[Interview] Kayla Lords, Smutlancer Extraordinaire and Editor-in-Chief of The Big Fling

I used to joke that I would know I’d “made it” as a writer when I had a column. Well now I have one! (Though I’m not sure I actually feel I’ve “made it” after all.) My wonderful friend Kayla is now Editor in Chief of The Big Fling, “a community of writers using sex positivity and good info to fight toxic masculinity in dating, hookups, and relationships”. I pitched and was commissioned to write an article on polyamory earlier this year. Shortly after that, Kayla approached me and asked me to write a monthly column all about consensual non-monogamy in its many forms. I was only too happy to say “hell yes!” So when I started my most recent interview series, I was thrilled to chat to Kayla once again about her work at TBF and beyond.

A picture of Kayla Lords cuddling a big teddy bear

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

While I’ve been a sex blogger since 2012 and a kinky podcaster since 2015, I’ve worked with adult brands and companies for the past several years as well. These days I’m also the editor in chief of The Big Fling which means my job is content! In the beginning I wrote content, and now we’re able to invite writers to pitch their ideas and contribute to the website. My job is to work with writers, look over their pitches, ask questions and give feedback when appropriate, and publish good sex-positive writing.

So what’s this Big Fling all about and how did you come to be involved?

When I was approached about working with The Big Fling, they had big dreams. For years, they’ve been a site where (primarily) cishet guys go to learn about dating apps, phone chat lines, and chat sites for hookups. But an opportunity was being missed in the process — to help the people who visit the site have better, healthier experiences.

Not everyone wants to be in a long-term relationship, but the toxicity of interactions that some guys have is scary, and born from not enough good sex education. The Big Fling decided it wasn’t enough to point them in the direction of where to find a date or hookup, but to teach people how to do it all in a better, more sex-positive way. They reached out to me and asked me to write for them. Over several weeks, they began to share their larger vision with me, of becoming a community of writers, and I was excited to help them execute the plan.

How is The Big Fling different from other adult-oriented sites out there?

Having written for many different relationship, dating, and sexuality sites over the years, what I find to be different about The Big Fling is that we know we’re talking to guys who might only be thinking of the sex they want to have… but we do it in a way that speaks to them where they’re at and says, “You’re smart enough to know better, and here’s what you need to know to be better.”

We don’t assume our readers all want to get married or have long-term relationships, but we don’t assume they’re being led around by their penis (or other sexual organs) either. So instead of the “typical” cishet-oriented site that only shows mostly naked women or assumes they’re all out to hit-it-and-quit-it, we talk to them like we’d talk to our friends. We also never assume we know the sexuality, tastes, desires, or identity of anyone who lands on our site.  

What would you say is the main ethos of the site?

We want to combat toxic masculinity in the world of dating, sex, and relationships by letting the average cishet male reader know that their desires are okay, their feelings are okay, and that there’s another way to exist in the world beyond what society taught them. We know we can’t fix toxic masculinity on our own, but we can do our small part to build a more sex-positive world.

I love that! If authors want to get involved with writing for you, how do they do so?

Pitch me, but read over the guidelines first. As a writer, I know how hard it is to pitch, and not a lot of sites tell you what they want which is frustrating. Hopefully I’m the least intimidating editor you’ll ever meet, but I also expect writers to read and follow the guidelines given. So do that, then pitch

I can vouch for you being the kindest and least intimidating editor! So you’ve published loads of great writers, but who would be your dream guest contributor, if money was no object?

For me, I don’t have a guest contributor. My dream, if money was no object, would be to publish as many great writers as possible and to accept every good idea that I receive. That’s the dream. I want to put out as much interesting, high quality sex-positive content as possible, to publish more writers, and to reach as many readers as possible.

What’s one thing you really wish people would STOP asking you?

I get two questions that I’d love to never hear again:

1) “How do you do it all?” I hate this partly because I’m well aware of what I’m NOT doing, so when someone asks how I do it all, my anxiety spikes as my brain imagines everything I should be doing. Plus, I love what I do (okay, maybe not the tedious parts of my work, but I love most of what I do), and so it’s not a burden or strain to work a little longer or give up my free time to work on my blogs or do freelance work. But I do have to be careful not to overwork or I’ll make myself sick or trigger my mental illnesses (I have generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and bipolar disorder — that’s about as fun as you might imagine, especially when deadlines loom).

2) “How do I have a relationship like the one you have with John Brownstone?” I really don’t mind the question. It’s seeing the look in people’s eyes when I give the answer (their eyes tend to glaze over). We met online and connected from the beginning, but it wasn’t love or lust at first sight. I fought my feelings for him every step of the way, refusing to believe that I deserved him. So when I say take the time to develop trust between you and be willing to say difficult things, I mean that.

Without those two factors, I couldn’t have let go of most of my baggage to be with him. I had to be willing to do as much work as he was willing to do. Our love and respect are mutual, and we fought our own individual battles to be together. A lot of people want quick and easy, and in my experience, quick and easy rarely work. The things that matter take time and patience. So the answer to that question tends to be boring, not at all romantic, and generally unsatisfying to the person who asks…

Oh, fuck. I think the next question on my list is sort of a variation on “how do you do it all?” You do so many things – between Loving BDSM, Smutlancer, your personal website and now Big Fling! What’s your key time management strategy?

Two things: prioritizing my goals, which has always been a struggle because everything feels important all the time, and time blocking (sometimes called calendar blocking). Every single thing in my day (including taking a shower and going to bed) has a slot in my calendar. I block out the time I need to do my day job and be a responsible member of my home, and whatever’s left, I block out for blogging and other projects — with time left for mindless scrolling through social media and other things that don’t count as “work.”

If you could impart one piece of wisdom about sex to everyone in the world, what would it be?

There is no right kind of sex to have, but you’ll never have the right kind of sex for YOU if you aren’t willing to talk about it with your partner. Both partners have to be willing to communicate, and you might have to be the one to speak up first, but the best sex happens when you’ve talked about what you want, what you don’t want, what you’ll do, and what you won’t do. 

Who’s your favourite sex toy manufacturer and why?

It’s always hard to pick just one, but for overall marketing inclusivity and quality of product, I’d say Hot Octopuss. Everything I or my partner, John Brownstone, have tried has been amazing. Really great people work for the company — watch them online, read their blog post, or talk to them in person, and you know they really care about what they do. 

Oh, I love them too! What’s something you used to believe about sex or relationships that you don’t believe any more?

I think I used to believe that only certain people had great sex or relationships. I didn’t know who those certain people were, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t one of them. As the years go by, I continue to learn more and more about what I like and don’t like and what kind of sex and relationships I need and don’t need.

And there is no “type” who gets to have great sex or a solid relationship. Like anything else, it takes hard work and communication, but regardless of our size, age, gender, sexuality, skin color, we are all capable of having whatever kind of sex or relationship we want. It might not be easy (it most definitely isn’t) but if you’re able to find the right person/people, it can be worth it. But part of it begins and ends with embracing who you are as an individual — what you like and what you don’t like, what you need, and what you want. 

And just for fun because it is “Coffee and Kink” – what’s your usual order at Starbucks?

My usual order is a Venti Iced Coffee with four stevia and extra heavy whipping cream — it’s how I get my coffee fix and stick to a Keto diet/lifestyle.

The Big Fling logo for an interview with Kayla Lords

Thanks to Kayla for giving her time to impart her amazing and hard-earned wisdom to us all! Check out all her various projects and give her a follow on Twitter!

[Guest Blog] How Sex Writing and Kink is Rebuilding My Body Image by Violet Grey

I’m thrilled to be featuring a guest post by Violet Grey for the second time. Violet is an amazing writer and, as I discovered when I met her in person at Eroticon, an absolute sweetheart of a person as well. Please note this piece includes frank discussion of body image and body shaming, so please take care of yourselves if these topics are difficult for you. Enjoy this piece – maybe make a cup of coffee and savour this one, as there’s a lot of brilliant stuff here. – Amy x

A woman in a purple top looking in a mirror and applying mascara. For a guest blog on body image by Violet Grey.

I think it’s safe to say at some point, we’ve all felt crap about our bodies. We wish our tummies were flatter, biceps bulkier, thighs thinner, dicks bigger, boobs perkier, the works.

With social media playing a growing part in many aspects of our life and work, the discussion around body image has evolved all the more. “#BodyPositive” is a common hashtag, and backlash around the unattainable beauty standards we see in the media is now commonplace. That being said, this is a relatively small counter when compared to the billboards, photoshopping and websites that encourage disordered eating – not to mention the horrendous amounts of trolling we see online.

Seriously, it’s like something out of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which parallels the very toxicity of people (particularly impressionable teenagers finding their feet) judging someone purely by their looks. The idea that if we are not ‘perfect’ we are deserving of such ridicule. It’s scary.

If I’m being candid, my body image isn’t great. In fact, it’s not really even that good but I’m working on it. My body has gone through quite a few changes in the last 18 months. Expanding, shrinking, filling out, more stretch marks, all parts of being a woman and human being.

During these changes I freaked out, put myself down and catastrophised in my own mind that no one would ever find me attractive now I no longer sport a 26-inch waist and got a little thicker in frame – least of all myself. It goes to show that falling into the trap of placing a good dollop of your worth on trying to pigeon-hole yourself is all too easy.

Especially so if you, like me, hail from a performance background, where there’s a prevalent culture of being taught that you will land more work if you look a certain way. While for the most part it’s based on ability and on embodying the role in all ways, sadly it’s not uncommon for people to be told by certain schools, directors, companies etc. that they won’t make it as an actor/performer because they are ‘too fat’ or have some form of physical trait that individual personally deems undesirable.

So when it came to my writing about sexy stuff on the internet, I was pleasantly surprised by what I’ve come across in the community. I’ve admired fellow bloggers who share pictures of themselves on their websites, expressing themselves, clothed or otherwise, in memes such as Boob Day and Sinful Sunday. One of the many things I adore about the sex writing community, is just how inclusive and welcoming it has been for me and others so far.

Most if not all of us have had our own struggles with body image. No matter your size or shape, feeling comfortable in your own skin is not an easy task.

For those who are comfortable posting pictures in these memes or just because, I commend their confidence to do so in a culture that is so hell-bent in having us tear each other down. I see the positive comments, telling each other how beautiful they are (which you are!) and it’s so lovely to see such positivity being spread for all genders and body types. It certainly makes a nice change from the vapid comments you see because of a trivial eyebrow shape or the shape of someone’s arse (*cough cough* Instagram!)

With learning more about the BDSM, kink and fetish communities, I’ve interacted with people from all walks of life who – like all communities – share a common interest. Yes, every community has its politics and the aforementioned are no exception. However, compared to others, a constant I have seen online and in real life is the appreciation of the human form, in all its forms.

From Shibari photography to online social networks for kinky people, it’s been really refreshing to be in an environment that is more inclusive and encouraging of positive body image, regardless of one’s shape or size. It’s refreshing to see different forms of expression, from colourful hair and piercings to androgyny, to bondage art, leather and latex, all celebrated rather than derided. And as a woman, it’s nice to see the female form in all their forms being told they are beautiful, and genuinely so.

Seeing such wonderful people with such confidence has and is helping me to rebuild a better, healthier perception of myself. That I am in fact, only human and that being happy and healthy is more important than ‘fitting in’, and that not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder, but that everyone has their own unique beauty, inside and out. My job is making sure I remember that when I feel shit about myself.

Don’t forget to check out Violet’s blog and give her a follow on Twitter. If YOU would like to guest write for me, you can pitch me during my open reading periods. Also, joining me on Patreon or shopping with my affiliates helps me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

Interview: Gabrielle Alexa Noel

Today I’m delighted to be interviewing the amazing Gabrielle Alexa Noel, a sex writer and journalist who has written some of the best stuff on bisexuality, feminism, race and consent that I’ve read in years. She’s an absolute force to be reckoned with in the sex writing world, and I’m so grateful to her for giving up her time to answer some questions for us! – Amy x

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I’m a writer who primarily focuses on sex and bisexuality. I also host events on sex education and other sexuality topics and make videos on feminist topics!

What made you want to start writing about sex? What’s your background and how did you break in to the industry?

I didn’t set out to write about sex but when I started unlearning certain misconceptions about bisexuality and female sexuality, I was able to heal a shame that I hadn’t realized I was carrying. When we stigmatize sex and sexuality, we stigmatize biology, we stigmatize identities. I wanted to destigmatize those topics.

I started off as an intern at Galore. After almost a year, I left to start freelancing. I pitched myself at different publications and committed myself to doing research on sex/sexuality. And now I write for a number of sex positive publications.

What is the most challenging thing about writing about sex for a living?

I guess the stigma — just writing about it has made people suggest that I had an unstable childhood. Specifically when I talk about sexual assault, I face a lot of digital harassment. People don’t see digital harassment as real or problematic so I try to highlight it on my platform. It’s not just people calling someone “ugly”, it’s people telling me I deserve to be raped or that I am a disrespect to all rape victims. It can be damaging.

What about the most rewarding thing?

So many people tell me that my writing has helped them unlearn myths about themselves. That’s my favorite part! I want to be the person I wish I’d had access to growing up.

What’s something that people always misunderstand about your work?

I guess people think that talking about sex/sexuality is largely about getting attention. First of all, everyone looks for and receives attention, women are just the ones who are primarily shamed for it. And also, I don’t care who is looking at me as a sexual being. I’m more concerned about destigmatizing sexuality for people assigned female at birth.

You’ve written a lot of amazing and intense things about topics such as race, queerness, consent and sexual assault. Why do you think it’s important that such things get talked about?

These topics are important because there are so many misconceptions! I run into so much biphobia because bisexuality is an identity people don’t understand. Women are also policed and stigmatized for our sexuality. Sex negativity, then, becomes a tool for social control. And of course, when you consider the way people of color are hypersexualized and fetishized, you can see the importance of discussing race in terms of sexuality.

What’s something you’d really love to write on but haven’t yet?

I want to write about my favorite TV shows SO BADLY but nobody ever commissions me for those pieces! People love for writers to talk about their marginalization but it’d be cool to just talk about Bob’s Burgers.

What’s your dream byline?

The New Yorker maybe? Playboy? This answer changes weekly! I want new bylines wherever I can connect with people I can help.

What’s your favourite piece that you’ve ever written and why?

These are hard questions! I just wrote about how internalized biphobia ruined my first Tinder date and it was published on the Tinder website. So many people have reached out to say that it was an important read for them. But most importantly, it was a healing experience for me. Some of my best writing often is. Before that, I wrote about coming out to my family for Hello Giggles, and that was also was both difficult and soothing. But I always have a soft spot for my Elle piece about being bisexual because that was essentially how I came out to a lot of my peers.

Who inspires you personally and professionally?

For some people this is a weird list. I love Erica Lust’s committment to feminist porn and revamping the porn industry. I love people like Ericka Hart and Rachel Cargle, who are speaking on topics of race and sexuality. I love Shan Boodram’s work in sex education. I love Lindy West. I just love people who are doing work in intersectional feminism on some level.

Who’s your favourite sex educator and why?

I love all sex educators, oh my god! Haha. Again, I love Shan Boodram, but I’m also digging Eva from What’s My Body Doing, Stevie Boebi, my friend Elyse from SX Noir, and Cameron from Sex Ed in Color.

What’s something you used to believe about sex relationships that you don’t believe any more?

I stopped believing that the only “real” kind of sex is penetration. Most women don’t even orgasm from penetration and people of all gender identities/sexualities have sex in a variety of ways. I classify sex now in terms of sexual pleasure. And I include masturbation, or solo sex, in that definition.

And just for fun because it is “Coffee and Kink” – do you like coffee? How do you take it?

Of course I like coffee! It’s part of the whole writer shtick. I like it light and sweet.

Thank you so much again to Gabrielle for her time. Check out her work and follow her on the Twitter!

Smutathon 2018: #SmutForChoice (plus: win sex toys!)

A mug of coffee, notebook and pen on a wooden surface. For a post about Smutathon 2018What is Smutathon?

Many of you will remember #Smutathon2017, a mad idea I had in the middle of the night and which some of my wonderful writing friends were kind enough to go along with. It was essentially a 12 hour writing marathon challenge. We raised £2000 for charity, which we split evenly between Backlash and Rape Crisis England & Wales.

Well, Smutathon is back for 2018, and it’s bigger and better than ever! This year, we’ll be holding the main event at a Mystery Location… okay, it’s not actually a mystery, it’s a large Air B’n’B in Cheshire. It’ll be taking place on Saturday 11 August between 10am and 10pm, where we will write our hearts out for 12 hours and ask you to please sponsor us.

The Participants

Smutathon 2018 participants are:

The in-person event is now at capacity, but we welcome remote participants from all over the world! You can even adjust the time to suit your timezone, if you want. All you need to do to get involved is let us know, share the fundraising page, and write!

#SmutForChoice: Our chosen charity

This year we’re fundraising for Abortion Support Network. Chosen in honour of the recent “Repeal the 8th” campaign in the Republic of Ireland, ASN is an amazing organisation that supports people who need to travel from Ireland or the Isle of Man to England in order to access abortion. They, like us, believe that abortion should be free, safe and legal. From their website:

“ASN is not a campaigning or lobbying organisation. While other organisations campaign for much needed law reform, our volunteers work hard to provide immediate, practical support to women who are unable to access safe and legal abortion in their own countries.”

So… tell us about winning sex toys?

Yes! We decided to hold a raffle this year to boost our fundraising and we’ve got some amazing prizes for you. Unless marked below as UK only, all prizes can be shipped anywhere in the world. If we draw your name for a UK only prize, we will randomly assign you a different prize that we can send.

The Prizes

How To enter

There are two ways to enter the Smutathon 2018 raffle. Entries are £2 each, you can enter as many times as you like, and the draw will be done (and shared live on Twitter!) at the main event on Saturday 12 August 2018.

  • ENTER VIA JUSTGIVING: donate to our JustGiving page and put “raffle” + your Twitter handle or email in the message/ comment box. If you don’t want this info available publicly, contact me to let me know the name you paid with so I can record your entry.★★★Very important:★★★ if you are entering the raffle via Justgiving, do not tick the box when asked if you would like to Gift Aid your donation. Raffle entries cannot be Gift Aided. This is a legal requirement and if you do tick the Gift Aid box, your entry will not be counted.
  • ENTER VIA PAYPAL: Paypal your entry money (multiples of £2) to coffeeandkink69 (at) gmail (dot) com. (Please select the “friends/family” option so neither of us get hit with extra fees!)

How else can I help?

  • Donate, of course, and/or enter the raffle.
  • Share this post and our fundraising page on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever your favourite social media is.
  • Donate a prize to the raffle. Body-safe sex toys, lube, lingerie, kink gear and event tickets are all very welcome.
  • Volunteer for or support Abortion Support Network in any way you can.

Thank you for joining us on this adventure for the second year in a row. Follow along using our official hashtags, #SmutForChoice and #Smutathon2018!

Sex Blogging 101: An FAQ on What I Do.

Today’s post is brought to you by my generous Patreon supporters. If you enjoy my work, please consider throwing a small contribution my way each month to help me keep doing what I’m doing, as well as get some super cool rewards and bonus content including an exclusive erotic short story every Tuesday! You can sign up here or click the banner.

A "support me on Patreon" button

Content note: this post contains frank discussion about money. If that’s likely to be upsetting to you, please feel enormously free to take care of yourself and skip this one.

I’m often getting asked questions about what I do, both from wannabe sex bloggers wondering how to get started and from curious friends and strangers. So I thought I’d pop the most common ones in one place for your handy reference.

New bloggers: if you want to ask anything that isn’t covered here, it’s always okay to email me!

A cup of coffee, notebook and pen on a wooden table. For a post about sex blogging

How did you get into this?

By mistake. I’ve been a writer since I knew what words were, and sex has always fascinated me, so it’s kind of amazing it took me until the age of 26 to realise that sex blogging would be the perfect creative outlet for me. I used to write a lot of articles, think pieces and occasional erotica on Fetlife and they got a good amount of attention (even hitting the fabled ‘Kinky and Popular’ from time to time) so I thought, well, why not put them somewhere that more people could enjoy them? I grabbed a free WordPress domain, and Coffee & Kink was born.

So you didn’t intend to make money from it?

Not at first, no. At first I didn’t even really think anyone would read it! Blogging was a passion project first and foremost (and, frankly, it still is.) Don’t go into blogging solely or primarily to make money. Go into it because you love to write and have things to say, and consider making money a secondary goal. If you don’t love blogging, you’ll give up, because making money is not quick, easy or guaranteed.

How do I get started?

Buy a domain (more on that in a minute) and just write write write. You’re gonna need a tiny bit of technical know-how in order to learn your way around whatever content management plug-in you use (the WordPress one is by far the most common and best) but you can learn that as you go along and honestly, it’s not difficult! There are thousands of tutorials online and if you reach out to the community, one of us will usually be glad to help you.

But honestly, write. Write without worrying who’s reading it. Whatever’s in your heart, write it. Write like you’re running out of time.

(And if you don’t understand that last reference, go and educate yourself immediately. I’ll wait.)

Wait, buy a domain? But you said free!

Yep, I started off with a free WordPress site (those are the ones that are sitename.wordpress.com) but my single blogging regret is not going self-hosted sooner. Self-hosting, as long as you choose an adult friendly service provider (check before you buy!) gives you greater freedom over the look and feel of your site, gives you security against “WordPress suddenly decided they don’t like adult content and shut me down,” and allows you to make money from your site (you cannot monetise a free WordPress site.) To give you an idea of cost, my domain and hosting costs me about £40 a year.

If cost is an issue, by all means start with a free site and you can go self-hosted later on. Don’t let cost stop you from getting your words out there. Just don’t try to make money from a free site, they WILL shut you down.

So talk to me about making money…

I could do dozens of posts about this very thing. Thankfully I don’t have to, because The Smutlancer exists. Read and obey, friends – this is the single biggest and best resource on the web for those of us wanting to create content about sex and get paid for it.

Basically: it’s a slog. It takes work and it takes time to build up. But you CAN do it, if you want to and if you can write, and if you have realistic expectations.

So how much do you make?

Ah, the million dollar question (no, I do not make a million dollars, or I’d be writing this in a fancy little coffee shop in Italy, not on my sofa at Ungodly Early AM before running off to my day job.) At the current time I’m making an average of between £250 – £300 a month or a little over £3000 a year. It’s not enough to quit my day job and it’s certainly not enough to retire on, but it’s a VERY nice side income and enables me to do more of the things I want to do. My blogging income paid for a good chunk of our last holiday.

How Many Hours?

This income and the content you see me putting out comes from around 10 hours of work a week. Much of that work is writing content for my blog, but it’s also time spent answering emails, sending pitches, editing, plugging my affiliates around the web, curating my social media, and doing the necessary admin to keep my blog afloat. As always, the more you put in, the more you can expect to get out.

I’m currently trying to work out the Catch 22 between “I could make so much more money if I could do this full time” and “I can’t quit my day job to do this full time UNTIL I make more money!” It’s a complicated balancing act. For now, I’m enjoying the security of a regular job and the creative freedom to write what I want in my spare time.

Where do you make the money from?

I broke this down for you all and also for my own information, because it was interesting to see the numbers. They are not quite what I expected!

Very broadly speaking, I make about 50% of my blogging income from affiliate sales, 40% from commissioned writing including sponsored content on my site and guest posts for other sites, and the remaining 10% from everything else (my Patreon, my Ko-Fi Virtual Coffees, very occasional sponsored reviews). I expect this is getting close to a tipping point where it will change, because my affiliate income is quite steady – not really growing or decreasing a huge amount – whereas my client work and commissioned writing is now growing quite fast.

Enough about finances… what’s the best thing about being a sex blogger?

The community. Hands down, the community. Sex writers and content creators are some of the kindest, most generous and supportive and brilliant people you could ever hope to meet.

When I’m feeling down and wondering why I do this, it’s so often my sex writer friends who pick me up. And have you ever experienced a night out on the town with three or more sex bloggers and a lot of wine? Because, um, I recommend it.

Apart from that, the best thing is the freedom to talk about the things I always want to talk about, having a place to express sexiness and vulnerability in equal measure and feel reasonably confident that I’ll receive a kind and positive response.

University taught me plotting and character and story structure and perfect grammar, but it’s not my degree that made me a writer. It’s this community and my readers.

And the worst?

The stigma. I don’t tell that many people in my real life what I do, and… well, let’s just say I’m not called Amy Norton at work. This is at least a pseudo-anonymous project. I do occasionally have flashes of panic about what would happen if my mother or my boss stumbled across it, but that is why I’ve taken extra, possibly over-cautious steps to hide my identity (preemptively blocking everyone in my family and at work on Twitter, anyone!?)

But talking about sex is how we smash stigma, so hopefully between us we can get this conversation to such a point that we really start to notice a difference.

What kinds of people sex blog?

All kinds! The vast majority of us tend to be women, non-binary folks or queer men. There are a small handful of cis-het men sex blogging, but relatively few by comparison. But literally anyone can do this. Your gender, age, race, orientation, background and unique life experiences combine to give you a perspective that no-one else can have, so please bring your voice to the table.

How can you be okay with putting your private thoughts, fantasies and sexual experiences out there for the world to see?

I’m a bit of an exhibitionist by nature. Thinking that people are reading about my amazing experiences and filthy fantasies and getting turned on… well, that turns me on too!

I also think that by the time it occurred to me that maybe people would expect me to feel shame at putting this stuff out there for the whole world, I was so far down the rabbit hole that I just couldn’t find a single fuck to give.

Basically, I believe that our words can change the world and that we only break our cultural silence around sex by talking openly about it.

Some people are intensely private and that’s entirely valid. I am not one of those people.

What does your partner think of what you do?

He oscillates between “thinking it’s hilarious when huge boxes of dildos show up for me” and “gently reminding me that I have to eat, sleep and do chores occasionally”.

But no, in all seriousness he’s extremely supportive. He gives me space to write when I need it, helps me test sex toys, and bounces ideas around with me – even though he’s not a writer himself, he’s really smart, really sex-positive and just an all round excellent human.

At this point, someone who isn’t okay with what I do just isn’t going to get to date me. There are enough great people who think this is awesome, life’s too short to bang people who don’t. My work is my other primary partner and I don’t jeopardise it for anyone.

What do YOU want to know about what I do? Comment or email me and I might do a follow-up to this at some point!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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, learning important life lessons, and accumulating a collection of sex toys bigger than you reasonably have storage space for.

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 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 that I drink my coffee from every morning. Because it’s true.

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

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