“If you want success, surround yourself with successful people”, they say.
Such a cliche, I know, and yet… we do buy into it.
Because it’s true.
That’s why we’re starting this series of interviews with affiliate marketing players — experts and promising newcomers — that you/we can learn from.
People that we admire and that you can get lots of no-bullshit advice and practical insights from (just wait and see…).
And today we’re bringing you the guy behind ThePornDude: the best-known porn site reviews & ratings website, with an average of 50 million monthly visits.
So, if you want to find out:
- how he’s made his way up to the top
- what stigma related to making money in the adult niche he had to overcome
- what challenges he faced along his way up there
- his best advice for those who’re just starting out
… just keep on reading:
1. You’re a veteran affiliate marketer in the Adult niche: how long have you been doing this more exactly? When did you start?
ThePornDude has been around since 2013, but I’ve actually been in the business a few years longer.
I first started hustling porn in 2008, cutting my teeth on a little amateur porn blog.
2. The affiliate marketing space is huge, so why did you choose precisely the Adult industry? Was it your first choice?
I worked in the online security industry for years before that, focusing on Windows password security.
It started as a hobby project in college, which grew from a free service for my friends to a freemium model. Thirty bucks a month bought subscribers a hundred pentests to gauge the strength of their passwords.
I started doing my first porn blog around this time. There’s a certain stigma to making money in the adult industry, so I remember trying to pretend the password gig was my only source of income even as my adult traffic was growing.
When I did let the cat out of the bag, everybody thought I must have been banging pornstars between running security tests.
“How else would you make money in the adult industry? Porn is free!”
Moving from passwords to porn full-time was just sort of a natural progression. I only work on projects I’m fully passionate about, so they don’t fizzle out if I get bored.
3. How was it for you when you first started as an affiliate marketer in this niche? What were your main challenges?
I didn’t know much about the adult industry in general, so there was definitely a learning curve and a lot to pick up along the way.
First, you’ve got to choose the right niche to make money. Even that initial choice is a little different if you’re working solo versus a team effort, and then you’ve got to figure out how to get off the ground with that one-man budget.
The bigger it grew, the more I had to figure out how to manage every aspect of the business on my own.
There’s an idea that you can make money overnight in porn or on the web in general, but I think every webmaster finds out it’s not necessarily so easy.
I had to learn how to drive traffic to a website and optimize for Google, on top of tasks specific to adult entertainment like sourcing content legally.
The struggles I had over the years and the questions hitting my inbox on the daily are why we created PornWebmasters.com, which is the first resource of its kind aimed at aspiring online smut peddlers and seasoned, hairy-palmed pros alike.
4. Do you still remember when you got your first commission as an affiliate and how much was it worth?
Oh yeah. It was a nice conversion from a LiveJasmin banner. I earned a cool $300 PPS (Pay Per Sale) in 2008 money.
I’ve been hooked ever since.
5. When did you realize that this was something you could do as a full-time job?
I always knew the potential was there, just given the sheer volume of porn on the web, but it took me years to build an income stable enough that I didn’t have to worry about bills every month.
Even before it was earning enough to become my main gig, though, it was essentially a full-time job, at least in terms of hours.
I tend to throw myself into my projects with everything I’ve got, and don’t really see any of them as a “job”. If you look at your daily work or projects and all you see is a job, well, maybe you’re doing something wrong.
You need to have drive and passion in order to succeed, and it’s hard to maintain both for long if you’re just slaving over a job.
6. How much did you earn in your best month?
Am I being detained? I’d like to exercise my right to remain silent. 😊
7. What are the key things you look for when you choose to promote a particular product/service?
The product or niche has to interest me 100%.
There might be all kinds of money to be made in baby formula or scrapbooking gadgets, and I might have a dozen ways to monetize them off the top of my head, but how long can I really stay interested?
Any project you start on the web is going to be a long-term thing and a boring product ain’t going to get any more interesting when you reach day 500 of your marketing campaign.
I also research the market to see how I can give extra value to people interested in that niche or product. If I can’t add anything, it’s either pointless or going to be an uphill battle just to get started.
There are monetary considerations as well, like what it’ll cost to build your idea and how much the potential earnings are.
Legality is also concern, not just because we’re working in porn but also due to the logistics of a global marketplace.
8. What are the main challenges when working as an affiliate in the Adult business?
Getting backlinks and articles on mainstream websites is damn near impossible.
MindGeek is pretty much the only company who’s succeeded at doing this, and it took years to build a relationship with mainstream media. Of course, we saw that semi-comfortable relationship explode in their faces with that NY Times article at the end of 2020.
Media considerations aside, a lot of the challenges relate to growth. It can be overwhelming just trying to figure out where to focus your energy, and it’s easy to get lost–that’s why finding a mentor can be so important.
You need to build connections with other webmasters and people in the adult industry, which is harder when you’re a nobody, just starting out.
You’ve got to be willing to put in the work and you’ve got to be patient, because that search engine traffic and those conversions won’t come overnight.
It’s not like clocking in and getting paid by the hour for your efforts.
There are zero guarantees as an affiliate, so you can’t go in with the same mentality or you’ll drive yourself crazy.
Another major hurdle is figuring out the right way to monetize. As a newbie, it’s tempting to bury your site under ads and popunders and collect that instant revenue, especially when you’ve got bills to pay.
That can really cripple or stop your long-term growth, though. PPL (Pay Per Lead) might give you an immediate return, but RevShare/PPS offer more sustainable and ultimately more profitable business models.
9. What do you think will be the next step in the adult cams affiliate marketing niche space?
It’s going to depend a lot on the future technology, but I think some big things are coming with VR and AR. After years of talking about it, virtual reality is finally viable household technology.
They don’t mention it in the official promo material, but one of the biggest selling points of the Oculus Quest 2 in that you can masturbate with it.
10. Many of our blog readers are new to this and hope to make a living from Adult affiliate marketing: what’s your best advice for them?
Do your homework.
Put in the research before you dive into any niche.
Know your competitors, your target audience and your own long-term goal. If you’re starting a project without a plan, you’re probably going to fail.
Be prepared to put in the work. A lot of it. You’re going to work your ass off for a very long time, and it’s probably going to be a while before you get much back for your efforts.
Unless you’re a genius, your first project probably won’t be a success, but it ain’t all bad: you may fail a lot, but you’ll learn from each of those failures.
If you can swing it, it helps a lot of have an investment budget to work with. Build a team; you’ll need one if you want to keep growing long-term, since nobody can do everything by him or herself. Do what you’re best at and outsource the rest to somebody who’s better and faster.
The Internet is full of people, companies, websites and apps that can make your job a whole hell of a lot easier and more profitable.
Speaking of, I’ve been compiling lists of exactly those resources at PornWebmasters.com, my upcoming new directory for webmasters in adult entertainment. It’s a lot like ThePornDude, only aimed at folks on the other end of the porn sites.
Together, we can make the web a kinkier place.
Did you find this helpful? Then take ThePornDude’s example here and don’t be a selfish a**hole keeping these great tips all to yourself: give this post a share!
Then, go ahead and bug us with your comments in the… comments section down below!