Ever thought about taking it all off on the Internet for money?
At first glance, becoming a webcam model sounds easy – you get in front of your computer, go online, take your clothes off for an audience, and get paid for it. But, there are also a bunch of decisions to make and many hoops to jump through: What equipment do you need? What’s a good stage name? Where on the Internet should you perform? What should you do as a performer? How is the money you earn actually going to make it into your bank account? And that’s just scratching the surface.
At least one website, WebcamStartup.com, aims to be a resource for those seeking answers to these kinds of questions – and it originated in Durango.
Nathan Hammond got into search engine optimization while setting up the blog for his family’s local print shop, before branching off and providing this service for clients and in-house for various companies. Eventually, he gave that up to pursue affiliate marketing.
When Colorado Amendment 64 passed and legalized marijuana, Hammond set up DurangoChronic.com. It took off really quickly, he said, citing instances in which panicked dispensaries were calling him, asking him to take down coupons he was hosting because too many customers were trying to redeem them. While it was a fun project, potential legal issues and difficulty monetizing it caused him to pull the plug.
“I just completely turned that site off,” Hammond said. “I went up to a cabin and decided I was going to do a whiskey and mushroom binge until the universe gave me some sort of sign.”
About a month into the personal retreat, Hammond got an email from a cam girl who had found some of his SEO content and had questions for him. Outside of minimal instructions on webcam sites and a few forums, there were no resources for women wanting to break into the industry.
Hammond came down from the mountain, grabbed up the domain name “WebcamStartup.com” (he wanted something vague and mainstream enough that he’d be able to sell it if it flopped), and started setting up a guide to the indie side of the adult industry.
Not having any actual experience as a webcam model himself, Hammond brought on insiders to write articles on subjects about which they were knowledgeable. Writers come and go, but the site currently has about five contributors in addition to Hammond and Aerie Saunders, his partner on the site.
Saunders, who lives in South Carolina, had been selling videos and photos on a site called IndieBill when Hammond messaged it, asking for models who would be willing to write a review of his platform. An aspiring writer, Saunders began writing a lot of articles for Hammond’s site and eventually, he made her the CEO. (Hammond still contributes to the site, handling more of the technical aspects.)
In addition to the site itself, which hosts a live chat, Saunders hosts the Camland Podcast, which focuses on industry news, information, and tips for people within the camming and adult industries.
“For example, this week, we’re going to be covering a new bill that’s being put forth in California, Assembly Bill 2389,” Saunders told DGO regarding a California bill that would require porn actors and webcam performers to be fingerprinted and to undergo regular training. “We try to keep models up to date on stuff and make it easier for them to understand, because a lot of that legal language can be complicated.”
The site has both male and female contributors, as it tries to reflect the industry, which is very diverse, Hammond said.
“It doesn’t matter what gender you are and whether you’re cis or trans,” he said. “There is definitely a place for you, and everyone in the industry is insanely accepting.”
The value of the enterprise struck home for Hammond, he said, when he received a Twitter DM from a woman in inner city Los Angeles who had just lost her mother and never knew her father. The woman told Hammond that if it weren’t for the site, she would be turning tricks on the street – a significantly more dangerous kind of sex work.
“Not everyone gets into this industry out of desperation. But as you can imagine, there is a lot of desperation leading people to this industry,” he said.
Locally, Hammond said, one of the major issues that performers have is internet speeds. It’s hard to get a connection with enough of an upload speed to put quality video content on the web. To get around this, he recommends would-be adult entertainers bypass computers entirely and focus on phone-based sex work, such as talk- or text-based phone sex or use services such as a premium Snapchat (a service that Snapchat itself sent the Hammond’s site a cease and desist for recommending.)
“I just want everyone to know that we are active in the industry, and that we try our best to keep our opinions and guidance as diverse as we possibly can,” said Saunders. “We will never charge for this information – the success of our site directly relies on the success of performers who use our tips. We just hope that people keep doing well and that we can keep doing well.”