A Paysite should not be your first Site:
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you can generate all your traffic through ad-buys and paid marketing. This is a huge part of your marketing effort, to be sure, but if it were as easy as just spending a bunch of money on traffic then there would be a lot more successful people in this business. In-house traffic is becoming more and more important every day. This is probably my biggest suggestion. Before you start a paysite, start a free site first based on the niche you are going to create a paysite for. This will allow you to build some traffic that will later feed your paysite. It will also teach you the intricacies of the industry, and put you in touch with people that will be able to help you out. This will allow you to push traffic at your soon-to-be competitors, and see how they convert, therefore giving you an idea of how you might convert or show you what doesn't convert so that you can stay away from it.
This was my own biggest mistake. I launched my first paysite, invested a ton of my own money (well what felt like a ton back then), shot a bunch of content etc. then stupidly sat there refreshing stats every five minutes saying where's the sales?. Well there was no traffic! Yes, I spent many nights curled up in a fetal position crying myself to sleep on the couch in my office that was in the backroom of the auto parts I worked for, which the owner was nice enough to let me use. It was a tough struggle to then build a blog on Wordpress and slowly but surely build up traffic and sales. It was long and painful and I don't wish that upon anyone. Poor planning on my part resulted in me having to work 12 hour days at the auto parts, then go to the office in the back, and work on my porn company for 8 to 10 hours...crash for a few hours, then be back at the day job, rinse and repeat for nearly a year before I earned enough from adult to support myself, and the business costs to quit the day job. I think the only reason I was able to do that was the fact that I was only twenty-three years old, and still had an abundant amount of energy! Don't make the same mistake plan in advance and make sure you can give your company 100% of your time, if you can. So...In short: Build a free site first, get traffic, learn the business, then spend a bunch of money and create a paysite.
Alright, You're in:
There are a few things you need to take into consideration before you press record on your brand spankin' new camera:
Are you going for the amateur/reality feel? Or professional high-end?
Buy appropriate equipment for the job. Nothing is worse than shooting for high-end and looking amateur. Whichever way you go do it right.
Know the average price of models in your area before you start casting.
You want to pay your performers their due. They are worth it, and they talk with their friends. If you pay them right, you'll get referrals but you don't want to overpay either and be taken for a fool. Besides, you might need that money later to buy Kraft Dinner during the first few months after you launch! (remember, expectations!)
Be professional! Don't hit on your models, or be that weird skeezy dude that creeps everyone out. Keep that professional distance and your models will be far more comfortable and eager to work with you in the future. This even goes if you are performing in your own scenes. Be an actor don't be there to get your jollies off. When the scene ends, it ends.
Know your niche inside and out.
Example: When I am shooting femdom scenes focusing on male chastity I know that my members that are into the chastity lifestyle hate the words chastity play - to them it's a chastity lifestyle, it's not play and saying it's play ruins the fantasy that I've layed out for them. This is one small example in a sea of things I need to look out for when I'm shooting content.
Example: If you're shooting foot fetish content, know the difference between nice feet and ugly feet most non-foot fetishists think all feet are ugly, or don't know the difference...your customers will know, so you need to know too. There are intricacies like this in most fetishes, so be aware of what they are.
Lighting makes all the difference!
Newcomers often underestimate the power of lighting and how it affects your quality. Take this into consideration, and buy lights that fit what you are going for. If you're going for an amateur feel, you don't want the best studio lights available. You want some dinky 100$ heads you can buy as a set at a photo store. Likewise if you're shooting high-end, make sure your lights fit the job.
Quick tip: You can always make something darker in post-production (editing) it's not as easy to make something brighter. It'll make it look grainy and bad. Keep this in mind when your lighting your set and make sure you check your lighting through your viewfinder, and don't trust your own eyes. Cameras often interpret light differently than your eyes do. Also, if possible, set down your camera next to a few different monitors try to adjust the brightness to be around what it looks like on a few different monitors, that way on-set you'll have a bit better of an idea of what the content will look like when it's on your computer, as well as your customers computers. Or bring a laptop with you and connect your camera to it on set, and adjust your lights accordingly. There are several pieces of software such as Adobe's On Location that will capture your footage straight to your laptop's hard drive as well, which is an extra bonus - albeit you'll be tethered to your laptop via a firewire, which can be cumbersome when shooting hand-held. Some newer cameras have bypassed mini-dv tapes altogether and capture to a hard drive instead.
Do a little pre-production!
Write out some scripts, know exactly what you want done, plan out your scenes. Nothing wastes time, causes frustration, and creates a bad vibe more than a director saying ummmm what should we do next? - be on the ball, take charge, and direct. Most models I work with prefer to have direction, as opposed to flip-flopping around trying to figure out what you want.
Setup your lights and location before your models are ready to shoot. If your model is doing hair/makeup take the time to perfect your location...use your time wisely. If a model talks to her friend and tells them that you made them wait for 3 hours while you figured stuff out, chances are her friends won't want to come work with you, and neither will she.
Outsourcing Content Production:
I've never done this so I won't say too much about it, but this is a nice option for many newcomers. It can be a little more expensive, and you may not get content that fully realizes the vision you had for the content because ultimately your vision is yours alone, and you won't be on set directing. But it can save a lot of headaches, and produce some great results. There are many top-notch content producers out there, but you need to be very clear on exactly what it is that you want otherwise if it's not there will only be yourself to blame.
You want to make your content the best it can be, whether that means making it look amateur, or high-end, you'll want the proper tools for the job, and know how to use them. Most people can figure out Adobe Premiere, or Final Cut Pro pretty easily, and there are a million tutorials online for you to learn from so I won't go into too much detail about it.
Render your movies out into multiple formats, for the convenience of your user. Flash streaming, WMV High res, WMV Low res, MP4 High res, MP4 Low res, iPod/iPhone etc. - when I first started doing this, my retention sky-rocketed immediately, there was a direct correlation between adding formats and my bottom line. To automate this check out "Episode" for Mac, or "Sorenson Squeeze" for PC.
Keep the master copies of all your content! Don't get rid of those tapes or files...chances are you'll need that raw content again further down the line. There are many platforms for you to sell your content on, and you'll want to have the original source footage to edit to different lengths, resolutions etc. Also, if your server gets hacked and he gets delete trigger happy well you're up the creek without a paddle.
Whether you designed your tour and members area yourself or outsourced it you'll want to be comfortable with tweaking it. Small things can effect sales and retention. Sometimes changing up some text on a tour will increase sales, sometimes that brand new trailer that you spent 9 hours editing and put up on your tour will negatively effect sales. Give everything a fair chance, and gather data, but don't be afraid to replace or remove something even if you think it's awesome and you think your users should think it's awesome too. The only thing that matters is money in your pocket check your ego at the door, and be able to accept that not everything you do is a gold-mine. Create an entirely new and totally different tour, and test some traffic on it see if it converts better or worse. Test, analyze, test, analyze, then test and analyze some more!