Adult Blogging: 1

Matt O'Conner
Everybody's talking about blogs. Just about every daily newspaper with the word Times in its name has run a front page story on how blogs are killing the newspaper business. Blog "experts" are sprouting up like fungi with the usual get-rich-quick schemes, and Guy Kawasaki, managing director of web investment firm Garage Technology Ventures, has commented that "blogging is to the 2000s what websites were to the 1990s."

But until recently, the adult industry wasn't buying any of it.

Then a funny thing happened. A few forward-thinking adult webmasters figured out how to make money with blogs. As the news got out, more webmasters started reaping blog profits, and before anyone could say, "What happened to my TGP traffic?" a whole new type of porn site was born.

"I was a newbie adult webmaster with a no-visits TGP and some free sites cobbled together from submitted galleries," Dan Boone, better known to fans of his ErosBlog as Bacchus, told XBiz. "After six months of not much happening, I was obsessed with finding a good source of traffic and page rank for my sites.

"The insight that got me started on sex blogging was the idea that a good sex blog could serve as an interface between the mainstream blogging world — which has tons of traffic and page rank but strong hostility toward 'not-work-safe' content or anything done for profit — and the adult world, where nobody had page rank to speak of.

"I realized that if I followed blogging conventions, bloggers would link to me, and I could, with deft enough touch, get away with linking to my other sites and to carefully selected affiliate programs."

It's a strategy that can pay off with bottom-line results. A blog presents webmasters with almost endless opportunities for revenue, from selling ads to collecting commissions on DVD and sex toy sales to affiliate revenue from paysites.

The good news is that creating a blog is extremely easy, from a technical standpoint, and the cost of entry is low, thanks to automation content management systems and sites that offer free tools for building and hosting blogs.

As Flaunting It creator Bret, aka Alien Hand, told XBiz, "I chose a blog simply because it's what I have experience with and takes the least amount of up front time investment in getting the site architecture right. It's quite easy to add categories, pages with single entries and articles that span multiple pages."

Still, while blogs are, in fact, easy to set up, the webmasters who are pioneering this new medium will tell you that creating a successful adult blog — one that generates real revenue — requires the studied and often painstaking, application of proven blogging practices.

Baked Fresh Daily
According to Bret, one of the attributes that makes a blog successful is fresh content. "Update often, then update some more," Bret told XBiz. "Nothing will kill a blog quicker than stale content. With the explosion in the number of blogs over the past couple of years, visitors have a huge pool to choose among, and they'll pick the freshest content every time."

The idea, added Bringer, blogmaster of StarterUpSteve's Porn Blog, is to turn surfers into regular visitors. "If people find your site useful, they'll bookmark it and return," he said. "The only unique challenge of a blog is finding the time to post something new and exciting every day.

Or, as ErosBlog's Boone put it, "You've got to update your blog several times a week, forever and ever, amen."

Since keeping a blog fresh can be labor intensive, many blogmasters recommend finding or starting a network of webmasters, writers and photographers whose work fits in with your own artistic vision.

When blogmaster Neo started his SexBlogger four years ago, he thought he could get away with updating it "now and then," but quickly figured out that he needed to add new content daily in order to keep surfers interested. The project soon began eating more time than he had anticipated.

"It helps that I have contributors now," Neo said. "Artists and writers will send their work, and the process is more refined now. I'm able to schedule out three or four hours a week to get what I need done."

Other ready sources of material are affiliate programs or advertisers a blog promotes. "I use a lot of sponsor-created content such as free hosted galleries," Steven Williams, creator of Boogie's Blog, told XBiz. "Generally, I choose whatever I personally like to see or read about." But, Williams warned, a smart blogmaster must be selective about what goes on his site.

Make It Great
Surfers have plenty of blogs to choose from, let alone TGPs and other free content. Your blog has to offer something they can't find anywhere else, whether it's unusual content or a unique presentation.

Neo differentiates his SexBlogger in a number of ways. First, figuring that surfers could find all-American-model types elsewhere, Neo made a conscious decision to create highly specialized content, such as pictorials of pregnant and sleeping women. Then, since he shoots most of the pictorials himself, he provides readers with behind-the-scenes details from the shoots - what the model was like to work with, a funny or insightful quote, whether she has a boyfriend or is looking for one.

ErosBlog's Boone takes this approach a step further by operating several niche blogs, including SpankingBlog ("the name says it all"), BondageBlog ("taking pleasure in the beauty of restrained women") and NakedProtestors ("public nudity in the public interest"). "Just like with traditional porn sites, the more you niche, the better you'll do," Bacchus told XBiz.

Unlike traditional adult sites, however, blogs cannot rely on pictures and videos alone to keep visitors interested. Blogs are all about the intangibles, the extra features and personal touches surfers can't find on TGPs and other free content sites. As Boone told XBiz, "It's got to look and feel like a blog. Cookie cutter templates full of porn galleries simply can't accomplish that."

Bret described his Flaunting It as an adult-oriented blog with a focus on the porn industry and celebrities. "Visitors will find everything from reviews of recent porn DVDs, links to interesting erotic photography, commentary on political issues related to sex and porn, and celebrity gossip, which has becomes nearly indistinguishable from porn," he explained.

Most importantly, those wishing to create a blog must remember that blogs started as vehicles for individual self expression — daily journals of private lives offered up for public consumption — and surfers continue to demand intimacy and personality from adult blogs. "Nekkid pictures are everywhere," Boone said. "People want context, commentary and style. If you don't put something of yourself into it, they won't keep coming back."

Boogie's Steven Williams agreed. "Interesting text is what takes a boring blog and makes it great. It's wonderful search engine food, it's great for readers and, if you're doing it right, it's an excellent way to sneak ads right under their noses."

Perhaps one sign that a webmaster has succeeded in creating an intimate feeling is when surfers think the girls featured on the site are somehow involved with its operation. "I've seen marriage proposals for various models I've shown, or people begging for phone numbers," Williams said.

But finding or creating such specific, personalized content requires an intimate knowledge of and genuine interest in the subject matter. And profit alone is rarely enough to keep a fledgling blogmasters plugging away. It also takes passion — and patience.

In part two, we'll look at making money and protecting your surfers.

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