What Makes Starting A Camming Site Hard
Since I started running my live camming resource site, I’ve connected with tons of people in the industry and many who are trying to jump into the industry. This ranges from current models, perspective models, decision-makers staffed with the various camming sites, webmasters from a wide range of websites and more. I’ve learned a lot from my interactions, and one of the things I’ve learned is that it’s difficult to start up your own cam site. Here’s why.
Day 1: It’s Going To Be A Ghost Town
If you were in any other adult niche, it’d be possible to build up a website before launching it. This is because all the adult sites have affiliate programs and most of them give you content to use in order to promote them. If you were a studio producing your own content, building up the content is easy! You create it, than post it!
But the live camming industry? You need live models logged on at all times in order for something to actually be happening. This makes the initial launch a major pain. Day 1, you won’t have a single broadcaster (unless you were able to convince models to cam on your site prior to launch). You also won’t have any real traffic. Anyone who’s ran any kind of site knows that traffic is key to monetization.
Sure there’s things you can do prelaunch, such as ramping up social media properties, building up other web properties that can be used to upsell / cross-sell, and so on. And you best be doing these things, because you’ll need all the free and earned traffic you can get right out of the box. Those other web properties can also be monetized and that might be what’s subsidizing the entire operation for a while.
Edit: Since originally writing this, a new streaming technology company has started, who’s goal is to end this. ModelNet provides a live streaming platform for camming sites. They’ve also got a unique feature where you can feature other ModelNet models on your site. It works on a revshare and the owner of the site with that model will get a share of her revenue generated on your site.
You’re also able to feature any of your models on the other ModelNet sites. If your models are featured on other sites, you’ll get a revshare of that revenue from those sites. It’s also a great way to make your models more money by tapping into their customer base. Models earning more money are more likely to stay on your network.
Learn More: Building An Adult Camming Site With ModelNet
You Need To Promote To Models AND Customers
Live camming is very unique because you need to market to both models and customers. Remember that this is harder than you think. There’s already tons of established cam sites that already have established search engine rankings, wide selection of performers, tons of money in the marketing budget and built up name recognition. It’s going to be difficult beating them in the SERPs, outbidding them on ad space and competing with the social media presence of not only the camming site itself, but also the army of models and affiliate marketers doing their own promotion for these brands.
Try convincing any model that they should abandon their current camsite, the traffic that comes with it and their following on that site to go perform on a site with minimal traffic. Without having any good reviews or feedback on any of the camming forums and communities, there’s many models that might think your network is a scam or questioning whether it’ll even last for an entire year. You better offer the models some crazy incentive and be able to prospect new models trying to get into the industry. It’s the only way you’re going to get performers on your network.
And the customers? The only way you’re going to get retention is if there’s a wide range of models that fit their tastes and cater to their fetishes. If you can’t get the models to convert, you’ll never get the customers to convert. Without a built-up customer base, it’s hard to convince models to choose your network. You see the major dilemma here?
Technical Support, Troubleshooting, Security, CPI Compliance, 2257 and Other Issues
It’s your cam site, you’re responsible for the technology, security and compliance with your website. There’s IT issues, legal issues, business issues and more to contemplate. Having a fatal error in your website can not only mean your site crashes, but it could also result in jail time and hefty fines.
On the technical side: You’ll have to develop the platform, test it, optimize it up order to stay compliant and maintain it. If you’re a tech guru, this might not be a gamestopper. If you’re not, you’ll need one on the team and best be able to pay him or her.
On the security side: You’re dealing with a lot of personal information. One hack and you’re hated by everyone. Remember the fallout from the Ashley Madison hacks? There’s a class action lawsuit in the works. Sure, camming might not be as confidential as a site designed to facilitate affairs, but neither your models or customers would appreciate their real identities being disclosed.
On the legal side: If you’re not completely compliant with the 2257 record keeping requirements, you could go to jail and face fines. If you’re not CPI compliant, you’re facing even steeper fines. And let’s not forget that all laws are subject to change. If you’re planning on establishing a global presence, this means that you’re going to have to keep tabs on international law in every country where you’re contracting performers and getting traffic from.
Then let’s not forget all the model / performer agreement, the TOS, privacy policies and other legal documents. These better be completely solid or you could face more legal woes. Let’s say a performer gets pissed off at your company and finds out that she can get you under DMCA for having her content on your cam site and other web properties. That’s just one scenario that can be thought up. If there’s holes in any of these documents, there’s many other circumstances that could occur as well.
Proper Venture Capital / Seed Money To Get Started
Just because you’re a code guru doesn’t mean this is going to be a lean startup. You really can’t do this bootstrapped. Let’s say you are a badass and are able to do EVERYTHING in-house. There’s still going to be the overhead of hosting / bandwidth, marketing and paying out the models. You might think that model payout isn’t an issue, as they get paid when people purchase credits and spend. You got to remember that as of right now, you don’t even have customers to spend on the models. Be prepared to have to cut deals with broadcasters just to keep them going on your site until you can build up enough paying traffic to be solvent off of token tips.
This is why you’re going to need a huge marketing budget as well. You’ll have to be running ads across all the adult ad networks in order to build name recognition and traffic. This is something you can’t get started without and remember, you’re going to be in a bidding war with the other cam sites.
And remember, if you’re not badass enough to do everything in-house and by yourself, you’re either going to have to outsource certain tasks and bring people onboard. Maybe they’re willing to work pro bono until the sites established and profitable, but most people require money to pay bills, eat and perform other important tasks in life.
So better have a little bit of change of the savings account, or a source of income that can seed the venture.
How I Would Go About Starting A Live Camming Site
This is a task I probably wouldn’t want to take on, but I have speculated about how I would go about it. Here’s some ideas that I’ve come up with. If you’re really up to the challenge, maybe this will help you out with the process. Here’s what I’d do.
Establish A Studio Before Building The Cam Site
I would NEVER go about trying to create a brand new camming site if I didn’t already have a well established camming / adult studio prior to launch. Here’s why:
Access to established camming models: Remember that our first major challenge is the shortage of models. Without having models, you’ve got absolutely no content on your site. If you’re already running an established studio, you’ve already got access to models that could perform on your site. Having that rapport built up with performers is going to be key. Since you’re dealing with established performers and not prospective models trying to get started, they’ve also got their following they could tap into. There’s all the social media followers and hopefully a bunch of loyal fans that will go onto your cam site just to interact with specific models.
Studio income to seed the startup: You’ve also got the established income stream that can be used to subsidize your new camming site until it’s solvant off it’s own income. If your studio only offers live camming, you’re going to lose a great deal of that income initially, when you switch all your models over to the new platform. If you’re providing other services, such as selling content sets and running membership sites, those are services that will provide residual income that can be used to seed your new venture.
Established web presence to drive traffic: If you’re running a good studio, you’ve also established a bunch of web properties that can be used to drive traffic. Since these web properties are probably dealing with camming and amatuer porn, it’s well qualified traffic as well. You should have multiple niche social media accounts, websites that have decent SEO and traffic, presences on all the tube sites and be part of other adult sites and networks. This traffic
Source of leads for new models: If you’re running a studio, you’ve got methods of recruiting models in play. It might be from your studio website, classified ads, word of mouth or other sources. However you do it, you’ll have models that you can upsell / cross-sell on your new network. If the models join your studio, you can feature them on the camming site as well as any other networks you’ve got performers on. Even if these models choose to go independent of a studio, you might be able to sell them on performing on your network instead of a competitor. Either way, having this source of leads is crucial.
Provide The Ability To Sell Photo / Video Content As Well
I would definitely cater to content sales in addition to live camming. There’s many reasons for this. It makes the site appeal to a bigger audience, provides additional revenue streams and more. Here’s why it’s important that this feature is implemented:
Don’t need live performers for onsite content: Remember the other major challenge was that you need online broadcasters in order for there to be any content at all. If you offer the sale of video and photo content, that content will still be available for purchase even when the performer is offline. Therefore, if the camming site is a complete ghost town, there’s still methods of monetizing traffic and there’s still content in the form of previews and samples.
This content can also be used to promote the new site. You can syndicate some FHGs across the internet, upload watermarked trailers to the tube sites and use the content for social media marketing. This will help in establishing additional web properties and presences on other established adult sites.
Can import all other studio content for sale: Remember that I’d never jump into a camming site of my own without first running a successful studio. Seeing that we have a hypothetical studio in this scenario, and that studio has content for sale, we can import all of that content. If there’s tons of content the studio can add, it might be enough to get the camming site solvent off content sales alone. If this happens, the content sales can subsidize the increased payouts for the models until there’s enough live broadcasters and customers to make the entire operation profitable.
Differentiate from other camming sites: Even though there are already camming sites that offer other adult services, the majority of the cam sites are solely for live camming. Allowing models to offer a wide range of services (even more than indicated here) is one way to differentiate yourself from the competition. It gives more appeal to prospective models as well as customers.
Allow For Studio Accounts
Studio accounts are important, as studios prospect for their own models. Enabling studios and attracting them can help with attracting new talent. Right out-of-the-box, I would definitely give much more generous cuts to the studios. This is to try to court them and all the models under their brand. A couple strategic partnerships with select studios during the initial launch phase could pay out good in the long run, even if you end up initially paying them more than you’re receiving.
Develop A Well Thought Out Affiliate Program
If you’ve got a great affiliate program, you’ll appeal to the adult webmaster community. Getting them to start promoting your site will earn you a lot of referral traffic and PR. In addition to PPS and RevShare, a model referral program is also necessary. It’s important to offer a wide range of promotional tools, and not just simple banners and links. Tools should include embeddable content at the very least. A Whitelabel would be very valuable as well. Having all this available on launch date will help ensure that you’ll have webmasters promoting your site for you.
Allow Male And Transgender Models (But Don’t Feature Them On Front Page To Unlogged In Users)
I hate how many dick pics I see whenever I go onto Chaturbate. It’s like that with a couple networks. The front page should be tailored to the logged-in users based on browsing data and preferences indicated on the profile. Since the majority of camsite customers are straight men, the users who aren’t logged in will only see top performing female / couple rooms. If the user indicates that they’re interested in male, gay or transgender shows, they’re front page would be tailored to that.
It’s important to allow for all these different types of performers. Alienating niches is never a good idea and there’s not quite as many options for non-female performers.
Figure Out Increased Model Compensation During Launch
As mentioned multiple times above, the models on the new camming site won’t be earning much if it’s a ghost town. To combat this and keep the performers happy, compensation can be negotiated. You might have to give the models a salary in addition to the token tips until the network has enough traffic to be more profitable than competitors. Having the funds available to seed the operation is important. I’m obviously not conspiring to build up a cam site right now, so it’s not something I’ve put a lot of thought into.
Hit Up All The Adult Industry Events
If you’re jumping into the industry like this, might as well be doing the circuit. Going to all the camming / adult industry related events will expose you and your brand to a wide range of people. You’ve got the adult industry news outlets that will provide additional earned PR, the camming models themselves, adult webmasters and more. All these people can play a role in building your brand. Whether it’s the people performing on your site or the webmasters you want promoting your affiliate program.
Aside from that, these summits look like a major party.
Build Up Model / Studio Resource Sites To Drive Leads
I’ve already got that in place, so I don’t need to concern myself with this step too much. If I did ever start a studio account (a prerequisite for sure) I’d probably be working on ramping that up even more. Having these web properties in place that can generate model and studio leads are very important. Sure, you can rely on other webmasters running resource sites in the niche to add your site (better have a model referral program!) and SEO your own camming site so that it ranks good for the keywords to attract models, but dominating the entire niche and getting all the leads is the best way to go.
Establish A Major Presence On The Tube Sites
I would have it written into the model agreement and terms of service that we’re able to retain the rights of all broadcasts and syndicate any live performances. This will give us the ability to market heavily through the tube sites. Aside from becoming a revenue stream through the partner programs that every major tube site offers, the watermarking and building up the following will be a great marketing tool. Not only do tube sites get tons of traffic, but the videos can be embedded into any sites or other web properties. The content also plays really nicely in search.
Have The Funds Ready For Some Major Ad Buy
Last but not least, I would have some major money set aside for some relentless promotion through the adult ad networks. Being how I’m probably giving the models and studios more compensation than the site is earning right out-of-the-box, I would want to establish brand recognition and traffic as quick as possible. An ad-buy blitzkrieg at the start of the launch will pay out in the long-run. If it establishes brand recognition, repeat customers and revenue fast, that means that you can ramp down model and studio compensation sooner rather than later.
If You’re Starting A Studio and Want To Pick My Brain
I always enjoy talking to factors inside the industry. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d love to hear your ideas and share some of my own. Much of the things I mentioned above, I’ve already got implemented, or know the right factors inside (and outside) the industry to make it happen. Although I’ve got no intention of starting a camming site in the near future, I don’t mind sharing resources and might be able to figure out some kind of mutually beneficial cooperation. I love win-win situations.
Would love to hear from you and good luck fighting the good fight.