In my previous article installment, I examined some of the pros and cons of using AVS systems, and the basic similarities between AVS sites and pay sites regarding those legal protections obtained from requiring a credit card for the purposes of age verification. In today's installment, I'll discuss some of the pros and cons of having a pay site as an option to an AVS site.
The Pros and Cons of Running A Small Pay Site vs. an AVS Site
Right from the start I need to make clear that trying to compete with MaxCash is not the way for you to go. However, if you wanted to build a focused, niche-type pay site with exclusive content, and can send enough traffic to it, then you might stand a pretty decent chance of making a few bucks. If you try to be all things to all people, then you will be in way over your head, competing with people you really can't compete with...
But let's say that you have some money to invest in content, traffic, and bandwidth, and you decide to build a site to promote, "Blonde Teens in Nylons," for example. Being a narrow enough niche that it will attract connoisseurs seeking specialized content that they're willing to pay for, yet being generic enough that you can easily find fresh images at reasonable prices, you decide to give it a go as a pay site. What factors would you face operating this product as a pay site that differ from its operation as an AVS site?
We'll go back to the big three: content, traffic, and bandwidth. Bandwidth is the easiest factor to deal with in this example. The hosting cost could be much higher (as a percentage of your sales) for the AVS site version, since not everyone who enters your site will be paying to enter, because some surfers bought their AVS membership from another, competing site. This expense can be eliminated if you use an AVS that offers free hosting for its member's sites. Free hosting is not an option for a pay site, however, so your bandwidth, while limited to use by paying members (unless you are victimized by password traders), should be an acceptable expense.
Content is the next consideration. My pay site is a single-model amateur site featuring my wife, Dawn Elizabeth, and if you want to see her naked, you are going to have to pay me for the privilege — and not get in for free with a password that you bought elsewhere. This brings up the 'exclusivity of content' issue, and if it applies to your content, it should push you in the direction of running a pay site, where you can charge a premium based on the unavailability of your content elsewhere.
In other words, if you're offering the same tired old images that are found all over the Internet — and this is especially true if you are only using free, sponsor or AVS-provided content; then the likelihood of you retaining members is not as promising as if you were offering exclusive content. Since your content acquisition costs are low or even non-existent, then you can afford to work on a different angle — and the lower income you will receive from the AVS site becomes acceptable, and you can focus your main efforts on gaining rather than retaining members to your site. If your content is worth more, then you can charge more, and haning a pay site makes more sense.
The argument is often made that "Surfer's expect much more from a pay site than they do from an AVS site, so you can get away with less content on an AVS site, cutting expenses, but need to spend lots more for the content on a pay site." My thoughtful response to this is that surfer's who are likely to join any AVS site have no awareness of the difference between 'pay' and AVS sites, and simply sees them BOTH as 'sites that cost money to enter.' This supposition renders the 'pay sites need more content' argument moot, and the quantity and quality of the content the site contains becomes much more of a factor for member retention, rather than initial signups.
'Retention' is how most pay sites (and premium AVS sites) make the bulk of their money, and it could be readily argued that retention on most 'mainstream' adult sites has much more to do with the member's not understanding that their trial recurs after 3 days or so, plus 'forgetfulness' and procrastination, than it does with the quantity and quality of the content that is offered. This is why if you choose the AVS over pay site option, you should build a premium level site that offers recurring monthly payouts.
One further point regarding content requirements for a premium level AVS site vs. a small pay site and its potential impact on member retention: if both sites have a starting base of say 300 images (a typical AVS requirement) and then update at a rate of, say, 100 images per month (another typical AVS requirement), then with all other things being equal, the AVS site will likely retain better, as the surfer has all of the other participating sites, plus any additional content that the AVS service makes available, to choose from. If your content is truly unique, however, as in the case of a single-model amateur 'personality' site, or an extremely narrowly targeted fetish site, then this amount of content may be enough to satisfy your members, and keep them recurring over extended periods of time. Pay sites, on the other hand, can offer 'partnership' programs as a means of generating traffic, and are not bound by any of the restrictions placed on AVS sites.
This brings us to traffic, which in either case is what will make or break you. AVS sites have the option of receiving traffic from the system's link list, but this is less abundant than it once was, and most of it already has a membership, limiting this traffic's worth unless you are counting on sponsor up sells. Also the AVS will place restrictions on the number of outside links (including reciprocals) that you have, which hinders many traditional attempts at building traffic. Pay sites, on the other hand, can offer 'partnership' programs as a means of generating traffic, and are not bound by any of the restrictions placed on AVS sites. This lack of restriction (except those the billing company may make which are not hindering factors for reputable sites), is one of the primary advantages of running pay sites over AVS sites, beyond the added income potential.
At this point, we've looked at a lot of different factors affecting a Webmaster's choice of whether to build a pay site or an AVS site, and seen that there are pros and cons to each. Next, we'll wrap things up with a few more considerations, and see if there is a 'magic formula' to determine what is right for YOUR site. ~ Stephen