THE POWER OF EMAIL DISCOVERED (PART 2)

Following up my previous post on this subject and when I realized what a good newsletter can do for sales, is what you would include in your newsletters to get the best results. You do not want to get them too busy, but you want to hit the bullet points and drive that traffic where you want it to go. While there are many different forums for this discussion, I am going to stick to the Clips4Sale for the time being to continue on the previous theme. Keep in mind, it’s not always like this, that being said let’s continue.

Clips4Sale has changed the rules for their newsletters, but when I was starting out and had realized this power, I started to do a lot of experimenting. That was not only for advertising my other websites where you could find all of the content, but the sister websites that were the same niche or theme. Sometimes I would re-run content on a new store and drive those eyeballs to a niche traffic websites like a tube or blog, in short, somewhere I was trying to grow some niche traffic. All of this worked to varying degrees.

Another thing that took a lot of tinkering was how best to do the descriptions, and images to get the maximum “teaser” effect to get the click through. I would try short summaries, long summaries of the various scenes. I would put multiple clips (new, most popular) and things like that. I would include 1 pay site, 4 pay sites for the ‘network’ or advertise a network pass. Sometimes even offer up custom videos. Anything that would keep them engages and driving traffic bouncing around my sites.

All of these things worked to accomplish what I wanted with some more successful than others. Over time, C4S changed some of their rules, and others were abusing the email. I am not sure if they had gotten into some sort of spam trouble or what but everything had to be manually reviewed, and approved, before it would go out. You had to link back, among other changes that were probably made for some reason not fully explained, but leads me to my next blog post.

Who should control those lists…

The Power of Email Discovered (Part 1)

I first noticed the power of email, and updates, to my members probably early 2000’s now.

When I had first started my Clips4Sale stores way back when (my first store was 1XXX if that gives you any idea) they offered an option for me to mail all of my past buyers for clips. At first I did not use this feature more than maybe once a month. I thought, as many adult webmasters do, that I do not want to “bother my members” so I did not use this valuable resource to it’s full potential. Once I started doing it, that changed my perspective.

Now, one thing to keep in mind here is, I think it can be abused. For example, if you update every single day. I am not sure that your members, even the die hard guys, want to be emailed every single day. I have a few clip stores that I have bought clips from in the past that mail bomb me literally all of the time about every little thing the do, including upcoming shoots and models. For me, that is excessive. When I was updating with new content every single day, I would send out a newsletter once ever two days and that seemed to be a decent balance. Or I would alternate between stores to be able to send out email every day, but different stores and niches to keep from slamming the same buyers day in and day out. Feedback from some patrons however said they preferred once a week on a Friday, but to each their own.

Moving along to the more important part, sales. When I would send out the newsletters for new updates, I would notice that I would get at minimum double the sales for that day and sometimes as high as 5-10 times not sending one. I also found some other concepts that helped drive sales, but I will talk about those in a later blog post. Staying on track, when I would send out those newsletters traffic and sales would increase even for less attractive girls. Often times people would even buy older clips versus the new, which I always found interesting. I guess it was pay day?

Newsletters are a great way to keep you engaged, especially if you are doing a lot of updates or on a delivery platform such as a C4S where you are literally competing against tens of thousands of other stores. You need to do everything you can to keep your patrons interested in your wares without abusing it.

Setting Realistic Expectations

One central theme to any of these money making blogs, or those who want to go to work for themselves is that they all want to live like MTV Cribs, or offering up that lifestyle as if it’s so easy to attain. Now, do not get me wrong. There are many fairly easy ways (if you want to work) that you can make what is life changing money online. Few are going to be done in a couple of hours a day, and most likely not going to put you on a episode of MTV Cribs, but you can still change your life and work for yourself if that is what you really want to do.

What do I mean by that statement above?

Well, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of it. I live in the midwest of the United States. By that I mean, we do not have the same cost of living as a New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle or alike. You can get a nice sized house for a realistic amount of money. However, let’s go beyond that. The median income in the U.S. according to the census is around $43,585.00 a year, or roughly $838.00 gross per week. If you could make an extra $1000.00 per month, that would be life changing to most people. That is an extra $12,000.00 per year, and would afford them a nice family vacation, new house, kids college tuition or alike. For many people, that is realistic life changing income in their daily lives.

How hard is it to make $1000.00 extra per month? Not hard. Some options will require capital investment (equipment, software, servers, etc), and others are little more than time. Either way, it would involve a commitment from you. Which I honestly believe is the hardest part for most people looking to make money online or on the side from their normal day job.

I have had plenty of people locally, friends and acquaintances, want me to help them make extra money. Most give up in the first week despite the actual “work” is fairly easy. I have given them opportunities to easy make an extra $500/1000/2000 just to have them piss it away being lazy. I can’t make you do the work, and if you can’t carry your weight, frankly it’s not worth my time.

Ultimately, anyone can teach you the SKILLS. But we can’t give you WILL.

Same Offer, Different Networks

This talking point ties into the previous post to some degree.

When you are doing affiliate marketing, especially in the mainstream space, you want to work with multiple ad networks. Preferably those that have your same top converting offers and here is why. A lot of offers will burn through their budgets around the half way mark of the month. This happens consistently, and it’s easily one of the most frustrating things I deal with. You have a good offer(s) that consistently convert, but you only have it for a part of the month and then you have to scramble to find something else to put in it’s place. Which is not always easy.

What I have found that will work sometimes is simply pushing the traffic to a different network for that last week or two of the month for that same offer. You then get to push an offer that you know converts, assuming results around the same (see previous post), and you do not have to waste time sending to junk that you do not know.

When it comes to offers, a lot of people make it more complicated than it needs to be. I push the same offers today I pushed 18 months ago. They simply keep converting. With one particular diet offer, I consistently lead the network pushing it. I probably could go direct and cut out the network to be honest potentially getting a better pay day. That being said, sure, I mix in some new offers and they make up 30-40% of the daily rotation, but I have a core group for different verticals that convert consistently. Finding replacements that convert consistently in the tail end of the month is not as easy.

All the same, this is a work around for a problem that I know for a fact will happen to you on a monthly basis for any good offer. Good offers will almost always burn out their monthly budgets, so plan accordingly to keep your affiliate dollars rolling in.

Split Testing Offers

Regardless of the offers you are peddling, and how you’re doing them, you need to always always be split testing and tracking them. I have found even split testing offers on different ad networks is key sometimes as you will find one giving you better conversion ratios than the other. Now, I am not saying they are shaving per se, it could be any number of things. However, I always find this odd, especially when an offer one place is converting 2 to 1 over another. I’ll give you a quick example.

I have a mailing list that was generated from a health blog. The list is not super large by comparison to others, but it does have a lot of diet or health conscious individuals trickling in. I send them offers from the ad networks that I feel might be of some interest, or that I have used myself with a short story of my experience newsletter style.

Anyway, there is a particular offer I really like that converts with a decent pay day. Historically I have always sent with one ad network that pays me like clockwork net7. I do not push networks that pay longer than net7, but that is for a different post. Getting back on topic, so I do pretty well with this particular diet offer. This other network keeps begging me to push it with them, and give me a higher pay out on it than my current network if I would send the traffic there. It was a $50.00 difference, so I was ok sure I will give it a go.

Imagine my surprise when it converted significantly better at the 2nd ad network. The subject line was the same, the creative was similar, but the conversions where dramatically different. I found this odd, and continued to split test over the course of 3 months. This behavior continued. When I confronted the ad network, I was given a series of excuses from pixel firings, or some other nonsense. Needless to say, I started pushing most of that diet offer traffic to the 2nd ad network because of it.

Since then, I have noticed the same at other networks on different offers. If I working with 3 networks, and they all have the same offer, I will demo it with all 3 and see which one converts the best and then go with that. If it converts better, but pays less, sometimes I can get that bumped up depending on sales.

However, on those big ticket offers like I was pushing to my blog newsletter list, that added up to THOUSANDS of dollars in difference over those months of split testing. It converted better, and it paid more per sale. You obviously want to make sure that you are not being lazy, and you’re cashing in on those types of traffic and conversion differences as it has the potential to cost you a lot of money otherwise.

* Same Offer with Different Creatives, & Subject Lines @ Same Network
* Same Offer with Similar Creatives & Subject Lines @ Different Networks

When possible, if you work with multiple networks, and have an offer that you know converts. Track the results between them. Demo it different networks, same subject lines, and similar creatives and track those results. You should be able to do this easily enough. In the end, you will thank me if you’re not already doing it.

Finding Your First Web Host

When you are looking for web hosting for you adult, or any online business for that matter, you want to make sure that you do your research. By that I mean, not only on the company you’re planning to go with, but also in regard to your planning for actual needs.

I can tell you from experience both as a webmaster, and an owner of an ISP/web host that 90% of the people overpay for what their actual needs are. There are many reasons for this, but a lot simply purchase based on perceived value of a huge bandwidth pipe, storage, or bells and whistles. When you’re looking to find the best fit to keep your hosting within a starter budget, you want to start small and scale up from there. A lot of your “big plans” are going to take 10 times longer than you expected I can assure you. There is no need for a enterprise level dedicated when a robust VPS (virtual private server) will do. You can always upgrade.

With that being said, you need to think on what is important to you. A lot of ISP’s will use catch all phrases like ‘managed hosting’ but what does that actually entail? To some that does not mean they are going to help you trouble shoot your CMS script. They will tell you it is beyond their skills and bring in a developer, where as others will help you trouble shoot. Do you need managed? Most likely the answer is yes, but there are some folks who can do server side work themselves to save a few bucks. Historically I can tell you that if you do not know Linux, you had better get managed hosting as a few support tickets to a independent or outside network admin would wipe out any savings you thought you would get. However, a lot of this really comes down to knowing what you will need or not. Again, most of the time you can always upgrade or downgrade on management if the ISP offers it.

While I could write on this topic all morning, what you really need to think, plan, and ask are as follows

* How much bandwidth do I need?
* How much storage do I need?
* How am I going to manage my server? Do I need managed or unmanaged?
* How am I going to handle my back ups? RAID? Cloud Storage? Off site?
* How much processing power do I need?

Blogs, minimal. Video editing, decent amount. High traffic site, premium.

One more thing to keep in mind that a lot of people forget about, or that is not disclosed where they get burned is bandwidth projections. When you are moving your content from one web hosting company to the next, or you are uploading 100GB of content to build your empire, all of that will count for your traffic and bandwidth usages. It’s not all simply website traffic that counts, all of that moving and building will count as well.

Some ISP’s charge $5-10 Mb overage, so you want to make sure that you have this discussion and do the math on what you’re looking at on migration or uploads. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a huge bill you did not expect and that could crush your hopes and dreams. While a lot of this is common sense, I can assure you more times than not from my own experiences you are not told these things. It could be a poor salesman who simply doesn’t know, or simply “forgot”. However, it can be a costly lesson you will want to be aware of to avoid.

Experts say e-mail marketing won’t die soon

E-mail marketing is far from dead, but marketers will have to adjust to social media, a range of mobile devices, prioritized inboxes and new security concerns, said Anita Absey, SVP of global sales and services at Return Path, on February 10.

Absey told the Direct Marketing Club of New York’s February luncheon that e-mail “is not dead, and is not going anywhere” as a marketing medium.

“Facebook’s inbox will not kill e-mail,” she said. “But it will be an interesting place to converse with people.”

Absey’s presentation to the DMCNY came days after comScore released statistics showing that Web-based e-mail use dropped 59% in December 2010, compared with the year before. ComScore also said in its “2010 US Digital Year in Review” that consumers adopted social networking at high rates throughout 2010.

Absey said marketers will have to adjust their strategies to use Facebook e-mail and added that video should be used “for a very compelling reason.” She added that e-mail security concerns, such as phishing and spam, will continue to be a nuisance for marketers in the near future.

Absey also said the creation of additional e-mail filtering systems, such as Google’s Priority Inbox, is a potential game-changer for marketers because they can no longer assume recently sent messages will be near the top of the inbox.

“What we’ve been doing for the past 15 years, where the last one sent is on the top, that doesn’t work anymore,” she said.

http://www.dmnews.com/experts-say-e-mail-marketing-wont-die-soon-dmcny/article/196117/

What Niche Should I Start With?

This questions has come up probably tens of thousands of times since online adult started. Where to start, what should I do, what is the top selling niche, and so on. I have to admit that it’s entertaining at times to see the thought process involved by some when they are looking to start their web business and how they simply overthink this. It is not complicated at all.

When anyone new asks me directly, or on a forum, where they should look for the best niches to invest in, I tell them to simply go to a site like www.clips4sale.com and look on the main page. That will give you a clue. You can also look on any number of adult sites and see what is the top converting content. That is what you should be investing in if you are just getting started.

That’s it.

Yes, I know many are looking for the meaning of life or something much deeper but often times the answers are very clear and straight forward. It does not require a lot of thinking to figure it out when the answer is nicely ranked and categorized for your pleasure.

The same can be said for email marketing, seo, or pretty much anything online. For email, the answer is in your junk folder. Do you see what you are being sent every day? Most likely that is because those offers are converting. Those ads you see in your fae on Yahoo, Gmail, or other blogs and such? Yep, you guess it. The top converting or new offers. This is not difficult to figure out. The answers are there. You simply have to pay attention.

That does not mean that you do not want to look for unsaturated markets and offers, as you always keep an eye out for them. However, you also need to balance out the risks and potential reward. If you’re investing $1000.00 to shoot content, you want to make sure you are going to get that money back and then some. If you’re investing $500.00 into sending 100,000 emails, you want to make sure you see that R.O.I.. You need to find a good balance between converting offers, and those that are higher risk. In the end, you want to make sure you can at least break even. Good luck!

Where to Find Good Programmers?

It seems at least once a month if not more I get asked for a referral for a decent programmer or designer. The reasons vary as to why people are looking for a referral, but I feel their pain. I have been there myself, and went through many supposedly good programmers just to be let down, or they disappear with thousands of dollars. However, on the bright side eventually I found a few good one’s I am happy to recommend from time to time.

Vlad (vlad@faxite.com)
I have worked with Vlad at least 5 years plus at the time of this posting. I have had him do everything from small html modifications, to full blow applications and content management systems for a couple of sites. His level of details is very good, and what he delivers is a consumer grade product compared to most others. His attention to details can sometimes have your project run behind, but you are going to be happy with the results. If he thinks something can work better, he will offer you up advice along the way. His prices are fair and he is highly recommended.

Konrad (konrad@mechbunny.com)
When I first started working with Konrad he was a one man show with his MechBunny script. Now he has a team of developers, which allows him to take on more work. Their prices are fair, and the turn around times quick. I have had Konrad help me with full content management systems from scratch, or bending and twisting MechBunny to fit my needs. They can handle most projects big and small. Highly recommended.

Andy (andy@borkedcoder.com)
For a long time, Andy was my go-to guy. He could bang out programming in half the time of others, and it was typically better code. Despite being higher cost per hour, he simply was more efficient so it did not matter as the costs would be the same or less. Unfortunately, Andy took a job at an ISP where that became his full job and he freelanced on the side. Meaning, he took on less programming projects and would be booked 1-6 months in advance. While I still highly recommend him, his time is limited.

While there are some others I have worked with, I may add them in a later post. These are the top 3 of people I have given a lot of repeat business because I was happy with the experience, code, and delivered product. I would highly recommend you start here when looking for a good programmer, at least within adult, as these guys are 100%.

Pay Site Processing – Verotel

When you are getting into the adult business, or any online business for that matter, once of the most important things you need is going to be processing (i.e. how you process payments and credit cards). Over my 17+ years now in the adult industry, there have been a lot of that have come and gone… iBill, ePassport, among others. You need to pick a company that has a long track record and you can trust, enter Verotel.

Now let me preface this by saying, I have found no payment processor perfect, each one has it’s pros and cons. However, I have been with Verotel a good 10+ years now and I have rarely had any serious issues. When I need to get a hold of someone, I can. My payments have always come on-time or early. Most of the time with them, I have been paid early via ACH, something that I do enjoy.

They have an entry level, which I used initially, called ‘tickets club’. This allowed you to keep your expenses to a minimum while building up your website. At which point you would upgrade to a PRO account, and be subject to the fees associated with it. If you are pushing any serious volume, you would want a PRO account. You also need this for NATS, or if you run an affiliate program. But that is for another day.

At the time of this posting, they have three tiers I believe and their rates and percentages can vary. However, you can always contact Jason (jason@verotel.com) and see if they can do something for you outside of the norm posted rack rates. I know this is possible. ;-)

Over all, I am happy with Verotel and the service they provide. They have upgraded their back end making and it’s very user friendly to set up your pay sites and plans. Their turn around on support tickets takes longer than some others, but rarely do I need anything done in 5 minutes from them, so it’s not a major issue for me. Paid early is nice, and not ONE of my clients has ever complained to me about having issues with their credit card or service. They are a solid choice for processing.