Webmaster Access: Day One

STUDIO CITY, Calif. – The first day of the Webmaster Access West conference got off to a shaky start this year, although by the end of the night, things definitely were looking up.

Held at the Universal Sheraton Hotel just five minutes north of Hollywood, the webmaster show appeared to be struggling to find its rhythm in the earlier part of the day. By most accounts, the show felt disjointed—and quiet. It wasn’t until later in the evening, following a slew of seminars in the morning and afternoon, when attendees began to congregate in the lobby of the hotel to inject some life into the event.

That’s not to say there wasn’t anything worthwhile happening. Following a corporate-sponsored lunch earlier in the day, the seminars took up the bulk of the afternoon, with several pressing topics.

The first seminar, “Newbies: Keys to Success,” proved beneficial to those just starting out in the adult industry, with speakers offering no-nonsense advice on getting a site off the ground, acquiring and distributing content, and discussing the realities of the porn business.

The “Newbies” seminar was followed by “Where’s the Traffic?” The seminar touched on ways of differentiating the various types of traffic and offered several significant tips on how to get the most of it.

Kink.com’s Reena Patel proved to be the most confident speaker on the panel, which also included SexToy.com’s Dave Levine, solo-girl site model Sunny Leone , SilverCash’s Albert Lazarito, and HotMovies’ James Siebert.

Topics ranged from courting traffic within traditional methods (“Provide webmasters with all the tools they need to send you traffic,” Patel advised) to new types of traffic (such as user-generated content sites and text links, which Levine noted are “cheaper” than traditional banners) to retaining traffic in a changing marketplace.

Leone talked about her struggles running her own solo-girl site, although she noted that by shooting original content exclusively for her site, she has been able to retain control of the content and regulate the money made off her name. “I’ve been in this business a long time, and a lot of people made money off my name,” she stated. “Now, it’s my turn. The best thing about running my own site is that I own all the content, and I make the money. You can’t regulate what people are going to steal, but by shooting content only for yourself, you can regain a lot more control over where it turns up.”

Patel encouraged webmasters not to spend too much time stressing over the trend for free porn on sites like PornoTube.com. “Free porn is going to be out there whether we like it or not. [But], just like in the music business, there are people who want to get free stuff, but there are people who are willing to pay for it. Learn to think outside the box. Change your marketing. Give your surfers something they’re not going to get anywhere else.”

After one audience member inquired about acquiring traffic from mainstream routes, Lazarito cautioned webmasters to think carefully about doing so. “Mainstream venues don’t always put a positive spin on people in the porn business,” he noted. “Before you start writing to NBC, be cognizant of what your business model is, because you might get in trouble.”

Patel agreed. “There are certainly many mainstream venues out there that you can use to get traffic, but you have to take into account your responsibility to this industry,” she said. “You have to take into account your willingness to deal with the publicity. You have to be willing to accept the consequences of mainstream attention.”

The third and final seminar of the day, “Pornstars and How to Promote Them,” was perhaps the most erratic of the bunch. The panel was “moderated” by the Floating World’s Terri Redor, who attempted to keep the proceedings grounded. But, with models Kayla Quinn and Courtney Cummz on board to offer advice on how to build sites around porn personalities, it was a rather lively discussion.

Just as Leone had done in the earlier seminar, Quinn stressed the importance of maintaining control over content and spoke of the satisfaction that comes from being in charge. Offering helpful tips on the merits of niche porn (“‘Hot porn stars’ is not a niche,” she cautioned. “Busty MILFs is a niche.”), she attempted to guide the audience—and Cummz—through some of the trickier twists and turns of running a site while giving somewhat animated sound bites. “Oh yeah, did I tell you all porn stars are stupid?” she deadpanned, adding, “Girls, no matter how professional you show up to events, they’re always gonna look at your tits.” Quinn then proceeded to flash hers.

The panel also included industry blogger Monstar and attorney Michael Fattarosi.

Each seminar was followed by a “breakout session” in the neighboring ballroom. There, panelists mingled with show attendees and sipped cocktails while offering additional advice.

Later, webmasters congregated in the lobby of the Sheraton before migrating to the terrace for the Floating World’s Pornstar Cocktail Reception, where Quinn mingled among show attendees while complimentary beer and wine were served.

Then, it was up to Universal Studios for Epoch’s DECADE party at the Globe Theater. Celebrating 10 years in the industry, Epoch pulled out all the stops for the shindig, which featured a magic show, three extravagant buffets, an open bar, and a band. The theater was decked in white, with huge paper lanterns suspended from the ceiling and tea light candles scattered about the room.

Epoch’s Rand Pate took to the stage, speaking of the accomplishment of celebrating a decade in business. “For 10 years, we’ve been here for you,” he said. “But, we wouldn’t be here tonight if you hadn’t been there for us.”