Learning to Let Go

Stephen Yagielowicz
"Fuck all that, it's time to get onto these…" or so the rock 'n' roll song goes. Yes, I may be a Pink Floyd fan, but even if I wasn't, I couldn't have said it any better — but this month's column isn't about a song, it's about my life, my love and my work.

Back in early August, I posted a blog entry entitled "A New Beginning" that discussed my decision to drop my sexually explicit adult properties. But if you know me, you know that I have a real hard time "letting go" — especially of things that I've invested years of my life and countless dollars into, regardless of the underlying sensibility of doing so.

A case in point is the "real" amateur paysite featuring my lovely wife and myself, a property that she has worked on for more than a decade and one that I've worked on for close to seven years now.

Like many small websites, the last few years have been challenging, with all of the market forces that have been impacting the industry taking their toll, as well as the emotional and very personal burden of "being out there" in such an intimate way.

Although we already brought the site offline, I can't help but think there are still a few dollars to wring out of it, even though doing so would take a considerable amount of time and effort — time and effort that may not be rewarded as well as if those same energies were to be used elsewhere.

Besides the profit potential, being able to successfully operate the site is a defiant gesture against the forces of change sweeping our industry. But sadly, I am now convinced that it is a gesture in vain and one based upon my own limited — but occasionally existent — ego.

It isn't simply an issue of the highly personal nature of the property and its content (yes, fans got to see me showing off my wiener as I taught my sweetie a few new sex tricks), but what it represents to me: the ability of the lone adult webmaster to continue to profit from homemade, online adult entertainment.

What had really brought everything into sharp focus for me was the circle on my calendar surrounding the date of Nov. 28 and the word "Visa" underneath: This is the date that my annual Visa fee renewal was due — and the day by which I needed to decide if I truly want to let the site rest in peace or if I want to continue the operation for yet another year.

The circle was a great reminder of the reality — and potential finality — of it all.

This stark message caused me to go through a lot of mixed feelings over the site's future (or lack of it), and left me wondering if maintaining an emotional connection with a pile of electrons was "worth it."

I love what I had done with this property: from fully W3C-compliant XHTML and CSS coding, to the way I merged a WordPress-driven front end with an XBIZ award-winning MAS Members Area System from Mansion Productions (in which I used the WordPress template system to control the members area design and layout, as well as some of its content display features).

From the advanced statistical data I gathered and analyzed to the "heat maps" and other user parameters I collected and examined, this site represented the pinnacle of evolution and refinement of my skills as a webmaster.

Sure, I spent a lot more time tweaking the site's infrastructure than I did promoting it, but money was never really my motivation — perfecting my art was.

While I was impressed by the technical sophistication and finely tuned design of the site, the underlying issues concerning the overall market, particularly the ongoing challenges of 2257 compliance, made me realize that despite my desire to keep plugging away at it, the best thing for me to do was to put it away for good — close out that chapter of my life and move on.

The difficulty of making this decision is compounded by the fact that my other adult properties were built to be feeders for this site, providing a relatively small but very steady flow of targeted amateur and MILF traffic. Without our little paysite to feed, I'm simply not interested in bothering with these properties anymore — but they're also too personal for me to easily let go of (but that's another story).

What's "worse" (if you can consider it to be a bad thing), is that sponsor sales continue to roll in from my feeders, demonstrating that yes indeed folks are still willing to buy adult entertainment — even from TGPs/MGPs.

Heck, I was reading a news story about a recent study that demonstrated that monkeys will "pay" for porn (yes, real monkeys). While I didn't accept bananas as a payment mechanism, the underlying message about our nature and the near universal desire for porn encourages my inner porn monger.

And as if I needed any more encouragement, our site — even though its been offline — is still ranking in the Top 3 at Google for two of our organically targeted key phrases, and No. 5 for another, with a good dose of love coming from Yahoo and elsewhere too.

So much time, so much effort, so much of myself — let alone so much of her — it's not only a serious waste in some respects to walk away, but it leaves me wondering about how I'll fill the gap.

Sure, I have a new project lined up that would more than suffice as my "babysitter," but it doesn't come close to capturing my imagination the way that this site did — even if it's far smarter and holds longer-term profit potential than does sticking with business as usual.

At the end of the day it was really the never-ending burden of 2257 compliance that swung the scales in the balance of risk vs. reward.

Sure, I was confident that our docs were in order and our statements adequate — but how many times do I need to re-encode video clips and modify web pages simply because misguided legislators want to tweak their code? Let alone the insane penalties if there was a problem. It's not worth it for me.

This has been the most difficult business decision I've ever made, but I'm going to listen to my inner voice, which is telling me that now is the time to let go.

Perhaps your New Year's resolutions should include one of mine — to be smart, to let go and to move on… no matter how hard it is.