Since the last few posts have been about how I am too much of a fuck-up for the porn business, that I might as well tell you how I got into it and let me add that it was never a dream of mine.
In 1978, my dad brought home a Rockwell computer. I remember instantly being fascinated. It was so Star Wars! That was in the days before there was software, so if you wanted a computer to do anything you had to write code. As a kid, I enjoyed writing lines of Basic and making the computer do things. As time went on, I got better at it. Eventually, my dad got an Atari 800. By the time I was 13, I could write pretty complicated code, I even develop full-fledged video games. Sometime around 14, I started playing guitar and forgot about computers altogether. Computers didn't get you, girls, but guitars certainly did. At least, at that time.
Growing up, I had a friend in my neighborhood, who's dad was a high school teacher and a huge porn enthusiast. He had a room in their basement filled up with adult magazines with pictures of naked women covering every wall and a shed next to the house filled up with thousands of porn VHS tapes. We were so young that we didn't realize that porn was fodder for masturbation. We’d watch porn when his parents were gone and were mostly confused by what was going on. We even wondered why girls would want to stick penises in their mouth.
One day when I was 12, I was home sick from school, and I broke into the shed and took some of the VHS tapes home to watch. I popped in the video cassette. I got a boner, roughed up the suspect for 2 minutes, and in two pumps shot the biggest wad of cum my body has ever produced to this day.
I was overwhelmed with Catholic guilt. I returned the demonic cassette to it shed and swore that I would never masturbate again. That promise was very short-lived, the next day I was whacking it like a spider monkey. I couldn't stop myself. At the risk of sounding like the old guy, that's how much trouble you had to go through to watch your porn. You had to break into sheds, hide your dirty magazines in the woods, and also look for clever spots in your room to hide your semen-encrusted porno mags.
Around 1990 I moved to Atlanta because I wanted to start a band.
In 1994 I was noticing people getting email addresses, there was a handful of websites popping up, and AOL commercials were everywhere. I could see that this Internet was going to be something,
Boy, was I right about that.
In 1994 I ordered a Mac with some money I had borrowed from my parents. Ironically one of the first things I did was get on newsgroups to download free porn. Porn had always been a weird thing to me; I can't imagine growing up today with the accessibility kids have to it through tubes and all that crap that ultimately killed the industry.
Once I saw bands were getting websites, I decided to teach myself HTML. Things were much tougher in those days there was no Dreamweaver or WYSIWYG editors. You had to know how to code the pages with Notepad if you had the patience to deal with the 28th K baud rates. I started researching how to build a website, my old instincts from coding as a kid kicked back in, and I figured it out fairly quickly. The principles of coding hadn't changed I just applied it to the web. It all came easily to me.
Once a few of my friends saw that Dick Delicious and the Tasty Testicles had a website while Aerosmith‘s website still said, “Coming soon.” All of my buddies started asking me if I could build a site for their band.
I’d help out a few of my friends and created their band pages for free to improve my chops. After a while, I become known, as the go-to guy in Atlanta for websites. Some of my friends bosses at their day jobs got wind of this and asked me if I could build websites for their business.
I started making a little money. Potential clients would ask me if I knew how to do things like building shopping carts and I would just tell them that I knew how to do it even though I was clueless. I banged out a bunch of websites for small businesses. I built a site for this one guy who sold custom auto parts. Pretty much every one of his orders was from a stolen credit card even though he shipped all of the orders. It did something like 250K in orders in the first month. 99% of them were fraud. Visa still has him blacklisted to this day.
In 1997 my friend Perry told me he knows a bunch of guys in porn that were looking for a website designer who could work in the ATL.
“Hell yeah I love porn!” and I signed up immediately with this guy John making free internet porn sites. When I first met John; he came down to Atlanta to meet me about taking the gig. He is one of the biggest scariest guys I have ever met in my life, but also very smart and my mentor in the porn business and SEO. I was starting to see there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that even if I didn't make it as a rockstar, I could be an awesome Webmaster.
When I first started working for them, I was mostly doing design and building sites; John taught me how to optimize the sites for traffic and SEO. I was always more interested in the traffic aspect. To me, I found it fascinating that there was some guy in Berlin looking at my band's website.
I worked for them for a few months and then I had an unfortunate debacle with the Georgia police after being arrested for LSD for personal use. This led to almost a year in jail. Before leaving for prison, I put two affiliate links on the front page of my band site. I doubted they would make any money at all, but when I finally got out of prison I had a check for almost $300, and I hadn't done a damn thing for it. I couldn't imagine what I could do if I applied myself.
When I got out, I continued working for them for nearly two years. They paid me $600 a week. I had full access to their stats and could see they were making about $6000 a minute. Also, as it came to the search engine thing, for whatever reason, I was in natural. I wound up giving them a lot of advice on how they could improve what they're doing and even read about “their” innovations in AVN magazine and others.
I figured after two years of busting asked for that company; I was at least eligible for a raise. I asked for one, and they refused, much to their chagrin, I quit.
Like every shitty employee does after leaving his job. I took everything I had learned and decided to go off on my own. It was a little bit scary at first because I was only making a few sales a week but within three months I was making around $600 a day.
One of my favorite tactics to make money was I started to notice that even really popular porn sites like BangBus only contained the meta-information “warning” in the code. So basically, the title of the site was just “warning.” I took advantage of this flaw and started making optimized pages that were out-ranking their pages for their own names. That meant if you wanted to get to some of the most popular porn sites on the Internet you had to go through my link. The sign-ups paid me an average of $30-$40 per join, and I had the number one listing for nearly every porn site that existed at the time.
It wasn't long before the $600 a day became $1200 a day. This was back in 2002. These days, they call it “launch jacking,” although I had never heard of that term until recently.
Back at that time, another common practice was to exchange links with other webmasters for inflating your Google rankings. Quite often, the webmaster who you swapped the link with would wind up dropping it, so managing link trades turned into a nightmare. I had the idea of getting different servers, with different domain hosting accounts, fake names and using them as my link network, that way I would never have to worry about dropped links. These days I guess they call that a “private blog network” (PBN for short).
It wasn't long before I was making about $3000 a day and I've finally decided to hire an employee. His name was Ryan and me could write PHP like nobody's business. From there we started buying up other networks and adding it to our own.
In those early years, I was living in the messiest Bachelor apartment that smelled like cat litter which cost $700 a month. I was easily pulling in $700,000 per year. I even topped out somewhere around 1 million in 2005.
Finally, I went out in bought an OK car, some decent furniture and moved into a slightly better apartment.
There was one program I was sending a small amount of traffic named OCCash. One day I checked my email, and it was from John Baumgardner, and he was asking for help growing his program because I was his top affiliate. I thought that was funny because I wasn't sending many joins at all.
About a month later there was a Webmaster conference in San Diego when I met him out there, and that was how the whole OCCash fiasco got started and if you read my blog posts previous to this you can see how it ended disastrously.
I'm going to break this blog into two parts because I was still living in Atlanta and on probation and wasn't supposed to leave the state but wanted to make the move to California because I thought it would be an excellent opportunity.
Boy, was I wrong about that.
The California story is to come.
And that was how I got in the porn business!