Starting out as a sex blogger

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So you want to be a sex blogger?  

Here’s a list of what you need to do first, before you buy your domain, before you start creating your site, before anything else;

  • Write, write, write, write, write… and then write some fucking more.

 

Okay so ONE thing probably doesn’t count as a list, but it’s a big thing – blogging is nothing without writing because blogging IS writing. Whether you are writing reviews, writing guides or writing personal posts about what feels you had today. It’s all words, it’s the art of telling and having a voice and yeah, maybe you don’t really have a voice yet, but that’s because you haven’t exercised it enough. Write and you’ll find your voice, it will grow and evolve and it will become the very truest extension of you.

Don’t worry if you think everything you write is shit, it’s damn hard to read your own words subjectively. And sure there’s the a very real possibility that your writing will be shit, at least in the beginning – Christ knows everyone who’s ever spent time being creative will look back on their first attempts and cringe. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m pretty sure Michelangelo wasn’t picking up a paintbrush for the very first time when he started the Cysteine chapel.

Decide on the direction of your blog but DON’T confine yourself to it.

What’s your blog about and what kind of content are you looking to create and share with the world? Are you wanting to review sex toys, give advice or document your own sex life? Maybe you want to mix all of those things together? Having a clear focus/theme/direction for your blog is great, it helps you to work out where to start and makes visitors more likely to become readers.

That being said, don’t be afraid to allow your blog the flexibility to grow and change along with you. Even if that means it morphs into a completely different beast over time – that’s natural, its progression, its positive. If all you’ve ever done with the blog is reviews and you start to feel pigeon holed/confined and just want to be able to write something new, DO IT! Wherever creativity springs up, don’t quench it. All writing is worth doing, weather its right for your blog or not is up to you but I honestly don’t think any time is ‘wasted’ if you’ve spent it writing about something that you feel passionate about in that moment.

Who do you want to be, and how anonymous?

The internet is a wonderful place, we can escape our own lives and shrug off the preconceived ideas people have of us. It allows us to be anonymous if we wish to be.  For those of us who because of jobs, family or just personal preference can’t openly talk about sex under our real names it’s the only way for us to keep blogging about what we love!

It’s a great idea to have a pen-name unless you want to be referred to by your site name – which might be a long winded and bizarre thing for people to call you depending on what you’ve decided to name your blog. I’ve gone by Echo on the internet since I was a teenager and it’s so much a part of me that I have to make a conscious effort not to sign my RL work emails as Echo (Which happened once and I still can’t look my boss in the eye).

It’s not as easy as changing your name to be anonymous on the internet, there’s the dreaded google account to content with – Which will merrily link up your social media accounts without thought for the fact that your family and friends on Facebook really don’t need to see your naked belfies or dildo shots on Instagram. Make sure you turn off the location and platform sharing on each social media account you have.

If you have both kinky and vanilla accounts on the same social platform then try using one browser (say chrome for example) for all your ‘kinky tabs’ and another (maybe Firefox) for your ‘vanilla life’. This should help prevent any accidental posts about your latest blog content on the wrong account!

Branding, image and logo’s. 

 When I think of coke (coca cola) I immediately think of the color red, followed by other things; fancy writing, fizziness, Christmas adverts. Your blog name should conjure the same things. If I see pretty pegging harnesses I think of Artemesia Femmecock and her beautiful artsy photography. When I see a bunson burner I think of Dangerous Lilly and her penchant for burning dodgy dildos, when I see lipsticks I think of Femme Reviews. When I see wickedly unique boots I think of Cara Sutra and her collection of Domme-esk footwear.

That’s because these people have created their own ‘brand’, and you can too! Because blogging is so personal you can really make this all about you, and it should be! As a human being you are as unique as can be, your likes and loves will never be an exact mirror of someone else’s, use that, work with it, create a unique brand for yourself.

Having a colour theme across all your platforms and a recognizable logo are great ways to start creating a brand for yourself. It’s also certainly worth considering paying to have a profile picture drawn by an artist (LIKE STARBOOTS), if you don’t want to or can’t use your real face. It’s really helpful for some readers to be able to form an image of the person behind the words.

Domain, hosting and website design.

Picked a name for your blog already? Hold up! You need to search it on a domain checker to see if its an available domain name! Me and Chris spent a whole evening searching some tragic and some simply pun-tastic sex blog names, if you need any ideas I found lots of cool names that are still available (just hit me up). You’ll have to buy your domain name and pay each year to keep it.

Deciding which domain extension to use is your next step. For the record a domain extension is the bit after your site name for example; ‘.com’, ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.org’. This year hundreds of extra extensions were added so you can have .blog or .adult after your blog but do your research on the pros and cons of each extension.

I picked .com for its simplicity, memorability and the ability to legally hide my personal details from WHOIS (a site where people can look up the owner of any domain). I brought domain protection for my blog which removes my name, number and address from the WHOIS site, making me officially an anonymously owned site!

If you want to be safe in the knowledge that you can post adult content on your blog without it being removed from the internet without warning then you need to be self hosted. By this I mean if you’re currently just using Blogspot or WordPress and haven’t paid to have your site you are not self hosted (your site will show something like echoexplores@wordpress.com) and can be removed on a whim, without your knowledge or consent. You also cannot make money from your site if you aren’t self hosted.

Picking a company to host your site with is difficult and honestly I have no idea who exactly is best… I’m with HostGator and have had zero problems, however I can’t say what their customer service is like because I’ve never had to use it **crosses fingers and touches wood**. I pay to host my site with them and they do different packages for varying budgets. I paid something like £100 for a years hosting.

Once you have brought your domain name and hosting its time to either build your blog or connect an existing WordPress blog to your domain. I use WordPress, because its super easy and anything you don’t know how to do on it can easily be googled. There are tons of themes available for it, some free, others not, but most will at least let you have a limited version to use. Research your theme, it doesn’t just need to look good it has to be functional – compatible with widgets, menus and anything else you might plan to add to it. It also needs to be a theme that works seamlessly on laptops, tablets and phones.

Create social media accounts and keep them updated

Social media is the best way to get you and subsequently your blog noticed. Your social media accounts need updating as often as you can, ideally – at least once a week. I aim to post every day on Twitter, and weekly on other accounts like Instagram. I think that its best practice to have a healthy mix of personal tweets AND blog content promotion, because let’s face it, just streaming out a bombardment of plugs to your site makes you come across as a faceless business rather than a human being with awesome knowledge and experiences to share.

Don’t create accounts that are just going to lay dormant, it’s better to only be on a few platforms and keep up with them well than having a million accounts and half-arsing all of them. Sincerely, I’m sorry tumblr, but we just can’t see each other anymore.

Go live with content on your blog!

I got a ton of traffic on the day my blog went live – I already had my social media accounts set up and had followers to tweet the ‘grand unveiling’ to! Had I ‘gone-live’ with only one post, or none, then those people would not have become readers, they would have looked around, found no content to sample and left for good.

I think its best practice to have at LEAST four posts already, and to try not to have menu tabs that lead to blank pages. People want to see a blog with words and life! Not a skeleton structure with just the bare bones showing.

Working with companies

You might not feel like a professional but it’s good to behave at least a little bit like you know what you’re doing. There are plenty of companies out there who will take advantage of bloggers if they can, like the company that tricked and coerced new sex bloggers into filming themselves using toys as proof/or payment in exchange for a toy.

I still have plenty of smaller companies (usually male led) that take a completely unprofessional approach to talking to me, they try to turn our email exchanges into smut, and it’s good to learn quickly to shut these people down. It might not feel like it now but these companies need you more than you need them and you don’t ever need to put up with shit that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Getting companies to sponsor you, or send you items can be a minefield. I’ve had people approach me, offer to send me something of my choosing, agree a posting date and then just ghost out on me – Not returning any emails and never actually sending the promised item. I still don’t really understand why companies do this, but it seems having your time wasted is part and parcel of trying to work in this industry.

Don’t take it personally if you get a rejection, and appreciate those companies who are straight with you about why they can’t work with you (be that not having the budget or already having a large group of bloggers to work with). You’ll get ignored a LOT in the beginning so getting a response of any kind is an achievement!

Interacting with other bloggers

Lets be honest, for most of us, other bloggers ARE the reason we blog – they inspire us. For me I didn’t know quite how big or how important sex blogging was until I found people who reviewed toys like badasses, called out shit that was harmful and worked constantly to reduce stigma and create a wealth of inclusivity.

It’s easy to get carried away in feeling like you aren’t a patch on these people, that you don’t deserve to have a blog when your words are so inferior to theirs. But it’s not a healthy way to look at things, it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever be the BEST at what you do. But we can do OUR BEST every day and be fucking proud of that. We shouldn’t view other bloggers as competition but as comrades, we have so much to learn from each other, and a genuine opportunity to form great friendships.

Anxiety can be the enemy of your blogging, not only will you worry frantically about the quality of your content and obsessively check your stats every ten minutes but it also makes interacting with other bloggers super hard. My guess is that a high percentage of bloggers do probably have social anxiety, its why we use a keyboard to interact with the world – but even that at times can be too difficult. Keep trying, but let yourself have quiet days if you need them.

Reviewing items for your blog

If your blog approach is going to be mostly sex toy reviews then there are a few simple steps to remember. Write well – don’t use gimmicky phrases or refer to genitalia as a “foof” “weanie” “kitty” “cooch” “lady flower” or “one eyed trouser snake”. There’s even a special place in hell for people who use coy (vomit inducing) terms like “love button”, “love box”, “love stick” “love muscle” and “baby maker”.

Call a vagina a vagina and please don’t call it a vagina when you mean a vulva (Vagina – Internal, Vulva – External). I don’t want to read a review where somebody writes about putting a cock and ball ring around their partners ‘twig and giggle berries’, NO you put it around his penis and testicles, you did NOT put it around his “sausage and eggs”. **Furious eye-roll**.

Cover all the functions but make sure to explain to the reader how it actually feels during use, without this you might as well be writing a product description. I don’t care if it has eight vibrating modes and 12 patterns if the damn thing was so weak it made your clit feel like a tiny fly was tap dancing on it. However don’t get into graphic detail, a review needs to be just that, a review, not a raunchy erotica tale.

Know your shit. If you don’t have a clue about harmful sex toy materials stop right now, do your research and come back when you are able to give your readers safe advice. Same goes for anal safe toys. You need to know which companies and which products don’t deserve the time of day, from you or your readers.

I would advise you start off with reviewing some of your own collection first, just until you’ve really nailed down your approach to reviewing and decided if its really what you want to spend your downtime doing!  This allows companies to see if they like your review style enough to send you products and to be sure that your aren’t just going to flake out and quit blogging before they get their review.

Link to the product no more than three times during a review and if you are using affiliate links state so at the bottom of the page. I would suggest linking just twice, once at the beginning and once at the end, for me when I’m reading a review I’m not going to click a link halfway through what I’m reading, I’ll check the link out when I’m done so the bottom of the page is best place for me.

P.S Don’t spend ages at the beginning of a review gushing over and thanking the company who gave it to you, you can say that via email, nobody else needs to see it.

Running giveaway competitions

I know competitions are fun and running them connected to social media will get you more followers (not as many as you might think) but this doesn’t actually mean you’ll get more READERS and ultimately that’s what we’re here tapping away at our keyboards for, right? Competitions are a nightmare to set up, will cost you money if you decide to post it yourself – a lot of money if your competition is open worldwide (and prepare for a lot of angry folks if it’s not!).

You’ll annoy those twitter followers you have that don’t get involved with competitions or simply don’t want their news-feeds full of your giveaway tweets.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever run a giveaway it’s kind of a nice way to say thank you to your followers I guess… although since normally there’s only one winner and the rest get a generous helping of disappointment it’s certainly not the greatest kind of thank you I can think of.

I have made a metal note to myself to only do two giveaways a year, and unless I get an offer from a company that is too-damn-good to deprive a potential reader of, then I stick to being giveaway free.

Posting schedules

Deciding how often to post (and actually following through with it) is super difficult. There are successful bloggers who post once or twice a month and equally great bloggers who post once or twice a week. There’s no point putting pressure on yourself to create more content than you are able (and willing) to do. Pushing yourself hard will leave you burnt out. Give yourself room to live your life and you’ll find being creative comes pretty naturally.

Setting a schedule/rule for posting a certain amount of times a month can be motivating for some and absolute-anxiety-soaked-torture for others. When I started blogging I planned to post a review every Wednesday, then I got really ambitious and wanted to also post guides/musings every Friday. It took absolutely no time at all for this ‘schedule’ to get trashed, and for a long while I felt inadequate, incapable and unworthy of having this blog. Now I write and post when I want to write and I hate myself a lot less.

There are super organised productive bloggers out there who create a backlog of posts for the next few months. I idolize these people and whilst I do have a few posts on the queue at the moment it’s never much. ‘Back up posts’ for those hard times when we don’t have the time/capacity/energy to write are a great idea though and I thoroughly recommend doing that if you can.

Being ethical, inclusive and just an all-round-stellar-human-bean.

As someone who is writing for the general public, you have a moral obligation not to be a shithead. Educate yourself to the best of your abilities, don’t spam people with bad advice because you couldn’t be bothered to do your research. Figure out what’s important for your readers to know and tell them!

Put your readers first, don’t allow content on your blog that’s going to put their health in danger, be that physically or emotionally. For me I make a huge effort to shout about toxic toys and how we shouldn’t use or promote them to people. I make sure my readers know which toys are safe for anal use (FLARED BASES FOLKS!) and which toys have been packaged with so many loud and offensive gender stereotypes you’ll want to tear your own eyeballs out.

Be inclusive in what you do, and if you don’t already know – learn about non-binary genders, sexualities, anything you can in order to make your content more palatable and supportive for everyone.

Making money

Monopolising a blog is not my forte, I have made less than nothing from my blog this year. To be fair I have received nearly £1000 worth of items but that’s NOT the same as getting paid. If I sent my landlord a pile of dildos I don’t think he’d consider that fair exchange for the rent.

Figure out if you want to blog as a hobby or weather you’re ready to put the time and effort in to making this work as a job. Don’t expect to make ANYTHING in the first year – I’m not saying its impossible, just highly improbable.

A great way to start making those pennies is to try to work with companies who have supportive affiliate programs, Tantus is a great example of this, signing up to be an affiliate gets you a 15% commission on items brought through your affiliate links. So the more advertising you do for them the more money you are able to make. However great affiliate programs are though, if you want to make blogging a career they aren’t going to be your bread and butter. You’d have to be signed up to a lot of schemes and be directing a lot of traffic to these sites via your links to make any reasonable amount of money this way.

Adverts are a great way of making money, here on your own little corner of the internet (provided you self-host!) you have space to advertise as many businesses as you want! Getting people to pay for the advertising will of course, be the hard part, but it’s not impossible. I suggest coming up with some rates and making a decesion as to how many ads you are willing to host – You don’t want your readers feeling bombarded with adverts.

Sponsorship is another way to make money through your blog, like Dominoes and E4 its a partnership that goes beyond a simple ad, its pointing at each other and saluting while singing “we support this person/blog/company”. A sponsor should be someone willing to help you financially where you need to go with the blog, be that paying for your transport to events, or sponsoring your giveaways.  In return you put them at the forefront of your blog, you make them your priority – a mutually beneficial partnership.

Sponsored posts are great for making a bit of immediate cash but there are hurdles to cross here if you want to maintain your blogger integrity. A sponsored post is content a company pays you to write for them that contains links to their site. The company will want the post to be promotional, for you to advocate them or their product, but I think its up to the blogger to ensure that they really are worthy of the promotion and your not just pointing your readers wherever there’s money to be had.

 

 

Disclaimer

I am not a pro, by any means! I’ve been blogging for less than a year so this guide is really not for established blog owners. It’s for people like me who had to stumble blindly through those first few months, phoning my boyfriend in tears because I found my name and address on the WHOIS site and realizing the theme I’d spent hours on didn’t work on mobile phones. I’m here to help the newbies, the shy ones, the out-of-their-depth ones and those who arent even ready to ask for help yet.

I’m so far from perfect that I feel ridiculous for writing this post but I’ve included here all the things I wish I had known about blogging and all the things I had to learn the hard way. I hope it helps at least one new blogger. Don’t lose hope, be honest, be knowledgeable, be yourself! 

2 thoughts on “Starting out as a sex blogger

  1. Lilly

    Ok this was longer than my attention span this week (I’m sorry) so I have to just comment on the thing I first wanted to comment on which is: Yes, pick a direction BUT ALSO! don’t be afraid to change directions, even totally.

    8 years ago I wasn’t burning dildos. My first few years were spent trying too hard to be sexy. My blog’s name was “This Could Be Dangerous…” because I was exploring my penchant for exhibitionism, public sex toy use, an open relationship and casual dating, etc. [insert long story here] because the blog title and domain had “dangerous” in it, Google would lead folks to my site when they asked if something about a sex act or sex toy was dangerous. So then I started researching one of those, and decided to write more about the dangers of phthalates. It took me awhile but over time I became what you see now, and it’s totally fuckin different from Lilly 8 years ago. Luckily my domain name still kinda “works” for what I’ve got going on, but I do think folks need to know that if they wanna change, they can, without giving up their domain, social media, etc to start over from scratch.

    Just to let people to know that the world won’t end if something happens that they wanna totally change sexuality “tracks” on the blog 🙂 I’ve skimmed the rest of this post but so far everything else is really solid info!

    Reply
    1. Echo Post author

      Hi, thanks for your comment (I’ll try not to fan-girl/anxiety-splode than you are here, on my blog!). I’ve slightly edited the section you are referring too, I thought I had made it clear that you shouldn’t confine yourself to the direction you originally chose for your blog but sometimes I’m not great at conveying exactly what I mean so thank you and hopefully your comment will go the rest of the way towards explaining that we should let our blogs grow and evolve to suit our needs!
      I only found you this year and had NO IDEA that your blog started life like that, I think that progression is pretty awesome, and it obviously really worked for you!
      Thanks for being you,

      Echo 🙂

      Reply

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