"Just getting a blog off the ground can be the most difficult aspect of any blog," Flaunting It's Bret told XBiz. "Most blogs aren't funded in the way a typical website would be, so there's no money to pay staff to write or to pay for advertising to get instant eyeballs."
Because of this, Bret added, the majority of blogs die in the initial stage of, say, the first 60 days, when site owners discover that traffic hasn't ramped up to expected levels and the time commitment associated with running the site outweighs the immediate rewards the blogmaster is seeing.
Letting a blog die so quickly can be a costly error, according to all of the blogmasters XBiz spoke with. The key is to keep at it long enough to find out which revenue-generating ideas work for your particular blog. In fact, Boone didn't even try to monetize his traffic from his ErosBlog for the first year, after he'd had time to analyze his traffic.
Because it can take so long to start seeing financial returns on a blog, the ones that survive tend to be those that are something more than strictly material ventures. For Boone, ErosBlog was both a business and an outlet for his social and political activism — a "surfer-friendly, sexually inclusive, non-judgmental sex blog" — a fact that inspired him to stick it out during lean times.
But make no mistake, just like everything else in the adult realm, porn blogs exist to make money for their owners. Sure, you might find a handful of little blogs run by people who simply want to share their stories with the world and offer up pictures of themselves for the pleasure of horny masses, but these are the exceptions. The only variable is how best to make money from an adult blog. And in this respect, there seems to be no formula for success.
"I'm a firm believer in link popularity," Neo said. "The more people who link to my blog, the better my sites do, and the better theirs do."
Boone, on the other hand, bucks the trend of linking primarily to affiliate programs and concentrates instead on paid advertising as his main source of revenue. Meanwhile, Bret spreads his efforts across several fronts, selling text ads through the Ad Brite network, and earning commissions on products surfers buy from the sites he links to as well as affiliate revenue from paysites his visitors sign up for.
The opportunities to make money are abundant, but blogs, perhaps more so than any other type of site, have to be careful not to get greedy and push surfers too hard or use any underhanded practices.
Protect Your Surfers
Regardless of how a blog makes money, bloggers have to offer a pressure-free user experience while gently pushing their products. The sales effort can't be transparent or it will turn off surfers.
ErosBlog's Boone warned against getting lazy or greedy regarding outside submissions. "I have been contacted by a few companies offering money to post links directly to their sites," he said, "but I've turned them down simply because I don't think they have what my visitors are looking for."
Deciding how wide to open your kimono isn't the only potentially tricky area blogmasters need to avoid. For example, StarterUpSteve's Bringer told XBiz that due to the intense competition for surfers, blogmasters must be committed to steering clear of the usual porn 'gotchas.' "If you piss surfers off, they'll go elsewhere," he said.
Bringer frequents adult webmaster boards looking for new sites or programs that might interest his visitors. Good content alone doesn't guarantee inclusion on his blog, however. First, Bringer contacts the owner and asks for a password to the members areas to review the content and make sure it's free of popups or spyware. If he finds any, he won't even consider linking to the site.
Such stringent standards can go a long way toward building relationships with other sex blogs as well as mainstream sites, according to Boone.
"Adult blogging is the only way I've found for adult content to be visible in the broader Internet community," he told XBiz. "People will link to an adult blog who wouldn't dream of linking to a 'porn site.' In part, that's because I'm zealous about not linking to the usual porn gotchas, like popup hells and spyware installers."
And, as Boone points out, a smart blogmaster can turn all those links into dollars.
So, while some of the hoopla surrounding blogs can be attributed to the media piggy-backing one another to get to a story — and turning it into a bigger story in the process — there is substance behind the hype. The bottom line is, surfers like blogs, and surfers buy things, and somebody is making money when they do. If you run your blog the right way, it could be you.