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.
Adult webmasters and bloggers, don't overlook mainstream revenues. Even if they often overlook you *wink*
Here's a very brief list of mainstream programs which you can make money with:
#1 Amazon. Amazon apparently gets it. They realize that if folks are at your site, they've already decided for themselves they like adult content and that your linking to them means money. Amazon carries sex toys, sex history books, erotica, lingerie, adult films and often, with their third party sellers, hard to find items.
#2 Barnes & Noble, though carrying much less than Amazon, does seem to be OK with adult affiliates.
#3 ShopZilla apparently is OK with erotica and sex talk ~ it's uncertain just how far they'll go. They have lingerie, adult toys, personal care etc.
#4 EBay. Can completely suck, but if your site is more risque than really adult, it's a very fine program. Sex-Kitten was pulled due to it's explicit nature (video clips & photos in reviews), however sites which focus on pinups, art, (at least some) written erotica, and tease in general can do quite well. (And I'd avoid BDSM themes too.)
Some lingerie shoppes are open to adult content. You'll have to read their TOS because for everyone who allows adult sites to be affiliates, another one (or two) won't.
Ditto poster &/or art print sites.
Some drinking supply (bar ware) &/or alcohol merchants also 'allow' mature content, as do many gambling sites and smoking shops.
As always, think of what your niche/readers/members are likely to be interested in, then do your research.
Which means that female wages have to be higher in order to attract the steady stream of new actresses to the business. The downside for a female performer is that the odds are not high she will have a long career, as consumers no longer find her 300th appearance entertaining. The male performer, on the other hand, being the "anonymous meat puppet", can work so long as he can get it up and come when told to. Also, since the male actor isn't concerned about overexposure, he can work in a greater number of videos per year and end up making the same amount overall as the female performers.
I'm inclined to agree ~ with one caveat: That we remember the growing areas of gay porn and porn for hetero women. In these cases, men are the stars. And in the case of porn for (hetero) couples, men are co-stars. So as these markets increase, the pay for men should increase.
I love the Evolve campaign by Trojan. Love, love, LOVE it.
In the commerical, male pigs hit on women, striking out until one decides to be prepared for safe sex, getting a Trojan, and then becomes human.
I love it because it's relateable. I love it because, as a woman, it's grand to see the message that women aren't assumed to be the party responsible for safe sex &/or birth control. (It's so annoying to live in a world where men are allowed to be sexually aggressive but leave the consequences to the women.) The Evolve ad depicts men who aren't prepared for safe sex to as pigs and juxtaposes that image with condoms, the responsible behavior.
All this means I love it as a marketer.
Interestingly, Trojan, isn't spoken and even the logo appears only briefly on the bathroom's vending machine and at the end. Jim Daniels, vp of marketing, said the company was focusing less on growing market share than growing the market. I think the commerical serves the intent and the brand well, very well, indeed.
However, both CBS and FOX rejected Evolve ads by Trojan. In its rejection CBS wrote, "while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions."
"It's so hypocritical for any network in this culture to go all puritanical on the subject of condom use when their programming is so salacious," said Mark Crispin Miller, a media critic who teaches at New York University. "I mean, let's get real here. Fox and CBS and all of them are in the business of nonstop soft porn, but God forbid we should use a condom in the pursuit of sexual pleasure."
This points to the current problem those of us in adult marketing face every day.
"We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can't use sex to sell condoms," said Carol Carrozza, vice president of marketing for Ansell Healthcare, which makes LifeStyles condoms. "When you're marketing condoms, something even remotely suggestive gets an overly analytical eye when it's going before networks' review boards."
Why is it unacceptable to be so damn honest? Honest about your product; honest about human needs. It's stupefying. Why doesn't business evolve and get their heads out of their behinds?
It's like we're the women and the folks who make decisions like CBS and FOX are the pigs.
The good news is that the commercial will run on ABC, NBC and nine cable networks, and print ads will appear in 11 magazines as well as on on seven Web sites. (Feel free to write emails and letters of support to these folks, letting them know you approve!) All will highlight a Web site, trojanevolve.com.
Daniels also said that the company was spending more on the Evolve campaign than any previous campaign, though declined to say how much.
(Hey Daniels, I'll run your ads! And I can get you a free list of more who will do the same. *wink*)
What is Coyote Publishing et. al. v. Heller? It is a lawsuit filed by Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on behalf of several newspapers, that sought to void two state statutes that prohibited brothel advertising in counties where prostitution is illegal.
...this new ruling, which I have yet to form an opinion about, seems to suggest legal businesses have a right to advertise even where their products or services are illegal.
One sure sign this pay per posting crap is way out of hand is that now we have "organizations" like DisclosurePolicy.Org which try to make this all sound ethical. As if this should sound ethical. :snort:
According to that 'organization':
By disclosing the purpose of a blog, bloggers are letting readers know more about the information they'll be reviewing. Bloggers retain the freedom to write original content, as well as select which advertisers they will represent in exchange for gifts or money. Any ethical concerns will remain where they've always been - on the individual level. Because it is a blogger's freedom to select which topics will bring them payment, he/she remains responsible for his/her own reputation.
I say those of who not only believe in transparency but in authority as well ~ those of us with ethics ~ band together and tell everyone that we don't, we won't, accept paid posts.
Post a button or banner at your blog or website to let others know that you just won't take part in payola.
I recommend that you link the button to your own policy or ethics page/post, and include a link here so that others may join us too. If you do post a link to Marketing Whore, post a link in the comments to show me (and to help others who may be unsure what to say about their policies). Or email me with the link. Either way, I will add your blog to the blogroll.
Please do not hotlink (steal bandwidth); if you need help with images, go here.
Lee was busted during Halloween week 2004 for inadvertently passing out at copy of Alternative Comics #2 to a minor. It was one copy out of thousands the shop distributed as part of the town's trick-or-treat event.
Over at Cozy Frog Titmowse has an article on choosing a sponsor. Most of it I agree with, so I highly recommend it. Especially the, "Maybe the message board philosophers are correct. There is no "best" sponsor there is only the "right" sponsor."
However, there are a few additional points I'd like to make.
When Titmowse discusses testing a sponsor she says, "If you market a sponsor for a couple of months with no results, find another sponsor. If you are making money with a sponsor, keep them."
I think this is too simple. It suggests that after a few months poor performance by a sponsor is 'all on the sponsor.' This may be true; but it also may not be true.
Sponsor performance also depends upon what you do.
For example, say you decide to promote a BBW paysite. You think the niche is funny. So you build a point-and-laugh free site, chock full of insulting text, degrading graphics and ads for your sponsor. Your site receives all kinds of traffic but literally nobody clicks your ad banners. Why do you think that is? Do you really think that the point-and-laugh crowd is going to shell out money for a membership to a BBW paysite? Did it ever occur to you that your niche-based design insults the very people that happen to like big women and are aching to find a site where they are welcomed and appreciated? Sure, if you design a site that honors BBW models, you probably won't get as much traffic, but the traffic you get will be targeted to sell. You won't waste bandwidth on a bunch of gawking freeloaders.
Design issues aside, there are other matters such as the quality of your posts/articles, your authority, and of course, your traffic. All of this affects sponsor performance.
It's easy to blame a sponsor, go get another. But they aren't the only factor.
Your sponsor can be doing everything right, but if you don't pay attention to these matters, well, sponsor choice just doesn't matter.
My daddy, one helluva real salesman, taught me early on about the unsung glories of being in sales. Commissions which went unpaid, territories carved-up when you were successful, quotas set so high no one could make them, and lean times when your market was so affected by the economy that no matter how good you were there were no sales to be made. But still, I was entranced.
When I heard how he managed to help solve a company's problem, saw that satisfaction in his eyes, I wanted to feel that too. I adored the idea of problem solving to mutual satisfaction. I loved that a person could make money from helping another ~ even it was 'only' to help them make more money. I dreamed of being able to match need to benefit, problem to product, and of being paid to do it.
I spent my early years working in retail. I've sold nearly everything a woman can wear, men's apparel and shoes, and a few other assorted items. I've sold on commission, by quota, and at flat cashier rates. When a customer told me, "No," I was challenged to find out why... What did they need or want? Often, they didn't know what they needed or wanted, so I had to listen really well and, rather like a counselor, find out what they were looking for. Usually I go the sale. If not, I told them where they could find what they wanted. I may have 'lost' that sale to another store or company, but they always returned to me because I solved their problems. (Even if the problem was 'just' the perfect pair of the red high heels.)
I broke records, won divisional contests, and created some rather simple and innovative customer retention tools (even without permission). For my efforts I was "promoted" to management.
This was to me, a less spectacular position. For awhile I consoled myself by focusing on motivating the 'real' sales force and mentoring those who felt dirty about sales. But it just wasn't as rewarding, mostly as the companies I worked for had DMs and other 'higher-ups' with minds closed to employee moral and a general ignorance of what it was like to be in sales.
So I went 'back to school' and got my B.A., then I moved on to public relations and fund raising for non-profits. There I sold concepts and Utopian ideals to an all-too-often less than concerned public. And for less money than I made in most (if not all) of the other places. Along the way I also tended bar and held other customer service positions. *wink*
All of this is what's lead me here today. I'm rather compulsive about seeing the unmet needs, the poor (or nonexistent) customer service, the desperate hype designed to move products, the the way people just don't just stop and think. I've learned most products and services are not dirty, and that marketing and sales need not be either. And that this is the least true in the adult industry where most of us market a product or service for what it is, not what it isn't.
Daddy doesn't know about my sex pro work (which is a whole other story), so I've not sent him here; but he would be proud of what I do. Because at the end of the day problems have been solved, sales have been made, and I've got that gleam of satisfaction in my eyes.
But Gracie, how are paid postings any different than a blogger promoting a site via affiliate programs? Well, that's rather like saying commission sales is like payola.
In commissioned sales, you are paid for your performance. You make a sale, you get a cut. The reason folks join individual affiliate programs is that they believe they can make money off of it. Why? Because they like it or that their readers will. They select programs they are naturally interested in, those which suit their blog theme or mission, those which seem to fit their style. They believe in it so they invest their time &/or effort in selling it for the reward of part of the sale.
Can they lie? Sure. For example, anyone can say they're a member of a paysite and they love it so much they're telling you to join to ~ when they've never done more than see a tour page. But then again, anyone anywhere can lie.
Can a blogger or webmaster be solicited to join an affiliate program? You bet we are. But since we aren't paid to select them, we decide if this would be a good fit for our readers ~ because that's how we'd get paid. We decide if the site or product is worthy of our lending our name to it ~ because our readers who got burned would sure let us know. At least the good ones do this.
In payola or pay per post, you are paid for your mention of the item ~ your 'play' of it, if you will. This means, whether you like the product or not, you get paid to mention it. Each and every time you mention it. And from any company willing to pay. (And many of these companies are equally oblivious to targeting in this "post about me now!" mentality; so honestly, what's the point?)
Some of you will argue that bloggers may pick and choose what they will mention, what paid postings they will do, but kids, let's be as honest as the day is long and admit that there are many people in the world (not just the Internet) who are hungry for money and will take what is offered. The incentive, the "pay," is to "post," not to be authentic, not to match blogger readership, or anything else.
We're not talking about small sums either. Affiliates generally pay a smaller amount per sale, whereas paid postings are larger sums up front or at least much quicker than waiting to reach an affiliate pay-out limit. The proverbial 'quick buck'. (Too bad their momma's didn't tell them there's really no such thing, because once the word gets out that you're only after a quick buck, who is gonna give a f***?)
I've been offered up to $85 for a paid posting ~ one that I wouldn't even need to write because they would write the 'article' for me. That's free content, supposedly tailored for my readers, plus $85 in my pocket ~ and I turned it down because I care, damnit. I've also turned down ads for products which are illegal, products I believe to be dangerous, and just plain old shams (the latter of which mostly come into this blog).
I may whore my wares, the wares of other, but I'm honest about that. I'll whore what I like, thank you, and when I do, you'll know it.
But I'm not going to sell my soul, my loyalty, and in the process sell you all out too. My word matters to me. It's one of the few things, I'm told, I get to take with me when I leave this place.
The entire business world is shaking its head about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who was exposed for an eight-year run of posting anonymous comments to Internet investing bulletin boards touting his company's stock and flaming his competition.
Some people chose a franchise because of their ego, and what The Joness will think. They buy a franchise because it sounds exciting or cool. They buy a franchise hoping to impress their neighbors or friends. Because of this, they look up franchises on the Internet and either include or reject them based on the cool factor. As a result, many overlook excellent opportunities of sold money-making opportunities, sometimes with a much better return on investment than famous brands.
Ditto on job titles, job descriptions, and daily activities. So many of us are seduced by what others think of what we do.
Related to this post is Is Freelancing Foolish? Perhaps it seems more glamorous, but is it more profitable? Are you suited for it? Remember...
Going to a freelance career is no different that starting your own business.
I get asked about starting online stores a lot, so The Beef Jerky Blog's How to Start an Online Store is one of my favorite selections. Most notable is point 4:
Most people will do a search for "wholesaleing" or "Dropshipping," this is the 100% wrong way to search for your product of choice. In most cases you will come across a ton of MFA sites, competitors, Paid list company sites, and a ton of just random site that will waste your time.
Queer talk about corporate money discusses the success of the 2006 Gay Games. Corporate funds may be disliked, but to many their buy-in gives the stamp of legitimacy. While reaction to corporate sponsorship and commercialism may be mixed within the community, the sponsorship clearly marks further acceptance of a "queer market" by corporate America.
"No one has done a full-blown market research of any kind into either the brick-and-mortar or the online adult consumer market place," said Tom Hymes, publisher of XBiz, a trade magazine about the industry.
"My own personal feeling of this is most (consumers) are still men, but I have seen more women coming into the industry to make content for other women, to build Web sites for women. The issue of women being creative and significant in the industry is not going away."
While I joke, this is rather my point. Change a few words around, and this was once my brain ~ my brain on HTML as opposed to real code. Change a few words around, and this is my brain on marketing. Working with the adult web, in the adult industry, isn't very different from mainstream gigs.
Sure, I talk with porn stars; but we're either doing an interview (a feature which is promotion like any other celeb with a movie to plug) or she's now in the business office and we're discussing my invoice due for DVD sales.
Yeah, I review erotica, pornos, sex toys etc., but they require the same dedication, honesty and evaluation as any other product reviewed.
Yup, I put up smutty pictures and write with dirty words, but it's all the same skill sets that any other webmaster, marketer, author &/or journalist uses.
A friend was laughing the other day about how exotic my life sounds ~ over the phone it does to many, anyway. But a bill to be paid is a bill to be paid; and about as much fun. An ad, either written or placed, is work. Everything is work. It may be more entertaining for me (hence my selection of this field) than working with some other widget or industry, but folks who imagine that the porn stars, erotica authors, sex toy manufacturers, and retailers of all the goodies are all sitting around having pre-sex pillow fights, well, they're just wrong.
We do talk dirty now and then ~ but it's about the f-ing jerk whose promised payments never show up; the slutty gal who promised us an exclusive then gave that same 'exclusive' to 6 other publications; bloggers & webmasters who never recip with links as promised (or pull them later); reviewers who never get around to actually publishing the reviews; servers which go 'thud'; writers, editors and others who go MIA in the middle of the night (some stealing funds with them as they slink silent into that night); deadlines which seem impossible in light of work load; and any number of other unethical or stressful business practices ~ not the number of orgasms we had last night.
It's work. It's a job. If you're self-employed or with a start-up, it's not even guaranteed or scheduled pay.
It's better than digging ditches or having to kill your dinner with your bare hands; but it's work.
To those who keep asking about the 'fast-track' to easy money with the adult industry, especially on the Internet, I beg of Thee, please read the archives here. Yes, and follow (and read) the links. And then read at other sites. If you're still under the impression that this business is all boobs, glamour and easy money, then I'm going to have to assume that you currently not only dig ditches for a living, but must kill your dinner with your bare hands.
Mostly this is just a plug *wink* but if you're interested in knowing more about women as a target market for your adult business read it.
Those who are in the biz, will love how the piece starts:
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." The crux of Virginia Woolf's polemic on female creativity -- first declared in 1928 and walloped around the theoretical arena ever since -- resounds today more than ever for the post-Sex and the City generation. Sure, the envisaged room is a "post-war Upper-East side walk-up" and the finances are limited by a substance abuse problem (expensive footwear), but the ethos remains the same: for women to create, they need agency.
2. Constantly cutting the advertising budget. Very easy to do. And it doesn't mean that the advertising budget shouldn't be monitored and adjusted. But if it's routinely done, especially with the rationale of saving money without considering the costs, it might hurt the brand. 6. Relying on customer loyalty cards to create customer loyalty. Don't. Loyalty cards don't create loyal customers. What you get instead are promiscuous customers. Why? Because loyalty cards offer incentives and discounts that attract customers who want a "deal". The best loyalty cards are the ones that offer benefits and value-added services that will only be enjoyed by the most profitable customers. 7. Spending more on price promotions than advertising. Price promotions should be a part of any complete marketing program, but they can't replace traditional brand-building activities. Price promotions can be a dangerous game. Consumers attracted to your brand by a price promotion are just as likely to be lured away by a competitor's price promotion. What happens next week when the promotion is over and consumers are surprised to find that their beloved item now costs more? The "deal" doesn't seem like such a deal any more. As a result, you might be left with a bunch of people who feel ripped off. The trick is to find consumers who love your brand, ones who don't need be enticed to buy with promotions.
For those that worry that they have no/cannot afford Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, maybe you just don't need it:
10. Installing a CRM system and expecting that will do the trick. CRM aims to give businesses the means to provide preferred customers with "value propositions" that competitors can't match. From the consulting industry's point of view, there's the beauty of the system - it means more lucre for every management consultant in town flogging similar techniques to companies and their competitors. But the problem is that these systems are often installed without thinking of how the organization can use them to attract customers, and what internal behaviors the organization needs to change. Relationships cut both ways. The company might want a relationship with a high-spending customer; but is the customer looking for that sort of relationship? Subject an uninterested customer to new product offerings and telemarketing programs and things can get ugly. Even uglier when they get a letter from their bank telling them their credit card limit can be extended by $10,000 and another telling them their mortgage payments are still in arrears. A big part of the problem is that executives do not understood what they are implementing. They often just let software vendors dictate the terms of customer management or try to fit the strategy around the expensive technology. And what you have instead is a blunt instrument that stalks, rather than woos the customer.
And, perhaps my favorite:
4. Assuming you know what targeted customers value. A variation on the previous problem. So you know who your most profitable customers. But that's only half the story. Do you know what they value? What are the five most important attributes that see them coming back or referring other customers to you? Without the answers, all you have is a pile of data without insight.
Really, if you knew your customer, your CRM system wouldn't be a "blunt instrument that stalks, rather than woos the customer"; you wouldn't train customers to be price monkeys and sales hounds; rather you would court them as you both are.
Here are two snippets to seduce you into reading more.
Why they suck:
Second, linking to marketing blogs is hard, because marketing blogs tend to suck. They suck for various reasons, often recombined uncreatively in newly horrifying ways. For example, they can suck because the authors usually are, first and foremost, marketers who haven't yet gotten on the Clue Train. If the marketing blog is a one-way broadcast, talking to the "customers" instead of talking with the readers, it will suck. More to the point, it will be boring, and nobody will link to it or read it.
What you can do:
2) Buy blog links. If a blogger has an advertising offer, try it out. Don't track this traffic for sales or conversions, that's not why you're buying it. Just measure the percentage of the traffic that bookmarks your blog. If the percentage is low, improve your blog. If it doesn't go up, buy better traffic. As they say on Making Light, iterate.
What Bacchus writes is ideal for porn & sex toy makers, as well as retailers of the same; but most of these can apply to any blog. (And I'd have to say, personally, that most often the most offensive of these sorts of blogs are those by erotica authors and publishers themselves.)
If your blog isn't doing what you dreamed... If you don't want to look like a splog (spam + blog)... If you're just wondering what else you should and shouldn't do... Read, kiddos, read.