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Located in: Home > Business > Industry News > AVNONLINE COLUMN 200512 - GUEST COMMENTARY - Sweet Success: Web goddess Aimee Sweet on making it big and keeping it real

AVNONLINE COLUMN 200512 - GUEST COMMENTARY - Sweet Success: Web goddess Aimee Sweet on making it big and keeping it real

AVNONLINE COLUMN 200512 - GUEST COMMENTARY - Sweet Success: Web goddess Aimee Sweet on making it big and keeping it real

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself being a star in the adult industry.

It just wasn’t something that nice Rhode Island girls did. Even the way I got started in the business was by chance and certainly wasn’t a career I had sought out.

I guess you could say I got lucky in the beginning, but not all of it has been easy. Establishing longevity on the Internet has taken a lot of hard work and a willingness to succeed.

In the beginning …

When I was 20, I started modeling in the mainstream fashion world. Around this time (1997), a girlfriend was approached by a modeling agent of a slightly different nature and asked to go to Los Angeles to meet some erotic photographers. Excited at the idea of spending time in L.A. ourselves, my boyfriend (who is now my husband, John) and I agreed to drive her there.

She met several photographers, who tried to book her for shoots for men’s magazines and softcore video productions. Several of those photographers were interested in me as well, but I was uncomfortable at the thought of getting naked for the entire world to see.

All of that changed when we went to see the legendary photographer Suze Randall. Suze was not at all what I thought an erotic photographer would be like. She immediately charmed me. After a brief introduction, Suze took some photos of my friend and then asked if she could take some of me. I was a little hesitant, but with some encouragement from Suze and John I said yes.

Next thing I knew, I was getting phone calls from Suze—she had submitted my Polaroid’s to Penthouse, which was interested in shooting me as a centerfold.

My initial reaction was, “no way, I can’t do that!” But after a few weeks, I changed my mind and went for it.

I remember being terribly nervous about my Penthouse shoot, but it was surprisingly fun and exciting. It was the first time in my life I had ever felt truly beautiful. I was always a tomboy, and now I was sexy and glamorous. Suddenly, I felt sexually liberated and it was such a rush.

And the earth was without form, and void …

After Penthouse published my centerfold in August 1998, a friend suggested that I buy my domain name. I never imagined that it would become that important. At the time, I was still more focused on my mainstream career, but I thought the domain would be good to have anyway.

Soon, I would move to Italy to concentrate on my fledgling fashion career. After four months abroad I realized I wanted to do something else, and I began re-evaluating my career.

I decided that I felt better about myself and made more money as a centerfold. In the spring of 1999 I moved back to California and I launched my website, AimeeSweet.com.

I wish I could say it has been smooth sailing and that everything has been perfect since the initial launch of my site, but I can’t. I’ve made several mistakes I wish I hadn’t.

It was so easy to make money on the Web in 1999, and I took that for granted a bit. I didn’t give my site the personal touch that it has today. I didn’t update enough, and I honestly didn’t care as much about my members as I should have.

I could blame it on bad advice or bad role models, but mostly, I blame myself. At that time it was easy to make money, and I got lazy.

Things in the adult Internet started changing. The surfer became much more sophisticated—he wanted his money’s worth from the site he joined. Couple that with stricter Visa regulations, and I was forced to start making some changes.

And God said, let there be light …

If I wanted to retain members or get new ones I knew I had to start taking this business seriously.

I gave my site a complete overhaul—I redesigned it, I shot a lot of fresh content, I started updating regularly, and most importantly, I started interacting with my members through a forum and live cam.

I was working my ass off to make the same amount of money I used to make doing nothing, but I’m glad I did it. It taught me to appreciate how lucky I’ve been. Suddenly, I began to embrace the concept of being an Internet model, and I began to take pride in my site, myself, and my career like I never had before. I realized why I had focused on the Web rather than video or print and why I was drawn to the Internet in the first place.

My favorite things about having my own site was that I could control the image I presented to the world, and I could use my brain as well as my looks to achieve success.

I want to be seen as an intelligent woman who has used her sexuality in a positive way, not the stereotypical “dumb model” just looking for attention. I wasn’t completely comfortable with the attention I received from my glamorous persona, and I found that concentrating on the development of “Aimee Sweet” as a brand and a business made it easier for me to handle. I can use my looks to open the doors and my brain to keep me there.

This led me to the decision that I wanted to run my website myself. If I planned on being seen as a businesswoman, then I needed to be a businesswoman.

In 2003 I started learning the basic skills needed to run a model site—Photoshop, DreamWeaver, FTP, etc. It wasn’t easy, but I knew I was capable of transitioning from model to model/webmaster. When John saw the effort I was putting into my site, he decided to build my affiliate program, ModelCash, so I could market my site as well as other model sites.

And God saw the light, that it was good …

Developing ModelCash became the catalyst for me to learn about affiliate marketing as well as a way for me to truly understand the mechanics of running a successful business. It was an eye-opening experience and continues to surprise me in the challenges presented on an almost daily basis. There are so many little details that are important for it to run properly.

Not only do I have the responsibility of keeping my members happy, I also have to keep my affiliates happy, which is not always an easy thing to accomplish.

What I love about my affiliate program is that I can help other models develop their own sites. I know how difficult it can be, and I really want to use my experience to point models in the right direction.

Not only can I market sites for models through ModelCash, I can run their sites for them as well.

I recently took over as webmistress for AvyScott.com and hope to take on several other sites, making ModelCash the premiere source for models that need site development, marketing and hosting.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night

What do you do if you are a model and you want to launch a site?

To me, the most important things in building a successful site are a willingness to learn, a strong work ethic, and dedication. You must learn as much as you can about the business and ask as many questions as you can. Otherwise, you’ll never fully grasp the amount of hard work needed to be successful. I’m always approached by models who think having a website means instant money. They don’t always realize the time that goes into it, even when they have someone else running the site for them.

Model sites are personality-driven, so there has to be something compelling about the site to get people to join. It’s important for single-model sites to offer a variety of content. I try to accomplish that by focusing on different genres of photography.

My member’s updates include glamour, fetish, amateur, lesbian, and candid photos and videos, as well as live webcam shows. These little distinctions are what keep your members happy.

A great place to learn about the industry is by reading webmaster forums and trade publications. In addition, attending webmaster conferences and seminars is very important to the successful development of a website. These are great resources for learning about the latest trends and innovations in the industry, not to mention great places to meet webmasters who can help promote your site.

Looking back on the last eight years of my life, I realize I have been blessed. I never could have imagined a career in adult, but I am grateful for the experience and I look forward to the new opportunities and challenges that will come my way.

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