educational

A Helping Hand

Cheryl Cain
While the days of the lone webmaster toiling endlessly to produce, develop and market a profitable adult entertainment website are not over, there are definitely fewer and fewer successful operations being run today by a "one man band" responsible for everything from graphics and design to coding, server administration and beyond. The complexities of providing a competitive surfing experience in 2006 are simply beyond the skill set of all but the most versatile and experienced webmaster, who even if he or she has the skill, likely does not have the necessary amount of time – or money – to "do it all" themselves. This is when a helping hand becomes necessary...

My mention of the word "money" in the context of the lone webmaster might seem to be a bit unusual, but "money" – or more properly, "the lack of money" – is usually the single biggest reason that a webmaster attempts to "do it all" rather than rely on experts that can provide better results from specific tasks. An easy example is the webmaster who tries to figure out how to use Photoshop rather than hire a professional designer to develop a tour or other component of a website, including join pages and the member's area, as well as advertising materials such as banners and other creatives.

There's an age-old axiom that says "it takes money to make money" and this holds true even if you're a virtual e-handyman that can do it all. Bandwidth (and the traffic levels comprising it) cost money - sometimes lots of it. The same holds true for content as well. Sure, you can use a free host to eliminate bandwidth expenses, use forced trades as a tool for getting traffic and rely on either sponsor- or webmaster-provided content (in the case of TGPs), but these tactics limit income as much as they limit expenses. Sometimes you just really need a pile of cash to run a website, and sometimes you'll need a helping hand to give it to you; either in the form of an "Angel" handing it to you, or as "contributions in kind" such as traffic from an established affiliate program in exchange for a cut of your website's resulting sales.

But enough about your needs - you don't need me to tell you where you're lacking. What I can tell you, however, is how (not) to go about trying to satisfy your needs; particularly your ongoing financial needs. It was an episode of XBiz' "Webmaster Rocco" cartoon that got me on this train of thought this morning: the cartoon showed Rocco with a pair of fishing poles in his hands. He's talking to a businessman who's wearing a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. The caption reads "I'll take you to lunch while we discuss you investing in my next video. I have no expense account, so we'll go fishing and eat what we catch."

Although the premise of the cartoon seems ridiculous, there is something about the adult industry that attracts people who behave in a most un-businesslike manner, especially when it comes to asking for help or financial assistance. You see it nearly everyday on nearly every industry message board: some newbie (or experienced scam artist) pops in and makes an "I've got a brilliant idea, please give me money" post. Perhaps this type of approach works for some folks, just as the "Nigerian bank" scheme does (which has been running for over 20 years, according to the FBI), but it's not the way that serious players attract serious investors.

Could you imagine the same scenario playing out in a different industry? For example, I don't think you'll find too many "I've got a great idea for a tire store, gimme money!" threads on the tire wholesalers message board... Yet it happens every day in online adult.

The point is that no matter what you need, whether it's hosting, content, design, traffic, money or more, someone is willing to give it to you (or trade you for it). What separates those who receive from those who keep asking is the way in which they asked. Play it smarter than Rocco – don't be a board beggar – have a business plan and make a proper case for expressing your needs; you'll get a lot further than by handing potential investors a fishing pole...

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