opinion

Stephen Goes Gay?

Stephen Yagielowicz

While the title might be an obvious ploy to garner a few extra page views, the underlying message that “Even the ‘straightest’ of adult Webmasters can (and should) profitably and inoffensively integrate gay offerings into their marketing mix…” is one that must be heeded if maximizing profits is your goal.

The Problem
Like many ‘straight’ adult Webmasters, my idea of ‘porn’ involves women – not guys dressed like them – and so I have consciously dismissed the thought of anything ‘gay’ on my sites. I don’t want to look at that type of content, and so have no desire to expend any energy in that direction. To be coarse, but concise, the thought of having to wade through ‘gay site’ marketing materials that feature imagery of a drunken sailor on shore leave sunk to the nuts in some tranny’s ass is more than I can bear – and I think that about sums up straight Webmaster’s feelings about why they don’t promote gay sites.

But while this attitude may not be that uncommon, it is not good business. After all, if I owned a restaurant, I would offer broccoli – despite the fact that I personally loathe it. Give the customer what he or she wants: whether it be broccoli or gay sex, put it on the menu! You don’t have to eat it – but you should sell it!

The reasons are simple: of all of your site’s traffic, some of it is ‘gay’ – and lost, ending up on a straight site. Some of it is ‘bi-sexual’ and might join a site tailored to this market, while others are ‘curious’ about what it would be like to… and might join on a whim. Regardless of the percentage of your audience that would be interested in this material – or their motivations – not offering profitable ‘gay’ alternatives is letting a good opportunity for increased profits escape.

The questions are “Is it worthwhile?” and “Can it be done ‘inoffensively’?” The answer to both is “YES!” Marketing gay sites is ‘worthwhile’ because it is a profitable yet underserved niche. ‘Inoffensive’ in that it can be done without exposing the straight Webmaster to explicit and / or ‘disturbing’ content, or without alienating the very prospects you wish to please. By this, I mean that showing a certain sensitivity towards this market is essential; in other words, a text link like “Rump Rangers Tucking Gerbils Up Their Asses!!!” might get a few clicks, it’s probably not the best way to reach a gay audience.

Workable Examples
My first attempts at offering alternative content for gay / bi / curious surfers was back in one of the earliest incarnations of The Smut Factory. I had a page called ‘The Locker Room’ that offered links to a couple of gay chat rooms, Pornication’s gay 1-on-1 video-chat offerings, and a handful of gay games and special features from sponsors like Python.

There was no ‘revolting’ imagery, and I didn’t put any little pink triangles or ‘gay rainbow’ flag gifs on my page. With the exception of a tagline like “Take a peek at the Jocks in our Locker Room – just be careful not to drop your soap!” there was nothing condescending to the audience I was trying to reach. This page received very little traffic however, and was simply used as an additional ‘traffic filter’ incorporated into my old AVS hub, so the income I received from it was marginal.

It’s now years later, and with all of the recent talk at XBiz about opportunities in the gay market, I decided to see how and where gay offerings might be included into our present products. While anything ‘gay’ added to our sites will be packaged in a virtual ‘brown paper wrapper’ and then put on ‘a shelf behind the counter,’ so as not to offend or distract our straight clientele, it’s obvious that several great marketing opportunities exist.

For example, Dawn’s AVS site is getting a revamped tour, and since her AVS offers a wide variety of gay content, it’s a simple matter of building a tour page detailing these offerings, then adding a text link to her tour stating “Check Out Our Hot Gay / Bi / Curious Offerings” or so, as an added membership incentive. This doesn’t place the focus on gay content, but lets prospects know that this material is also available.

We’ve added a Gay / Bi / Curious section to our Amateur directory where those types of sites can be listed, and our favorite sponsors like GigaCash now offer gay sites, adding an additional option for monetizing gay exit traffic; using a few text links or small buttons on an exit console. Finally, our Webmaster pages can cater to gay sponsors seeking Webmaster traffic.

None of these options involves directly marketing to a gay audience using targeted traffic sources or resource intensive methods, but simply provide increased revenue options from our existing traffic base. Altogether a simple, inoffensive, and potentially profitable diversification – and an approach feasible for any size operation interested in trying out the gay market. Give it a try, see if it works for you! ~ Stephen

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