Solo Site Silliness
Over the past few years I've created a few solo-model websites with girls 18-20 years old, and made plans for even more, including some fans never knew about.
Each one of them has failed to run as long as expected and the reasons for that vary greatly. I get dozens of emails asking what happened, cussing at me because it happened, suggesting ways to keep it from happening, listing the sites from years ago that it didn't happen to (owned by me or others), and asking if I'll try it again with this girl or that girl.
The one common denominator in the sites I'm referring to is me. Each site was a different model but the same photographer. Each site was a different model but the same webmaster. Just looking at that it seems easy to figure out the problem - its me!
Many fans have written that exact thing, some being casual in their writing, some being outright aggressive and rude. The casual ones write as if they want to start a back and forth discussion and the rude ones always use the online form on the site to send their tough guy message without using a real email address or name I can reply to.
The casual writers often express that maybe I'm being a tiny bit impatient with the models. The rude guys say I'm a fucking asshole and did the girl super wrong.
The funny thing is that if the casual writer or the rude anonymous keyboard tough guys really knew the true story, knew the real numbers, knew the real facts, they might all have a different opinion and, I believe, would take the same actions as I if they are thinking with the big head on top of their shoulders and not the little one at the end of their penis.
Its time to discuss exactly what a solo-model website is - or in my opinion should be, how they run, how much they cost to start and maintain, and how the money they generate is used or should be used.
Then, and only then, can a pretty girl fan understand why these sites close unexpectedly.
If you are the type of guy that doesn't have time for a long detailed essay the next paragraph contains the short answer. For all others, read on.
The reason that solo-model websites close quickly, or in some cases never open in the first place, always traces back to one word - money. Branching off from money the sub-reasons most often include the egos and emotions of me and the models, the influence of inexperienced persons outside the business, and due to my years of experience a serious lack of patience on my side for bullshit lies, excuses and expectations from the models and their lovers, friends or so called "advisors".
Before I get too far into this I need to define a few terms so there is no confusion about whom or what I'm referring. To most of us these terms are simple, but as you'll see, to others maybe not so much.
What Does That Mean?
In both business and law school one of the important first year lessons is the phrase "Words Mean What Words Mean". The basics are... don't think that something means anything other than what it says in the dictionary. Don't assume things. Don't dream up terms or dates or amounts in your mind that aren't in the discussion, agreement or contract.
"Words Mean What Words Mean" and for this discussion here are some of the important words.
Model - This is the pretty female that fans are interested in engaging with visually through website photos and videos, as we'll as interactively through the webcam chat room and private messages on the site, and here in the age of apps and devices, through social media.
Photographer - This is the guy that shoots all the main photos and videos for the website. He also acts as a sort of production manager because he does more than just operate the cameras, such as arranging travel, booking shoot locations or ordering outfits and supplies.
Webmaster - This is the person that puts all the parts and pieces together to create and later maintain the website, update the website, promote or advertise the website, and interacts with fans to help with any issues they may have on the website. In my case, and many others, the photographer and the webmaster are the same person, but it is not at all uncommon for the webmaster to be a third person or company.
Me / Photographer / I - Throughout this post I refer to "me" or the "photographer" or "I" paying for this or that. Or, "me" or the "photographer" or "I" receiving this or that amount. It isn't me personally, its my little studio company paying or receiving the money. I use "me" or "photographer" or "I" to ease the flow of the story because most persons viewing the site think of me as the photographer, and not a long company name.
Fans - This is my word for "customer" because I figure if the person isn't a fan of the model he wouldn't spend his hard earned money to enjoy her website photos and videos.
Gross Income - This is the total amount of money that is actually paid to the website by the fans. A simple example would be a site that charged $20 each month. If it had 100 fans pay that amount in a single month the site would have Gross Income of $2000.00.
Start-up Costs - Before any business, from a solo model website to a local pizza shop, can open to the public, the owners or investors must spend money to acquire supplies and materials, rent a location, place advertisements, and much more. These are the costs of starting up a business. In most cases they are slowly paid back to the original investors over time with the payments becoming one of the monthly expenses just as if paying off a bank loan.
Expenses - Very simply, expenses are the operating costs that must be paid for the business to operate on a monthly basis. For a website, it includes things such as web hosting, credit card processing, outside labor, loan or start-up cost repayment, rentals and advertising. For the pizza shop its a lease, pepperoni, napkins and all sorts of other stuff.
Profit - This, in most cases, is the money left over after a set period of time has passed and both current and future expenses have been accounted for. Some people figure it monthly, others quarterly and others yearly. This is one of the most important, yet misunderstood, facets of the solo-model website discussion.
Social Media - This is a very common term these days and encompasses sites such as Facebook. Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. While I'm not a huge fans of social media, as explained last year in "The Four Fs", with the most recent solo-model websites I took strides to encourage the models to use it to engage with current fans, and get the attention of new fans.
Engage - This term has recently become a sort of "buzzword" used by so called social media experts to explain how social media should be used to "engage" with customers and potential customers. Engage in social media thinking means to "converse or communicate with", not just advertise too. Example - Creating a generic post that states "My website is HOT go check it out" is an advertisement, but conversing back and forth with fans or potential fans about current events, Hollywood movies, popular music, other topics and the website is what the experts call "engaging with customers or potential customers".
Partnership - In this case it is a business (website) run by two or more partners, meaning the model-photographer, or model-photographer-webmaster. All partners contribute to the business and receive income from the business if it is doing well.
Long Term - This is absolutely one of the hardest terms to explain to young people. In this era of instant messaging, instant replies to text messages, instant ego boost when some person clicks the damn "Like" button and instant photo posting on "Instagram", asking a model to work on something "long term" (3-6 months) to build up content, build up a following, build up advertising, build up visitors, build up a fanbase and let those things build up to bigger and bigger partnership checks is tough. I might as well be asking her to pull out her damn teeth with rusty pliers.
Recent or Recently - As I write below I'll often use the terms "recent" or "recently" in reference to models, events, dates or transactions. Generally, I'm speaking of the past 3 years - back to summer 2012 - but I'm also sprinkling in a few stories or facts from non-nude teen or adult sites before that time.
With the phrases and terms are out of the way lets talk about a solo model website.
Whats a Solo-Model Website?
First and foremost a solo-model website is a business. It is posted online for the purpose of making money for the photographer, webmaster and model. If the model simply wanted a page online to display pictures she could do it on Tumblr, Instagram or ModelMayhem without being paid for her time and talent. Likewise, if the photographer simply wanted to display some photos or videos online for pretty girl fans to view he can use PhotoBucket, Vimeo, Facebook, Blogspot and many others, but he wouldn't be paid for his work.
Once a person decides he or she wants to create and manage a solo model website they need to determine who the model will be and where the photo and video content will come from. This decision is important for many reasons. It dictates how much money you need to start the site, how many fans may subscribe, what quality the photos and videos will be, what features can be included in the site, how social media can be tied into the site, and very importantly - the financial structure of the website.
That decision is directly tied to how the model is paid. There are three ways a guy could do solo-model websites.
The first way is to buy content. There are hundreds of photographers, some in the USA, and many in Eastern Europe, that shoot and sell photo/video sets with license to use on a site and redistribute. Here is an example - 9 photo sets and 9 HD videos for only $110.00. Here is another example with a photo set and HD video, only $55.00.
A webmaster could buy a bunch of sets of the same girl and open a site under any name he wants to call her. It would be cheap, easy, fast. It wouldn't draw very many fans because there would be no live chats, the content would also be on many other sites (usually multi-model sites), but it is easy income.
This site would never grow big, but damn - at just $1500 for a bunch of sets it could sit there for years without updates with a few guys joining now and then just for the downloads at some low price.
The second way to build a solo site is to find a model and pay her by the photo set / video combination. Many that do it that way, including some that previously did it using option three discussed below.
A guy I know in Florida pays $100 per photo set and $100 per video. He runs the sites and they make decent income. Of course, fans would prefer to have a model active in the site, on the webcam, answering messages, maybe in these social media driven days being active there too.
This is known as the employer / employee style. He is the boss, pays her for the work, she leaves when the job is done and its over until next time. Its just as if he owned a lawn mowing service and she came from a day labor pool on the corner to push a mower weekdays. She has no worries about advertising the business, greeting or working with customers, dealing with expenses, growing the business, or anything else. For her it is simply show up, work, get cash, go home.
I know guys that have been doing it this way for years with different girls. She makes about $800 a month when you average it out over 2-4 months but usually gets it all in one week as she shoots 2, 3 or 4 days in a row.
This is a very clean way to do it. Its the same thing I do with multi-model site TrueBabes; Book the girl, work on some photos and videos, pay her and send her on her way. With a multi-model site there really is no other way to do it with the exception of buying content from other photographers that have booked and scheduled model the using this method, such as the work we purchased from Dean Capture of Chrissy Marie.
For a multi-model site there isn't much risk in this business method. If she doesn't show-up for the next shoot, gets pregnant or a body full of ugly tattoos, there are always other models to keep the site active and updated.
With a solo-model website this method is a tiny bit risky and the site could die at any time because the girl is no longer interested or available.
Fans that desire live webcam chats, private messaging or social media interaction won't subscribe, or retain a long subscription, simply because the site doesn't offer those features.
The girl has no incentive to stay slim and trim because she doesn't care about the website's financial performance. Even if she adds weight, shaves her head or gets ugly tattoos, some other site will pay her to be a content model.
Many of the guys doing it this way work with the girl for 2-3 days in a row and stock up enough content to run a site for months. Big payment for her that week, lots of content for the website, and nobody cares if she bails because it can run for half a year without her. If she doesn't come back, the site could close as an updating and recurring membership site, but remain online as an archive for years to allow collectors to fill their files at a decent all-in-one price.
The third way to do a solo-model website is as a partnership. For many, many years this was the most popular way it was done and is the only way I've ever done it.
The method of doing a site as a partnership means that the work and the profit are split. The photographer shoots without getting paid rightaway, and the girl poses without getting paid rightaway. Later, when the site generates "profit" they split the money.
Remember that word "profit" because its the most important and confusing word in this entire story.
The partnership way should be the best way to do it because it is set-up to give the girl incentive to participate more, work on getting subscribers, help advertise the site - because the more members she has the more she can make.
That style worked fantastic way back in 2006 before the piracy and social media challenges of today with sites like RavenRiley.com. She acted as a true partner by working a few hours each day to help advertise and promote the site - not just shooting a few days every two months. They made more than a million dollars in the first 12 months - split three ways, between her, photographer and webmaster. Read about it here.
The partnership method should be much better because its set-up in such a way that the girl can make as much money as she can help herself make.
The more effort she puts into the site to keep fans interested the more fans that retain subscriptions and pay month after month.
The more effort she puts in outside the site, such as on social media, promoting, discussing, linking to or showing samples of the site, the more new fans that will subscribe to increase the bottom line the next month and the month after that.
It is the perfect arrangement. A partnership in place to let the girl earn more than just the hourly wage with no limit in place. In the past girls on big solo sites have made over $12,000 a month in this type of arrangement (other companies).
The key to success in a partnership style site is the girl. The majority of the work that needs to be done to keep current fans happy and subscribing, plus attract new fans on social media and forums to grow the website, falls on her because it is her we are selling.
Face it... no fans have a deep down desire to see selfies of my ass in a thong, no fans want to use the private message system thinking they are talking to the girl when its the 25 year old male helper in my office typing replies, and I know from experience that no fans want to see my hairy chest topless on the webcam!
With a partnership style website, in the age of social media interaction, private messaging and webcams, that work falls on the girl, but a much larger amount of money will come her way if she does that work enthusiastically.
I can post on forums, buy banner ads, use the TrueBabes mailing list, and some other things but most of the new fans are interested in her and its up to her to take advantage of that.
This type of partnership is what each of the four most recent solo site girls I worked with agree to. Unfortunately, with each of them problems quickly arose and the websites had to close way before they should have.
Before we get to those revealing details let us first take a close look at the costs involved in starting such a site.
Whats It Take To Build One?
There are several ways to build a solo-model website. I created one in early March and that makes it easy for me to explain all the planning, expenses and work that goes into one - with no guarantee it will ever become big and wonderfully profitable.
Naturally the first thing to do is select the model. Thats not as easy as it sounds.
Some girls are super photogenic, but maybe not so good in the personality department, and its hard to think of them being great at webcam chats and social media. Others have shown themselves to be a bit flaky for TrueBabes shoots and its hard to justify investing in them. Some, ironically, that really want to try working on a solo-model website have a somewhat inflated ego and a photographer thats been around for years like me isn't confident they will draw as many subscribing fans as they feel they will. And, still more girls just have so much drama around them that they scare me away because I'm sure they'll bail out quickly.
It is a business investment after all so I have to look close at who I think will attract paying fans, do the work to keep the paying fans and get more, and be easy to work with. In the last 9 years I've tried something like 15 solo-model websites and only two of them ran a year or more. Clearly I'm not an ace at picking the right model.
Next, the model and I must talk over the terms and agree to the partnership method (explained above) and detail just what each side expects of the other. This by far is the most important thing and the most common point of confusion. I can't begin to describe how many times a girl has said to me "You never told me that" only for me to check the emails and see I explained it in great detail.
Note - Guys that have been around my websites, the old Photographer's Corner columns, the 4 detailed help pages in TrueBabes and this blog know I type things out in detail. I'm often accused of being "long winded". Not a chance I don't explain things in detail to those that take the time to read. Unfortunately, in the social media age some people don't read past the first 140 characters.
Once the model is selected, and terms agreed to, decisions have to be made about what the site is going to feature to attract fans. Is it non-nude teasing or topless or full nude? If full nude, how explicit - just nude, or open legs, or with sex toys? Just photos, or photos and videos? Live cam, no cam? On and on, dozens of tiny decisions.
Once those issues are all set its time to shoot content. This is the initial place we start spending money - by creating the website photos and videos. I've posted a tiny chart below about the money but lets go through it step by step using the numbers from the most recent site I put up.
For many years I did all the shoots in a studio setting or some outdoor location. For sites like TrueBabes, and with the increased importance of HD video, the studio is no longer the best place. For a nude model to look and act sexy on HD video having her standing next to a fancy car or a solid colored background isn't the best option. Beds and couches work much better. With that in mind I've taken to renting locations - usually larger homes - to shoot the nude stuff in.
For the most recent solo-model website I rented a home in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado at a cost of $2200.00 for one week. The plan was to shoot in it four days, with two of those days for TrueBabes and two more dedicated to this most recent solo-model website. The expense charged to that new site would be $1100.00
Now we make arrangements to fly the model to town at a cost of $494.00
I've mentioned social media many times in this post and how it is an important piece of the puzzle. It could also be a pain in the butt because the girl likely doesn't want to give out her personal social media pages, with all those connections to friends and family, so a second set of pages is created just for the modeling / website. To make that easier with the most recent site I purchased an Apple iPad 2 for the model to use - saving her personal device for personal things. Cost $345.00
The couple of days the girl is in town we have something like $150.00 in food and drink.
The outfits used in the photo shoots run about $100.00.
During that photo shoot week there was outside labor used at a cost of $350.00.
So far - just getting the model here, shooting the first 11 scenes, and sending her home ready to start getting attention on social media we have spent $2539.00
Time to buy the domain names. Its best to buy different combinations, .com and .net and .org so other people don't try using them when the site becomes popular. Cost $80.00.
Designing the website is the next step and its a tad more complicated deal these days. Just a few years ago I could hire a guy online for $250.00, give him some images and basic ideas, and wait for his first mock-up. For webmasters wanting to build a site that can attract a decent amount of search engine traffic, and be usable on different devices and screen sizes, a one size fits all website is no longer satisfactory.
Around the time this most recent site was being planned Google announced that starting April 21st, 2015 they would begin giving search listing preference to sites that are fully mobile friendly - meaning sites that adapt to whatever device is viewing them. Its complicated for that to work, and it severely limits how the site is designed, but if you want the site to grow and be user (fan) friendly its the way to go.
To insure the latest site was built with long term goals in mind it meant finding a designer that creates responsive sites, waiting longer for it to be completed, and spending a bit more as compared to just a year or two ago.
The modern mobile friendly design was $500.00.
Here are some samples from around the solo-model business. Click for larger version.
Once the website has a name and design we need to find a place to host it. Like insuring the design was built for the future, the hosting decision needs to be a proper balance between what works fine now and what will continue to work fine in the future if the site grows as we hope.
Hosting can be as cheap as $10.00 monthly on a server and IP address shared with hundreds of other sites. Its a nice price but leaves your site subject to the actions of all those other sites. If one of the other sites sharing the server starts a spam campaign, or hosts any devious files, the entire server could be blacklisted by large email companies (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo) or shut down entirely at no fault of your own. If the other sites on the shared server are high traffic the entire server can be bogged down, making the your own site slow and virtually insure fans don't subscribe or have a less than high quality experience.
At the other extreme a webmaster could order a super powerful server with fast processors, multiple hard drives, lots of ram and redundant fiber connections to the internet backbone for something like $600.00 a month. That would be a damn good system, but would also be overkill for a solo-model website.
For this most recent solo-model website I selected to go with a mid-level dedicated server that runs $240.00 a month. A dedicated server is one in which the webmaster is in charge of the entire machine and there are no strangers that can affect the business. I set it up to host 3 sites, each splitting the cost, so the solo-model website would pay just $80.00 a month.
This new solo-model website was planned to feature live webcam chats and streaming videos. That can be done on a server like this but as soon as the site started getting popular it would slow the server down. To avoid that we set-up to host both the live video and the video streaming on a worldwide content delivery network (CDN).
A CDN is a system of servers hosted in datacenters all across the world that hold matching versions of the videos or streams. When a fan clicks to view the video the system determines the fan's IP address and pulls the data from the servers nearest his location. This does two important things; it reduces load on the main website server and it speeds the videos for fans by sending the stream from a nearby location.
Giant sites such as YouTube and Facebook have created CDNs with 100,000 or more servers spread among 60-80 datacenters around the world. For the most recent solo-model website I used CDN77.com, with the videos hosted in 17 locations in the USA, Canada and Europe at a cost of $149.00 (set-up and first month). Thats overkill, but was done to insure the site would be smooth and ready for growth.
Also to insure speedy downloads and room for growth the site was set-up for the large video downloads and picture ZIP files to be hosted on Amazon S3. Yes, Amazon the online store is also a giant hosting company. We pay them to hold large files and be a back-up for streaming (in case CDN77 gets overloaded). They are at Amazon Web Services and the cost is about $25.00.
To collect credit cards online you need to have an approved encryption key on a site (called SSL). Those are good for a year from GoDaddy and cost about $50.00.
To manage subscriptions, send email to users, manage passwords, rebill customers monthly, and other chores we need a software package installed on the site. We use aMember and the cost is: $180.00.
This software is sort of plain looking with the default template colors so we hire a guy to go in and make it look like the rest of the site. Cost is $125.00.
Because we are collecting credits cards online and storing them to rebill monthly, the card companies Visa and MasterCard require us to have our systems checked to be hacker proof. Its called Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. The company we use to do the tests charged us $375.00.
Note - Many ask why we don't use a service such as CCBill.com on a site like this to eliminate the need for the aMember software package, modifying aMember and PCI compliance fees. Thats easy - the fees. CCBill fees for adult websites run around 14% of the gross. A site with fans paying $20.00 a month, would pay $280.00 a month to CCBill for each 100 subscribers. Being a properly registered business, with banking relationships, I pay just 3.6% plus a gateway fee (shared with two other sites), which works out to about $105.00 a month for each 100 subscribers. Additionally, using CCBill means some initial set-up fees, such as Visa at $500 set-up and $500.00 a year, and MasterCard at $500.00 set-up and $500.00 a year (see here). Overall, using our own payment system makes us much more profitable in the long run and actually saves us money in start-up costs.
To start a site we need to have advertising banners. I had three different people make us banners in various sizes. I used StudiosP, and two freelancers. Together they cost about: $150.00.
To kick things off I used the adult advertising broker JuicyAds to get some of those banners posted on other sites, and while the site was being created to send traffic to the social media pages so the model could start "engaging" with fans and letting them know about the soon to open site. Total cost $265.00.
So, there you have it. Just to get to opening day March 17th, 2015 the total money spent for this one solo-model website is $4518.00.
Thats not a giant amount of money but I'm certain its more than many people expected.
Yes, there are ways to lower that figure.
Less expensive hosting and not using a CDN or Amazon would save around $200.00 but would cause the site to be slow right from the start and as soon as it got popular would need to be both moved (main site) and upgraded (CDN), which would be more costly.
Using the old studio building would save the entire $1100.00 location rental but those boring studio style backgrounds have always been an issue for video scenes. Skimping on that issue from the start would not inspire fans to join or remain a member.
The PCI compliance check could be skipped to save $375.00 but if the merchant bank finds out the fine can be up to $25,000 or loss of the ability to accept credit cards on the site in question.
I spent $4518.00 because it seemed to be the best set-up for a long term website that would be able to grow. Clearly I wasn't planning for it to close within days.
Solo Model Website Start-Up Costs
Time to Keep Spending
Now that a website is up and running it is very important to be aware of and plan for the future expenses - most of which are due monthly. The numbers below work for a site up to around 500 subscribers. Once you get past that some costs, such as CDN and Amazon, would increase.
Hosting is ongoing and must be paid at the start of each month: $80.00.
The CDN is ongoing and must be paid at the start of each month: $49.00.
Amazon S3 is ongoing and must be paid at the start of each month: $25.00.
Copyright registration is $45 per photo set and $45.00 per video making the average each month: $360.00.
Advertising is a huge variable each month. It can be done directly by buying ad space on other websites, and it can be done through paid affiliates (explained below). In any case its great to advertise now because it will pay off in the long term. Unfortunately it lowers the profit bottom line in the first few months, which disappoints those thinking only about instant income (more on that below) and can become an issue between partners.
I suggest at least $100.00 a month in direct advertising, but three or four times that would be much better.
Affiliate Advertising is a commission based system in which the website provides sample images, galleries, banners or text links to other webmasters for them to display on their own sites or blogs. Hidden within these materials is a tracking code so that when a surfer becomes interested and clicks the item to visit our site he can be traced back to the original site. If he joins our solo-model website we pay the original website a 50% commission.
Example - Visit this free sample page at HottyStop and hold your mouse over the banners without clicking. Look way down in the lower left corner of the browser window and you'll see that the destination URL is first "refer.ccbill.com" then on to the site. That tiny unseen stop at CCBill plants a cookie in your browser that tracks you to XoxoLeah.com and if you join, registers at CCBill so that the owner of HottyStop will get paid 50%.
A solo-model website can become known to large numbers of new surfers and grow real fast if an affiliate program is used over many months. Unfortunately it lowers the profit bottom line in the first few months, which disappoints those thinking only about instant income (more on that below) and can become an issue between partners.
It is impossible to predict how much in affiliate commissions will be paid out each month. The more affiliates, the more surfers they refer, and hopefully the more surfers pay to subscribe.
I suggest setting aside at least $300.00 a month to pay affiliates, which means they are only sending 25 new subscribers. Truth is that we want this number to be huge because it represents how many new subscribers they are sending and the bigger profit comes from keeping those new members month after month. Sadly, its very confusing for some to comprehend paying out 50% and often causes issues between the partners.
New content is also an expense that needs to be, or should be, accounted for monthly. In the start-up costs discussed above we spent right around $2200.00 to bring in the model and produce content. The amount shot in two days is enough to run the site about 2 months, maybe a bit longer. Rounding things off we need to set aside around $1000 each month to pay for website inventory (content), just like a pizza shop needs to set aside money each month to pay for their own monthly supplies.
Also to be considered each month is repayment of the start-up costs. No business person would put money into a website if the original investment, and profit on top of that, are not going to be returned. A common way, such as a two person partnership in a pizza shop, is to treat it like a loan and make payments back to the original investing partners over the course of several months.
That would be a reasonable way to handle it with a solo-model website if it wasn't for two factors. One, the model never has any money to invest in the business and that leaves all the investment burden falling on the photographer. Two, solo-model websites have a long history of not lasting very long - often just 6-12 months, so the investment needs to be pulled back out much more quickly as compared to something like a small pizza shop.
Pulling out $502.00 each month in this case would pay off the start-up costs in exactly nine months.
A large variable each month is the fees for credit card processing. It usually runs around 3.6% of gross sales. I won't put a firm number on it now but will give examples in the section "Running the Numbers" below.
There you have it. If running a solo-model website thats ready for growth, advertising using both of the common methods, setting aside money for new content costs and paying off the original investment loan, it can total about $2416.00 monthly, plus the variable of credit card fees.
Running the Numbers
I'm going to put my calculator to some subscription rates and membership numbers below but first let me explain the costs associated with credit card processing.
The type of business bank account used to process credit and debit cards is known as a "Merchant Account". These accounts are often issued by your local bank if you are running a simple business, such as a pizza shop. Most often the local bank is a broker or agent for a bigger bank or processor, or the local bank refers the business owner to an independent agent. (read more here and here).
In this discussion the most important thing to know is that not every bank, agent or merchant account provider is willing to work with what they call "high risk" business plans. Anything adult related, such as solo-model websites, porn websites, phone sex lines and even dating websites, are considered "High Risk".
A pizza shop is not high risk and depending on the length of time in business and other factors would likely pay something like 2.0% (known as the discount rate) of each transaction to the payment processing network and banks. $2250.00 in gross sales by cards would results in $45.00 in fees. On top of that the pizza shop would pay something like $39.95 for a lease on that machine used to swipe the cards. Total cost for a month with $2250.00 in card transactions would be $84.95.
Anything online is automatically considered a tiny bit more risky to the banks because there is no way for the merchant (website) to swipe the card so they bump the percentage a bit to cover that risk (bank money for inevitable fraud). Being in the adult realm, such as a nudie solo-model website also adds to what the banks call "risk" so they charge us higher rates - much like an insurance company charges higher rates to those that have faster cars. For non-nude websites such as TrueTeenBabes I'm paying 2.75% and for nude, such as TrueBabes and the solo-model websites being discussed here 3.60%. Online we don't have a machine to swipe the cards through but the payment card networks have secure systems they call "Gateways" through which the transactions pass and most online merchants pay a flat rate for that Gateway account that is about equal to what a machine lease is, $39.95.
Note - Both an online business, such as a solo-model website, and a normal business, such as the pizza shop, would have other fees each month related to accepting cards for payments. The fees for debit cards can be higher than credit cards, banks often charge a monthly account fee, and even a statement fee. Transaction fees for cards issued by foreign banks are often a full percentage point higher. For online transactions they charge for Address Verification Service (AVS), but not in a pizza shop. There are many variables but for the sake of easy math I'm leaving most of them out of the examples today.
No matter what the percentages are, or if a solo-model website is using a third party service such as CCBill.com or the photographer's own business merchant account to process transactions, the costs and fees associated with collecting subscription payments must be considered and worked into the monthly accounting.
Thus far we have established that a solo-model website, running with these features, created to the latest mobile friendly standards and with foundation to grow quickly and large, can cost about $2416.00 in bases expenses each month, plus the variable costs of processing payment cards.
Most solo-model websites charge $24.95 for the first month of a subscription and $19.95 for the recurring months. For the sake of easy math I'm going to average that out to $22.50 per month.
We must remember that the money that comes in is not profit, its gross income. Lets run some numbers and see what happens.
100 subscribers equals $2250.00 in gross income. Subtract the 3.6% in card processing fees and we are left with $2169.00. Subtract the base monthly expenses of $2416.00 and we are left with -$247.00 - meaning the website would lose $247.00 per month if it ran this way with only 100 subscribers.
200 subscribers equals $4500.00 in gross income. Subtract the 3.6% in card processing fees and we are left with $4338.00. Subtract the base monthly expenses of $2416.00 and the website would show $1922.00 in profit at the end of the month, and have money set aside for future expenses and content production. Using the partnership method discussed above the photographer and model would each get $1042.00 for that month.
300 subscribers equals $6750.00 in gross income. Subtract the 3.6% in card processing fees and we are left with $6507.00. Subtract the base monthly expenses of $2416.00 and the website would show $4091.00 in profit at the end of the month, and have money set aside for future expenses and content production. Using the partnership method discussed above the photographer and model would each get $2045.50 for that month.
400 subscribers equals $9000.00 in gross income. Subtract the 3.6% in card processing fees and we are left with $8676.00. Subtract the base monthly expenses of $2416.00 and the website would show $6260.00 in profit at the end of the month, and have money set aside for future expenses and content production. Using the partnership method discussed above the photographer and model would each get $3130.00 for that month.
500 subscribers equals $11,250.00 in gross income. Subtract the 3.6% in card processing fees and we are left with $10,845.00. Subtract the base monthly expenses of $2416.00 and the website would show $8429.00 in profit at the end of the month, and have money set aside for future expenses and content production. Using the partnership method discussed above the photographer and model would each get $4214.50 for that month.
In each of those examples the basic costs, and money set aside for future content, is the same. 100 subscribers or 500 subscribers, costs remain the same with the exception of card processing fees. The labor also remains the same. Same amount of time retouching photos, same amount of time for the model on the cam or social media, same hours spent updating the site, same amount of time tanning or traveling for the model.
Note - for those curious - the break even point is around 112 subscribers. Every subscriber beyond that is $21.69 profit to be split among the partners. Clearly it can pay off to do as much as possible to get more and more subscribers.
Once you get past 500 members a few upgrades may increase the costs a bit. Probably time to move to a fully dedicated server, adding $160.00 to the monthly costs. Also would be best to increase the number of CDN nodes (datacenters) hosting the files for streaming video to insure they continue to play smooth with more fans accessing them. The Amazon S3 storage and transfer costs would also raise a bit. A safe number would be raising the costs from $2416.00 to $2750.00. Just for fun lets look and see what would happen.
750 subscribers equals $16,875.00 in gross income. Subtract the 3.6% in card processing fees and we are left with $16,267.50. Subtract the slightly higher base monthly expenses of $2750.00 and the website would show $13,517.50 in profit at the end of the month, and have money set aside for future expenses and content production. Using the partnership method discussed above the photographer and model would each get $6758.75 for that month.
My system for doing this type of partnership is very, very simple. Around the 5th or 6th day of the month I get a statement from the merchant bank showing the total gross income for the site for the previous month and the card processing fees associated with those transactions. That, combined with the other things discussed above, gives me the total expenses for that month to use in accounting. I next pay the upcoming bills, such as hosting and streaming, then split whatever is left with the model. In most cases she gets one large payment by direct deposit on the 10th or 11th of the month representing her share of the site for the month before.
Again, we must remember that those are just rough numbers. Many sites run a special at a lower subscription rate when they first open. Many sites retain subscribers longer so the average paid per member per month is lower. Some sites run larger affiliate programs so they pay a larger percentage of the gross income back out in commissions. Airfare can go up or down. Shoots can be combined with other projects, thereby lowering the costs. There are many variables and the numbers above, and this entire blog, are just round numbers being used as reasonable examples.
Note - If all other costs remained the same after nine months the monthly profit would go up by $502.00, and each partner's payout would increase $251.00, because the start-up expenses (loan) would be paid off.
Clearly it can be a fairly profitable little enterprise.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Its very easy to figure out why a solo-model website created the first way would fail - because its an unknown model, with older inexpensive content, and has no model to fan interaction. In many ways its designed right from the start to stop updating fairly early on, then become an archive.
The second method - which I call the employer / employee style - usually works better. The girl only needs to pose now and then and no other work is expected of her. I can recall just a few reasons why a site started this way fails and becomes an archive.
Maybe the girl simply has lost interest or has a boyfriend pushing her away from the nudie picture business.
In a couple of cases the girl left one photographer to work with another because the second guy promised more money. That rarely works great and I know of cases where the girl wanted to return to the first guy after just a month or two due to those promises not coming true.
Some times nature just gets in the way with things like the girl getting pregnant.
Piracy is a major factor, no matter what the pirates claim or think they know, its can clearly be a deal breaker. As an example a site using the second method can be profitable on something like 100 subscribers. If just 20% leave in a month because one jerk is posting the entire site on a piracy forum everybody reading this can understand that income will go down 20%. What many don't fully understand is that expenses will go up - making the site more than 20% less profitable.
In an effort to prevent another 20% leaving the next month, and the month after that, the website must now invest in extra office help to fight piracy by getting links taken down, or hiring a service, such as Piracy Pit Bull, for hundreds of dollars a month to do it. The monthly expenses are now higher but if he doesn't take that action so many fans will leave that its no longer a profitable website.
There is a third affect many don't consider: Any time and money he is forced to spend dealing with piracy to save his business/website is time and money taken away from growing or upgrading the business/website. That makes piracy a triple whammy - lost customers, increased expenses and less time/money available to promote to find new customers.
Lastly, with the second method the site can become stale and subscribers do not retain memberships. It doesn't have the interactive features many fans want and there simply isn't much the site can do to grow without them. Eventually, its not worth it to hire the girl for another day or two of shoots because the site won't generate enough income to justify paying her and the related production expenses.
The third method - which above I called the "partnership method" - is the one that offers the greatest opportunity for income to both the photographer and the model. It also happens to be the one that requires the largest investment of trust, money and labor. Because of those nasty words - trust, money and labor - it is also the one that has the highest odds of failure.
There is not a single reason that solo-model websites using the partnership method fail that can be typed here in a single sentence or paragraph. Its always a combination of many, many factors, most of which are orbiting around money just like the earth around the sun.
As soon as those money issues arise its very hard to work it out and in many cases the site is doomed from that very moment in time. Let me lay out some of the reasons in a general sense.
The word profit is confusing to many teen models. As soon as the site has a certain number of members the girls, or their boyfriends, are mentally multiplying that number by the subscription price and coming up with a large number that they are ready to spend with no consideration for expenses, future content production, growth or anything along those lines. Gross income, cash flow and net profit, are entirely different things and often hard to explain. The disagreements start, the trust is lost, the site is doomed.
The concept of setting aside money for future expenses is not always understood by teen girls. Usually they have some situation going on that causes them to want every damn penny they can get right now and they want me to put off paying expenses or saving for the next shoot trip so they can get a bigger chunk of money now. Boyfriend in jail they need bail money for, new apartment that requires high deposits, a friend selling a cool car they really want but can't afford to pay for before somebody else buys it, and on and on. Always something.
Patience runs very short on both sides of the partnership.
The photographer is upset if the girl isn't doing her part because she missed chats or isn't doing the social media thing and he expresses that disappointment to her.
The girl knows these sites can make decent money be she wants or needs it now and doesn't have the patience to work the site over several months to get to the upper membership numbers.
Tensions rise between the partners.
In many cases its a chicken / egg scenario. Girls says chats and social media are boring because there is only a tiny few fans to talk to so she doesn't feel motivated. Photographer explains that its best to work it now, keep those fans happy and word will get out soon to make the site bigger and chats more active. Work first to get fans or skip work until there are fans? Chicken or egg came first?
One money issue is that from the start the girl never has any of her own cash to invest in the site like a traditional business partnership and the photographer is required to pay all the start-up costs out of his own pocket. Later, as soon as the site opens and produces income the girl doesn't expect the photographer to get a dime of that original investment back.
Once he has paid expenses for the start up and first month or two he is expected to pay them forever. Meaning, many girls expect for there never to be any money taken from the website gross income to pay the website's own bills. They want those bills to be taken from the photographer's own pocket or paid by somebody else, such as a different solo site he is running with some other girl.
"I didn't pay for expenses when the site was starting why should half the money for them be taken from my share now?"
If she has never put in a dime of her own money from the start to pay start-up costs or expenses she simply can't comprehend why those same expenses should be taken out of the website gross income now.
Yet another money related issue is that the girls want to be "paid under the table", with no payments to them being reported on the studio's business expenses or tax returns, so they don't have to report it as income or pay taxes on the money they earn. That of course is not legal and leaves the photographer paying her share.
For the studio/company to do that is an IRS violation and it is very easy to get caught. Its simple: The credit card companies or the third party billing companies servicing the site, such as CCBill, send the website owner a form known as a 1099-K at the end of the year showing how much gross income the site had through that service (read more here) and the IRS gets a copy. When the studio/company completes its tax return the following year it needs to account for all of that income. If it fails to show money being paid out, such as to a model or hosting company, it is treated like cash (profit) in hand and the studio/company would be liable for paying the taxes on it.
Meaning, not only does the model often think the webmaster should pay all start-up costs and never get them back, and all month to month expenses and never get them back, she also feels he should be paying her income taxes. Why would any business do that? Its a trap and a sure way to lose money and go out of business damn fast. The webmaster would be better off working at the local hardware store - legally, financially and in the headache category.
Next in our bag full of money related issues is that many of the girls have somebody telling them they can do better, that they are worth tens of thousands of dollars a month, that they are getting ripped off, that they would do better as some other place, blah, blah, blah.
The person feeding them this information usually falls into one of three categories: Competitors, Boyfriends, or the Model herself. Let me explain.
Competitors - A person approaching a model wanting her to leave one company for another would be a "competitor". In most cases he is also a liar, a fake, or just plain desperate.
How many girls have we seen in the past few years bounce from one company, to another, and sometimes even back to the original? The girl leaves, heads to next photographer but doesn't make more money and soon figures out that second guy lied / made promises he couldn't keep. One girl in this story has worked with three website companies since she started because she was gullible enough to believe the next guy was going to make her rich.
Funny Sidebar - Not too long ago a solo-model website girl was approached by another guy about leaving here to go shoot and do a site with him. Huge statements about how he had this better camera, and outfits of a better color, and "poses that dudes really want", and how he would use Paypal because more fans will join, how he would tell the piracy forums to stop posting so more fans would join, and that would all add up to $5000.00 a week minimum for her, and on and on.
The entire time he was sending these emails she was forwarding them to me. Most of it made no sense - Paypal does work directly with Adult websites, pirates don't just stop because the photographer sends them an email, and outfits of a "better color"? Better color for who or what? The girl knew he had no websites running (never had) and that his crap made no sense - which is why she was sending the stuff on for me to laugh at - yet later, she used his promise of $5000.00 a week in a discussion with me when talking about what she thinks she is worth.
Shit gets odd sometimes!
Boyfriends - The guy in her personal life can be a huge issue. I can't count on all my fingers and toes the number of times a girl, or her boyfriend, has contacted me to inform me something was wrong just because they "know it".
"I know this site has more than 300 subscribers and you're ripping us off" (picture me laughing when the boy says "us" when he has done zero but sit at home smoking dope).
Or, when the girl says "My boyfriend used to date this girl that had a sister that had a site and they said that she was paid a lot more".
Many times the numbers that boyfriends spit out are ones they honestly feel are true. They might even have been true at one time. Keep in mind, most 18-19 year old girls in this business have boyfriends age 25 and above so the boy has been around longer and heard more stories (true or not so true).
There was a time, before social media and massive piracy, that sites made more money. Many of those numbers still float around in conversations, on forums, in the bragging of former models, in the tall tales of former site owners or employees. Most of its outright bullshit but the boyfriend doesn't realize that so when he is talking to the girl, or to me, he honestly thinks what he is saying is true based on old numbers and stories.
Unfortunately, he is wrong. Piracy is rampant these days, hurting sales. The economy isn't great, thus limiting the number of sites pretty girl fans can afford to join. Tube sites and other free content siphons off paying fans. It simply isn't the same massive market as ten or fifteen years ago - but when the boyfriend has those old numbers in his head, and influences the girl with them, its very hard to try and bring them into the here and now.
Even if the story or statement he reads is current, its very likely not true.
Hint #1 - Adult models and porn girls lie - They may tell their college dormmate they got $2500 for filming a blow job, but the truth is its likely closer to $400! They may say they get paid this big sum or that other big sum, but later when they are on their personal Facebook bitching about the electric service being shut off for non-payment its not hard to figure out all that talk about big money is bullshit.
Hint #2 - Adult site owners have egos and often compete with each other for best bullshit. Dozens of times I've seen guys boasting about how much they are making, how many subscribers they have for each site they run, posting pictures of the Ferrari they are thinking of buying, only to later see them spending 45 minutes on a web design forum trying to talk a Filipino banner designer down from $12.00 each to $10.00 each for an order of five banners. Common sense says if they guy is making the dollars required to buy a Ferrari he doesn't waste 45 minutes trying to cheat a guy in a third world country out of $10.00.
Hint #3 - On Facebook recently a girl from a solo-model website was having a Jerry Springer style back and forth argument with a former classmate that was calling her a slut and all sorts of other names. In her defense the model spit out a bunch of amounts she was being paid for the site. I was a partner in the site and the numbers she spit out were about three times the true amounts she was paid. I understand why she exaggerated (lied) while defending herself but when other people come along and see those numbers, such as another model or boyfriend, many will assume they are true. Later those exaggerated numbers are tossed around as facts or expectations when they are nowhere near true.
People that have been the business a long time see through the fake crap, but unfortunately, newer models and their boyfriends see the big numbers and automatically assume they are true. As soon as they are not reaching those numbers on a solo-model website they feel cheated. Its their expectations that are often wrong, not the numbers.
The Girls - Often the person telling them they should have many more subscribers and be making more money is the same person they see in the mirror everyday. Many girls have seen online articles, social media posts by other models, heard numbers that some boy told them he knew from his experiences, got told big dollar amounts by some other person they met online that wants to get in their panties, or in some other way fell under the impression that putting up a website and showing their boobies was an instant remedy for tiny bank account disease.
Her ego is a big deal. Girls often feel they are they most desirable model on the Internet and have a hard time believing that hundreds of fans aren't subscribing daily. That isn't in her head naturally - it gets there by guys on social media, in clubs, and other places telling her how great she is. When things don't happen as quickly as expected she starts looking for something or somebody to blame for her lack of instant riches, and if she directs her anger at the photographer things can quickly turn sour.
The photographer surely feels he is doing it just right or he wouldn't have invested all that money in the first place. He likely has more experience with sites and fans compared to the girl (that is 18 or 19) and because he was successful with other sites feels his style is a good one.
It doesn't matter.
Funny Sidebar - I recall an "ego" story from a photographer friend down in Florida. Girl shot with him, had a small site running, later was upset she wasn't getting rich and during discussions over monthly expenses spit out the statement "The model is the boss, bitch!" This girl had not put in one dime of her own money to start the site, or taken any money out of pocket to advertise the site or grow the partnership, but figured she was in charge and my friend was a "bitch" that was there only to act on her orders. They went their separate ways. She later showed up at another company, made even less money for several months, sucked in her inflated ego and returned to my friend to restart the site she originally had. The lesson is that "ego" doesn't produce income only hard work does.
Basic work ethic and time management failures also cause sites to under-perform and eventually close. I mentioned the Raven Riley site from 2006. There are many other sites from back in those days that also did great. Each of them had a few things in common.
They started with models that learned to be reliable and steady right from the start. Girls that took it as a job and wanted to do good for egotistical and financial reasons. Many are still around, or at least lasted 5 years or more. Brittany, Christina, and others.
They all started before social media became the dominate factor in young peoples lives. Girls back then took time to pay attention to their website, show up for webcams on time, answer emails or private messages in a timely manner, and more. These days that same amount of time in her life is split between her personal Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Ello, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr and more. Two hours a day on a solo-model website project and two hours a day split among all those personal social media sites and the solo-model website bring two entirely different business results.
Those successful girls seemed to come along before everything became "instant". They seemed to understand that it takes time to build a fan base and we can't post a photo set Tuesday and be rich by Friday. On social media they post a photo and within minutes they get the only reward social media provides; "Likes". It simply doesn't work that way in the pretty girl solo-model website business because a "Like" is free, and financial reward for the model on a solo-model website requires her to impress the fan more - so much more he is willing to dig in his bank account to reward her, not just click the free "Like" button.
These days teenage girls are "too busy" with mundane crap, meaningless online drama, and bitching about not having enough money, to look at the website as an opportunity as opposed to a burden. Many of the girls that claim to be "too busy" to do the work are unemployed. No job to attend, no classes to attend, but "too busy" to do the work that Raven and others did back in those more profitable days. By work I mean webcam chats, fan emails, social media, and other things to get and keep more and more fans.
Years ago girls would ask me "When do I get to shoot again?". These days the question often is "When do I have to shoot again?" (as in when am I being punished again?). The tiny changes in the way girls in that age range state things are discouraging. Clearly, it used to be something cool to do and they wanted to do it again soon, but now they act as if shooting new photos is a huge burden or distraction.
If the model could just be a bit more patient and let the traffic, visitors and paying subscribers build up, there would be more money in her share.
If the photographer was better at explaining things and getting her involved there would be more money.
If the model had discipline - something sadly lacking in most people under age 22 these days - and would treat it as a job, with a schedule for chats, social media and other chores, in the long run there would be more money.
Sadly, after the questions about money come up and its all broken down to the bottom line a big reason that a solo-model website fails is lack of trust.
The girl spend hours upon hours in front of the photographer half naked, yet doesn't trust him when it comes to the money being used to build the site, money used to run the site month to month, money coming into the site, or amount of money being paid out to her from the site.
The girl fails to show for a webcam chat or two, sends the photographer a text with a reason, but he doesn't trust it to be true. Back and forth - one person no longer trusting the other and being suspicious for weeks at a time, distracting them both from the running of the website.
Once that trust between partners in any type of business breaks down the business is doomed.
Before I move on I need to make one point clear: I have much less tolerance for bullshit from teen models these days as compared to the time of my first solo-model websites back in 2006-2009 and I'm not going to be worried about pulling the plug if things get tense. No desire at all for profanity filled text messages late at night about how much money they deserve for showing their boobies on the Internet (like 20,000 other girls yearly).
I've pretty much heard it all and seen it all and can sniff out the crap pretty quickly. I'm not desperate to make a few more dollars here and there and my personal peace and stress levels are more important to me than spending precious time dealing with some teen model's issues.
What About The Damn Specifics?
I'm a loud mouth bald man and would love to just type out every little silly thing about my specific experiences trying to run solo-model websites... but the girls, the boyfriends, the competitors and other sideline oddballs are not here to state their side of the story... and it wouldn't be fair now would it?
How about I just randomly type out some true stories, weird incidents, silly issues and curious thoughts from the past few years, or involving the more recent models, and you fans can't guess which is which?
Ok, glad you agree. Lets get on with it - in no particular order. The numbers are there just to separate the stories.
1- Averaging what the four most recent solo-model websites had in subscriber numbers and net income, and giving the models credit for hours shooting, traveling, tanning, on webcam and on social media, they have been paid an average of $110.42 an hour. Riches, no... but better than McDonalds and much more free time too!
2- Two of the more recent girls couldn't understand the difference between friends and followers on social media sites and paying subscribers to their own site. Picture me trying to explain to a girl that having 600 "Friends" on a site like Facebook doesn't mean that your nudie website has 600 paying subscribers, and her later saying she "knows" I'm lying because she checked with a few of her "Friends" and they all claimed long time subscriptions - some even stating months and months of subscriptions to a site that had only been open 3 weeks. (Any chance the "Friends" (guys) are just saying that to be "friendly"?)
3- One of the recent girls sent me a text whining that she didn't get paid her profit share for the month before the site opened. Yes, opened in March, complained her share from sales in February never arrived.
4- Anybody ever notice how many one hour chats are due to start at 10:00pm, but always start 10-15 minutes late? I asked a girl about this once and she gave me this convoluted reply about how getting ready, changing into lingerie and starting her computer all counted for "the hour I have to work!". Notice that term "have to" in there? How many of you work a job where the time clock starts when you are pulling on your jeans in the morning?
5- A couple of the recent girls had a private messaging system in the site but suddenly became "too busy" for replying to fans and wanted me to do it or get my helper to do it.
6- One recent girl was too busy to talk to her partner (me) but later when the site had to close suddenly had time to send over 40 text messages between 1:00am and 4:00am.
7- One of the recent models promised to do lots of social media stuff but within a week or two was searching for ways to cheat that obligation by looking for software that would autopost to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Her plan was to type up a week of random posts on Sunday and schedule them to be posted by software all week. Not exactly "engaging" back and forth with fans as she promised.
8- One girl first worked with us on TrueTeenBabes, later had her own solo-model website, but conflict started when she argued that she should get 50% of the profit of TrueTeenBabes like she did on the solo-model website. I tried to explain that TrueTeenBabes had over 100 models, that to be fair they all needed to be paid the same, and that giving 50% to each girl would mean paying out many times over what the site earned. The discussion (argument) lasted days.
9- One recent girl explained to me how a roommate had moved out causing her to carry the entire load. She had no other job outside of TrueBabes and the solo-model website we were planning. Trying to help I set it up to have the bank direct deposit to her account $250.00 a week as an advance against future earnings until the site could open.
By the time the site opened and first profit sharing day came around she had been paid $2000.00 in advance. The site had only been open 13 days the previous month and had total income of just $1898.65, so there wasn't a large chunk of profit to be shared and in fact she had been paid more than the total gross income before expenses.
Correct, at that moment in time the site was in the hole for that first month because it was only open 13 days, but the girl is upset, the $2000.00 in advance money wasn't supposed to be counted (as if it was a gift), and I'm being told how its my fault she didn't make over $4000.00 because the photos on tour are wrong, the make-up is wrong, the price is too low or too high, the hair style is wrong, the outfits are wrong, and on and on. Dozens of rude late night text messages - all of which inspired me to close that site way before I even recovered the initial start-up costs.
Because I had made a promise I kept the weekly direct deposit running for weeks after the site closed and the girl made a total of $3500.00 from a site open just 13 days. The math for the site is not difficult for most of us.
Costs: $4518.00 to build and pay for first month expenses, plus $3500.00 sent to the model, $154.00 for May hosting/CDN/Amazon, $154.00 for June hosting/CDN/Amazon, and $540.00 for Copyright registrations brings us to a total spent thus far of $8866.00 (doesn't include May card processing fees).
Income: $1898.65 April subscription payments (here) before arguments started and site closed. Reopened in May as archive with total May income of $139.65 (here) and total June income thus far of $99.75 (here).
$8866.00 paid out, with a total of just $2138.05 coming in shows that I'm $6727.95 in the hole (money lost) for that one site. It will have to run as an archive for a long time to make that up, yet the girl is still whining two months later about all the money I'm supposedly "making off her".
I can't say if its her ego thinking thousands of guys are dumping money on the archive to see her, or if she just doesn't understand basic business - such as being $6727.95 in the whole doesn't mean you are "making money" (profiting). Common sense says the archive would be slowly recovering money from a bad investment decision made back in January, nothing more.
10- I'm often asked about the subscriber totals of these solo-model websites.
The highest number of monthly subscribers I've had for a solo-model website is in the mid-800s. Next down the list was in the 500s, with most of the others coasting along in the 350-400 range. Not giant size, but also not bad considering how little advertising I have done over the years.
11- Metro-PCS is a pre-paid cell phone company. These days they use the nationwide T-Mobile network and have good coverage. Back a few years ago it was a small regional carrier with limited service outside of Florida and Georgia.
I once had a girl with a solo-model website skip out at the last minute on a photo shoot trip to the Virgin Islands because her boyfriend discovered her Metro-PCS text messaging wouldn't work there. I offered for her to use mine (AT&T), and let her know we carry a Vonage adapter along so we would have a phone for voice calls, but it didn't matter - she skipped that shoot because the boyfriend insisted on being able to text her 24/7.
Her site closed the next month. It was sort of the last straw. This was the same girl that had previously demanded 50% of TrueTeenBabes. Curiously, it was the same boyfriend wanting her to make more money that kept her from going on a shoot to produce money making content. Think that over for a minute or two!
112- I mentioned above how now and then a boyfriend gets involved. Going back just a bit further in years I had a boyfriend whine and bitch about his girl having a site and doing all he could to get in the way. Later, maybe a year after they broke up, he came by the old Florida studio to introduce me to his new girlfriend. Suddenly, he was in favor of his girl having a website and making money by showing off. I passed because she had tattoos, but its funny to think about.
13- I try my best to do cool photos and videos. I keep a large supply of shoes, outfits and make-up around, and try to hire experienced people to work with that stuff. One thing I also try is to help girls get prepared before the shoots. Tanlines are not always cute. Lime green or ugly black fingernails and toenails don't always match the outfits or settings. A girl that has brown hair, but dyes it blond, then later has dark roots growing out is not as photogenic as a model without the dark roots.
To avoid those problems I always provide the girls with hundreds of dollars weeks before a shoot to hit the tanning salon, the nail salon and the hair salon. Get some color and balance out tanlines, just before travel get nails done a neutral beige color or French Manicure so they go with any color of lingerie, fix the roots and split ends so the hair is awesome. Its the pro way to do things but professional models usually do it as a habit, with their own money, like a pro athlete takes care of his body as a habit to insure he performs perfectly.
Take a look at the photos from the past few solo-model websites. You'll quickly see violet colored nails, dark roots, silly (ugly) tanlines, and other details that prove which girls didn't give a fuck about being prepared and used the money I sent for something personal such as cell phone bill, boyfriend, or anything else that doesn't help the business at all.
14- Before I started using the bank's direct deposit system I issued regular company checks on the tenth of each month to pay solo-model website girls their profit share. Once I mailed a check for around $2300.00 to a model in Florida.
Few days later she called and told me the local check cashing place wouldn't accept the check because I had mis-typed the amount on the legal line (the words). Dollars said $2300.00, but the words said "Two Thousand Hundred and No/100ths". I simply forgot the word "Three".
I felt stupid and quickly typed a new check and sent it by FedEx for her to receive the next day with instructions to tear up the original. A few days later I get a call from a different check cashing place in Florida wanting me to replace a check one of their clerks had cashed by mistake. I was confused.
It was the original check. The girl and her boyfriend cashed the replacement sent by FedEx, waited a few days, then drove around to different check cashing places trying to cash the second one until they found a clerk that didn't notice the typing mistake.
I had to replace the check because many girls relied on that check cashing company to handle their checks from me. I couldn't risk other girls having issues because of this girl and her loser boyfriend.
Naturally I cut off work with that girl and closed the site.
Funny Sidebar - The girl sent an long apology email a few months later. Came back around to help at that studio now and then, and on other projects in Florida. We became close friends and she just spent a week with me in Colorado during April of this year for fun, giggles, tequila and other "stuff".
15- After closing the Florida studio at the end of 2010 I kept lots of gear and supplies down there in another building so I could go back and forth for shoots. The process was to rent local beach houses or other locations for a few days to get shoots done with local models. Florida beach houses that are large enough to shoot many scenes in are more expensive than Colorado locations, often as high as $4000.00 to $5000.00 per week.
Once I booked such a location for a week with plans to shoot four days. Three days for the main site and one day with a model for her solo-model website. The night before her shoot the girl sent text that she wanted to put things off because her boyfriend wanted to take her an amusement park the next day.
I explained, over and over, that I was only in Florida that week, only had that day open, had made this plan weeks in advance, and more. It didn't matter. She wanted me to rent the house for another week at a cost of $4000.00 so she and her boyfriend could spend that day at Disney World.
To her it made perfect sense for me to spend an additional $4000.00 in rental fees because her boyfriend wanted to spend the day with her. I couldn't do it even if I wanted to. I had other plans 1900 miles away and the homeowners had other customers booked for the next week.
Her site ran out of update content and closed because she missed that shoot and she was never seen in the model game again.
16- Another solo-model website closed when the girl missed her second shoot in six months stating she needed to go out of town for her grandfathers funeral. Normally I would feel bad but it was the second time in six months that same grandfather had died and she had to visit Tennessee for his funeral.
Apparently, either he came back from the dead the first time or she forgot she had used that excuse a few months earlier. Before working with me she had a site with another guy. When I told him the story he replied by forwarding an email she had sent him the year before. It was her stating that her grandfather had died and she needed to go to Tennessee.
17- I'm trying to play the semi-retired dude these days and didn't truly wish to do the two most recent solo-model websites. What you may not know is that I only did it / tried it when nobody else wanted to try it with those particular girls.
The first place I spoke with was SoloRevenue. They've been around for years, manage several sites, and have a good reputation among those in the business. But, things have changed... there just isn't much money in the solo-model website market these days, and girls can be a bit flaky. Take a look at their list of sites here. Damn beautiful girls for sure but lets look a bit closer.
First, down that page you'll see a site that has no name and never opened. Girl shot once, got new boyfriend, never came back and site never opened. Money they spent on first shoot and other details a total waste.
Second, click a link for any of the sites. Not a one of them has been updated to that Google Mobile Friendly standard I discussed above. If they are making big money you can bet they would spend the $500.00 (plus labor) to do that upgrade. Apparently they have determined it just isn't worth the investment.
Unfortunately I can't link you to the second company site. They have completely gone out of business after 14 years and lots of popular solo-model websites. The last email from them, dated January 2015, after I sent them images / links was "Thanks for showing me her. She's pretty good but I'm no longer interested in doing solo girl sites - they just don't make enough sales to make it worthwhile". Both of these companies, and a third I talk to weekly, have been in the adult nude solo-model website business a long time. They have all had big affiliate advertising programs in place, large advertising networks, and many, many serious adult industry connections that could send them tons of web surfer traffic. Yet, they are out of, or getting out of, the solo-model website business and didn't want to take on any of the girls I showed them.
I talk with adult (18+) photographers and site owners daily through business forums and other places. I know of just one other 18+ solo-model website that has opened in 2015 (AubreyPaige.com). Clearly building a solo-model website its not as good of an investment as it may have been years ago or they would be popping up all over the place like the marijuana shops here in Colorado.
The meaning of this section is not that the girls I referred are not attractive enough. We all know thats not true and they are hotties. The point I'm trying to get across is that these days and the old pre-piracy days are not the same and girls shouldn't expect to be rich and making thousands of dollars a week - certainly not in the first couple of weeks or months.
Maybe if a girl does manage to get somebody to take a chance and invest in her, and she is paid exactly $2000.00 for the first 13 days the website is open, she shouldn't whine, bitch, complain and start looking to blame the web design, the tour photos, the make-up, the hair style, the subscription price or anything except the most basic market conditions.
18- And now, my wildest story and biggest mistake(s) from the solo-model website side of the business. This is a story only a tiny few in the business know. Pretty embarrassing for me when I think about it.
I once had a teen non-nude model that was doing good for herself in the money department at about $3200.00 a month at age 16. Later she demanded 50% of the income from TrueTeenBabes (detailed above), and shortly after that dispute was settled, she complained about doing "Photos From Home" (now known as "Selfies"), and just another week or two later backed out of her next shoot because travel to the location would restrict her cell phone usage (detailed above). The site had to close when it ran out of content.
Next her and her mother tried selling my materials by PayPal, before going on to work one month with another company, only to leave when the first revenue sharing check wasn't huge.
Months later she met up with another pro shooter and they ran a site for a bit over two years. Around that time piracy started killing revenue and the lower income caused tension between the partners. Eventually they decided it was best to stop fighting and just go their own separate ways.
Around this same time she and a girlfriend got in some legal trouble. The crime was bullshit - just the type of minor thing some police departments enforce because its an easy arrest statistic.
By August that year she has had no income for 2 months, needs a lawyer, and wants to get back in the solo-model website business. Through a third person she got in touch with me. We talked the old issues, the recent legal problems, my thoughts on modern solo-model websites, and more.
We agreed to work together again and build an all new website using modern techniques, some features her previous sites didn't have like streaming, messaging, and more. First we had to get her personal situation under control.
Most public defenders are overworked and can't give each client full attention so I hired a private lawyer at a cost of $3500.00.
She was behind on rent and other bills so I advanced her $2000.00 against future modeling fees (for TrueBabes) and website income (from solo-model website).
She didn't have a good laptop for webcam and social media so I purchased a good one for $1085.00 because I wanted her to start that stuff rightaway just to keep her name on the mind of pretty girl fans.
A travel and shoot date was selected. The plan was for her to fly in on a Wednesday (Florida to Colorado), shoot all day Thursday and Friday, then Saturday her sister would fly in so they could attend concerts at Red Rocks both Saturday and Sunday evening. They would both head back to Florida on Monday morning.
I rented a really cool house to shoot in, and for them to stay in, at a cost of $1500.00.
Her airfare was $608.00.
Grand total invested August into September to get this girl back in the company and a new site going: $8693.00.
The weeks before the travel / shoot are perfect. Text back and forth making plans. She is sending photos from other sites of things she wants to try and links to places with cute outfits we ordered. She really seems "in to" it and ready to go.
Travel day I'm at the airport and she never gets off the plane. I'm waiting and looking and texting and calling and waiting more. No sign of her.
Eventually I get a hold of somebody that lives near her. They go over and she is sleeping - its about 2:00pm in Florida at the time. She sends me a text saying she thought the flight was the next day (Thursday morning). I didn't believe it because just the night before I'd sent a text saying "see you in the morning at baggage claim 3" and she had replied "OK dude".
Within a few minutes my helper Danielle that has known this model for years sent me a link to her social media where she had posted a picture of some tickets for a concert in Florida that Thursday evening.
Thats it - the girl that was due to fly out Wednesday morning, and told me she thought it was Thursday morning, was on social media bragging about row two tickets to a St. Petersburg, Florida concert the very Thursday evening should would have been in Denver.
When asked about that she admitted she stayed in Florida for the concert and stated she figured she would just come out with her sister on Saturday. That, of course, made no sense. If she was to arrive in Denver Saturday around noon, and go to the concert by 5:00pm (parking lot parties), then come home half drunk at 1:00am, to sleep in and go to yet another concert Sunday afternoon/evening, then fly home early Monday... when exactly would we be producing a dozen website videos, and thousands of photos, of her looking awesome?
I wasn't pissed... I was shocked. It just made no fucking sense at all (except maybe to her).
I gave up on the website plan and wrote off the entire $8693.00. I simply have zero interest in working with such rude people. Its just not worth it. Doesn't matter how cute she is or how many fans may subscribe - if she doesn't show up for shoots there can't be a website at all.
Later I introduced her to Doug Markwith and volunteered to provide the domain name, outfits I had purchased, and even server usage. He did all he could to get her in front of his cameras but she wouldn't commit to a travel date with him and he quickly gave up.
Finally We Know Who To BlameMany people that read this post will think I've laid the entire blame on immature girls and their boyfriends. Many parts of this make it sound like I'm a rude asshole that expects girls to do things my way or hit the damn highway.
Its true, the post above is written in the light most favorable to my thinking and experiences, but if you read back there are plenty of areas where blame is shared.
Now that we have made it all the way down this page its time to reveal the real person and reasons I've come to think are to blame.
Yes, its true. I'm the one to blame... just not for the reasons you may be thinking. Most of you think I'm short-tempered, rude with the girls, expect too much from them, have unreasonable expectations in how they should handle the website duties, and pull the plug too quickly.
The truth, as I'll explain below, is that I'm way too nice. Way too much of a good guy and care way too much about the situations the girls often find themselves in.
Here in the USA when a person or family find themselves in a tight spot help can be provided in the form of many different social programs, commonly called "welfare". Many psychology studies have shown that some people become too comfortable on such programs and often lose their "drive" to get out. Many don't go out and walk blocks each day looking for a new job or better job. The program gives them just what they need to survive, or pass the current crisis in their lives, and don't feel the incentive to put in full effort on a day to day basis. Frankly, some people become lazy or at the very least "slack off" until the pressure is on.
The debate over social programs isn't part of this blog but please keep that paragraph in mind as you read on.
Above I typed out a true story about a gal that was in a tough spot a few summers back. Quit working with one website company, had a legal issue to face down in court, and wanted to get back in front of the cameras soon for income.
In that story I wasn't the giant asshole many people think I am - I was exactly the opposite. I stepped in with $3500.00 for better lawyer and then $2000.00 to cover her rent and car payment for 2 months. It was the "nice guy" thing to do but wouldn't cause the website photos or videos to be better. Wouldn't bring more fans to the site. It had zero to do with business.
Some "old school" folks would think that type of help or effort on my part would earn loyalty from the girl and cause her to want to do great with our new partnership. It didn't and as the story says... she didn't even show up in Denver for the shoots.
What might have happened if I had never pitched in that money in advance to help her? She would have been behind on rent and car payment for one month, and had both those things due again in another 2 weeks. Meaning... she would have been "under pressure" to do something and act now!
In that story the "something" would have been to skip the darn concert, show up in Denver, shoot the day for TrueBabes at $200.00 an hour to take home at least $1200.00 cash, do the chat on TrueBabes that Thursday for another $100.00 cash, as well as do the other photo shoot day for the new solo-model website so it could open quickly and start generating income and she wouldn't be in that situation again the next month.
Me being the nice guy and sending that money in advance took away that "pressure" to solve her situation. It gave her a cushion of time before big needs came up again. It made it too easy to skip the work and go play.
Me being a nice guy and caring about the tough situation she was in backfired on me. If I would have ignored her personal problems - let them go in one ear and quickly out the other - she would have showed up for the shoot, TrueBabes would have had a new model, a new solo-model website would have been created and my bank account would have retained something like $4000.00. Being "nice" is a business mistake.
Also above I mentioned a similar true story. Girl was in town to shoot for the solo-model website. During her time here, in casual conversation, she mentioned some anticipated financial tensions back home due to a roommate moving out and another not working as many hours as expected. She was hoping the website would open soon so that her share from it could fill that void. Just a simple and completely normal conversation or two.
Without her asking, or even hinting, the nice guy in me volunteered to set her up with $250.00 weekly in advanced payments against future income the site would hopefully make. It was the "nice guy" thing to do but wouldn't cause the website photos or videos to be better. Wouldn't bring more fans to the site. It had zero to do with business.
Clearly it took away a bit of pressure in her life but that very likely was a bad thing for business. Later that very money ($2000.00) paid to her as an advance against future income became the "money issue" between the partners I discussed in so many ways above. If it was never sent in advance that website would very likely be rocking along today.
What might have happened if I had never pitched in that money in advance to help her? She would have been in a tighter financial situation for a few weeks. Meaning... she would have been "under pressure" to do something and act now!
In that story the "something" would have been to insure the website was going to open in a big way so that the first profit sharing payment was as big as possible. I imagine a girl that is "under pressure" would spend more time on social media, forums, the TrueBabes webcam, and anything else she thought would cause fans to join the site the very day it opened. I'm told there is a huge difference in sales when a model engages with potential customers, rather than posting ads every 2-3 days.
When that first profit sharing day came around there would have been no question about the money. She would have been paid what she helped the damn site earn and nothing more. As it was, conflict started because she wanted or need what the website had earned in addition to what had already been advanced. Boom - There it is, that damn "money issue" between the partners that became a dumb debate by email and late night text messages.
Me being a nice guy and caring about the tough situation she was in backfired on me. If I would have ignored her personal problems - let them go in one ear and quickly out the other - there would never have been confusion over the simple terms like "advance" and "profit". What she earned she would have been paid, and nothing else, and if she didn't like it she would just have to work harder the next month.
If I wasn't the "nice guy" my bank account would have retained something like $6700.00. Being "nice" is a business mistake.
Going back to non-nude teen models, the same thing happened before. Had a site with a Florida model and it was doing fine. She had a chance to attend a group tour of Europe with other students over the summer. To take advantage of a pre-payment discount I advanced her $3500.00 against future website earnings. Boom - just like that she lost her incentive, delayed and later skipped a shoot that would have been the update content while she was away six weeks, and the site had to close when it ran out. If I had never done the advance, she would have needed to shoot for TrueTeenBabes once or twice before leaving, plus lots of content for her own site to insure she had money to pay back grandparents or others that paid for the trip.
Overall being "nice" is a fucking huge business mistake.
Are you confident I remain the bad guy and the theory in the above few paragraphs is bullshit? Maybe we can turn to NetFlix for help.
On May 29th, 2015 Netflix debuted a documentary titled "Hot Girls Wanted". In the early portions of it they are dealing with girls in the 18-20 age range that get into full blown porn (not just TrueBabes style nudes) and how they live and work in that business.
Go watch it, listen to the numbers the girls 18-20 are paid, and compare that to TrueBabes. One girl brags about $900.00 in just five hours, but it was doing blow-jobs and fucking a stranger. Five hours for TrueBabes pays them $1000.00 and they are not sucking and fucking strangers.
I'm the bad guy?
No, I'm not the bad guy. I'm the fool for being the nice guy. Down there they have super cute girls running around, using their own money for food and rent, producing big money sucking and fucking videos for less money than I pay for simple glamour style nudity.
And, because they are direct and bossy and never help a girl, never even pay for her damn cheeseburger, they never have it backfire on them.
Tune in Netflix, then come back and read this page again and see if you don't agree that overall being "nice" is a fucking huge business mistake.
And I've made it many, many damn times.
Not Getting Older.... Just Getting Bitter
Thats about it for today. This blog post is way too long and may actually raise more questions than it answers.
The most obvious question is... would I try it yet again with yet another cute 18 or 19 year old model?
Nah, I wouldn't think so... I'm comfortable with the simple little TrueBabes, the two beer & burgers places just 5 minutes down the bike path north or south, and enough free time to run off to Las Vegas, a NASCAR race, or back to ST. Thomas without stressful issues / models on my mind.
June 10th, 2015
Littleton, Colorado. USA.