I have just started a site selling images I have produced. I thought maybe you would all like to know how it works. It might give you insight as to what and whom you might want to buy from in the future.
I own www.rockbottomcontent.com. We launched the site in June of 2001 and since then we've had some success in what most consider to be an extremely competitive area of the web porn business. Now we did make ourselves real cheap, and I think that helps everyone, including our business. But, I wanted to make sure anyone who was starting their own content site knew that it was more luck than work in some respects.
About 2 years ago we started shooting. We were very naïve about how much competition there was, and several content companies tried to take advantage of us. The one thing I can tell you is that most content providers do not produce their own material. They either have photographers they sub-contract, or use a lot of freelance photographers wanting to sell their images.
Now, there isn't anything wrong with the re-sale of someone else's produced images. It's just something a lot of content providers won't admit too. So that's how we got started. We were hired by another content provider to provide images for re-sell. We did that for over a year. Didn't really do much more then buy the models we were shooting and give us some extra cash. So we planned on doing models for own site. We now only produce images for our own site. That's just a little background on us.
The three components of a good content site are hard to achieve. There are several directions and decisions that can dictate how well it does. The first is, of course, the models.
You must decide what content you want to shoot, what content is selling, and sometimes if you have the stomach to shoot that way. I firmly believe that content providers going into the business now without any experience make a mistake by not being niche specific. That means shooting everything Gay and Straight as well as larger women, older women, bondage, Transvestites and so on and so on. Most of the successful sites out there have a large customer base for these images. However most new content providers want to take beautiful images of beautiful people. But, there are way too many glamour photographers out there. They charge a lot because they have a lot more overhead. So we decided to stick with amateur style photos of real looking girls and guys and try to get as niche specific as we could handle, and find. We still take some glamour sets, but that isn't our main focus. Things like cheerleaders, BBW, mature, girl / girl, and almost any sex acts, sell well.
Next is the site design. We had a site that did nothing. We priced our stuff too high and it was hard to navigate and we had no billing system. I think this is the easiest thing to mess up on. You want to be competitive but your also want to make a profit, so good pricing is difficult. And if you go to cheap, you're kind of stuck with it. It is kind of off-putting if your return customers come back to buy your new sets and they are priced way more than the previous sets they bought, but they're still of the same quality.
Navigation is a biggie. If your customer has to figure out how to buy, you're not doing a good job at selling your product. Also, if you were a Webmaster of a pay-site or even a TGP poster then you have very little time to look. Make it as simple as possible. Two more things: make sure you have two CC billing companies. They all go down or some don't work; at least you won't lose all your sales that day. And customer service is the king. If you're buying content and can't talk, email, or ICQ the owner/manager if you have a problem then you go elsewhere real fast. Customers like flexibility. Even if you can't do what they want right now maybe you can later. And because you tried, they will come back.
This is very important when you have no money. My suggestion is make friends. If you make money then your customers are obviously making money. The other content companies may feel like they want to bring you down but ignore them and if one or two have good ideas do it. There is a lot of money in this industry. One successful pay site could come by and buy everything you have repeatedly. They may even pay for every model. I think most in the industry longer then 2 or 3 months knows how much work it actually is. The same goes for content. Building a customer base is all-important.
Everything I talked about here is just a drop in the bucket. I will add to it as the months go by just to help others make less mistakes than we did. For right now, the last bit of advice I will give is to know your customer. Licenses from some content companies are outrageously intricate and full of exclusions. Let it go a bit and liberalize your stance on things. Produce more content; don't make them buy the sets over again. And for God's sake let the free-site and TGP poster make some money: they will keep coming back and buying 3 and 4 dollar sets to the point they buy everything eventually.
Good Luck and for all webmasters and future content producers I am here to help. Like I said if you make more money, then so do I ~ Mat