Ten Lessons from One Year of Sex Blogging

I started my blog late in the evening on 31 December 2016. Can you believe I’ve been at this game for a whole year already? Time flies when you’re having fun, banging various sexy people, and accumulating a collection of sex toys bigger than you reasonably have storage space for.

A white mug from Girl on the Net with the text "No-One Does Whar You Do Quite Like You." For a post about things I've learned in a year of blogging.

And oh what a year it’s been! This little side project – and the community I’ve met as a result – has changed my life, and changed me, in deep and fundamental ways. I’m a better person, and a better writer, than I was a year ago thanks to this little adventure. I’ve placed in the top 100 sex bloggers, won a Newcomer Award, and been paid for my work. I’ve worked with great companies like Hot Octopuss and Lovehoney. And I’ve met some of the most awesome people I’ve ever had the privilege to know.

So, in the spirit of reflecting on the past year – it is New Year’s Eve, after all! – I wanted to share with you ten lessons I’ve taken away from this first year.

1. I can experience pleasure and orgasm in ways I never imagined.

I hardly ever bought sex toys before I started this little adventure and started getting sent things to review. They’re pretty expensive and my vulva is fussy – it knew what it liked (this baby, mainly) and though I was curious about other toys, I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend upwards of £50-100 on things that may or may not work for me.

Well, I’ve now tried oscillating toys, suction toys, dual-stimulation toys, ride-on toys, great vibrators, terrible vibrators, mediocre vibrators, dildos in interesting materials, and even sex toys shaped like penguins. And if you’ll pardon the pun, FUCK ME it turns out my experience of pleasure is diverse. Not only can I get off in all these different ways, but each gives me a subtly (or sometimes wildly) different variety of orgasm.

Bodies are cool, y’all.

2. Sex writers are the best community.

I cannot overstate the extent to which the sex writing community has changed my life for the better. At events like Eroticon, Lube & a Laptop, and even the recent sex blogger Christmas party, I feel profoundly seen, deeply understood, and radically accepted in a way that I have never quite encountered anywhere else.

This community is so open, so generous with time and support and knowledge and friendship and a helping hand up, that I want to cry with joy every time I think about it. You, reading this? Yes, you. I love you.

3. I have the power to take my ideas and make them real.

This whole “sex blog” thing was just a bit of a side project a year ago; a bit of fun that I thought would keep me busy during a difficult transitional period and maybe entertain a handful of people. Now, though? Now it’s so much more. It’s my genuine passion project AND a source of additional income.

That didn’t happen by accident. That happened because I had an idea and ran with it. It happened because I put in the hours (and hours and hours) at the computer screen, tap-tap-tapping away; because I invested what I could, money-and-time-wise, into things like going to Eroticon; because people like Girl on the Net, Kayla, Molly and Michael, and Sarah generously shared their wisdom and I was smart enough to shut up and listen and learn from them; frankly, because I worked my ass off for it. I still do every day.

You can, too.  You just need an idea, some determination, and the willingness to put in the hard work to see it through.

4. Sometimes, the best way to get what you want is just to ask.

Sending off my first pitch was so scary that I needed to celebrate a little bit having done so. Actually getting it accepted? Well, that was something I’d never imagined! That first time someone believed in my work enough to pay me for it, even a little, was like a shot of pure confidence straight to my anxiety-riddled brain. But I never would have got it if I hadn’t faced down my fears and just asked.

Writing to Hot Octopuss a couple months ago on a whim, going “hey we’ve got some common interests here want to sponsor a post?” felt ridiculous. Presumptuous. Why would a big and successful company want to work with a nobody like me? But they said yes. They liked my idea and they paid me for it and I’ve worked with them again since!

These little victories would never have come my way if I hadn’t bitten the bullet and just asked the damn question.

5. Rejection can tear you down, or it can propel you forward.

Rejection happens in any creative industry. It’s just a fact of life. I’ve been rejected plenty of times, both as a sex writer and in my vanilla writing life. My first novel probably got rejected 30 times before I decided to e-publish. I got rejected from an OxBridge Masters programme at the final interview stage. I’ve spent days, weeks, crafting a perfect contest entry and not placed. I’ve sent pitches off and never heard back.

What I learned this year, though, is how to channel rejection into determination and forward momentum. I’ve honed my pitching style and my approaches. I’ve looked again at a rejected piece with fresh eyes and revamped it. And I’ve taught myself how to view all experience, even rejections, as valuable and as opportunities for growth. All writing experience is good writing experience.

6. Whatever weirdnesses I have, I’m definitely not alone.

Whatever bizarre fetish or kink I might be into, someone else is into it too.

When I think I’m the only person in the world whose body responds to a certain stimulus in a certain way, someone will go “me too!”

When I’m struggling with an emotion or a fear or a trip into the darkest depths of my psyche, sometimes what keeps me going is just knowing that someone else sees me, that they understand what I’m going through, and that they came out the other side – and I will too.

7. I have workaholic tendencies.

Okay, so I had a hunch about this one already, but it’s become apparent to me in the last year just how true it is. When I’m really into something, I am in real danger of becoming completely consumed by it.

In October, writing every single day for my Kink Month challenge was stressful and thrilling in equal measure. Since then, I’ve forced myself to take half a step back to recharge as my day job workload explodes over the festive period, but I still feel twinges of guilt if I go more than three or four days without blogging.

This passion and the way it eats at me until I sit down and do the work is a blessing, in large part, and occasionally a curse too. Sometimes the best thing my loved ones can do for me is give me space to work, and sometimes the best thing they can do is force me to take a break, eat some snacks and watch a terrible movie with them. Often, though, I need to take a good look at how I’m really doing in order to communicate which of these things I need.

8. People HATE being told the truth.

Whether it’s that their jelly dildo is riddled with toxic gunk, that shoving 2lb of marbles up their ass is a really bad idea, or that their favourite toy company hired a known abuser as a spokesperson, people really cannot deal with facts and information if it conflicts with their view of The Way Things Are. What’s more, sometimes these people will come at you with name-calling, personal attacks and even threats of physical violence when you speak the truth.

Block early, block often, my friends.

9. How not to take shit from companies.

I don’t work for other people/companies for free, unless:

1) You’re a charity I really, deeply believe in, OR
2) You’re a personal friend and I’m either doing you a favour or we’re doing some kind of work exchange.

Even so, the number of companies who have approached me wanting me to write for them for nothing – or “for the exposure!!!” – is fast approaching levels of bullshit I never knew existed. Add this to seriously shady requests like “talk up our product but don’t let on to your readers that we sponsored you for this,” and I’m left shaking my head at the audacity of some people. This year, I’ve learned to value my work properly and not accept flattery or “exposure” as forms of currency. I’ve learned to stand up for my worth, to hold firm with my boundaries, to put my foot down, so say “no”.

You love what I do and REALLY REALLY want to bring my voice to your readers? Perfect. I’m flattered. Now pay me.

10. No-one Does What I Do Quite Like Me

I’m just gonna finish off with this gem of wisdom from Girl on the Net, a phrase which adorns the mug (pictured) that I drink my coffee from every morning. Because it’s true.

Happy new year, you beautiful lot. Here’s to 2018.

Image by me.

2017 “Top 5” Roundup

Apart from my 1 Year Anniversary post on New Years’ Eve (which is written and ready to go,) this will probably be my last post of 2017. In that vein, I wanted to end the year with a roundup post of sorts, some Top 5s from the year.

I hope you are all having a wonderful festive season and I can’t wait to keep the conversation about all things sex and kink going with you in 2018.

A fluffy tabby cat playing with a gold bauble handing from a Christmas tree. For a post about Top 5s of 2017.

Top 5 New Sex Toys

#1Doxy Number 3, simply one of the most perfect things to ever have graced my bits.
#2We-Vibe Tango, the only bullet I will ever need.
#3Satisfyer Pro 2 Next Generation, the toy that made me like suction toys.
#4Come Hither Rabbit, the only rabbit vibrator I’ve ever enjoyed.
#5The Ruby Glow, a revelation in ride-on fun.

Top 5 Sex Blogging Inspirations

#1Kayla Lords
#2Girl on the Net
#3Molly Moore
#4Kate Sloan
#5Emmeline Peaches

Top 5 Awesome Events

#1Eroticon 2017, the one that started it all.
#2 – Autumn CM/nf, where I get to be naked and ogle pretty men in suits.
#3Lube & a Laptop, a fun summer social with other sexy writers and creators.
#4 – BiCon 2017, where I got to teach my workshop on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex Toys” for the first time.
#5 – Sex Blogger Christmas, a super fun (and boozy) event hosted by the wonderful EA and Livvy.

Top 5 Books About Sex

#1Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
#2How a Bad Girl Fell in Love by Girl on the Net
#3Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett
#4Enjoy Sex (How, When and IF You Want To) by Meg-John Barker & Justin Hancock
#5The Myth of Sex Addiction by Dr David Ley

Top 5 Podcasts

#1Loving BDSM, where Kayla and John bring their unique brand of humour, opinions and adorableness to speaking and educating on all aspects of the BDSM lifestyle. #CricketCrew4Lyf
#2The Dildorks, “dorky discourse on sex, dating and masturbating,” with the wonderful Kate Sloan and Bex Caputo.
#3The Guilty Feminist, which makes me cry with laughter and feel better about all the times my life choices don’t fully match my highest feminist ideals.
#4Polyamory Weekly, a very long-standing favourite about all aspects of unconventional love.
#5Life on the Swingset, the swinging and polyamory podcast.

Top 5 Blog Posts

#1The Tyranny of No Rules: In Defense of Polyamorous Heirarchy
#2I’m Looking for Baggage that Goes with Mine
#3“Pretty” is Not My Success – On Being a Swan
#4#SexNotStigma: Using My Sexuality to Manage my Mental Health
#5“Bring the Collar” – The True Story of a D/s Breakup

Top 5 Accomplishments

#1 – Winning the New Voices Award from Molly’s annual list of the best sex bloggers.
#2 – Placing as one of Kinkly’s Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes.
#3 – Starting to earn Actual Money from writing about sex.
#4 – Organising Smutathon 2017 and raising £2,000 for Backlash and Rape Crisis.
#5 – Doing #KinkMonth/3o Days of Ds and writing a post every single day for the month of October.

Top 5 Goals for 2018

#1 – Start a PhD programme.
#2 – Cut down to 4 days a week on my day job and make up the additional income from writing.
#3 – Place in the Top 50 of the Kinkly Sex Blogging Superheroes list.
#4 – Have a piece of erotic fiction published, either in an anthology or as a stand-alone.
#5 – Finish my sexy novella set at a BDSM convention.

So there you have it, friends! What were your Top 5s of 2017?

Affiliate links are used within this post. All opinions my own. Image is courtesy of Pixabay.

[Kink Product Review] Rouge Garments Leather Spiral Flogger

Did I mention that sex bloggers get the BEST goodie bags at our events? Well, we do. The lovely people at Rouge Garments provided various goodies for the June Lube and Laptop meet, and mine turned out to be this fittingly red red red (seriously this thing is so red) leather flogger.

The bright red Rouge Garments Leather Spiral Flogger. For a review post.

This flogger is pretty hefty. End to end it’s about 71cm, of which 51cm is the falls and 20cm the handle. (On Rouge’s site it lists the length of falls as 47cm, so mine may be a slightly over-long prototype.) Either way it’s got a lot of length to it.

My Ratings (all scores out of 5★)

Price: ★★★★
The flogger retails on Rouge Garments’ own site for £29.99, which is a very reasonable price for a real leather product.

Materials: ★★★★★
It’s 100% real leather, which is my material of choice for hitty items in general. Vegans and stricter vegetarians may want to steer clear, but that’s a matter of personal choice. (I’ll hold my hands up as a hypocritical vegetarian who loves leather here.)

Appearance & Quality: ★★★
It comes in black or red, which are pretty standard colours for BDSM equipment. I’d love to see more variety in this area in general! The design is fine though I don’t think it’s the prettiest item in Rouge’s store – my personal aesthetic tastes lean more along the lines of leather falls with a wooden or metal handle, rather than all-over leather, but that’s a matter of preference. It seems generally solid in terms of craftsmanship, but my one gripe (and it’s a pretty major one) is with the length of the falls. They’re not cut evenly and there is a disparity of more than an inch between the longest and shortest. This does, unfortunately, make an otherwise well-made product look somewhat cheap and slapdash.

Ease of Wielding: ★★★
Like all longer floggers, it takes some practice to wield effectively, but this isn’t a criticism of the product. Generally the longer the hitty thing, the harder it is to wield. It is very light for its size, though, which is a plus point. I could use it for quite a while without my arm getting tired, and I’m far from the strongest person around. Mr CK pointed out that, due to the handle not being smooth (the leather is effectively wrapped around in a spiral shape,) the ridges did start to hurt his hand after a little while.

Feel: ★★★
I adore the feel of real leather on my skin. For me, this flogger is just about the perfect thud/sting balance. The weight is just enough to give it a nice thud, while the thin falls follow that initial thud with a little bit of bite. The uneven falls do increase the tendency for mishits to happen, though, which led to a couple of “BAD ouch” moments. Not recommended for anyone who wants pure thud or intense sting, but a good option if you like a mix.

Overall Score: ★★★
Not the greatest flogger I’ve ever used but far from the worst, either. I’d recommend it for people with some flogging experience who want to try out a larger flogger, and for anyone who wants to add some real leather to their collection but is on a budget. If you want pure beauty and craft, though, I’d skip this one and head on over to Jack’s Floggers or Kabunza instead.

Rouge Garments generously gifted these products and asked for honest reviews. All opinions are, and will always be, my own. There are no affiliate links in this post.

[Toy Review] The Tot Bodee Vibrator

Horny Geek Girl practically threw this toy at me at the #LubeAndALaptop meet last month, with a “please take this and review it!!” Well, how could I say no to that?

The Tot Bodee vibrator, a bright pink toy that looks a bit like a sperm in shape

The Bodee Vibrator is a small (less than 4″ long) rechargeable pink vibe with a small flexible tail that also vibrates. Its main selling point is that it can be hooked up via Bluetooth to a special app and then controlled via Smartphone by either the wearer or whoever else they decide to hand the control to. At least in theory, there’s some pretty cool sex-tech goodness going on here. In practice… meh.

What I didn’t love

The Bodee is sold as a G-spot vibe but, to be completely honest, I found it too small and not curved in the right way to hit my G-spot in any meaningful way. The tail is, I think, intended to stimulate the clit while the main body of the toy is inserted into the vagina. Unfortunately the tail was too short and too flimsy for this to work.

It’s also too loud to realistically wear while out in public, which probably removes a good deal of the “hands free, app controlled” appeal for the more adventurous among us. And it’s tiny, which I take issue with when they’re selling it as an internal toy. I’m not a size queen by any means, but this thing was way too small to do anything much internally. If you’re using it as a clit stimulator (read on,) the size isn’t an issue.

However…

When I repurposed it as a clitoral stimulator (which I am often wont to do,) it was suddenly quite effective. It comes with six different patterns which you control through the app (or you can scroll through with the button on the top if you’re not connected into the app) and – I LOVE this – you can literally design your own vibration pattern with the app’s “custom” feature. Seriously cool.

My overwhelming reaction to this toy is “cool concept with some good points, but needs work”. Read on to find out why.

My Ratings (all scores out of 5★)

Price: ★★★★★
The only retailer I could find that ships this toy to the UK was Deals Machine which seems to be a wholesalers of some description. The toy sells there for £28.29 for one (as with most wholesalers, the price per unit goes down if for some reason you decide you want 50 vibrators) which is a really fantastic price for the quality of product.

Materials: ★★★★★
It’s silicone with a matte finish, meaning it’s soft and lovely to the touch and also completely body-safe. As always, use water-based lube for silicone toys.

Appearance: ★★★
It’s BRIGHT pink (seriously, the picture does not do justice to how pink this thing is) and not available in any other colours, which gets a mark down from me. I’m just so sick of pink pink pink everywhere in sex toys for people with vulvas. On the plus side, it’s small and cute (good for people who feel threatened by or nervous of larger toys) and the shape sort of reminds me of a sperm, which I have nothing but slightly giggly respect for.

Ease of Use: ★★
The Bodee is small and very light, making it gentle on the hands and wrists. However, the tail is the bit you’re going to be realistically using as a handle if you’re thrusting with it or using it as a clit stimulator, and said tail is just a little too small and flimsy to be up to the task. The vibe comes with a little instruction booklet that explains setting up the app, which really couldn’t be easier. You literally download it, turn on the toy and your Bluetooth, they sync up, and you’re good to go. The app itself, once you’re in, is really self explanatory.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to give a lower score that I’d like to here because A) the main website is all in Chinese with no translate option, so finding more details or troubleshooting is really hard, and B) the app sometimes crashes for no reason – it did this maybe 3 times in a half hour play session.

Ease of care & cleaning: ★★★
The shape and smooth silicone surface mean it’s easy to clean down with a sterile wipe. In theory, it’s waterproof, but I’m not sure to what extent I’d trust that. The “resealing” charging hole doesn’t close as well as I’d like it to. I wouldn’t submerge it fully in water, personally. Could be popped into a condom or used with another barrier for safer sex reasons if you’re sharing it.

Versatility: ★★★★
Versatility is really where the Bodee shines. This toy has a LOT of settings – and the amazing, amazing, AMAZING feature of being able to design your own pattern of vibrations. As above, it says waterproof but looking at the charging hole, I don’t fully trust that claim. It’d be great to hear from someone who has, though – let me know if you’ve tried this. I don’t much care as I don’t wank in the bath anyway. I found it only worked for clitoral stimulation but it might work internally for some people. Not suitable for anal use.

Intensity: ★★★★
The vibrations were definitely a little buzzy, but not horribly so. They went deep enough to get me off, though it took a while. They were pretty strong for such a small toy, which is more than I was expecting. The Bodee also didn’t have that annoying tingling/itching effect that some buzzy vibes have.

Overall Score: ★★★
A great idea for a “toy with a difference” that is at least partially well-realised. There are some pretty significant flaws that prevent me from giving the Bodee a higher score. It definitely wouldn’t be a top recommendation for someone looking for a clitoral or G-spot toy. Great inexpensive way to experiment if you like the idea of Bluetooth or app-controlled vibes, and potentially great for D/s play – the opportunities if you hand the controls off to your partner are endless. I hope they come out with a second generation version that addresses some of the issues.

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