To Build Or Not To Build

Stephen Yagielowicz
XBiz Moderator AussieWebmaster started a thread the other day that caught my attention, entitled "What is working best?" in which he asked the question "What areas are working best for you now. What do you see as the hottest niches etc. right now?"

I'm always wary of the message this type of discussion sends, because it tends to get people focused on short term fads; which causes the market to flood with crappy sites, and dilutes the value of the surfer pool for everyone. "Amateurs are hot!","MILFs rule!","Reality rocks!" and let's not forget "Lesbian teens!"

While there will always be leaders in a position of strength derived from quality of content and an optimum approach, there will also be a pack of under-performing properties following behind them, often operated by desperate webmasters, bouncing from site to site in an effort to find something that works for them.

Perhaps it's a lack of dedication and commitment to any particular project. Perhaps it's a belief that we can "do it all" – resulting in a myriad of problems from spreading yourself too thin. Regardless of the reasons, too many people are trying to run too many sites; a situation that worsens with every new wave of sites to exploit the current mass cultural phenomenon; whether it's the reality craze, or the latest A-list celebrity to get caught fucking on film.

It's like hearing "Hey, I hear foot fetish sites retain like a son of a gun!" - which is true, if you understand the fetish and can build a site that properly presents it – and then thinking that you can build a successful site targeting that audience. Straight folks make the same mistake by trying to market gay sites the way they would a straight site - but with the addition of little pink triangle buttons, rainbows, and a dude in a dress...

One size does not fit all, and what works for one webmaster may fail for another. Long term success is not based on copying the fad du jour, but on finding a niche that you like and understand, and then building an *excellent* site that showcases it. Stick with it, and surfers looking for what you offer will find you. Focus on taking care of them, and keep them coming back for more.

I'm covering a lot of conceptual ground here and trying to relay some of the debate going on in my head since before Internext. You see, I've been playing with Comus Thumbs amazing TGP script, and there's a banner for "Matt's Models" that's been sitting on the script's main admin page that says, "We don't have 80 shitty sites, just 2 great ones!"

The more I contemplate that, the more I realize what a serious waste of time, money, and energy rolling out new sites can be, when older sites have yet to reach their full potential. Cutting out the dead wood and adopting a "less is more" strategy might be the best course for many operators in 2005 and beyond.

While there are many benefits to having a large footprint in the adult arena, including the ability to attract affiliates and traffic trades while maximizing search engine potential and traffic management; this is primarily the realm of established, powerhouse companies that employ talented staffs and which require an often significant level of infrastructure.

For the smaller companies, particularly the thousands of "one man" (or woman) operations doing their best to be adult webmasters or producers in an increasingly complex and challenging environment, focusing on one well-targeted site and developing it to its full potential may reap far greater rewards than simply trying to cast a wide net by deploying multiple, "less than perfect" properties and projects.