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.
As an adult content producer my work can and has been pirated, shared, traded and generally not paid for by people looking to get free stuff. Its par for the course and yes, it pisses me off. I’m a little guy not Warner Bros Records i don’t have their resources nor their cash flow and every dollar counts when it comes to making a living this way. I do my best to create quality content and as a result people like my work (you dirty perverts, i love you all) unfortunately there is an underbelly and they also love my work and love to rip me off to get it. They make up all kinds of excuses as to why they are entitled to steal from me..
Some misconceptions about selling adult content online.
1. Hypno-Dommes dont report their income and pay taxes
Yes we do! When selling content online you fill out tax ID information (which includes detailed identity information) and that information is used by the company’s processing your sales in their tax reporting. I get W9s at the end of the year and trust me writing that check to uncle Sam at the end of the year hurts like a motherfucker but tax evasion is not an even an option when you have a paper trail for every… single… item you sell online. That’s worth repeating for the people who think adult content producers dont pay taxes or report their income. EVERY SINGLE SALE is documented. That’s how they got Capone and if they can get him you can be damn sure theyd get some piddly adult content maker.
2. No one would know about you if it wasn’t for file sharing
This is almost laughable. Its in fact the other way around one you’ve built a reputation and its solid then you start seeing your files up on sites being shared. I had been making content for 2 years before i had to start sending out notices and playing whack a mole with my work. But people love to take credit for your discovery when in fact you’ve been working in the business and making a living for years before you were brought to their attention.
3. I’m a greedy bitch
Yeah I’m a greedy bitch if by that you mean i want to get paid for working. This is my actual job just like you saying “would you like to super size that?” is YOUR job. You wouldn’t want to work for free and neither do i. I know it’s hard for some people to understand because they jerk off to what i make but this is my job. I do other things for fun and trust me making Mp3s about sucking cock, isn’t one of them. That my friends is a J..O..B…
Sending out notices to get files removed is part of the territory and i do it diligently. It does however take time away from making new content, which is how id rather spend my working time. It does in fact hurt business when my files get shared, that is a stone cold fact. When i have to send out another notice to get another file removed it truly ruins my day. It’s the part of being in this business i dislike the most, dealing with people who feel entitled to steal from me.
As a creator of adult content I’m always looking for new platforms and ways to sell my content. When Gumroad was brought to my attention it perked up my ears and I delved in to it to see f it was compatible with what I was doing. I read over the FAQs and the TOS and there was no restriction on adult content. Gumroad fees are 5% of the sale price plus .25 per transaction. At the end of they month if you have over 10 bucks in your Gumroad account they Paypal you your earnings. In the non adult world thats not exactly a bargain, in the adult world its well worth the time to look into this more. When you sell your work though clips sites they often take a very hefty chunk of your cash but clip sites also also bring traffic, Gumroad doesn’t, with Gumroad you need to bring your own traffic to the table.
Step one was done. That’s always the most frustrating step because makers of adult content are excluded from so many places. (Yeah, I know we have cooties) Step two was to test it out. I began in Aug 2012 uploading a handful of MP3 files and placing the links to them on my Mistress Demilo website. I get a lot of people searching for hypnosis mp3s from that sites so I though it would be a good test. I made a couple of sales. I waited until the end of the month and the transfer of funds was made. It went smooth. I did this for a couple more months adding a blurb about Gumroad to my monthly newsletter to my customers and asked them for feedback if they purchased products though them, I also wrote blog posts about how you could get some files though Gumroad and I diligently used the Gumroad dashboard feature of tweeting my content to my close to 4k+ followers on twitter. It’s worth noting that feature automatically adds an @gumroad to its tweets. More files were bought, end of the month more smooth transactions were made.
In Oct I decided to expand with Gumroad, I had tested them out and all went well time to do more with this new platform to sell on. I added the ability to buy though Gumroad to two more of my websites, both Sissy slut hypnosis and Erotic femdom hypnosis, I devised a marketing campaign around Gumroad, I made a few files exclusive to Gumroad and my sites for the month of October. As a result of this added time and effort my Gumroad sales went up about 400% maybe a little more. I was pretty excited about the progress. I tweeted to and told other ladies who I know sell content about Gumroad encouraging them to check them out. I waited for my transfer of funds at the end of the month. It didn’t come.
I made sales on December 1st (2) but never got a notice that my money was transferred. On December 2nd I couldn’t access my account, it would say “logging in” but it never connected. I had a bad feeling. My better half told me I was panicking to early, though hes very sensitive to sex worker issues, until you walk a mile in a sex workers shoes you cant know what its like to have that powerless feeling that arises when your gut tells you someone is disrespecting you or taking advantage because if what you do for a living. I tweeted at Gumroad that i couldn’t access my account. In the afternoon when i still couldn’t access my account i investigated further, I found that Gumroad was up and running for other people, that other peoples items were still for sale on Gumroad and that links to my content was met with 404 errors. I also checked my public profile and though it was there there was no content listed available.
I sent in a email to support informing them of all this including the info that i hadn’t received any funds on the 1st. I was met with radio silence.
I waited 24 hours, still nothing. I sent in a second email this time I found the email address of the founder ( a 19 year old wunderkind of some sort the media tells me) Sahil Lavingia and sent him a note too just in case my gut as wrong and they were experiencing a bigger database or email issue. Hell it had been even suggested to me that maybe they had fired their IT or support person and were scrambling.
A little over an hour later I got a response. A two line email telling me my account had been suspended for “Illicit” content. No mention of the money they owed me, nothing addressing any of my questions just a curt yup, we deleted you. Let me break this down.
Illicit means Illegal, they were telling me they shut me down and from my perspective were going to keep my funds because my content was Illegal. Which of course its not. Its adult, its mature, its erotic but its not Illegal. I wrote Gumroad back a rather not nice email telling them such asking them for my money and accusing them of stealing. I then assumed I would need to get a lawyer in involved. I re-read Gumroads TOS and they had changed as of Nov 19th. it looked to me a catch all for deleting accounts had been added “otherwise objectionable” If your content was “otherwise objectionable” well that’s a pretty wide net. Translation “for any reason” including no reason at all or because you have red hair and gingers are scary. But sir i object!
This is why you don’t do business with 19 year olds. Who runs a business like this? Who thinks its okay to treat their customers like this. Is this how everyone is treated by Gumroad? No its not, they have good feedback, this is how Jenny DeMilo Sex worker was treated by Gumroad. I felt discriminated against, I felt powerless. Gumroad had my money and closed down my account, my inquires were met with silence and only after tracking down the founders email did I get any response at all and that was unacceptable in any business. Just because I’m a creator of erotica does not mean you are allowed to treat me any different then if my name was John Smith and I sold post it notes to the PTA. Business is business. Not for Gumroad though for them this is acceptable.
I then received an email from a customer who told me all the purchases he made of my content though Gumroad were suddenly refunded. Refunded with out my consent and not by any request from the customer.
What the motherfucking hell is that! Who does that. What business school did these morons drop out of. Who thinks they have the right to refund My money to My customers with out MY consent. My products were delivered, my customers happy but Gumroad though yanno they could give away my content for free. Gumroad had clearly forgotten their role in this arrangement. Shady Shady Shady. I started thinking that yep a law suit was definitely in Gumroads future. Because though I might just be a little guy, a small business and a sex worker, I am not going to allow you to steal my hard heard money from me. That is not an option.
Then the next Gumroad email comes though, this time obviously written by someone who had at least taken a class on customer service. it started with an apology which is customer service 101. It went on to tell me my funds would be transferred in 24 hours and that no they didn’t think my content was illegal but that they couldn’t handle “some kinds” of adult material. That once an account had been “flagged” by their user base, it was gone. Well whoopdie fucking doo. My guess is their lawyer told them to pay the fuck up and that some idiot over there refunded my clients in a panic. They did the transfer in 24 hours and get this they even tossed in some extra cash as an oops we deleted your account with out notice and then were stupid about how to deal with you kinda bribe or something. Though it’s always nice to get a few extra free bucks…WTF. I wonder how that little item reads on their balance sheet.
So there ya have it, Gumroad is a great idea but its run by people who make terrible decisions, treat their customers like crap and have zero idea how to handle business. Oh as a side not they use Stripe for their platform. Stripe takes .30 a transaction and 2.9 on each sale so Gumroad is working on a pretty thin margin. Oh Stripe clearly states in their TOS no pornography. Gumroad neglected to incorporate Stripes TOS in their own. Another really bad business decision. Gumroad is run like a teenager who’s never had to think beyond himself. Impulsive, never thinking a situation though to its conclusion. Though i’m sad it all went down like this I had high hopes working with them and had invested a lot of time and effort to make something out of it. I’m sure my next months sales would have increased more then the 400% the last months sales had, and I’m pissed I was treated so poorly, as a business person I would never do business with a company like this. They will limp along but I cant be the only person who has had such horrible dealing with Gumroad. Im just not that special. They will run themselves into the ground or lose their financing. Though it might be cute to invest some bucks into a 19 year old “wiz kid” who is basically just making Stripe easier to use for more money, I find it hard to imagine any VC giving more money over to a group of kids who haven’t the first fucking clue about how to treat a customer. Oh as of this post my Gumroad Profile is still active.
I’ve given up trying to deal with third parties when it comes to hosting my video promo clips. YouTube thinks my tongue is “adult” and actively goes after any of the fetish girls posting non adult material which is compliant with their TOS. I’ve been deleted off that site so many times I cant keep count. Vimeo and I got into it last year when they decided i couldn’t link to any of my websites (including this blog even though other users link to their self promotion blogs) and told me i couldn’t watermark my videos with anything that would direct any Vimeo viewer to any of my sites where i then in turned linked to a clip site. Yes, Vimeo is trying to police several links out and also actively goes after any fetish people to try to harass them into not using their site buy giving them special rules that dont apply to other users of Vimeo. WTF! (I now watermark with my Twitter fr them, cuz they suck ass)
Fetish people are often targeted even though so much of our content is R-rated at best. My theory is because we confuse and upset people. Yes, me talking about my shoes isn’t adult content and there are video after video on these sites with women talking about shoes showing off shoes and the like but if I’m aware and make it known that i’m aware that my viewer gets a rock hard cock at me talking about my shoes then well…. DELETE HER! Even though my videos comply with their terms of service. It happens to us all and I’ve given up trying to use those sites for any kind of traffic generating device, they just delete me or make me spend hours justifying my content and fighting with them.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to host my own content on my own sites where I can embed a payer into the actual post. Its harder then you think. You can upload but embedding though a player well that’s hard. Right now i’m using a plug in just discovered but I had to convert my content to a .flv file and i’m pretty sure that means flash which means you iphone/ipad users cant see squat (sorry guys). So Its not a perfect solution but i’m not done trying to find a better one.
Advertising is always tricky when you’re a sex worker. When I was escorting it was a monthly headache to figure out which sites to give my very hard earned cash to. Always trying to get the most bang for your advertising buck. Escort advertising is veryexpensive, it can be cost prohibitive and you have to be smart about it. No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars every month for no return and though no website can guarantee you business, they can give you an idea of their traffic stats to help you make an informed decision.
Now that most of my advertising is aimed at my fetish clip business, I’m always looking for new ways and places to branch out and put myself and my fetish product in front of new audiences. My advertising budget every month is small, I’m an indie clip and femdom hypnosis recording producer who makes enough money to pay all my bills and my bills include food and board for my 4 year old ex racehorse. I do alright though I wouldn’t say I’m rolling in it like some of my peers who specialize in financial domination, those ladies clean up! I started to look at new places to advertise last week and shot off a few emails to a few websites asking for information. Pricing structures, traffic stats, the typical info you would need to start making a decision. Choosing an untried place to buy ads is always stressful because there’s a good chance it will not pay off in any meaningful way. There is always trial and error involved. I like to do a cost benefit analysis and lay out some expectations for myself when making a decision on where to spend my ad cash. I come from the very real world of cutthroat advertising, but even if I didn’t have a background in advertising its business 101 and though I do have a bod for sin, I also have a brain for business.