Robbie Boyette of Claudia-Marie.comRobbie Boyette knows what he likes—and judging from his success with adult websites, he knows what his fans like, too.
MILF man Robbie Boyette knows what he likes—and judging from his success with adult websites, he knows what his fans like, too. They want their porn and they want it NOW. On his highly organized sites, with all the content neatly arranged in micro-catgories, it’s a breeze to find just what one needs to scratch any type of itch. Boyette’s biggest success currently is a solo-girl site featuring his wife, Claudia-Marie. And not only do they work together, they also play together—in the band TPT.
AVN: When, how and why did you first get into the adult industry?
Robbie Boyette: I’ll keep this answer involved with the online adult business. Back in the middle 1990s I was in a previous marriage, and my ex-wife was one of the first girls online at Southern Charms. I did all the photography and had the creative ideas that we used, and then one day I got an email from William (owner of Southern Charms) telling me that Al Fore (at the time he owned AL4A) wanted to meet me.
After we met we became best friends and started a content company together called Pure Candy Images. As time went on, we formed several other companies and I took over the main portions of our traffic and free sites. At its peak I had an average of 1.2 million uniques a day between the trilogy of sites I had built up: Grampland.Com, ShavedGoat.Com and Ampland.Com.
In November of 2006 we went our separate ways. Al kept Ampland, while I kept Grampland and ShavedGoat.
Walk us through the process of going from Claudia-Marie.com to the development of your other sites and affiliate program.
After the dissolution of my partnerships, I decided to form my own company. And one of the things I had wanted to do for the previous five years was to get my wife, Claudia-Marie, in front of the camera. She had never done any kind of work in adult. She was never a stripper, had never done a film, etc.
The turning point happened when I was on the phone with Mark [Ace], who at the time was in charge of Naughty America. He asked me if I still played in a band. I told him yes and showed him my band website. Claudia-Marie was singing in the band, and he instantly asked if they could shoot her. She was pretty nervous and scared, but I convinced her to give it a shot.
They flew us out to L.A. and shot three scenes with her. When the scenes were released, they were received so well that it enabled me to finally convince Claudia-Marie to let me move forward with her site.
I wanted to have complete control of everything ... but at the same time I didn’t want to fool around with the process of building up an affiliate program. So I contacted Celeste Fox. I had promoted her and her IOCash program for several years. I felt her program was the perfect fit for what I wanted.
We formed a partnership, and a few months after that we revamped the program and relaunched it as Solo Slut Cash. We now have 17 sites in our network.
Are you hands on technically? If so, how steep has your learning curve been, and is it still climbing?
I do EVERYTHING.
With my TGPs and tube site, I do all the work. I put up the gallery links every night, I write the polls, I design the sites, I write the blogs.
On Claudia-Marie.com, I come up with the ideas for each scene, write the storyline, recruit the male talent she shoots with, film the video, take all the still photography, edit the video, resize and watermark the photos, go through the vid and collect the vid cap pics, write the accompanying text, create the video trailer, do the actual members area and tour updates, build the accompanying hosted galleries and promo material—basically, I never sleep!
As for a learning curve … Back in the 1990s I had to learn html, of course. Then, a couple of years ago, I finally gave in and sat down and learned CSS. Then, of course, I had to learn a few things with production—but it wasn’t that difficult for me because I have played in live rock bands all over the world since the late 1970s. So it was easy for me to get up to speed on lighting, sound, staging, etc.
What were the biggest mistakes you made at the beginning and more recently in your career? Have you developed a business philosophy out of these experiences?
This is going to sound crazy, but I’ve never made a major misstep in this business yet. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I basically walked into this business at the top. When Al and I formed our partnership, the site AL4A.com was the top-ranked page on Sex Tracker—we had more traffic than The Hun for several years there. So I was immediately dealing with all the major players in the business. I was able to learn from the most successful people in the online adult business and jumped right past the learning curve right out of the gate.
You have mined niche and solo-girl website territory. How is that holding up for you? Would you do the same thing if you were getting into the business now?
Having a success in the solo-girl site niche requires one thing: a girl with that undefinable “it” factor. Many people have tried—and failed—to take a girl and make a success out of her with a solo site. You could have a beautiful girl—a 10, if you will—and end up failing. Not saying that looks aren’t important. They are … in spades. But the reality is that there are millions of hot women out there in this world. You need a girl who has a unique look ... and then that all-important “it” factor.
I like to analogize it with singers: There are millions of really, really talented singers. And then you get a guy like Mick Jagger, who isn’t as technically good as those millions of singers. But he has that “it,” that undefinable quality that makes him a star.
It’s the same with any form of entertainment, including a solo-girl website.
What are the positives and negatives of working with—and marketing and monetizing—your wife?
The positives are right up front: What’s the biggest expense for most porn shoots? The female talent. So, right off the bat, I have removed the majority of the initial cost of production for each scene.
Another positive: scheduling. We can make a decision to shoot a scene tomorrow, or even later today if we feel like it. No need to set up all the crazy logistics that most production companies have to go through to get a shoot set up.
The biggest positive has to be the fact that I don’t have to worry about her not showing up. Or worry about her finding a boyfriend and leaving the business. Or flaking out. Or any of the dozens of other things that most folks have to deal with.
Negatives? Hmm ... she will read this, so I would like to state for the record that there are no negative aspects.
What are the biggest changes in the business you’ve seen over the years, for better or worse? Has consumer behavior or expectations changed in any way?
The biggest change that happened for the better was definitely “reality sites.” In the beginning there were only one or two sites that actually shot their own content. Everyone was buying content in bulk, mostly stuff shot in the 1980s, and building paysites.
But that all changed with a couple of sites: Bang Bus and Milf Hunter. I made so much money promoting those sites nine years ago, it was insane. It was so different from the over-produced stuff that the video companies were putting out, and so much grittier and hotter. People were just snapping it up like candy.
If not for those two sites, I would definitely not be able to do what I do today.
The biggest change for the worst was the explosion of stolen content on bit torrent and illegit tube sites. It has been the most devastating thing I have ever seen happen to a business.
What is the coolest thing (product, business model, innovation) you’ve seen in adult in the past year or so?
I was pretty impressed with [AEBN’s] Real Touch, and I could see something like that becoming pretty big in the future as it progresses. When it was first shown to me I asked them if they could take some of my vids on Claudia-Marie.Com and program the Real Touch for them. If they could do that, I could upsell those things out of my members area and make a fortune.
Probably the biggest progression of online porn has been the advance in streaming technologies over the last few years. Along with the now super-high broadband speeds, this has really opened up our ability to live stream at a quality that was unheard of just a couple of years ago.
Please riff on free content, tubes, traffic and monetizing content in the years 2009-10. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the online adult business?
Well, as I said earlier ... Content piracy has all but devastated the industry. As far as free content on tubes goes, it obviously doesn’t make it easy to sell porn. For Claudia-Marie and me, it hasn’t hurt the paysite. But that is because I went out of my way to learn and use the most cutting-edge technology to stop our videos from being stolen. And I also hired RemoveYourContent.Com to find and DMCA down any of our older scenes that were already out there. So the money that I make on my paysite is still growing.
Unfortunately, all the work I do as an affiliate of other programs through my TGPs and tube site has been decimated. The reality is that most major paysites and affiliate programs are owned and operated by guys who are not hands on. They don’t have a clue how to do much of anything other than hire guys to run it for them. So their content is stolen and their entire paysites are ripped and available for free on a thousand different sites. It makes it very difficult to sell a membership to a site like that.
Furthermore, the illegit tubes have drawn all the traffic from the traditional “big” sites. Why would a person go to a TGP and see 30-second vid clips and/or 12 pictures when they could just as easily go to one of the big illegit tube sites and see everything for free?
So now we have a situation where affiliates don’t have the traffic they once had, and they are experiencing horrible sales ratios because the content they are trying to sell is already available for free.
So what I see in the near future is the further decline of the affiliate model for paysites.
And I see more folks being laid off by the once-“big” programs and companies as their sales continue to fall from piracy.
In the end there will be a leveling off of sorts. Don’t know how. It could end up that the government will accidentally save the porn biz by changing the laws to stop piracy. But the smart people aren’t gonna sit around and wait for that. So I see more people following my lead and learning to protect their content while at the same time entertaining and satisfying their customers’ needs.
And isn’t that what porn is supposed to do? Satisfy your customer. Give them exactly what they want to see. Make them feel good about the experience. And no, I’m not talking technical issues. When a person is looking to be entertained, they don’t care about the resolution or bit rate or how the media is delivered. What they care about is the experience. All that other stuff should be transparent and not even noticeable to them.
We are here to entertain people. To get them off. To make them happy.
And there will always be a market for that. And I’ll be here to service that market.
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of AVN.