The strikingly beautiful MelRose Michaels was first led to the adult industry during her days of go-go dancing at nightclubs in Downtown Chicago for extra money beyond her 9-5. When she noticed dancers quitting one by one, despite earning several hundred a night, she asked them why.
And their answers? Cam modeling.
Once she inquired about the seductive streaming life, she learned that several girls were earning 10-30K a month. So it was that she turned to her mother and boyfriend at the time, who supported her decision, and began working out a plan to get into a cheap apartment.
Borrowing $900 from a friend, she logged into an empty chatroom from the comfort of a pillow in an equally empty apartment, with horrendous internet. Nonetheless, given her determined work ethic, she promised herself that she would stay online until she earned enough for rent.
After eight hours, she had made $1,600 before 4 a.m., and could scarcely believe her success was real. On a high, she rocked camming for seven more days and made $7,000. And once the paycheck cleared the bank, she got serious, furnishing her cam room, upgrading the internet, suiting up with sexy lingerie and buying a few pleasure products.
After eight years, as chatroom traffic slowly dissipated due to higher numbers of models and sites competing for viewers, she turned to premium social media for her earnings, shifting gears to focus on FanCentro.
The rest is history, as her clips, Snapchat postings and fiery subscription-based feed rocketed away to untold heights. Now, as XBIZ Clip Star of the Month, Michaels sheds light on her career in this exclusive interview.
XBIZ: What revenue streams take up most of your focus, and which ones provide the greatest returns?
Michaels: My premium Snapchat is the most time-intensive thing I currently do. Although the content I offer every night is roughly 15 minutes in length, it takes between one to three hours to film it, creating teaser clips, adding links and editing along the way. But those few hours a day make up 70% of my income. And the best part about premium Snapchat is that you can save what you post and resell it as clips elsewhere. I think that’s where I’ve shined, with a continuous stream of content I’m putting up daily on there, which leads me to have a continuous stream of clips for sale.
XBIZ: As far as premium social media, what is your favorite site to produce content on and why?
Michaels: In the beginning of my career, I was publishing content everywhere. I thought the best move was to be accessible wherever fans might be searching for me. At one point, I was uploading to eight different platforms. I had to take a step back and really reassess my business because It wasn’t practical or profitable. I was spreading myself, my brand and my content too thin.
It was a valuable lesson, because fans will go where I decide to be as a model, so realizing I didn’t have to try to chase them down on every platform under the sun was a big realization for me. I started limiting my new content to just FanCentro because the tools they have made running my business easier.
For example, I just talked about how I save my Snapchat shows every night and later sell them as clips. But if we dissect that further, it really goes through a 4-week system where I profit a total of four times off the same content.
Week one, I film and save the Snapchat show as a full length clip. In week two, I’ll send that clip out to my fans on FanCentro as a pay-to-unlock DM. DMs are unique, because the content is archived in chat but not downloadable, which fits some fans’ preference, but not others. Then, in week three, I’ll upload that clip to my FanCentro feed membership site for those subscribers, many of which aren’t members of my premium Snapchat. And when week four finally comes around, I make that video available for sale as an actual clip in my FanCentro clip store. That’s where it becomes fully downloadable, for fans who prefer that vs. having opened it and leaving it archived in their DMs.
The best part about this is that it can be scheduled on the platform, so I spend my time doing what I do best, producing the actual content, while having the support of a platform doing the heavy lifting when it comes to distribution. It’s a dream scenario for models who want to take back control over their time, which is a huge priority for me, especially in 2020.
XBIZ: When it comes to marketing your brand on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, how do you take advantage of each platform’s strengths, while following their TOS?
Michaels: When it comes to social media, I find it’s best to play the long game. Stay within TOS and play by the rules. It’s better to grow an Instagram account slowly, than it is to grow one fast that gets deleted and leaves your sales devastated.
I haven’t really attempted to convert sales from TikTok at the moment. I do consciously make TikTok content geared towards my target 18-35 male demo, and then I have my Snapchat link in the bio. As far as Snapchat is concerned, after so many deletions, you’re kind of tempted to give up on maintaining a public one altogether. However, I decided to use Twitter to circumvent that issue as well.
So I use my public Snapchat just like every other normal person on the app would, but then at the end, I mention how I’m about to log onto my premium Snapchat to film “today’s show,” and I’ll describe what kind of show I’m doing, usually vaguely. After filming it, I post the teaser I would’ve had on my public Snapchat to my Twitter as a tweet (Twitter will allow up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds of video in a single tweet, which is plenty of time to set the scene for a good Snapchat show.
Then, I’ll log back into my public Snapchat, mention how “I just filmed the hottest Snapchat show ever” and how “you can see the full preview right now on my Twitter, just swipe up.” This way, I’m only linking my Snapchat to my Twitter, which helps keep the Snapchat account safer, while using Twitter to “host” the teasers.
It’s been working out so far, but I’m sure it slows sales compared to having the show teaser directly on Snap. Again, at the end of the day, as far as sex work goes with social media, I truly believe slow and steady wins the race.
XBIZ: In terms of branding, what is the main aesthetic, vibe and personality of “MelRose Michaels,” if you had to describe yourself?
Michaels: My brand is very “girl next door” and fairly vanilla, if I’m being honest, haha. I only perform things I’m actually into or that really turn me on. I like to be genuine on camera, because I feel like at the end of the day the fans can tell the difference.
I have a very “adorable and sexy” style that allows my fans to build a connection with me, because I seem more “attainable” to them. I’m not a “big name” porn star; I’ve never once stepped onto a mainstream porn set. So I think people find me appealing because I could be their real-life neighbor who has a secret affinity for being watched online, and there’s an intrigue to that.
XBIZ: How do you balance your professional and personal life? Any off-camera hobbies or fun facts you’d like to share?
Michaels: It’s funny, I just attempted to film a YouTube vlog around this topic. I don’t have any real work/life balance. I’m always working towards achieving that balance, but working 16 to 18 hours a day is just part of my identity. I’ve always been that way, even before getting into adult and working for myself. Achieving new goals I set is where a large part of my happiness comes from. If I’m not progressing in some way, I tend to lose myself.
I need forward momentum at all times. It’s the only way I function well. And I’m really lucky that the people in my life understand and accept that about me. In fact, my adult career is only one part of the circus I’m constantly juggling. I also have a marketing company that needs my time and attention daily, that I launched back in 2016. Outside of those two things, I also have a podcast and a vlog, both of which I’ve been spending months reworking, as I film and edit for the complete relaunch I’m planning.
I’m certainly busy, but when I do turn off work, like when family came to visit recently, in order to be really present, I pre-film content, schedule things to auto post and leave my phone at home. Disconnecting is one of my favorite things. If both my companies didn’t revolve around social media, I 100% wouldn’t be on it. It’s fully a job to me.
I love that it allows me to connect with people and create new fans, friends and relationships, but it’s very time- and energy-intensive. A necessary evil, if you will. I don’t really have any off-camera hobbies right now … I’m currently building my house, so any extra time I do manage to have is spent on that.
XBIZ: Discuss your more safe-for-work business ventures, like YouTube vlogging, producing a podcast and lingerie modeling.
Michaels: Yeah so, now that I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride in adult, I thought it wise to find new ways to expand my brand and my audience. YouTube was a clear choice, because I knew my fans wanted to see what my real life was like when I wasn’t filming. I think the “behind the scenes” stuff is always really neat to watch, so giving people that care to look a more intimate way to know me seemed like the right move.
When it came to launching my podcast, that was really a special moment for me. As a model, you’re constantly on display. However, with the podcast, I finally created an avenue for my voice to be heard, which is something I didn’t know how bad I wanted or needed. It allowed me to really open myself up to a female audience for the first time.
I was able to talk about my real experiences in the adult industry as well as in my actual personal life. I get to tell my own story and control my own narrative which is really empowering. I’m always so surprised when people compliment me on the podcast or tell me how it’s helped them in some way. It’s honestly some of the content I’m most proud of creating.
Lingerie modeling has kind of become just Instagram modeling since the pandemic came into play, haha. I am looking forward to the time where we can travel again and I can start shooting in some cool locations.
XBIZ: What kind of content and live interactions do your fans seem to love the most?
Michaels: My fans really gravitate to my girl/girl videos or JOI content. Not only is it just a popular niche at the moment, but it’s also a lot of fun to create. As for live interaction, I know I’m certainly being missed in the sex expo and convention circles this year. Nothing beats the energy of meeting people in person, taking photos and chatting with them. I am really looking forward to that in 2021.
XBIZ: How have your skills and goals changed over time in this industry, as you’ve grown a following and learned lessons along the way?
Michaels: My skill sets have dramatically expanded. I always explain to people that I wouldn’t have been able to launch my marketing company if I hadn’t been in the adult industry first, especially as a solo creator. I am my own film and lighting crew, I do my own editing and producing, my own marketing, manage my own sales, etc. Being in the adult industry taught me how to run a marketing company, because whether I liked it or not, I had to become one. In fact, I’m still learning; I don’t think you ever really stop.
My goals have evolved almost as much as my skills have. When I first began back in 2011 as a webcam model, I just wanted to make enough money to not live paycheck to paycheck. I wanted to take some financial strain off my mom and myself. It wasn’t much more than that initially. When I realized how lucrative it could be and how much more opportunity is available to you once you have control over your time, the wheels in my brain began turning. How can I take this capital and have it make more money for me?
I began reading business books, teaching myself any business words or concepts I didn’t know and trying to surround myself with people in and out of the adult industry who had something to teach me. The new goals I have are monumental. I want to write books, I want to launch clothing lines, expand into tech companies … the whole nine yards. You name it, it’s on my radar.
XBIZ: Any exciting projects planned for this coming year?
Michaels: I am working on a handful of things, however, I’ve learned it’s irresponsible to make plans in 2020, haha. We have no idea what this year will throw at us next, so I’m trying to take things one day at a time. I already have vlogs for YouTube filmed and podcast episodes produced to release, but I’m still deciding if I want to relaunch in 2020 or 2021.
I’ve recently linked up with a joint venture capitalist who may speed up my initial timeline on a clothing line and some other passion projects, but I prefer to under-promise and over-deliver, so you’re just going to have to keep tabs on me to see what’s ultimately next!
It’s truly been an honor to chat with y’all, though. The fact that I’m Clip Star for August is super validating to all the hard work I’ve put in over the years. I hope this isn’t the last appearance I make in XBIZ, because at the end of the day, I really do feel like I’m just getting started.
When it’s all said and done, the only thing I want people reading this to walk away remembering is that if I could build this out of a laptop, wifi connection and a pillow in an empty room, you can do the same. In fact, you’ll likely do it better!