Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sexuality and Fetish Blogging and Webmastering

The fabulous Richard Evans Lee has resurrected and kids, it's all about sexuality and fetish blogging and webmastering. If you don't already know Richard, read my interview; chances are you've been to his blogs many times but just didn't know his name. He's got a wealth of info & experience to share, so I'm adding 'him' to the sidebar.

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Mental Midgets (A Rant)

This is a re-run of an older column of mine ~ but a friend recently had a (uncannily) similar experience, so I re-published this of necessity.

Is it just me, or do humans seem to be developmentally stuck?

At some point, humans, as a species, seem to remain at a mental/emotional state that resides between the ages of 8 - 12 years of age.

As adults we are easily titillated (did you giggle over that?!) by words & functions that make young children titter (and again?!). Words like buggers, boobies, fart, butt (and all their endless variations) often reduce any adult (in the US anyway) to giggles, even tears.

Why is it that we are the only animals to be so caught up with tension regarding basic biology?

This was pointed out to me again when I went to register for a mail box at one of those newly named UPS Stores.

I simply wanted an address for snail mail that I could use for professional correspondence (with regards to my website & writing), yet not have my privacy or safely at risk.

I don't know if any of you have ever done one of these things, but the paperwork is likely less if you apply for a passport to the US from an Arabic country...

Now I can understand the need for 2 forms of ID. But credit cards, social security cards, bank cards etc. do not work. You need to have a photo ID (drivers or other id works, and is 'do-able'), and one of the following: rental contract or home mortgage documents, or other equally sacred documents.

(Now I ask you, who in their right mind carries such items around?)

During the course of my application, I had to fill out my real name & address, and then the company or DBA information, each about 10 times. During this lengthy process, I had to talk with these people and they were often confused as to which went where.

They seemed amazed that I would want such a service. Hello, am I the first rental they have had?! And when I tried to explain that this was for contact purposes, yet to conceal my personal home, they were confused.

So I told them, 'Look, I run a website with adult content, and write about adult subject matter, I don't need to invite trouble.'

This drew nervous laughter, and side-ways glances. I swear to you, the one guy elbowed his female co-worker!

I could have just as easily said 'poop' and the reaction would have been the same...

Now I hope that they had their giggles, and have now moved on. I hope their immature reactions to the matter of sexuality lasts as long as that of a 8 year old, and they forget about me by dinner time.

If not, I have just given my personal information to the some scary folks ~ The very thing I had hoped to avoid with this post office box rental.

If I wrote about spleens, I wouldn't need this extra safety measure. But even if I choose to do so because I live in a large apartment complex where packages can be 'lost' and the mail can overflow when I travel, I don't think spleen-article-authoring would gather such a response.

If I was a proctologist, sure. If I said I was studying nasal membranes & mucosa, and had to explain to their blank stares that I worked with boogers, sure, then they'd laugh.

But then, none of those professionals probably needs to worry about 'fans' arriving unannounced at their homes. (They likely have the opposite situation...)

But since I do care, I was there. Renting a box to save my former 'rental box.' *wink*

And giggle they did. At a paying customer yet.

It isn't easy being an adult webmaster or author... Some days, we are the only 'adults' involved.


Additional Reading/Ranting:

For more on the Pink Ghetto, Chelsea Girl speaks of limp publishers and rubbery dicks.

Even MS Word is sex-negative.

Also, related to all this talk of sex writers and public perceptions is this discussion on authors and pen names.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Questions and The Question Makers

The topic for the last newsletter (you really should subscribe) was how to earn the right be an authority via the consent of your readers. A subscriber emailed the following question:

Whore, at the risk of losing my authority, I have a question.

You wrote: "those who end a statement of fact with a question, such as, "We had a good meeting, didn't we?" ...these (dreadful) habits undermine not only the statement of fact or opinion, but the person delivering the message as well. If the speaker isn't sure of himself, why should anyone else be?" Does this mean I shouldn't ask questions in public?

Just call me "Curious About Questions"

Curious, and others, you can & should ask questions which encourage discussion and participation (something every writer wants), but not at the expense of your authority.

In my example, "We had a good meeting, didn't we?", it's clear that the speaker/writer isn't sure enough of his/her own opinion of the meeting and so calls for others not just as back-up but for the final word. This is a bad tone when trying to make an authoritative stance.

Let's say that the context of the conversation was regarding the convention attendance fees and the author was trying to get reader participation. The writer would be better off stating their opinion, and then pose a question for readers. Then the question would be after an assertion. For example: "I found the one meeting alone was worth the fees. What was your experience?"

This does not mean you shouldn't pose questions that you don't have the answers (or opinions) for ~ in fact is it my opinion that admitting you don't know everything is a great way to show integrity. (Acknowledging that you don't know everything, that your open to more information, that you're willing to seek what you do not know, and that you are aware that others may have other experiences is a good thing.) But continually speaking from a place of uncertainty, especially about yourself and the area you profess to know, will not garner much faith.

It's best to keep your questions to information seeking; you ought to leave a reader with a question to answer rather than leave them with questions about you as an authority.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Your Blog as a Police State

Your blog or website is your space. You run the joint, you pay for it and so you need to protect it. Even at free sites you pay with your time and reputation. Your reputation is all you have in this virtual world ~ and I daresay this is also my philosophy in the 'real' world, as your reputation is (nearly) the only thing you carry into the next world as well. But this is not a spiritual blog, so I'll move along. Simply put: your site = you.

I view my places on the Internet as my own little queendoms. I am responsible for happens in each one, and feel responsible for the citizens who visit each one as well. Under this belief, I actively police my sites.

At Sex-Kitten.Net, I walk the hallways of the message boards and turn the hose on anyone who is not expressing tolerance and respect. Even as The Queen I cannot command love or even kindness, but I have site policies regarding respect and I enforce them with my hose (and have another columnist armed with an old iron frying pan too). I rarely have to turn on the hose, she the fryin' pan, but we have and do as needed. And I remind folks that the rules, the hose & pan, do exist. I do this so everyone from the meek readers to the loudest confessors need not worry of attack.

Policing takes time. But the results are that my queendoms are places that I enjoy ~ not just tolerate, but enjoy. If you're going to spend any time at/with your sites, you should be able to enjoy the hell out of them. I do believe this makes for places others enjoy and that's rather the point, isn't it.

Blog comments are very much like message boards or forums, so I police them as well. Is the comment maker a spammer going for the link and traffic at my blog? If so, I delete faster than you can say 'delete that shit' (swearing is optional, but I talk like a sailor to relieve stress) to rid myself of spam. I've also called spammers at their businesses to express my displeasure. You need not be so aggressive with policing, but I do recommend policing in an assertive manner; policing as an action not a passive state.

I police my sites, my forums & comments, link swaps, anything and everything I can, just like my stats; which is to say I don't merely read or note the numbers. Along with making more enjoyable sites, policing actually gives you information you can use. Emails, visitor stats, blog comments, and even external 'toys' like Technorati & Alexa rankings all provide opportunities.

If you have not already subscribed to The Marketing Whore Newsletter, you've missed yet another issue. Quick, go correct that horrible error! Use the subscribe box on the sidebar today.

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Where Can You Sell? Where Can You Buy?

Like Gracie, I've had my share of bad dealings with eBay.

As a buyer, I hate that I can't find what I am looking for because I need to hunt for the secret passageway to the back alley which is the 'mature audiences' area and that my secret knock has a time limit which puts be back outside the back alley again and again. I'm looking for vintage men's magazines, pinups, antique erotic works, sex books (both new and historical titles) etc. -- it really shouldn't be like buying moonshine in during prohibition.

As a seller, I detest a greedy eBay which is all too happy take my money in the form of seller fees which are equal to those items which are not hidden in a back alley. (I pay the same fees yet have less exposure?! Sheesh.) And I have been driven to drink with the yanking of listings which are "against policy" even if not so stated. (I was the lister of the books Gracie wrote about here.)

In response to the above, we sell our items in our own stores. But as a collector of old sex history, it was awfully darn nice to have one large source for so many goodies. While many sites have tried to be the 'new adult marketplace', most folded due to the usual problem of not enough traffic (missing buyers and sellers both). So when I heard about Rummage Monkey, a new entry in the race for online marketplace supremacy with both 'wine & spirits' and 'adult novelties' categories clearly visible, I was interested.

Interested enough to interview Jeff Scanlon and Gary Legastee of Rummage Monkey.

One thing I couldn't really discuss over at Collectors' Quest was the dirty subject of naughty collectibles and the general sexual repression that is eBay...

Thankfully, I knew Gracie would let me air the dirty laundry out here. *wink*

After ranting about the various troubles with eBay's marketplace platform and polices for 'adult items' I asked both men what their plans were regarding all sorts of adult items. Gary and Jeff both explained that in order to be a member at Rummage Monkey you need to be 18; once you login as a member you'll be able to see the adult listings (and wine etc.) if you so wish. Both men assured me that they were committed to allowing for the sale of mature items. They understood that people want these items, and like alcohol, they aren't going to prohibit such items but keep Rummage Monkey open to legal buyers of these legal items.

"We don't think anyone not wanting these items is going to find them -- they'll have to search for them or browse a category as they would any other item. While adult items likely won't be featured on the home page, anyone who wants to find them will be able to do so."

"Are you going to bury the items in a maze of hidden alleyways and secret knocks? Lock us out when we are still logged in? You won't hide the link to the adult section?" I asked.

"Rummage Monkey makes money when items are sold, so making these items hard to find and therefore hard to sell, isn't in our best interests, is it?" Jeff grinned.

"Listen, Jeff," I said, "Did you know that vintage Playboy magazines can be sold in the non-protected areas of eBay, but other vintage men's magazines, even those with less skin shown, are not? Ah, the myriad of rules, is confusing and confounding. I completely understand and respect the business model -- I get that it's eBay's site, so they can do what they want; you can do what you want with your site. But I need to know how seriously you are committed to a marketplace which supports these items."

"I bet there are plenty of newer magazines & media which eBay offers which show much more than vintage Playboys," Jeff chuckled.

"I smell a money rat: Playboy's a known giant, a rich vein to mine. So eBay grants the money giant prominent placement and denies the others. There must be some rationale behind it... Will there be splits like that, weird little censoring rules based on who knows what? Is it Big Boys win; to hell with the rest?"

"The only thing we're really worried about are the images -- No explicit images, no matter who made it or who is selling it. As for the big boys, no. We're Foreign Exchange Sales Brokers working with many middle and small business owners so we see Rummage Monkey as an affordable marketplace for our clients and others like them."

"What about the issue of bdsm materials? Many of the banned or problematic items at eBay (and payment processor PayPal) are not 'adult' in the legal sense -- for example, they pulled a BDSM book which requires no brown wrap, isn't kept behind the counter -- anyone can purchase it from their local book store or online at Amazon. Would you allow this book to be sold at Rummage Monkey?"

"Sure," Jeff said.

"Where would it be listed? In 'Books' or in the 'Adult' category only?"

"'Books', I'd imagine... Isn't that where you'd look for it?" he replied.

Cheeky monkey.

"So, the bottom line: How committed are you to those of us who buy & sell these sort of items?"

"I can't promise you that if we have a seller blowing out thousands of flatscreen TVs and they come to us saying they're pulling from our site because of a bdsm book in the book's category that I won't pay attention... From a business point of view, that wouldn't make sense either. Depending upon the situation, we'll have to listen to the marketplace."

"So what would happen?"

"I'd probably move those items to the 'adult' category."

"So, bdsm items wouldn't be pulled?"

"No. Not unless it had inappropriate, explicit, images."

"I know you're a new site, and that much of this is new to you... And, again, I understand the business model. I understand that things may change... And I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but to be absolutely clear... Say that this seller of flatscreens says moving bdsm to 'adult' isn't good enough. Say he says that he wants no bdsm merchandise on the site... What's your response then?"

"Oh, no, we wouldn't pull it completely. Those legally selling and buying bdsm items should have a place to sell too. We'd be open to moving the items to 'adult' but not banishing them."

They convinced me that they're rather serious about offering a marketplace which is open to mature interests.


If you're an author peddling your erotica and don't want to bother with setting up your own shopping cart, a seller of sex toys looking for additional venues, or some other sort of adult etailer, I'd give Rummage Monkey a look-see yourself and see if it's an option for you. (If you've got vintage risque and adult collectibles, be sure to give me a shout out! lol)

Another note for you marketing folks out there: Rummage Monkey also will manage your Google Adwords accounts for you. If your mind boggles at how to analyze and therefore improve your current campaigns; if keywords, writing, formatting and the like are alien territory and you're unsure just what you're doing; Rummage Monkey has people and software they'll put to good use for you. According to Gary, for the accounts they manage they've increased hits by 3-5%. And if you have Rummage Monkey managing your Adwords account, you get a free store -- no monthly store fees, no final value fees. Contact Gary and Jeff regarding this service.

As noted in the other interview, Rummage Monkey has clear and easy contact information listed, so don't be shy & ask your questions. They also have a Rummage Monkey Blog.

by Deanna Dahlsad

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Friday, February 23, 2007

New Marketing Project To Help Independent Authors Sell More Books

Jerry D. Simmons is currently gathering names of those interested in testing the program which hopefully will begin no later than April 1, 2007.

For those who don't know who Jerry is, he's a retired Vice President and Director of Sales for the former Time Warner Book Group. He's spent more than 25 years working in the traditional publishing industry in New York. And he wants to help indie authors.

Yes, sex writers and erotica authors are welcome. (Hey, he let me in.)

Since Jerry cannot provide many details on the project (due to a non-disclosure agreement for funding), here are the basics you likely want to know:

* Self-published authors & those with small presses are welcome.

* The group is international.

* All of your titles are welcome, no limit (except illegal books, child porn, etc.)

* In this program, indie books will not be competing with traditionally published books.

* There is absolutely no cost or obligation of any kind for you to participate, nor will there be a cost once the project is off and running.

* You may opt out at any time.

* The goal is to sell books to readers, not to sell a program to authors.

(That last bit is what sold me.)

I asked Jerry a few quick questions in anticipation of author questions...

Jerry, I joined and I hope others will consider this as well ~ the greater our numbers, the greater our success. I thank you for taking the time to answer some quick questions so that others may have more information and make informed decisions about the independent author project.

Thank you very much Gracie, much appreciated.

I know you don't want to prematurely dish details of the project, but what is the philosophy behind it?

To create a community of Independent Writers and Authors which will become a destination for readers around the world looking for voices never heard and stories never told.

Why is this needed?

The biggest problem with selling independent books is that you cannot imitate what the bigger publishers do successfully and you should not be wasting lots of time or money trying to gain any noticeable entry into the market they control. The best opportunity to sell more Independently Published books is to create your own market. Take from the bigger publishers strengths, exploit their weaknesses, and establish your own destination for selling books.

What sort of authors are you looking for?

Any and all writers are welcome. Poets, screenwriters, columnists, if you write and you are interested in your work being read then please join our community.

Give us one important fact about you that you believe is important for authors to know.

I am passionate about wanting to help Independent Writers and Authors create a marketplace where they can sell their work.

Where can they find out more about you, your experience and your philosophy?

My website is, and here is my blog.

Any posts or articles which you think best illustrate you and the spirit of the project?

Here's my 5-part series on the community: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

If interested in joining Jerry's project, all you need to do is send an email saying "Jerry, I'd like to be included in the indie author test project." His email is: Jerry -at-

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Where The Links Lead

If a person took the time to read and to post comments at your blog, they likely are part of your target audience and so conversing with them is a matter of great importance; but what they do tells you even more than what they said in their comment. When it comes to blog comments I read them, of course. But I also follow the information they provide.

(Tip: Always use your Blogger or Wordpress ID or fill in the email and URL information so that folks can find/follow you.)

When you post a comment here I want to know more about you, so I'll follow the link. Looking at your blog or website gives me insight into why you believe as you do. And it often leads to interesting things...

A recent example is Urban Iconoclast's comment. From the ID link, I found 'his' blog and several of his blog pals too (many of which discuss marketing, so I urge you to go and link surf).

One hot topic running about nearly as frantic as any blog meme was the topic of Z-List and Z-List 2.0. Like Sugasm the idea of Z-List is to create link swapping hotlists which employs a blog post to send traffic to other blogs. However, unlike Sugasm the list members are not all on a theme. (For evidence thereof see Servant of Chaos, where the Z-List 2.0 is provided, showing that these blogs are not on a theme.) The problem with this is two-fold: Your neither build page rank or other authority with search engines, nor are you offering your readers more of what they are looking for.

As usual, I am more worried about the latter point ~ where you personally direct readers. If someone enters a Z-List member's blog, lord knows where they are sent, what they will find. Yes, you may get more eyeballs to your site, but it's my opinion that you're sending folks away to 'anywhere' just on the premise that you'll get eyeballs sent to you as an 'anything.' It's not targeted traffic. I'm not sure how much use this is unless you are desperate to get someone, anyone, other than your mom and sister to read your blog.

In defense of Z-List, it seems that they are trying to create a system or list from which you can somewhat pick & choose who you link to. However, the problem with selection from the list this way means you are not guaranteed to be selected (linked) yourself ~ and if this is all a crap shoot, then why bother to be on a list? Why not just hand-pick who you want to link to, swap with, and share readers with.

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What's Up With The Whore?

In case you're wondering, "what's up with the plethora of posts?"...

I'll be traveling for the weekend (I leave Friday) and hate to leave any projects open, articles unfinished etc. (And with all the emailed questions, there's a lot of posts I have started.) Lord knows the unattended inboxes alone make me prone to panic attacks while away... No need to leave unfinished business laying about like that to add to it. So certain of a mutiny am I, I swab the decks and check for stoweaways like a Capitan with OCD!

While I post like crazy to clear things up now, you may slowly read, learn, and, yes, fill my inbox with questions for the entire weekend.

This post serves as notice of my frenzied posting as well as an alert to no email replies over the weekend ~ perhaps slow replies at the start of next week too.


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I Know You Want To Remain Anonymous, But...

The Internet is loaded with people hiding behind the invisible cloak of user IDs and free email accounts. The feeling that no one can see you, tie your words to your soul, is quite liberating. Even those who are not pretending to be something or someone they aren't, those who are being quite real, feel empowered to divulge and express as they will not be recognized at the office water cooler, in line at Wal-Mart, or by that annoying next door neighbor. But sometimes too much anonymity is a bad thing.

Which brings us to the Quick Questions, Quick Answers post/contest.

What all those questions had in common was that none of those asking included links to or other information about their blogs. How can I provide any opinions of that which I cannot see?

If you want my opinion or advice you'll need to show me what you are talking about. Without those facts I can't do much more than spout generalities ~ and successful marketing should be about individuals and individual markets, not generalities. So, please, do not hide yourself, your blog or website.

I realize that as The Whore I can be quite intimidating. Direct, opinionated people can be. It's not that I want to be a meanie-meanie-bo-beanie; I just calls 'em as I sees 'em.

In spite of hundreds of views to that post showing that the collective 'you' did see the contest, I had no emails for the contest. Therefore I must conclude folks were afraid of even emailing in guesses for fear of being 'wrong' and somehow mocked. Listen, I won't mock you, personally attack you, or otherwise berate you for an idea, guess, comment, or even a disagreement with my point of view. (See? I'm not naming any of you here, am I? *wink*)

I don't (and won't) publicly display your name, site or otherwise 'out' you without your permission. Even in blog 'field trips' I'll wait to share with the class after you've made fixes (if even needed). This blog is about learning, field trips are for illustration, the only dumb question is the unasked one, etc. None of this is a witch-hunt to embarrass folks.

So stop being so anonymous.

I cannot promise individual consulting to each and everyone of you, however at the very least I will see general patterns and discuss them here. And, if you're willing, we'll take a field trip to your site or share our conversation.

But I can (and do) promise that without information, URLs etc. I won't be able to give you the answers you seek.

That all said, if you'd like to resend your email-O-questions with your blog/website URL, please do so.

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Blog Field Trip: Limited Floor Space

It never ceases to amaze me that folks with blogs and websites believe their virtual spaces are infinite. Size of hosting/server space aside, I'm talking about the space on any particular 'page' a person sees. When looking at your web design layout or blog template, you do not have infinite space. At least not in functionality. Filling every inch with text links, banners and buttons, boxes, graphics, etc. results in too much information. Like your desk, just because it can hold 500 pounds of paper doesn't mean you can find a damn thing on it if it does.

Fundamentally this is due to human weakness. All those links and banners on a page become a jumble & we just can't take it all in. So if your sidebar (or webpage space) is filled with link swaps, banner trades, affiliate ads, links to your own site goodies and products, it may be too overwhelming for your visitors.

Coming from an extensive retail background, I typically view website page space as retail floor space. You have your front window, which is your content (images, articles, blog posts) and then you have sales floor space. If your blog sidebar is too cluttered you need to simplify to move shoppers (traffic) to your goods. In a real store you make sure shoppers can walk about, giving them isles, and featuring key items. It's no different with your blog or website.

Since this is a field trip, let's look again at Slip of a Girl's blog. I must first warn you that Slip and I discussed this months ago, so her clutter problems have (in large) been fixed, so when you go look you won't see so many of the boo-boos and errors discussed. However, I'm certain you've all had experiences at cluttered blogs; enough to know how 'bad' it can get. Anyway, the 'before' isn't as important as the 'after' ~ and neither is as important as the conversation and process of moving from one to another.

Slip came to me complaining of poor affiliate sales, asking me to look over her blog and give my opinions. Her blog sidebar looked like a to-do list at holiday time. Her links were not grouped (as they are now) so it was one long sidebar-O-rama of links and a hodgepodge of images & widgets.

Most of her affiliate links were/are lingerie related. (It makes sense if she's dishing lingerie to try and get a bit of money for all her work on said bits of nylon and lace.) But there were a few others there as well, hidden in a long list of catch-all links. Our first discussion was on the performance of her links.

Slip said, "Out of the 32 lingerie affiliate programs, I've only had sales from 3 programs. And these are at the top of the blog, so even if it's a short entry these lingerie store links are visible. The others? Maybe one or two sales. I don't see why they are so low with the traffic numbers I am having -- they are sites for lingerie lovers."

After comparing her pile of links to a real store having the lingerie in piles on the floor, she went to work. Slip identified not just which items/links sold well, but those that she simply insisted were part of her inventory (favorites she wants to support). She weeded out the rest. This resulted in a shorter, more concise list of links ~ or lingerie items in inventory if you will.

This also makes sense from an authority point of view. If links are recommendations, you certainly can't be honestly saying you recommend every lingerie store out there, can you? To be authoritative you select the best, the creme de la creme, your real favorites, and ignore the rest.

Next, we addressed the issue of the other product piles on the floor.

Slip defined the other products/links this way, "The non-lingerie links are mixed lot. There are stocking models, cross dressers, personal friends, link swaps with sex blog directories, general fashion sites, a few other stores I like which are not lingerie related... A real mish-mosh."

"So why not break them down as such ~ as much as you can ~ and label them that way?" I said. "This way folks interested in fashion, can find fashion; those into more racy sex sites can easily find them, etc."

Slip did just that, organizing her links in a more orderly fashion. Taking the text link groupings (each category given a header or name in her own wording to allow for personality), and listing them in her opinion of which were most relevant to site visitors (based on her blog entries, popular searches, keywords). In doing this, Slip created isles for shoppers.

Now she had most of the stuff off the floor, but there was still the issue of widgets ~ you know, site script feeds, badges and other automatically updating toys & visuals.

Since a sidebar of all text links (even if boldly separated into groups) can be mind-numbing, these widgets allow for practical matters of spacing (not to mention personality). Likewise, images, buttons and banners. Like mannequins displaying featured fashions, or sales racks with toppers announcing sales, these draw the eye.

The result is a sidebar which a person can scan and readily find what they are looking for.

But the proof is in the cash register; did Slip increase her sales? "My clicks to affiliate sites increased by 50% (not just to those stores I kept on my blog, but I mean overall clicks!) and within days I had sales. I'm not going to retire on this (yet!), but there sure was proof that housekeeping and clearing to make isles works!"

At this point I should make a disclaimer: Slip is one of my affiliates. So I have a bias. *wink* But this too adds proof that wise use of floorspace works; even I noticed her referral clicks increased.

Slip wisely realizes she's not done. "I've made a schedule for doing this housekeeping monthly, including rotating/changing banners, checking dead links etc. This way, I can weed out dead stuff, keep it neat and tidy, just like rotating store stock."

And Slip now uses this whole idea when approached for link swaps.

"Other bloggers noticed the traffic I was sending their way and asked to swap with their other blogs -- or sent friends my way. I now use the 'isles' to evaluate if trading my floor space for their floor space is a good idea. Not just checking if the blog is related to mine in content/visitors, but do they have isles? No sense in me being buried in their link pile -- needle in the haystack and all that. And when stores contact me regarding joining their lingerie affiliate programs, I can honestly evaluate if I want to do it -- and politely decline knowing that I made a good choice and why. Thinking of links as inventory and floor space really helps, especially if I have to say 'no thanks' to them."

So take a look at your website or blog. Are you making the most of your floor space? If not, what are you going to do about it?

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Quick Questions, Quick Answers

The following are questions paraphrased or otherwise 'lumped' together based on questions I received after the latest Marketing Whore Newsletter was sent. Literally my inbox over-floweth. I'm doing my best to get through them all as quickly as I can and still be helpful. This is a start.

Dear Whore, how long should I give a blog before I pronounce it dead?

The Whore can do magical things, but she's no carnie ready to guess your weight ~ especially when she can't see you. Fundamentally, there is no rule. Variables include the size of your target market, how accurately you know your target market, how often you post ~ the quality of those posts, your authoritativeness, and what have you done to get folks over to notice you.

Consider a blog like sexual intercourse: never underestimate the slow-build as it may explode into the best time of your life.

Keep working it, teasing and pleasing, and for heavens sake enjoy it ~ if you have the slightest clue what you're doing the orgasm will come.

Dear Whore, after reading here I realize my blog's all over the place... Should I scrap it and start over? If I continue, to keep the few readers I do have, how do I choose what to focus on? What do I keep, what do I dump?

Compliments aside (I love to hear that I've helped someone see the light), this is rather like me telling you what you should be when you grow up. I'm flattered to be consulted in the matter, but look into your heart and see what you're the most passionate about. Even if this passion is attached to money & you need to whore your book, your call service or whatever, go for it with gusto. It's perfectly fine to hit your own erogenous zones when going for blog orgasm.

Dear Whore, I started a blog and then gave up on it. It's still there, just hasn't been updated in months... Should I restart it or begin anew? Will I look stupid with blank spots in time or am I more of an idiot to ignore what traffic and ranking I may have?

Glad to hear I've inspired you to blog again ~ and even happier still to hear you want to start off thinking about how to proceed. Blogging is like a bike, and you may fall off now and then but it's good to get back on and ride. As for the path you take, what can I say?


There's a pattern to the above questions ~ bonus points to you if you spotted it. Honestly, there are bonus points!

Email me with what pattern you see, and I'll put your name into my magic whore hat and if I draw your name, your blog will get the link over there in the sidebar Pimpin' spot. (Length of time you stay there is well, a crapshoot. More than a week for sure, but who knows when I'll feel like changing it or drawing names from the magic whore hat again?) Anyway, the link will be of your choosing: to your blog, your store, your book ~ you name it.

So email me with the pattern you see asap. The kind, nurturing whore that I am, I do want to clue in those who may not see it... And soon. So let's say email me what you see by Wednesday, 2/21/07 by noon Central Time.

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Common Sense and Legal Protection Too?

For those who worry and wonder about those pragmatic issues of child safety on the Internet and how culpable you may be especially regarding community issues...

MySpace had its first major victory in a civil lawsuit, when a federal judge in Texas tossed a case brought by the family of a teen, "Julie Doe," who alleged she was sexually abused by someone she met on the site.

"If anyone had a duty to protect Julie Doe, it was her parents, not MySpace," wrote judge Sam Sparks as he dismissed the case.

At least this one court sees things properly. Maybe the supreme court agrees as well. Common sense may be alive after all.

For more on legal matters regarding adult webmasters & child access on the Internet, see my interview with Attorney Walters.

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Sound Advice

An author? Check the Author Promotion Checklist from Ephemera Bound Publishing.

Louise Bohmer, author and editor, discusses Professionalism and Community ~ a must read for all who work on the Internet.

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Bloggers V. Journalists

UCSB student Nicki is conducting research regarding blogs and bloggers, with a focus on credibility issues. She's interested in determining if bloggers are deemed as credible as other news media outlets, if bloggers receive or should receive the same rights as journalists do, and other issues of authority.

You are invited to participate via her anonymous online survey.

If you are like The Whore and find you have more to say on the matter, let Nicki interview you. (I think I talked her ear off, poor thing lol) If you'd like to share your opinions and experiences with Nicki, email me and I'll connect you with her.

Out of respect for her research, I won't discuss all my thoughts here ~ but when her paper's completed in March, you know I'll explode with my comments here. Nicki's promised to share some of her results with us too, which ought to be very interesting.

So go take the survey and email me if you'd like to participate in an interview with Nicki. A little good karma goes a long way.

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Why You Shouldn't Try To "Beat" Search Engines

This was sent out in the Marketing Whore Newsletter on 2/6/07, so please note that some of the Google numbers may have changed since then... Consider this a free sample, sans the subscribers only offer. Yes, I am whoring the newsletter. I want you to subscribe.

As written in Three Internet Contact Points one of the primary ways for your site to be found is via Internet search engines. The proof of how important search engine traffic lies in the number of articles, websites and software offerings which tell the webmaster how to 'beat the Google algorithm,' 'how to feed search engine spiders,' etc. I'm going to leave all those practices and gadgets to those folks (uh, after I remind you of this bit, Google Problems?) and talk about what I believe.

I believe in content. Write good, decent content and folks will find you in the search engines. It may not seem like it can compete with Mr SEO or some webmaster traffic philosophy, but it not only can ~ it will.

This is because humans use Google and other search engines to find specific information. Keywords and meta tags, once a huge part of how things were at least told to us as the way to be found, really have little practical use. This is why I say so:

Putting keywords such as 'teen sex' into a search engine will get you how many listings? 2,230,000. Do you think a person is going to be satisfied with that result? Nope. They are likely going to modify their search with additional information. They will try "teen sex" education (1,200,000 results), "teen sex" education condoms (158,000 results), "teen sex" education condoms boys stds (31,800 results), "teen sex" education condoms boys stds gym class (998 results), and "teen sex" education condoms boys stds prom (974 results).

They will do this because this helps them more precisely find the information they are looking for. (The same is done with entertainment and can be replicated with searches for "erotic stories," "webcam girls," PSOs etc.) Now the old school webmasters will tell you that this abundance of listings is exactly why you need to worry about Google algorithms, keyword selection (and purchase), and other SEO tricks to get primary placement & high page listings. But really now, who is going to buy all those words and phrases? And if you consider that this is only one search, by one person, can you guess what others you might need to buy? All those words replacing "boys" for "boy's" and for "girls" too. Not to mention "gym class" in quotes, and phy ed etc. Just buying "teen sex" isn't going to be a short-cut either. I could just have easily put in "sex education," "sex practices," "underage," "premarital," "high school" etc. Are you going to correctly guess and buy all those keywords?

One of the main things that webmasters and SEOs fail to understand when they want to 'beat' Google is what Google is trying to do. Google is trying to find the most relevant information that matches the searcher's query. It is trying to use programs to replicate human understanding and searching; they are trying to get the programs/algorithm to interpret what a searcher wants and give it to them. What you say about your site, with keywords and meta tags etc, is not the same as what your site is. You are likely much more (hopefully not less than) what your keywords and meta stuff says you are. Google knows that. This is why keywords are not gold or God or whatever you may have been taught.

In trying to take the search as question and help the person find the answer, Google employs not just what you say about your site, but what you site actually says. In other words, it 'reads' your site. It notes all the words and phrases, topics, image descriptions, tags and labels you have at your site. And, to check how much of an authority you are, it looks to see not only who links to you but for what. If your site is on teen abstinence and another site for parents regarding sex talk with kids links to you, that says more about you being an authority on teen abstinence than 100 different websites talking about you in assorted ways such as your cute puppy pics. Also, as seen with the 'miserable failure' that is George Bush, the words used to link to you are important. So 10 bloggers saying "teen abstinence" as the phrase to link to your site is more powerful than you might have thought.

This was not designed to keep small sites small or make big sites bigger, but is one way for the algorithm to interpret how much authority you do have. It may seem unfair at the onset, like some huge mountain to climb when your competition seems to have all the links placing them high on Google. But you can control these things. You control how much of an authority you are.

First of all, provide great, quality content. Even if you're a membership site selling photos, images, and movie downloads to members use words as much as possible especially on non-password protected pages. This not only makes sense as far as telling the visiting human what they are purchasing, but it tells Google and the other search engines trying to help humans what you are ~ and what you are not.

If folks did little but provide great content, and update frequently, they'd still be found in search engines by the folks who wanted what they have to offer. But you don't need to stop there.

Subscribe to The Marketing Whore Newsletter and find out what you've been missing.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

News (You Should Be Able) To Use

For those considering tech toy upgrades: Ringtones will always be bigger than mobile smut.

For those in or considering entering the European market, Middle aged British women have the lowest sex drive in Europe - and the most headaches.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Back To Business Basics

A list of The Whore's bad business pet peeves of the month.

Email Contact

How long does it take you to reply to emails? I'm not talking about the kind where you have to forward it to 10 friends or an angel will die, but real business emails ~ especially those conversations you started?

Recently I was asked to be interviewed for a radio program. The request came from my publisher, with copies for both myself and the interviewer, including times for dates four & five days away. I responded that same day, yet today~ 11 days later ~ I still have had no reply.

Now this chap may run his business as he sees fit, but when it impacts my business, now that's where I draw the line. For those first four days I kept all the open times I listed as 'possible' open for the interview. This meant I turned down or had to push back other opportunities so that I could keep my word. Even if I was at this point angrily doing so, I still wanted to keep to the integrity of my word. I know my email regarding my availability and interest was received because there was follow-up done by my publisher and there was confirmation of receipt.

So what am I to conclude? Either I was no longer interesting enough to interview or this organization is poorly organized. Either way, if this guy or company ever contacts me again I don't anticipate having a very high interest level. There's another opportunity awaiting me ~ and one with the class to at least acknowledge the discussion they started.

Do you do business this way? Slapitty-Slap-Slap if you do.

Copyright Issues

It has the word 'right' in it, so how hard is it to understand that it's not only 'right' to give credit, but that if you don't the legal form of 'rights' will come into play? To not credit is to steal. It's that plain and simple. Apparently for Gawker Media it's too difficult to understand.

Gawker Media: Consumerist's Editor Ben Popken Admits Publicly to Steal Photos From Flickr's Photographers

'Using,' 'borrowing,' or taking images from anywhere on the web without crediting is a no-no, Nanette. Better still, link to the person/site in your crediting. It's simple; just say "Image via" and link the word 'via' to the copyright holder. Ben deserves a "popken" in the nose. Maybe there will be justice and he'll get sued.

Let this be a lesson to you all: Just cuz some Big Boy Blogger does it, doesn't make it right. Don't be copycat here and do like Gawker ~ not only is it copywrong but how's a lawsuit sound?

On a related matter, people who steal images by hotlinking are stealing bandwidth. Hotlinking is bad; Bandwidth Bandits are bad. Not only do these people 'forget' to credit the copyright holder, but they are literally stealing money from sites. Sites which pay for hosting, and even those with their own servers like myself, have limits on how much bandwidth they may use per period and when images are being hosted at their site but shown at another they are charged for the bandwidth this image delivery costs. Lots of images being used or one image at a very popular site, and that adds up fast. This may result in additional hosting/server charges, the site being shut down, or both. It's serious business.

And it's just plain tacky.

I run into this problem with images, video clips and sound files from Sex-Kitten.Net all the time. MySpace people are among the worst.

I've had our techie create some code so that images etc. from SK cannot be 'taken' thus ~ well, they can insert the hotlink but what they see or hear is not as intended. For example they might get this image shown here instead.

It may seem small and petty compared to a lawsuit, but then so are the thieves. I might as well enjoy pointing out their theft.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Business News Links

WWW News:

XXX Domain Discussion

Adult websites are down 20% in market share of UK Internet visits comparing December 2005 and December 2006.

Keeping Kids Safe With Technology:

Toys That Protect Kids From Pervs

Battling Online Sexual Predators Might Impact Your Blog

Self-Employed Health Insurance Issues:

Why I'm happy my health insurance costs $12,268/yr

Adult Entertainment Business News:

An adult entertainment shakedown from Cohen and West?

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Give Us Sam Sugar, Luv

In the recent Sugasm Sam of Sugar Bank had a link to his post, 5 Ways To Keep Your Blog Off Digg. While every last bit true, this 'bad news' dovetails nicely with my piece on linkbait. More precisely, Eric Ward's piece should assure Sam that he doesn't want Digg anyway.

Inspired by that blog post, I poked about his blog. Seems Sam has some excellent bits on the biz and so I've added him to my list of whores. Here are a few posts that are worthy of singling out:

The Best (And Worst) Adult Affiliate Programs

The Future's So AdBrite, I Gotta Get Paid (Which relates to: Contextual Ads In Context.)

Obviously Sam is one of the classy purveyors of porn: He knows what he's doing and why, and he's willing to share. Kudos.

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Marketing Whore Makes Sugasm

Before I begin this participatory post, I'd like to say I'm super excited to see The Marketing Whore in the top three ~ thank you to all who voted!

The best of this weeks blogs by the bloggers who blog them. Highlighting the top 3 posts as chosen by Sugasm participants.

Want in Sugasm #67? Submit a link to your best post of the week using this form. Participants, repost the linklist within a week and you're all set.

This Week's Picks
Black Tie Optional; Cleavage Required. (
"It had been so long since she'd worn something like this, I had to keep checking in and making sure she was really comfortable with appearing in public looking this... well, sexy."

Don't Be A Blog Playa (
"Blogging is often treated like dating, where folks fall in love with setting it up, posting some ramblings, and when no one gushes and fawns all over them, they move onto the next one."

Eclectic Slut part one (
"As we lay, limbs entwined and tangled, realising that we couldn't stop touching each other even for a second, the conversation returned to one we'd started earlier… about control and submission."

Mr. Sugasm Himself
5 Ways to Keep Your Blog Off Digg (

Editor's Choice
The Shirt... (

More Sugasm
Join the Sugasm

(Sugasm participants should re-post all the links above. The following links may be excluded as long as you include all the above links. ~I post 'em all because The Whore does not want 'Did The Bare Minumum' on her tombstone~)

Thoughts on Sex and Relationships
Green with envy (
Judgment Call (
Originality, Fellatio and the Chicago Bears (
Random Things (
Smut, politics, and community and a little story called "Auschwitz Blowjob" (
Tit-Elation (
Valentine's Day Is on the Way (
When In Doubt, Refer To #2 (

NSFW Pics (& videos)
Bad Girl HNT (
Charly & Klara (video) (
Cockslut Column #2 (
Finally Did a Naked Photoshoot (
Half-Nekkid Cleavage (
Nora Marlo New Nude Photos (

Sex News, Reviews and Interviews
Masturbation Interview (
Review: Best American Erotica (
Waterproof iVibe Rabbit Vibrator Review (

Sex Work
Outcall (

BDSM and Fetish
Breast stroke, cane strokes (
Douleur érotique (
Esmerelda (
The Foundry (
So Good I'm Boring! (
What you can do to please me (

Sex (and Sex Blog) Advice
Cracked Jaw (
Reader: What's your take on love? (
The Sheep from the Goats (

Sex & Politics
Jon Stewart on Ted Haggard (
When is it Rape? (

Erotic Writing and Experiences
Awoken by the beast (
Breaking the Ice (
First AFF Adventure, Pt. 2 (
Mind Play - An Erotic Poem (
What Man Turns Down Two Women? (
Yeah, it's a little stiff. (

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Monday, February 12, 2007

What Am I, Link Bait?

Linkbaiting or link baiting is a term for getting your blog noticed. It's not a very new term. Hell, it's not even a new idea ~ it's marketing folks.

I just love it when folks feel the need to make up new terms for the same old things. Sex by any other name...

To illustrate my point, I direct you to Wikipedia where it lists the types of link bait:

* Informational Hooks - Provide information that a reader may find very useful. Some rare tips and tricks or any personal experience through which readers can benefit.
* News Hooks - Provide fresh information and garner citations and links as the news spreads.
* Humor Hooks - Tell a funny story or a joke. A bizarre picture of your subject or mocking cartoons can also prove to be a link bait.
* Evil Hooks - Saying something unpopular or mean may also yield a lot of attention. Writing about something that is not appealing about a product or a popular blogger. Provide strong reasons for it.
* Tool Hooks - Create some sort of tool that is useful enough that people link to it.

Isn't this just common sense? Write something of interest "so that bloggers and social media users are made aware and can help promote the piece in tandem." It's just plain marketing folks. It's a matter of simply creating quality content, which you know The Whore is in favor of.

But, oh how confusing this is for so many.

Last year BizNicheMedia held a linkbait contest wherein folks were to submit their best link bait ideas. Of the 74 ideas, ranging from serious to mockery with the same run of intelligence, BizNicheMedia selected a winner.

In my opinion the best one was from 'Dictionary' who wrote:

My idea:
Make a product worth linking to.
Contact me for payment details.

Because that kids, is some integrity. Don't focus on gimmicks; do something of quality.

But that was not the winner. They selected the guy in the crowd who sent in this gem:

You can't go wrong with boobs.
To paraphrase Howard Stern: "Boobs = links."

Their very selection makes me mistrust them. They went for an obvious traffic getter of sorts, the kind of 'hook' that Wiki didn't expressly list, but completely miss the point of reaching a target market ~ and a product to sell. (I'm rather certain BizNicheMedia doesn't sell breasts.)

Even while they admit their contest itself was linkbait, the winner was a loser. Credibility took a nosedive. Do I have lots of faith in this site, this company? No, I do not. Would I even consider going to them for whatever it is that they do? Nope. (But then, to be fair, after considerable poking about I have no idea what the hell they are doing there. Truly. I am confused.)

Their attempts at linkbaiting give marketing a bad name. (No, I'm not trying to use the 'Evil Hook' here.)

But on to something positive to learn from.

Internet guru Eric Ward also wrote this piece on linkbaiting from an SEO point of view. When it comes to SEO you know I primarily focus on providing content which gives you not just the keywords you want but the target audience too (or at least you should know this after last week's newsletter). But no matter, this is relevant for a few reasons.

While Eric doesn't reference the same contest, it seems rather clear that his points mirror my thoughts. Hype for hype's sake, linkbaiting or link whoring, no matter how much traffic you think it brings you, well, it just isn't all it's made out to be. Especially if you ignore your audience along the way.

Likely Eric and I started thinking about linkbaiting for different reasons. We have different audiences, keywords, and sometimes seemingly very different philosophies. Funny how we end up in the same place though, huh?

Which brings me to the other reason I mentioned Eric and SEO...

It's never wise to ignore the other camp. (It's also never wise to ignore Eric). Sometimes they can point to a worthy trick or two, othertimes you discover you are talking about the same thing afterall.

Here are a few of the other camp locations to read at:

PageTraffic Blog
Search Engine Land

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Daily Addictions

We all have them. Websites, website stats widgets, social networks and communities we belong to and assorted little activities with which we compulsively waste time. Often we rationalize our time spent as being part of our work. If you've been looking for a new one, The Marketing Whore highly recommends Spin Thicket.

It's like Fark for "people with an interest in the image-making professions -- advertising, PR, marketing, journalism, and politics."

Here's the history of my latest addiction brought to you by Media Orchard. And yes, they encourage you to submit links to your own sites. I may just have to register and do so myself.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

I Never Stop Wearing The Marketing Whore Hat

So Friday a potential client comes to me and asks if I'd take a freelance gig to help her with her site. She wants relatively short blog posts on a daily basis, and is looking for a pool of regular writers to do this: How many spots a week do I want? It's a paid gig, so I look around.

First problem: Her blog is full of nothing but posts which are obviously sales bits. I don't mind a good sales pitch but when the entire blog is only about how great her products are, I, like any other human, have to think, "Why read this?" If I wanted to read short sales pitches I'd grab the classified section. There's nothing to charm me into accepting the occasional direct pitch, nothing to slyly reference her products, no amusing anecdotes to make me smile, nothing to romance the lifestyle or desires associated with the product. It's all just blah blah buy. These aren't blog posts but glorified product descriptions.

Second problem: Exasperating the first problem of Boring with a capital B, she sells a grand total of 12 products. With a daily blog entry, that's 30 posts. Do the math: each product must be pushed at least twice a month. How many things can you say about one lotion? More importantly, how many times can a reader read about the same lotion? Not only is reader tolerance likely to be even lower than a creative writer's, but isn't the point of the blog to appeal to readers? If the target market isn't interested, what's the point?

Third problem: How does one write product reviews without the products? Writer pay is less than what each product costs, so it's not economically prudent for the writers to buy the product and review it. Even if you get to (must) write multiple pieces on the same product, how many times can you really review one product? Instead of looking for a handful of writers she'd be better off sending free product to 30 different people each month and getting their reviews. Even if they weren't all great reviews they'd be better than several people trying to find something new to say, forcing out "new" reviews, and just plain faking reviews. The wholesale cost of each product is cheaper than the per piece writing rate she offered (if using retail pricing, this is true for 10 of the 12 products, with the last 2 only $1 more) making this option more financially viable for herself as well. This, of course, still doesn't address the issue of reader interest, but at least it saves her some money and allows for more honest blog entries.

Overall, her business model is flawed. Her inventory may be grand, but her product line is too small to be effective with the marketing plan she's selected. And even with a larger product line, she'd still be missing out on the goods to move her goods because she's focusing on what the products are rather than what the buyer is looking for. It's much more difficult to fill a consumer need or desire when you don't even address it. All this yet with a product line that's not exclusive to her. Any sales she has must be due to pure dumb luck.

Based on this I politely decline the offer. Not just because I dislike the repetitive fake-review gig, but because I don't think she'll be around very long. And that will only leave me to find a replacement writing gig.

...Maybe she should stop the writer's gigs, save those funds, and hire me as a consultant? Heh Heh Heh.

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Thursday, February 8, 2007

My Favorite Question This Week

My first reaction was to laugh at this question; afterall, it's funny:

"Do you think all adult webmasters are stupid? Your tone shows near contempt for the majority of us who know what we are doing. I make money, do you?"

Ahh, just pasting it here makes me giggle again.

But in all seriousness, I would be an idiot if I just laughed the question off.

The man who sent this has not (yet anyway) consented to my using his name here, so I'll just call him 'Bob.' Bob does make some good points.

Do I think all adult webmasters are stupid? Certainly not. If I thought everyone was incapable of learning, why bother to write about any of this at all? I'm no spring chicken when it comes to looking at adult websites, blogs, paysites, ezines, whatever you want to call the dearth of online publications which deal with human sexuality and adult entertainment. Along the way I've found plenty of 'bad' examples which are the bad apples in the harvest of forbidden fruit. These folks give the general population the impression that all smut is bad.

I prefer to think of these 'bad' sites and publications as run by ignorant folks who would gladly do better ~ if they only knew how. Indeed, if they only knew they were 'bad'. Instead of running about emailing each webmaster/blogger like Bob, telling them what I think, I choose to post it all here. So that we all may learn. It is my hope that if we all cleaned up our acts in selling 'dirty' goods and services, we'd all benefit. A more accepting, if not loving, public would be the result.

And then there are those who began their gigs with an interest in or passion for a particular subject, but have no background in marketing. Similarly, are those who read that there's money in forbidden fruit and want to avoid being a bad apple. I offer my thoughts here, for free mind you, in hopes that there's something of use for them. (And I admit I learn from those who share here too.)

If I sound contemptuous, well, I guess that's just me and my tone. Some call me 'snarky,' others think I'm just honest; I believe I am blunt about sharing my opinions. I'm rather clear that all of this is my opinion, based on my experience, which is told to you in my 'snarky,' 'blunt,' or even 'contemptuous' voice. Is it valid? Well, this brings us to the last of Bob's questions: Do I make money?

Well, Bob, that's not only a personal question (my upbringing doesn't allow for me to discuss how much a person makes, how much your house or car costs etc.) but a subjective one. Simply answered: yes, I do make money online from the adult world. Is the amount significant to you? I can't even imagine that answer. And I don't want to enter a pissing contest, Bob.

Then again, success for me isn't all about the money. Call me a tender whore, but I get a thrill from every email thanking me for helping her get what she wants in bed, for every email of a satisfied customer who finally has found porn they can watch, for every reader who has really enjoyed a hot erotic story. These are measures of my success. And these emails wouldn't arrive in my inbox if they hadn't been able to find my websites ~ which means I do know something about reaching my target market.

Does that answer your question, Bob?

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Working With Affiliate Programs: Conversion Rates

Gracie answers questions regarding making money with affiliate programs.

Most folks ask the basic question, "How can I make more money from affiliate programs?" The answers are based in several key areas: traffic, audience, encouragement & authenticity. Before we get into those answers, we need to be clear on some basic information first.

One of the most confusing things about affiliate programs is the phrase "conversion rate". Most affiliates do not fully comprehend what this is.

Conversion rates are based on clicks that result in action such as buying a product, signing up for a newsletter or becoming as a member etc. Typically presented in percentages, these rates are determined by the number of sales over the number of clicks sent.

As an affiliate, you are not talking about the number of clicks to that site from yours, but the number of sales you made at that site. In other words, what is the percentage of people you sent via that "Join Now" link who actually joined?

Part of the confusion comes from the fact that many business articles discuss the conversion rates of retailers not affiliates. This article, for example, says that Amazon's conversion rate is 12.8%. Saying that 12.8% of the people at make a purchase is much different than saying that Amazon Associates have a 12.8% conversion rate. That would be an incredible affiliate conversion rate ~ incredible because I don't know of a single affiliate program which can say such a thing credibly. It would be an amazing claim, and likely made up.

The reason that many retailer conversion rates are much higher than affiliate conversion rates is due to branding and site popularity. Plenty of people type in '' in their web browser (or have it bookmarked). These people likely have already decided to make a purchase, or at least are looking to see if a specific work is available. A person at your blog or website who clicks the link to a book or whatnot at Amazon may be mildly curious or politely looking at what you point to, but isn't necessarily interested in buying anything at the moment. Since the traffic you send is likely less interested in making a purchase than the determined person who goes directly to Amazon, you'll have a smaller conversion rate than retailer conversion rates.

These retail rates can be used to evaluate affiliate programs, if one assumes they are honestly reporting them. Sometimes conversion rates, retail or otherwise, are just plain not available. They are part of the vast hidden numbers which lie in the dark inner chambers of webmasters, site owners and other gatekeepers of knowledge.

Internet Retailer has info on affiliate conversion numbers (from 2005) which is clearly mainstream numbers. In reading and talking with adult webmasters, I believe that the average conversion rates for adult affiliate programs fall between .025% to 2% ~ the latter called 'ridiculously high' by some. Don't take my numbers as gospel because, again, the info is heavily guarded and those who have shared their numbers with me did so privately so I won't name names ~ but be it sex toy sales, membership joins, phone sex calls, or video downloads, the numbers for affiliate sales are slim. This doesn't mean you can't make money, it just means you need to rethink your expectations ~ and use this knowledge.

With conversion rates for affiliates relatively low you'll need to pay attention to your traffic ~ even if the conversion rate stays the same increasing eyeballs increases the number of sales. But more than that, you'll need to think about where to place affiliate ads/links, how to make the most of them, and what you can do to be an authority so that your recommendations are trusted.

Next week's newsletter will be all about authority and authenticity, so if you haven't yet subscribed please do so.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Blog Field Trip: Niche & Audience

I had quite a few emails regarding my last post, Don't Be A Blog Playa, so I'll be going over a few of these here & in the newsletter.

These were some of the questions:

But what if one post seems really popular, shouldn't I then write/post more about that?

What if I really have several genuine interests?

Why would having many interests ruin readership or be a trust-breaker?

These questions made it really clear that there are a few areas, niche and audience, which I need to clarify before we move onto anything else with blogs. Blogger Slip of a Girl has kindly allowed her blog, A Slip Of A Girl, for use a a 'field trip' to illustrate some points about all of this.

First of all, her blog has a niche: lingerie. She has lingerie news, sales alerts, personal thoughts (and 'ranties') on lingerie trends and news, erotic stories with lingerie themes, photos of lingerie models, etc.

Second, it clearly has a targeted audience: lingerie lovers. Written for 'everyday women,' with some posts as advice for men, she clearly knows her audience ~ however, this wasn't always the case.

"At first, I was very tentative with my writing," she says. "I was unsure of what to say -- a case of nerves, I guess" she laughs. "Eventually, I just came out and said what I wanted to say -- as if talking to other women as idiotic as I over lingerie." She found her voice.

Voice is extremely important when blogging. Opinions, strong opinions, get more notice than kind milk-toast ones ~ but that doesn't mean you need to be shocking or mean. An opinion-less post isn't always going to capture interest, especially if it's just a 'this is on sale,' or 'look at this pretty pair of panties.' Some news sites can get away with that sort of a thing because the very nature of the story may be controversial or result in a reader having strong opinions. But a blog with just posts to coupon codes and new bras isn't going to get much notice.

And what happens when you get noticed?

As Slip found out, the comments and emails may be surprising. "The first avid adopters of my blog, the ones who communicated with me, were cross dressers. At first I was just glad that someone liked 'me' and happy to connect with other lingerie lovers -- but then I began to worry... What if they thought I was a cross dresser? Not because I have a problem with it at all, but I'm not a man. I didn't want people dismissing me and my opinions as those of a man when I am a woman. And I was nearly phobic that I would be taken as some authentic voice on CD when I knew very little about it. Now, of course, I know much more, but I still don't want to pose as some CD expert. Which is ironic as you now have me writing pieces for your book on cross dressers," she laughed, "but you know what I mean."

She worried that 'everyone' would be skeptical of her blog. Slip worried that by paying attention to the cross dressers that her non-CD readers would lose interest or that those in the cross dressing community would call her a fake. "I even thought that posting that I am a woman would be seen as 'protesting too much.' But I just decided to carry on. Being welcoming to those who have an interest in CD, but not catering so exclusively to them that I'd make 'regular lingerie lovers' feel left out. I guess the best way to put it is that I just carried on. It seems to have worked because my stats are higher and no one questions my status as a woman -- or my acceptance of CD and other 'kink'."

While she occasionally goes off on a tangent, such as the DIY/craft projects, this is rather limited and does not confuse the reader. She maintains her focus of lingerie even with the 'outside' posts because of the following:

Posts are tagged/labeled so that a reader may skip (or find) such posts as they so choose.

Posts are still in her niche (of girly related goodness) and speak to her audience.

These posts are sprinkled, like seasoning, so a reader isn't lost or left wondering if this is the same blog they visited last time.

Slip says, "Even if I write these crafty entries at the same time, I typically do not publish them all at once -- I spread them out so that they are there, included, but not leaving a visitor to conclude this is a crafting blog."

Overall, Slip does a fine job of working her niche and speaking to her audience. Do you?

Have questions? Ask them. As a conversation, this blog is participatory. I expect to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and even your comments which contradict what I have said ~ not every one's experience is the same and debate is healthy.

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Location, Location, Location

A reader emailed the following question:

You wrote, "There is no lucky bar stool granting you certain powers of seduction. Likewise, there isn't some magical corner to blog on." But isn't it true that MySpace has much more traffic built in?

Another asked: Isn't it true that a blog with its own domain name has more respect than a blog at Blogger or Myspace?

Let me deal with the second question first.

While it's true that staking out your own location with your own domain name makes you look more like a high class call girl than a street corner whore with user.more public domain, this is not necessarily true for bloggers. Many high-profile bloggers began at public sites before switching to their own domain name, with some never making that domain name leap. Look at big movies which have movie title dot Sony or MySpace slash TV show. If you do business transactions, however, you may be seen as schmaltzy if you don't purchase a domain name. It's not all about branding but includes practical business matters. You'll need one for secure server certificates; security and bandwidth issues require paid membership sites to register their own names as well. If you are not doing direct business dealings with your site, and most bloggers are not making direct sales, you can skip the domain name purchase and blog for free.

Now, as the first question alludes, not all free blogging is equal.

I'm sure most of you are aware that with most free hosting and free blogging sites there are limits on the types of content which may be published. Adult content is definitely one of them. And with adult content there are often problems with bandwidth and site traffic. I'm not going to get into all these possibilities; I'll leave that for those who discuss in great detail site hosting. But looking at some of the top places for free blogging, there are differences.

MySpace, as mentioned here, and other sites like them allows for free blogging with a built in community and social networking capacity. The large MySpace membership population means more exposure ~ at least in theory. I seriously have my doubts about how this huge membership translates into being stumbled up or otherwise 'discovered' as my stats do not indicate staggering numbers from this location. In fact, it appears to me that with all the folks trying to get to some pointless number of friends to prove their importance or otherwise inflate their egos, there is actually little reading of blogs which means marketing outside of MySpace to get (targeted) folks to MySpace is in fact extremely necessary.

While I am making personal comments on MySpace blogging, let me also state that their standard template leaves much to be desired, and tweaking it via free templates (all of which have "Made By" and other mandatory links with them) isn't as easy as one would like. It's not just an aesthetic thing regarding my personal tastes (or bemoaning my lack of technical abilities), their templates limit the ability to monkey with your sidebars to create links, post blogrolls etc. Outlawing javacripts means you are limited in functions such as stat tracking as well. XPeeps, which is an adult social networking site like MySpace but catering to the adult industry, also has a blog with similar limitations except that you are free from worry about adult content. But I digress.

Blogger (Blogspot) offers built in traffic with it's top header (it includes a random 'next blog' feature) and being part of the Google empire, you know it's going to be spidered efficiently and often if you are posting regularly. It has the latest gadgets for tags/labeling, is neatly tied to ping Technorati (the tags work with Technorati well also), has a built-in means to upload images and other gizmos. Blogger also allows you to use it's software or publishing mechanism on your own site (as a blog 'page' on your main site) or other non-blogger hosting, which alleviates the problems with them booting you for adult content. (Hence my use of blogger here.)

Other sites, such as LiveJournal, allow for making/joining groups which also has built in traffic and means to be found other than your own posts and marketing efforts. Some of these offer more options for personalizing your blog, sidebar etc., or will with the paid upgrades.

In other words, your mileage may vary.

While one offers one neat gizmo, it may be lacking in another area. You'll need to check these out, make comparisons, and otherwise make choices for yourself, of course. And no matter which you choose you're going to have to make efforts to market your blog.

If you want a blog to merely be the more personal side of corporate you, to make the most of RSS and pull readers, to allow for frequent updates or updates outside of your password protected areas etc, you may want to consider not an independent blog but a blog 'page' on your main site. This is the only way you won't need to do separate marketing for your blog; it merely co-exists with your site ~ on your site. If you choose and independent blog, you will need to market it.

I know some of you are moaning that you started your blog to market your website, call service, books or whatever business you have ~ isn't the blog the marketing tool? Why would you need to market it? Why on earth would anyone start a blog to market one thing only to have to market the blog itself?

Well that, Virginia, is why you need to decide if (and when) a blog is right for you and what you need it to do.

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Friday, February 2, 2007

About The Pink Ghetto

The Pink Ghetto by Lux Nightmare is getting lots of blog attentions ~ for damn obvious reasons. Here's one of my favorite quotes from that piece:

"Trying to build your life, your career, around a discussion of sex means accepting that you will always have a fringe identity. That no matter how academic, how smart, how clean you keep it, you will always be on the edges of polite society. You will always be in the Pink Ghetto, and you will never be able to escape it."

It's part of why I speak often about such issues as sex education and the problems with being a person (especially a female) who works in, writes about or cares about human sexuality. Just ask me, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Gwen Masters, or Chelsea Girl.

The fact that writing about sex is controversial in any way is another reason I have this blog: because there's little support and few warn those with interests of the realities (or smack them upside the head when they are idiots). I might as well take on the cause.

As for the immediate problem of you being able to read or access this information while at work, please read Chelsea Girl's sticking it to the man's censoring server.

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Don't Be A Blog Playa

Blogging is often treated like dating, where folks fall in love with setting it up, posting some ramblings, and when no one gushes and fawns all over them, they move onto the next one. Surely someone will spot how wonderful they are instantly and they'll hook-up. Like the poser in the bar, if the readers don't make a stampede they move onto the next bar thinking there will be better fishing there.

This points to several problems for these bloggers (as well as those who date like this). Having a relationship and even just getting laid are a lot like making a sale &/or building a fan base. If you're having problems with your blog, here are some lessons.

One: the problem isn't location. There is no lucky bar stool granting you certain powers of seduction. Likewise, there isn't some magical corner to blog on. No matter what your location, how fancy your template or graphics, you are going to have to do something worthy of attention. If you've tried several blogs with the same unhappy results, perhaps you need to face facts that it isn't 'them'; it really is YOU.

Two: the problem is you. (Yeah, it bears repeating.) What have you given besides a facade or template? Have you tried engaging conversation? Sure, it's a blog and you may feel like you're supposed to do all the talking, but are you only talking about yourself? No one, not potential dates or blog readers, wants to hear all about you and only you. They want to know something of you, yes; they want to know what you have to offer them. But what they really want is a relationship with you. Can they trust you? Are you interesting, compatible? You have to talk to show them you are worthy of trust, that your opinion is valuable. You talk so they can evaluate you and that may take some time... Which brings us to the third issue. How committed are you?

There are several way to display your commitment issues.

Commitment issue one: Fishing for better fish. This shows when you are in a conversation with one woman yet are scanning the crowd for your ex, or to see if someone prettier enters the room; in blogging, it's the topic.

For example, you begin a blog about softcore art nudes but then you read that there's 'big affiliate money' in hardcore group orgies, so you switch to posts about that scene. Like the first woman you are talking to, your softcore fans notice. So do the orgy people. The result: you lose your credibility on all fronts and go home alone. You can't successfully be all things to all people. Pick a theme, niche, topic and stick with it.

Another example is replicating yourself. Lacking any real confidence in yourself, you give yourself a different personality, pose, or even a different name, pending which bar you're in. You are willing to be anyone but yourself to catch the masses; it's not sincere, and people notice. You 'get' no one. Bloggers make the same mistake.

Lacking any real confidence in their product, they cover all their bases by entering many niches. And not just at one blog either.

You've been out & about on the Internet, so I know you've seen those cookie-cutter blogs ~ the ones where it's clearly the same blogger, same template, same set of links, maybe even the same content posted. Sure, the title and URL are different, and maybe the template color changes, but there's nothing new here. These bloggers think they have The Formula; they'll recreate it everywhere and rake the money in. But it doesn't work.

Like a bar full of Madonnas in the 80's there's nothing special about any of them. Those blogs only compete against themselves ~ which is why smart women always ask what their friends are wearing; if they don't stand out, somehow, they are passed over. On the web, being passed over is a click 'back' away from the site. This is an obvious commitment issue. It's clear with this repetition that you the blogger aren't interested in focusing on anything or anyone. And you're so busy trying to stuff content into the blog you aren't doing any real talking or sharing which builds trust. Like the corny guy at the bar with tired old lines, folks don't trust you enough to go home with you. In the case of a blog, visitors aren't about to waste their time reading your tired bullshit when there's an engaging blog waiting for them.

It takes time and work to build a blog, just as it does to build a relationship. You can easily face burn-out the way it is without having to run around doing blogs (or people) you have no interest in ~ wouldn't you rather be exhausted doing something or someone you love or at least like?

Commitment issue two is rather like the first; it's the other side of the coin. If you pose, pander or otherwise act like a playa you aren't only showing a lack of concern for others but for yourself. You don't care who you get if you don't care about yourself. You are one desperate mother-fucker.

If you like big butts and you cannot lie, then blog about it. Don't worry if that's so last decade, not cool enough for the trendy hipsters, or limited with sites and products to sell, just blog it. Your sincere passion is in itself a truth ~ and bonding point between you and all the other big booty lovers. Committing to yourself and your love of round ass is saying both, "It's OK to love big booty," and, "You, with the big bum, come over here!" Isn't that point? Pretending to like skinny bony ass isn't going to get you readers. And if you're blogging to sell (your books, affiliate programs, your own big ass) isn't it the point to connect with these people?

It takes time, effort, and the balls (or ovaries) to believe in yourself. No one dates a whiny insecure person ~ at least not for long. No one does business with a waffling company, and no one reads a whiny insecure blogger.

Blog like you are dating. Be confident of who you are and project 'you' at all times. Stay and talk to who is interested in you ~ no matter the size of your audience. Stay in the same place so they know where to find you and show up when you say you will.

The bottom line: Don't be a blog playa.

Have questions? Comments? Post them or email The Whore.

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