Andy Wulmer, aka Traffic Captain, started out selling DVDs and today he is an iconic persona in the adult industry.
In today’s conversation, Andy told us how he began selling goods online, why he disfavors Porsche, how much individual affiliates and teams earn in his niche, and what to focus on to take the lead.
You found your first job when you came to Germany from Venezuela. What ties you with Latin America?
I traveled a lot across different European countries as I wanted to see something new. Mexico was the first Latin American country for me; later I traveled from Colombia to Venezuela and opened a Guesthouse and Boot rental office there. So, I'm a German who wanted to see the world, and I did it.
You have been in the adult industry for more than 20 years. How did you make your way into the industry? What are your major achievements before joining affiliate marketing?
I started in 1999, opened a licensing agency: I was buying and selling licensing rights in different countries; for example, I bought the Rocco Siffredi series for Germans. Later, I released my own films under my own label SexyHouse, which I founded in 2003 as the first online porn DVD store. This is how my story with traffic began: affiliates, conversions, SEO, SEM, and so on.
What urged you on shifting from selling DVDs and making adult films to affiliate marketing?
I got into online marketing when I realized that this is a machine that brings profit round the clock. I remember when my DVD store was running for six months, it was around Christmas, and I was checking stats and sales. Offline business doesn’t make much money during holidays because offline stores are closed and neither you nor the staff works.
You mentioned statistics. What did you use to generate traffic and what were your earnings? What convinced you to switch to affiliate marketing?
Sex cosmetics, sex toys. It is not about the money, the issue is that you can generate profits even while sleeping. Other businesses have business hours, but online don’t. In fact, affiliates are also employees: they earn and you earn too.
We know that at the beginning of your career you wanted to buy a Porsche car, but something went wrong with the dealership, and after that, you disfavor the brand. Why?
When you want to purchase something high-profile, like a Porsche, and you are well aware that you’ve earned this right, and the seller, who has nothing to show for his life, treats you as if the car is unbefitting for you just because you came in clothes that do not match some classic rules. That’s got me. I thought, “Damn you! I will buy another car."
You said that you would never trade a job in the adult industry for something else, although a person with your energy and abilities might be successful in any other niche. What are the benefits of working in the adult niche for you?
I guess you're right, I could work in a different niche, but since I was at the beginning of this industry, I had more opportunities here, and even when I started, experienced players treated me with respect. People in the adult industry are like one family, I like it here. Most likely, I will stay in the adult niche, but if life changes suddenly, I will do something different.
What are the competitive advantages of the adult niche in your opinion?
Actually, there are no special advantages, there are many nice niches. But if you are good at something, there is no point in switching to other niches. The key advantage of the adult niche is that sex is sold anytime and anywhere.
Are there large affiliates that are capable of influencing the entire adult niche?
There are top guys (maybe, 20-30) who play a significant part in any variety of adult niche businesses. They are also important because they are testing my new products. If they don’t get conversions, I can continue working on the product and adjust something before it is available to a wider audience.
In other words, most offers from reliable affiliate networks are tested by market giants, aren’t they?
Yes, market leaders will show quickly whether your eСPM is good when compared to competitors.
Are there individual affiliates or only teams that can provide a mighty traffic volume?
Individuals were capable of generating large traffic volumes only in the beginning of online marketing, but not now. I will not reveal names as this is confidential information. As the Germans say, talking is silver, but silence is gold.
What traffic volume is considered good in this niche?
No need to discuss the specific volume because the key factor is traffic quality.
What amount should be in circulation to earn so much?
Again, it is difficult to talk about specific numbers. When most businesses grow in profits they forget about investments.
Ok, making a profit, we swallowed up many profitable startups, and the staff reached 450 people. Later we dismissed 250 people, and the turnover remained the same, but the profit increased significantly.
How much do teams and individuals earn on average? What do you think, what income is considered normal within the niche?
$10k is the minimum for an individual affiliate; it can reach up to $200k per month.
Teams can have different expenditure levels, but usually, income ranges from $100k to $10 million per month.
You were one of the first in the 2000s who thought of selling DVDs over the Internet. Do you have any ideas that might go off right now?
Hahaha. Yes, I do have. But I will not discuss them until I manage to turn them into reality.
Based on your experience of working with different countries, where does dating traffic convert the best?
Dating traffic converts better in English-speaking countries, such as the US, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, as well as in northern Europe. I think that in these countries it is more difficult for men to find a date in the traditional way, in a bar or a club.
So, you need to choose GEOs where it is complicated to meet someone outside and where the population has a high income?
Competition is always higher and traffic is always more expensive for developed countries; hence, everything depends on the specific product that may, or may not, lead to success. I achieved great success in Mexico: my product was good, and traffic was cheap.
Once no one could imagine that people would get to know each other over the Internet. What do you need to focus on in the dating niche to stay ahead of others?
I believe that social media is a great way to get to know each other. I got to know many women via my Instagram because there are fewer fake accounts on social media than on dating sites. After all, this account is visible to your friends, so women trust it more. Besides, people can find each other by interests, using tags on images.
Do you recommend paying attention to dating within social networks? Is there any potential profit?
I know affiliates that earn a lot on social networks. However, you need relevant knowledge on how to promote multiple accounts and attract subscribers. Then, you need to promote them regularly so that accounts wouldn’t burn out. As always, it is all about knowledge.
Here I am, an affiliate marketer who wants to work in the dating and adult niche. Can you sketch out a plan of action so that I could gain experience and not lose much money at the same time?
I always recommend creating a website in the adult niche that you are interested in most. Social networks represent the top for dating, and you can use your funnels for other products too. Traffic generation is similar to other niches; the difference is that adult traffic is cheaper, thus, even underproductive pop-up works in the adult niche.
Do you recommend starting with search traffic and launching social media groups?
If you feel at home with SEO, I would suggest beginning with websites, for instance, price comparison websites, sex blogs, and dating tips sites. Then, generate organic traffic. If I were proficient with SMM and had good content, I would start with social networks, groups, or pages.
You consider in-person meetings more productive than communication via Skype and messengers. Have you changed your opinion during the quarantine?
Of course, I keep in touch with people via Skype, Telegram, or Zoom daily. But during my 20 years in business, I built up many business connections, so I discuss issues with my partners during in-person meetings. Maybe this is a characteristic feature of the adult industry – we are looking for a long-term partnership, not just a daily profit. We visit events together, so a business partner becomes your friend - this is another component of success.
What traffic sources are relevant today?
Trafficbroker, affiliate networks, and result-oriented advertising (Performance Networks); and for German products — TV ads (TV spots).
What traffic types would you recommend to use for Western countries?
My picks include push, native, video, banner, and pop-up.
You feel and behave so vigorously at conferences - it was noticeable at the previous MAC. We are aware that you have your own formula for getting ready for events. Will you reveal it?
I do have a set of rules I try to follow, but unfortunately, this does not always work:
I take vitamin С + zinc to support immunity.
Traffic Captain won’t be able to attend MAC this year due to the press of business; however, his team representatives, including Stasy Prikota, will participate in the conference. You can meet them live and discuss adult and dating topics.