When the first webcam sites launched, the novelty of being able to see someone getting naked in real time was enough on its own to drive sales, even at very high per-minute price points for cam site operators.
Perhaps more importantly, at least from the cam performer’s perspective, was the fact that almost anyone could hook up a webcam and earn good money just by being one of the first to jump on the wave that was forming as consumer-viewing habits began to migrate from prerecorded video to live shows where they could direct all the action.
[T]he most successful models are not using webcamming just to make a living anymore, they take this as their profession, a full-time job.
Now the dynamic has changed, and it takes something more to be successful.
“Today, cams performers need an identity and a sense of authenticity ... some attribute that sets them apart from the others,” Nancy Roberts, vice president of marketing for FriendFinder Networks Inc., told XBIZ. “It takes creativity and individuality. What are you doing that is unique from the other models? The landscape is very competitive and if you look at performance on a bell curve, the top 15 percent are very successful, making hundreds of thousands a year.
“These models have a strong following and a captive audience that is drawn back to them. PlayWithMe.com allows models to build a brand for themselves while helping webcam models learn best practices. PlayWithMe is creating Shay Laren’s model university to help models at all different phases of their webcam career. Shay Laren is the perfect story of a print phenom and Penthouse Pet who has transitioned into a thriving career as a webcam model.”
Establishing a unique identity is definitely a key element of cam model success according to many of the experts we interviewed, and that identity stems from more than just a set of physical measurements.
“Webcamming is all about personality in my opinion,” Ben Clark of Webstream.co.uk, told XBIZ. “To a certain degree it doesn’t matter what you look like, just as long as you are warm and welcoming with a great personality. Every client has different tastes. We have seen models of all shapes and sizes and the one common denominator for success is personality.
“It’s one thing getting a client into a chat but what about getting him to come back again and again? We have models using our software that have clients coming back every single day. Why? Because they fulfill the clients’ needs by offering something he cannot get at home.
“Unleash a client’s kinky side and he will keep coming back. Find out what he wants and give it to him. We have models that don’t even offer a sexual service, they simply offer a sympathetic ear, a kind of therapy the client can’t get elsewhere.”
Even a top designer in the adult industry, and former cam model, agrees that visual appearance is secondary to the connection a good performer builds with her loyal clientele.
“Being a successful model takes much more than looks” according to Sarah, owner of ZuzanaDesigns.com. “The successful models are the ones that truly treat it like a job. It’s not just about being sexy in lingerie and getting someone off.
“When I started in the business as a webcam model, my best-paying shows were actually the ones where nothing sexual happened at all. Today, the webcam business is so much bigger than when I was a model and the competition is stiff. You really need to go the extra mile to stand out, take advantage of social media, emailing and anything you can do to form that connection with your customer that keeps them coming back for more.
“Keeping a schedule is crucial as well since customers will base their day around when they can see you.”
Still, it seems no matter how many times models are told that looks are not the most important part of their online persona, many have a hard time learning that there are lots of pretty faces a click away and the way to make the most money is by being more personable than everyone else.
“Newcomers to webcamming get caught up with looks when in reality it boils down to having an upbeat personable personality,” Shirley Lara, COO of Chaturbate, told XBIZ. “The more performers open up, the more people can relate to them, which is an essential building block of developing regular tippers. Second is having good equipment like a quality webcam and fast internet access.
“We recommend the Logitech C920 and always use a hard line, not a wireless network. Lastly, ones working space matters a lot — the performer should always be the main focal point. If the room they are broadcasting from is messy, users in chat will point that out and take away attention from the show quickly.”
The three most important things are the model’s personality, cam quality and studio space — even more important than personal looks, according to the people who see who earns the most or least on each platform.
“The ability to be interesting, create a long interaction, if you’re interesting members will keep coming and spending. Whether you’re beautiful or not matters less and of Yuval Kijel of Streamate.com told XBIZ. “At Streamate we carry 1,500 active sites with the biggest names in the industry, like MindGeek, CrakRevenue, SexSearch, MetArt, FreeOnes and more using our service.”
As new technologies come to market, staying ahead of the pack requires a level of professionalism some models fail to accept.
“To simply be the girl or guy that logs onto their select cam platform and expect to make an enormous amount of money is unrealistic,” Mark R. CTO of Vuier.com, told XBIZ. “As we have seen, the most successful cam models are those who see themselves as a business via social media and market themselves. They invest the time in building a fan base via social media and market themselves. The incredibly wise ones build brands out of themselves and create websites as well.
“Beyond that, it’s important to monetize that audience that you are engaged with to the fullest. This is in part why we created Vuier.com, to give cam models the opportunity to capitalize on their ‘celebrity’ by offering another revenue stream that is exceptionally easy to use and integrate into your existing sites, social media platforms, and so forth. To succeed, you need to give your audience what they want — more of you, in various forms and via various delivery methods.”
That differentiation between part time placeholders and full time professionals is one that has began to resonate even louder in recent years.
“The biggest change I have seen in the past few years, is that the most successful models are not using webcamming just to make a living anymore, they take this as their profession, a full time job,” Laszlo Czero, of Jasmin and Adult Webmaster Empire, told XBIZ. “This change along with the growing demand from the clients and members favors the ones doing extra efforts. To throw in some buzz words creating an image, maintaining your social media, creating additional and professional content, doing PR and more.”
It’s also important to recognize that camming doesn’t generally lead to overnight success stories. Building a brand takes time and a relentless approach to generating growth of your own audience.
“Dedication and consistency are two key characteristics all successful cam models share,” Jamie Rodriguez of Flirt4Free.com told XBIZ. “A successful cam model needs to be dedicated to learning their network, connecting with their users, and developing their profile.
“This dedication needs to be done in a consistent manner on a consistent basis to grow a customer base and develop your own personal brand,” said Rodriguez, the company’s brand and broadcast manager.