I decided to take a break from my current series of articles, and cover some very basic ground. Most of you will find this information common sense, and perhaps boring, but hopefully someone will benefit from at least a little of it.
The average surfer allows 8 seconds for a page to load. If you pages take too long to load, then the surfer will be on another site before you have the chance to sell them anything!
Optimize your pages for speed. Use text in-place of graphics wherever possible. Remove useless white space, and try not to load the page with unnecessary code. Optimize your graphics so they are as small as possible. Not only will this help your pages load faster, but also you will save on bandwidth charges. Don't forget to include image height and width in your IMG tags. If you are on a slow server think about moving to a faster one. If you are on a free host, think about getting paid hosting. For the low monthly cost, the benefits really outweigh the costs.
Bring 'em Back
While giving the surfer some free images is a great way to get them there, if you want repeat traffic, you will need to do something to keep them coming back. There are a bunch of cool things you can add to your site to keep you surfers returning.
First off, every site must have a bookmark this page link. Place it right on the top of your first page! Next you'll need to add some content to make them want to come back again. One way is by adding new pictures to your site on a scheduled basis like daily or weekly updates. Another great way is with a picture of the day feature. Adding things like guest books, and message boards will help as well. One thing I like to do is add a comments link to my picture galleries. The surfers can leave a comment about the gallery, and read other comments. Most of these things can be found as CGI scripts on-line, or if you are a coder, they are easy enough to write.
I have a few porn star related sites. I add movie reviews, tour dates if possible, and the latest gossip to these sites. These sites enjoy a high return ratio, giving me the opportunity to constantly sell new things to my visitors.
Show What Sells
Make sure your advertising is consistent with what you are showing the surfer. Don't hit them with ads for a fetish site when you are showing them Asian pictures. Also keep your advertising fresh. Banners get stale very quickly, and loose their effectiveness. Either update your banners on a regular basis or incorporate a banner rotation script into your pages. The same holds true for text ads. Keep them updated often for more impact.
Sell, Sell, Sell
Never let a surfer get away without seeing everything you have to offer. If they won't go to your sponsor from a gallery page, hit them with an exit console featuring other sites. Filter surfers through exit consoles, blind links, and blur pages until you find what they are into. Give them as many options as it takes until they go off to a sponsor. Don't give away for free what they should be paying for. Use the least possible number of images for your site, and don't use the most hardcore pics you can find. If your images are in series, leave out the last ones letting visitors know they can get those at your sponsor's site.
Make Traffic Relationships
Traffic is your main source of income, so it is important to make the most of your traffic. Traffic trades are key to initially getting some quality traffic into your site. Offer a link to your main page to someone with similar traffic to yours (provided of course they are willing to do the same). If you are just starting out, find a site that has double the traffic you are receiving. Get a few trades up there initially, and monitor the traffic you are receiving. As you both grow, the traffic will grow exponentially. The goal is to build a sustained traffic flow, and increase it on a consist basis.
Search Engines are another must for generating traffic. If you do nothing else, submit every site you make to http://www.dmoz.org/adult. Be sure to get listed in the proper category and follow all of the rules. Don't get suckered into using Search Engine submission tools, as they are seldom productive, and in some cases can do more damage than good. Submit your sites manually, and understand how the search engines work. Keep an eye on your submissions, some SE's take longer to get listed than others, if you are not listed after the specified time frame, submit again.
Know Your Traffic
Make sure you are using a good stats program to monitor your site stats. You should be able to look at your stats and tell exactly where your traffic is coming from, how long they stay, what they are looking at, and where they are leaving from. It is also good to know if anyone is hot linking your content, and look for trends to see if your server is handling the load. Your stats should be able to tell you if your traffic is increasing (or decreasing), and where any problems in your site may be, such as broken links. It is very important to understand where your traffic is coming from and determining what traffic is converting to sales. If your host doesn't provide a decent stats program, be sure you have access to the log files. This way you can get your own stats program, and run it against your log files.
This Is A Business
This is a business, so you need to run it like one. Set realistic goals for your business, and put together an action plan to achieve them. Re-evaluate your workload every few months, to see if you are on track. If not, refine your action plan. Set a daily work schedule and stick to it. Keep a daily to-do list, and a list of things to do when extra time becomes available. Write down every idea you have in a journal. Keep accurate books and receipts. It is easy to loose track of the cost of doing business, having everything accounted for will show you if you are making or losing money. If you are not financially adept, you may want to hire an accountant. There are many tax benefits to having your own business, and they should be planned for upfront.
The 3 B's
Build, Build, Build. If you are not growing, you are loosing money. Everyday, you should be creating something new. Make new galleries, build a TGP, build an AVS, build a pay site, and just keep building. There is never enough. If you are at a slow period take advantage by beefing up the areas you are lacking in. Keep a diversified portfolio of sites. Make a Free site, Pay site, AVS sites, and anything else you can think of. Start an email opt-in list, start a message board, start a Webmaster site, and start selling content, anything you can think of to keep your hand in as many viable options as possible. Start small with well manageable sites, and grow steadily.
Read, Listen and Learn
Put aside some time each day to learn something new. Read the Webmaster boards, get a programming book, take a course in marketing, whatever. The more you know the easier it is to make a living in this business. Let other Webmasters tell you of their mistakes, and heed them.
Oh, and one last thing, be nice ;) In my next article I'll be back to building adult websites.