opinion

The Death of the Webmaster?

Stephen Yagielowicz
I’ve just returned from the XBIZ Summer Forum where I had a number of really interesting discussions; one of which I’d like to share some thoughts about with you.

Having witnessed the birth and evolution of online adult entertainment first-hand, and considering myself a “Webmaster” in the true sense of the word, I like to think of this area of my skill-set as being timeless in a digital age – so it was with a bit of concern that I contemplated my response to a question put to me by an old friend, who is likewise steeped in industry experience.

Looking around the room at the high-level operators and adult mega-companies that they represented, my friend asked “So, do you think that it’s about over for the Webmaster?”

What he meant of course was “Do you think that an individual adult operator, trying to do everything himself, can still make a decent amount of money in online adult?”

As I am one of those operators, the answer was a personal one.

To understand the answer, you must first understand that by “Webmaster” I mean “someone that owns and is totally and wholly responsible for their website: they built it; they made the graphics; they run the server; they know the stats; they do the marketing; they develop the traffic; they do it all – no employees; just a lone guy (or girl) learning as they go along and hoping for profit” – not someone who pushed a button on MySpace or used some other short-cut and now considers himself to be “a Webmaster.”

As for what constitutes “a decent amount of money” – I’ll leave that to your own amount that would provide for the kind of lifestyle you want, while justifying the risks involved. Part-time operators might be satisfied with making beer money; while the more ambitious full-timers don’t want to settle for less than millions of dollars in annual earnings, and all other levels of income in-between…

With this in mind, I considered my own part-time operation, involving three websites; each of which would require at least one full-time operator and the support of outside specialists in order to achieve its full potential, and replied “yes, the party is over.”

The reason is simple: building a website is fairly easy; it’s the ongoing operation, growth and expansion that is time-consuming. Even once everything is set up exactly the way you want it, the site must be monitored and traffic fed to it – the demands can exceed the hours in the day; regardless of the hours a lone operator has to devote to his business.

Search engine optimization specialists; traffic brokers; graphic designers; ad networks; managed hosting companies; third-party billing and customer service – the variety of support options available to the online adult operator today goes on and on – and while this wasn’t the case when some of us started out, there is no reason not to use these services to leverage our own efforts. Without this investment, and the involvement of others working on “your baby,” there is only so far you can go on your own – and that distance is getting narrower every day.

For well-capitalized start-ups and existing operators that are profitable enough; growth is a desirable outcome of business: go get a bigger office and hire some employees. For the less well-off, perhaps becoming one of those new employees makes a bit more sense in today’s market – after all, there’s a lot to be said for a steady paycheck and good benefits.

For my part, I’ve recently purchased artwork that I couldn’t have made myself with the same quality, and I will begin purchasing traffic across a variety of venues, in an effort to boost the results of my own efforts, which I don’t have the time to increase. I’m also pretty automated. These are all great examples of leveraging time and money for quality and results; but they also indicate my inability to continue “doing it all myself.”

If I had only one website to focus on, and worked it morning, noon and night, I still would no longer be able to do everything myself, if only for the reason that in today’s market, there are many tasks that are best left to specialists and mediocre results in any facet are no longer acceptable because of today’s high level of competition. But with three sites and few hours to invest; I chip away at the tasks at hand as best I can, and tell you about some of them; so that you might have an easier time than I did.

While it’s doubtless that there are many successful lone operators in the online adult entertainment marketspace, the handwriting is on the wall for the one-man-band seeking a substantial payday. While we will always have “webmasters” of one sort or another, the days of the true “Webmaster” are now seriously numbered, if not already over – at least within the professional ranks: it’s not that the work is gone, it’s just that it’s more than one man can handle at the level required, and it’s now the domain of specialists.

Welcome to The Big Leagues – now adapt or die!

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