educational

Content Matters

Dan DePrez

About a year ago, I went to my first (and so far, only) webmaster event, which I found to be fun and educational. But in one area, I found myself in a very distinct minority. While I heard discussion of search engines and new pop-up scripts being written, and billing questions and legal precautions, there was virtually no discussion (either in the panels or the general chat over beers) about what seemed more and more like my own private, dirty, dark secret: I have a perverse desire to put something I like on the Internet.

For all but two or three of us there, the more experienced webmasters had no care for what the content of any one site might be, and several had so many sites running that they literally couldn't remember if they had an Asian site or not. When I asked why it was necessary to have 112 sites going at the same time, the answer was that no one site was going to attract much attention, so one site that made one sale a month needed to be duplicated dozens of times over.

Since I'm too inexperienced to know better, here are a few naive questions:

>> What would happen if you had one site that had something on it that people wanted?

>> What would happen if you had something on your site that was different?

>> What if what you were to make a website that amused you?

>> Do you currently pay, or have you at some time in the past paid money to look at what you're offering visitors to your sites? If not, why are you expecting others to pay for something that's not worth your time or money?

To demonstrate the quirkiness of this business, one of the veterans at the Saturday night dinner used an example of a site he put together, "just goofing off." Strictly for his own amusement, he took some pictures of his erect penis, put them on a site titled something like "My Dick," and forgot about it. Can you guess what happened? This site, left unattended to fend for itself soon began turning in more commissions than some of the finely tuned, search-engine friendly, meta-tagged masterpieces in his lineup.

Who/what is your market? Most of what I read on discussion boards is about getting "everybody" to click on their site, whereas all of the veterans who contribute here remind us to pick a target or niche for each site. Take a minute and write out a description of the person your site is meant to excite: how much do you know about him? Ford probably wants to sell a car or truck to every American, but you know damn well they've done their homework and won't try to get a Mustang shopper to buy a Lincoln Town Car. In my "day job," there's a saying that applies to many different situations: "If you keep doing what you've been doing, you're going to keep getting what you've been getting."

One subject I haven't run across yet is a discussion about market share. Everyone seems to be fighting over the "adult" slice of the pie, and no one has mentioned the idea of working to make almost the whole damn pie ours. If there are too many people fighting for the "typical adult surfer," then why not expand the market? We tend to forget that not everyone in America currently surfs for porn. Perhaps what is needed are some "gateway drug" sites: sites that are not hardcore porn and appeal to a targeted audience, but will ease the visitor into taking that naughty step forward and into our world. A hobby or sports site that shares the demographic you want for your porn site(s) can be put together that makes an adult surfer out of some guy who hasn't gone out of his way to search out porn in the past.

I don't have a clue as to whether or not any of my ideas will take off and bring in a new Land Rover or expense-paid trips to the Carribean, but I know that I'm gonna have the time of my life building them. And since I don't know squat about how hard it is to make any money these days, I'm not gonna stress over any of it. Feel like a challenge? Swear off the discussion groups, newsletters, stats pages and emails for one day and just PLAY. Put together the goofiest, most fun website you can think of, then go back to your usual grind the next day. Then compare & contrast. Does one feel considerably more like work than the other? What did you come up with? Which sounds more interesting to the average person: your "play" site or the usual TGP-of-some-bimbo-getting-boned-and-submitted-to-4,000-link-lists-every-week that you've been doing?

In my "day job," there's a saying that applies to many different situations: "If you keep doing what you've been doing, you're going to keep getting what you've been getting." If you're not happy with the results you've been getting, think about what you've been doing...then do something else! I'm spending just a few hours a day having a full-tilt blast doing what I'm doing, and I'm just barely breaking even. My wish for you is that someday you will be as successful as me.

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