XSF '08: Day Two Seminars and Workshops

Tom Hymes
LAS VEGAS — Despite a succession of loud fire drills that continued on for so long that the impact went from merely disruptive to outright absurd, the morning seminars during day two of the XBIZ Summer Forum ’08 provided great information for a healthy turnout of attendees.

The incessant alarms subsided by the afternoon, which featured a slate of three focused and highly informative workshops, in addition to a packed schedule of speed networking and pool-centered events.

The morning legal panel, which will be covered in depth elsewhere, focused on the urgent subject of obscenity prosecutions and featured a stellar panel of attorneys, all of whom are intensely engaged in individual and collective court battles to defend sexual expression in this country. This writer moderated the seminar, but was nonetheless alternately moved and inspired by the passion, information and wisdom exhibited by the panelists.

The legal panel was followed by the How to Create a Sticky Website seminar, which was moderated by XBIZ World managing editor Stephen Yagielowicz and featured a singular lineup of stickiness experts that included Colin Rowntree of Wasteland, Albert Lazarito of Silvercash and Silver Sinema, Vegas Ken from The Best Porn, Tole from Heatseek, Dirty D from HowIGotRich.com and Mike Adair of Spearmint Rhino.

Before dispersing to enjoy the Miss XBIZ Summer 2008 competition, the speakers imparted excellent suggestions for improving all-important retention in an industry where conversion ratios continue to increase. Indeed, if this show had an educational theme, no matter the intended focus of the seminar or workshop, it was traffic, retention and a primary focus on professionalism and smart business decisions.

Clearly, the subject of stickiness and retention was near and dear to the speakers’ hearts as they suggested ideas for improving user experience, a catchphrase that has become the mantra of the business of late. In order to meet the challenge of the tube sites and an Internet full of free content, all the essential buzzwords were thrown out, including interactivity, relationships, community and social networking, to name a few. The somewhat elusive essence of creativity was also mentioned as something that many in the business need to get back in touch with as a means of engaging their members in ways that many of not most of the tube-script websites cannot.

The first workshop of the afternoon was SEO: More Than Just Rankings, presented by Kevin Godbee of Web 3.0 Internet Consulting. Working off a PowerPoint presentation, Godbee walked an almost full room through the basics of effective SEO, using a recent project as a model for how to achieve almost immediate top rankings on Google. With strict attention to detail, it was a very hands-on presentation that delivered on Godbee’s promise to provide something that attendees could take home and immediately incorporate into their businesses.

The Online Business Success Clinic followed, presented by XBIZ president Alec Helmy and Yagielowicz, who presented a comprehensive look of the essential elements of success in this business. The workshop was purposefully basic, and provided the necessary ingredients that all businesses need to address in order to make it in the ever-evolving online adult industry.

A substantial period of time was left for questions from the audience, which seemed equally interested in Helmy’s own evolution over the years, a journey that has culminated in XBIZ, which he said was currently the great interest in his life. Helmy stressed the idea that loving what you do is every bit as important as starting an adult business for the money, though he had pragmatic reasons for saying that as well as emotional ones.

“Whatever you do, be passionate about it or someone will come along and kick your ass,” Helmy cautioned.

The final workshop of the day and the show was NATS 101, presented by Too Much Media’s Fred Schank, who provided a granular look at the new NATS V4. An extremely thorough and robust piece of affiliate software, the new version of NATS builds on the previous version by making several improvements designed to provide program owners and affiliates more options and greater control over interfaces, data and information than ever before. So many impressive changes have been made that it would be impossible to list them all in an overview of the workshop, but suffice to say that the result is a complex tool that seems to allow an almost unlimited number of variations and choices.