It finally happened, Redbook (as it was known) was seized by the feds and shit down. Redbook was a local the the bay area escort ad mall and review site, though it did have some places to place ads for LA and LV though it wasn’t popular in those sections and putting up a RB ad in an area not SF/Bay was an exercise in futility. It was a big reason why other sites ( Eros/ter etc) couldn’t get a foot hold in the SF/Bay area. It was popular.
Redbook allowed to to post up ads for free, though you could pay for a sponsored ad to get more visibility. They had a review component and they had forums. They had forms everyone could participate in and they had secret forums. As you might guess the forums could be brutal. Women were regularly trolled, denigrated, harassed, insulted and the derogatory list goes on and on. Rebook was used to price control escorts. I remember i once asked early on in my escorting life on an escorts only forum for thoughts on Redbook and if i should post an ad there and i was warned by many a veteran Ho that my price point (at the time was 300) would draw attention and scorn. That the men on that site were big on keeping prices low and using any perceived power they had via reviews or web presence to keep prices in line of what they though they should be which was in my options extremely low. It was also rumored to be owned by “Red” hence the name, who was a pimp who got into the Internet game early. I have no idea of that was true but it never sat well with me and i skipped Redbook for along time but eventually i did put up ads there which got me zero play and were generally a waste of time because i was in Los Angeles not the SF bay area.
Skip ahead to yesterday and Rebook’s domain name was seized by the feds in a joint investigation between the FBI and the IRS. This tells me a few things. Someone didn’t host outside the USA and someone didn’t report their earnings to the IRS. Remember how they got Capone? Thats how they take down many an escort support service. You have got to report your income. Also if you are hosting a escort review site, hosting outside of the US’s jurisdiction is imperative. Hosting with Amazon might be a bad move. Which is who Redbook was hosting with. It boggles my mind and i have to chalk it up to the phenomenon which i see over and over in sex work, you get so comfortable in your own sex work bubble with your own sex work friendly self made circle that you forget that there are forces out there just waiting for you to fuck up so they can shut you down. Be you an ad site, review site, a forum, escort or escort agency. Especially with the advent of the trafficking hysteria thats popped up in the last few years. The rescue industry is a monster of fundraising and they want to keep their fancy store front address and high “non profit” salaries. Shutting down anything only bolsters their fundrasing efforts. Redbook apparently made it easy but not doing their due diligence. People have been arrested and will likely do some time. Monies and property will be seized and the escort world in in a tizzy. Now just because you host outside of the US or pay your taxes doest mean your exempt from investigation but it sure makes things harder for the powers to be to shut you down and reek havoc with your life.
So Redbook is gone and people are panicking because it was a free advertising venue and it was so ingrained in the geographical area. This will have an effect on peoples bottoms lines but its not the end of the world. Shutting down one website doesn’t end prostitution and it doesn’t send people out to walk track. Just put up an on another website like Eros, Lovings, Silxa, etc. Yeah i know those ads are expensive, time to step up your game. Scrape together the cash and invest in your business. Wanna do it on the cheap put up a back-page ad. It also might be a good time to plan a tour as SF/Bay area is going to ‘feel” hot even if it isn’t.
Am i sad Redbook is down? Nope not really, I didn’t like the adverse nature of that site. The reviews were very often fake or used to manipulate and price fix. It was an open secret how corrupt that site was. It was often called a cease pool by women who felt forced to use it because there were little other options in the area as it dominated. A necessary evil. You just kept your head down and hoped you didn’t become a target for scorn, ridicule or harassment. Now maybe another site will step up and women will have a better experience. Once the dust settles of course.
I know i’ve been bitching a lot lately (especially if you follow me on twitter) about Google and traffic. Theres not conformation in regards to what i’ve been seeing reflected in my traffic stats and research as to Google’s algorithm changes.
Xbiz did an in depth article into Google changing heir adult advertisers policy as in buh-bye adult advertisers. To which I add F’ you Google.
Heres what I don’t get, if Google is in fact bowing to the pressure of pornography prohibitionists, what is the benefit? They own the damn Internet, what do they think these groups are actually going to get people to stop using Google.. in favor of what search engine? What is Google afraid of with these groups? I know Google isn’t very sex worker friendly. In fact they are sometimes downright hostile to them but what does Google have to gain by squeezing out adult traffic? I would think Google would be more worried about government regulation because of the up and down stock drops with their monkeying around with search rankings and traffic ( hello retailmenot) then what some head up their ass “for the children” anti porn group… but oh well no one ever called Google forward thinking well at least not in 10 years. I personally hope their get more competition, id like to see other services squeeze Google a little who ever they may be. I can already see Yahoo and Bing increasing their reach with certain sites of mine in fact one has more search returns in its niche then Google. Thats new and i hope it continues, especially in light of Google being a total dick to legal business that happen to be adult in nature. Cuz thats what the world doesn’t need, Google telling you what you can look at, read or listen too.
Redesigning your site especially if its an e-commerce site is almost always a bad idea, yet people do it all the time and for no good reason. If you have a blog and your income isn’t dependent on it then redesign your little heart out because the drop in traffic that always happens when people redesign wont interfere with your bottom line. If its an e-commerce site, then wham look out.
For example one of the clip sites I sell though Clips4Sale just did a major over hall on their site. I sell a fair amount and on a consistent basis on that site. I’m sure they had some internal reasons for the changes as far as functionality, though they have not conveyed that to the producers. They did say the redesign should help customers find content they are looking for more easily. Thats a pretty broad statement and not very specific information and hence producers like me will need to play trial and error with how the new search works to try to make their studios visible on the site and get some eyeballs to their stores. Also this redesign looks terrible. Its an all text solution to an unknown problem. Maybe it solves some issue i dont know because the motivation for the change wasn’t shared but visually it looks like crap. One thing i do know about design in general and adult entertainment design is that the visual is important as “reading” porn doesn’t drive as much traffic as “seeing” porn. I have my fingers crossed that they will tweak this over hall to not only make it function better so that people can get back to the business of making money but that some work will be put into making it look better too. Time will tell.
My sales have dropped off, as in molasses slow. My traffic has dropped as as well. The right eyeballs are not getting to my studio. The benefit with Clips4Sale versus selling though your own site and processor is that c4s brings eyeballs… their own traffic. They take a big cut for that and its part of the deal. You give them 40% they give you eyeballs, process your sale and host this content. 40% is a lot.
Others producers are noticing similar effects. This is always what happens when a site does this. When you change how people are used to finding what they are looking for traffic decreases and sales diminish. Sometimes permanently sometimes its temporary. Which one will this one be? Its hard to tell this soon. I wish Clips4sale would have given notice that the over hall was coming so we could plan accordingly. There were rumors but rumors are not communication. Since they take 40 percent of every sale i make and i think for that chunk of change a heads up was in order and maybe a better explanation of how the changes would effect studios moving forward but alas that didn’t happen. I’m generally not very critical of c4s as usually their is no reason to be but this redesign and the roll out of it is far less then stellar.
Put this on top of the changes in the Google algorithm and this feels like insult to injury as a result i am not having the happiest couple of months. I know i’m not the only one. A hypnosis social networking site i’m part of Inraptured that drives a bit of traffic to my site is also going to undergo some changes in the month of June as well but at least they let their users know it was coming.