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From Punk to Spunk

Lisa Briggs
Youth is wasted on the young — or is it? In the case of one burgeoning businesswoman, nothing about her is going to waste. Punker Barbie is her name, and affiliate websites are her game.

At 22, Punker Barbie manages SpunkyCash.com and its flagship site Kate's Playground.com. In just three short years, Punker Barbie has helped take SpunkyCash.com from a fledgling company to one of the top teen affiliate websites in the adult entertainment industry. And while she prefers not to release exact figures of daily hits, Punker Barbie is proud to proclaim that SpunkyCash and Kate's Playground are two of the predominant single girl website affiliate programs on the Internet.

Punker Barbie entered the business world at the ripe age of 18, working as a claims adjuster. Within her first year, she had doubled her salary and had 14 appraisers working beneath her. Despite her early success, Punker Barbie knew this world was just not for her.

"I was already tired of the whole 9-to-5 thing," Barbie says. "My dad was a computer programmer and hired me to help him out. It opened up a whole new world for me."

That world was the adult entertainment industry. Her father had built a successful software program for search engines that catered to adult entertainment. He brought in Punker Barbie to do telephone sales. One day she called on Doug Moore, and he persuaded her to take the next step and start selling face to face. She was invited to a Los Angeles webmaster show, met many people and knew she had found a home. One thing led to another, and she landed a job working for her first affiliate program, XXXCash.

"I learned a lot at XXXCash," Punker Barbie says. "I had HTML skills, but I really didn't know how to make money off those skills. I didn't know how to be pushy and really sell. Working at XXXCash was a marketing and sales learning curve for me, and I'll always be thankful to them for that experience."

Punker Barbie was a quick study and soon started looking at other opportunities. She was being offered positions at numerous companies but didn't want to get locked into another 9-to-5 structure.

"I wanted to stay independent and work my own program," she says. "Then I met Matt Stregger and instantly liked his setup at SpunkyCash. What drew me to it was the fact that there were only two people involved. I became the third."

Punker Barbie joined the Vancouver-based team on a probationary basis. Within two months working from her home office in the Southwest, she had increased business and became manager of all affiliates. A year and a half later, she's responsible for several sites and is anticipating five new websites to be added to her roster. Her daily activities include handling incoming and outgoing traffic, generating new traffic, providing affiliate support, dealing with content abuse, setting up contracts and implementing marketing strategies.

"Our company may be small, but it works for me," Punker Barbie says. "There's no bureaucracy or red tape. I don't want to deal with 20 employees, and I definitely don't want it to take forever to implement an idea. I also really enjoy the freedom of working from a home office."

Although Punker Barbie has found an environment that doesn't present challenges common in most businesses, the challenges she did face — and sometimes still does — are common to businesswomen in the industry, especially young ones.

"The biggest problem I've had is getting people to take me seriously," she says. "It's not easy being a female in a male-dominated industry, and then being young, I'm always being asked if I'm one of the models on the website. But it can also be a help rather than a hindrance. I can weed out the bad people from the ones who are a good fit just by the way they react to me and treat me. The fact that I am still here three years later and going strong says something. I'm not one of those women who go to shows or events and can't hold her own."

Teen Websites
What still presents a challenge to Punker Barbie and other business professionals in her particular niche market are the risks involved in operating a teen affiliate website program. Punker Barbie recognizes them and meets them head on.

"We deal with situations every day, like if our model still lives at home, even though she is 20, and her parents find out her profession," she says. "Or if a model is 18 and her peers discover where she works. In these instances, we block IPs from the model's community to protect her and prevent problems. First and foremost, though, we make sure all papers and documentation are in order. That's key."

Despite her age, and thanks to an uncharacteristically savvy handle on what works and what doesn't work in business, Punker Barbie has grown both professionally and personally.

"I used to have bright pink hair and a lot of piercings," Punker Barbie says. "That's how I got the nickname Punker Barbie. I no longer have pink hair, and I've taken out my piercings. While that may be the most obvious change since I started in this industry, I feel the biggest change has occurred inside me. I no longer look at the industry as just a gig. I now look at it as a career. Our industry is constantly evolving, and we are finding new ways to do business. You've got to get thick skin in this business and, above all, keep your eye on the ball."

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