How Many is Enough?

Stephen Yagielowicz

Another day begins with my usual routine: coffee, CNN, mail, checking in at XBiz, and then seeing what my friends (and enemies) are all up to today. As I move on to stirring the cauldron of creativity, melting down the remnants of sites past, present (and in some cases, ‘future‘) – all in a literally “vain” attempt to leapfrog the competition – I find I now have to sit back and honestly ask myself: just how much is enough?

We’ve just finished moving into our new home, and I’m sitting in my new office – which is almost totally empty as I longingly await the arrival of my nice new furniture “sometime next month…” The quiet emptiness here gives me adequate time for reflection as I prepare for my annual Spring cleaning – although granted, there’s not much to clean around the house this time around. That is, except for my hard drive…

Getting Organized
If you’re anything like me, you have a collection of digital (as well as “real”) Post-It notes and text files, scattered around a myriad array of folders. Sure, I still have my wonderful “Porn Command” enterprise management system, but being the kind of person who constantly sucks in new tidbits of information, handy tools, code snippets, username / password combos, and a bewildering variety of arcane minutiae, it’s often easier to toss it onto a text file, and put it into my ‘sort’ folder – rather than to properly file it, and update the appropriate HTML page. So, now I am wading through this mountain of ‘digital debris’ that I have accumulated over the years – collating, filing, updating, and archiving all of the important information, while discarding the irrelevant.

I mention all of these mundane ‘housekeeping’ matters to you because they are a part of a larger endeavor, involving the periodic restructuring of my little online empire; and rather than being an occasional chore, I’ve always considered this continual re-evaluation to be an ongoing business necessity – especially when given the fluid nature of our industry.

The More the Merrier?
You see, among all of the little treasures I am uncovering while building my new Porn Command system, are lists containing links to most of my adult sites. While the very oldest of my adult sites (circa 1996 TGP galleries on long forgotten free-hosts), are now lost to the nether regions of the Internet, a few of my very earliest free and AVS sites are still (somewhat) alive, languishing on a trickle of traffic from ‘who knows where.’ Scores of old, neglected, and abandoned properties from my “build and forget” days presented for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, awaiting nothing more than a ‘click’ to be revisited by their creator…

Like many others in this business, I once built as many porn sites as I could, in order to cast as wide a net as possible. “Get ‘em in, sell ‘em a membership, up sell ‘em again, and then trade ‘em for someone new!” was (and in many respects, still is) my mantra, and I logically reasoned that the more sites I had (covering as many niches as possible, and promoting as many sponsors as possible), then the more opportunities that I would have to make some sales.

While that approach may have been ‘a good idea’ once upon a time, just a few clicks down my list was all that it took to reveal that not only were some of the sites I had once built now ‘gone,’ but the hosts that hosted them gone, and in some cases, even the sponsors that I had once received checks from (and often even ‘still’ advertise) were also gone... Sure, those Web sites served their purpose, “once upon a time” – and I am still happily surprised by ‘mystery’ checks on occasion, but I can’t really help but consider the ‘limited’ “shelf life” of those projects, and the time and energy that now seem “wasted” on them…

Pass the Tabasco Sauce
Another thing that has become apparent to me as I click my way down these lists, is that while most of these sites are remarkably similar, there are a few exceptions which stand out as being innovative and surprisingly unique – but even the ‘unique’ ones share a striking sameness. Sure, I’m a big fan of using templates to speed production, but it goes beyond that. Browsing my portfolio reveals perhaps too much consistency, delivering a “kind of the same, but different” feeling, as though I made these sites with a set of “blinders” on – following the same old formulas, even if some had a pinch of seasoning here, a bit of frosting there. A standard recipe that tastes bland over time, and which has now left me with a sour after-taste when viewing some of my more current projects. Like eating MRE’s – where no amount of Tabasco sauce will hide the fact that you’re eating an MRE (“Meals Ready to Eat” for those who have not dined on Uncle Sam’s idea of “dinner al fresco”), you can’t help but long for a change.

As I prepare to embark upon some new (and renewed) projects designed to stir my creativity and get my blood pumping again, all of this is causing me to re-evaluate my old past practices in light of my current realities, and the realities of our evolving marketplace. Quantity over quality? Not anymore; it’s now time for a change. Stability and retention is the key to profit in our maturing industry, and that requires a level of commitment that is not feasible for yesterday’s “disposable” sites. And a whole new approach that will “raise the bar” – not necessarily for the industry, but for myself. Yep, it’s time to grow – no longer is it enough to cast my net wide, I must now focus on casting it well…

Every once in awhile, it does one good to take a break, look around, and take stock of where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going. Working with blinders on, the same way that you’ve always done, can keep you from recognizing new trends, new techniques – and new market demands. “Raising the bar” and attempting the unique is often a good (if frequently frustrating) thing to do. How high is YOUR bar?

Stay tuned for my next article where we’ll look at “How Much is Enough?” ~ Stephen