Saturday, October 4, 2008

Read, You Will

Links from my Delicious Bookmarks:

Oversharing, Blogging, And Transparency: Notes—And Quotes—From A Talk
Susan Mernit reports on a talk she gave at Arse Electronika, the conference about sex and technology and culture, on blogging, transparency, authenticity, and identity.

Mediabistro Panel topics?
What kinds of panel topics would you like to see produce in 2009?

A Slip of a Girl: I Read, I Rant; It's As Simple As That
Who told you to make a 'cutsie website in flash'? Whoever it was, they ought to be shot. The person/persons behind the push of flash are idiots because...

High-Five Fridays, The Banned Book Week Edition - (NWS)
Celebrating Banned Books Week the Sex Kitten way.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sex Worker How-Tos

In Reality Check: Dealing With Assholes, Radical Vixen answers the question, "How do you deal with asshole clients?" It's for phone sex operators; but there's gold for any business owner ~ working on the phone or not.

In Rant: Strip clubs are for customers, not dancers, the SEXhobbyist gives a reminder just who the business is for. Along with clues for strippers, there are reminders for bedraggled business owners to recall that they may run the business, but if it's to be profitable, it must be focused on the customers.

Last, but certainly not least, Emilie gives safety advice on Anonymous Blogging for Sex Workers. A must read for anyone working with on the Internet. (Via Courtesan Connection.)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

SEO Case Study

You know I'm Believer in content rather than SEO, but I do like to consider &/or avoid potential problems as I can and to that extent I offer like-minded folks Understanding Search Engine Penalties for such consideration. In it David Peralty gives tips via looking at a particular site (for you visual types).

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Scratch My Back?

ScratchBack is an online "tipping" system, which can be seen (as well as used Heh Heh!) in my sidebar, and it promises a more fun, conversational way to accept donations than Amazon or PayPal standard donation systems as it allows those who tip to get a link to their own site as they pass on public praise.

It's a neat idea not just for the link, should you have a blog (if you don't, I guess you could just put a link into the very site you're donating to?); but it also allows public praise with a donation. Very few people make a donation and then post a comment saying, "I just made a donation because I love you!" so this is a neat idea. Plus, it allows such praise to act as testimonials and be very visible on the site.

And yes, you have the right to reject/refuse comments which are not so nice (see the FAQ).

The program links do not increase page rank, Technorati authority, or otherwise upset or offend Google with paid linkage as all links use the "nofollow" command:
Do My Links Pass Page Rank?

They do not. Every single link, including the link back to Scratchback, in the TopSpot widget has a "nofollow" hard encoded in them. The code is delivered in Javascript format as well. That means that Google and other search engine spiders "won't follow" the link. It doesn't mean your link isn't clickable, it is.

You cannot remove that code, nor should you attempt to as per the user agreement every publisher and advertiser agree to upon registration. Google has made it perfectly clear that "selling page rank" is not something they believe in. We don't believe in it either. This system is built for fun. There are plenty of other solutions out there you can use if you want to "pass Google juice", just not this one. Did you hear that Google? :)
I'm not certain ScratchBack is very adult friendly, and their directory offerings seem to be quite limited too; but the Marketing Whore is willing to give it a try. (If she can't pass, likely most of you won't either; and should she pass, it may only mean those who step to the line will have a chance.) But the concept is worthy of noting and giving a whirl. (I can be quite the whirly girl!) And I do recommend that those of you who are interested and aren't too explicit in your sites give it a try.

Of course, it could simply turn into a "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" situation in which no one actually makes any money too... Which isn't the worst thing ~ unless some expect that and those who don't end up offending others... Which of course the sort of thing you can run into with placing a simple link on your site... All of this just means that unless you and another actually agree to scratch each other's backs, don't expect it; you'll only get your feelings hurt.

I would imagine this type of tip jar is worthy of replication in the adult community. Naturally I wish these things would be inclusive, but the Internet is so fractured it makes sense it would be replicated and a version sent to the red-light side of the web.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thoughts On The DMOZ

A former editor talks about the DMOZ: "Dmoz began as a good idea but it grew faster and farther than the available volunteers."

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Looking At Technology in 2007 & Beyond

In his year-end technology wrap-up, titled The Rising Tide of Technology, The Tongue discusses why we need to increase our website technology:
Clement of has long been a proponent of the belief that surfers are no longer the cavemen you see doing Geico commercials. Recently he agreed to assist me with my research for this article by posting a simple, voluntary, nonscientific poll in the member’s area of his website. Members who had each purchased access to VideosZ were asked what kind of connection they were using to access the website so that VideosZ could better serve them. Each member was allowed to reply only once and each was a paying customer who had bought the VideoZ monthly service. Lying would have been counterproductive for any dialup member because it would mean he was advocating "less dialup friendly" content if he falsely claimed to have a broadband connection. The results may surprise you.

With more than 1,500 members responding, only ONE percent stated they were currently using a dialup connection. To put that in perspective, more than 4 percent stated they are already using a FIOS connection and the rest of the replies were fairly evenly split among DSL and cable modem users. Those kinds of statistics cannot be relied upon by themselves but they do support the idea that creating your next members area to be optimized for a surfer using a dialup connection is something worth reconsidering.
While I agree dial-up is, in general, being replaced, and that larger monitors and other tech toys are becoming part of the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality especially here in the US, I again caution against gizmos, gadgets and even website optimization which excludes potential customers.

As a person who uses Linux rather than Windows, and adores it, many of the latest gizmos, such as the latest Flash versions, do not (yet) work well with my browser (the wonderful Firefox) and as such, some 'marvelously modern' sites simply don't do anything for me but show a black screen with a demand that I upload the latest player (which invariably won't work for my pc).

My own platform preferences aside, I remind you to consider your target market when reading such advice to make such tech advances.

Consider, at least, that this information from a survey of members at and as such is relating to those adult entertainment users who prefer to watch movies online. It makes sense that they would have such connections, and likely larger monitors etc., but for those who are selling DVDs, sex toys, professional services, erotic stories etc., or other adult products which are not to be viewed online, these numbers may be rather meaningless.

However, if you're peddling porn to view online, then this info may be most meaningful.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tech & Graphic Tools Info

Karlyn's posted a list of the best free web and graphic design tools.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Website Marketing Tips, Anyone?

Kelly at Extreme Restraints has an excellent post in her blog: Tips on a good site and it doesn't have to be an adult site.

Her number one is my number one, and most of it is sage advice. However, I do, as usual, take issue with a few points...
3. Copyright Statements

Everything you create and write on your web site warrants copyright declarations. So include it on every page AND keep it up to date.
Copyright is granted with everything you write or create, so copyright statements aren't necessary. And, stated or not, the rights only have teeth if and when you police and seek protection under the law.
9. Typos and Grammer Mistakes

Typographic mistakes will be noticed immediately. Typos are considered either due to a very novice or uncaring website owner. Typos are not made by professionals in business trying to make a living. Thus when you have typos and grammer errors on your website, visitors won’t think you take your site seriously, and they won’t either. They’ll think you’ll make all kinds of other mistakes too. Like shipping to an incorrect or mistyped address… not shipping at all, or… maybe you don’t even look at your website so …

Geez.. use a spell checker.. don’t rely on it… but use it and reread things before you post them on your site. Have someone else verify anything you put out there for the world to see.
Ironically, Kelly spelled "grammar" and 'jeez' wrong (along with a few other spelling errors in her post), and yet I'm not only still reading, but I'm posting the link and recommending it be read. If that's not taking her seriously, then what is?

But seriously, in a perfect world we'd like to be error-free ~ both in terms of creating and using/reading ~ but none of us lives in a perfect world. I can grab a book by Random House and find typos; so I'm not shocked when I find one in a website or blog.

So what I'm trying to say is, do try to avoid as many mistakes as you can; but don't sweat them too badly either. Sloppy shows, but so do the best intentions. To most people. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

6. Long Pages

There are so many example around you. Look at a new paper.. most articles are very short. Look at ads.. they’re short. Look at the most sucessful websites out there… they’re short. Most pages should be one screen with no scrolling down. I’ve done surveys and statistical analysis and read books on web usability that prove … drum roll … Of all the people who visit your web page.. only 20% of them will bother to scroll down to see the next screen full of information. Of that 20% only about 5% will scroll down for another chuck of screen. That means if you’ve got a page that is 3 screens long… then only 1 out of 100 visitors will ever see that. You are better off having a couple of pages that link together. Most successful stores do this. You’ll see an overview of a product that is 1 screen in length and a more details link (that goes to a long page of DUH! more details). Most site visitors don’t bother. But a buyer may want those more details.

So don’t waste your precious time and effort on carefully crafting really long pages. Keep it short and simple. Get your message out fast. Entice them to do something fas

Let me K.I.S.S. you… put your buy buttons at the top instead of only at the bottom.
First, I'd like to see where Kelly got those stats. Second, what were these stats for? The actions of whom do they supposedly depict? What of the stats which conclude that getting people to make the second click for more details is an aggravation, a sales turn-off? The problem with any such stats is the number of variables involved. Are these stats based on news sites? Commerce sites? What's the sampling? Demographics of the sampling? How did these people find 'you' to read 'you'? Do any of these things relate to your business? The fact is, the number of people reading 'you' is a matter of many things, such as SEO, site ranking, consumer faith, how well you've targeted your ads etc., etc., etc.

But I'm not going to refute them with stats of my own or anyone else's ~ and not because I'm lazy. It's because such stats are damn near irrelevant in my book.

Who is or isn't reading is based on many things, most important of which is why they are there reading.

In the case of Extreme Restraints, you hope it is because they are looking to purchase a bondage item. No one else really matters.

Turn it around, putting this in your control, who are you are writing for?

You are not writing for everyone, but specific someones ~ individual people, one by one. Essentially, you are writing for one person, but publishing it publicly so that they, or another like them, can read it over and over again when needed. That's your target market. Your page, your text, must meet each of their needs. Who is this person? What do they need? Are those stats about them or 'anyone'?

Going again with Extreme Restraints, the writing must fit the needs of each person shopping for bondage gear. Whether they know what they need or are researching for a future purchase; whether they have the money now or are bookmarking the item for when they do have the money; the text needs to answer all of their questions and concerns.

And if that means a 'long page', so be it.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What's More Important: Technorati, Alexa, Traffic, Pagerank or?

Alternate Title: Rankings, Smankings? (Part Two)

From my collected emails on the subject of what tools and stats are most vital, comes a set of questions like this:
I'm very confused with all the stats and ranking options... I'm not sure I have time to follow all of them. Which one or two are the most important? Isn't traffic, people actually visiting your site, the real bottom line?
Sure it's more important to get visitors to your site ~ if they arrive there looking for what you've got.

This is where monitoring your stats, referrals & tools comes in; there's no value in people arriving here for 'whores for hire' as I'm not that kind of whore. I know I may sound like I'm beating a dead horse here, but most of this reply comes down to your target market: Who are you trying to serve &/or appeal to?

If you are aiming for other professionals (such as media folks, buyers who might carry your product in their stores, those who buy ad space, investors etc.) then Alexa may be very important to you. While Alexa is by no means perfect, as noted here, it is free and so remains sort of a bible for many who are trying to evaluate the 'weight' of your site.

Alexa appeals to a more 'old white guy' mentality (not the uber rich sort; they use Nielsen//NetRatings), and thus is the wunderbar to beat when trying to appeal to conservative professionals or businesses. Alexa is also best for websites (as opposed to blogs). If any of this applies to you and your company, you'll want to monitor and increase your site's Alexa ranking.

If you are trying to be perceived as an authority, with a blog, then Technorati is the standard. Technorati basically monitors links to a blog ~ be they in sidebars or posts ~ and uses each unique site linking in as the way to determine authority. (More sites linking to you is more authoritative than several links from the same site.)

Technorati's ranking system is monitored by the hip and trendy, as well as those who need to know about the hip and trendy. Hip and trendy, of course, is relative ~ for the most part just knowing of and understanding the importance of blogs separates these folks from the old white guys at Alexa.

Technorati is widely used by both readers/consumers and professionals alike. Playing at Technorati (or at least monitoring the Top Searches, Top Tags and WTF posts) allows everyone (bloggers, media pros, consumers, companies, personalities, etc), to monitor trends ~ including bloggers, media pros, consumers, companies, personalities, etc. Some use Technorati as their blogging search engine, though they more likely refer to this as 'listening to conversations' because they are hip and trendy. (Though not uber hip & trendy or they'd be doing it at Twitter.)

PageRank is another way to measure your site's pull and power. This ranking system includes blogs and websites and is most often used by other webmasters and bloggers to evaluate the competition, SEO results, and/or another site for link swaps etc. It offers none of the options of play that Technorati does, nor does it have any appeal for readers/consumers really. In fact, I personally don't give much thought to page rank. This likely surprises no one, as I am no fan of SEO work. However, as your Technorati &/or Alexa rankings increase, so does (or so should) your page rank. So concentrate on one of both of them and PageRank takes care of itself. At least that's my philosophy.

What all of the above (and other sites/tools too) do is present collected data. It's up to you to interpret it ~ and put that knowledge to use.

As to what's more important to you, well, again that all comes down to what you're all about and who you want to reach ~ you'll want to use the tools which seem to most accurately reflect your potential customers.

If pressed to make a specific recommendation in a general sense it would be that each tool has merit and ideally you want each to increase your ranking in all of them. Working each tool or angle that fits your business is the best way to try to cover all the bases and to see where your marketing may be weakest.

However, remember that these are tools. They help you evaluate, offer means to monitor effects of programs/campaigns and changes in those programs/campaigns, but they are not, at the end of the day, success. Success is achieved when you receive sales ~ sales customers are happy with. For example, focusing on increasing your Technorati rank does not ensure that you'll increase your traffic or that someone from the media will contact you for a quote (and should you be blessed with the latter, that still doesn't ensure traffic or sales).

So use the tools, let them inspire and challenge you in running your business; but don't let them use & run you.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Non-Adult Affiliate & Ad Friends

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.)

Other possibilities:

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.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No Payola

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.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Your Thursday To-Do List

1) Participate in The Blushing Ladies meme. (Which means make your post, then make your rounds!)

2) Submit your best post of the week (from last Friday through today) to the Sugasm (NWS).

3) Vote for The Marketing Whore:
My site was nominated for Best Marketing Blog!
3-a) While you're there, make someone's day. Think of someone to nominate ~ there's not a specific adult or sex category, but they do allow for such blogs (be sure to flag them properly!)
4) Find (at least) one new meme, gadget, directory, linkswap, resource to share with the others here. (Just post 'em in the comments section, kids.)

5) Step away from the Internet for 10 minutes. Take a quick walk, eat a piece of pie, whatever. Just step away for a break.

6) Come back to see what others have posted as a tips and resources.
6-a) Pick 3 of them to act on now.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Images 101

Several times a week I'm asked how to post images.

Here are two tutorials I recommend:

Posting Image or Photo On Forums n Message Boards
An eBay Tutorial on Images and HTML

(If you really need help with basic HTML, check out the HMTL cheat sheet from Webmonkey.)

There are several free image hosting services, but even if you're using standard blogging software hosted with the company (i.e. at Wordpress or Blogger) you have the means to host your own photos. You can use the blogging software to upload the images even for your sidebar.

For those of you who use Blogger, here's my 'cheat':

1) You'll need to right-click and save the image to your pc

2) Act like you're going to make a new blog post

3) Use the 'compose' window to upload the image from your pc

4) Use the 'compose' window to make a link

5) Click the 'edit html' tab

6) Copy all the code

7) Save the post as a draft (you can title it "image file" or something simple, and I'll explain more in a minute)

8) Paste the copied code into your template sidebar.

By saving this as a draft, you can be sure the image is saved at blogger ~ and, you can use this same draft/post for future needs. (Other images, banners etc for your sidebar.)

I'm guessing there would be similar means in other blogging programs.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Link Swaps Are Doorways

I've got a few basics on link swaps at Whoring Your Site With Links (and a bit more in Gently Scratching Your Niche), but a number of readers have asked for more information on them. So here we go...

Link swaps or exchanges (where Site A links to Site B, then Site B links back to Site A) have been around a long time. (Like those swinging doors, there are two ways for people to pass through.)

They are standard practice, but this does not mean you should be route about handling them.

Do not accept, nor feel pressured into accepting, each request. Remember, each link is a doorway. Not only are you inviting people to leave, and therefore want to limit the number of exits, but each link is rather like an endorsement. The dual nature of these doorways allows for the perfect means to evaluate them. When you receive a request, do visit the site and evaluate if it's worthy of sending your visitors to.
Evaluate where you're sending folks:

Does the site have good, original content (writing, products, services, photos etc.)?

Is it something you think your visitors or members would be interested in seeing?

Do they have enough content to indicate they'll be around and active in the future?

Is the site broken, links which do not work, missing graphics or have other signs of neglect or problems?

All of these things will reflect on you, for offering the doorway. (For more on this, also read here.)

The other side of the link swap is your point of view on traffic.

From your own point of view, does it look like their site will have readers which will find your site interesting?

Also, do you like where they would be linking to you? Some sites and even blogs have separate areas, even pages, for links. If you feel that your link would be buried, or otherwise virtually unseen in some hidden area, only accept the request on your terms ~ with a better placement of the link to your site.
The reason I mention this first is so that you understand how your link request will be viewed: Is your site worthy of them sending their readers to, and would your link be beneficial to them?

So no matter how wonderfully worded your link swap request is, you may be rejected. If you are lucky, they will take the time to let you know why your site isn't making the grade. Use this information to your advantage in two ways: 1) It's a free review of sorts, so perhaps there are changes you ought to make, and 2) if so, contact them again after you've made the changes.

I know there are going to be some of you who dislike link swaps, because you'll have read/heard that a certain number of out-bound links are bad for search engine ranking, or page rank (or whatever.) It certainly is one school of thought. As are only swapping with sites with specific page ranks (or higher), and other guidelines. These philosophies are other reasons your link swap request may be rejected, and they may be unknown to you at the time you make your request. All you can do is respect their decision and move along. (However, if they disclose their reasoning &/or guidelines, do as above.)

OK, so now you know how link swaps are evaluated and you're ready to prepare for, head-off, and deal with rejection. Now it's time to move onto how to ask for them.

Here are the steps:

1) Put as much effort into exploring a site as you would in evaluating it if they had requested the link swap themselves. Don't see one post and send your request, but rather look around and see as much of the site as you can. If you are still of the opinion that you'd like to create that swinging doorway, then proceed.

2) Look on their site for rules on link swaps or exchanges, or other policies which may tell you their guidelines and how to request an exchange. If you do qualify, then proceed. And if they have a specific method for requesting a swap, then use it.

3) If you'll need to send an email request, here's what to keep in mind.
A) You need not feel smarmy, gross or inappropriate requesting a link swap. It's part of business, and we all know that. If you've done your homework (evaluation) you're offering something of value for something of value. So don't apologize for such a request, you are flattering them. (Conversely, don't act so cocky either. You aren't doing them a favor, but simply arranging a win-win.)

B) Don't use a generic form letter to request a swap. It's not personal and it doesn't show the blogger or webmaster that you have found their site worthy of such a request. Don't even use a standard file you cut and paste from to make your request. I mean it! The time you think you save with cut & paste is really effort lost when you make a formulaic request, and, in this doorway metaphor, have a doorway closed to you. (Even worse, when you blunder and mistakenly paste some other webmaster's name or information in it!) Why be so boring, so lazy, when you should be excited to find a cool site you want to share with your readers? Tell them why you want to swap ~ even gush about their site, if that's your personality. Whatever your tone or personality, write each email individually. You'll be glad you did.

C) Don't tell them that link swaps are vital, that this helps their search engine ranking or page rank or whatever. Such things are either insulting (as if they didn't know!) or boring (a bunch of gibberish to those who don't know). And to those of us who get many requests a day, they read like the same old crap and we gather your site is full of it too. (I'll admit, those emails very rarely get read all the way through before I hit delete; so it would take a miracle for me to even visit their site to evaluate it.)

D) Do clearly provide your information (URL, site title and where you'd place their link etc.). I know this is noted here, but based on the number of requests I receive in which this info is missing, I guess it bears repeating.

E) Put something simple and direct in the subject line so they know what the email is. I typically create my subject line last, as my enthusiasm makes me want to talk (write the email) right away *wink* Then I can be more practical when writing the subject line. If you know the contact's name, use it. Examples: Link Swap With The Whore, I'd Like To Exchange Links With Your Marketing Whore Blog, Link Swap For Gracie, etc.
One last thing... Don't forget to check your links periodically.

Ask yourself: Is this site still worthy of you inviting your guests to leave your site for? Act accordingly.

Sometimes folks nail their side of the door shut or put so much stuff in the front of it that no one can realistically pass through to your side. Sites may have deleted links, moved them to a different area or page (which you can easily view as a break in agreement if this move is detrimental to you) and sites may be down all together. (If the latter, please check several times over a few days, with a clear cache, just to be sure that you didn't stumble in during a server hissy fit.)

Should you find your link swap partner has shut the doorway to your site, I recommend you send an email about it. You need not be rude or defensive as mistakes do happen. Just inquire as to why your link seems to be missing. Most of the time you get a reply saying "Oops!" and a correction. If that's not the case, you can safely delete your reciprocating link.

Conversely, if you find yourself wishing to sever a partnership, it's best if you contact them to let them know. Be polite and remind yourself that, as nasty as this feels, it is better they hear it from you (and the reasons why) than to discover that you deleted them. (And you'll avoid building a negative reputation as a webmaster or blogger who doesn't keep promises.)

Now go forth, and open some doors.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Bacchus on Blogging

While working on Bacchus, Gracie's Been Sleeping In Your Blog (NWS), I rediscovered this excellent bit by Bacchus, Blogging For A Living And The Global Microbrand. You should all go read it.



I'll wait.

In that piece he links to a recent interview at Sunni's Salon, from which this bit is taken:
Sunni: So, tell me about the money. Is it really a world of easy, instant cash? I rather suspect not ... [laughs]

Bacchus: It's true that there can be a lot of money in adult web sites, but because anybody with a computer can compete for it, there's an astonishing amount of competition, too. There's lots of money to be made, but it doesn't come without sustained, consistent effort, just like any other business. Persistence over time is a huge factor, because links and search engine mojo take forever to establish in commercial quantities. Most people who try this business give up before they ever have a chance to succeed.

Sunni: I take it you'd disagree with my current position of not trying to make money from my blog. But surely you aren't wanting every corner of the web to be filled with Google ads and obnoxious banners, are you?

Bacchus: Better to say "I don't understand" than that I disagree. Being a lazy man, I like making money with my brain. And I've long felt that the best measure of a thing's worth is what someone will pay for it. "Money is the sincerest form of flattery" and all that. I don't think profits are bad, and thus I don't think any enterprise is tainted by the hope of making money with it.
You should (at least) continue reading from here.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Rankings, Smankings? (Part One)

I've never been a huge fan of Alexa, but as it was the only free resource, it was a name and a tool you needed to know about. So here's what I know ~ that I think you should know. *wink*

Alexa admits to problems:
The traffic data are based on the set of toolbars that use Alexa data, which may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population. Known biases include (but are likely not limited to) the following:

* Our users are disproportionately likely to visit sites that are featured on such as and, and traffic to these sites may be overcounted.
* The extent to which our sample may overcount or undercount users of the various browsers is unknown. Alexa's sample includes users of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Mozilla browsers. The AOL/Netscape and Opera browser is not supported, which means that sites operated by these companies may be undercounted.
* The extent to which our sample may overcount or undercount users of various operating systems is unknown. Alexa sample includes toolbars built for Windows, Macintosh and Linux.
* The rate of adoption of Alexa software in different parts of the world may vary widely due to advertising locality, language, and other geographic and cultural factors. For example, to some extent the prominence of Chinese sites among our top-ranked sites reflects known high rates of general Internet usage in China, but there may also be a disproportionate number of Chinese Alexa users.
* In some cases traffic data may also be adversely affected by our "site" definitions. With tens of millions of hosts on the Internet, our automated procedures for determining which hosts are serving the "same" content may be incorrect and/or out-of-date. Similarly, the determinations of domains and home pages may not always be accurate. When these determinations change (as they do periodically), there may be sudden artificial changes in the Alexa traffic rankings for some sites as a consequence.
* The Alexa Toolbar turns itself off on secure pages (https:). Sites with secure page views will be under-represented in the Alexa traffic data.

In addition to the biases above, the Alexa user base is only a sample of the Internet population, and sites with relatively low traffic will not be accurately ranked by Alexa due to the statistical limitations of the sample. Alexa's data come from a large sample of several million Alexa Toolbar users; however, this is not large enough to accurately determine the rankings of sites with fewer than roughly 1,000 total monthly visitors. Generally, Traffic Rankings of 100,000+ should be regarded as not reliable because the amount of data we receive is not statistically significant. Conversely, the more traffic a site receives (the closer it gets to the number 1 position), the more reliable its Traffic Ranking becomes.
(And one should note that just a few years ago, on the matter of software adoption, they said this: "The rate of adoption of Alexa software in different parts of the world may vary widely due to advertising locality, language, and other geographic and cultural factors. For example, Korean sites are prominent among our top-ranked sites, but it is unknown to what extent this reflects high rates of general Internet usage in Korea.")

I've got a friend who has had access to Nielsen//NetRatings from time to time, and she swears that once you get into the top 100,000 sites the numbers/rankings are virtually the same. She, and others, call the Top 100,000 The Big Boys.

But what does it all mean? How big is Big?

Alexa's blog explains:
Let's break it down by Alexa's Rankings, starting with the Top 500. Out of a total of 18 million sites to choose from, the Top 500 represent less than .003% of sites. But, as you would expect, these sites get a disproportionate amount of traffic. In fact they get 45% of all traffic. No, that's not a misprint. The odds that any Web surfer in the world is on a Top 500 site at any give time is about 50/50.

Moving down the rankings, if you take Alexa's Top 100,000 sites you'll find that almost 3 out every 4 clicks are spoken for. In other words, almost 75% of all the traffic on the web goes to the sites in the Top 100K list, leaving the remaining 18 million or so sites to fight over the scraps.

Like the distribution of wealth on the planet, the distribution of traffic on the Web is extremely lopsided. The Top 500 are champagne and caviar. Sites 501 - 100,000 are meat and potatoes. The rest are hungry.
These are the sites that Alexa swears it is accurate on.

But is that true?

Alexa, like most things SEO, can be manipulated. I remember back when was pushing for increasing the ranking at Alexa, we were all encouraged to download the toolbar to record our visits to Backwash. Our ranking increased, and miraculously, while the site is at any given moment broken or not even live (likely accounting for the huge decrease in traffic), the site still has a nice Alexa ranking. Why? Well, here I'm going to refer you to Wow My Alexa Ranking is Great! Should I Trust It?.

One thing often overlooked in the Alexa accuracy problem is the bias that's built into their toolbar. Francesco Mapelli says it clearly:
Alexa's stats are based on the data collected by the users that installed the Alexa Toolbar. Fine. But who's intrested in downloading the alexa toolbar? What does the alexa toolbar offers?

* a search field (present in IE and Firefox, and with real search engines)
* popup blocking (present in IE and Firefox)
* traffic report
* site owner info
* related sites ( competitors? )

as you can see, the main features here are useful for webmasters, bloggers, site owners, SEOers etc.

This is not stuff for the average surfer!
It's webmasters jockeying and researching using the Alexa toolbar; not average surfers.

As if this all weren't bad enough, check out We Bought An Alexa Ranking.

Any webmaster who checks their stats (and I don't mean you have to be religious about it like The Whore is) can quickly see if Alexa is at all accurate for their site. In my case, my sites must not swing Asian enough for it's really inaccurate.

So what can you use? Well, I'll get to that soon. I've got to study the info a bit more first.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Stuck In The Middle With You

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.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Adult Only, But Not Skanky

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.

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Links To News You Can Use (And Resources Too)

I would be remiss if I did not quickly mention the following:

The lovely Viviane warns us of a Potential Security Problem with Google Mail.

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.)

For those of you with marketing blogs, Carnival of Capitalists is looking for hosts.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Anti-Porn News

You likely have heard about the firing of seven U.S. Attorneys from their districts around the country, but did you know that at least two of those firings were apparently due to their unwillingness to assist in the hunt (shoot to kill) of pornography?
"Two others, Paul K. Charlton in Arizona and Daniel K. Bogden in Nevada, were faulted as being 'unwilling to take good cases we have presented to them,' according to another e-mail message to Mr. Sampson, referring to pornography prosecutions."
For more on this, read News Analysis: More Evidence Of The Federal Anti-Porn Conspiracy.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

My Tags Are Not Your Tags

Tags or labels, in terms of Folksonomy, are ways to categorize and retrieve information.

Replacing linear outlines, formal directories, and individual static pages on specific topics, tags are ways to organize and present information to readers. For example, this post will be tagged "blogging" and "Internet marketing" (among others I'd imagine ~ for it's not yet finished). By clicking on one (one I assume you are interested in reading more about), you are given a list of all my posts on that topic. If you choose "blogging" you will get all the posts I have tagged thus.

In function, they are searches done by keyword so navigation should be easier ~ especially at blog sites, where information is presented in a linear, often 'backwards.' format. Sure, there will be some overlap between/among tags, but this is much more efficient than asking you to perform a search hoping I've used those words ~ and much more efficient than me having to create a page for each category and listing all the posts on the appropriate pages.

But some complain there is little merit in tagging.

Many will argue that tags are irrelevant because they do not have a controlled or defined vocabulary. It's virtual limitlessness renders the idea obsolete to some. What I call "Internet marketing", another may call by a more specific type of Internet marketing. Some would say "sexy" while others would say "sexuality" etc. With no shared dictionary of typical terms with clearly defined meanings our piles of stuff won't always neatly line up.

These detractors say that that the use of tags involves assumptions on the part of the tag creator (blogger) with the most egregious being that these tags have shared meanings that "all" understand.

While it's true that my words may not be your words, I'll grant that my average reader is intelligent enough to follow along; it's not like I tag my entries about blogging "puppies" and my entries on PR as "kites." I do try to use words that make sense.

What I think these tag nay-sayers are really complaining about is not the reliability of tags in terms of reader usage, but rather of how (not) useful reports of "popular" are. How can you say "sexy stories," "Internet marketing," or "adult DVDs" are popular searches (let alone bid/buy those keywords), if you can't accurately measure them? How can you more effectively appeal to your niche when there are thousands of word combinations or keywords to use?

Tags (or labels) are really keywords after all; keywords of my choosing. Like any other keyword searches, you'll never quite be able to pinpoint what words a person will use ~ not a potential customer at a search engine, not an individual blogger such as myself. You'll have to guess and you'll have to accept. It is this ambiguity which frustrates those who want data.

These data folks are so intently focused on what keywords &/or tags are popular in their market (or in terms of identifying what target market they will pursue), that they, again, overlook the fact that individuals make up 'the market.' And you can't always tell what any given individual will do.

My tags may not be made of the keywords you'd choose ~ you may have to learn my lingo. And when I visit your site, I'll have to learn yours. What's worse for those who want more agreed upon tags and terms is that they too will have to decide what words to use. They will have to think & create their own, not select from a list of approved and defined words. They will be forced to decide what meanings their tags will have ~ and what they are best used for.

Like those who worry that the use of too many tags will ruin search engine ranking, these marketers focus on the things they wish to know, and therefore control, when the reality is they cannot really control their audience anyway. There's no way to force folks into using specific words ~ not in a search engine, not at a blog, and not even for your very own copyrighted product. I know you want to, but you cannot. They will use the words they wish to use.

This is why I (again and again) worry about my reader first, and think about SEO later. I focus on providing the content, letting the words I "speak" speak to my readers. They are there for the spiders, and I'll let the algorithms out and weigh them (that's their job after all). If you place first priority on spiders and search engines, you'll bring readers (customers) to what, exactly? A site with little to offer, that's what. Is that really what you want?

So while my tags may not be perfect, they do serve a purpose for my readers: navigation. If they like what I have to say, they'll be able to 'find more like this' and, I hope, come back again and again. If not, well, no amount of SEO witchery is going to change that.

So my tags may not be your tags in terms of terms. But they are terms you and I can use. And that's what I believe in; helping people find their way, satisfying them with information they want, not satisfying search engine spiders or an SEO directive.

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Friday, March 9, 2007

What Are Your Rights As A Blogger Or Webmaster?

We had a server snafu early yesterday morning, so I am a bit off schedule right now. While I have nothing to do with the tech aspects of running my sites (other than alerting the techie to problems, noting fixes and making demands for new toys or tweaks to the sites), it's amazing how much this problem affected other areas of my life.

You can joke about being an Internet addict, and I may in fact be one, but when you work on the Internet and you can't access everything per usual, you tend to go nuts. And the fact that I can't bother a man knee-deep in whatever it is techies get knee-deep in while he's cleaning up messy server issues to go and tweak the design of a new site I'm working on, well my whole itinerary for the day was shot.

The bottom line: today's intended post must be delayed. But I will tell you what it was about, so that you may anticipate what's to come...

I'm starting a new blog project, this time with a group of contributors with whom I have never worked before. (Don't worry, you'll get a name and a link soon enough.) Since it's new, it brings up key points for blogging and marketing which I know many of you are interested in ~ like link exchanges, design, theme, organization of participating authors, niche etc. So rest assured we'll be getting to all that. It will sort of be like a 'making of' ~ not step-by-step, but at least point-by-point. (I hope.)

Meanwhile, while awaiting a few tweaks from the techie, feel free to:

* Send in your questions

* Read the following pieces regarding bloggers' rights, copyright issues and ethics:

Blogger chased away Disney advertisers and The Mouse retaliates by paying a law firm to intimidate him and his ISP. What are you prepared for?

It's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to. What would you do?

(And if you have not already subscribed to the Marketing Whore Newsletter, what on earth are you waiting for? You've already missed great subscriber only offers!)

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Required Reading

In Confessors and Confessions Slip of a Girl ponders blogs ~ or more accurately, the phenom between blogger and reader. A must read.

The 2007 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo/GAYVN Expo broke all previous trade attendance records, garnering a 5% increase over 2006 trade attendance. (Despite the conservative agenda, sex is still big business!)

Tips on Building a Review Site, which includes this bit: "A Review Site is not a build-it-and-forget it kind of page. You're undoubtedly going to create your Review Site as a marketing venue but you'll be selling yourself as well as your sponsors." (Sound familiar?)

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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Help Me to Help You

I spotted a new marketing blog today: Adult Blog Marketing. "Adult link lists, porn directories, top sites, and link trade reviews. Who lies, who tells the truth, and who is just a bit shady. Find out all the adult marketing details here."

True to its description, the blog has (so far) stayed on task reviewing and commenting on opportunities for adult bloggers. However...

You know The Whore link surfs and I followed a link from this marketing blog to his personal blog, Alternative Albany. There I found this post, Should I be honored or offended?, on his less than happy experience with one of the sites/programs he'd reviewed. (An interesting post by the way.)

I wanted to offer this man the opportunity to use the Sex-Kitten.Net feed. (Normally reserved for personal friends and sites I read at often, I do allow other sex bloggers to join with a link back. His blog is worthy of such an agreement.) But the only way I found to do this would be to post a comment at that entry. That seemed rather spammy to me as I don't know this man, and my only reason for posting would be to post my link... Would that be considered spammy, or taken with what I believe I have, "the best of intentions." Unsure, I looked for a means of contact.

I looked high, I looked low. I used the search function. I checked the sidebar several times, but I saw no contact information.

I went back to the first blog, the marketing one, and the same problem exists. His pretty blog graphics highlight a search function, but it doesn't work. (The blogger nav bar search is notorious for not working well, so as expected it didn't show anything for 'contact.') This blog was so new I was willing to look through the few posts and I found an email contact listed ~ right there with a strong (bolded all caps) warning about posting comments. Problem solved? No. Not really.

At this point I was too annoyed at having to go through so many hoops simply to offer him an opportunity and decided against contacting him. (Perhaps he will see my links to his sites, visit here, and get the information? If so, the offer still stands.) Instead I decided to make a point for all of you. Post your contact information. Make it easy to find. Don't make it so damn hard for folks to bring you gifts.

By the same token, if you have rules or policies for posting, contact, etc., put it someplace where folks can find it. Help them to help you.

If they can't reach you, they can't help you.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Authority Issues: Part One

The Whore answers questions raised from the last Marketing Whore Newsletter. (If you haven't, you really should subscribe now.)

Do websites have more authority than blogs?

To me, there is no real difference in authority between blogs and websites. I see a blog as software; merely a method of publishing.

Many would disagree and say that blogging isn't just the mechanism, that blogging is understood to be more personal than websites or ezines. These folks would likely point to short blog posts, links to other content elsewhere and contrast these to the longer, more thorough articles found on websites.

In truth, shorter and more frequent 'posts' are a hallmark of many blogs as compared to websites ~ and shorter more frequent posts certainly do seem less formal. But that doesn't mean less credible. There are many sites which use blogging software to publish their zines or websites. And I could easily point to several 'bloggers' who write and research more thoroughly than any website or even print publications.

Some might argue that blogs are less formal that websites, both in terms of the attitude or tone of the writing as well as the 'most recent first' format of blogs (as opposed to the traditional organization of websites with navigation for the usual 'home page,' 'links page' etc.) But with sidebars replacing the 'links' page, and the majority of the site's content being in each post (and tagged for easy reference) do you really need a full website with such navigation?

A casual tone is representative of the author's voice; it's a choice that can be used as desired by the author, be it at a website, a blog, a magazine, or a letter to the editor in your local newspaper. Many corporate year end reports have a more casual tone reflecting the company's image. Tone has more to do with your audience than it does with the 'blog vs. website' question. If the tone fits the topic and the author's intent, it doesn't necessarily mean there's a loss in credibility.

What would be a more appropriate question is what format or style is more appropriate for you and your message.

If you'd like the ease of a blogging format, if you'd prefer the quick and timely publication aspect, and you have no need for sitemaps, navigation or otherwise organize your published content so that a person can go 'deeper inside' your site than using tags, then maybe a blog is the better choice for you. You can always get a domain name and host your blog so that you have more control against outages, over content -- and feel more professional.

But it's what you do and say at your site which has more authority than mechanism by which you publish it.

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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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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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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

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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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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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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