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Cam ho comparison: iFriends versus Streamate
by Furry Girl
I've been a part-time cam ho since 2005, and in that time, I have been a worker bee for a network called iFriends. iFriends used to be the big dog on the block with web cams, but these days, that has been eclipsed by Streamate (aka CaxModelx.cxx). I'd been hesitant to jump ship on iFriends to try Streamate because of the much heftier cut of sales taken by the latter network. I decided to finally give it a go, and here's what I've learned after three months on Streamate. Your results may vary, of course, but here's my rundown of my pros and cons in an effort to help others who may be considering an iFriends/Streamate switch, or just curious about branching out into camming altogether.
For those of you not familiar with how web cam stuff works, here's the nutshell version: after submitting a model release, contract, and two forms of ID, you can log into the network at any time and make yourself available for clients. Most networks let you set your own per-minute rate. Generally, there is some kind of free/guest chat area where you hustle for clients and chat with them about what you do in private/paid shows. Different networks and settings option let you pick totally exclusive shows, or for multiple paying clients to watch you at the same time. Earnings can be erratic, so you might make $20 one night while making $200 another night, and you have to roll with the slow times and not assume a big payout every time you log in. The cam network is the one that brings in all or most of your clients, as well as running the streaming video platform and handling billing and customer service, and for this, they take a big cut of your sales. You're generally paid once a week via check, wire, or other options, and this is considered taxable, reported income.
I've liked web cam work because it's like working in a peep show or strip club, but from the lazy comfort of home, and where no one can try to jam a finger in me on the sly. I set my own hours, and if I'm not with a paying client, I can watch a movie, read blogs, write, or do anything else that still keeps me visible and in front of my computer. I do most of my movie and TV watching on cam. (Camming often feels like a way to justify watching TV shows.) So, I'm not just sitting there in a sad lonely peep show box, I'm doing something else in the background. I tend to not do serious work, however, because I need to be able to drop whatever I'm doing and instantly perk up and entertain someone when someone starts paying. (I also don't watch "emotional" things on TV that might give me sadface. I recently welled up with tears while watching a documentary on John Nash when he finally wins a Nobel Prize. Cam whoring and PBS programs go hand in hand.)
For my iFriends-versus-Streamate experiment, I decided to log two or three months on Streamate and see how that sample compares to past earnings on iFriends. I did not use my most recent iFriends time, since that's covering the holidays, during which it has been slow during previous years. I don't feel like it's the most accurate comparison, so I decided to make the iFriends comparison all of 2011, just so I feel like I'm getting a proper sample. (I keep records of my cam earnings. Spreadsheets and cam whoring also go hand in hand.)
On iFriends, I charge $4 a minute. iFriends takes 50%, so my take-home pay is $2 a minute for time spent with a paying client. In 2011, I averaged about $17 for every hour I spent logged into iFriends. It was a surprising sting to tally that up, because a few years ago, I could count on making at least $25 an hour for time spent logged in.
With Streamate, I charge $3.99 per minute for basic shows, and $4.99 for exclusive shows. Streamate takes 65%, leaving me with $1.40 or $1.75 per minute. So far, I have averaged $28 for every hour I spent logged into Streamate, a big jump up from iFriends. (This could be artificially high as the site's members "try out the new girl," so we'll see if the level stays the same over time.)
The hustle and the clientele
Of course, hourly averages are not the only things to compare. I find Streamate's members, in general, much more pushy and entitled than iFriends' members. The guys are less likely to even type "hi" at the start of a show, and might just type "pussy," "SPREAD ASSHOLE," or "hurry up!" I've politely stated "calm down and enjoy the show," or "relax, I'm just warming up," only to have people log off in a huff or tell me to go fuck myself because I'm ugly anyway. This would not be a good network for sex workers who have yet to develop a thick skin. Most of my shows are 2-5 minutes, instead of maybe 10-15 minutes on iFriends, but there are more customers who want these quickie naked shows. The guys generally expect to do the "get to know each other" chat for free in guest chat, and then only pay you for the "sex part" of the show. To me, whether I'm amusing you with my brain or my pussy, I want to be paid. (It's the analog to escort clients who can't understand why they should pay you to eat dinner with them, assuming that a stopwatch starts only when you get naked.) There's more of an expectation on Streamate of you spending a lot of time hustling and woo-ing and enticing. I hate hustling and woo-ing and enticing. You've seen my photos, you see the list of what sorts of things I'm into, and you are either interested in me or you're not. I'm not going to beg.
The technology and interface
My biggest gripe is that the network freezes a lot for me, and I've heard from other cam hosts that they've had the same problem. Streamate's tech people went through some basic trouble-shooting with me, but ultimately had no solution. It's annoying because this has cost me clients and money, and there's nothing I can do to fix it. It's important to note that Streamate gives people the first 30 seconds of paid chat for free, so don't do anything but talk in that first 30 seconds. Streamate also does to-the-second billing, so if a client spends 3 minutes and 48 seconds with you, you will not be paid for 4 minutes. This to-the-second billing is better for clients, but it makes me feel like a cell phone plan, where guys are trying harder to maximize every single second. (I think this is part of why most don't even bother saying "hello" at the beginning. If typing "hello" takes you five seconds, that's 33 cents you "wasted" on being polite.)
I love that the interface allows you to save common replies/statements, like "Would you like to see it all in a paid chat?" or "I'm sorry my video feed has frozen. I need to refresh and I'll be back in about 30 seconds." 90% of my free/guest area interactions on Streamate are me clicking a button to fire off an auto-reply to the questions I get asked constantly. It's a great feature and saves me the bother of explaining the same thing hundreds of times a night. The site overall is much more attractive than iFriends' cluttered design.
Horrible tech support, many of my support tickets over the years have simply gone unanswered. Although the site has gone through design updates, they all are still stuck in the 1997 school of design. It's so confusing that some people honestly can't even figure out how to join or spend money on a private show - I've heard that from plenty of my site members as they got frustrated with trying to get a cam show with me. iFriends using cheesy language, like referring to cam performers as "stars," and tries to have this atmosphere of celebrity that's all the more laughable because the site is comprised mostly of broken English speakers from Eastern Europe and semi-literate American housewives. iFriends also blatantly lies in their advertising in an attempt to lure people into joining the site, and it's always embarrassed me to have my image used to sell these lies. My profile page promises readers that if they sign up, they'll get access to "my sizzling photos, steamy video clips, secret diary and so much more." While cam hosts do have the ability to upload all sorts of free stuff for members of our "fan clubs," a lot of us don't upload anything. To make it look like I am personally promise people that they will find "steamy video clips" and my "secret diary" is a shady business practice and one I've always been uncomfortable with. I also know that their blocking system doesn't work, or has bugs in it, because there's a at least one guy that I've blocked several times who keeps showing up using the same screen name.
Doesn't freeze nearly as often as Streamate, and the latest redesign of my interface lets you refresh just the video feed, so I don't lose a customer and have to restart my entire browser in order to get it going again. I like that when a chatter appears in my room, the system tells me where they are from (based on their IP), just so I can to to be more personalized and ask something like, "How's the weather in New Zealand?" or something. I like the ability to refuse to let unregistered surfers see my video feed for free. I want to give as little as humanly possible to people who are unlikely to ever buy anything. I also like how iFriends displays, right under the cam window, how much money someone has spent so far. This lets me easily have mental rules like "I don't start toy shows until I've netted $10." (On Streamate, you can click and open a new window to see your payment stats, but it's not live and in real-time, and it requires clicking and being distracted. I want a little ticker right there under the chat window telling me how much I've made on the show.)
I've decided that I will only be working on Streamate now. There are more rude people and my cut is less, but I'm overall making more money. I'll now refer you to a strip club comparison post from Calico Lane which contains an infographic that explains it all
Furry Girl in London with a message we approve....
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"I would no more be a Master than a slave. It does not conform to my idea of Democracy." Abraham Lincoln 1856.