Due to some technical issues and glitches beyond my control at that site, such as the inability to send newsletters more than once a week, I post here not only as a backup but as a more timely publication method with a more conversational format.
Don't let the title fool you, I don't limit myself to adult webmasters only. Marketing is for everyone. The only difference between selling adult materials and Victorian widgets is the target market. All the same skills, knowledge and work are required.
While it's true that adult webmasters follow in the footsteps of those in the adult entertainment industry and are the first to capitalize on technology (allowing for great ideas to be plucked by mainstream marketers), those in marketing to a mature audience often overlook the basics. So blending both sides, as it were, seems like a perfectly natural conversation.
While this blog will not post adult images per se, it will on occasion link to adult sites which may have such images ~ I will clearly warn you if the link is 'Adult' or Not Work Safe (NWS).
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 everyone's experience is the same and debate is healthy.
Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, suggestions, networking lead etc. at TheWhore (at) marketingwhore (dot) net.
Due to the increasing number of emails with 'just a quick question...' I'm implementing phone consulting via Keen.
Fleshbot covers the story (NWS), so I'll just direct you there. But I wanted all you adult business folks to note that the Feds have a 10-count indictment against Max Hardcore (nee Paul Little) for obscenity. It's in U.S. District Court, Tampa Division (Florida), so this is shakier than if in L.A.
Hardcore says, "I've never heard of anyone, even a store owner getting busted for obscenity."
I'm no legal expert, and I can't site all the facts and stats, but I know there's a history in publishing which has ruined many a company. (And if the ruling doesn't kill you, the legal fees may.)
In the LA Times Karen E. Klein addresses the question of starting a new retail business.
Specifically the question is, "I'm working on a business plan for a lingerie store but feel overwhelmed about where to get information on economic trends. Can you please help?" But no matter the venture or location, the advice is still rather sound. Use the contact information in articles and advertisements to further your research, talk to suppliers but remember they are trying to sell you something, so take what they have to say with the old grain of salt, and attend trade shows:
Attending a trade show will give you enormous insight into your new industry, how it operates, who the big players are and where the niche opportunities exist. Finally, visit some companies that cater to the same market you will but don't sell products that will directly compete with your store. "Most small-business owners are more than willing to speak about trends in their own business -- as long as they are sure that you are not a competitor," Keane said.
Take willing entrepreneurs to lunch and ask about sales trends, locations, what to focus on (quality, price, service) and what problems they encountered early on. "Speak to as many people as you can and see what resonates with your own ideas for the business. Most of all, remain open to learning new insights," Keane said.
Anyone who has ever gone this route, either attending trade shows or otherwise trying to interview other business folks regarding their business, knows this isn't as easy as pie.
On one hand, you've got the sunshine blowers who want to make you happy by warming your bum as they blow their sunshine up your skirt. On the other, those who are so tight lipped you wonder why they ever agreed to talk with you. There are also those middle-of-the-roaders who tell you generic stuff, sitting on the fence as far as giving you the truth of where things (like sales volume) lie.
With any of these folks, the interview is more like a fencing match where your direct question is a thrust and they parry.
Oh, and don't forget the flat-out refusals. Some folks won't even bother to talk with you at all.
Why the fencing? Why the refusals? Because people zealously guard their shit.
Everyone is in competition with everyone. (Or after the interview they will be.)
It seems that the only folks will to be interviewed (or happy to have their brains picked) are those who feel they are helping a student with a school report. Then it's all blither-blather ~ at least until the savvy student asks a question which seems too intelligent. (You know, a question which contradicts something they've said, or one that requires an answer with real information. Oooh, that's scary and upsetting for the interviewee.)
You could ask all the questions in a submissive round-about way, creating the illusion that you are dumber than a box of rocks. Of course, this means you'll have to hope they think you're such an idiot that they let some info slip ~ but not a large enough idiot for them to become annoyed and cut the interview off ~ and that they aren't just messing with you for their own entertainment purposes (and noob stories to tell their cohorts later).
It would seem that the only way a person interested in learning the facts might obtain them is to lie and say they are a college student (or high school if you can pass for that). But even then, most of these people present their industry as the best one for students to enter (they are no threat at entry level jobs), which is hardly the information looked for.
I don't think it's ethical to lie about the nature of who you are or your fact-finding mission. But I also don't think it's very ethical to say you'll be interviewed or talk about the industry if you're not really going to dish. With a respectful nod to 'knowledge is power' and the fact that knowledge does have worth and should be compensated accordingly (hence my own fees), I do wonder why people guard their own shit to the point of their own detriment.
Yes, to their own detriment.
People, "Experts," lose credibility when they don't follow through, especially in the guise of mentoring. Professions suffer when ignorant people join their ranks. Businesses falter when folks plans and dreams are fostered on false facts. Blowing sunshine, shoveling BS, and, yes, even avoiding answering questions only leads to bad decisions. These lead to bad press, bad reputations ~ and entire industries suffer (i.e. one bad lawyer apple ruins the whole barrel).
I am a member of several professions &/or industries which suffer from the idiotic actions of its members &/or public perception. For example, the adult industry, publishing, and marketing (the latter likely holds 1st Place in general mistrust these days).
Not coincidentally, these are some of the industries and professions not exactly prized for their knowledge sharing (you could also insert the buzz-word "transparency" here).
What's wrong is treating bloggers like traditional media outlets. New media content creators do not have any obligation to "report" or field inquiries. They don't have to write up a kind review of your product (even if you comp them something), and a great majority distrust traditional public relations tactics.
(This post is a follow-up to this post, Thinking Bloggers and Pitching Blogs, which I think he intended to be his first link in that post... In any case, I also recommend reading it.)
I have witnessed and participated firsthand in sustained and determined efforts to increase the number of women recruited into investment banks, and it is true that the number entering each year in first-year analyst and associate classes has increased markedly from my youth. However, what is also true is that very few of these women stay. The ones I know who do genuinely seem to enjoy their work, and they can cut the balls off a charging rhinocerous (or CEO) with an indenture with the best of them, all the while making their doltish male colleagues think impure thoughts about their pantyhose. In other words, I am of the opinion that smart, aggressive women have a distinct advantage over men in investment banking. Why, therefore, aren't there more of them?
Phil for Humanity writes about The Size of Money. Those who cannot see and those who are new to the US have to deal with our funny money and it's time we started making more cents sense with our money.
InsureBlog ponders health care in Margarita's & Medicine. As a self-employed person who knows many others in this same boat, I know we wonder what's worth paying for. Here's a perspective I recommend you read.
You can cough up the $40,000 or so to have your joint replaced (if you do not have insurance).
Or, you can jet to an exotic isle where the procedure is more like $6000.
The two most trust-destroying words you can say are, "trust me." Never say you're someone's trusted advisor, much less say you want to be, much less build an ad campaign around it. It is inherently non-credible and insincere. (I try on my own website-- which of course uses the term -- to say "helping people become trusted advisors" -- and not to claim that I are one).
In business, I think we often know the things we should do, but instead we try to do the things we want to do. We like the random fun things. We want to plan, brainstorm, hold meetings, all the stuff that doesn't require any discipline or focus.
"The trouble is the BBC now is run by women and it shows soap operas, cooking, quizzes, kitchen-sink plays. You wouldn't have had that in the golden days."
I used to watch Doctor Who and Star Trek, but they went PC - making women commanders, that kind of thing. I stopped watching
"I would like to see two independent wavelengths - one controlled by women, and one for us, controlled by men."
The ass-tronomer said female newsreaders (talking heads) are "jokey" and called for ~ get this ~ separate channels for the sexes.
Spike and Lifetime may agree, but then they exist in a marketplace as options and I don't think anyone believes that menfolk sit in their parlors with brandy snifters and cigars watching Spike while the womenfolk wash dishes in the kitchen and cry into their dishtowels as they watch Lifetime ~ and then they turn off their television sets to each crawl into their individual twin bed, occasionally pushing them together to procreate (but always with one foot on the floor at all times). Sheesh.
I think this guy's insane. Not just British, but insane. "Sir" Patrick Moore was the giant head on GamesMaster, which either way serves to A) discredit him as a man of media taste or 2) proves that he has a rather large head ~ in which case I still feel vindicated.
Maybe I should just give Max Headroom a call and see what his thoughts are...
They need not be adult oriented, but obviously this is one chance to get those articles seen in a non-dirty light.
To mainstream bloggers who worry, please note that should any entry selected be not safe for work, it will be noted as such ~ but also know that the adult industry is made of decent business folks, folks who often are at the forefront of new ideas, so this should be an excellent carnival.
Other hosting dates are available, so why not consider hosting the CotC yourself?
A January 2007 Jupiter/iProspect study asked whether people had used the search function on the sites: 77% of MySpace users and 78% of Facebook users had. The most common reason was to search for other people: Nearly half of Facebook users and 35% of MySpace users had done so. Entertainment was the second-most-common search topic among the choices offered, particularly for MySpace users. The percentages of respondents who used the sites to research or purchase a product or service were in the single digits.
I guess if you're pimpin' people, search advertising at Facebook would be grand.
What would you say is a good average number of blog posts to publish in a week? (Or month or whatever.) I've read that consistency is good and I'm just wondering what level I should try to meet so I can schedule for my blog better.
Just call me "Curious"
Well, Curious, you're not the first to ask me about this...
I'm not sure what the average number of blog posts per blog is, let alone what makes for a popular blog; I'm not sure anyone knows, really. As noted, there's an awful lot of data to crunch (and that's just Technorati).
I admire your dedication, your desire to better prioritize your blog by scheduling time to blog, but even if I knew of some blog averages I wouldn't be able to give you a hard and fast answer to this. For one thing, I'm not sure what you want to achieve ~ and even "Greatness" (with a capital 'G') is relative.
If your audience (and by this I mean not just your target market, but your current readership) is more of the "entertain me" crowd, then shorter, more frequent posts may be the best route. On the other hand, some readers prefer more meatier (and original posts). Hence part of the confusion on how often to publish at your blog.
It makes a difference if your blog is your business model (i.e. to 'be a blogger'), or being used as a tool for your business (i.e. to blog to market for your website/product/brand). Obviously, if you are busy creating content or managing a business, you neither have the time to devote nor the desire to dilute/replicate your real site's content. It's easy to start out with gusto, but if your regular gig (or even your day job) suffers, this may not be ideal (especially if you're not getting any income from your blogging efforts).
* amount of time available
You can't make more posts than you have time for, no matter what 'experts' say. Even simple posts (posts based on images or links to other sites) take time. You still have to 'surf, select and say.'
* amount of time needed to work the blog
No matter how often you write/publish, you're going to need to do some work to get folks there, so this must be a part of blogging duties. One post or 100 there's comment reading, comment posting, link swaps, emails etc. Call it 'marketing,' or call it 'continuing the conversations,' but overlook this and who's there to read?
I'd also like to point out that b5, one of the newer and more successful paying blogging networks out there, expects their bloggers to"write at least six to eight posts a week, and spend a lot of time checking out other blogs, reading news stories, and responding to comments." That's at a site, mind you, where most of the marketing, all of the tech stuff and design, as well as advertising revenue work are done for you.
Taking the Technorati Top 100 as my sample, eliminating those which aren't in the English language, and those which aren't identifiable as conventional blogs, I took an average word count of the 10 most recent posts on each blog.
...the shortest average was a terse 77 words, and the longest a snooze-inducing 1,449. The vast majority of posts were over 100 words and under 500.
So, by this count not only am I likely "snooze-inducing," I'm not in the majority.
Is this the reason I'm not in Technorati's Top 100? Or is it my topic? (There are only so many interested in marketing, you know. And they likely don't out-number those who enjoy celebrity gossip.) Or is it that my marketing efforts with this blog have not been as effective as those who are in the top 100? Perhaps my blog is just marked NWS and therefore blocked. Maybe I just haven't been around long enough. There are lots of possibilities.
My point is that whatever the averages are for number of posts published per week, the number of words per post, or whatever other blogging average you seek, these are just averages. Wide, sweeping averages covering millions of blogs.
You'd have to look at your own niche to compare apples to apples... And before you go gather that data and crunch those numbers ask yourself one question: Do you want an average blog?
Since I'm not above admitting that I can be quite a Diva, even an Attention Whore, I'm happy to announce that this week The Whore's been featured at two excellent marketing blogs.
What makes this even more thrilling (more than just being acknowledged by some mainstream folks) is that I'm an avid reader of these blogs. So while I am going to boast of my bloggin' cred, I'm also going to point to examples of what makes these blogs so great.
First, I was this week's Pick of the Thicket over at Media Orchard (by Idea Grove, Scott Baradell & Wife, makers of Spin Thicket). I must say, I really dig their title for my link, Online communities are worthless unless you really drink the Kool-Aid, even if it makes Scott look more clever than I, damnit.
In April, Technorati said there are about 1.5 million blog postings per day. This based on their tracking of around 15.5 million active blogs (blogs that have been updated in the past 90 days).
Again, the magic three month drop-out point is mentioned:
But after 3 months on average, most bloggers realize that writing about their politics, launch haunts, or co-workers isn't for them, says Adam Sarner, an analyst at researcher Gartner Inc. Sarner argues that, since the audience reading blogs continues to grow, this classic tech cycle of hype and maturity is good news for the remaining blogs. Those left standing are the influencers that attract audiences and advertisers.
I love this 'left standing' bit; if the three-monthers quit, those still being updated 'win' by default. That doesn't necessarily make them influencers.
Heather Green concludes her article by saying, "But overall, the question of just how big the blogosphere could be is becoming much clearer."
I'd say the real question, at least for marketers and those who want to be read, is: How are you and your blog going to stand out from all the others?
The dilemma is between being known and credible, and being 'found' and frightened.
Obviously I'm a huge advocate of pen names. I have a history which makes them second nature and deal in a subject matter which makes one mandatory. So I began my life here on the Internet with a working name ~ a professional name I work under. (Gracie Passette, not just The Whore; I find the latter fun.) And I advocate pen names for anyone, in any profession. I don't believe that pen names make you less credible.
(I often think it would be great if you could literally make a name for yourself in your 9-5 cubicle, and say work as "John Peterson" rather than use your birth name. It makes it so easy to un-plug at the end of your work day when you stop being "John" and start being David aka The Real You.)
But if this doesn't sit right with you, or if you've already begun your career with your real name, for heaven's sake be careful about it. Consider what you share, how you share it, and with whom you share it. Tell the truth, but cloak what you can.
It's like dressing to tease, but still allowing for some modesty.
(In truth, many bloggers etc. use their real names not for their current level of credibility, but for the vanity of it).
You aren't faking anything, just being discrete for safety reasons. And anyone who thinks you have something to hide, some hideous skeleton in your closet or facet of your life you are trying to hide, is well... Partly right. Maybe not about the skeleton. But you are trying to hide some part of yourself so that you can be safe and live your life. (As can your family and friends.)
Not using your real or birth name isn't any different than electing not to put up photos of yourself. But then again by the same token, don't use a name which belongs to someone else or describe yourself (character, integrity, knowledge etc.) other than what you are. That's like using a photo of a model; that's misrepresentation, lying.
Sure, when you become famous you won't be easily getting that table at (insert whatever hot spot for dining you'd like), but then you won't have someone following you to your home either. Or at least you've made it more difficult for them to do so.
Being accessible is a huge part of credibility; but that doesn't mean you must allow anyone, everyone, into your home.
Part of a webmaster or blogger's duties are to market their site. Despite the world wide (web) appeal of sex, when you have an 'adult' site, your duties are not easy.
If you have a porn site, you're in an extremely competitive market; be prepared to throw lots of money and time at your site(s). But at least there's a place for you ~ the wonderful world of the adult webmaster is wide open to you, if you dare to dream and work hard.
But what if your business isn't porn? What if your business, while admittedly not for children and hence labeled 'adult,' isn't porn?
I'm not talking about the subtle, subjective definitions of porn ~ at least not completely. I'm talking about sites which deal with human sexuality, be it education or entertainment, but which are not sex films and image sites (or those selling them).
In fact, not having images can throw you out of nearly every 'adult' link directory as most require you to have a minimum number of thumbs (thumbnail photographs). So if you're peddling written erotica (personal stories in a blog, a pay story site, published books etc), sex ed and advice sites, or even health sites, no dice. You simply cannot be listed.
Review sites usually do not even have categories for these sites ~ paid or free ~ because in the world of sex, only porn sites need/warrant reviews.
I've been straddling this line for years, first with Sex Kitten and certainly here now, and little has changed in this regard. If anything, I do believe it's worsened.
For every new site which may welcome you, a dozen more are lost. Sometimes it's because they fear repercussions, either from site visitors or from the government, and sometimes these sites have literally vanished because they've faced the real consequences of being in the adult industry (personally and/or professionally) and lost.
Things like 2257 have made nearly every webmaster rethink their stance on sex, photos or not. The lack of (affordable) payment processors keeps little companies from starting or competing. Things have become so 'dirty' that there are publications which discuss sex themselves, even claim to celebrate it, but they won't let you buy ad space for your book. You can't buy ad space; nor can you host ads. Adult is synonymous with spam and so newsletters, emails, and blog comments are often just deleted.
All because you dare to deal in products for or matters of human sexuality. But I digress. You all know of these problems, right?
So what can you do to find directories, link swaps, and other promotional opportunities... Well, for starters, check the sidebar. And make sure you've subscribed to the newsletter (also right there on the sidebar) because that's the next issue.
The porn industry is an early adopter of new technologies. First to video, first to the Web. And now among the first to virtual worlds. In part of course, because it keeps getting kicked out. Pushed out of movie theaters onto video. Filtered out on the Web by products like Cyber Patrol.. But also because it is pretty good at following the money. If the commercial pornographers are there -- if they think the audience will turn up -- virtual worlds absolutely have the potential to deliver returns for more conventional marketers. In fact, I'd bet on it.
I know next to nothing about gaming, including Second Life (me-guesses that since I deal so much with real people everyday, I have no desire to deal with pretend ones in my down-time), but I'm with Susan and the others who agree it's something to watch.
On the other hand, once Playboy moves in, be prepared for some to try to evict them. Even if Second Life is a virtual adult play land, we all know how tolerant adults in the real world are. (And since gaming is huge with kids, tweens and teens, if there's even a whiff of children being exposed, watch out.)
One imagines that as the virtual Playboy Mansion moves in and real profits go up, moral outrage (virtual or not) will ensue.
But then too, watching the adult industry make money, then be told to leave, is always an interesting battle. (I must find it interesting, or, alas, take to my bed with consumption.)
And isn't it strange that the largest outcry comes only when the industry proves profits... Profits mainstream wants, but didn't have the balls & ovaries to make, so they use moral outrage to limit competition for dollars and real estate as they try to follow the model the adult companies used.
An Internet pal, MissFussyPants, gave me some interesting news.
She had posted the link to the $10,000 copy writing contest over at Sensible Erection (a community which posts links and comments on them, like Fark or Spin Thicket) and was surprised by the response. So surprised she sent me the link and cut and pasted the comments in her email to me, in case the post went so many pages 'deep' in the site that you'd have to be a registered member to see it.
While it's probably accurate to say this isn't a professional site, it's equally likely that this membership is a general enough slice of consumers (and given the number of porn links, likely a large part of adult consumers) so their comments are interesting.
Like MissFussyPants, I'm posting them here in case the link is now members' only (and for perpetuity).
plexer said @ 7:30pm on 15th May [Score:2 Underrated] - moderate/reply How has this not been modded down yet? Its $10, 000 of fucking ADVERTISING for creatively spamming people. Its like an invitation to produce more viral adds to annoy the hell out of everyone else on the internet.
DO NOT WANT.
fuzzo said @ 10:46pm on 15th May [Score:1 Informative] - moderate/reply jeez, such opinions ! it's called marketing you guys.
donnie said @ 10:53pm on 15th May [Score:1 Insightful] - moderate/reply Marketing is just another word for spam. Good products don't need to be marketed - their usefulness is self-evident. It's the crap that nobody needs or wants which people need to be convinced of needing or wanting, generally accomplished by means of persistent annoyance and aggravation.
Sgt Harry 'Snapper' Organs.. said @ 11:17pm on 15th May [Score:1 Funny] - moderate/reply But without a relentless barrage of marketing how will I make informed decisions about what sort of carbonated sugar-water/over-engineered foam-rubber footware/stylishly overpriced and functionally neutered digital audio player/ho-hum action game starring a gung ho marine it is that defines ME?
donnie's definition of marketing, "Marketing is just another word for spam. Good products don't need to be marketed - their usefulness is self-evident. It's the crap that nobody needs or wants which people need to be convinced of needing or wanting, generally accomplished by means of persistent annoyance and aggravation."
Or that when fuzzo posts, "jeez, such opinions ! it's called marketing you guys." only one person agreed (gave him a point).
But this is what most folks think of us. And like it or not, we're going to have to deal with it one way or another.
I dislike the term "Web 2.0" because it's a really cold term covering what technology does rather than what people want. For example, people don't want "Web 2.0" they want conversations; they do not want "social networking" as a industry folks call it, but a means to connect to people. (If escorting taught me anything, it's that the human desire for connection is very strong.)
So if you've been following my rants, my blither and my blather, by now we should be clear on what I think Web 2.0 is ~ better tools for communities. And communities are nothing new, nor new to the web; and the tools aren't revolutionary, just a bit evolutionary.
If you want to reach these community members you're going to have to join them in their communities.
You don't really make friends by adding one to your profile, and you don't make sales simply by having an account or profile. You're really going to have to join the community and become a participating member.
Like joining the church, you're going to have to play by their rules, go to all their functions, pay your dues and yes, actually convert. In fact, while in some faiths you may confess your sins and be forgiven, there's really no equivalent in social networking. Sure, you can make another account, take on another ID, but when all is said and done your previous damage is real (leaving you with one hell of a PR problem) and anything that remotely smells of your old self and your company/product is likely to have a very difficult time of it.
If you're going to join, you'll need to play all their reindeer games. This means you're going to have to read what other members post, participate in conversations that (at least sales wise) will seem to go nowhere, and in general know and care about who is there and what's going on there. I don't mean to sound like a jaded cynical bitch; but joining a community online isn't any different than joining one offline. Heaven help you if you join and are discovered to be a shill.
Sincerity, interest and integrity cannot be faked, so the only real way to survive this all is to join communities you'll enjoy participating in. This is easy if you really like your market and your product.
The double-bind comes in when you evaluate your potential communities in terms of your target market.
Spending your time in places you like, with people you like is fun; but if your goal is to market (yourself, your product or company) then you'd better be spending all those hours in places which matter. (And fun or not, this is going to be a huge investment of your time.)
To identify if a community is good for you, I always recommend lurking first. And not just one day. And even if it means registering to do so. Lurking lets you learn the unspoken rules and get a feel for the place. Better to lurk and leave than really step in it.
While lurking you are looking to see if:
The community seems worthy of your time. Is your target market really there?
As mentioned before, the hot spots for erotica authors aren't always where the (potential) book buyers are. In fact, one of the largest mistakes I see in marketing via communities are when folks gravitate towards groups which are very interesting, but do not contain their target market.
One of the best examples of these are entrepreneurial sites.
These and WHAM (Work At Home Moms) groups can be some of the most active communities, but think about it... Here's a group of people all trying to 'make it big,' trying to sell to one another. Most of the time, each member has less money than the next. Aside from the "I'll buy from you, you buy from me," at holiday time, what chance of sales do you have? Unless you're selling B2B, are offering a legit business opportunity, or want link swaps, I wouldn't bother. (Not to mention anyone with 'adult' products is likely not going to get a warm welcome.) Even adult webmaster boards fall into this category. (Sure, go, and learn; but be careful how much time you spend there and don't bother whoring yourself to the other whores.)
Think you see your target market there? Really? If so, you should be able to identify specific members who are part of your target market.
If you can't, then you need to do more research.
If you can, then you've likely identified influencers ~ those community members who are not only part of your target audience, but those who have the most authority and influence over others too.
The community (or your target market population within it) is large enough to warrant your time. Do the active member numbers support your investment in time?
The community is interesting enough, possibly enjoyable even, for you to honestly join and participate. In all the posts you're reading, have you found any which you would be willing/able to comment on?
I do not mean one or two, but several ~ and for heaven's sake, don't post until you're evaluation period is over ~ one-post-wonders are considered spammers.
The participation level is within your time constraints. How much time would being an active member require? And do you have it?
Slower or quieter communities may not be a bad thing. Depending upon your available time, it may be the only way you can really be an active member, or it may mean you can sneak one more community into your schedule.
If all your lurking research is favorable, then proceed slowly and according to the group rules (as stated and as witnessed).
If any answer is, "No," that doesn't mean your time is wasted. For one, you've saved yourself some future time on participating in a community which is not for you. And you've also likely spared yourself a PR problem. But you've also learned a few things ~ maybe even who the influencers are? If you have, perhaps you're best off contacting them to see if they'll post a review for you?
How Blogs (Don't) Work; Or, The Great Blog Shake-Out
I do agree that shake-out is here and it's only going to continue. Not due to any blogging bubble being burst, but for the very reason blogging is popular: people want connection points (not drivel).
There are many blogs, with more being started every day. The reason that many fail is that many blogs do not offer conversations. A blog ~ a real blog or at least the kind of blogs I am referring to when I write here ~ is a place to publish ideas and to discuss those ideas.
It's the power of people to connect and discuss. Unlike passive or cold forms of communication, blogging is participatory. Receivers of communication are not just receivers but have the ability to become instant senders of messages of their own. I don't think this desire to connect is going to diminish anytime ~ the means by which we do it may, but the desire remains.
The shake-out I refer to is the process by which blogs survive. With so many choices, which blogs will people continue to read and (this is the really important part) carry out discussions in?
Here are some blogging 'styles' which do not foster conversations:
A) A business blog which just states press release info in a more casual tone without official formatting is not a blog ~ it's a listing of pitches from most recent to last. Ditto with authors, film makers etc. who announce their latest releases.
B) Having a blog which points to the latest news isn't necessarily a conversation. Your selection of news on a topic may be a service, for which you may have many readers, but it's not a conversation. In order to have a conversation you need to put more than the idea out there as a link or a sentence or two. You need to discuss it, not just present it. (Or consider yourself offering a service, not a conversation, and look at your stats and marketing accordingly.)
C) Having a blog which consists of pointing out all the ad campaigns which do not work or otherwise mocking others may be entertaining, but it's not a conversation.
D) Have a blog which is all photos and no talk is not a conversation. If it's porn, it's a masturbation session; if art, it's a gallery exhibition; but neither is a conversation.
In the adult industry this last one is the most prevalent problem. There are countless boring blogs which offer nothing that a pay site tour gallery doesn't. These folks just copy & post an image, stick in a link to their own site or an affiliate link, and call it a blog. "Look at naked Betty Sue" is rarely a discussion.
In fact, sex for all its popularity is one of those least likely to get a conversation; I know this from years with Sex-Kitten. It's difficult to get people, even anonymous ones, to talk about something so private. It's much easier to get someone to look at photos or a movie than it is to get a conversation going. Columns, reviews and op-ed pieces on sex tend to be 'just read' rather than discussed. Your traffic (as in visitors and readers) may be huge, but your conversations? Not-so-much.
This is why so many erotica authors I know resort/return to blogging about the business of being an author. When they blog about problems with publishing, publishers and other industry information they are far more likely to get others engaged in the conversation. But in doing so, they lose the interest of readers of erotica, who really aren't interested in this uglier (or more boring) side of books; erotica readers read erotica for arousal and entertainment, not for author bitch sessions. When authors (and others) do this, they've switched target audiences and no longer reach readers (potential buyers).
I know that this higher volume of comments makes you feel as if you're meeting your goal, but you're not. Sometimes you just have to satisfy yourself with your stats (traffic and page views) rather than your comments. (And don't think I'm backtracking on my statement about blogs being conversations ~ I'm not! But we'll get to that later; I don't want to get too far off-track now.)
Those who blog in these styles are likely the ones whining that the blog bubble has burst ~ or that blogging never was big anyway. Or, they soon will be. Because blogs like these will suffer in the shake-out.
At best what these bloggers are really doing is offering a conversation elsewhere ~ like passing a note in school. And like anything else in business, consumers like to cut-out the middle-man. They'll just go directly to the source instead.
As people pick and choose from the ala cart experience which is the blogosphere, there will be shake-out. But that's just the stuff of a competitive market. Even if it's for free, people select what's the best and toss the rest aside.
Well, the theory is to find people you know and find others like you. This 'like you' point may be work related, like any other professional networking group; or it may be more social, where your family and friends congregate to share news etc.; or it could even be a mix of the two, say a burlesque community where fans and performers meet.
In the case of Flickr and YouTube, folks join for the free hosting and then connect to others via common interests; you meet me because we are both uploading sexploitation film clips, for example.
Now, blogs and Flickr have much in common. Even if you are not participating in the whole befriending and posting bulletins to your friends, you have the opportunity to use your account to broadcast your content (writings and photos). If your goal (or dream) is to make a living with your content (be a professional writer or photographer), you can achieve this by using your account or space as a portfolio. However...
Simply publishing your content doesn't mean it will be seen. Remember the early days of the Internet? Just because you build it, doesn't mean they will come. This was said about every website to point out that having a site didn't mean you were automatically going to be found. The same is true of your blog, Flickr account, MySpace page, etc. You have to market in order to make sure you are found.
Where Web Poo Point Doh makes things 'easier' is that there are far more tools built into these accounts. Where once a website had to worry about banner advertising, link swaps, using text and meta tags to feed spiders and jousting with algorithms, social networking gives you tools. Tools which allow for more immediate connections within the community, such as befriending, and tools which allow for connections outside the community, such as tags.
The ease of connection is nice; but remember, now you are competing with all the other fish in these ponds.
Of the millions who join, participation falls into three categories: Big adopters, low adopters, and quitters.
Big adopters usually make these sites more than daily logins. But more importantly than how often they are there is the matter of what they do there. They are active not only in posting in blogs, commenting, sending messages etc., but in be-friending. They seek out more friends ~ ones they know, one's they'd like to know and even those they don't care to know but who add to their self-image buy increasing the number on their lists.
This is not just done by teenagers, companies (or corporate shills), but by adults who want to feel popular. It's all about them, and they are here to be seen. Big friend counts are the 'it' factor, and their befriending of you is to add to their experience, their total; not yours.
But a funny thing happens on the way to big numbers ~ participation declines. It has to. One cannot make daily comments on the pages of others when your total is 2,500. (And if they do, they use a tool to spam such 'comments' or their other activities such as blog postings diminish. There are only so many hours in a day.)
Along with this decrease in active 'social connection,' there is a decrease in active reading. In other words they don't have time to read what everyone else is posting, even if they were so inclined as to make this not about themselves. So whether they have 10 friends or 1,000, they really only read the same number of posts. (This means the same number of pages ~ and advertisements. Maybe even less ads because now they are either immune to them or quickly moving past them to try to squeeze in one more blog post before bed.)
Low adopters are people who use the site but really only to keep up with people they really know (in real life or very good online buddies). These folks tend to be more 'sincere' in their use of the site as they don't go for some friend number (score) but focus on real relationships, i.e., they read as much as they post. They are invested in the connections they have and are not interested in friendship number counts. This means that these people not only don't seek 'friendships' but are less likely to accept 'befriending.' They are a close-knit group and their mistrust of interlopers as "selling something" is very high.
Then there are quitters (I admit, I've been one at a few sites). Dissatisfied with the hype, bored with the business of befriending, annoyed by spamming and legit advertising, feeling that since none of their friends are active there anymore it's just not worth the time, or some combination thereof, they just stop participating.
What it really comes down to is this: The big adopters are too busy to pay attention to you, the low adopters are interested in staying connected to those they know and aren't interested in meeting you, many members are inactive, and you are simply one of them, trying to be heard/seen.
For bloggers who are engaged in blogging as a profession or are aiming to build on a high profile through blogging, getting covered in the traditional media can be the next big achievement after making a presence in the blogosphere and among the bloggers community.
However all these are easier said than done. Generating publicity for individuals is a huge mandate and often requires services of professional PR agencies. Today across the globe, PR professionals are sweating it out round the clock for their clients including writers, critics, speakers, God-men, businessmen, fashion designers, actors, sports persons, etc.
While admittedly anyone associated with the adult industry is going to have a really difficult time at reaching the mainstream media, the same tips apply to working within the adult world ~ including how to work with bloggers.
This post doesn't set the world on fire with anything mind-blowingly easy ~ but that's the point, I'd say. It takes research, effort and organization ~ i.e. work. If you've been skipping steps, then you've been skimpy. And skimpy doesn't get you good coverage, does it?
As mentioned, humans are social beings and we love to connect. But as I've said, Web 2.0 (last time, I swear) for all its inflated headlines (and bottom lines) is nothing more than advances on things we already have. Messages are substitutes for email addresses, bulletin notices are group mailings, etc. Oh, just when I thought my rant was over...
I promised you some facts about social networking and I do plan to give them to you ~ but I'm still a bit frustrated over this whole matter of inflated importance and I feel that you all must understand some things before we get into the matters of working within such 'gold mines.'
What is all this stuff?
It's the creation of communities.
Each social networking site operates as a large group forum with smaller user created groups or forums. Even social bookmarking, video & image sharing, are really just connection points for groups to interact by means of posting comments, which is really a forum or message board system created around a subject matter. Forums have user profiles ~ being able to designate specific users as your friends is nifty for those who like to follow the pack or use the buddy system. (On the flip side, for lone wolves all this forced connection is rather annoying.) The bottom line is all this stuff is just another bunch of words for community.
Internet or digital communities are not only not new, they are not foreign concepts. Nor should they be the least bit unfamiliar. We all belong to communities, large and small. Where you work, your coworkers, your regular lunch spots ~ all are communities. Where you live, your church knitting group, your mommy and me group ~ these are all communities. Anytime you have groups of people regularly meeting or associating you have communities. In fact, wherever you have people gathered you have groups (which are not unlike communities except that the rules are more implied than stated rules of conduct). For example, going to the park with the kids on a Saturday is not a even organized or coordinated by all those who go to the park, but all agree to basic rules of behavior.
Why I'm being so damn obnoxious stating the obvious is because if this were really understood, people wouldn't be so damn confused about how to participate in social networking sites. Folks wouldn't be so inappropriate on message boards, booted off lists, or wonder why no one's clicking their posted link at 'such a popular site.'
If people knew the obvious, if they understood that online groups are no different than offline groups (as far as human expectations, tolerance and limits), they wouldn't be confused or make such a mess of things. And they do.
WalMarts are pretty busy places, especially on weekends. But you don't see anyone running in and yelling, "My DVD's are the greatest! You've got to come buy one from me!" Not even targeted attempts, bursting in to reach moms at Mommy and Me meetings or conservative women in their church groups, works this way. So why do online marketers do such things in online communities?
Well, for one, they keep seeing these communities as consumer laden gold mines. But they keep forgetting these fish may all be in one barrel, but they aren't there for you to shoot at them. To Be Continued...
Clothing Number One In Retail Sales Online? Really?
Apparel sales moved into the top spot online, overtaking computers (but excluding travel) for the first time in 2006, according to a report from the National Retail Federation:
According to the first part of The State of Retailing Online 2007, the tenth annual Shop.org study conducted by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) of 170 retailers, Americans last year spent more online on clothing than they did on computers for the first time in history. The report found the apparel, accessories and footwear category reached $18.3 billion in 2006 and is expected to hit $22.1 billion in 2007. This year, 10 percent of all clothing sales are expected to occur online.
No mention of adult retail sales... You know, porn movies, sex toys... I doubt very much that lingerie, costumes and the like counted as apparel, or pornos counted as DVDs either. Maybe they are...
And then what? The sex toys are then mixed in with travel? I know my vibe takes me places, baby.
Marketing 'Sin' Becomes Scapegoat; Now That IS A Sin
In Sin City image repels corporate relocation, Brian Wargo reports that Las Vegas' sin marketing, "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas," may be good for tourism but it's an "impediment in luring corporate headquarters to Southern Nevada." This according to a white paper released by the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies.
Unfortunately, it's not true.
I myself was intrigued by the idea of marketing gone awry ~ after all, targeting one market (in this case tourism) can negatively impact another, and heaven knows 'sin' and escapism isn't exactly a pull for corporate America. But once I read the article, it's rather clear that the issue isn't Vegas' tourism marketing efforts.
Let's look at what other issues/facts the article (and, presumably, the white paper) reveal:
* cost of living is currently at 110% of the national average
* housing is more expensive than 40 other markets
* "nothing" in the way of cultural amenities (such as theaters, performing arts and a good quality of life)
* "off the chart" crime
* continued increases in out-migration
* wages not keeping pace with the rising cost of living
* lack of decent schools
* transportation problems
* a lack of land for commercial use; land prices
* a lack of quality contractors and the casino industry, which outbids all competitors for contractors
What a list of concrete practical problems. Clearly the Vegas/Sin image isn't the problem here. At least not the only one.
While I am sure companies consider the adult playground image, it isn't as vital as asking employees to take a cut in quality of life and paying a decent wage for good employees. (In the article one executive is quoted as saying, "We have service employees coaching their kids to be valet parkers who can make $100,000 a year." That's got to affect your potential employee pool and the bottom line at hiring time.) Not to mention the problems with finding and building your physical location.
One of the round table members was correct when they said, "This is not an image issue, it is a reality issue. We can't keep talented people in the valley because there are no arts, no alternatives and no transportation." Though they should have added the other major problems to the list, at least they acknowledged that the image problem was not created by tourism marketing.
But I guess blaming sin makes for much better headlines. It sure is popular to point fingers at others, especially at the "haves" when you're the "have nots." And it must be easier to blame a successful marketing campaign than it is to create better schools, deal with your economy issues, your housing market, crime and transportation... But will this solve your problems?
The hysterical cries of sin as the wolf won't save your sheep.
Make no mistake, this article is obviously using the 'sex and sin' slant to sell copy. Look at the image they use ~ the quote reads: Exotic dancers freshen up in the unisex bathroom of Seamless Gentlemen's Club last year.
In doing so, the publication does a disservice to its readers. If a person just reads the headline, or stopped reading after the 4th paragraph ~ as many do because in standard newspaper format, all the info is at the top and the rest is just (supposed to be) details to back it up ~ they'd believe this pile of propaganda.
They'd believe that the marketing campaign to tourists was to blame for Las Vegas' corporate recruitment difficulties.
And that's false.
So here's yet another example of using 'sex to sell' ~ but in a very dirty way. They are not only luring folks with their lurid headlines, but they're intentionally misrepresenting the story, the issue. They are lying.
Along with misrepresenting themselves to readers this poor marketing attempt entirely misses the very readers who would have an interest in ~ ideas regarding ~ the real issues which face Las Vegas.
Talk about a repelling image.
As an adult industry professional, I am truly disgusted by things like this.
The Restricted To Adults website label was created by the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) to better enable parental filtering, and to demonstrate the online adult industry's commitment to helping parents prevent children from viewing age-inappropriate content.
The RTA label is free to use and is voluntary, which means you are electing to be a stand-up guy or gal ~ to face the facts and admit you too want adults only at your sites ~ rather than have someone dictate laws.
The RTA program is a label and a HEAD tag to help filtering software. It comes with no promises, but it sure implies you're an ethical person.
There's also the ICRA (formerly the Internet Content Rating Association), which is now part of the Family Online Safety Institute. However they have more hoops and levels, but is also recommended.
In my opinion, only skanky folk and poor marketers market adult materials to kids. There's nothing wrong with being in the business or education of sexuality ~ unless you misrepresent yourself. Labeling yourself is not censorship (and one hopes that such voluntary labels would keep the fear-mongers from censorship ideas). It's rather like clearing the kids from the room before mom and dad talk about grown-up things; the talk still happens, just not around the kids.
Sometimes, when stalking my stats I find search engine traffic far too much fun. I feel bad for the person searching ~ not just because they likely were disappointed in what they found, but because who searches for these things? Poor dears.
Dirty crack whore on street corner for free:Yah. We're all so interested in doing that chick. And I bet this fucking-for-free to support her crack addiction really allows her (or him) to have a website. Or maybe I'm jumping to the wrong conclusions... Maybe it was a crack whore looking for a free corner to work on.
Free Tips on how to mindfuck women: Why didn't this guy just type in misogynistic?
If I must make a point for you all ~ if the laugh wasn't enough ~ then it's this: Don't pander to your site stats. I'm certainly not going to write blog posts to lure these people here.
First of all, I hate this "Web 2.0" frenzy. I hate it so much, that I wasn't even thrilled for being recognized as not blogging about it. But a few of you have asked about it and like it or not, it's 'news' so I'll get off my high horse and talk about it. (Rant is more like it.) And after I do this rant, I'll continue to talk about the so-called parts of Web 2.0, but I'll pretty much be banishing the phrase "Web 2.0".
Why do I hate it? Because it's based on a love of technology, not based on people.
I say this because social networking isn't really anything new. People have been contacting each other, sharing links and photos and doing all the same things before on the Internet via email, forums, news groups, websites etc.
This Web 2.0 hoopla is just a new way of doing the same old thing, which isn't bad ~ but so many rave about the marvels of it all when this technology for the most part hasn't taken into account human need and therefore misses the mark. It's provided us a new tool which may improve the way thing are done, but this bit of ease doesn't seem to be worth all the chatter. I say this because no one has really been able to monetize "Web 2.0" ~ and if you can't sell the tool, how much does the market need or want it?
From the point of the human consumer, the lack of interest in buying the tool speaks to the lack of fundamental understanding of the market it's supposed to serve.
(I know I may sound like I'm backtracking on my love of blogging, but I'm not. Blogging is one tool which offers something new ~ the ability to publish and converse in real time ~ and this is a case of a tool being useable. It's monetary value is still undecided. But we can prove blogging has value in that many folks pay for such things as the actual software and hosting, as well as the dollars spent in advertising. However, remarkable as blogging is, I do not consider blogging to be part of this "Web 2.0" talk. Blogs are, as I've said before, really a variation on website publishing, and as it lacks the embedded functionality of Web 2.0's biggest baby, Social Networking, I'm removing it from this conversation.)
Now I'd like to focus on Web 2.0's number one baby, Social Networking.
Many of you will point to this tool's profitability to say that is has value. I will in return point to the fact that there have only been two ways to monetize such sites: paid advertising and the sales of such sites.
The first is nothing new ~ paid spots on websites have been around for a long time and their merits/effectiveness are another conversation alltogether. For now, let's just say that applying the old advertisement to the new technology isn't a vote for the technology but just more realestate for advertising.
The second, sales of social networking sites, have proven to be for large sums of money. But if I were on the board of directors for a company who proposed to buy such a site I would ask, "Why should we buy this? What purpose does it serve?"
If the response is that "we'd get millions of eyeballs" I'd say there are two problems with that reply.
One, unless we are in the real estate or advertising sales business we should pass. For with such a purchase what we are in effect doing is buying the land the billboards are on and nothing more.
Two, let's scrutinize those "millions of eyeballs."
How many of these members are active? We hear the number of members bandied about, but we all know that not all members are active members. I myself have joined and then stopped playing there when I got bored (more on that in a moment). I'm still one of the masses, included in the count, but neither my body mass nor my eyeballs appear there any more.
Of those still active, how many are looking at and/or clicking on the ads? (I say 'and/or' because when it comes to the value of advertising many argue that being seen is as much the point as are the clicks. A whole other debate.) While we may not consider The Whore to be typical (subject to debate, I know) we can at least be assured that she is human and I will tell you that she is part of the skeptical, cynical consumer crowd. I don't like to be bombarded with ads and do not wait for them to load. I am the first to click on the 'skip this ad' option, and once familiar with where the ads are posted, I avoid looking there. All of these behaviors are easy to do and I daresay being done by "the millions of eyeballs."
So, if on the board of directors being presented with such a million dollar opportunity, I'd pass.
If the person(s) suggesting a buy-out of a social network had other ideas for such a purchase, I'd listen. But so far there are only two ways to make money off these sites, advertising and the sales of the site itself. You may think they are grand ways to make money, but keep in mind that members will not pay for memberships to these sites. So why buy one? What's the point of them as real entities?
But I know you all want to know about how to use them. You want to get the most of these millions of eyeballs looking at you. I'll go on and on about that next time. But remember, I won't be calling it Web 2.0.
I received this heads-up and I'm posting this everywhere:
Most people are probably not aware of something our Federal government is trying to pass - the requirement of something they are calling REAL ID. This is an attempt to install a National ID system - something that has been found to be unconstitutional by law previously.
Under the Act, states and federal government would share access to a vast national database that could include images of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce papers, court ordered separations, medical records, and detailed information on the name, date of birth, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, address, telephone, e-mail address, Social Security Number for more than 240 million with no requirements or controls on how this database might be used. Many may not have the documents required to obtain a REAL ID, or they may face added requirements base on arbitrary and capricious decisions made by DMV employees.
Please pass on to everyone you know, as most people have no idea that this is under consideration, and likely to pass quietly unless there is opposition. You should also note: "This is the same federal agency that had responsibility for helping people following hurricane Katrina, and proved itself not to be ready for the challenge. Creating a national identification system is a huge, complex project and there no agency in the Federal government that has proven that it could manage a project of this magnitude."
For folks wishing they could add feed from other blogs to their blogs (and websites) here's a free service: RSS Include. Currently you must create one for each feed you wish to use as they do not (yet?) offer a way to put multiple feeds into one display, but it's still a wonderful tool. (Blogger's new features includes such a tool ~ which does not include images as this tools does ~ but blogs not hosted by blogger cannot use those tools.)
Sorry for the silence ~ I've been working on projects, yes; but also a HUGE series on social networking sites (which began with 2 simple points, but based on the topic and client discussions has mushroomed into a large tangle).
When you think about it, this is one area of business that the adult industry has not been a leader in ;) Perhaps this is due to the 'tarnished image' thing -- but look at them flock to events to get items signed!
I must admit I'm a huge collector of naughty and risque things (some for their historical value, others for their hysterical value, and others because they just plain rock) and while I've bitched often about eBay as a sales platform, I've not put much thought into this as an industry itself. Shame on me.
I've rather thought of it as a cottage industry of lone sellers with basements full of vintage men's mags etc. and never compared this to collector associations... Other than a Playboy collector's club, I can't think of any adult collector groups (with publications, dues, etc.) Hmmm...
What do you all think of A) Silent Porn Star's question from her post and B) of this niche of collectibles?