It's the end of a long day and time for a little relaxing smut surfing. What will you look for? Pictures of naked girls? That's certainly generic. What kind of naked girls? Hairy ones? Fat ones? Big-titted ones? Girls on leashes? Girls with whips? Girls with cum-splattered eye glasses? There are so many different kinds of naked girl pictures available on the Net that you'd hate to have to wade through hundreds of pictures you're not interested in, don't you?
That's why there are niche sites.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a niche is, among other things, "a specialized market." That is clearly the case when it comes to niche Websites. The Internet has proven itself a wonderful means for accessing and sharing information about all sorts of things, and sex is one of its favorites. Because of the number of people looking, and the varied and sometimes eclectic interests of its anonymous users, Webmasters are realizing that specialized sites can not only be fun, they can be profitable, especially when they have content difficult to find in mainstream print publications or elsewhere on the Net.
Gail Harris, president and CEO of falconfoto.com, www.falconfoto.com, a large content production site containing 20 different niche sub sites, says that niche images sell far more quickly and easily than the familiar photos that most of us grew up with. "Believe it or not, our 'Pretty Girl' category is only 10\\\\% of our library and this is the most difficult material to find a sale for," she says. "I know this seems outrageous, but there is such a demand for specialty photography and such a glut in the market of generic photographs that we have a much better chance of selling a 50-year-old woman than a 26-year-old beautiful blonde. We very rarely just shoot a girl without a niche in mind..."
If this is so, how does a Webmaster or site owner make sure that their content gets noticed? According to those who have gone before, there are a number of inexpensive and community-building ways to market a site, build a user base (pay or free) and network with other site owners who share the same interests.
Perhaps the most important thing that a prospective niche site owner needs to do is know the subject they are marketing. This doesn't mean that s/he has to be a foot fetishist or fancier of large breasts or one-armed Chinese nude volleyball players. What it does mean is that s/he should be familiar enough with the genre to know what does and does not turn on potential site visitors. As Harris points out, a banner ad reading "High heeled exec needs panty-boy for stockinged foot massages" is more likely to work than the bland, "Beautiful blonde babes with lovely long legs, XXX hard core movies and free live."
Mike Mihalko, Webmaster for Gatefold Productions, a design company that counts niche sites among its clientele, points out that not knowing your genre can be embarrassing, too. One site he remembers included a bondage photo with mislabeled images and toys that were inappropriate for the activity being depicted. Mihalko warns, "You may be able to appear to the average surfer that your site deals with a particular niche, but a true member of that community will know you are lame." Thus, attracting members of fetish-specific communities can be a blessing or a curse, depending upon how well you or your staffs know the material.
Fortunately, one of the beautiful things about the Internet is that Webmasters can respond to user interests and allow the site to grow and change with feedback. Joey Panem of Panem Productions and amateur-facials.com points out that, "This is something that really is best done by individuals with a passion for that niche. That's what's great about the Internet. We can provide people with what they want." Because the medium is so interactive, those involved with developing content can often get good information from their own site, either via E-mail, message boards or chat rooms. Panem learned by watching the message boards on his site that even within his favorite sub-genre of amateur facials that there are even further sub-genres of the fetish.
Sometimes Webmasters can generate additional traffic while simultaneously gaining new content and positive member opinion by using talent drawn from or discovered by the site's own users. When Panem connects with a subscriber whose model leads are solid, he often walks that person through the details and paperwork needed, then buys the user a digital camera in exchange for a specified number of photo sets. This gains new content for his site while encouraging member interactivity and loyalty, something print media can't easily do.
But what if your content is already primo, you can combine your love for your genre with good professional distance, and you're just looking for a way to make sure the world knows about your site so it can beat off on the path to your domain?
One of the most familiar techniques is the banner exchange program. This can be as simple as finding compatible sites to swap banner links with or as complex as exchanging batches of URL-embossed content for banner links, or even paying sites that leave a member train from a link. Banner links can help slow-moving sites pick up traffic from more popular sites and thus build a sense of cooperation between Webmasters who share similar interests. The Web is vast and its population is hungry for unique material, so there's no need to allow a competitive spirit to interfere with success.
Usenet is a popular area of the Internet for binary collectors. Many Webmasters find that posting a selection of their images in appropriate Usenet groups can increase traffic quickly and with minimal effort. When marketing via Usenet, remember the speed at which information is transmitted. The Internet fluctuates and flows like a huge wave of rapidly moving thought or emotion. A bad name can spread fast. Fortunately, so can a good one. Misusing the available resources can get you famous but famous doesn't always mean successful. Because of this, posting binaries in groups where they are not welcome can get you a lot of unwanted attention. Resist the urge.
Other easy online marketing resources exist as well. Keyword searches from major mainstream and adult search engines can wield results if you know how to choose your keywords wisely. Some words are obvious, but are they necessarily the best? Not according to Harris. "The best words for key searches in the engines and URLs are not always the most obvious," she says. "Think like a foot fetish guy and you might come up with words that are not the mainstream description of that fetish. Finding your target audience is a key point and there are people that sell E-mail lists of opt-in names from targeted genres. Naughty Links is a leader in this with great conversions." Most major search engines will tell you what keywords have been most frequently sought within the past hour, week, month, etc. Sites such as sexsearch.com can be especially helpful in assisting Webmasters in selecting a niche based on keyword requests. Securing a domain name based on popular keywords can bring in good money merely because of the word's popularity.
Another easy and effective way to spread the word about your niche site is by posting images on free mega-picture sites such as www.picpost.com or www.easypic.com. By posting images you own the rights to, you gain exposure when the herds of binary suckers descend upon these sites. Further, some free services will forward your images to hundreds different sites that show free images. Simply fill out the form once and the automated software does all the work for you. "What you need to do," according to Panem, "is keep track of your stats and see which of these picposts are sending you the most hits. Then target those individual picposts and send more images to them."
Keep in mind, too, that marketing your site is not only about still images. Those seeking genre material also enjoy other forms of media and if you can spread the word that you carry things like live feeds, video or sound files you'll have just that many more reasons for niche surfers to visit your site.
More information about how to promote niche or fetish sites can be found at www.weboverdrive.com. This site provides Webmasters with a support group made up of professionals willing to help one another and share their knowledge with their peers. Other valuable Webmaster resources are available at www.netpond.com/msgboard, www.topniche.com/msgboard/message.cgi, and www.ynotnetwork.com/ho. Finally, there are reputable Web sponsors who specialize in promoting fetish sites. Sites such as www.maximumcash.com, www.xxxesscash.com and www.cashquest.net may be well worth investigating.
Ultimately, the most important thing any Webmaster or site owner can work toward is to enjoy themselves. Start with one niche and, as you gain expertise in developing content, consider branching out to other interests. And don't be at all surprised if you discover that you're ultimately marketing yourself from one of your sites to yet another, since some genres can lead to others. For instance, breast fanciers may also be interested in lactation, breast bondage, mature or fat women.
According to K. Samantha Lee, president of KSL Marketing, Inc., a company that markets and administers Mature Money, XXXESSCash and NicheBucks, some of the largest niche programs on the adult Internet, now is the time to get involved with niche sites. "The exciting thing is that there are so many niches that are exploding and have not even begun to be exploited. The current trends suggest that the popularity of teens, older women, gay, BDSM and ebony are probably at the top of the list. It's an exciting time to be marketing to niche interests!"