A New Breed Of Newbie

Gretchen Gallen
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – This year’s Internext got off to a strong start, full attendance, and a roster of educational seminars for experienced and inexperienced webmasters alike.

Moderated by Frederick Lane, author and legal advisor to the adult industry, ‘A New Breed of Newbie’ opened the week with a panel of veteran webmasters that included YNOT Bob, Stephen Yagielowicz, editor-in-chief for XBiz.com, Johnny V, president of Porn Posse, Mathew Sclier, webmaster relations for Sex Money, and Mark Tiarra of Duke Dollars.

While the overall message from the panel of veterans was that the online adult entertainment industry is still a huge moneymaker, the keys points for new webmaster success were as numerous as the pratfalls, in particular for those webmasters making the transition from mainstream into adult.

“Look beyond skill sets that have sustained you in the mainstream,” Yagielowicz told the crowd. “The translation just isn’t there. The biggest hurdle you will face in the adult space is traffic,” he added. “It’s all about how you handle that traffic, how to deliver the offering to the user, and how to manage exit traffic. Everything will always be in nuances. The moneymaker will not always be obvious.”

YNOT Bob added in agreement: “First thing when crossing over is forget everything you learned in mainstream.”

Mathew Sclier made the point that customer service is essential to any website, new or old.

“This is a product. Talk to people. Read the boards. Know what’s out there, and don’t be afraid to ask.”

Another essential factor for newbies to consider, the panel agreed, is that the online adult world is currently experiencing a very hostile legal environment and newcomers need to be on top of their game and fully informed on issues pertaining to John Ashcroft’s prosecution of obscenity, 2257 compliance forms in order to avoid employing underage models, remaining safely within the chargeback ratio, and staying clear of patent infringement.

At one point an obvious newbie asked the panel “what” Acacia was, evoking an instant roar of laughter from the group of attendees.

Mark Tiarra’s sterling advice to up-and-coming porn webmasters was to focus on a website’s stickiness factor, in addition to maximizing exposure on search engines and tapping into reliable and proven sources for attracting free traffic.

Tiarra recommended that newbie’s look to TGPs and MGPs as good traffic-generating sources for low budget start-up sites. He also advised against the use of overly flashy sites that take up too much bandwidth and employ more technology than the average porn surfer is interested in.

“The most cruddy looking sites tend to make the most money,” said Tiarra. “It’s all about how you present the content. Be more backwards compatible. A lot of these guys are still using dial-up. Think a couple of browsers back. It’s more important to have unique content, especially when it comes to video content.”

Johnny V urged newbies to be honest, because people in the adult industry tend not to forget when they have been betrayed. Additionally, he added, “keep it simple” and don’t overwhelm the user.

“Content will be king over the next couple of years,” he said. “Just like traffic is now.”

Johnny V warned new webmasters against limiting themselves with niche content, and instead to branch out and be able to offer a surfer as much varied content as possible, or risk losing the traffic.

The five panelists were adamant that newbies make a steady effort to network, or do a lot of “horse trading” as one panelist called it. And YNOT Bob ran through an extensive list on the dos and don’ts of being a webmaster newbie, which included tips on writing business plans, treating an upstart adult website as a legitimate business, being ethical, knowing your stats, conversion rates, and most importantly, staying on good terms with the law; paying taxes and having all paperwork in order that pertains to talent.

“The government is right up your butt,” he said. “Models are not hookers, they are paid professionals.”

YNOT Bob also encouraged the audience to avoid starting a new business with a paysite and instead to start with a free site or sign up with an affiliate site before jumping into the adult space with overblown expecations.

Among YNOT Bob’s sage-like advice was not quitting the proverbial day job, staying clear of bestiality, networking, networking, networking, and most importantly, learning to drive traffic the right way.

On a final note, Lane, the moderator, added that at present only 20 percent of the U.S. has broadband, a fact that suggests there is still room for a huge amount of upward growth in the online adult industry.

“If you do the homework and take the long and thorough approach,” Lane said.

“There is still a ton of dough to be made in this industry, if you do it the right way,” YNOT Bob said. “We will do well if you do well.”