Gathering Galleries

Stephen Yagielowicz
Returning to my ongoing series on profiting from Thumbnail Gallery Posts (TGPs), it's time to start gathering the galleries we wish to submit. But from where? Let's take a look at a few of my options...

So I have been sitting on this copy of Chameleon Submitter that I'm really anxious to try, but first I need to come up with some test galleries to submit to TGPs using this tool, which has led me to start gathering galleries, including FHGs, my own homemade galleries, as well as some professionally produced ones.

Free Hosted Galleries
While I could easily drop in a few links to sponsor provided free-hosted galleries (FHG), these aren't really the best bet for the type of tests I wish to conduct; mainly because they tend to be so over-exposed that most TGPs simply won't list them – and for those that do, the surfer has likely already seen (and passed on) these galleries. Of course, never having submitted any FHGs myself, I'm relying on conjecture and comments from others, rather than my own personal experience, when I make these statements about FHGs.

While FHGs make great filler galleries for use on your own TGP, for reasonable tests, reasonable galleries must be made, and so I will likely perform only limited tests on FHGs for now (although I am wondering how effective my results would be if I auto-submitted some of these galleries from lesser-known sponsors).

Since I have an abundance of exclusive content, plus a unique site that I wish to promote, this leaves me with two much more attractive choices: try to make my own TGP galleries, or have some thumbnail galleries professionally made by competent designers...

Doing It Yourself
I currently use Adobe Photoshop 7 to make members area galleries for my site. I have a simple custom template file setup, the software resizes and watermarks main images, generates thumbnails, and builds a series of web pages that include my basic "slide show" and navigation codes...

I also have a few other auto gallery creation tools, most of which excel at making a web photo gallery, but do not really produce the type of "TGP suitable" galleries that I desire which are stylistically beyond what I can produce by hand (graphical wizardry not being my strong suit).

Having said that, part of the appeal of my site is that it's a source of real "homemade" porn, and as such, galleries that are "too professional" might be a turn-off, and actually hinder, rather than help sales. After all, it's hard to convince today's experienced (and jaded) surfer that a high-end advertisement reflects the "mom and pop" nature of the site I'm trying to promote.

This might seem to be an unusual way of looking at things, so I'll digress for a moment to explain what I'm talking about a bit further: The "real" amateur porn market is more than a niche, and the folks who regularly seek this material are typically after the "reality" of it. Due to the popularity and profitability of the amateur market, "mainstream" porn companies have jumped on the bandwagon and offered "amateur" sites of their own.

These "corporate amateur" sites are not necessarily a bad thing, as they tend to feature a higher production value than the "homemade" sites, along with many of the typical "mega site" members area features like extensive video feeds and other content plug-ins. But they also tend to lack the "personality" and member interaction that real amateur sites excel at. The single model sites that Lightspeed offers, and sites like the one my friend Christine Young is featured on for Brain Cash are excellent examples of quality "corporate" amateur sites, and stand in contrast to the "mega amateur sites" produced by the biggest names in the biz, which all too often feature content ripped from an old "Z Master" CD, and assorted "homely" girls who were shot with bad lighting. In most cases, the model doesn't even know that her images can be found on these sites, let alone playing any kind of role in the production, maintenance, and promotion of the site...

Experienced amateur porn surfers know this, and while some don't care, others do. The surfer who knows the difference, who cares, and who becomes a loyal member is the one I'm after. "Cherry picking" to be sure, but my wife's site currently retains members 4 to 6 times longer than an average "big name" pay site, so we must be doing something right...

So the problem then becomes one of trying to reach the prospects we want, while still appealing to "other" surfers who will find value in our extensive offerings; and to do so while striking a balance between our "homemade" approach, and a level of quality that will attract a TGP owner's attention, and get us listed. These considerations make the process of gallery building more involved than simply opening a copy of "Thumbs+" and clicking a few buttons...

Seeking Professional Help
And then there are the professionals: folks who build galleries for a living... Several years ago, I wouldn't have even considered the need for "professionally made" galleries, and would have simply tossed any thought of such into the "Why Bother?" box... Today, however, even the most modest of TGPs feature galleries with "pay site quality" design; and when your gallery doesn't match the others in these listings for quality, you stand out as being sub-par, which hurts your clickthroughs and sales... Or does it?

I've seen some really striking galleries over the years, and while I'm much more confident that high-end design will "sell" a high end site more readily than it will transfer to a "homemade" site, I want to try some professionally produced galleries and measure as closely as possible the difference in productivity between them and my simple and not too stunning templates.

To this end, I've contacted the good folks at Gallery Design Studio to see what they can come up with for me.

In my next installment, I'll discuss some of the considerations that went into building my galleries, as well as take a look at what I received from Gallery Design Studio. Stay Tuned! ~ Stephen