One of the aspects of blogging that I love is that it opens up opportunities to connect with people of all walks of life, interests, backgrounds and experiences. In the last year and a half of blogging here at ProBlogger I’ve come into contact with a lot of readers – many of whom have shared their experiences with me. One of these people is ‘Steve’ (not his real name).
Steve emailed me quite a few months back after I’d had a particularly rough few days of blogging – having been pretty viciously attacked as a result of some things I’d written that had been misunderstood. Steve wrote to me to encourage me to hang in there keep on blogging and shared some of his own story of being a webmaster.
The interesting thing was that despite Steve knowing I was a Baptist Minister (I haven’t mentioned that for a while so it could be a shock for some of you) he told me the story of how he’d publishing and making a living from Adult content for a number of years and how he’d recently gotten into mainstream publishing – particularly via blogging.
To be honest – Steve’s involved in an area of the web that I’m not fond of and which I have some ethical problems with – however he’s also a guy that I’ve come to value as a fellow blogger and human being. He’s been incredibly supportive of me and this blog (he’s a regular reader) and has even taught me a thing or two about blogging.
This week I asked him if he’d be willing to be interviewed on ProBlogger – to share some of what he’s learnt about online publishing. This interview doesn’t contain any links to anything Steve publishes (adult or mainstream) and I publish it because while I may not agree with some of what Steve does I do think he’s got some interesting lessons to share and I’m constantly asked by readers of this blog to feature other readers opinions (something Steve has a few of). I’m also fascinated by his story and refocussing towards mainstream publishing. Here’s my interview (warning: it is quite long):
Darren: thanks for agreeing to be interviewed Steve
Steve: No problem Darren. Before I answer the questions I should point out that my wife and I are very much a partnership in everything we do on the Net so you will often see that I talk about ‘we’ rather than just me. For any of the many other adult webmasters that frequent Darren’s blog you may know us as The Other Steve and Marie. For everyone else you will just have to trust me when I tell you that my nickname made a lot of sense at the time I chose it.
Darren: How did you get into web publishing?
Steve: In 1996 we bought a new computer and connected to the Net for the first time. For a little while surfing the Net was great, there were lots of things to do and see but it was only a few weeks before we wanted to build a website.
We started with Geocities and taught ourselves to write HTML – in Notepad. I started a site that looked at trains while Marie was more interested in building something useful like a site that supported women who found themselves in a certain situation. My site is long gone while Marie’s site is still there and will soon be undergoing yet another revamp.
And that was our first shaky start on the Net
Darren: What got you into adult content?
Steve: Three escorts got us into adult content in 1998 – it’s all they’re fault :). Now I know that many of your readers have a very poor view of sex workers but most of that is from a very undeserved bit of stereotyping. Those three ladies asked us to design a website for them and we did. They paid us more promptly than some mainstream people have paid us; they were honest and didn’t muck us about at all.
From that point we began to have quite a bit of contact with various people in the adult offline industry and over time we met more people in that industry that I would trust with my life than in any other industry I have ever worked in.
So Darren, as your readers read this, I hope they’ll throw out their stereotyping and start looking at individuals as individuals. They may not like what sex workers do but that doesn’t make a sex worker any less of a person.
Anyway I’ll get off my soapbox now and tell you that from that small beginning we gradually drifted into full-time adult webmastering from mid 2001 and we are still involved in the adult online industry today.
Darren: Why have you branched out into mainstream publishing?
Steve: Would you believe because we have found adult to be boring? It’s true, I’ve now seen so many bare bums and boobs that I just don’t look anymore. We wanted a challenge and so we came back to mainstream to see if the skills we had learned in adult would make us a decent living here in mainstream.
And as it turned out we did have the skills but a little business that Marie also started in 2001 has now gone over the tipping point and we are so busy keeping our mainstream and adult customers happy that we hardly have time to do much web design and marketing work for ourselves anymore.
Darren: What attracted you to blogging?
Steve: For Marie it was a chance to share important things with women who are afflicted with a very debilitating disease but for me it was a bit different. I’ve always been a bit of a self-opinionated bugger as other adult webmasters who know me will tell you so blogging gave me a voice in mainstream to talk about important things that effect your business and mine too..
You see, there are a lot of principles that we learned over in adult that apply in mainstream because it all comes down to the fact that, on both sides of the fence, we are all operating small businesses. And the principles that apply to small business in the bricks and mortar world also apply in cyberspace.
For 20 years in the real world I had a lot to do with small businesses and I saw many fail because they got the fundamentals wrong. Many people get the fundamentals wrong in cyberspace too and their businesses will ultimately fail so you will see Marie often talking about business principles in a daily column she writes for adult webmasters.
Darren: What do you think bloggers could learn from the adult industry?
Steve: Any blogger who has a blog roll and thinks that their blog roll is a key to success has a huge amount to learn from the adult industry. I agree with one guy I see here who describes blog rolls as being incestuous – they are because you just keep on recycling the same old tired traffic that’s never going to buy anything you want to sell them.
Instead you need to get out and get fresh traffic to your blogs. Break your back to get your blog into the front pages of search engine results pages, buy traffic, advertise your blog on the back of your car, get your URL up on a billboard – do whatever it takes but get traffic from outside the blog loop otherwise you’re just wasting your time and playing at being a blogger.
And you need to realize that this is all about making money. If you’re reading ProBlogger and you’re not interested in making money then you’re just fooling yourself (I did have a stronger term there but Marie reminded me I should try and be polite).
Whether you want to make money from your blog or because of your blog it’s all the same. You need to work relentlessly towards your goal. That may not sit well with a lot of people but that is one thing I have learn