The Pandora Modeling Advantage
A while ago I was asked to appear on HuffPost Live to talk about webcam modeling. They reached out to me on Wednesday evening to see if I was available for a segment on Thursday morning. I wasn't given any prompt as to what the angle was, what the topics would be, simply that we'd talk about webcam modeling.
I didn't know what to expect, it was my first major media appearance, I was super nervous. I figured that it would be some form of a takedown interview, "Camming is evil/exploitive, who do you think you are?" That's the normal coverage webcam modeling received. So I prepared a common sense defense of the industry in general. I'm using the word prepared very loosely here. I mean to say that I thought, "Yeah I'll just say how it's cool and stuff."
I was only slightly surprised then when I heard the host's intro, seconds before we came on, to find out that the coverage was going to be include an element of curious and fun, in addition to the normal slamming.. My, "Hey, screw you guys, camming is cool you prudes" strategy wasn't going to fly, I'd have to adapt.
Nancy Redd (host): Camming is said to be a billion dollar business and growing. But like many lucrative industries there can be a darker side. For every 19 year old college student paying her way through school there is likely to be someone forced into camming for a pimp. And joining us now to discuss what life is really like behind the lens, how to keep performers safe, and the camming industry at large we have a fabulous panel.
Unsure as to whether I was the pimp or the expert on the industry at large, I took a deep breath and let my captors take over.
The first two questions were directed towards the two cam girls they had on.They seemed like nice people, they didn't misrepresent anything about being a performer on cam, but when asked about the amount of hours they spent on cam their responses were, "15-20 hours a week" and "2 hours a day, 6 days a week" respectively.
Sigh... Can we get some real cam models please?
That's certainly representative of the normal amount of effort a random cam girl may put in (most people are lazy). But I immediately knew that neither of them were really pros, and that if they revealed their earnings it would be underwhelming, and not great PR for the industry.
Luckily it didn't come to that. The second question posed to me, was the tough one that I only slightly expected.
Nancy Redd: Jordan, on that note, as someone that owns a camming business, who works with employees, what is a fair arrangement.I'm sure that you've interacted, you've heard of people that aren't necessarily being fair or being supportive. But what is a typical type of arrangement?
It was a tough question for two reasons.
#1. Pandora is the only studio within our network that publicizes it's pay percentages and offers a fixed scale (everyone gets treated the same) to all models.
That point always ruffles feathers in our community. It shames my competitors. It's disruptive. It's controversial. But I think it's the only ethical way to do business.
#2. The two other models on the panel were going to be getting higher percentages. And I probably wasn't going to have enough time to really make the case that they were worse off with those higher percentages than they would be with us.
And so, as Nancy finished her question, the temperature underneath my collar reached boiling. And I began my riposte with a demeanor that would cause any juror worth their salt in any court room in the land to immediately return a guilty verdict.
Jordan: Umm yea *shifts in seat*. Umm I get that a lot. I think that the industry that is the type of business I run is generally terrible. The way I try to combat that is as much transparency as we can possibly offer. How much information can we give to performers so that they can make their own decisions? On most networks, your best bet is to work directly with the network. But on most networks your best bet is probably to work with Pandora Modeling instead of that network also. (Why? -Host) As far as a fair split, I can really only speak to my network and how we do things. 27.5% is the starting rate for models. And when you see something like myfreecams it's 50%, and streamate and other sites is 30-40%, I don't know what streamates is (35 was offered up from one of the girls). 35, there you go. The fair split really comes down to what is the network doing and providing, and what is someone like me providing? Our whole focus is how do we get as much money as possible into the model's bank account. And what we found on sites that have a much higher percentages offered, it tends to have a lot less of a customer base, because they're not spending the money to get traffic. So that's where the lower percentage on a site like ours comes in, it's getting high quality traffic that comes and actually spends money. So you end up with a smaller piece of a much larger pie.
After I spoke, too quickly and inexplicably short of breath, they went to one of these girls for comment.
Dahlia Dee (cam girl): *laugh* First of all, Jordan provides a very good service to starting models, in my opinion. They can provide the training and the traffic as he mentioned, that's necessary to a get a girl started. However, for an experienced model, I think 27% is pretty ridiculous *laugh* (yeah, that's pretty low |other girl|), it's very low. Streamate models make between 35-40% depending on certain parts of the network....
She then goes on...
Dahlia Dee: As for the pie. The percentages that you're making don't really affect all that much. because if you're making 35% of $100, that's $35. If you're making 60-70% of nothing, that's still nothing. So, in this industry I don't think it really comes down to the percentage I think it comes down to which sites are offering your more traffic and sending customers your way and having people that are actually paying for the service.
Some people might say (a few did after the interview) that she disagreed with me and then made the same point I had just made. Albeit with a feigned politeness followed by a jab as the opener. Oh well, I was deeply appreciative, as I wasn't going to have time to elaborate on the point myself in the segment.
But I do have time here... And this brief intro out of the way, i want to elaborate on the actual role of my company. I want to make the case that I didn't get to make in the segment as to why any webcam model, anywhere in the world, should be working for Pandora.
I am the owner of the company. I am the person who directly profits as a result of every webcam model that works for me. I am the idealist that thinks he has a moral high ground against the "competition". I insist that my biases be made clear. I hope that my position, considered with the full knowledge of that, will still be valid.
The Reality of Camming
It's hard to debate the merits of camming for a network vs a studio. Most networks, and studios, are not a part of the conversation. Everybody runs their own singular operation, and collaboration is rare. Volunteering information is unheard of. The only information any prospective model is likely to get from a studio or a network is the promotional pitch that contains the details (notice I am not saying facts) they want to get across.
"Working for us is a great opportunity. You can make loads of money. It's fun and easy part time work."
You always run into a lot of generalities and very few factual details. Things that look like details (Make $2000 per week working part time from home) aren't actually details. They are intentionally vague empty promises.
The detailed truth is: For every 100 people that read this, 90 aren't good looking enough to appeal to enough customers in order to make a useful amount of money. Of the remaining 10, if 1 has the personality and work ethic to succeed and does, we would be thrilled. But it's closer to 1 in 30. 1 in 30 people who are physically appealing enough to succeed on cam, and are considering doing it, will end up signing up and succeeding.
And for those that do. It won't be that fun. It will be boring a lot of the time. It will be hard, uncertain, and emotionally taxing.
But in some cases you learn to enjoy it and you make a lot of money. More than you would make anywhere else.
Pandora's top webcam models make more money than the average doctor or lawyer. They make Silicon Valley Software Developer amounts of money. They don't do it in 20 hours a week. They do it in about 1800 hours per year. No degrees necessary.
The next level down make good salary money, $50-60k/year in 1000 or so hours.
And then everyone else makes somewhere between $600-$25,000 per year by working somewhere between 10 and 1,000 hours per year. In this group there are people that make $80/hr and barely work (a shockingly real and common thing). There are people that work a ton of hours and take home $10/hr. There is everything in between.
That's what webcam modeling is actually like. If you asked any network or studio to confirm these numbers, and they were being honest, and didn't think sharing that information would harm their recruiting capability, they would confirm them as being "generally about right."
Gross Annual Earnings
This is a real graph, using our real data.
WEBCAM MODEL RECRUITING STRATEGY
The only real competitive aspect between any of our companies is in recruiting. Getting a model to sign up with us instead of a competitor. Things on cam between models aren't overtly competitive. If you can appeal and sell then you get money, no one can put a damper on that.
At the very highest levels there is competition for prize money in contests, and sometimes it's for a lot of money. But really, everyone involved in that is making a ton of money even if they lose.
For companies recruiting webcam models, the competition is fierce and cut throat. Deep down recruiting is what we really do. That is our "sales". That's the avenue to profit. How you recruit is how you do everything.
There are only two real strategies to running a cam business. And they look sort of similar, but they couldn't be more different.
Strategy One: High Volume, Any Quality.
In this strategy, the company attempts to recruit as many people as possible (getting them to fill out an application), then hire everyone that might make money, then try and get those people to make money.
The math for doing that is convincing. From the graph above you can see that the home run models who make a ton of money are like unicorns. So instead, you work the long tail and if you work it long enough, some amount of models end up being home runs.
But 100 models that make sales of $1,000 every 2 weeks, earning themselves a couple hundred bucks, might net the company a profit of $20-30 for each model. $2-3k every 2 weeks. What an attractive notion, and pretty easy to do.
This is how everyone does it. They throw a lot of stuff at the wall and hope enough sticks to make a buck. Our rate of approval varies. But my guess is that other companies approval rate, those that use this strategy, is around 10x higher than ours. Some companies don't have an approval process at all. Anyone, literally anyone, can sign up and start working.
Strategy Two: Low Volume, High Quality.
This is how we do it. And I need to immediately jump into some clarifications.
First, we are referring to a low volume of actual hires. We say no to a lot of people that other companies say yes to (we know because we see them on the site later, usually at the bottom, and for not very long before they quit). However, we do try to get as many applications as possible. I want to have stacks on stacks on stacks of applications, so that we have a lot of super high quality applications to move forward with. This is generally how things go.
If we seem picky, here's why: It sucks when someone fails as a webcam model. It's an awkward, uncomfortable, sad failure. People that fail feel bad about themselves. They run into rude people in their rooms insulting them. They spend hours and hours on cam without making money and then quit, feeling bad about themselves, and hating our industry, and our company.
I feel that Pandora Modeling has an ethical responsibility to anyone that applies to be a webcam model with us to be transparent, honest, and right. If we hire someone to perform who will at best make $10/hr and they begin working with the expectation that they will earn $1,500-2,000 per week in 20-30 hours, then we have done them a disservice, we have misled them, we have failed.
Going further, if we hire someone who might make $1-2 per hour, with a lot of hours where they make $0, because they just won't appeal to our customers. But we know that we can hire 1,000 of them and make $10-20k more per year. Then we'd be scumbags.
We try not to be scumbags. Plenty of people might call us scumbags right away, when we say to them, "Sorry. We don't think you'd be successful on cam. We can't hire you." But that slightly unpleasant conversation doesn't bother us, nor does the anger we receive from rejected applicants. What would bother us would be to hire them, and spend hours interacting with them and getting to know them and like them, only to see them inevitably fail, which we knew they would from the beginning.
We hire good to great candidates and take an active role in developing them into successful performers. We wouldn't have the resources to do that if we had looser hiring standard, all of our time would be spent with the support requests from the performers who aren't making money, asking how they can make money.
We don't throw a lot of stuff at the wall and hope enough sticks to make a buck. We think that's disgusting. The "stuff" we're referring to are human beings. All of whom deserve to be treated with basic respect and dignity; not as products from which to churn any possible money.
That sounds a lot like we're taking the moral high ground. Like we believe we have an ethical superiority to other companies. Like we're some altruistic company that just wants to do good in the world and everything is sunshine and rainbows.
While we totally believe all of that, there is a much more selfish motive at work. Running our business this way is a lot less work (way fewer people to deal with) and is much more profitable per person. We get to say that our average models earn $32/hr because they do. If we had 500 people making $10/hr, even with our superstars, our average would be perhaps $14/hr. Not good enough.
We are 100% focused on max profits possible. We decided from the beginning that the way to do that is to help models earn as much money as possible, more than they could anywhere else. This strategy is working.
Understanding Webcam Modeling
This seems to be the most overlooked attribute in our industry. What moves people to spend money? Why are the customers here? What drives them? And how does a performer need to perform in order to succeed?
It's an artistic question. But an art more like dance or music. There are steps, there are moves, there are notes. But the way in which it all comes together for any two people is always an individual, unique experience. You just know when it works.
I'm driven by an intense curiosity. I've spent thousands of hours studying this unique internet phenomenon called webcam modeling. I understand it. I think I understand it better than anyone else on the planet. Performers at Pandora directly benefit from this understanding.
I try to make things click. Every successful webcam model has a moment where things click. Sometimes it's 2 days in, sometimes it's 2 months. But when it happens, you know it. You start to see situations how I see them. You think differently. You see between the lines of what customers type and understand what they mean, what they need. You perform from intuition, naturally, spontaneously. It really stops becoming a performance, and you just do you. You exist, on cam, and people give you money.
This will happen for you, you just have to put time in on cam. We'll teach you how to speak the language. Then you can write the story for yourself.
We also understand webcam modeling and what it means for webcam models. The term webcam model is a misnomer. Webcam models are just people. Just regular, every day people. And for regular people, performing on cam is hard. When you work here, we'll treat you like a person. We'll work to understand who you are, how you feel, what you need, what you want. When you plan on working, but bail because you're being lazy, we'll understand. When you're struggling and things aren't making sense, we'll understand. When you're killing it, and things are clicking, we'll understand.
We're your collaborators. Our role is to help you get the best possible performance out of yourself. We're not the boss that you ask for time off from. We're your fiduciary agents, strategically trying to get you to maximize your customer satisfaction. Take time off whenever you want, but when it's time to perform, we've got your back.
In the past few years, Pandora Modeling has made millions of dollars in sales. We've paid millions of dollars to performers. And most of it was effortless.
In reality. I can track $1,000,000 worth of sales in the past 2 years to maybe 20-30 minutes of real actual work (in the form of conversation). How? Because sometimes all it takes is that one tiny thing, and something breaks for the better. One chat, one night, with one model, and something clicks for them, and they become a superstar. Really, once things click, the model needs almost nothing from me in most cases. So all of my most profitable clients, require the least time.
This same thing happens for those models with their customers. In many many cases, it's one night on cam, where one particular client comes into their room for the first time, and they hit it off. Then months and months, sometimes years, of consistent, regular private shows follow. These clients are the easiest to "manage" and manage isn't even the right word. It just becomes a relationship that you have with another human being, it becomes real, it becomes cool, and things take their own natural course.
This is leverage. It's what I try to create here. It's what I teach webcam models how to create. It's exceptionally profitable.