As you may have seen from my recent posts, we’ve been upping our production of customs.
This has been very successful, many thanks to everyone who has ordered a custom! I’ve got 20 in my work queue in various stages of pre- and post-production for the autumn and more are coming in each week. This is fantastic and we’re having a great time making them for you!
The majority of custom requests are for videos. So this represents a significant increase in our video production rate. It also gives me a (very nice!) problem: I suddenly have more finished videos than the regular membership website schedule calls for right now.
In business model discussions with members, fans, models and other producers I learned that the majority of bondage production in the English-speaking world is supported by the customs-plus-clips4sale way of working.
Custom video customers cover the main production costs (the model fees, usually) and the producer makes their wages selling the resulting clips individually via Clips4Sale and other individual purchase sites. Clips4Sale has a LOT of traffic, and a community of purchasers many of whom seem to shop almost exclusively via C4S.
I’ve therefore decided to change my long-standing business practice of releasing everything on the membership sites first: some stuff will now debut on Clip4Sale and the eStore first.
I’ve also decided that some of the videos need a separate branding, as they aren’t always bondage or foot fetish.
We’ve chosen “Elegant Erotica” for those videos, and the web page www.ElegantErotica.store now points to our Clips4Sale store accordingly.
So moving forward, video clips in general and custom videos in particular will often debut on Clips4Sale before becoming available on the membership sites.
Will it become available on the members’ site eventually? That depends.
If the clip is branded as www.ElegantErotica.store like this:
it is exclusive Clip4Sale content, not enough bondage or foot fetish for it to be at home on either membership site.
It will therefore be available only for individual sale through Clips4Sale and other sales channels including our eStore of course.
It won’t be making an appearence on the membership sites, so if you want to see it, you’ll have to buy it individually.
If the clip is branded as SilkSoles.com (i.e. it looks like this):
Then it is non-bondage foot fetish content suitable for Silk Soles and will eventually make its way onto the Silk Soles membership site. Given the current production rate, I expect every clip we shoot like this will make it on the membership site in time.
If the clips is branded as RestrainedElegance.com (i.e. it looks like this):
it is a bondage clip suitable for RestrainedElegance.com.
If a film releases on Clips4Sale and the eStore first, it will not end up on the members’ area for months, possibly years, MAYBE NEVER.
So if you like the look of a clip and it is debuting on C4S and the eStore, don’t hold your breath for it to show up on the RE members’ area, buy it now. My intention is that all the clips with the RE branding may eventually show up on the members’ area, but I need flexibility in scheduling to manage bandwidth budgets on RE as well as making sure we have enough variety of models and bondage in the videos on the site.
I know this is not the most convenient for you as a customer. To date, we’ve been able to guarantee that everything apart from EleganceStudios.com long films will definitely be on the members’ area eventually, so if you stay a member you will see everything. But with production running so far ahead, this isn’t possible for me to guarantee, sorry.
Business Model and Forward Planning Digression
That’s the end of the public service announcement part of this post.
I know some people are interested in my business model thoughts, so I thought I’d explain what’s going on. Feel free to skip this bit.
For 18 years I’ve had a pretty stable release schedule. We’ve done a few tweaks over the years – from an update being by definition the photos that came of a single 36-exposure roll of 35mm film, to daily updates splitting sets into multiple parts, adding video at one per week, then consolidating to the current 5-days-a-week schedule with four photosets per week, not split into separate parts unless they are deliberately conceived that way (e.g. as a multi-part story with each part in a different tie and a different location). Plus one video per week. Plus one stills set a week for SilkSoles and videos for SilkSoles as and when timing permits, which in recent times means “only when we get a custom video”. I’m proud of never once having missed an update.
This schedule is nicely inside my control and allows me to plan ahead, something which is quite necessary to manage a 6-day-a-week schedule (312 updates a year, of which 52 are video, 52 are Silk Soles stills and the rest are RE stills).
For a while we made cinematic films under the EleganceStudios.com banner, but the time we used to allocate to this has increasingly been taken over by custom videos. We still intend to make Elegance Studios films, but most of the recent ones have actually been long customs rather than our own productions, and the couple of longer films we’ve shot in the last year are still waiting to be edited behind the growing queue of customs.
We’ve now reached the point where the video production needs to step up to meet demand and as I said at the opening of this post, that gives me a new problem, albeit a pleasant one- right now, we’re producing videos faster than we can use them on RestrainedElegance.com.
I don’t know if this is a temporary thing- maybe the custom work will expand even more, in which case the RE membership site model needs to shift towards video, or it might settle back to something more like the one-video-a-week RE schedule. And it’s a challenge because I’m not in control of what people want us to shoot. We can get a sudden rush of costume drama 45-minute films which will need slicing up into multiple parts for RE to control bandwidth costs, and leave the nude-in-metal fans a bit bereft. Or we can suddenly have everyone wanting 5 minute struggling videos with the same model. Maybe the custom production will suddenly drop off, as it did a couple of years ago.
For all these reasons, I’m keeping the possibility of putting clips which have been shot as customs months or years ago up on the membership site to “damp down” these clusters of flux and flow in what gets commissioned. But if the production continues to outstrip the one-a-week RE schedule, some stuff may never make it.
Planning for this is tricky.
I’ve also got a year or so of content plus months of shoots planned on the assumption that the update schedule is going to stay the same. I know a lot of RE members are members mainly because of the stills, so I’m reluctant to go to an alternative schedule which would be two videos and two stills sets per week. Videos take more time to produce and critically more bandwidth on the site, so if I’m upping the commitment on the videos, the stills have to come down significantly.
Most producers seem content to surf the waves of what’s happening this month or this year, but I guess having been in the business for nearly 20 years now, never having missed and update and wanting to keep it that way, I’m more prone to looking forward and worrying about stuff. It’d probably be wiser to make money while the sun shines, pile ’em high while the sales are good on C4S and not worrying about this stuff. And certainly not post about it, which is almost certainly counterproductive as far as sales go. (However hypothetical my discussions, someone always seems to decide it means a complete change of direction and cancels their membership accordingly. Sigh. But I like being open and writing these blogs focusses my own thoughts, too).
In the longer term, I must acknowledge that I’m no longer in my early 30’s as I was when the site launched. I’m now in my early 50’s, and with the best will in the world the update schedule will have to come down at some point. It is possible that the whole business will have a new golden age and I will be able to employ younger people with less creaky backs and knees. But if that doesn’t happen I’d rather reduce my output, reduce the membership price accordingly and gently keep doing the stuff I love for as long as I’m physically capable. Realistically, I’ll HAVE to reduce the output when I hit 60 in nine years.
Left to my own devices I’d vaguely thought sometime around a decade from now when I hit 60 to think about ramping down the video production to maybe one every two weeks, and the stills down to two per week and regard that as semi-retirement.
In the meantime, I need to actually increase my video production while there is demand. That’s fine, it eats up our contingency time where we used to shoot Elegance Studios videos and do other business ventures like landscape photography, but it is totally sustainable for now. It just messes with the RE video schedule a bit.
I could separate off the stills and videos components of RE entirely, that would certainly allow more flexibility. But given how confused customers can be by the fact that stuff on the shopping carts isn’t all on the RE members area all the time, I can only imagine how much bafflement that would bring. I may do this in the future if the video side continues to dominate, I guess.
For now I’ve decided that this is the least dislocating option. The RE update schedule stays the same, we use our contingency business time to shoot customs, I release the customs on C4S as soon as they are ready and they await possible addition to the RE members’ area some time in the future when it suits the RE schedule.