Blogging For Bucks

Daniel Terdiman
Michael Stabile knows his porn. He is about as wired into the gay porn industry as anyone can be, what with all the people he talks to each day, the press releases he reads and the deals with insiders he strikes.

The upshot? His gay porn blog gets around 30,000 unique visitors per day and brings him and a partner between $5,000-$7,000 a month in revenue.

Stabile's site gets more traffic and earns more money than most porn blogs. The site is also instructive, however, in providing a solid example of the kinds of opportunities that are available for those blog owners willing to put in the time and networking to be successful. Moreover, it shows that advertisers who may be more familiar with traditional online adult websites will follow readers into the fledgling porn side of the so-called "blogosphere."

"You definitely have to know your stuff and you have to do research. You also have to set up strategic partnerships, not only among other bloggers, but among the companies that you're going to be talking about in the industry itself," Stabile said. "One of the advantages of blogs, and one of the reasons that [advertisers] seem likely to take them on, is, number one, they attract a returning audience, and two, they tend to rank higher on search engines."

To be sure, not all online advertisers want to associate with porn.

"Certain common ad vendors, like Google AdSense, won't work with porn," said John d'Addario, editor of Fleshbot, one of the most popular adult-oriented blogs. "So we had to do some research and find a similar program that would."

But d'Addario said that eventually Fleshbot settled on MarketBanker, which places text ads on blogs for a wide range of advertisers. Another such broker is AdBrite.

Fleshbot's ad saleswoman, Gabriela Giacoman, said that Gawker Media, the organization that publishes Fleshbot as well as other popular blogs like Wonkette, Gawker and Defamer, doesn't publicly talk about its ad revenues.

Fleshbot's Formula
But Fleshbot gets an average of 75,000 unique daily page views and charges rates of $125 per week for the many text ads it runs. The site has sold out its ad space since it launched.

D'Addario said that Fleshbot's formula for bringing in advertisers has been a combination of good word of mouth and ever-increasing traffic. And while Fleshbot does very little direct soliciting, many advertisers have come on board after he's mentioned them on the site.

"They see the traffic coming from Fleshbot and realize that it might be a good venue to advertise on," he said.

In order to build a solid base of advertising, porn blog authors must keep in mind that it's all about content. Unless a porn blog keeps up a steady flow of quality content, readers won't come back, and soon, neither will advertisers.

"It has to be interesting, and you have to be providing stuff readers haven't already gotten," said Jeff Klink, the owner of "You have to get the news before other people do and be the first to report on it."

Klink explained that one piece of that equation is about being plugged in.

"I think it's good to have some good contacts in the industry that will give you some information about upcoming releases, behind-the-scenes stuff about actors or the business and what's going on," he said. "It also helps to scour the web and find those tidbits that people haven't yet seen, because one thing about sex and porn is that it doesn't tend to be reported on the general news sites."

Max Paccagnella, one of the editors of Sexblogs, agreed that the key to making money with an adult-oriented blog is ensuring that you have the status to keep readers coming back for more.

"If a blog has personality, reputation and serves great stuff, it aggregates readers — daily readers — not click monkeys," Paccagnella said. "And everyone in the industry knows the difference between a targeted reader that knows what she/he wants and a click monkey."

For his part, d'Addario thinks that from an advertiser's standpoint, porn blogs can be a very good investment.

"They can increase your audience," he said, "which helps if you're selling a product or membership. But we do have some advertisers who, as far as I know, aren't running commercial sites. They do it for more traffic and to boost potential affiliate revenue."

D'Addario pointed to the site "Sexy Fandom with Molly Case" as an example.

"I liked her writing and featured her post a few months ago," he said. "And she started advertising with us after that."

And while many porn blogs may not, in and of themselves, bring in a lot of money, they can still serve as a valuable property for adult webmasters.

"It's good to have a blog as an adjunct to another site," Klink said. "It's a good draw to make your site sticky. People come back every day. If you have a site that has other content on it, then a blog is a good way to give the user a reason to keep visiting your site."

Adult'S Appeal
But one crucial difference between an adult blog and a regular adult website is the community aspect that makes blogs so attractive to readers, which is sometimes a risk for marketers.

"A blog allows readers and other bloggers to be part of the whole thing," Paccagnella said. "A blog that works is a blog that receives constant feedback from readers and other bloggers in the form of comments and discussion."

Naturally, however, some Internet users have figured out how to illegitimately exploit the nature of blogs to their advantage.

Not long ago, dozens of adultrelated blogs began to make the rounds, all of which looked almost exactly the same and all of which included photos and erotic stories, as well as links to the same three adult websites from a company called CyberQuest and to large numbers of blogs in the series.

At first, it seemed like a clever marketing operation, but it soon became clear that someone had figured out that by employing the linking strategy of the dozens of blogs and the three CyberQuest adult sites, it was possible to artificially boost the Google PageRank of those three sites. And that was ironic, because all the blogs were hosted by Blogger, which is owned by Google.

Of course, Google was not amused and began removing the blogs one by one, as they violated Blogger's terms of service.

CyberQuests' owners, who had not authorized the initiative, were also not amused. It turned out that it had all been the work of a CyberQuest affiliate, who quickly found himself kicked out of the company's program.

If anything is clear about porn blogs, it is that, in intelligent hands, they can be used to make money, either directly or as a feeder to other sites. All it takes is hard work and knowing how to attract regular readers.

"I think there's always going to be an audience for intelligent writing about sex," d'Addario said. "And despite the fact that there's plenty of crappy content out there — or maybe because of that fact — people are always going to be interested in good quality porn."