: Very little of my time. I'm careful about who I approve on my friend spaces.

As you can see, working social network sites requires some dedication and devotion of time. In the next parts we'll get into using the site features & discuss what rewards there may be.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Case Study For Moving Target Markets: The Village Voice

A Case Study for moving target markets: The Village Voice

An example of the fluid, moving consumer is the change at the Village Voice. In attempts to go from appealing to the single reader they've fired Rachel Kramer Bussel and replaced her single self with not one but two married moms. With all respect to Rachel, it makes sense to accept that your readership is aging and that children are now a part of their lives.

But the way to make change wasn't full of sense.

Not just 'new', it's a sharp turn to the left that many readers didn't see coming. Many readers just don't know why Rachel's no longer there. They feel a loss ~ and it's not going to feel any better or familiar when they read who is there. It's a pretty big jump to take, married or single.

Problems with change aside, there's one giant problem that the Village Voice should have anticipated: who their readers really are.

That they moved sharply from one stereotype (of the single sexually free woman) to another one of sexless moms. Their readership may be aging and therefore getting married and having kids, but they made an assumption that their aging readership was some version of 1950's parents who slept in separate twin beds ~ not for the sake of TV censors, but due to the realities of limited time and fear of aging issues. Not all people age so, and fans of the Village Voice feel especially that they have not.

While the Village Voice may have been wise to remember their maturing readership, they sure missed the mark when they used old school marketing names and descriptions for consumer types.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Better Aim With Snipper Marketing

In "A Market of One" marketer Greg Hoyos (friend of the blog) writes:

"One consumer. One person. Each one of us as the ultimate segment. No two of us are alike."

His thoughts are based on the fact that we are, each of us, an individual market unto ourselves; that as we have shrugged off labels and resist being labeled ourselves we have become less identifiable ~ at least as far as marketing is concerned.

His words are true. The complexities of which he speaks are often the stuff that makes a non-schooled marketing person cringe (and many schooled ones as well), but don't let that stop you from reading & learning. What Greg is saying is that many 'professional marketers' need to un-learn and then re-learn. Like old dogs learning tricks, it is harder for them than for many of you self-taught marketing folks.

His bottom line, or at least the most striking part to me, is this:

"What marketers need to do is look for new commonalities, accepting however that these are transient. They also need - and this is marketing heresy - to accept fuzziness in markets, not to expect precise returns for precise programmes, and to plan fast responses to a moving target."

What he's advising is the very stuff many of the best adult webmasters are doing ~ being aware that, especially on the Internet, people are moving and that you must be flexible and if not anticipate where they are moving to, at least be ready to follow.

It may mean, in fact require, that you be prepared to literally follow your consumers from place to place. Your advertising locations may change from MySpace to Oomph. You may be forced to change the format of your promotional efforts from the old way of thumbnail galleries to the new way of blogs. Did the technology change to meet consumer needs or did the consumer change in the face of new things? It's the chicken or the egg in the sense that in some cases it's one, in the next the other. But you need to think of what is available, what it is popular ~ with whom ~ and why, and what you'll need to do in order to be found.

Once you are found, what changes are your customers experiencing which you will need to deal with? Individuals get married, have children, get divorced, all of which affects their consumption practices (and volume), as do new jobs with higher incomes, the loss of a job, religious conversions, and growing older. While individuals do these things it is individuals which form groups: groups of married people, parents, born again Christians, senior citizens. While this was once the old school approach to marketing, it is no longer enough. I may be a parent, but do I view myself as one? With the birth of my child do I get a subscription to Parenting Magazine or do I keep Maxim? Do I get both? You may be over 60, but if you don't join AARP, are you really in that senior group? Maybe you're watching XGames, playing with your Wii, consuming Cheetos, and washing it down with Mountain Dew rather than coffee. There's no longer the old 'senior citizens' group, but several smaller sectors within (and nearby). Smaller markets, each with a more unique sense of individuality ~ and a greater fluidity or movement between groups. (For more on this, read The End of Consumer Segmentation?, also by Greg.)

This does not mean you change your niche with every trend you see, or jump-ship on what you already do, but rather that you modify actions, expectations and navigation. This does not mean you grab every tech gizmo you read about & implement it your site or in your business model, but rather that you see what is trendy (and therefore popular at the moment) and see what the 'it' factor is. For example, podcasts. Sold and told to us as the latest Great Thing, podcasting really appeals to a very small audience of youngsters. If your target audience is young hipsters, perhaps podcasts are the way for you to go; if not, why bother? At the same time, ponder why podcasts are popular to these young consumers and unpopular with other folks and see what you can see.

One thing is for certain: You will need to stop thinking of your ideal consumer as a large stationary target market of sitting ducks and think of them as a smaller flock of individual moving ones. You can no longer take random shots into the center of the large flock and hope you hit something (per the old adult webmaster number games); you'll need to pick them off one by one.

You are going to need better aim.

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Free PR Book Froom PRWeb

I received this email from PRWeb:

The rules of PR have changed.

The influence of the Internet has not only changed the way both the media and your customers choose to receive their news and find information, it has opened the door for a whole new set of influencers, including bloggers. All of this means more visibility for your news and, ultimately, more results for your business, but only if you understand online PR.

Keep your PR team one step ahead of the competition and extend the reach of your news, make sure your organization leverages 'The New Rules of PR'.

Authored by marketing strategist and online expert David Meerman Scott and updated for 2007, "The New Rules of PR" includes practical 'newsmarketer' tips from David McInnis, founder and CEO of PRWeb, the leader in maximizing distribution and optimization of your news online.

They include:

* Optimizing your news releases for search
* Utilizing online distribution services to reach thousands of web sites and blogs
* Leveraging advanced social media features including TrackBacks/PingBacks and Technorati tagging to extend the reach of your news
* Developing content that attracts your key audiences and drives traffic to your site

Use the power of the Internet to your advantage, learn the new rules of PR! Visit PRWeb and receive your free copy of "The New Rules of PR" today.


Joe Beaulaurier
Interactive Marketing Manager

I downloaded it but have not read it yet; while I am certain it's not aimed at adult marketers, I'm certain it's worth the time. So grab your copy.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Do you know who is at your door?

Well, actually it is 'click-click' ~ Who is visiting your website?

Why are they there?

Are they staying, buying, leaving?

In business, there are terms for this stuff: traffic, visitors, conversions, ROI, statistics & demographics, and of course, profit.

A good business person knows who is arriving at their site, why they came, if they are happy enough to buy, etc.

Of course, all this information helps you know how to get them back, how to find more like them, and hopefully how to sell more (both to them & the new visitors).

How much do you know about the folks you service?

Aside from tracking website visitors, knowing what keywords they searched for, or links they came from, do you know if they are male? Female? Queer? Over 30?

Are they happy to find you, or were they mislead by some link & left abruptly?

If they purchased, are they happy to do so again? Would they tell others how cool your stuff is?

Have you asked them?

The Whore sure is a tease today ~ all these questions, and no answers!

I'd love to help you find out. Subscribe to the newsletter, post your comments & questions, and contact me with your questions & ideas.

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Interview With Matt of Darker Pleasures (Part Two)

Just as it takes a masterful hand to deliver torture that teases & pain that pleases, it takes a master to deliver devilish digital delights. Matt, who runs Darker Pleasures, does just that.

Not only is his site first class, but so is Matt. Not many adult webmasters are so willing to share their advice & experience with another ~ let alone the webmasters with successful sites. Most ignore you, many provide rude refusals, and the others have bad advice (whether done on purpose to send you in the wrong direction, or just plain ignorance to how business is done, I can't say for certain...)

But anyway, Matt is a gem, and this interview (which started here) is full of lots of the same.

Do you run the site alone? (Any partners?)
I'm basically it. Christine Dannemont was instrumental in being our only model for the first year. I have a silent partner that owns the business and takes care of the bills, but I'm your Jack-of-all-trades.

Did you 'make' the site yourself, or hire a web designer etc?
Just little ole me. In fact, I've designed and created web sites for others I've worked with as well. Rico Tymann's now defunct "Strict Times" (defunct having nothing to do with my work, by the way) and Raven Twisted's "Terrorgasm" are examples. I've also done a couple of normal-people sites, but they'd probably rather not be mentioned here.

Do you create all the site content, stories & photos, yourself? Do you purchase any?
We did the first year and a good part of the second. Once we got some financial stability we started farming out the photographs to other photographers and models. We use Strict Times, Fantasy Modeling, Exxep Studios, and Shadowplay Imaging quite a bit, as well as others. I still did most of the writing with the help of the talented Elizabeth Faraday until mid-2002ish, at which time we started commissioning freelance writers as well. I tend to think we have some of the most talented writers in the field now, several of whom have been published in mainstream.

Oh, and I still write when time permits. I love blue moons.

How do the women models feel about the site?
Depends on the model. Some of them pretty much disavow our existence as being beneath them. That's unfortunate, but a lot of models start out in this biz and work there way into things they'd share with their families. Others are ambivalent - its work. A few really get into the scene and love it. I mentioned Raven Twisted earlier. We've also had a few others, and are looking at two more as I speak... um... type.

What is the worst aspect of your work?
That would either be the hours - I put in a whole lot of time at this, or the current political climate - our government administration doesn't care too much for what we do, and has pretty much made no bones about the fact that they're hunting. Looking over your shoulder, even when you know that you're well within legal bounds, is no fun.

What part of your work do you enjoy the most?
Writing. I love writing. If I could just write, I'd be happy as a clam. My serial novel, Families, is so much fun. I'd give an eye tooth (I'll keep my other body parts, thank you) to have time to go back and edit and expand some of my earlier stuff.

What traits do you think you have that have made the site so successful?
I like to think that the site's personality keeps people around. I inject a lot of me into the site, and I think folks like that. It doesn't hurt that we make sure both our pictures and stories are of the highest quality. I also think that we have a unique set-up that caters solely to one niche. We'll never beat out Playboy, Hustler, or Cyberpornmondowebsites of America, but we don't want to.

And which things do you find you need to improve upon or seek outside help (outsourcing etc) for?
Um... I'd love to get video clips back, but until Acacia Research is defeated and burning in Hades, that's not gonna happen. Otherwise, to be honest, I'd like to spiff up the place a little more, but I really think what we do works well. All the pros seem to think that our white backdrop is quaint (as opposed to "Porn Black") and the site simplicity lets members enjoy the stuff. Sounds good to me.

In percentages, how is your time divided on site work? For example, what percent of time is spent on marketing, subscriber help, content creation, site work like coding & design, etc?
My eyes are crossing here.

Coding and design - 30%
Marketing - 20%
Content creation - 20%
Editing - 20%
Customer service - 10%

But those numbers change as time goes on. After a while, there's only so much marketing you can do. I mainly tweak these days (marketing, not what you thought - get your mind outta the gutter). Sometimes, customer service goes way up, like when some idiot hacker manages to get hold of a list of old usernames and passwords. Hackers need to burn in Hades right next to Acacia, but that's a whole 'nother story into itself.

When you analyze the site in a business sense, what are the most critical areas? Marketing? Content creation?
Both, but without really good marketing, you'll never get anyone to come see your pretty content. Marketing gets 'em there and content keeps 'em there. These days, getting them there requires an act of Congress. Also, porn sites are a dime a dozen. The last time I read, there were something like seventy-three gazillion porn sites on the 'Net. You have to do something special. Pick a niche that hasn't been overdone and then make your site into a one-of-a-kind experience. You won't keep everyone, but the ones you keep will be there because no one else does what you do the same way you do it.

There's one more part to come!

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Too Big For Britches?

Chelsea Girl, of Pretty Dumb Things, has an excellent post discussing the Google & sex blogs situation, including the irony of press regarding the 'excluded' blogs not linking to said blogs.

In her article she quotes:

"So what if a few sex blogs drop down in Google search results?"

"The problem is that with so much power concentrated in one company, Google, one small mishap has the potential to punish small independent blogs or web businesses that depend on Google-generated traffic."

To which she replies, "with great popularity comes great responsibility."


I however, cannot resist noting that this post is by a blogger who has the luxury of having a Web.BlogAds account. I say 'luxury' because this company isn't, according to my own personal experience and those of others who have whined and bitched to me, open to new ad space. This is to say that if you have a blog you cannot just register & host ads ~ you must be referred to them by a member or some magical means of contact for emails to the company regarding hosting ads are not even replied to.

No hard feelings towards Chelsea Girl (and the others in the Web Blog Ads network), I know this is not your doing; but it's quite frustrating. This is very much like the Google situation: A company with a great service ignores the needs of those it serves.

This isn't merely a rant without meaning or a personal grudge; it's one of irony. I know that ads the royal 'We' (corporately speaking) have placed via Web BlogAds performed really well ~ but treatment like this makes one wary, reluctant... Reluctant to refer others to the service, reluctant to part with more of our own money; because what if there is a problem and you are ignored then too?

Web Blog Ads shouldn't ignore bloggers with interest in hosting ads. More ad hosts mean more appeal to advertisers and more money in every one's pockets.

I know we were looking for sex blogs for many of our products and had there been more opportunities we would have tried them too (within our budget, of course). Since I know of a number of good, quality blogs with solid traffic were ignored, how many others have been?

Being selective may be a companies prerogative, but it should be exercised with auction. Google's selective process should be its algorithm which is about matching sites relevant to search terms. Web Blog Ads selectivity should be about offering a range of quality ad space relevant to the needs of advertisers. That's their service; that's their responsibility.

Update: I've since been accepted into the BlogAds network, including being part of the Women's Blog Ad Newtork.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Affiliate Programs 101

Since in my business I offer affiliate programs, I'm often asked questions by affiliates (or those who wonder if they should become one) lots of questions about them. I do post helpful articles in my affiliate newsletters, but I thought I'd also post a series of articles here ~ a more permanent record, if you will.

So, today, we begin with Affiliate Programs 101.

Basically all the programs work the same. You get paid for either hits to other websites, or you get paid for sign-ups/purchases.

To me, the difference doesn't lie in which type you use, but rather how targeted the program is to *your* audience.

For example, if your site is an amateur webcam, and you don't do 'anything real kinky' you probably aren't best to choose bsdm & spanking affiliate programs. You should stick with more amateur sites, or at least those that 'look like you.'

Which does not mean blondes should only pick blond affiliates; I mean that you should remember who visits your site, and why, and give them more of what they want. For example, you might want one 'professional' blonde model site affiliate program to capture those who aren't into amateurs, as well as a few other amateurs (who are different enough from you so you don't give away your target audience), and perhaps some videos or sex toys of the same flavor as your site.

The more the affiliate program is tailored to you site visitors, the more likely the visitors are to be interested in the programs you offer.

And this is where the personal recommendation works much better than a bunch of banners. Folks like to feel you personally have used/tried the programs/products and like them. It makes them feel like they are a friend or at least among like-minded folk.

So, be selective in what you offer. And be selective in how much you offer...

Less is more, not just in what your models wear, but in affiliate programs.

A page with 20 blinking banners only distracts ~ No one knows where to go first!

By keeping your selections to a few per page, you can make them fit the page content, *and* make the recommendation stand out.

These are my opinions (of which I have many) ~ I'd love to hear your thoughts on & experiences with affiliate programs. If you'd prefer not to talk shop in public, send me an email. I may publish your question with my comments here, but I won't use your name unless I have your permission.

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Annoying Your Way To A Skanky Sale

Well, folks, it may come as no surprise that Gracie is one opinionated gal. And when it comes to working on the web, I am no different...

I have an issue regarding the general 'wisdom' of adult webmasters. OK, so what follows *looks* like a long list & more than 'an issue' but really, it is one issue...

I don't understand the desire, no, the marked effort, to annoy site visitors.

Here is a list of standard recommendations for 'free sites' to use to generate income. Note how all of these are more annoying than helpful:

Index or 'warning' page also containing banner advertising, and a link to your site which actually goes to a full page ad for another site. How many times have you searched for some information or personal kink, and ended up in a completely different place, with no clue as to how to get to where you were trying to go? Does it warm your heart or annoy the piss out of you? What reaction are you trying to get from a potential customer?

Put a "No thanks, let me in" link at the bottom of this full ad page, which goes to your site's main page. Yes, after a few experiences with the first bit, you do learn to look for this 'real link,' but does this really work? Have you ever 'accidentally' signed up for a pay site?

Honestly, I did once. (Huge blush, but I was a newbie!) However, after many threatening emails, phone calls, etc. I didn't get my $25.95 back, but I did the future billings stopped...

Did I ever go back to those types of sites again? Hell, No!

When I see that BS, I click back & out. I know I can find another, more honest site to work with ~ *and* I will gladly pay twice the subscription rate!

On your 'real main page' place ads along with your 'real' content. Usually these are obvious, but they drag page load time, and junk up the place.

Between the links to your 'real content' place more full page ads, with the 'No Thanks' links to continue. Jeeze, more of the same crap...

On your small gallery or content pages, load up with more advertising, and free content from sponsors. 'Sponsors' are just advertisers, mind you, so what you have is a loud, annoying, heavy page with little original content what-so-ever.

Place an exit console off your main page &/or other pages, so when a surfer hits the back button to leave your site, you have one more chance of making some money on that same traffic. Yeah, brilliant. It didn't work the first time, the first 10 times, it is *really* going to work when they are trying to flee as fast as they can...

This is the stuff that the so-called pros are trying to teach you & I?!

If this is how to 'maximize your income potential' then I have to say these pros are not making money.

Do any of these tricks really work? Other than the fact that newbies are arriving on the Internet each & every day, and they may be as dumb and clumsy, as I to find themselves paying for the wrong site, the newbie phase is on the down slide.

And it sure doesn't build customer relations.

If you cannot retain subscribers, they are not happy. Unhappy folks do not talk well about your site, or your business. They do not pass links along to their friends, doing your marketing for you.

Even a supposed 'free site' can make money. Respectable money. And they can do it with 'sponsors' certainly, but with tricking surfers?

Not for long.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: You can have an adult business without being trashy.

Take it from a pro. Putting out for cash isn't demeaning unless you make it so.

Offer a classy service that shows respect for yourself & your site visitors, and you will have as much pride as you do cash.

The choice is yours... You can be a $5 skank no one wants, or admits to having had, or you can be earning several hundred dollars an hour by being a classy bit of tail folks want.

So, how are you going to service your customers?

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Does S E X Need USP?

USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. It is the answer to the consumer's question: "What's in it for me?"

Many people in the business of selling sex seem to think that a USP is not needed. I disagree. There are many differences in the adult industry, yes. And having words like 'sex,' 'porn' and assorted specialist niche terms may be all you need for search engine success. But what about closing the deal?

If you want money in the till at the end of the day, if you want them to buy, then you need to tell folks why they should buy from you.

Your product or service needs to solve a problem, offer a solution, or save money. (Gracie will assume that it does, or it would not be for sale!) Obviously, 'shoot your load' is well, a bit 'generalized.' And it may not speak to the concerns of the website visitor. Sure, they want to get off, but that's not why they should hand their money over to you.

Looking at a more traditional business may make this a bit clearer.

Domino's Pizza sells pizza, but their USP is not about how tasty pizza is. Otherwise a consumer would be motivated to buy pizza in general. Even making them at home! So Domino's uses potential customer concerns to stress why Domino's is the place to call. Since they are a delivery service, which is a convenience, Domino's capitalizes on the 'fast' with the following USP:

"Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed!"

A unique selling proposition tells the customer how you are going to meet or exceed their needs. With just a title or a short description you need to tell website visitors how your product or service will:

* Make life better
* Make life easier
* Save money
* Provide access to exclusive items
* Allow something that could not be done before

An easy starting point is to formulate a phrase that begins with "Buy from me because my company is the ONLY one that..."

And sometimes the best places to find ideas are not to look at other site's USPs, but to look at what complaints there are in our industry. Concerns such as privacy, legal issues, secure payment processing, customer service, quality, new items etc. are great places to examine your business.

Your USP should be short ~ a quick read, commanding attention, and hopefully memorable. And it must never promise things that are not true. If you do that, you will find yourself facing angry, rabid people.

Your USP is short tag line that conveys how exclusive, special, valuable your business is ~ and it should be used everywhere. On every single media, in every communication: email signatures, order forms, print flyers, banners, video/dvd jackets, business cards, newsletters, everywhere.

Tell them. Tell them again. And then tell them what you told them. It works in public speaking, it works for selling goods & services, and it will work for you.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Personal Whoring

The start of a new year brings many awards for 'best of' the last, so this is the episode in which I pander for your votes. (I wouldn't be much of a whore if I didn't!)

You can vote for me, Gracie Passette, as Best Magazine/e-zine Editor (for Sex-Kitten.net) ~ and you can also vote for Ephemera Bound (my publisher) as Best Book Publisher, and Tit-Elation (my erotica site) as Best Fiction Zine.

You may also vote for several of Ephemera Bound's books:

Decomposition, by J Eric Miller as Best Novel (non genre)


Michael, by Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc, as Best Horror Novel.

There's also another contest for best sex blogs. You can vote for Sex-Kitten.net as Best Overall Sex Blog and Best Group Blog here ('nominations' are the first round of voting, so we need many votes to move onto the final voting!)

Of course, you could also view these as ways to promote yourself... But please don't forget me!

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Basics For Bloggers

Steve Pavlina's How to Make Money From Your Blog covers some of the basics of blogging. He also does a nice job of discussing the myth of horrible reactions to advertsing and donation requests by readers. This would also apply to affiliate ads.

Don't tune out on the first bit on Google's Adsense in Superaff's "Focus" article just because adult webmasters cannot use it; there's sound advice here. And even more when it gets to the discussion of the 'cart before the horse' mentality.

If there's one thing I can say in summation regarding these two articles ~ besides "Go read them!" ~ it's that both these pieces take on the premise that you, the blogger, are going to remain focused on and committed to your blog. Which is not always done. (More on that in the first newsletter to be sent next week ~ so, have you subscribed yet?)

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More Lessons in eBay

Recently a signed copy of my book, Sex~Kitten.Net Presents: The BDSM Issue, was listed on eBay ~ only to have the auction pulled a short time later. Per eBay's usual, the auction is not only pulled, but actually removed from the site's data base. The seller can't find it, members who are 'watching' the auction cannot find it ~ it has vanished.

Perplexed as to 'why' the listing was pulled, a reply to the notice was sent to eBay ~ including yet another request/plea for information as to why eBay completely deletes the auction preventing a seller from relisting easily (or at least saving their information and photos/images ~ which can be quite extensive especially in the collectibles area.)

This is what was received (minus the general eBay notification babble):

Thank you for writing eBay in regard to the removal of your auction listing.

BDSM items are strictly prohibited on eBay. All adult-oriented items must be listed in our Mature Audiences categories. However, because we place limits on the types of adult material that can be listed in our Mature Audiences categories, adult items such as you have listed would not be permitted on eBay at all, even in our Mature Audiences categories.

It is against eBay policy for sellers to reference BDSM, S & M or other terms that directly imply sadomasochism or related sadomasochistic activities in either the title, description, or images within an auction. eBay policy places strict limitations on the types of sexually-oriented material that can be placed in our general categories and in the Mature Audiences section of the site. It is very important that you review this policy thoroughly before listing these types of items in the future.

And of course they provided the link to said policy.

Forgetting that at any given moment one can and will find BDSM items on eBay (it's not that I'm being overly generous in mood; I'm just too lazy to point out the obvious and debate their ability to police all items on their site), let's look at the policy itself.

First of all, eBay like any other business has the right to define and limit the scope of their business. They can limit themselves to only being the marketplace and platform for medium sized navy blue sweaters, entirely and exclusively. (I am too full of myself not to mention that this is what they are close to becoming anyway.) Any business has this right to determine product or service such that these do not discriminate against race, gender etc. So this discussion is not going to be about their rights to do so.

What I'd like to look at is the following:

A) Nowhere on their mature audience policy page does it state the ban on BDSM.

B) A search for BDSM policy yields only the following results:
Sorry, no topics were found for "bdsm policy".
Did you mean "bids policy"?

C) A look at their Prohibited and Restricted Items page doesn't list BDSM or any other words/categories which would seem to apply here ~ other than the afore mentioned "Mature Audiences" section (which fails miserably to cover the topic).

All of this is frustrating, to say the least. How is a seller to know policies if they do not exist on the site and there are other similar (if not identical) items on the site? Why would you have a 'customer service representative' cut and paste a policy including a link to back-up the claim when none of this information is available on the site?

But there is more. Or should I say less...

Because, as you'll notice, there was no comment regarding the reasoning for permanently deleting the auction listing. This was the second part in out (only) two point email. So half of the concerns went unaddressed.

Now it is at this point that a determined client will try to make contact. They will want a human being to explain and address all of the above. But at eBay this is not possible. Unless you are a PowerSeller you have no point of contact, save for some generic help policies or FAQs and a "did this answer your question" link. Eventually, if you wish to read oodles of info which does not apply to your situation, you may end up with a contact form. Or you could try the "live Help' which is when a real person cuts & pastes into a chat screen rather than an email.

If you go either of those routes you will only end up with more cut & paste that you've already received ~ and still have your second question (half of your concern) unaddressed because it's not part of the canned response possibilities.

At some point during this mess you ironically ~ or perhaps in a calculated move on the part of eBay to make you frustrated enough to leave eBay ~ you receive another message from eBay:

On 01/04/2007, we replied to an email message you sent to customer support. As part of eBay's commitment to excellence, we want to make sure our response met your needs. Would you please take a few minutes to answer some questions about your overall experience and the specific eBay Representative who responded to you?

Please respond to the survey by clicking on the following link; or copy and paste the entire web address into the address field of your browser.

If you contacted eBay from your registered email account, this invitation will be sent to both your email address and to My Messages. NOTE: This invitation will expire after five days.

Thank you for your help!
eBay Customer Support

If this isn't a 'last straw' move, wait; you'll soon be getting another of these for the useless exchange you had via the contact form or chat.

And if you fill it out, it seems to make no difference in eBay's operations. People still just cut & paste away with gibberish that doesn't address the issue. And don't get me started on their help forum.

So aside from allowing me to bitch about eBay some more, why do I tell you all of this?

Because eBay is currently one of the Big Boys yet they make foolish mistakes. Mistakes perhaps they can afford (lord knows no one's yet beat them out at the auction platform); but can you afford to make them?

Take a look at your site:

Are your policies easy to find and understand?

Do you make it easy or difficult for folks to contact you? Even non-members?

Do you offer good customer service?

Do you define good customer service as cut & pasting the same canned info into an email? Do you think the time you save is worth the loss of members or sales?

If you don't pay attention to these issues than you must be as sure of your position as eBay is.

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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Gently Scratching Your Niche

Continuing our talk, let's talk about how to scratch, gently, but vigorously!

When you have a niche site, you are tailoring a site to one specific market. This means a narrower target, but don't think that is 'bad.' On the contrary, I think it is a sure fire hit. By narrowing your target, you need not take aim at everything and anything; you are allowed to be precise in your aim!

We covered how you need not link-up with everyone & anyone. Not only does this mean you provide 'good matches' for your site to be found, but you also limit those you offer on your site. Your links pages are smaller, meaning less reason for visitors to leave. And you may refuse to swap or partner easily, and gently, with a simple reply of, "Thank you, but it is not our client base." (Usually this is enough to rid you of unwanted requests too, if you state your policy clearly.)

Now, let's think about where you do want to be, and who you want to be swapping links with...

Let's say you have a site about 'big black booty' ~ which is all any lover of black female ass could want. You know you shouldn't be on 'big knockers' or 'oral cum shots,' but where do you want to be?

Well, likely any female booty site will be a start. And sites with black models in general. But what is the fantasy really about?

Is it for white men, who have not yet dared to touch black booty in real life? Is it the fantasy of black women looking for more black women? Is it just because they like big butts & they cannot lie? Maybe it is all of the above. Then you have the opportunity to link, partner, and swap with sites that are similar in fantasy.

But let's say, your site is all about an even smaller niche... You are a 'big black booty bondage site.' You rope 'em, tie 'em, and even spank 'em. Then you may wish to narrow your partnerships & marketing to sites that are bondage themed, and black themed, and other 'big butt' sites, but thinking carefully about the types within these sites...

If your site is classy, with more art type photos, then model sites are still a good bet. Probably a better bet than amateur ones.

If your site is all about the rough sex and not-so-much the 'art' quality, then look for sites with the same edge.

Is your site heavy with written erotica? Then look for other sites that offer the same. Erotic readers are more likely to want more erotic stories than just pic sites, so remember that in your partnerships.

Now, all of this applies to your scratching on your site as well.

Keywords are any text on your site, so what you write there to describe your site accurately will be keyword rich. Again, don't use 'blonde white amateur teens' if you are a 'big black booty bondage' site. Number one, don't mislead your paying customers! Number two, it won't bring in who you want.

Using any popular words just to get traffic or paying customers is scratching yourself to bleed.

Yes, bleed. It will only hurt you. If you have to refund, or even end your site because the word is out that you lie about your offerings, you are in trouble deep. Besides, surfers who find you for those non-existent blondes *do* cost your something. Time, yes. Refunds, maybe. But what about your bandwidth costs? Your word-of-mouth advertising? Oh, yes, and the fact that you are not really focusing on the customer you do want? How are they to believe you really are the 'big black booty bondage site' if they see 'blonde teens' written everywhere (or even anywhere)?

Other examples are describing features you offer.

If you don't offer chat, don't mention it. If you do have message boards to meet members &/or models, mention it; if not, do NOT.

Simple, right?

Ok, now look at other parts of your site... Aside from your true content, what else do you offer? Links, we discussed. But what of affiliate programs? Special offers? Promotions? All of these should be tailored to your niche customer as well.

Only offer items that will be of interest to your real customer. Don't offer them videos on gay men if your big black bound booties are not male. Don't offer a special discount on your other site about Brittany Spears look-alikes.

Not only does it mean nothing to your big black booty bound lovers, but it detracts from keywords etc.

Always, *always* think about what they want more of, and you will scratch the niche, nicely.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Are Sex Sales Slipping?

In the New York Times, Indications of a Slowdown in Sex Entertainment Trade by David Cay Johnston, a slowdown in the adult industry growth has been noted:

The sex-related entertainment business grew in 2006 by just 2.4 percent, roughly the rate of inflation, to just under $13 billion, according to Paul Fishbein, president of the AVN Media Network, which publishes five trade magazines and runs industry conferences.

Jerry Ropelato, an opponent of the industry who owns the Web site TopTenReviews.com, gave a slightly smaller estimate of the size of the business, about $12 billion.

The slowdown is being attributed to a few things:

* The effects of the Internet on traditional industry sales.

Not only in the competition factor, but in the inability to obtain accurate numbers from an area of industry which is mainly privately owned. So if, as many postulate, the Internet is seeing growth in adult sales, these numbers/dollars are not added up into the Sex Entertainment Trade column.

* Aging Americans.

The article says that the Census Bureau "estimates that the average age of Americans last year was 36, up from 30 in 1980, when the industry was growing rapidly in the wake of favorable Supreme Court decisions, fewer police raids and easy access to movies through the technology of videocassettes, which were new then."

I'm not certain there is a correlation between the aging of our citizenry and the Supreme Court rulings & Bush's administration policies... It might be more fair and accurate to state that given the current political climate less folks are willing to publicly declare their use and therefore make more purchases 'on the sly' via the Internet.

Then again, according to the article the dance club business is going strong: "The industry’s one publicly traded concern, Rick’s Cabaret, which runs dance clubs in seven cities, said same-store sales in its fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 were up 25.1 percent over the previous year."

But it still begs the point of private purchase and viewing of materials. Less DVD purchases and rentals, even less cable offerings; go for the ultra secret pay-per-view or website membership. Not only more discreet for the family but the government and neighbors as well. Perhaps if these Internet numbers were known we'd find that there's no slowdown, just a shift in product.

Steven Hirsch, one of three owners of the Vivid Entertainment Group, agrees with me. He (and other industry executives) believe "the ways that Americans get pornography are changing, with sales of videos and magazines in decline, while sex-related entertainment over cable television and Internet streaming is growing quickly."

"Right now, DVD is going down faster than video-on-demand is ramping up; it is just a lag in technologies," Mr. Hirsch said, not a fundamental easing in demand.

Some proof of this also lies in international sales.

Outside the United States, the fastest growth is in sex videos and images sent to cellphone viewing screens, Mr. Fishbein and others said.

In the US, none of the cellphone companies cooperate with the adult industry which limits sales -- which are estimated at just $39 million already. Currently, technological fixes are required to use such cellphone smut, which would likely be easily adopted by more hip younger consumers -- if cellphone companies would work with the industry or if the technology can be more simplified, the numbers/dollars would increase.

It's also interesting to note that while Americans may be aging, our interest in porn isn't decreasing: hard-core movies featuring women in their 30s into their 70s was "the one area of huge growth."

It was also noted that there "was big growth in sales of sex toys to women." (I just love reading that!)

Overall, if you ask Gracie, she sees no slowdown; it's just a shift. If the Internet shifts paradigms, why not sales figures?

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Profile: Founder of URNotAlone.com

Continuing our ongoing webmaster series, here's profile on the founder of URNotAlone.com.

It's interesting to note the changes in the website ~ both in purpose & design. Perhaps this will open some eyes as to how powerful change can be.

Others may find tips on how to evolve to make money, by working with rather than against your niche and other webmasters!

In the age of paid membership sites, it is refreshing to see a 'free site' be more than some affiliate portal.

And, Gracie is always a fan of sites that provide a real service...

So read & learn what you can kiddos!

A reminder that the links contain Adult Content ~ Now, here we go....

Hi, I'm Jon, the Founder of U R Not Alone. U R Not Alone (referred to as URNA, URNotAlone and U R Not Alone interchangeably). Let me start with the short description of what URNA is...

We are a Site dedicated to the Transgendered Community. We provide ALL of our Basic Services to the Public for FREE. Posting Profiles, Browsing Profiles and Responding to Profiles is FREE, as is Browsing or Adding Events and Transgender Friendly Locations. Even our Transgender Chat Room (TGChat) is FREE!

URNotAlone was born back in 1996. I wanted to learn how to build a web site and was trying to think of a topic that would hold my interest (I'm not good at just playing around with things... I need a goal to get going). I was traveling quite a bit around this time and one of my friends suggested I start a listing of Drag Bars since I seemed to know where to find them in every city I traveled to It clicked and URNotAlone was born as a site to come to if you wanted to find out where the Drag Bars were in the cities you were traveling to. You can still find listings, and submit listings of your own, in the Places section of URNotAlone... I'd really like to see more people submit listings of Transgender Friendly Bars in their areas... they're not easy to find when you're a stranger in a strange town.

Within a month, I decided URNotAlone needed to be more than just a site that listed Drag Bars.

Bear with me on this next part, it has real relevance as to what URNotAlone has evolved into...

I grew up in the suburbs outside of Boston and didn't really know where to find TGirls until well after I was already married. When I was younger I did encounter Trans Porno in porno shops and knew... right away... that it was something that I was strongly attracted to... very strongly attracted to... and started buying all the Trans Porno that I could find. Growing up in the suburbs with no knowledge of where to meet TGirls, I honestly thought that they were rare creatures, so to speak, and that I'd never actually have the opportunity to meet one. Since I liked Girls also, I got married and thought I'd be happy and that porno would be enough to satisfy me. It wasn't... eventually I heard about Jacques Cabaret - (a long story) and got up the nerve to go there to meet real TGirls... in the flesh. That was the beginning of the end of my marriage. Once I was with my 1st TGirl I knew that it was what I truly wanted and that I would never be happy unless I could have a relationship, a real relationship, with a TGirl. Eventually I was divorced and shortly after I met Vicky... we've been together ever since. The reason I gave you this history, is... the Profiles section got started because I thought it would be a great way to help other Admirer's like myself avoid making some of the mistakes I did and to try and provide a place for TGirls and their Admirer's to meet one another. I thought and still think that this would allow fellow Admirer's to understand that there are lots of TGirls out there, that they could have a real relationship with a TGirl, that they could avoid marrying, then later divorcing and screwing up a girls life... I hope I've succeeded, at least in some small degree

I found myself surfing the web more and more often, looking for pages of TGirls that were starting to pop up all over the web. I used Susanna Marques listing of TGirl Sites on Geocities quite a bit back then (thank you Susanna). I loved her listings and thought to myself... wouldn't it be nice if the links to different TGirls sites also had a picture and a little something about them along with the link. I started asking girls if they'd like to list their profiles, with a picture, on URNotAlone... mainly TGirls who's sites I happened across while surfing the web. Nicole Asahi (a real sweetheart), from Texas was the 1st TGirl I asked and the 1st Profile that was listed on URNotAlone. Once the Profiles started, it took about a year for the site to really get going.

After the Profile's section we added a section of Vicky's pics... then came pics of some of the TGirls I met in the different bars I visited in my travels and then came pics of our Green Iguana (who has since passed away , Mongo). Vicky's pics are now mainly found in the ModelTS Section of URNA, with the exception of some of her pics in her Galleries on URNotAlone... the pictures of TGirls from various bars I visited around the country has gone away since I don't travel much anymore and they were getting pretty out of date... Mongo's pages are history now.

In the beginning, I hand coded all the pages and after several years of working my butt off trying to keep up I almost threw in the towel around the beginning of 2000. I put an announcement on the main page or URNotAlonethat it was becoming too much work, I had too little time and that the site would cease being updated and eventually go away. This was also around the time when Vicky and I were trying to get, our then separate adult site, ModelTS going and I was living on very little sleep. I found myself spending 20 to 30 hours a week working on URNotAlone, another 20 hours or so on ModelTS and, on top of that, I have my real job... the one that pays the bills

Around this time, Dan sent me an eMail offering his assistance. Some of the TGirls he new from the clubs in Ohio knew he did web development for a living and asked if he could help me out and keep me from shutting down URNotAlone. We corresponded a bit, Dan showed me a mock-up of what he had in mind... I was ecstatic. He totally redesigned the site, bringing it from a static, hand coded site to what you see today, a data driven site that takes all the drudgery out of maintaining and updating it. Now, instead of spending up to 30 hours a week on URNotAlone, I spend closer to 20 hours per week... and most of that work is spent answering eMails, approving or not approving profiles, etc. Thanks to Dan, we added an Articles section, a Places section, Galleries, a Chat Room, Forums, broke down the Profiles into categories and much more! Not only that, thanks to Dan, URNA still exists and offers much more than it ever did in the past

Dan and I got together in June (2003) and started planning for the future of URNotAlone. Part of what came out of this was combining my other site, ModelTS into URNotAlone's Adult Content Area. Part of this was to offset the cost of running 2 site's on 2 dedicated servers with 2 different hosting companies. Another reason for this is that quite a few of the ModelTS Members were also active visitors to URNotAlone and many of the Members also have profiles listed on URNotAlone. The Main reason we went ahead with the Merge is in the hopes that the money generated from the ModelTS Adult Content Section of URNotAlone would allow us to add even more Free Features to the Public Area of URNotAlone. It's already allowed us to add things like Calendars, to add the ability to list profiles by proximity to a certain area so people can get a list of people in their area by means other than State or Country, it allowed us to purchase Chat Room software and to add Forums and there's much more coming. It's finally gotten to the point where URNA is Dan's full time job... hopefully it will get to the point where it's my full time job also Dan, Vicky and I get together several times per year in person... when we're not physically together we're constantly in touch via eMail and phone.

We wish to thank all of you for your support over the years and for your continued support in the future If you haven't popped by to check out URNA, what are you waiting for, stop by, poke around and feel free to send us Comments and/or Suggestions.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Scratching Your Niche

So you have your niche, and you are ready to scratch it. How do you do that?

It's pretty simple, really.

People have an itch, they do what? They scratch it, right? Or they apply a lotion, salve other what-not. But only to the affected areas. If they have an itch on their left shoulder, they don't scratch themselves red all over. Nor do they do it until they bleed.

The same applies to your niche site.

If you have a niche site, you don't "scratch it" everywhere. If your site is dedicated to white teen amateur girls, you don't promote as 'lonely housewives,' 'gay gang bangs,' or 'big black booty.' That means you won't use those above keywords ~ even if someone said those are the 'ultra hot keywords' that bring him 40000 uniques a day. Those words won't help you reach who you want.

The same is true with those you trade links with, message boards you post at (always with permission, of course!), and places you buy ads with. You are scratchin' everywhere, wasting your time, leaving yourself red all-over, with nothing good to show for it.

You want to find folks who itch on the left shoulder, not some folks with an itch on their big toe, their nose or elsewhere. Just those who itch where you have a niche.

Now, there is obviously a lot more to scratching your niche. This is merely part one. But Gracie started with this first as she wants you to remember one thing, and one thing only: Focus on your niche & that is all.

Go ahead & read as much as you can, always thinking how that trick will work for you & your site. But don't let some fool sell you some package that is not in your niche, or convince you that you can't make money unless your site uses these 3 magic keywords ~ or whatever crap they tell you.

Just repeat after Gracie: "I will scratch my own niche, thank you."

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New Year's Resolution: Make Easy Money Being an Adult Webmaster

If you're one of the millions of people who've put "Make it rich" at the top of your New Year's Resolutions List and decided becoming an adult webmaster is the easy way to do it, this column is for you.

Once upon a time, back when the Internet was new, there was a lot of money to be made from an adult website. Sex sells, and as a new frontier the web was a wide open vista of opportunities for making money off adult content. But the times have changed.

The Internet isn't some small far off place that few have heard of anymore. More people have moved here & they want to make a living here too. This has resulted in two things:

competition stiffer than a cock in a whorehouse on half-price Tuesdays


the law has arrived ~ or at least there's a new sheriff in town.

If you want to set up your adult website, you're going to have to face these facts. You're not going to be the only brothel in town, and the sheriff's going to be breathing down your neck. To deal with the former, you're going to need to work hard to stand out. For the latter, you're going to need to keep your nose clean; this means you're going to have to know the laws to obey them ~ or fight them.

Either way you look at this, becoming (or remaining) an adult webmaster means you're picking some battles.

It's not that you can't make money, even Big Money, off an adult website; it's just not so easy.

It's a lot of hard work.

For example, let's look at any successful adult paysite. Be prepared to:

Spend a good chunk of cash purchasing or creating original content. A cheap CD-ROM of files &/or a turn-key set-up isn't going to be able to compete against the big boy brothels or even against others who buy 'the kits'.

Spend money on servers, hosting, tech support etc. And if you are very successful, you may experience all the joys of bandwidth problems, site hijacks, denial of service attacks, and whatnot.

Spend lots of manpower if not dollars on getting people to know you have this original content. This includes, but is not limited to: advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), promotions (including your own blogs, schmoozing with bloggers, link directories, reviewers and review sites etc), and affiliate programs.

Spend time (or money if you outsource) managing your site. Updating content; moderating forum, chat etc.; writing newsletters; client problems with passwords etc; affiliate program management.

Spend time researching and reading like any good business person. This may involve money if you subscribe to trade publications, attend conferences etc., but with or without those fees there is a large investment in time.

You'll need to remain aware of technology ~ not just what is 'new' but basics like what operating system & web browser is your client likely to have. General industry news: Who are the leaders in your industry or niche and what are they up to? Advertising, marketing and promotion ideas: Who is your customer & what can you do to reach them? Does print advertising work for adult websites? Should you pay or trade links? Should you have sales or limited time offers? SEO information and news: What's the latest word on Google's algorithm and policy on adult sites? Which keywords are most popular in your niche? General business information: When is it time to hire or outsource specific jobs?

Ditto all the above, but with a focus on legal issues. Because the times require it. And because copyright law applies to adult businesses too ~ adult webmasters, authors, performers and photographers can be some of the most protective of their works, so beware!

Be prepared for negative reactions to your work. Family members will be disappointed in you; friends may think it's funny or even cool, but not a real job ~ and some will be downright angry & judgemental; neighbors will think you're indecent and many will report you to authorities ~ including CPS & the Feds... It's not an easily accepted profession for many in this culture.

Still think you can get rich quick with an adult website? (If so, I have failed miserably here.) If you're unsure, try Adult Staffing for a job in the industry to see what it's like.

If you comprehend that running an adult website is hard work, yet still want to proceed, then keep reading here and be sure to subscribe to my free newsletter.

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Think Niche, Bitch

Often on adult webmaster sites that have message boards, you will find a newbie post that goes something like this:

"I've been making some decent money as a webcam performer but I really want to open my own paysite. The thing is, I'm afraid to put money into this as I don't have big breasts. More than one person has told me that I need to get implants in order to sell subscriptions. Do you think a girl with small tits can have paysite success?"

Whenever I read questions like this, I want to scream, "Think niche!"

A niche site is one with a specific audience. Generally, the market for this site is smaller. But don't let that bother you. If you work it right it is much easier to make a name for yourself, and plenty of money too. It's like being a big fish in a small pond.

Using the example post above, that woman should milk her small tits. Even if she can't physically do that, she can make them her 'bit,' you know?

In fact, the odder/freakier you are, the better your chances. A woman with a set of boobs on her back, or a the ability to fist her second pussy would make money hand-over-fist. You get the idea: With niche sites, you take a 'flaw' and make it your money maker.


Well, simply put, you'll have less competition. How many Big Boobie sites are there? How many gay paysites? Each vying for the consumer's dollars, each trying to compete with each other... Put in those common words & see how many listings you get? But if you put in a specific thrill, the list is less.

Unlike the mainstream society where there is a set standard, adult business can capitalize on anything different. Why do you think amateur sites are so popular? Perhaps the glossy magazine types aren't as exciting as you think... After all, there are plenty of places to see that. And the world isn't made of men & women who all fall for that standard either. Anything different is an instant fetish!

OK, so you don't have a rack on your back, and the second pussy thing isn't a reality either, but you can still find your niche.

Believe Gracie, she has seen lots of 'unusuals' make big bucks. She has worked the phones, when all sorts of requests come in... My point is, don't try to do what everyone else is doing.

Do what you like, what you dig, no matter if others think your audience is too small. (Though, if a very small niche, consider the amount of work and money invested and weigh it against returns; perhaps modifying features, costs etc until you reach a tipping point of income.) You're going to be spending huge amounts of your life working this niche, so you might as well be 'a natural' with your freaky fetish ~ or at least doing something fun and natural to you. So, find your niche.

Later, we'll discuss how to scratch that niche.

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Interview With Matt of Darker Pleasures (Part One)

If you are a follower of Gracie, God bless your lusty little heart, you know that there is the occasional talk of issues that fall into the BDSM area. On more than one opportunity the name of DarkerPleasures.com has popped up as well.

Darker Pleasures is an adult website worthy of Gracie's repeated recommendations, both in it’s singular status as The breast bondage & torture erotica site, & it's spectacular display of class. (Yes, kiddos, you can be a classy porn site, and even a classy torture site.)

Matt was one of the first adult webmasters to befriend lil' ol' Gracie, which is a nice way of saying that Matt is patient with a newbie ~ and generous with his time. Matt is a reminder that real, decent humans with integrity can be found in the world of adult entertainment. My heartfelt thanks to him for all his respect, kindness, and generosity.

Gracie figures a few of you have questions about "what kind of person runs a website like that?" and "who would deliberately seek such entertainment?" So, let's ask Matt, who runs the site...

How do you best define your site?

Surfer dudes: We're the Mecca of breast bondage and tit torture. It doesn't get any more original or comprehensive than this if breast punishment is your thing.

Business types: Darker Pleasures specializes in nothing but original and comprehensive breast bondage and torture erotica. We're the only site of its kind on the Internet, unless there's one lurking in a dark corner we haven't found.

What was the driving force behind your creation of the site?

Ah... That would be money. I know that's not as glamorous as "We wished to make the world safer for breast torture for future generations," but honesty's the best policy. Oh, and I was enamored with Christine Dannemont's breasts and was more than happy to have a chance to spend more time with them on an intimate basis...

How long has the site been around? How long has it been a pay membership site?

We began researching and prepping DP in mid-1999. We went live on April 28, 2000. We've been a members site since dayimus oneimus (that's Latin for "Day One"), and haven't raised our price a red cent since.

How many subscribers?

At the moment we have around 600ish members, give or take a couple, and with the exception of the occasional "Google has mucked up their search engine algorithm" period, have been steadily growing since conception (that's an adult web site pun, by the way.) We've been through several thousand. Such is the way of adult sites.

Mostly male subscribers?

Um... I'd say about 3/4 of them. We have quite a few ladies, and the number's growing the more that knowledge of our story quality gets out. They're definitely our most loyal fans. Go figure.

Let's talk about fantasy for a minute... Obviously much of your content is fantasy. Most of your visitors are interested in the subject, but how many do you think are 'living it?'

Now this is completely subjective here, but I'd say no more than 10% actually live it. There are a lot of dabblers, and a whole lot more that'd give an eye tooth (or left nut, depending on your level of crudity) to be able to do it. If response to my Breast Punishment Primer is any indication, it's a growing pastime.

I know that you have taken some 'hits' as far as content on your site. Some people think this type of content is 'too much' etc. How do you respond?

Snuff is too much. Non-consensual brutal rape is too much. What we do is fantasy. You'd be amazed at the number of people on both sides of the gender barrier that either do, or fantasize about what we do, all the time. It goes without saying that 99.99934672 percent of men (as determined by an unofficial poll just taken in the last thirteen seconds with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent) would love their significant other to play this way, or at least in some way similar. How many women have fantasies about being bound and "had?"

Heck, we don't even show the pink bits. Seriously... umm... just a sec, what I was about to say is covered in the next question.

Do you feel it has violent consequences for women in the 'real world,' or promotes hating women? (I know it doesn't but sheesh, I gotta ask it!)

OK, now... Seriously, I don't believe that what we do endangers women. We have far too many women that love what we do, and the way we do it, for that to be the case. We are adamantly opposed to non-consensual stuff, and we have articles ~ Ramblings (that's my monthly editorial - an unabashed plug) and disclaimers all over the place that make that perfectly clear.

That is not to say that I think all porn is safe for human consumption. There comes a time when saying it's just fantasy is a poor excuse. I've mentioned snuff and brutal rape scenarios already. Child porn and bestiality are also sick. Some things harken back to primal nature, such as bondage and rough play, and can be safe, sane, and fun. Others should transcend human nature and are simply criminal. It takes an enlightened mind to understand the difference. Unfortunately, there are many out there who are incapable of being enlightened.

Wow, that was a soap box, huh?

Stay tuned ~ there's more from Matt to come!

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Updating Your Website

It's good to occasionally give your site a face lift. It may be to add new features based on advances in technology or on customer requests; it may be just to take your site from that 90's look to a more modern look. Maybe in an effort to increase conversions and sales, to maximize your site’s potential, you're going back to basics & will give everything the once-over.

While it is good to go over your site with a fine-tooth-comb & think about all the changes you could make, the bottom line is to make it better for the user/viewer. There is one fact that you need to keep in mind: any changes on your site will frustrate, confuse & perhaps even piss-off your regular users.

Even the most loyal members, your die-hard daily visitors, will have moments of panic & alienation when they can no longer have their mouse-hand on automatic-pilot & click in the same spot for the same thing, or when there is a new, unfamiliar button staring them in the face. Humans are creatures of habits.

So when looking at your new options, be they bells & whistles or necessary improvements for function, always consider them in relation to your fan-base's reactions.

The easiest way to do this a three-step process.

First, list all the changes you'd like to make, along with the reasons for them.

Second, consider them in relation to the visitor's reaction. Evaluate if the need for change warrants the possible negative reaction.

This is important, not just for the potential loss of members or users, but it's sort of like your bottom-line evaluation: to make the changes costs money & time, and if it isn't going to have a positive pay-off, why do it? (This implies that you have already done this cost v. benefits eval, but if you have not, do so now.)

Third, when making the changes, implement them and educate visitors about them as much as possible.

eBay, for all their other sins, does an excellent job of educating their users prior to site changes. They put up announcements, stating that change X will go into effect in so many days. With this 'warning' comes options for free tours &/or tutorials that not only discuss the change & why they are making the 'improvement,' but show the user what it will all look like.

For those of us who lack employees to carry out the tasks of creating tutorials & contacting members, a simple announcement of pending changes in your newsletter or similar opt-in list will do. Also make an announcement on the home page, in your forums, etc. So that all your members and new visitors can read about the changes.

I also recommend that if you've decided to make several changes that you do so over time, in phases. Too much change at once, even for lovely features requested by users, can throw folks into a tizzy.

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Working The Cocktail Party

The World Wide Web is very much like a cocktail party: You aren't sure who you'll meet, & drinking is optional.

In the realm of the Adult Webmaster, this is especially true. For like most parties, there are always the concerns of under-age attendees, party crashers (hackers), and those dreaded conservative neighbors who may call the cops.

Like any good host (or guest), we must be wise about our guest list ~ we should never tease minors or lure them into our festivities. We ought to do our best to not only be on the look out for the uninvited, but have plans in place in the event we do need to toss someone out as well as repair the damage done by such unwelcome guests. And we should do our best to make sure our party doesn't disturb our neighbors, or otherwise incite them into causing us legal problems. And if one angry person does make the call, we should have all our necessary papers at the ready (2257 etc), so that the interruption doesn't last long.

After we have done all that, we can relax, join the party, and work it for all it's worth.

As you slink, strut or slither through the large crowd, seek out those persons you need to talk with ~ both those you know, and those you have yet to meet ~ all with the goal in mind of how you can improve your business.

I'm talking about networking here. The way to play on the boards, newslists, topsites, groups & chats. It's how business is done. But you have to learn not just how to network, but who to spend your time with, which parties to attend. Just like at real world parties, there are many types in the room. Who are you going to spend time with?

Types in the Room:

Posers: Like any party, there are always those folks who try too hard. They over-present themselves (often covering up their best points, which is a pity) with gold chains over hairy chests (or on the web, they may use flash everywhere). They talk too loud, usually about themselves & their business, and act larger than they really are. In fact, some folks will purposefully misrepresent themselves. In this business, it may seem like everyone is a poser, at least at first *wink* But over time, you'll see who they really are.

One-Hit Wonders: Just like the guy who regales you with this high school quarterback fourth-quarter-saving-score-to-win-the-conference, these folks are the one who still manage to parlay one great thing into an invitation to the party. And just like that old QB, he’ll grate on your last nerve, boring you with irrelevant history. Be polite, but disengage them asap, and move on to someone who lives in today, and hopefully is planning for tomorrow.

Mr. He-Has-Potential:
Like a young lady with a romantic heart, a newbie can easily be sucked in to this sort of person. He will seem like he has all the great ideas, all the right passions, & just needs a little help from you to get things going. After all, he's a genius who has suffered from bad luck or a tragic fate (or a sorcerer's spell, maybe?) If you help, surely those ideas will become powerful magic of their own, right? No way, sister. You'd be as naive as a school girl dreaming of some tragic hero if you try to save this one.

I know, I know you'll be tempted to partner-up fast, thinking you can motivate, encourage & help him all the way to greatness (& big bucks). But spare yourself the bad break-up. Just like falling in love with this type, you'll invest all your time & energy in his 'potential,' and never, ever, see a return on it. If these guys had the 'best idea ever' and were worthy of any investment, time or otherwise, they'd already be in there, kneading the flour to make the dough. Don't partner up with this guy. Make ~ and keep ~ all your profits yourself.

The Wallflowers: These folks are definitely the hardest to spot on the Internet (no walls here!), yet I assure you, they are here. In large piles. They are the lurkers. There are two types of wallflowers in attendance at our adult web worker parties: Workers, and Consumers.

The Worker Wallflowers are either new (& learning as they are silent), or the pros who like to keep in the circle, but don't need to ask a lot of questions. At first, it's just best to treat everyone with polite respect, as you learn to differentiate the two. The first will likely be eager to swap links, & cross-promote with you. The latter is who you *need* to get the (positive) attention of. If you behave & act intelligently, run a decent site, the latter will let themselves be know to you... If you're lucky, they will help you too.

As for the Consumer Wallflowers, they are also good to know. After all, they are trolling boards, lists & the like for 'insider information.' If you allow them to trust you as a professional, & make them hot enough, they'll subscribe, buy and pass along your great site to others.

Talkers: These folks usually travel in groups, but love to flit around talking to everyone ~ probably because in a group of talkers, no one is listening. They all act as if they know 'everyone,' and live to drop names. These folks are worth a few minutes of eves dropping. Don't worry, it won't be hard; they always talk very loud. The reason I say to listen is that while they may not know everyone, they will know *of* everyone who is, well 'anyone.' They are always at the parties, right? In other words, you'll find out quickly who the masses think are the 'biggest & the best.' This is an excellent way to find out what parties you need to be attending, as well as who you should be inviting to your own! (They may even help you find Wallflowers!)

The Teases: These folks make plenty of promises. They'll assure you they are gonna put out ~ everything from free content to great volumes of traffic. Best case scenario, they never show up or contact you as promised. Worst case scenario, you enter into an agreement which is rather like a coyote date ~ you'd rather chew off your arm than live with the agreement. Just like those you meet at a bar or party, if it sounds too-good-to-be-true, it probably is.

The Smarmy Folks: Similar to teases, they are everywhere. They will offer anything to get in your pants. This is no euphemism, all they really want to do is get into your pants. While the Teases promise you untold business delights, such as traffic, software, content, the Smarmy only use business talk to get your clothes off. The only 'valid business' they can offer you is screw you & take photos to be content on their sites. Some Smarmy folks are easy to spot. Others are quite clever with their lures.

Remember, if you accept their drink they'll insist on taking you home, so be polite, but decline the offer. It is easier to type a rebuff & ignore them than it is to continue to have them insistently trying to slide their hands down your pants. Being an Internet professional, this is much easier than it is as a 'real' cocktail party.

The Whores: If you're ready to have a good time, skip the Teases & Smarmy Folks, and take home a whore. OK, you need not take her home, but you should partner up with her. Yes, these little darlings won't be giving away the goods for free, but you'll find out their services are worth the price.

Who are these sluts I want you to couple with? Why media whores, of course!

You give them free products, free passes, & the like (free to them, but obviously, there is a cost to you), & in exchange they tell everyone how good you are ~ and boy, do they get around! (There's nothing like having a great whore do all the bragging about you, while you just give them your own goods!)

Just like considering the services of a real sex professional, make sure they are healthy: Make sure their publication, message board, blog or whatever they use to broadcast with, isn't sick or has Scabs*.

The Party Pooper: Every party has a pooper. In the world of adult webmasters, writers, models etc, there are more poopers than in an anal site. Poopers are not just those 'annoying Christian flamers'; no, unfortunately, most poopers are newbies & folks who don't run their sites well.

These are the folks who spam, don't read FAQs, let the minors in, and show no respect for the party host &/or other guests. Don't let yourself become a party pooper. Spend some time at adult webmaster groups as a wallflower yourself, lurking.

Follow the rules of the host, be respectful, and look for the people you want to meet. When you are ready, mingle!

The only difference between a real party & one on the Internet is that you cannot count on your cleavage, batting your lashes, or tight pants to make the other person venture over to buy you a drink. You'll have to make the first move.

An email, message board posting or other form of contact is what you'll have to do, & you'll likely have to be the first to do it. But hey, it's cheaper than buying them a rail drink, and you won't have to take them home either. (Well, at least you normally don’t have to sleep with them, but hey, it's your business, your party!)

* More on Scabs at a later date.

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Three Internet Contact Points

What every person doing business on the Internet needs to understand is that on the web, the only way you are found is in one of 3 ways, or contact points. ('Being found' means discovery, so this does not include use of your URL on your business card, brochure, catalog, product packaging etc.)

The Three Contact Points Are:

Searches: You likely start at Google, the Yahoo Directory, or Ask.com. Or if you are seriously shopping, at Froogle, Amazon, eBay, or other favorite haunt, based on what you are looking for.

Links: You start your day at your favorite website, see a link that is described interestingly, and you click on it. Maybe it's a sales page, & you shop. Or maybe it's a cool personal page on Civil War monuments and you follow a link listed on their links page, to a blog, then to another page & so on until you end up buying or joining something.

Word of Mouth: A referral from a friend or family member. Your sister tells you of this great place & you sit at your computer & type in the URL, your friend forwards you a newsletter she's subscribed to, or your co-worker sends you an email with the link to some groovy website.

Some routes are more direct than others, but those are really the main ways anything is found on the web.

As a business person, you must try to harness as much/many of these contact points as possible.


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Turning Your Passions Into Profits

Gracie interviews Kimberly of GlamourGurlz.com, a young woman who turned her love of vintage lingerie (Adult Link) into a business ~ and not just with eBay sales. She has an ecommerce site, DVD sales, & a membership site too!

When did you start the business?

Upon the birth of my son in 1999, I decided to quit my banking career and be a stay at home mom. After about a year of not working, I started to get restless because I had always worked and been involved in lots of things. While surfing the web one night for vintage pretties, I came upon a website called Ruby Lane. This site specializes in sales of vintage and antique collectables. After some research, I decided to open a webstore on Ruby Lane with some of the collectable girly items that i had previously collected.

I opened the webstore selling vintage beaded purses, collectable signed and un-signed vintage jewelry, vintage dresses and vintage slips, and pretty much anything that I found to be a glamour accessory item.

After selling a few weeks, one of my best girlfriends 'Jeannie' (also a glamour gurlz model) suggested that she model a few of my vintage dresses and slips so that we could show how nicely they fitted and looked on a 'real' person. Since I was already a trained photographer from college and various professional photography jobs in my early 20s, I had the photographic experience and equipment and we set up a studio in my home. We also did a lot of shooting outside when weather permitted.

Our popularity drastically increased with our new format of using a live model, as did the attention of some of the other sellers on Ruby Lane. The administrators for the site then demanded we not to use 'live' models in our webstore any longer, as it was causing a 'fuss' with some of the members and customers. *rolls eyes* lol

A good friend and fellow slip collector suggested I try Ebay. We started selling on ebay in August of 2002. At this point, I had a few more girlfriends who I managed to talk into modeling for Glamour Gurlz. *LOL* After the initial stage fright, and the realization that I wasn't running a 'porn' site, all of my girlfriends agreed it was a fun way to get Glamour Photographs and add a little 'spice' to our otherwise normal married with children lifestyles.

All of us gals at Glamour Gurlz are between 25-42 yrs old, non-professional models, some stay at home moms, some with full-time jobs, all with one thing in common...we love to be girly and feminine! Most of us have been friends since our early teens as well.

The gurlz and I love being 'Glamour Gurlz' and we hope to continue to promote slip wearing with the younger generation. One thing that you will never find on the 'Glamour Gurlz' website or auctions is nudity and/or adult related content. Our belief is that women can be very sexy and appealing without showing too much skin. Glamour Gurlz is dedicated to sharing ideas and promoting the sensuality and glamour from an era when women were proud of their femininity by wearing beautiful vintage slips, lingerie, stockings & garters.

The Glamour Gurlz believe in the 'art of the tease'. Our motto is 'Let us help you experience an era when women were proud of their femininity'.

Is this a hobby business? Or is the income more than supplemental?

As our popularity increased, I was determined to go forward. For the first time in my 30+ years of life, I was doing a job i truly loved...and selling my greatest passion, vintage collectable lingerie and glamour dress up items.

My grandfather once said to me before his death in '96, 'Kimberly--if you find something you love to do and can make a living doing it... your one step ahead of the game...

A girlfriend and fellow slip site owner (thanks, Jen!) encouraged and helped me learn html and other computer 'stuff'... I also had a friend and former customer on Ebay who donated his time to designing the original website when we opened our website in June 2003. After our webstore was online and we became known, our sales increased and I had to hire a professional webmaster to do the maintenance of the website. Between shooting for the site and ebay, doing the shopping, shipping, invoicing and picture editing, writing descriptions, etc...I just didn't have enough time in the day to get everything done.

I found a spectacular web-mistress at www.sunsetgraphics.com. Sarah (the owner of Sunset Graphics) and I had a lot in common both being stay at home working moms. She re-designed the site to the beautiful layout you see online now.

Between running weekly Ebay auctions and maintaining the inventory in the website, my passion and former hobby has turned into a full-time business.

When did the membership site start?

Once the DVD was released and getting great feedback, along with many requests for more pictures, again, my good friend Jen encouraged me to open the pay portion of the gallery. I opened it in June of 2003.

How many hours do you work in a typical week?

I usually work anywhere from 12-16 hours a day on the Glamour Gurlz business. So I suppose that's between 84-112 hours a week.

What percent of your time is spent doing the following:

- finding items 10% (I now have an extensive inventory and do not need to shop as much)
- listing/webwork The biggest most demanding part of my job...50%
- shipping -- My husband does all my shipping now as I am far to busy
- taking photos 35%
- marketing 5%

Do you do all of this yourself, or do you outsource/hire others for things?

I do everything myself with exception to the maintenance of the website-- I edit and write all descriptions, however, my webmaster does all the design and gets everything aired for us.

What are the 3 things about yourself that you believe make you successful?

Passion & Dedication for what I do
Commitment to Excellence in Customer Service

What is the best part of your work?

Being able to make my own schedule, working around my small son and making a living doing something I totally love!

I also love that my business is helping to promote sensuality from an era when women were proud to be girly and feminine.

What is the worst part?

Definitely the hours...I have to sometimes work until 4am getting updates and listings done.

OK folks, Kimberly is doing it ~ what's your excuse? Maybe 2007 is the year you strike out & turn your passion into profits!

This year is what you make it!

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Help For Writers

Naughty Words blog is dedicated to authors of erotica and sexual non-fiction.

There you'll find calls for submissions, as well as writing tips, surveys, interviews, and promotional opportunities.

Here are a few of my favorite posts:

* Talking with Anthology Editors, Part Five

* AuthorIsland.com and AuthorScene.com

* Selenia's Cavern Quality Writing Services

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Basic Affiliate Tips

If you have an adult website, you can cash too in with affiliate programs. (And if you manage an affiliate program, take note as well ~ Your sales are also affected!)

Match the affiliate programs to your site content. If you're a gay male site, focus on products that appeal to that audience. Don't waste your time & valuable space on breast enlargement creams. Don't compete with yourself over your visitor's sale. Consider each ad to be a personal recommendation. You are telling them "This is the best site for bondage videos" not "Look how many places sell stuff."

Along these lines, don't compete with yourself for any sale. Does your site exist to sell it's own memberships, or make money off of your competition's affiliate programs? (And believe me, visitors will think of this themselves!) If you are a pay site for foot fetish folks, convert visitors to your site; don't give them reasons to sign up with other foot fetish sites. At least, not until you've exhausted all possibilities of keeping them for yourself. So don't give away customers too early.

And don't do it for 'a better ranking.' Ranking, shmankings. Affiliate links do not help you with your ranking because of the code to track them.

Consider the marketing material as well as the site/program. I can't tell you how important this is ~ especially for webmasters with little ability to make nice graphics. If you have a vanilla romance site, your surfers may freak out at very graphic hardcore BDSM images. Or maybe not. That's up to you. ...You'd better know your site's fan base & market!

If the affiliate program only offers the old 'traditional' 468 X 60 banners, and this doesn't work with your site's design, or you can only stuff them at the bottom of pages like a greedy after thought, what good are they? If the banners are all primary colors, and your site is in pastels, how is that going to look? Keep promotional materials in line with your site design.

It's a fact: If your site visitors see the same graphic in the same place for too long, they'll virtually become blind to them, and you won't move traffic out, let alone convert to sales. Give your visitors new (or at least new to your site as far as look & placement goes) images to get their attention. Rotate images, banners and text links; you'll not only keep eyes looking more, but you can watch your stats for which styles perform best.

The bottom line: If the affiliate program management doesn't offer you options, you're going to be rather limited ~ and with so many affiliate programs available, you'll be able to find others that offer you choices.

Similarly, affiliate program management should offer you occasional updated marketing materials. If it's a photo site, they should periodically offer you some new picture sets. They also should offer you some updated, fresh banner designs as well.

Don't go overboard. Don't plaster the joint with every affiliate program you can find. Even 20 different links to the same program or site causes confusion. Some choices & options are a good thing, but remember, folks are busy & easily distracted. It's like walking into a department store and asking the shoe salesman for the best Italian red leather pumps with 6 inch heels ~ at most, he should bring you two pairs. Anything more is too much and he appears to be A) unaware of which is 'best,' &/or B) trying to sell you the whole store.

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Lessons From The Adult Industry: eBay

All the upset over eBay's fee increases. All the upset as folks figure out that eBay is turning into WalMart ~ nothing but a corporation out to sell the most stuff at the lowest price & to hell with the folks they use to make their money. Oooh, how shocking! Ooooh, what are all the sellers, small & large, going to do?

Is it the end of eBay, or are they all playing Chicken Little, screaming that the sky is falling? And if you don't buy or sell at eBay, what do you care?

EBay's current disfavor with "the public" and "the media" isn't a big freakin' deal to those of us who've been selling mature or adult items. We saw the writing on the wall. Most of us, be we sellers of the latest DVDs, nude art, vintage men's mags, or personal care items (i.e. 'sex toys'), left long ago. Or at least greatly reduced our dependence upon eBay ~ Using eBay to our own advantages with loss leaders etc.

We saw how things were going, as we were set aside into our dark little hidden attic, wearing our scarlet letters or red stars. We wrote to eBay, we wrote to other sellers, we wrote to sites who purport to cover the auction business world, but no one cared. After all, we are just smut peddlers, and eBay has a right to be 'family centered.' Sure, they do. But unfair policies disguised as 'morality driven' is just a nice little ploy to divert attention, & keep eBay's image as a corporation as squeaky clean as they'd like you to think their website is.

It didn't matter that we were the first to really experience the frustrations of lack of contact, poor sales due to eBay policies, and to have policy interpreted differently by each customer service rep until we were axed, booted or suffered other consequences. It didn't matter to other sellers that we were treated like crap.

No one cared because we were dirty porn peddlers.

And this isn't a giant pity party, or a rant filled with anger bitterly rebuffing the mainstream concerns with the auction giant. Nope. This is a chance for us all to learn; to learn some positive things from a negative situation.

In the name of mighty morality, eBay removed the blight that was Mature Audiences. At least on the surface. They still took our dirty dollars, yes. EBay makes quite the sum seeing as sales are slow, prices are lower now they have dimmed the lights in the category & shield us from the buyers. Same fees, little action.

And once the giant corporation saw that it could still take money from the members selling & buying even as they alienated, segregated & punished us, they knew they could take this business model forward.

There's a lesson in censorship & rights, yes, for if you allow someone to limit one thing, you risk limits everywhere. But it's about more than that.

When we questioned the value of what we were supposedly receiving in benefits for our fees, & doubted the fee increases, we were ignored. Again, being sellers of smut, no one cared; they dismissed us to quickly.

It's easy to say to a group of sellers, "Hey, maybe this just isn't the place for you," and, "You just don't have a sound business model." And it's even easier when they sell products that you feel you can cast the first stone at. But let's look at the facts here.

Numerous articles have been written, in mainstream & adult entertainment circles, regarding how porn has made the best business use of the Internet. Adult entertainment is huge business. Porn is the number one income generator on the Internet today. And unlike the big names, such as Amazon, they had little difficulty making a profit.

Many business publications cite sex sellers on the web as the ones to watch for technological advances. Porn fed the video market, the demand drove the technology ~ just as it does today with DVDs, consumer electronics & the Internet. We spend vast sums of money on, & attention to, technological advances & opportunities.

But our love of, & belief in, technology isn't enough to make us rich. No, no, we have more than that. We are crafty little devils.

We have figured out the 'secrets' to motivating customers, with our better customer recruitment & retention rates.

We have adapted ourselves & our businesses to models not normally subscribed to in business ~ we view our competition as both threat & partner. If we can't sell a visitor our site, then hell, we'll see if we can give that visitor to a 'competing' site. Oh, sure, we'll make some money on that too, by the way. But where's the harm in that?

And when pesky problems arise, we find our way around them. For example, the adult Webster's use of blogs as a way to circumvent some of the SEO problems. We're crafty like that.

We do more than survive, we flourish. And if we can't flourish, with all of our devilish ways, selling a product that people *do* want, then there must be a problem.

Many business publications suggest that the wise e-commerce businessman would keep an eye on what the adult entertainment industry is doing on the Internet. Nielsen/NetRatings & Wall Street watch us, study us, for clues to the future. Time Magazine, CNN, Forbes ~ they all say it: Companies can learn from watching The Adult Entertainment Industry.

And if that's so, then adult webmasters are major indicators of Internet & business practices on the web. Both good, & bad.

So the next time you hear the adult webmaster, Mature Audience seller, or porno promoter complaining that they can no longer make money at this site, or that venue, maybe, just maybe you shouldn't throw stones or ignore them. Perhaps, you ought to listen.

More Reading:

* Online porn often leads high-tech way

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The Selling of Sex

We have all heard that sex sells, but let's look at the selling of sex... if it were legal...

First of all, as any person in marketing or advertising will tell you, you must know your target market. Which is, basically, a stereotype based on sophisticated research. Sure, you can spend tons of dollars on researching the actual demographics (and if this were legal, it would be!), but for the sake of simplicity here, let's break it down into some simple 'types' of consumers.

You have these basic types of consumers:

Group #1: Those who believe in getting things at bargain prices.

Group #2: Those who need to be sold on facts.

Group #3: Those who are sold on emotions.

Group #4: Those who believe that price is no object, and even if it were, they are worthy of every luxury.

Group #5: Those who have to follow the latest trends.

If sex could be sold legally in the US, this is how I see things...

Marketing to group #1, the price driven consumer, is of course all built on the lowest fees. Like Wal-Mart, the sex workers would be the low-price-leaders, making it up in volume. What the provider &/or place lacks in charm & ambiance, he or she would make up for in convenience & price.

The workers would be available at all hours, on a first-come (arrival, not that sort of cum) first-served basis. They would spend little time on fan-fare, chat or other things that would take time. The center itself would have easily wiped surfaces, no carpeting, and plenty of those 'no slip' features on the floors, in shower stalls etc.

This would be all about getting in done fast, efficiently & as cleanly as possible, making it easy for all parties to get back to their busy day. Most likely service centers would be located on or near busy sections of town, in strip malls (again, no puns!), etc. Many would offer the 'all you can eat' lunch specials.

I suspect, to add a bit of 'personalization' there would be a greeter near the entrance, who, wearing a blue vest with the company slogan (like 'Soft bottoms at Rock bottom prices') on the back, would hand folks a condom when the entered.

Group #2, those who are sold by the facts on the figures, are looking for a bit more... Not that convenience & price aren't an issue, but they need to be sold.

Brochures & resumes would be handy for these service providers. Each service provider would have their own brochure. In it they would need to outline his or her stats (measurements, photo, health certification etc.), experience, training, offer a reference or two, and perhaps a list of comparisons ~ you know, like why service company A is better than service company B.

Service center issues like health certification & safely rankings would likely be of large importance. So would a highly 'sterile' environment. A list of benefits, such as 'the only agency in town that has a get-off-guarantee.' or some such. You'd better be able to back it up (I swear, I am trying to avoid the puns) as these folks will claim the guarantees.

Group #3, the emotional consumer, would likely also be moved my brochures, however the content would be vastly different.

These would be heavy on the photos of smiling providers & customers, loaded with testimonials, and pictures of puppies (in innocent repose!) wouldn't hurt either. (No images of babies here please!)

Service centers would have to pay more attention to the surroundings. Overstuffed furnishings, lots of plants, carpeting would probably be a good idea. Providers would be best off having those 'counselor' abilities. Centers would likely be theme oriented, with limited menus (think Chi-Chi's), in order to best meet customer moods & not fear shocking them with 'variations.' (You would still have emotional branding for fetishes etc, but then no vanilla things should be about to 'shock' them into loss of their emotional fantasy either.)

These folks want more of the 'whole experience' and will be less worried about prices, as long as they are moved.

Group #4, the luxury lovers, would seem the easiest to please, but not really. As the fees increase, so do the demands.

Requiring more than a sexual act, these folks want plush surroundings, fantasy suits, designer names, membership cards (allowing them unrestricted access ~ unless it is a bondage thing ), and centres (yes, spelled in the more 'exotic' European form!) would be best to offer beverages & food, as well as valet parking.

The receptionist positions would be key: all clients must be recognized & addressed by their names, their preferences remembered. Workers would have no pagers or back-to-back appointments (sorry!). Service providers must make each client feel that they are the only one, never in a rush for the next one.

Providers must also offer other charms, including conversational ability, and might have to be highly specialized. Workers would likely have a ratings system, with certain workers only available to certain types of membership holders.

I think it likely that most centres would offer more than hourly rates, offering the options for week long, 5-star hotel/spa stays, and of course, the traveling companion.

Ideally, these clubs wouldn't advertise, nor would they be in the Yellow Pages. Just the matchbook covers, members' only monikered key rings, and tasteful, sleek gold condom cases would speak of the hidden, 'invite only' clubs.

I also foresee, that these service providers will have entourages. At the least, burly, dark-suited associates with those ear pieces & holsters...

Group #5, the fad followers, need to constantly told what is new.

Sex not being such a new thing, workers would spice services up with new trendy fare & lots of celebrity names. These customers have to be the first on their blocks to do it: "Hey, Bob, how's it goin'? Oh, me? I just got back from doing it 'Cruise style'."

A business created for name-dropping pants-droppers.

These service centers would offer huge gift shoppes, offering collectible merchandise that could be displayed & shown off to friends. Licensing would be a large part of this, allowing for those in towns without such centers the option of looking the part. Centers would also have restaurants, with glass windows for plenty of visibility. (Look at me! I am at 'Hard-Cock Cafe' ~ Aren't I smart!)

A few very successful service centers might emerge, offering adult theme parks worthy of vacation destinations. Here, the t-shirts 'I rode Gracie Mountains' sell well (Dolly-wood might be the first to change over...)

But many of these centers, not being able to constantly evoke 'new' would fold, and become yesterday's news. (And those now tacky t-shirts tossed out ~ Only to be sold for big bucks on eBay decades later.)

Ahhh, America would sell the shit out of sex.

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Mini-Book Reviews

If I were teaching a class on Internet marketing, these books would be required reading:

* Selling on the Net: The Complete Guide by Herschell Gordon Lewis & Robert D. Lewis, was one of the first serious books I had ever read about selling on the net. It hasn't been updated recently, but since it is not a technology driven book, I don't think it is dated at all. One of the best books providing an overview of how the Internet is viewed, how people react to it, and why ecommerce, selling services & marketing will work online. This is a great basic overview, and even if you have been online for awhile, you will benefit from reading it. Has many illustrations of websites that do & don't 'work' and profiles of companies, so you get real examples.

* Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy by Nick Usborne is a treasure! Copyright, 2002. Usborne uses his marketing knowledge & experience to detail just what works in writing on the Internet. He covers everything you need to know on how to make your website work - that means how to get viewers to stay. If you site is not interesting to viewers, from a text & content point of view, they will click in & just easy quickly, click out. But, if your site is well written, they will stay, maybe even long enough to buy! If they don't buy, they will certainly remember you, be likely to use your 'tell-a-friend', bookmark your site, subscribe etc. In fact, what he tells you works for newsletters & zines too. You all know how much I believe in site content folks, so if this guy excites me this much, it must be fabulous! Not to sound like a Ginsu salesman, 'but wait, there's more!' Usborne also covers how to write the text that is your product/service description, or in the biz lingo, 'your sales copy.' So if you want to learn more ways to increase viewer interest & sales, then grab the book.

* A New Brand World: 8 Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century by Scott Bedbury. Copyright 2002. (I linked to the softcover to give you the cheapest option, however if you prefer, the hardcover is still available.) Some of you may be wondering what 'branding' is... Branding is the ability to make a company be more than just a company. It moves past the idea of selling a product through marketing, but into creating an entire concept around your company. Examples of branding are Nike (Just Do It is the slogan, but we 'feel' that empowering 'I can achieve it' rush), and Coke A Cola (I mean come on, folks buy & collect *anything* that says Coke!). Who is Bedbury to talk about branding? Hehehe, glad you asked! This is the guy who took Nike from just another athletic shoe company, and created the Nike dynasty. Not only that, his next gig was Starbucks! So, this man knows what he is talking about. I kid you not.

This book is a bit more intense to read, not because he is a bad writer, or technical; it is very easily understood. However, he is talking about much larger companies, with larger budgets (even though he discusses how young these companies were, let's face it, they could hire someone full time, and give him a staff of his own!). So the trick then becomes how to take the examples he states & turn them into something folks like us can use. He provides plenty of details as to why he took certain steps, what the strategy was, which helps greatly. You can see what he is talking about. But it still requires some 'bending' and fine-tuning for us. I *do* recommend the book highly. I think Bedbury is the kind of man who's head you want to get inside! If you are struggling to find a way to make your company & its philosophy stand out, then you have to read it.

© GlamKitty, who moderates the Working With The Web newsletter.

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An Interview with Lawrence G. Walters, Esq.

Larry Walters is a First Amendment attorney, and one of the elite handful of lawyers who defend those in the adult entertainment business. His law firm clients include: adult webmasters, those with free & pay sites; performers & escorts with websites or who use the internet for promotional reasons; those who run gambling sites; & those who create &/or control content & are concerned about everything from copyright protection to obscenity concerns.

In short ~ if you're in the adult business world, on the internet & in the USA, pay attention!

Larry Walters has developed the Birth Date Verifier as a way for adult webmasters to protect themselves in the current political climate. Recently I discussed with him the significance of the Birth Date Verifier....

Please explain the difference between the Birth Date Verifier & an AVS.

An AVS typically offers a payment system, whereby users are age verified by providing a credit card or other payment information, and then given access to a group of sites served by the AVS. The BDV is a combination of a software device and a legal age disclaimer, which when used together, generate a sworn statement of age which is verified by the system to determine whether the user is over the age of 18 on the current date. If so, the user is allowed access to the site. If not, the user is blocked from entering the site or any of its age protected material. The BDV requires no payment, and asks for no personal information other than a name (or even initials) and a birth date.

Why is the Birth Date Verifier is "superior " to the "I'm over 18" click method? Does your method offer greater legal protection?

The 18+ disclaimers are perceived as a national joke by parents, prosecutors and the courts, and easily bypassed with no consequences. No age information is provided when accessing through such pages, and no 'verification' takes place.

The BDV uses a combination of the federal Declarations Act and the E-SIGN legislation to generate the equivalent of an online affidavit that is submitted by the user, verified by the system, and used to determine access rights. If a user were to lie, and include a false birth date, he/she may be granted access, but it would only be by committing a federal offense. People can get away with all kinds of things if they're willing to commit crimes.

When weighing who is at fault, we believe that the courts would side with the webmaster who has taken appropriate steps to verify age given current technology, as opposed to a user who is willing to commit the federal felony of perjury to gain access to the site. This is similar to the clerk who sells tobacco to a minor with a fake ID.

No age check system is perfect, by any means, and neither is the BDV. However, the federal law relating on online age verification, COPA, includes a specific affirmative defense which allows webmasters to use "any other reasonable measures that are feasible under available technology" to verify age. Until devices such as finger print pads or retina scans become commonplace, the BDV should qualify as such a 'reasonable measure'.

What sites, in your opinion, are most in need of such a device?

Free sites, to be sure, will benefit the most by this device. Since most pay sites use credit cards to verify age, free sites are left with little or no option besides the BDV, since they do not charge for their services.

Moreover, the Credit Card companies do not want their cards being used for age verification, and Visa specifically prohibits it. Therefore, even if credit cards are partially relied upon for age verification, the BDV is an excellent secondary check for users.

It should also be noted that various other forms of payment are routinely accepted by pay sites, such as online checks or 900 numbers. The BDV can be successfully incorporated into the payment process when using these alternate payment methods, to ensure that some form of age verification has occurred.

If the adult site is a free site, not a paid memberships site with protected content areas, will this method work well? Given traffic from Google etc..

Our clients have found ways to successfully incorporate the BDV into free sites, or free areas, without sacrificing much search engine optimization. For example, free tours can remain outside the BDV block, so long as they are age appropriate. This will allow the search engines to pick up the free pages, and index them accordingly. However, it should be noted that implementation of the BDV (or any other effective age verification tool) may negatively impact traffic or other marketing.

Every webmaster must make a decision whether the additional legal protection is worth some potential impact on profits. Our clients generally prefer to play it safe, even if it means less revenue. However, when implemented correctly, the BDV will not significantly impact the site's profitability or recognition.

What is the cost for the Birth Date Verifier? How does a webmaster qualify for the device?

We provide the device free of charge to our clients. If an interested webmaster wants to obtain the device without becoming a client for some reason, we have made the device available on a monthly subscription basis.

This decision is made on a case by case basis, and we must approve the sites on which the device will be used, particularly by non-clients. AVS companies are not allowed to use the device. The cost of the subscription will vary depending on the needs of the client, but starts at less than $1500 per year.

How difficult is this to install upon a website?

It is extremely simple. The device is provided in ASP, PHP, CGI and Cold Fusion versions. We've never had any reports of problems installing the device, but we offer technical assistance to those who need it, at no additional cost.

Please explain what real dangers you see to adult webmasters in the USA given the current political climate. Are you concerned? Or is all the 'talk' alarmist behavior?

For years, I have preached the benefits of age verification, whether legally required or not. Having handled obscenity cases for over a decade, I've found the common theme the government tries to incorporate is access by minors. The prosecution always tries to work in to the case, some evidence of kids getting access to the materials, even if not required to prove their case.

In the very first obscenity case I handled in 1989, I defended a video store who sold a tape to a 17 year old undercover agent, who had a beard and looked 25. This made the case tougher to defend, although we obtained a mistrial. I also defended an online obscenity case where the government argued that teenagers in the neighborhood were given passwords to the site that was allegedly obscene. None of this was relevant to the obscenity issue, but they like to smear the defendant, and argue 'even your kids can get access to this stuff' to the jury. Ironically, the BDV would have been useful in that case, even if the teenagers had obtained passwords, since they would have had to perjure themselves in order to get access to the site with the stolen passwords.

I see the current threatened crackdown as a serious threat. The Senate is trying to generate evidence that porn is an addictive drug, for which there is no cure. The Attorney General has publicly committed to prosecute obscenity. There have been House Resolutions encouraging obscenity prosecutions, and the religious right is clamoring for payback, after Bush's re-election.

The game, now, is for each webmaster to make them self the least attractive target, while still competing for business. Implementing something like the BDV will assist in reducing a webmaster's exposure, while at the same time, help in keeping inappropriate material away from kids.

For more information on the BDV, visit www.BirthDateVerifier.com.

For more intormation on Lawrence G. Walters & his law firm, visit www.FirstAmendment.com.

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Is blogging here to stay? Can you use it?

Is blogging a fad borne of technology that will fade faster than pet rocks, even if it can do more? In a world of digital & technology leaps, most anything can be a fad, at lightening speed. Just because the technology makes this online public diary possible, will they become equally as useless as the diary under a teenage girl's bed? Aside from the sneaky little brother, who cares what is written?

It's a debate that continues with folks much more intelligent than myself, but in reality, I am very suited to this debate. After all, it will be a decision reached by people. For in order for it to survive, it must become part of popular culture, so who else is more qualified to discuss the issue than BW's resident Pop Culture Queen? Especially as I also manage to be quite 'average' when it comes to technological things.

Why are blogs so popular?

Blogs are cheap & easy. In seconds, and for free, you can be set up with one. A few seconds more, and your blitherings are available for the public (or just your friends if you wish). Want some serious features? You can opt for upgrades for a couple of bucks.

However, like most of the webmasters, bloggers are discovering, just because you have built it, it doesn't mean they will come. Aside from your mom, your best friend, who is going to come to read your blither-blather? In reality, you have likely already told then in an email or phone conversation that your dog ran away, you were promoted, you like cheese, and that your recent ex is an idiot from hell & that you are going to burn his favorite jeans in the back yard. So why blog?

Most blogs are part of online communities. You can link up with other dog owners, cheese lovers & jilted lovers, all of you blither-blathering on & on until someone gets a cat, becomes lactose intolerant, or finds Mr. Right. But the truth is, just as with real multiple conversations, no one is listening as much as they are talking. Many bloggers are saddened by little traffic, minimal comments, and tire of having to post chipper little comments at the entries of others in order to try to get some to reply to their entries.

The now fact what webmasters everywhere have known for a long time: if you don't promote, you die.

All the 'big names' in blogging are just that, Big Names. In fact, the most successful bloggers are professionals in their fields. Folks seek out their wisdom & experience, often for fees. So the chance at free information & tips, with or without the pithy asides & insider rib poking, is why they visit.

Rarely are these blogs about mundane daily events, trifling tidbits on cheese - unless this is a dairy or food manufacturing site. No the popular blogs are very similar to the biggest & best websites: they are all about business.

The loyal rag-tag gang of readers & posters are those who work in, or desire to work in, the particular arena the blogger does. Or they hope to make an interesting discovery which will help them in their work, such as Mr Corporate or Ms Entrepreneur reading blogs on marketing.

Right now, blogging is so popular, that businesses are not just thriving on the tips, nor just being created to support the business of blogging, but they are even business models trying to utilize blogs as an income source.

To promote You have corporate blogs, where loyal customers can find out the inside scoop directly from the PR department. Blogs are now becoming direct marketing pieces. Where once normal consumers were jaded & viewed all corporate communications as a sales pitch, they now sign up to post & receive mailings. They believe what they read is as rare & private as a teen girl who reads Tiger Beat magazine thinking they now really, really know their heart-throb de jour.


If I sound jaded, forgive me. And I don't mean to say blogs or bloggers are evil spawn to be avoided. But where is the realism in all of this?

The media loves to play up the popularity & power of blogs. They love stories such as new authors being 'discovered,' how so & so got a job because of her blog, but sheesh, is it such a surprise?

Remember when Hollywood starlets were 'discovered' at coffee shops? Was that the norm? No. Remember the beginnings of biographies of famous people who claimed they got their professional start simply by being in the right place at the right time? They delivered something, gave someone a ride, made a good impression somewhere to the wife, the son, the man himself, and *boom* they got the job of a lifetime - or at least the start to one.

That's what blogs are: a way to make a good impression.

In this world of digital & instant communication, as folks spend more time with their monitors than they do in coffee shops or at cocktail parties, this is how we meet people. Sometimes it's a link in an email from a friend. Other times, it is a 'referral' in the from of a links list. Sometimes, a cheese lover will find an excellent writer in his fellow cheese lover. Who knows? Folks surf , so why is it a surprise that occasionally a connection is made? The web is made up of data & pixels, but it is humans that absorb & interact with it.

So, will blogs die out or become a fixture?

My bet is that there is more to come. Both in technology & in the goals of the users.

Those bloggers who find what they are looking for, be it pals that love cheese or that writing gig, will stay with it. Like the readers, those who can't find a community where they fit in, will likely move on.

As for businesses, I suspect it will be much like all in business: those that are honest, remain flexible, and focus on their customers will only grow larger.

© GlamKitty, a Backwash columnist, who despite being from Wisconsin, does not blog about cheese.

More by this author:

* Marketing Tips That Include The Real World

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Affiliate Tips

Many bloggers are making good money with affiliate programs, as are webmasters, cam-girls, and directories. Here are a few basic tips to generating income with affiliate programs.

Top affiliates always do the following to promote sales:

- Rotate and update buttons, banners and text links to give visitors something new to consider.

- Include links in email signatures.

- Match affiliate programs & products to your web content.

- Include links in Yahoo Groups, MySpace and other community places where it is appropriate.

- Update their visitors on new sales and promotions (and take outdated links out!)

But don't rely on just text links or even banners. Include real content about what you are trying to sell: a feature article or product review gets readers interested.

And then, re-use your content:

- Send it out in your newsletter or ezine.

- Include a link to a popular article in your email signature.

- Submit your articles to online article directories, free content sites, and for free distribution with the agreement that your affiliate links remain intact. Even offline media (magazines, newspapers, newsletters, TV, radio) can bring traffic and sales if you include your URL (which has attractively placed affiliate links, of course!).

Other general tips:

Use your affiliate link with an image of a product where ever possible -- even if only to recommend a 'favorite', 'top pick' or quick testimonial.

Free sites, it's fair game to ask your readers to support your website/publication by making their purchases from your affiliates list. Reminding them that it's these funds which keep the site free is not only appropriate, it's true. If they appreciate the site, it's likely that they will respond with a purchase or at least not be offended.

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Have an Erotic Story Website or Blog? Want It Reviewed?

Authors who have websites and blogs with erotic stories, and would like to promote them, here's an announcement for you!

Carrie White, who runs Hentracks Reviews, has now opened up Sexography, and decided to expand her erotica reviewing to include websites.

Now along with her book reviews, she will be reviewing story or text only sites or sites that have stories within them.

When Carrie and I first talked, I told her how difficult it is for story sites to get attention let alone stand out in a 'world' which is so focused on image/movie sites. So her choice to include websites with her other erotica reviews is good news for us all.

One of the great things about Carrie is that she does allow for you to quote from and use reviews in your promotional efforts (as long as you properly credit/link to her) ~ Doing this also increases her traffic, which will increase the number of reads every one's own reviews will receive, which is good for all of us!

Another great thing about Carrie is that she's a professional. She communicates well during the review process, and will let you know when the review has been published. Those with pay sites will appreciate the fact that Carrie will not ask for you to renew the review pass a dozen times.

Anyone who wishes to take Carrie up on her services, should contact her at her website ~ and please, as a courtesy, tell her that Gracie sent you. Feel free to tell other erotica authors you know, but please ask that they drop my name too ~ it's the kind and respectful thing to do! (It's not that I make a dime off of this, it's just proper networking!)

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H.R. Bluff n Stuff

One thing about being an adult webmaster is that there's lots of what I call "bluff n stuff" in this business.

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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Are You Missing Natural Site Traffic?

In 1948 Kinsey noted that human sexuality is not an 'either/or' proposition. In Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. it was stated thus:

"Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories... The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects."

In other words, one is not 100% straight, or 100% gay.

This situation is one that webmasters would be wise to exploit. One such webmaster is Drew, of ThreePillows.com. He says "I have news for you... Whether you run a gay site or straight site you have bisexual surfers. We are everywhere. We are cruising gay linklists and straight linklists. We are members of gay bear sites, straight teen sites and all kinds of sites. Ever wondered why you get some gay sales from your straight sites? Tracks left by bisexual surfers."

It makes sense. If folks tend to be somewhere along the continuum, there are natural tendencies to be bisexual.

But don't just take my word ~ or Drew's ~ as proof. Look at the chart below, part of Kinsey's work, which shows the many gradations that actually exist.

0 - Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
1 - Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2 - Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 - Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4 - Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 - Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6 - Exclusively homosexual

Now are you convinced?

There's bisexual traffic in them-there straight & gay sites.

"The first thing you can do is recognize that you have bisexual surfers and target them." says Drew. Naturally, Drew recommends promoting his site, via his webmaster affiliate program, Bi-Bucks.

Drew cautions "Understand that many bisexuals are in the closet - much more so than 100% gay men and women. Discretion and security is a key selling point."

So, in a world of implants, stunt cocks and other fake porn, bisexual traffic might be the only natural thing left in porn!

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Things to Consider for the New Year

Evaluate your equipment. Computers, printers, cameras, software etc. Has technology pushed ahead so far that your current equipment is obsolete? Is it struggling to keep up with the demands placed on it? Are there newer versions that could speed up your work? Check prices & see if upgrades are cost effective due to the time & effort saved.

Growth Has your business grown to the point where you now need to consider outsourcing or hiring? It's hard to let go, but at some point the work load may need to be shifted. Money out could in fact mean even more money in.

Clean House Do you have items, such as equipment & office supplies you no longer use? Consider selling & even donating for the tax write off. Clearing out old useless things will give you more space to work in.

Paper Shuffle As you prepare for tax time, clean up files, paperwork, and examine your paperwork. If you have mounds of 'stuff' to dig through, consider making this year the year you get organized. (Note: This may be an area you need to consider for outsourcing & get a Virtual Assistant or hire a professional organizer.)

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Got Female Traffic? Want More?

Meet Entrepreneur and PR Specialist, Chloe Jo Berman.

Chloe's a PR princess slash event planner slash Indie record label creative director. She's thrown parties in NY's hottest rooms since she was 15, rocked out as a musician, and been on the cover of magazines proclaimed an "IT" girl. As bad as her tattoos may suggest she is, she's a former Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva girl who will tell you exactly where to get the best deal on a Chanel bag and who gives the best facial.

And why should you care about Chloe?

Because Chloe took her small fashion event business and turned it into a newsletter promotion service with as much loyalty as any branded corporate giant. With 13,000+ devoted and active subscribers, The Girlie Girl Newsletter is a marketer's wet dream.

Originally The Girlie Girl Newsletter was started to promote Chloe's fashion events. (At the end of each fashion season, she buys out large distributors, boutiques, and stores and resells to the public at up to 90% off retail.) From there, Chloe began doing freelance events for other designers, then segued into producing LGBT events, and in the process started up her LGBT list of loyal followers.

While all of this is cool and inspirational in and of itself, Chloe now offers her newsletter as a vehicle to support other cool women-owned businesses and causes that are important to her.

I discovered Chloe's list this Spring (and frequently shop off her list of cool tidbits), but I had no idea that Chloe was accepting outsider use of her cool newsletter. I discovered this in my interview with her over at Sex-Kitten (Adult Link). Once I discovered this, I just had to ask her all about the opportunity...

Who are the subscribers of The Girlie Girl Newsletter?

Our lists are the creme de la creme of hipster city women. Our demographic is upwardly mobile, socially conscience hipsters from 18-55. In addition to spreading the word about your business, you also get a chance to be seen by the numerous magazine editors, writers, celebrities, and taste makers on our lists. This newsletter is excellent for any event, but consumer product sales seem to flourish after a blast from our girlie camps. Of course, once we get the word out for you - there are tie-in opportunities galore!

How often do you send issues?

The newsletter goes out weekly or at least tri-Monthly - depending on how many events we have going on each month.

What are the numbers on each city list?

Our Atlanta list is 5,000, our NYC list is 10,000, and our Los Angeles list is 1,000. The general LGBT national list is over 13,000.

I know I shop off your recommendations, and network off your list, but do you really have that much power?

Our list has been garnered on a grass roots level for the past ten years, which is why we rarely have removals and have such a loyal reading audience! But here are some testimonials:

"I have subscriptions to like 8 newsletters, and GirlieGirl is the only one I read entirely as soon as I get it because there is almost always something useful in there for myself or one of my girls...Chloe has her hand in a little of everything--truly a networking superwoman with NY style!" Chrissie (ny reader)

But let's be frank, do the businesses get results?

Web-based businesses are wise to let ALL our fab girls know about their biz. Our reasonable rates will have the hipsters dashing to your business - you lucky thing! Our girls really do love to shop online and support Indie businesses! More testimonials ;)

"Chloe is not only a fabulously generous human being, she's a publicity goddess! She bumped my website views massively, definitely caused my book to sell thousands of copies, and gave the book a huge hit of love Chloe-style - thereby increasing my hipness a thousandfold. I recommend Chloe unreservedly. She's wonderful!"
- Maria Dahvana Headley (Author of THE YEAR OF YES: A Memoir - Hyperion Books), Seattle, WA

"Chloe Jo is THE supreme PR queen!!! With her help and services we have had fantastic results that translated to an increase in direct sales, successful turnouts at events we have produced, and networking with other performers, producers, and businesses. Chloe Jo ROCKS!!"
- Jackie Strano, owner of SIR Productions/ Indie musician, Santa Cruz, CA.
(Adult Link) www.sirvideo.com

OK Chloe, what are the options?

For our smallest campaign, we ask a weekly fee (per email listing alongside all other listings) of $40 per city - that is if we feel your product or service is applicable to our demographics.

A $40 blurb has NO image, JPEG, or attachment. If you would like to have one of those items, you need to go for the EXCLUSIVE blurb.

If you would like to run your promotional program exclusively (a stand alone email that can be as long as you like, with attachments or images), this costs $250-$500 (depending on time of the year and content of email). These emails see an exponentially larger rate of success than the smaller blurbs.

It is sometimes possible to do product exchange or (depending on the size of your list and location of the bulk of your list) email blast to your clientele about our events in lieu of paying the fee.

Any other promo opportunities?

Yes, we have postcards and swag opportunities. Promotional postcards, magazines, or merchandise can be added to our shoppers bags for a flat fee of $100 per event. You are physically reaching a huge number of women, and are able to track how many people came from our sale if you place a code on your postcards.

We are also available for press and pr consultancy for your business. And we can set up and organize street teams for companies and bands or they can use ours. Contact me to learn more.

Anything else we should know?

Charitable events are exempt from this policy, and we will consider trade (product or email blast) instead of cashola. And if you would like a sample of the newsletter that goes out, please email us for a copy. Just email chloe (at) chloejo.com to get linked into our little universe!

So, how do we seal the dealio?

First, contact me to see if your product or service is right for Girlie Girl. The listing fees are payable via www.paypal.com (to Chloe(at) ChloeJo.com and only by using a check/bank card - if using a Credit Card - charge is $5 extra since we get charged extra for cc's), or check/ money order to us. Details will be provided on the completion of an arrangement.

For those who want to know more, you may visit Chloe's website, www.chloejo.com, &/or contact her at chloe@chloejo.com.

And I highly recommend subscribing to at least one of the newsletters to get an idea of what events, products and companies Girlie Girl covers. To do so, just send an email to chloe@chloejo.com with "LGBT National" in the subject line of your email. Or, if you prefer events in your city only, use "Sample Sales" (and the city of your choice, NYC, LA, or Atlanta) as your email subject line.

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Google Problems?

Often the new adult webmaster thinks that since their site hasn't shown up in Google, it's because Google dislikes adult entertainment.

Google isn't a prude. So content is not your problem. Likely you have a technology issue.

Google uses spiders to search-out sites & pages & bring those finding in as results for the surfer. If you site navigation/design uses some of the following 'tricks,' you may be smashing those useful spiders...

First of all, let me say 'ugh.' Frames are so passe ~ so 1990's, they belong on VH1s 'I love the 90's' to be mocked right along side Tanya Harding.

But honestly, it's not that Google just thinks they are 'ugly,' there are practical reasons for the search engine slight.

With frames, one of the hated features of frames, a person cannot bookmark a specific page ~ at least not as easily as non-frame pages. This conceptual design also makes the spider's work more difficult. Google will find your site, but may not return the ideal page, or it may give the page, without the frames, causing a lack of navigation.

Gracie suggests you just get rid of frames altogether, as soon as possible. Not just for Google, but for your site visitors.

Flash or Image Created Sites
Flash is a huge, showy way of creating pretty websites and entry pages ~ but a real waste of money in my opinion. The same is true of websites designed with nothing but a composite of images. Quite often both of these techniques are used to look impressive and preserve the integrity of special fonts which web browsers cannot read, but as they are all images and no text, search engines do not see them.

Sure, they look nice, but who is going to find you to see them?

JavaScript has traditionally been used in shopping cart systems and other 'high tech' sites for rollover menu images, visitor tracking, and other reasons, but JavaScript cannot be read by Google or other search engine spiders. (Using JavaScript for link swaps and links pages also virtually nullifies search engine spider abilities to use links for ranking too.)

Many Internet users have JavaScript disabled, and those with PDAs & other tech gadgets which have limited or no JavaScript capability means the use of JavaScript should be seriously considered for a number of other reasons as well.

AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript And XML, which means many of the problems with JavaScript will apply.

Dynamically Generated Pages
While Google is able to index dynamically generated pages, this configuration gives a spider too many options, which can cause crashes ~ site crashes. Google, therefore, has limited the number of dynamic pages they will search & index. It's a safety precaution.

A word on the above site design/code issues for those who do not create their own websites. If you hired a web designer or plan on doing so, tell your designer your concerns. A nifty tool to help with code problems, as well as pages or documents on your site which are not linked, is YourAmigo Spider Linker.

A good rule of thumb for avoiding all of the above issues is to remember all pages must have HTML for search engines to find read them.

Doorway Pages
I know these were 'big' back in the day, but most search engines, and most definitely Google, dislikes the hell out of 'em.

Surfers hate doorway pages, which 'promise' content, but just hook & jerk a surfer into a place they don't want to be, or offer nothing in the way of content. So Google wishes to avoid sending their surfers to doorways or splash screens.

Just don't do them. Not only do you risk problems with Google, but you alienate your potential customers.

Other Class-less Cheats
These are sure to get you banned or bumped from most search engines. (I can't believe anyone actually employs these tactics anymore, but...)

* Do not use small or hidden text. (Spamming)

* Do not use popular keywords in your tags or text if they have nothing to do with your site's content. (Stuffing/Spamming)

* Do not participate in link farms ~ A directory with actual content, such as reviews, a few articles etc, those are OK, but auto-generated link sites are bad news.

If you play 'clean,' yes, your 'dirty' site will still get listed.

More Reading:

BoingBoing has an update of a snafu which may be fixed, but contains some generally useful info for bloggers regarding Google.

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Use of Color in Design

If I have to visit one more adult site with a black cave-like color scheme, I'll scream.

Don't get me wrong, there are some sites where the use of black is a good thing, a welcomed thing, but in general, too many sites think 'black equals dark & private' when in reality it can feel like 'dark, dreary, & disgusting.' (I like to feel a bit dirty, sure ~ but in the naughty way, not some 'trapped in a coffin with mud pouring in through the cracks' way.)

Unless you have a goth, BDSM, or a site that deals with power, death, or other related issue, maybe too much black is saying the wrong thing about your website ~ or it just makes your site look like all the other sites out there.

So, what colors are you using in your website? What are they saying to your visitors?

Colors can have both a direct & indirect impact on usability (a visitor's response to your web site), and color can play a huge role in your branding efforts (marketing & design work).

Colors are often categorized as temperatures or seasons, which can give you a rather good idea of possible responses:

Cool Colors (calming) Blue, Green, Turquoise, Silver

Warm Colors (exciting) Red, Pink, Yellow, Gold, Orange

Mixed Cool/Warm Colors Purple, Lavender, Green, Turquoise

Neutral Colors (unifying) Brown, Beige, Ivory, Gray, Black, White

There are some excellent resources to help you more with color definitions, but generally you can use good ol' common sense to help guide you ~ providing you are part of your target market. If you are not, then some research is probably a good idea.

Some folks think that the use of color is not important in web design, but there is far too much study, documentation, and my own personal experience with the use of & response to color for me to dismiss it.

In fact, many companies study the impact & affects of colors to determine more than just their logos.

For example, did you know that orange is used by many fast food restaurants for a reason?

Orange is a color that encourages folk to move out faster, thereby freeing tables for more customers, as well as (one hopes!) makes the employees work faster. So Hardee's used the orange inside, and then took it to another level by using the orange to brand the company.

In order to update their look, Hardee's has since changed to red with their yellow star logo. Red & yellow are still 'active' colors, and red is known to increase appetites, so perhaps they wanted to change their focus from 'fast' to 'eat more.' I don't know for certain, but I bet it has to do with the entire fast food industry changing the focus from 'fast' (which is now a given) to the increasing trend to make us order more ('Super size' it, baby!).

Need another example? Think of your latest lingerie purchse. Be it for yourself, or your gal-pal, didn't you consider color? A white gown is virginal, a red one is racy. A pink teddy is sweet, and a black one is slutty. Your website colors convey that too.

And color is more than the 'mood,' it dictates action too. Think of the colors you use for your call to action: is your 'subscribe button' the right color to not only get noticed, but make them want to act now?

Of course, you also have to view the overall design of the website when you use colors. Do your website colors compliment each other? Do you have so many that the visitor is actually frustrated?

This is the kind of stuff companies spend time evalutating. Coca Cola red, Tide orange, and John Deer Green, these colors are as powerful as the corporate logos. Just as shapes & symbols brand a company &/or products, colors do the same.

If corporate America spends time & money addressing the importance & use of color, can you afford not to?

More reading:

* The use of colour
* ColorMatters.com
* The Psychology of Color in Messages

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Whoring Your Site With Links

Getting traffic to your adult website, no matter what kind it is, requires promotions ~ whoring your site information with the hopes that you will get some folks over to see just how fine your offerings are.

No matter what kind of site you have, even if your site isn't mature or adult in nature, all web site owners need to do this. There is no real difference in between website A and website XXX in this area of business.

All websites need links in, from other sites & search engines. Once you get a few folks there, you can hope that your site impresses those surfers enough to have them forward your URL to friends, link to the site from theirs etc. This is the 'buzz' or 'word of mouth' factor.

But, you need to get some surfers there in order to convince them that you have a site worthy of sharing. The first step is to get some links from other sites. (We'll cover search engines & directories later.) The best way to get those links is to ask.

However, just as with real whores, there are degrees of vulgarity involved.

Why be a $5-any-trick-crack-whore when you can be a $300-per-hour-escort?

Run your site with some class, and you'll be more like the latter.

One of the best ways to show some class while running an adult website is to keep in mind the following ideas as you work on getting those links to your sites:

Make each & every email request work for you. Don't use a standard email that you cut & paste in every request. Instead, take some time to tailor it to each individual website/webmaster. Let them know you really looked at their site, and list a few reasons why your link is helpful to their visitors., &/or why it is beneficial to them to work with you.

If you are offering a swap, let them know which type (text, banner etc) and where you will place theirs. A request with no information, especially if your site doesn't have a clear 'links' page, makes them think you will not be putting a link up.

*Always* say thank you ~ both in advance, and upon a reply. Even if it is a rejection, a thank you is nice. And you may still be able to elicit a 'yes' with a polite 'thank you anyway' ~ I often read why they have said no and either clarify a misunderstanding, offer to sweeten the deal, or send them to another site I know which would be better for them. Trust me, they keep you in mind down the line.

Don't send a banner unless asked to. Directing them to where they can grab one is fine, or offer to send one if they are interested, but images can clog up an inbox fast. You'll soon be getting such requests yourself, and you'll see what I mean.

Don't ask non-adult sites to link to you, unless you see they already have adult links. It freaks them out. An email request from an adult site is not just a 'delete' moment, but one that makes them panic. You will be reported for spam or worse.

Don't just take links from anywhere, target your links. If your site is a for male viewers/subscribers who want to look at women, don't waste your time emailing sites for gay men. Traffic is not traffic, and even if this act only costs you your time, you have lost minutes where you could have found a site better suited to your audience. And what if you have to swap? Do you think that gay-guy link is going to mean much to your subscribers? Do them a favor, only offer links that they have a remote possibility of interest in. (We'll be covering more in the importance of targeting in other articles too.)

If possible get a text link. Yes, text. They tend to work better as folks easily tune out banners. A text link, especially if written by the web site owner who is placing it, reads as a recommendation, and therefore looks less like an ad, and more like an endorsement. But even just the name of your site linked tends to get better results than a banner on a banner farm type page. However, if they only do a banner link page, then be prepared to make one available.

Mind your manners. If they have a form request, use it. If they tell you to only inquire once, don't keep applying. If they say to post their link first before requesting a link of your own, do it.

A fear of giving them a few short-term extra few links, or a bit of a wait, is not worth risking bad press, ill will, and animosity you generate with website owners. They are surfers too. As such, they just plain 'talk' as well.

Always upload the other site's banner to your server ~ *Never* ever steal bandwidth.

This does not mean that you have to comply with their every wish. If you are not going to offer a banner links page (say you do not wish to use up your bandwidth, or dislike the look of all those loud banners on page etc.), then kindly explain why. Often your honest approach, especially when you put it in terms of a benefit to them, they will be most agreeable. If not, you can gently decline the offer.

You always have the right to keep the rules of your own site. Polite just means you respect their's as well.

And for the love of traffic, if not God, don't spam message boards. No one clicks them ~ unless it is a site owner who is going to complain to you or about you. Your goal is quality buzz, people saying nice things about your site, not trashing you. You are not going to get high quality referrals from low quality spam postings. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

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