Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What makes a model website GREAT?

Models, photographer and webmasters have been trying to create successful paysites of years now! I've been observing this Internet model phenomena since early 2001. Just going through my old favorites list is a reality check of how fickle this 'net modeling business really is! Link after link is a dead one, often after 4 months or less. In my opinion, it is more useful to focus on what causes those few websites to be successful rather than what causes most to fail. There are five keys to having a successful modeling website in my opinion. Those are; Talent, Consistency, Involvement, Business Ethics, and Networking. (emphasis mine)

TALENT; Attractiveness is subjective. One can look physically attractive, yet it's not enough if critical areas which make the whole package are lacking. Talent is much more than looking good!Talent means playing up your strongest features and having a knack for getting your personality across in your images, writing, videos, and sometimes in personal appearances. Just looking good does not complete the whole picture. It takes talent to visualize your website and make it something that attracts people to you! That takes talent! Certain "looks" might be more popular, but the people who buy subscriptions to model websites and online publications are very diverse. So there is room for models of many shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities. It really depends on imagination and targeting the correct market for ones look. Being able to act, dance or have artistic ability can greatly help a model. It is the combination of ones look, ability, knowledge and creative energy that bring together the talent needed to succeed.

CONSISTENCY; Do things in a timely manner. Updates should be done as scheduled on the website. Customer service should also be consistent and timely. Customers do expect things to be there when scheduled or else they may grow impatient and move on. The sets of photos, videos, and any other product offered should be at a certain quality level that customers can expect to be consistent with the website. If quality fluctuates, then the customers will have doubts as to the worth of the site. Certainly the quality should be kept at the highest level of production in which the website production team can stay at. So set a quality level and schedule then stick to it!

INVOLVEMENT; Most people who are going to join model websites don't care about the photographer, or the process of creating the content. They are there for the models! Any model website must have involvement from the model to be successful. The more involved the model is in the website, the closer the customers feel to that model. In other words, personality counts! There is no need to give personal information on the website, but having a message board or forum in which the model drops in to post on a regular basis helps. Giving the members some information as to hobbies, likes, and dislikes can also help. Some members would like to send birthday greetings or buy presents. However models do need to take precautions against stalkers or scary obsessive people. Set limits of involvement and stick to it.

BUSINESS ETHICS; Run the website like a business! So many websites are started by models, photographers and webmasters with stars in their eyes. They think it's a "get rich quick and easy" sort of scheme, but it's not. They give up after a few months because they didn't realize how much hard work it takes to build and keep a successful website going. Don't outright lie to the customers. They will not be happy about being lied to and will not come back! Don't start in this model website business unless the commitment is strong. It takes commitment and business sense to keep the website going longer than 6 months. If the honesty and commitment are not there, then the business ethics wont be there either.

NETWORKING; It is absolutely critical to network and market! It is how the members or fan base is built. Doing banner exchanges with other sites, getting in affiliate programs, and feeding the search engines with meta tags are important to the success of a website. Advertising and person to person promotions are also a part of networking too! It's important to have a business plan on paper or at least in mind with web hosting and billing worked out. The web server and billing are also a component of the networking. Without good hosting, the website might crash or not be online all the time like it should. Without reliable billing, then the money might not be there. It's better to have a business plan that includes the leasing or purchase of servers, but at least get a strong hosting plan. Get a merchant account if possible. Third party billers can be very expensive!

Bring this all together with careful planning and that is what makes a successful model paysite! One that can last for years running as a legitimate business!

-Patrick Walberg, 7/25/06

Originally posted on the
Internet Model Club! Check this group out.

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