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Thread: Hi! Another newbie here.

  1. #1
    hostilehostel
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    Hi! Another newbie here.

    Hey everyone,

    I've been lurking for a few months but I'm usually pretty shy (OK, sometimes ) so I haven't said anything yet. But I wanted to finally introduce myself and ask a couple of questions.

    I'm American but live in Spain, and getting ready to launch my first site, a reality paysite. I know, jumping in with both feet. What can I say, it's what I do! I burned out of the software business about a year ago. I worked for a company that made Web content management software. After five years I just couldn't take it anymore - the "value propositions", endless meetings with clueless, power-tripping idiots - so I sold my house in Seattle and bailed for Barcelona. One of the things I realized pretty quickly is that this part of the world is filled with scruffy, morally-ambiguous cute guys and someone needed to get their pants off and put the on the web! So here I am. I have quite a bit of technical expertise and am good at helping with stuff like production automation, client scripting, and the like, so ask me questions and I'll try to help out.

    Anyway, on to my questions:

    I have a niche that seems appealing to most of the gay guys I ask about it, the site built, (what I think is) a great design, about a half-dozen high quality photosets and video of really hot boys, payment processing set up through Verotel, good hosting, and...what am I missing? Is there a paysite checklist someplace? I've read articles here, on CozyFrog, and other places, but haven't come up with a comprehensive list yet. I can be ready to launch in a couple of days, I think.

    Once I push this thing live, my plan for traffic has been to work the SEs, buy up the appropriate keywords on Google (once I know how well I am converting), and probably buy space on something like dudesoffcampus. Here's where the clueless part comes in: what's the best way to set up an affiliate program? Should I try to join up with one that exists or build out my own? Do I need that on day 1 or is it better to wait and make sure everything is running smoothly first?

    WRT pricing, since I only have about 6 sets right now (I can add about one a week, on average - the tourist season is over here so it's tougher to find models at the moment), I was thinking about offering a low price (around 15EUR/month) for subs during the first month or two, then raise it to 25EUR/month after that. I realize that most members are only going to stick around what, 2 months? Do you guys think this sort of pricing scheme makes sense or are surfers going to sign up regardless if they really want it?

    I have about a zillion more questions but I don't want to get greedy so I'll leave it at that for now

    Is it appropriate to ask you guys to take a look at the site before I launch it and give feedback? I would really like some.

    Thanks everyone!

    -alan in sitges


  2. #2
    Scorpio
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    Hi Alan, glad you made it to the board
    Unfortunately, i can't help you when it comes to advertising and marketing as i'm mainly a designer.

    I'd love to see the site before it launches... reality websites always interest me.

    Anyway, welcome to gaywidewebmasters


  3. #3
    Have an idea and make it come to life! Gary-Alan's Avatar
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    Hi Alan! Congratulations on your ascension from lurker to poster! LOL

    Iíd love to see your siteÖ I love helping out! Sounds like you have a great niche there! :thumbsup:

    :eek: :eek:WARNING! Here comes one of my forty page responses! :eek::eek:

    Youíve got a lot of good things going on. But Iím going to beg you to wait a moment, take a step back and get both feet back on shore. You are headed for a possible accident.

    Content Ė sounds like youíve been enjoying your access to ďscruffy, morally-ambiguous cute guysĒ Ė at least I hope youíve been enjoying it LOL Ok you mention you have a half dozen or so of sets and video. How many images per set? How long and what kind of video (Solo? Softcore? Hardcore?) The reason Iím asking is in the pay site game itís not the lone time sign ups we live on, itís the retained members. The longer a member stays for is where the money is. And no matter how we play the pricing game - even with great niche and lower priced membership Ė if they donít stay, the bill donít get paid. And in order to get them to stay you need to have a decent amount of what they are paying for in the site.

    Another content factor is variety. As I asked before, what type of video and photos do you have? For most members hardcore is key. Iím not going to say all members demand hardcore video or pics but I will say most do. Here is one of my popular narcissistic statements Ďif I wanted only softcore, I could look at myself in the mirror when I get out of the shower.í LMAO While I donít really mean that literally, the point I try to stress is if Iím paying for something adult, I at least want to see a dick getting sucked once in a while. So if I think like that, the surfer is probably going to think that even more.
    You mentioned adding one set a week, is that even with tourist season being slow? Weekly updates are always great! That give the current members something to look forward to and the new members a reason to hang around! Remember retention is key.

    Traffic! Traffic! Traffic! This is where I can see the accident waiting to happen. Every day I get emails from webmaster who are losing money on their sites because the did exactly what youíre about to do. They spent money on advertising, SE ads, and CPA (cost per acquisitions). I help them everyday try to save their business from failing. Working the search engines is great but you are not guaranteed to good placement, and even then on some gay traffic sources the return isnít as great as it used to be. So before you spend time and money pursuing these venues, spend the money on building free sites, tgp galleries, gateway/doorway pages and even traffic sites (link lists and such). Build your own network of traffic to send directly to your site. This way, at a much lower cost, you can see if your pay site is going to sell. If it doesnít do as well as you hope, you can spend time tweaking it so that it does without putting it out a lot of cash. Iím not downing the idea of using the seís, ad placement but I wouldnít do it to start. You can get your hands on some significant traffic for free. Once you build up that line of traffic, see how it sells THEN with the money youíve made take it to the next step.

    I donít know how much more I can stress this one factor. I donít want you to be one of those emails I get three months from now wondering why itís going wrong. PLEASE consider building your traffic first.

    An affiliate program Ė that is not necessary on day one. Honestly, I would NOT launch on until I knew for sure that the site was converting well and things were running smoothly. When we launched Stud Money, it really was to promote DILF. But no other sites get added into SM until I am sure they will convert. I spent 3 months making sure the three new sites we launched converted BEFORE we added them to the program. And, an affiliate program IS time consuming. So if you are trying to concentrate on building a solid membership base, itís something Iíd put off for later. Another consideration with this is, if your site doesnít convert well and webmasters donít make money then itís going to be a mark against you. Once a webmaster doesnít convert, they donít come back to you quickly (if at all).

    PricingÖ it is true that if a surfer wants it they will pay for it. But Iím of the opinion that if you make it reasonable priced, they will buy and stay around for the next round of photos/videos. You also need to consider your costs. Will 15EU minus the processing fees and holds clear enough to cover your costs? How much would that be at 25EU? What I typically suggest to clients is to open an excel spreadsheet, and run the numbers from your lowest point to your honest high point. Then work through your processing fees (including how much will be held back) and see where the numbers fall.

    Now look at your ďoverheadĒ costs Ė (only example numbers only) if the site is costing you $100 in bandwidth and server costs per month, film costs $50 a month and you spend $150 on models, that will be $300 per month in ďoverheadĒ. How many members per month will you need, based on the number you cleared above, to at least cover your costs? Now you build your pricing from there. And remember youíre first couple of months are for building you member base, so you donít want to charge 100EU LOL

    Ok Iím going to end my rambling here. I can go on and on and on, especially when I see a webmaster who has an idea that can really work. I hope I havenít scared you off of asking more question
    :wtf:

    Please ask away, just be ready for long answers! :devil:

    Hope this helps!

    My best,
    Gary-Alan


  4. #4
    Have an idea and make it come to life! Gary-Alan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Scorpio
    I'd love to see the site before it launches... reality websites always interest me.

    That's cause you're a dirty old man, now!

    Welcome to the club! :goof:

    hehehe

    GA


  5. #5
    Scorpio
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    Originally posted by Gary-Alan
    :eek: :eek:WARNING! Here comes one of my forty page responses! :eek::eek:
    :thumbsup: that's why i like you hehehe


  6. #6
    Scorpio
    Guest
    Originally posted by Gary-Alan
    That's cause you're a dirty old man, now!

    Welcome to the club! :goof:

    hehehe

    GA
    Well i take back what i just said! hehehehe :grin:
    Last edited by Scorpio; 11-15-2003 at 10:25 AM.


  7. #7
    Have an idea and make it come to life! Gary-Alan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Scorpio
    Well i take back what i just said! hehehehe :grin:
    Oh damn! :idea: Ok you're a dirty YOUNG man?

    hehehe


  8. #8
    Scorpio
    Guest
    Originally posted by Gary-Alan
    Oh damn! :idea: Ok you're a dirty YOUNG man?

    hehehe
    Thank you! sometimes i really feel i have to put the words in your mouth I said words so don't even say something funny hehehe


  9. #9
    hostilehostel
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    Guys, thanks so much for the replies. This is exactly the kind of response I was hoping for - I am sure I have a ton of things to learn!

    Gary-Alan, you brought up some great points and asked a few questions, so let me answer those and then we can talk about the stuff I don't have answers for :grin:

    WRT content, yes I am enjoying myself immensely! All the content was shot by me - I have a bit of experience here but have been improving with each set - and consist of around 120 photos that typically get edited to between 60 and 80. Good quality, sourced from high-res originals and reduced to 740px. Video is sourced from DVCam originals and is edited into 2-3 10-minute segments, set up for MBR streaming with Windows Media 9. So far, said scruffy guys are just fingering and/or reluctantly using dildos ("consoladores" in Spanish, I love that word). These boys are all, in theory at least, str8, but one has expressed an interest in expanding his horizons (and other things) so I plan to start teaching him to suck dick with the other models soon. Probably not every set though. Some just won't sit still for it.

    It would probably help to identify the niche here. It's primarily backpackers/travelers who have landed in Barcelona from wherever and need to replenish their cash before they can move on or go back home. The idea came to me in the summer when a guy who works in a youth hostel was complaining about how often they have to kick people out who can't pay. Hey! I know where those cute boys could get some money! So I have been advertising in the youth hostels and immediate areas for guys who want to make some fast easy cash and doing pretty well with responses. Sometimes they turn their noses up at the idea but after a night or two on the street they call back. Then I hose 'em off, get 'em off, feed and pay them, and send them on their way. I attached a couple of photos as examples.

    QUESTION: Right now I am shooting these guys in my house, always on the same sofa. It's kinda like Dirk Yates' tigerskin bed only...not as fancy. Since the site emphasizes the relative desperation of the models I have been avoiding up to this point using creative locations. I realize that the "same couch, different boy" thing will likely get old pretty soon. What do you think about this?

    Of course, traffic is the big question here and the area that seems the most mysterious to me. I understand what you're saying about needing to build traffic myself, through tgp, linklists, etc., and it makes perfect sense - free traffic that I control is always better than paid traffic that someone else controls. As far as building and promoting those things goes I stil have some learning to do. Frankly I have done a lot of reading and it's something I don't get - lots of talk about this script and that gallery but I guess I don't understand where the traffic for THOSE sites comes from. It has to start somewhere, yes? It can be as simple as a one-pager with a half-dozen photos of one of my boys and a banner to my paysite?

    On to pricing: I have agonized over the financial plan, and have a pretty flexible model set up. My fixed costs per month, including hosting, models and production, are pretty low - less than 1000EUR - so I can play with the pricing a bit to see what happens. At around 300 members month-to-month (is that insane? too low? too high?) things get really interesting at 25EUR (or $, it's nearly the same). At 15EUR, it's OK but not as interesting - I don't think I would want to try to maintain that without more members. One thing I have been assuming though is a pretty heavy churn - 2 month avg subscription length - based on what, I can't remember. You said that the long-termers are the bread and butter. I have thought that would be the case as well and have tried to structure the site in a way that would encourage this (more below). Changing the avg sub length in the model from 2 months to 4 months makes things really interesting! Playing with the acquisition cost of subs between $1-3 tells me that I don't affect my bottom line too much by paying more for a sub, but I still see your point about creating my own traffic. I guess the real questions are: what is realistic to expect in terms of new subs/month, and in terms of avg. sub length?

    Talking about trying to maintain a longer sub length, I understand what you are saying about variety and the need for hardcore stuff. I am also trying to make the tone of the site one where there is incentive to stick around - lots of narrative, conspiratorial winks WRT getting certain boys to do certain things, and a story to go with each boy. I was thinking also about having polls, viewer mail, etc.: "What kind of guy should we make Valentino blow next?" Definitely plan on a newsletter (the teenfeetusa.com one seems a great example) each week promoting the newest model along with any other gossip/news I can come up with. Do these make sense or am I wasting my time? I know that I have stuck around williamhiggins.com much longer than normal because I enjoy reading his (increasingly cranky) missives twice a week.

    OK, one more thing and then I'll stop! Right now I have the content divided up into a free section and a members section. Free section gets soft-core photos only (about 30) of each boy - no full nudity. The members get the dirty photos and video. What's a good way to determine the balance between what is free and what isn't? I have heard that I just want to get them up, not get them off unless they pay and that makes sense. I guess I will have to watch the conversions and play with the content to see. Any guidelines there? And related: how important is a "tour"? Sites like seancody.com and the *bus, CFF, HFBC, etc., seem to do OK without one by drawing you in to the free stuff right away. I have been using that approach so far but wonder if a tour is an absolute must most of the time, or not? I don't think I have ever signed up for a site based on a tour.

    And...I'm spent! The site is currently behind a firewall so I can't give access just yet but I could post some screenshots for Scorpio to critique if it's worth it.

    Thanks again guys, I hope I can be as helpful as you have been someday soon.

    -alan in sitges

    PS - I lied, one more question. How much of a problem is piracy/hacking going to be? I'm using digimarc on all the photos and subscribing to their service that tracks my watermarks around the net but so far I'm resisting using DRM for the video cause it is such a PITA for both me and the members. Nobody else seems to use it. You think it's important?


  10. #10
    virgin by request ;) Chilihost's Avatar
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    My turn!

    Alan, I would NOT recommend you open up a paysite at this stage. I would instead recommend that you get into the biz and learn about it, learn about how to get traffic (free and paid) and how to manipulate it. Join up with some affiliate programs and see how your marketing skills are before you go ahead with a full blown paysite. Take about 6 months at least to do this and you will be in a much better position to make decisions. Learn the industry, the environment, the tricks and the traps and then proceed from there. If you do not know TGP, AVS, LL, topsites, PPC, PPI, SEO, traffic trades, etc then you will not succeed.

    One thing that you have not touched on is your billing solution. Have you sussed out the options? Do you know about IPSPs? Do you know about trials, rebills and scrubbing? Have you thought about setting up offshores in the US or EU for visa compliance? Billing has become a major issue for paysite owners due to visa/mc compliance recently and this will be a headache for you unless you are ready from day 1.

    For your piracy/hacking question, there are scripts that you can install on your server to manage your members area access and to stop password trading. But no matter what you do your images will be traded and circulating on kazaa, etc - but that might be a good thing! Oh, do you have web hosting yet? Have you decided how to program up your site? Will it be straight html or will you put in a content management system using php/mysql, etc.

    There are a lot of issues you will have to deal with, the good news is that there are places like GWW that will help you. But as I said, I would not recommend you just jump into the paysite game unless you have deep pockets.

    Cheers,

    Luke


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