Become the Shark
For those that do get their goods to market, either online or off, piracy is rampant and seemingly unstoppable as both younger generations of tech-savvy surfers accustomed to getting all of their entertainment needs met for free are eagerly swapping digital files; while organized crime rings in far-off lands copy first-run DVDs in bulk and then sell "their" product for around $3 per copy — a tough price point to beat in any currency.
These problems aren't limited to the adult entertainment industry, however, and are also being faced by the movie and music industries — yet a comprehensive solution to these problems remains elusive and may never be found.
As difficult as these issues are for professional operators to grapple with, they can be downright bankrupting for smaller, part-time webmasters and affiliates — especially those that may have returned to the business after being out of the game for awhile and are now coming back to make some much needed gas money; which is a very difficult job to do when still trying to sell a product that is widely available for free — and your customer knows it.
So what's a girl (or boy) to do? Take a lesson in 'Mutation 101' and become the shark.
While the immediate image of the shark is that of a heartless, blood-thirsty competitor, the shark is also the ultimate survivor — adapting over millions of years to an evolving environment, punctuated by a variable climate and the introduction of new competitors trying to get their share of the same, often limited, food supply.
Perhaps this set of circumstances is what led a passive, plankton-eating sea dweller to become the most feared creature in the ocean; but regardless of what caused this apex predator to evolve, you as an adult operator have to ask yourself, "Do I want my business to die out like the dinosaur, or do I want to survive like the shark?"
Here are a few helpful tips for learning how to swim with the big fish:
- Learn how to become immune to everything that comes along to destroy you.
One of the shark's greatest strengths is the formidable immune system it has been able to evolve over the years; protecting it from countless, often unseen, enemies on a microscopic scale. Likewise, if you can become what noted adult attorney Greg Piccionelli calls "a hardened target" then your operation can for all intents and purposes be immune to many of the conditions that might otherwise afflict it.
- Learn to feed in shallow water — it may be more dangerous, but it's also unexpected, and could be a very effective means of securing your next meal.
For adult website operators, this could mean getting by on smaller margins; for example, charging $14.95 (or less) per month for a membership that once easily sold for $29.95 per month — the idea being that a price point can drop so low as to be "as good as free" — which then greatly diminishes the economic appeal of "free porn." After all, if you can satisfy your appetite by easily feeding on schools of smaller fish, then why chase a lone whale at the bottom of the ocean's depths?
- Find easier prey and learn new techniques for hunting it.
Once again, as a master of adaptation to the challenges of its environment, the shark has managed to evolve its range of suitable prey to ensure that it is well fed. Sure, a slow-moving green sea turtle might make a large and tasty meal, but its hard shell will be a tough nut to crack. Wouldn't a mouthful of small bait fish be an easier and just as satisfying meal? In the adult webmaster arena, this evolution can be mimicked by choosing less challenging prey. For example, trying to sell live, interactive services that surfers can't get for free — such as webcam sessions and phone sex / video chat — may make more sense than trying to sell still photos and video clips, which are readily available for free.
- Use those that feed off of you to your complete advantage or get rid of them.
Sharks allow small sucker fish known as remora to hitch a free ride through the waves in exchange for cleaning the shark of parasites. How do YOU deal with your company's parasites? Do you let unproductive employees, awful affiliates, pricey webhosts and other resource hogs bring down your bottom line? One of the unfortunate realities of competing at the high level required to succeed today is euphemistically known as "downsizing" — and it may be a necessary step for many companies struggling to survive. After all, for the shark, the only difference between a "helpful ally" and a meal is how helpful that ally really is.
- Change your structure and multiply!
No mere warm-water dweller, sharks are said to be found in all of the world's oceans; from the warmest of tropical waters to the freezing depths of our polar regions — a range of adaptation shared by few other creatures except for man. From small bottom-feeding sand sharks to behemoth open-ocean whale sharks, the species has diversified into myriad forms and spread throughout the world. These physical adaptations can be mirrored by the adult webmaster. For example, a successful affiliate seeing declining referral revenues might feel they can do a better job of retaining customers and thus decide to open a paysite; whereas a paysite operator with established traffic sources might find that sending those visitors to another program might be more profitable than trying to satisfy those visitors himself. It's all about finding where you fit best and then spreading out from there in an effort to ensure your longevity and food supply.
Think as though your company is a living, breathing animal. Pretend you are that animal and that you're being killed off. Your survival instincts should kick in and help you survive — just like a shark.
As I watched my partner blow the virtual dust off of an old website and wonder if it was worth putting any more effort into, I asked him "As a Webmaster, are you going to continue to master the web, or are you going to end up letting the web master you?"
It really is your choice as to whether or not you can evolve and thrive like the shark, or go the way of the dinosaur — but if you choose to do nothing then you will surely fade into extinction; a remnant of what might have been. As for me, I'll be lurking in the shallows, sniffing the water for the scent of blood, ready to strike.