WIA Profile: Lauren Barnes
Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives. Women like Lauren Barnes, head of WhiteLabelDating.
How did you get into the business?
In 2007, I joined WhiteLabelDating.com to oversee the company’s customer care function, dealing directly with the consumers using our dating sites. The more time I spent with the company, the more opportunities I could see for both the business and my career progression.
Although I loved supporting members in their dating journey, I started to take an interest in the B2B side of the business. I went on to become an account manager, where I began managing some of our larger partners, advising on marketing strategies and innovating with new site launches and rebrands. I was exposed to the adult side of dating very early on, and during my time at WhiteLabelDating.com I’ve watched the casual dating scene explode. As a result, I have since fully immersed myself in the adult business.
What in your background prepared you for what you are doing now?
No matter what industry you’re in, if you can build a good rapport with clients, partners and key decision makers, I really believe that you’re on a successful career path. I’ve always had good relationship building skills and I still depend on them every day!
Having first used those skills to engage directly with our customers, I quickly developed a detailed insight into what consumers expect from an online dating service, casual or otherwise. Whenever I’m advising partners, or my team, about how best to market our partners’ dating sites, I’m always very aware of the end product from a consumer point of view. If you target traffic in the right places and provide a quality user experience, revenues will follow and you’ll achieve a great return on investment —when I think about it now, my customer care role was the best preparation I could have had.
The fast growth that our business has experienced has not only taught me how profitable the industry can be, but it’s really moulded my perception of the adult market. I see the explicit images and language, but I’m actually just thinking about revenues and conversions, rather than what they actually represent. Six years in the business and I don’t think anything can shock me! And, of course, a sense of humour does help.
What do you see as the challenges of working in the adult online business? How do you overcome them?
Being a woman in adult does have it’s complicated sides! Although it’s a male dominated industry and there can be slightly skewed perceptions of women, we’re lucky that there are groups like WIA that champion the many strong women in the adult business. When you show people that you are professional and knowledgeable in your field, they see past gender and acknowledge you for what you really are; a smart and shrewd business person.
Aside from that, it’s easier to access adult content than ever before. Adapting to changes to both digital marketing and adult content laws can be difficult in a business as big as ours. You have to keep on top of trends to stay ahead of the curve, and continue to drive high volumes of traffic and revenue. Working closely with a number of different industry bodies, as well as spending a lot of time reading relevant blogs, magazines and attending conferences, has proved invaluable.
Does your work life affect your personal life?
Anyone who is passionate about their job will know that the resounding answer to this question is yes, absolutely! I love what I do. The success of my partners is a very personal thing for me; we’re a team and dating is a 24/7/365 business! That means checking numbers and replying to emails at evenings and weekends is second nature.
When it comes to my team, they’re motivated and knowledge hungry; that means that they’re happy to take time to adapt their skill set to meet the needs of our partners. As well as taking time for personal development, we’re all very much professionally and personally connected. We socialise outside of work quite a lot - although obviously all conversation isn’t work related!
The adult dating sites and unique niches we operate are also obviously a great conversation starter!