After five years of working as a chef in kitchens, getting burnt, cut, bruised and learning how to be aggressive, loud enough to be heard and efficient enough to earn respect, I was told of an opportunity to get my foot in the door at an Internet company. I had a few friends who had been working there and making bank (without the frequent trips to the ER), so of course I was interested. Fresh out of college, I was less concerned about the "adult" aspect — I've never been a prude when it comes to sexual material — and more concerned with paying off my student loans.
Having won an animation contest in 7th grade and having used computers most of my life, working on one was not as intimidating to me as the possibility of having to answer phones. God, I hate phones. So I took the job as a receptionist, working two jobs until I discovered my niche in marketing and moved to that department after about six weeks of walking in the door. I quit my night job and acquired a computer to spend my nights learning HTML and researching SEO and programming.
A few months later, I began developing and running my own campaigns and strategies and acquiring rankings for the 1,000-plus domain names at my disposal for pushing traffic to 30-plus adult sites and others with related consumer demographics. Within eight months, I was appointed department head and have maintained the position of Internet marketing director ever since.
I have worked full time in the adult industry since February 1998, marketing adult and gaming sites through SEO practices for traffic generation as well as other sources. I've done extensive web development and programming, and I've have worked in adult business services from hosting to billing to marketing services and advertising management. Being focused in the adult B2B side of the industry makes working and getting along with other webmasters and business owners an important aspect of my job.
Having approached this business from a professional aspect since that first day, I was very aware of how I wanted to be perceived — as a knowledgeable professional — and developed a solid reputation.
Looking back on the eight years that have flown by, I reflect on how hard it was to break into the realm of adult business professionals who seemed like such a tight-knit group. I felt at times like a goldfish in a sea of sharks. I prefer to observe and know my environment before I attempt to contribute and get involved, so yeah, I lurked on YNOT and NetPond my first year in the biz, and finally came out of my shell and metamorphosized into Cyndalie by late 1999.
Respect is Earned
This is an industry where, male or female, respect is earned and never deserved. In many cases, public challenges from other webmasters, times of adversity in business and even basic grassroots ethical practices can put you in center ring where you have to stand your ground or get thrown out. This is a fierce business when it comes to the personalities that abound, and being male or female has no bearing on how you are treated when it comes to online environments such as message boards. Appearance isn't an issue either. It becomes about what you know and how you choose to represent yourself.
But I forgot about the Power of the P.
For years, I found I was so focused on being taken seriously, being respected and continuing to earn a name for myself as being a friendly professional, that I found I completely left a big part of myself out of the picture. A while back, my employer told me that no one can deny that I am a smart person and very professional, but that I don't know how to use the "Power of the P."
I laughed and took what he said as "The Power of the Pussy" — meaning the tendency for women to use their sexuality to manipulate men and get their way. I later realized that this interpretation was not only against my nature (beyond pure joking) but also not what he implied, which was the Power of Personality.
In this industry it is very important to allow people not just to get to know what your specialties are but who you are as well. Business owners like knowing who they are doing business with; many will tell you some decisions are made purely because they "like" working with an individual or company. Formulating the right blend of professionalism and personality that fits your style is important. It's OK to have fun and be yourself, but knowing what is and is not acceptable as a female in the industry is a judgment call only the individual or employer can make.
As for being a woman as an advantage or disadvantage in the adult biz, I honestly have to say this industry is what you make of it, and you have a direct impact on how you are perceived and treated based on how you act and treat others. It can be more difficult to break into the "upper tier" of mostly male-dominated adult business and program owners, but I find many will kindly listen and pass you off to a lower-level employee rather than just closing the deal and calling it a day. The same can be said for the inner circles of highly successful women in the adult business (we all have those we look up to no matter which level you are perceived to be on). Women tend to be a bit weary around one another, often butting heads before becoming friends. But I think age and experience can be a bigger divider when it comes to doing business with the "old school" versus the "new school" population of webmasters.
Overall, I have enjoyed being a woman in a man's world. I'm a firm believer in the "you get what you give" philosophy. If you remain positive and treat others with respect, you will be viewed in such a light. This biz is what you make of it; the opportunities are equal for everyone. Looking around at some of the more well-known women in this business, it's easy to see that women have the amplitude, determination, skill and intellect to overcome any challenges and blaze a path of success just as bright as those created by men. This is an industry comprised of unique individuals. The power of earning respect through both professionalism and personality is important for all, regardless of gender.
Dating back to 2000, Cyndalie has been a key team member of the AdultChamber.com team in SEO marketing, daily webmastery and development. In addition to working with webmasters, she also handles advertising management for adult businesses as well as advertising sales for the AdultChamber.com Network. She can be reached at Cyn@AdultChamber.com.