How Much Is Enough?

Stephen Yagielowicz

As competition in the online adult arena continues to heat up, with Webmasters going to ever-increasing lengths to outdo one another in the quest for ever elusive clicks and capital, one question continually crops up: just how much is enough?

While the economy could be better, it’s not as bad as many would have you believe, but with the perennial ‘summer slowdown’ extending its reach across our industry – an industry that is in many ways already reeling from increased legislative scrutiny, billing system complications, and the wariness of an increasingly savvy consumer, many Webmasters are struggling to compete.

This competition can take many forms, from content providers offering endless photo sets at ridiculously low prices to designers giving away their skills for next to nothing. Programmers are writing code at bargain basement prices in order to compete with their peers in India and Eastern Europe, while big-name sponsors offer surfers access to multiple sites with a single membership. All across the board, it seems that folks are doing more for less.

Not everyone is taking the low-ball approach to finding new business or expanding their existing revenue streams, however. Personally, I’m taking the high-end approach, helping my lovely wife Dawn aka “Ayrora” to produce the first and only real “adult webmaster television show.” Constantly under development and pushing the limits of available technology, we have been experimenting with new ideas never before seen by the vast majority of adult (or for that fact, mainstream) Webmasters as well. While this approach can be technically daunting, the rewards may prove greater, as it is so much easier to produce ‘easier’ products for mass-marketing at a lower price than to actually attempt to compete with someone who is constantly raising the bar. When our show is finally out of Beta, most wannabes will simply not attempt to compete, or will relegate themselves to the standard “radio show” format…

This was something that was touched upon in the recent “Ferrari vs. Yugo” article, and a lesson that I had learned early on in my Wedding photography career: “hungry” photographers, like many of the freelancers in our biz, will always make a living by ‘giving away’ their products and services, and they will always find a market among those who value cost over quality. The same is also quite true, however, for those who value quality over the price of attaining it; and just as discriminating brides will always choose the best product available, automotive connoisseurs will not flinch at spending truly ‘obscene’ amounts of money to satisfy their vehicular lusts.

The same principals apply in our industry as well: the highest quality pay sites will try to lure surfers with increasingly outlandish content, millions of pics and videos, exclusive this, and “never before seen” that… While other operators will be content to over-promise and under-deliver on “$1 Lifetime Memberships!” – which is all fine and dandy, since a broadly stratified marketplace tends to satisfy all consumers, while still providing enough opportunity for all merchants to carve out their own profitable niche.

But this brings me back around to my original question – just how much is enough? How many photos or videos does it take to build a competitive member’s area? How large and high quality an image, and how ‘exclusive’ should it be? How many banners or FPA’s must one designer offer at a certain price to get the work that another designer also bid on? How low a price or how long a trial must you specify on your tour, and what sort of incentives must you offer to guarantee a re-bill? The questions go on and on…

So just how much IS enough? How low (or how high) are you willing to go in order to secure a profitable future for yourself? Do you have what it takes to compete with others in your marketspace, or are you willing to simply bypass them and enter a new arena? The answers to these questions will determine the longevity of your presence in this, or any other, industry. Plan carefully, and good luck! ~ Stephen