Adult Webmastering: An International Perspective

Even though the Internet has users from all over the world and webmasters from almost every major country, in the end, all roads lead to the US. This article is meant to look into the problems faced by international webmasters trying to integrate themselves into the adult industry, and of course, how to get past these hurdles.

What are the major issues facing international webmasters? A brief list would point to the following: Accepting payments online, getting accepted by the major sponsors, networking with other webmasters, and confusion over legal issues. Let's go through these issues one by one and see what we have:

Accepting Payments Online I can say firsthand that it's a big headache to find the right billing processor if you're not in the US. Reliability and customer service being major concerns, all the paperwork and other formalities nearly rule out most billing processors. Most merchant account providers have different sets of rules for US and non-US customers. While charges are low and amounts are transferred free to bank accounts within the US, non US webmasters have to cough up huge percentages and transfer charges. I tried four or five companies before chucking it all up and joining an AVS. Not to say that that's the correct way, but think about it. As a startup in the adult industry, what issues do you want to face; creating a better website with lots of quality content, or spending your time facing irate customers and non-paying billing concerns? Once you establish yourself, then maybe you can take a look as to how you setup your own payment processing.

Getting Accepted By Major Sponsors This is another issue that's gaining increasing prominence. Most adult sponsors have a list of banned countries, from which they refuse to take affiliates. Again, I can't say that it's right or wrong. I'm sure the sponsors have had bad experiences with webmasters from those countries. My advice to you is, if you really want to promote some sponsor who does not take you up as per the rules, email them about your request and provide a few references which make it absolutely clear that you have a good reputation. After all, everybody wants to make money, and if the sponsor feels that you can do it, he'll sign you up. I have emailed sponsors who rejected my initial application, but upon going through my references, most of them happily agreed to give me a shot. This doesn't always work, but there's no harm in trying.

Note: Deviating from the points here, I would like to suggest that you should seriously consider setting up an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) in the USA. There are hundreds of companies who can do it for you and maintain the paperwork. You could have your own US company and postal address within 24 hours. I have studied this in some detail, and it seems that the cheapest way is to register in Delaware. I won't suggest a company here, because I can't give you first hand references, but I am going to do it, since this will settle both of the above points.

Networking With Other Webmasters How do you go to the trade shows and events if you are 3000 miles away? Missing these shows cuts out a very important part of your business' growth strategy. In the end, the adult industry is the same as all other businesses: you need to meet people and deal face to face if you want to see your company grow. There's a limit to what you can achieve on the Net. For international adult companies, it's very, very costly to attend or organize a meeting or trade show in the US. Often times the best you can do is to follow up on the news and try to get your finger into any important developments. Under such circumstances, it is absolutely necessary and important for you to use the adult boards to connect and interact with other webmasters.

Confusion Over Legal Issues The reason most sponsors don't want international webmasters is that they seem to think that they can do anything they want, and no one is going to come after them. After all, who wants to pick up an argument across the ocean? The fact is, most webmasters are not even aware of the laws and of their own rights. If someone has cheated them, it's a virtual surety that they'll just give up. This also applies in reverse: if an international webmaster cheats, he's likely to get away with it. I suggest a detailed study of the laws before you put up a website. Understand what 18 USC 2257 compliance forms, domain name sale agreements, contractor agreements, content license issues, etc., all mean before you begin. Also tax issues are different for every country. Sometimes it's too late to study all these issues afterwards, and your best bet would be to hire a lawyer experienced in these matters.

To sum it all up, it is more difficult to setup and run an adult website if you're not based in the US. But think about it; after all the hard work, when the delicious greenbacks start flowing in, it's usually a double treat, because the value of the US dollar is likely to be higher than most currencies.