The Summer Slowdown

Rainey Stricklin
Toward the end of every year, I start to see board postings and hear grumblings from webmasters about the infamous "summer slowdown," complete with that sense of impending doom that sales are going to dry up and we'll have to ration food for three months until we can get back to the regular flow of traffic and sales. The worry is there, but is it justified? I don't think so.

During the year, we see ups and downs in traffic and sales, caused by any number of things — billing company difficulties, hosting downtime, Internet pipeline outages, natural disasters, etc. If it happens in February, it's just another bad sales day. If it happens in June, well, it must be the summer slump hitting the web.

In my opinion, there isn't much of a summer slump that descends upon adult webmasters every Memorial Day, only to disappear just as quickly come Labor Day. It does provide for a convenient excuse, though, to put in a little less time at the computer and maybe dedicate a little more effort to the golf game or spend a few extra days at the beach. After all, sales are going to be rough all summer, so why should you risk carpal tunnel syndrome busting out all of those galleries, blogs and site updates? Better to save it for the fall, right?

There is a basis for this myth, though. In the 1990s, as many of us were first starting out in the brave new world of the adult Internet, not nearly as many people had computers or access to the Internet. Many of our customers were college students who would leave the privacy of their dorm rooms come summer or affluent businessmen apt to take their families on long summer vacations, thus leaving their computers — and their porn — behind. We did see a summer slowdown back then, no doubt about it. In the mid to late 1990s, I was working for an Internet analytics company, focused on both adult and mainstream, and we knew to expect traffic to drop at the end of May and then make a surge in September. We'd also come to expect a surge in January, as many people were getting their first computers, complete with a free AOL compact disc to go with it.

Online Population Hike
According to a recent Harris poll, in 1995 there were only 17.5 million U.S. adults online, a mere 9 percent of the population. The same poll estimated that in 2006, we would have 172 million adults online, which is 77 percent of the population. And that's just in the U.S.

According to Internet World Stats, more than 1 billion people are now online worldwide. We've come a long way since 1995, and it's safe to assume that the profile of the average porn member has changed as well. If you pay attention to your stats, you're no doubt aware that members of adult paysites come from home, work, colleges, government agencies and countries all over the world. People are logging onto your sites at home, at the Starbucks around the corner, school, work, hotel rooms, etc. from PCs, Macs, PDAs and cellphones. They can pay with credit cards from various countries, debit cards, checks, online money systems, their phone bill or even deferred payment. The world at large, not just our specific industry, has made it incredibly easy for anyone to log onto the Internet and purchase a membership to an adult site. These days warm weather and vacation time aren't much of a deterrent anymore. Porn is just as accessible from wherever you are, whenever you want it.

To blame a lack of sales on a summer slump just doesn't cut it anymore. If anything, in my opinion, lack of sales is probably more attributed to webmasters taking vacations than that of our respective audiences. Sure, we might see a slight drop in Internet activity over the summer, but as you can see from the statistics listed above, that still leaves plenty to go around. You might just have to work a little harder or be a little more creative to maintain your accustomed level of sales. Some use the summer as an excuse not to work as hard, others see it as an opportunity to get more creative with their sites and compete for the memberships to be had out there.

There are a variety of things you can do to strengthen your sales over the summer and ensure that your revenue maintains a steady pace, whether you're a gallery maker, a blogger or a free site owner, and still have time to take your vacations and enjoy your summer. With maybe a little extra effort and planning, the so-called summer slump will be a thing of the past.

Keep your content fresh and your sites updated. It's likely that most of the sponsors you're dealing with are professionals, and their schedule of updates and new content isn't going to change with the calendar. The tools will still be there, and in many cases, there will be an additional effort on their part to provide the marketing materials and content you need to stay on top of your game. Just take the time to make sure you continue to offer your audience the best you can.

Take a Few Minutes...
If you're planning a vacation, prepare your site updates or gallery submissions in advance. Most likely you'll be able to take 30 minutes out of your vacation day to upload new content or submit new galleries. Work with your sponsors. If you need to prepare a week or two worth of updates, most will be more than happy to accommodate you with what you need. If you spend some extra time preparing what you need for your time away, you'll just need to take a few minutes a day with an FTP program or on a gallery submission page to keep your traffic, and therefore sales, flowing. If you're going some place without Internet access (are there any of those anymore?) consider having a colleague — or even using an outsourcing company — to take care of your pre-made updates for you.

Porn buyers are still out there looking for sites to join during June, July and August, the same as they are the rest of the year. If you're willing to put in at least the same amount of effort you do with your sites during fall, winter and spring, you'll most likely survive the summer seasons with your traffic, sales and revenue intact. Don't let the myth of a summer slowdown lure you into thinking you might as well slack off on your sites. The traffic is there, but it's up to you to convert it.

Rainey Stricklin is vice president of marketing and webmaster relations for, a gay affiliate program. She's a nine-year veteran of the adult industry with experience in analytics, sales, marketing and business development.