AVNONLINE FEATURE 200603 - Blogging for Dollars

The adult industry prides itself on being a group of early adopters, and for good reason. When pornographers embrace a new technology, it’s bound to take off in the mainstream. Witness the rise of VCRs, DVDs, the Web, streaming video, and pay-per-click content—long before big studios and Google took over, the adult industry was there. But there’s an obscenely hot new tech trend that pornographers have ignored at their own peril: blogs. Many blogs attract millions of repeat customers per day, and any site lucky enough to be linked from them could find its hits exponentially boosted. The blogosphere could be a yet untapped porn goldmine.

Violet Blue, an editor at popular sex blog Fleshbot.com, says her site regularly gives pornographers publicity. “Our site is like a traffic hose,” she says. “You can make a lot more money off a project if you create something that we can link to.” However, Blue says that most adult-site webmasters are clueless about the power of blog publicity and don’t bother to make their sites attractive to places like Fleshbot. Nor do they understand what it takes to seduce repeat customers by adding enticing blogs to their sites.

That’s why it’s time to download the blogging software of your choice, whip out your keyboard, pump up your content, and start sinking your porn tentacles deep into the blogosphere.

Blog Porn

One of the few blog-savvy porn stars is Nina Hartley, whose website boasts a free, steamy, and entertaining blog on its front page. Its cum-soaked content brings readers back for more and inspires them to join the pay sections of her site. A recent entry invites readers into a hot scene between Nina, Adrianna Nicole, and Nina’s partner, Ernest. Adrianna arrives with a bag of sex toys and Nina lovingly describes all the equipment she hopes to use on her hot little friend. Once Nina and Ernest have tormented Adrianna into oblivion, they introduce a little slave play. “I got a bit of warm, soapy water in a basin and put a sponge in it. Bringing it back to the dungeon bed, I instructed Adrianna to wash the bed on her hands and knees,” writes Nina. “Of course, as she did so, Ernest got behind her and started to fuck. Any good slave knows that, should that happen, her job is to keep scrubbing, and so she did.”

The story continues with Nina’s characteristically perky-slutty interjections (“I admired the view of her being a greedy little wench”) and ends with screaming orgasms, electric butt plugs, and the threesome collapsing in a big, sticky pile. It is detailed erotica that will definitely get Nina’s fans off. But without pictures, many readers will be left wanting more. That’s why Nina informs us in the first paragraph of the entry that Adrianna is the woman with whom she did a webcam show a week before. If her randy readers want to know more about that luscious tryst, they can pay to join her site.

People usually visit a website numerous times before they join, and Nina uses her blog to bring those indecisive visitors back again and again. She also does something that many pornographers forget about: she includes the juicy details of her “sexcapades” and assures potential site members that they’ll get quality content for their money. A lady who is sexy enough to tell stories like this will surely deliver when it comes to photo sets, cam shows, and movies.

Most porn bloggers use their blogs in the same way Nina does. They post tantalizing pictures, describe burning quests for the ultimate double-penetration orgasm, and invite readers to pay if they want to know what happens after that brand-new brushed-steel dildo gets screwed onto a kitchen stool. Many of these bloggers – like Trixie of TastyTrixie.com and her boyfriend, Tucker, of TrixiesHouseboy.com and DeliaCD.com – are entrepreneurs who can make a living on homebrewed sites with low maintenance costs.

Trixie and Tucker, who make thousands of dollars a month on five different fetish, spycam, and blog sites, say that their secret is creating “authentic and real” blogs. Dirty stories may inspire people to join a site for a week or month, but if you want lasting loyalty, you’ve got to create intimate online personae. The more your customers want to know what’s happened to you this week, the more likely they are to re-subscribe to your site.

Think of the porn blog as a cross between the addictiveness of soap operas with the payoff of good, solid hardcore. It’s this principle that keeps hundreds of people returning to TastyTrixie and TrixiesHouseboy, and inspires other sites to lease their feeds.“I’m not trying for impulse buys. I focus on retention. That’s what blogs are good for,” says Trixie. “The more our customers know us as people, the more they are hooked. That’s why our sites are so personal.”

Readers of the TastyTrixie blogs get doses of dirty talk – bookended by “join our site” links – but they also get glimpses of Trixie and Tucker’s personal lives. Trixie blogs about problems with her landlord, yoga, her dog, and what’s wrong with partying on New Year’s Eve. Her blog gives visitors an experience that makes buying access to her cam shows far more satisfying than jacking off to stale images.

You can find similar sexy, personal content on blogs like Pinkgasm.com, where we follow the lusty adventures of industry icons Tassy and Halcyon, a notoriously hot couple with a fetish for dyed pink hair. Other sites, like the gothic BlueBlood.net, post regular entries about life, sex, and everything in between. BlueBlood webmasters Amelia G. and Forrest Black and many of their models also blog at LiveJournal.com, which is often free and can generate a tremendous amount of traffic. These personal diaries let visitors see the objects of their lust as real people and allow the models to express themselves in ways that make their photo shoots more entertaining.

Many porn blogs are also huge storehouses for delicious free content. Jay, who runs SexyShoesSexy.blogspot.com, regularly posts tantalizing free pictures of his wife’s feet for an adoring readership that can’t wait to see the next high-heeled confection she’ll wear. As Jay puts it, the blog will remain free because “You get fewer visitors if people have to pay, and I just want to have fun and show off my wife.”

Free goodies won’t undercut the sales for your porn blog, though. In fact, they might help you generate sales. Buying ads on Sexy Shoes Sexy could drive traffic to your blog as would – to a better degree – a post from someone else about your site. Jay’s got a built-in loyal audience who will respect his recommendations, but getting that recommendation isn’t as easy as sending out a press release. Attracting the attention of bloggers will be one of the best investments you’ve ever made—if it’s done right.

The Publicity Machine

Many porn blogs exist solely to bring attention to new and interesting adult sites. These are generally called “sex blogs” because they don’t sell pornography—they just post news and reviews about sexy entertainment. Like Fleshbot, which is owned by Gawker Media, many of these blogs earn money from advertising. Others, like Erosblog.com and GayPornBlog.com, make additional money by creating affiliate relationships. Each time one of their links leads to a sale, the bloggers get a cut—sometimes up to 50 percent.

Jack and Mike, the webmasters of Gay Porn Blog, say they get up to 25,000 unique visitors to their site every day. And it’s no wonder— the site is chock full of tasty insider reviews of the latest in gay porn as well as industry gossip and the occasional editorial on “assology.” All those readers translate quickly into sales for whatever they review. Mike says, “We can see directly how our reviews help sales. An amateur website might get 20 new subscribers just from one review.”

Like most bloggers, Jack and Mike aren’t in it just for the money—both have day jobs working at adult film studios. Gay Porn Blog is an expression of their obsession with porn, and as Jack says, “We have an agenda. We want to see better porn, so we review the movies and sites we think are good so that other producers will imitate them.” They never give bad reviews because “we get bags of bad porn every week,” Jack says. “So why bother talking about them? We want to find the gems.”

If you want your site to benefit with a bump in traffic from a sex blog post, you need to give the bloggers what they want. For Jack and Mike, a big part of that means doing something different or cutting edge. Both were ecstatic about Cirque Noir, a new movie from Titan Studios that features Buck Angel, a female-to-male transsexual who mixes it up with a group of leather daddies and a clown. Bloggers want to be surprised, to have something off-kilter to write about. Pitch them the projects and images that will have people talking about more than a big cock. Is the big cock encountering a pumpkin or attached to a silver-skinned lady? If so, it’s worth blogging about.

At Fleshbot, Violet Blue isn’t nearly as concerned with weirdness as she is with having something substantive to link to when she writes an entry. “I won’t link to a site that doesn’t offer some free materials,” she says. “If pornographers want to be ahead of the curve – and I know they do – they need more than ads to bring in audiences. They need to shift how they make contacts because the Web is about people liking you and having reason to come back to your site.” She says the best way to make contact with both bloggers and the audiences they harness is to be sure you have a generous free area on your site. Bloggers can link to the free pictures then shuttle their customers over to your site already primed to enjoy (and buy) your content.

There is, however, a kink in the world of sex blogging. The new 2257 regulations place sex bloggers – people who write about porn without actually making it – into the category of “secondary producers,” any person who “produces, assembles, manufactures, publishes, duplicates, reproduces, or re-issues a book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, digitally or computer-manipulated image, picture, or other matter intended for commercial distribution that contains a visual depiction of an actual human being engaged in actual sexually explicit conduct.” This means that sex bloggers who “duplicate” and “reproduce” many images and films of “actual humans engaged in actual sexual explicit conduct” are responsible for keeping detailed records about the ages and names of the people in every image or clip they post, the same way “primary” porn producers have to.

Kurt Opsahl, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, helped write a legal guide for bloggers. He says the new regulations about secondary producers are being challenged in court, and he believes they won’t withstand judicial scrutiny. “You have a dubious regulation, and there’s a decent chance it will be struck down,” he says. “But there’s always a concern about the cases against it not being successful. If that happens, and you don’t have your records, you might be violating the law.”

Opsahl says that if sex bloggers want to be safe, they might want to only post images that exclude sexually explicit conduct or simply keep records. The 2257 regulations dictate that secondary producers can make this easier by asking for duplicates of the records kept by primary producers. This means that every time a sex blog posts a picture from your site of two babes fucking, you have to send records about your models.

A Colorado judge in January temporarily enjoined the enforcement of 2257’s secondary producer provisions. Attorney and law blogger Joe Gratz wrote that this is a good indication that the case to get rid of secondary producer recordkeeping requirements will be successful. But until there’s a definitive ruling, sex bloggers have cause for concern.

While it’s good to be aware of the legal issues, remember that there are legal ways around these problems. Many sex bloggers post explicit pictures because they’re willing to maintain 2257 records. Others will post images containing nudity along with alluring descriptions of the sites where they can be found. Even a cautious sex blogger can drive traffic to your site.

Feeding, Tagging, and Networking

So you’ve set up your porn blog and you’ve alerted your favorite sex bloggers that you’re making good smut. It’s now time to learn about the inner workings of the blogosphere—how to use blog search tools and tricks to get your blog on the lists of porn lovers everywhere.

First, you’ll want some blog publishing software, and there are dozens of free tools out there – including MovableType and WordPress – and they’re extremely user-friendly. Just download the program and follow the instructions.

What makes blogs different from standard websites is that they can act as broadcasting systems. Using RSS feeds, which is built into most blogging software, your blog can alert subscribers whenever you post something new. Many blog readers use free tools called “aggregators” that automatically respond to these feeds by downloading new entries from their favorite blogs. That means you don’t have to worry about pulling people back to your site—as long as they subscribe to your free feed, they'll get new content whenever you update. Because it’s opt-in, this method of reminding people is far less irritating (and more legit) than spam. With RSS feeds, you can send pictures or sound files (called videocasts and podcasts respectively). Several porn and sex bloggers are deep into the podcasting market, sending out sexy sound bytes or 30-minute shows. Sam Sugar SugarCut does a regular podcast, as do the porn bloggers at Podwanker.com.

If you think your customers might not want to download aggregators to suck up your feeds, then you’ll want to sign up with online services like Technorati, Weblogs, PubSub, and Feedster. All are websites that aggregate feeds from hundreds of thousands of blogs and make all the feeds searchable. Millions of people without aggregators visit these sites to engage in the digital equivalent of flipping through the newspaper. Someone who wants to read the latest about hot anal action will visit Technorati, type “hot anal action” in the search box, and wait to see the results. If Technorati knows about your feed, it’s likely you’ll pop up.

Unlike traditional search engines, however, blog search services use keywords called “tags.” Tags are like metadata—they’re terms that webmasters choose to describe each entry on their blog to make it more searchable. If you have a new post about a hot anal scene you shot last week, you’ll want to tag that entry with key terms like anal sex The more accurate your tags are, the more likely you are to snag new customers.

Finally, there are many free online blogging services that you can use if you don’t want to bother with MovableType or WordPress. Blogger, LiveJournal, and TypePad are three sites that host free blog accounts with feeds. You and your models can start LiveJournals that are linked to your main website and drive traffic from the blogosphere onto your subscriber list. Another excellent free site is Flickr, which hosts “photo blogs,” blogs made up entirely of pictures with tags and short descriptions. Although Flickr is a little skittish about hardcore images, many people have erotic Flickr photo blogs and link them to more explicit pay sites.

One of the best things about blogging is that you can set up your blog to receive visitor comments. You'll get the very best audience research imaginable if you just turn on the "comments" function in your blog and read what people post about your site. You may discover that people really love a certain set of photos and keep coming back to see them, or you may find that one model is particularly popular. The more you know about your audience’s tastes, the better you can cater to them.

Annalee Newitz is a freelance writer who lives at Techsploitation.com.