opinion

Hosting Talk: Scaling Back Intelligently

Steven Daris

While some Internet-based adult companies continue to thrive, it’s no secret that the last six or seven years have seen the downsize of many adult companies and their affiliate programs with extensive (yet necessary) cost cutting. Staying competitive and comfortably afloat in this industry requires strategic decision-making, which often results in staff and budget cuts. And while it’s not pleasant, there are options for outsourcing that can help webmasters save money and cut costs without inadvertently cutting off their left foot.

There’s one department that often sees drastic budget cuts but truly should remain off the chopping block — or at least set to the side — and that’s IT. Nothing will destabilize your company faster than experiencing IT issues that you are no longer equipped to deal with. Full-time IT staff can be draining to maintain, both mentally and financially, but there are options to preserve your tech-savvy status while also downsizing your expenses.

There’s one department that often sees drastic budget cuts but truly should remain off the chopping block — or at least set to the side — and that’s IT.

Unless you are entirely withdrawing from the market and closing up shop, even a scaled-back web operation will have almost constant IT needs. Let’s suppose you operate an affiliate program that you’ve put into “maintenance mode” — meaning that you are still accepting traffic and paying affiliates for the sales they generate, but you aren’t really marketing the program anymore, or shooting new content. You’ll encounter support issues even when operating in such a limited capacity.

There also will be times when your stats are not reporting properly and you need to figure out why in a hurry, or the webmasters remaining on your program will start to jump ship. This is one of many key situations in which you need access to professionals that already understand your systems, which will save you time and money on multiple levels. Many IT professionals have moved from in-house to ad-hoc, offering part-time and as-needed service to multiple companies at a time. And chances are, the essential tech tools you currently use (i.e. your hosting company) have resources you can take advantage of to supplement the staff you’re able to afford. And that’s where a trusting relationship with a capable hosting company comes in.

Red Apple Media is equipped and experienced in picking up slack for clients in need to dedicated (but part-time) IT and even webmaster duties. We see the results of overzealous IT-trimming all too often and have swooped in to save the day, in a sense, countless times. It’s part of our customer service dedication and has inspired multiple clients to rearrange their IT department and rely on Red Apple Media’s talented IT professionals to provide key services. We already understand their websites, apps, tools and systems from the inside out (because it’s our job) and can easily, quickly and remotely handle any network or software problems they’re experiencing. All it takes is a conversation and a plan of attack and you can have a solid outsourced IT structure in place within hours.

We’re happy to help as much as we can, as our staff is capable of and experienced in acting as a go-between for clients and technology vendors — especially those that offer high-tech software and services. We find that clients without core IT contact points have a tremendous disadvantage to their more tech-grounded competitors.

Most major adult hosting providers offer “managed services.” That normally doesn’t include membership support, billing integration issues, CMS migrations or updates, or even consulting. Managed services means that, for the most part, hosting companies will keep your server(s) updated, protected, and help set up applications, FTP, email, or even help reduce spam as part of their hosting fees. You may sometimes need advanced support by a company that understands not only hosting and servers but how everything works behind the hardware and can take on the day to day activities.

Let’s say you run a small studio with only a handful of people. You may or may not have a full-time IT person on staff earning $40,000 a year before benefits, and you might find you no longer need a full-time person in-house or that you want to manage him or her. Or let’s say you run a small studio and already act as the recruiter, videographer, editor, and marketing person.

You simply don’t have the time to set up or manage an affiliate system or even handle member support questions. Maybe you merely want to redo your website to make it look and function in a more modern fashion with responsive design and are in need of a team to get it done fast without in-house delays. This is where outsourcing can play a key role, and these are the types of clients we help every day.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Sometimes the best time to build a business, start a new site, or expand is during the bad times. We’re all familiar with sites that stop promoting, expanding, and keeping the look and content fresh. They go from making gobs of money to mere dollars and soon just a trickle of bit coins, making less year by year until they sell or simply shut down. And then there are companies that remain leaders in the business because they reinvent themselves at key economic turns and make the effort to stay current and focus on their customers’ needs.

The bottom line is that no matter how much you cut back, if your company is still operating to any extent at all, you need IT people. At a bare minimum, you need people who can handle affiliate support, run your payout reports, do basic troubleshooting on your tracking software and stats reporting, and to handle your most basic coding needs.

You need someone who can offer internal tech support, answering questions and putting out the sort of minor “tech fires” that flare up in the normal course of business. Because if your network goes down, and you don’t have a competent IT staff in-house, you need a proactive plan B — and outsourcing is the logical solution.

Steven Daris is CEO and co-founder of Red Apple Media, a managed hosting, e-commerce and video streaming solutions provider.

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