Fourth Blogiversary #AMA

Today, 31 December 2020, is my fourth blogiversary. When I grabbed “coffeeandkink.wordpress.com” four years ago and wrote a piece about getting started with BDSM, I had no idea the extent to which this project would grow, change my life, and be the springboard for all kinds of amazing experiences.

I’m not doing a traditional end-of-year round-up today because *gestures at everything.* Instead, I thought it’d be fun to do a blogiversary Ask Me Anything.

All the questions in this post were asked by my lovely Twitter followers over the last few hours.

“Have you ever had moments where you just wanted to press the ‘delete blog’ button and walk away?”

Oh goodness, yes.

Not often, and those feelings have always passed in the end. But there have definitely been times where I’ve felt overwhelmed, stressed, or like the blog was more hassle than it was worth.

The time I felt this the most intensely was when I had a mental health breakdown in 2019. I wasn’t having sex, and even thinking about sex was painful, so I felt like a fraud running this blog.

I’m glad I took a hiatus when I needed it, but I’m also glad I stuck around.

“What post are you most proud of?”

That’s a tough call, because there are a few that stand out. Overall, I think I have to say this one, in which I present a defence of hierarchical polyamory. A lot of people have thanked me for saying what I said here, and told me that it made them feel validated and accepted when they felt alienated from the non-monogamy community by the Rules Are Bad brigade.

“What post was the most difficult to write, and why?”

Again, there are a few contenders for this one. I think ultimately the most difficult, though, was the story of my D/s breakup. I’ve written a lot about that relationship and the abuse my ex and former Master inflicted upon me. But somehow writing about the fact that it still broke my heart when it ended was harder.

“What is your favourite coffee?”

My favourite coffee in the whole world is Raven’s Brew. It’s sadly difficult and expensive to get in the UK, so if any North American readers fancy hooking me up…?

“Are you going to stay up ’til 12 tonight, or wake up early for the first dawn?”

I think “neither” is entirely probable, to be honest. But staying up until midnight to see the new year in is far more likely.

“Which toy stands out as ‘this toy would be perfect if it just changed one small thing’ of the ones you’ve tried?”

I LOVE this question and I spent a long time pondering it.

I’m going to go with the Pillow Talk Sassy, an amazing vibrator that’s beautiful, powerful, and a great shape. The only thing wrong with it? You can’t adjust the intensity down without turning it off and starting again from the lowest setting.

“What’s your fave post that you wrote in 2020 and what post got the most traffic in 2020? I’m always curious how these differ.”

My favourite post from 2020 is probably How Lockdown Has Impacted My Body Image. I don’t write about my relationship with my body that often, because it’s uneasy and very personal, and I struggle to balance the need to honour my own feelings and challenges with acknowledging the privilege my body receives in society compared to many others. But on this occasion I’m glad I pushed through and wrote about it, because I’ve had a lot of very kind and positive feedback on it and a few people have told me it made them feel less alone.

As for the most traffic this year, well, my Google Analytics tells me that my most-viewed post during 2020 was this piece about subdrop that I wrote way back in 2017! My most viewed post this year that I actually published this year was my review of the We-Vibe Chorus.

“What’s your most underrated post?”

Oh, this is a difficult one! I’ve written a few things that I was really proud of and then disappointed by how little response they got. (And, conversely, a few things that felt like “space fillers” that my readers loved!)

The one that stands out from this year is this post about not wanting children. It felt quite personal and challenging to put out there, and I’m a little disappointed with its relative lack of attention compared to some of my other posts.

“What would you do differently if you were starting out now?”

In all honesty, not much, because I love where I ended up. There are two things that spring to mind:

  1. I would have gone self-hosted (moved away from a .wordpress.com domain) far more quickly than I did.
  2. I wouldn’t have accepted so many products to review without appropriate compensation (either sponsorship or a decent affiliate programme) in the early days.

Luckily, I caught on to both of these things pretty quickly and neither did any real damage. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with how I did things!

“What is the one thing that frustrates you the most, specifically as a sex blogger?”

The ways that sex-related content isn’t taken seriously. From businesses assuming they can ask for free labour because this is “just a hobby” (it isn’t) to fuckboys sliding into my DMs with unsolicited dick pics, the assumption that sex writers and educators are professionals who deserve to be compensated for our work is so hard for folks to get their heads around.

Another strong contender, of course, is the way that social media platforms treat adult content. This censorship harms sex workers, bloggers, educators, content creators, and all those fans who consume our stuff.

“What is one post you have always wanted to write but not felt able/qualified to write?”

This is quite a difficult one to answer because I’ve always been careful to only write about things I feel reasonably confident I can speak to. That’s partly why I opened up to paid guest commissions – to bring a wider array of personal experiences, viewpoints, and voices to this space.

There are some things I’d love to write about someday that relate to some specific traumas and how they have impacted my journey through polyamory and non-monogamy, but right now it’s all still too raw and relatively recent. Maybe in a few years, but not yet.

“What did you write about that you thought was boring but found fascinating?”

I rarely write about things I think I might find boring, because at this point in my career I have the luxury to pick and choose and if something doesn’t sound interesting, I can just say “no thanks.” I’m aware of what a privilege that is!

Probably the most “more fun than I expected” job of this year was a last-minute commission I got from the wonderful folks at Hot Octopuss to write about International Fetish Day. I got to delve into the history of this celebration/protest, consider what it even means to have a kink or a fetish, and speak to the incredible Myles Jackman, obscenity lawyer extraordinaire.

“What is something you never thought would happen four years ago that feels like a common practice now?”

Getting paid to write about sex!

“Is there a toy you really wish someone would make that doesn’t exist yet?”

Yes! I wish someone would make a cunnilingus simulator that actually feels like cunnilingus!

I don’t know if this is even possible or how you would go about it, but I’d buy the fuck out of this if someone managed to create it.

“What’s one of the most eye opening things you’ve learned as a sex blogger?”

The sheer, infinite variety of human sexuality continues to baffle and amaze me every single day, and I absolutely love that. Just when I think I’ve seen everything and can no longer be surprised, I’ll learn about some new kink or fetish or activity I had no idea existed. That’s one of the reasons I write about sex – it’s so endlessly varied that it’s impossible to run out of things to say.

“Is there anything you’ve dramatically changed your mind on over these last four years?”

I can’t think of anything I’ve done a complete 180 on in the last few years – most of those happened prior to starting this blog. However, I’m learning and growing all the time, and being a sex blogger has been a huge part of that.

“How often do you have sex?”

It varies massively, and this year has been lower than my typical average – partly due to pandemic stress, and partly due to not being able to see any of my lovers outside of my nesting relationship for most of the year.

Most of the time, it probably averages out to once every couple of weeks, sometimes more often. That’s for partnered sex specifically.

“How do you define your sexual orientation? Be as detailed as you like in your answer!”

I most often use the term “bisexual” (I fancy both genders like mine and genders unlike mine.) But I sometimes wonder if I should switch to using “pansexual”, because I have the ability to fancy, have sex with, and fall in love with folks of any gender and none.

I also like “queer” as a catch-all to indicate that I’m not heterosexual, and “femme” as a descriptor of my gender presentation and my role in romantic/sexual relationships.

So yeah. Queer bi femme.

Got any more questions for me?

If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a follow-up to this. Otherwise, thanks for sticking with me for all this time. Happy blogiversary to me, and happy new year to you all!

Sex Toy Review FAQ

Did you see that this week’s Quote Quest prompt is by… me? I’m deeply amused by this and it reminded me that occasionally I am funny. Since the quote is about working/wanking, I thought I’d write a little sex toy review FAQ this week.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into writing a sex toy review for money, read on – you’re about to find out!

How do you make money through sex toy reviews?

Two main ways: affiliate marketing and sponsored reviews. Far more of the former than the latter.

As an affiliate, I work with various toy companies to promote their products using a special link. When someone makes a purchase through one of my links, I make a commission.

A sponsored review is when a company pays me to feature their product on my blog. Sponsorship doesn’t guarantee a positive review, of course (more on that in a minute). I don’t do many of these – a handful a year, at most.

What do you do if you’ve been sponsored but you hate the product?

I make it very clear upfront that sponsorship doesn’t guarantee a positive review. The company is paying for product exposure on my blog, but I won’t say I liked something if I didn’t.

I will try to find good things to say about the item as far as I can, as long as they’re true. For example, I won’t review toys made of unsafe materials so at the very least I can pretty much always praise review products as being body-safe. Plus something isn’t necessarily objectively bad just because it didn’t work for me. I’ll talk about why I didn’t like it and then suggest the kinds of people and preferences it might work better for.

Some products are just objectively trash though, and if that’s the case I will say so.

How much can you say or not say about a product in a sponsored review?

I generally won’t agree to terms where I can’t say whatever I want (as long as it’s true, of course). Again: I’ll never promise to gush about something if I don’t genuinely love it, and I won’t usually edit a review once it’s been published.

The one exception to this is when the company has provided me with information that is useful for background info but confidential for a good reason, such as particular manufacturing or product development details they don’t want being made public. But that’s pretty rare.

Do you pitch a company if you really want to try a specific product or do they always come to you?

A mix of both, but they come to me far more often. At this point, I work closely with a small number of companies who regularly send me review products. They’ll usually email me and tell me they’ve got a new line coming out and let me choose an item from it for review, or that they’re having a push on a certain product type and would I like to review it?

On occasion, I will ask one of the companies I work for if I can try something specific. They’re usually very accommodating if it’s avaikable!

When it comes to companies I don’t have an existing relationship with, they usually come to me first. I’ve reached out on occasion, with mixed results. Some companies are notoriously hard to get review products from, others have their preferred roster of reviewers and aren’t open to new ones. Occasionally, I’ll get a yes and get the product.

But probably 90%+ of the time, they come to me.

Is there a common practice of asking for more information before you agree to a review?

I have done occasionally but there’s usually no need to. I can check out the product specs and the company’s website to find all the info I need to say yes or no.

Then there’s just a bit of back-and-forth to agree the terms, payment, delivery date, and any other specifics.

Is there anything that will cause you to reject a review product?

  • Unsafe materials.
  • Sexist, racist, or otherwise gross marketing content.
  • Unethical behavior from companies, especially if they show no remorse or improvement when called on it. (Fuck you Lelo.)
  • If the company behaves incredibly unprofessionally during outreach and negotations. (Lookin’ at you, Bestvibe.)
  • If I can immediately tell I’ll hate it (in a really hate it way, rather than I “I can be hilariously snarky about this” way).

I want to be a toy reviewer, but I don’t know if I’m good enough!

The great thing about sex toy reviewing is that there isn’t really one right way to do it. You’ll also get better at it as you go – my early reviews are nowhere near as good as my current work.

Here are my golden rules of writing a sex toy review to help you get started:

  • Always always always always be honest. Your readers’ trust is everything.
  • Read up on sex toy safety and only feature safe products on your site.
  • Avoid overly gendered language. People have genders, sex toys (and body parts) do not. (Example: say “people with penises” rather than “men”).
  • Brush up your spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. You can always run your work through Grammarly before you hit publish if that helps!

Other than that? Cultivate your own unique voice and don’t overthink it too much.

How do you protect yourself from people trying to get your work for free?

I just say no. At this point, I’ll only accept products that are carried by one of my existing affiliate companies (joining a bunch of new programmes isn’t worth it) or from companies that are paying me to review.

I have an email template that I use when new companies reach out to me for reviews, stating that I’m happy to offer product reviews, my rates are £X and my terms are Y and Z. 9 out of 10 don’t respond again, but that’s okay. If the only thing I’ve lost is work that I wouldn’t have been paid for, it’s no loss at all.

How much do you make from sex toy reviewing?

About £2400 so far in 2020. £150 of that was for a sponsored review, and £300 was for paid reviews I wrote for another platform. The rest is from affiliate sales.

Do you have any questions about sex toy reviewing?

If so, ask away and I might do a follow up at some point!

Masturbation Monday: When Wanking is Work

First, some housekeeping:

  1. Sorry I’ve been away for so long. My site went completely down and my former hosting company were no help whatsoever, and were unable to provide any idea when they might have more information for me. Therefore I’ve switched hosting – shout out to the lovely folks at Skystra who got me back up and online in a little over 12 hours. If you’re looking for new hosting, please consider using my affiliate link to switch over – it doesn’t cost you any more and it makes me a small commission!
  2. The world has gone fucking bonkers, hasn’t it? Like almost everyone else right now, I am scared, stressed and freaked out. For now at least, however, I am declaring my blog a COVID-19/Coronavirus-free zone. It all sucks. #StayTheFuckHome. Let’s move on.

This week, I want to talk about masturbating when I don’t really feel like it. Specifically, when I have a toy to test – for a commission, or for a consultancy job, or just because there’s a post due on this blog and I like to stick to my schedule as far as possible. In other words, when wanking is work.

Yes, “getting paid to masturbate” (though sex toy reviewing is MUCH more than just wanking all the time) is kinda awesome. Except on the days when I have a review due and I really just don’t wanna.

So do I make myself masturbate when I don’t feel like it?

Yes.

Well, sometimes.

Please bear in mind that what I’m talking about here is the kind of “don’t wanna” that is more towards the “not really feeling it” end of the spectrum than the “black pit of despair” end. On the occasions when it’s been the latter, that’s when I go on a hiatus.

Getting in the headspace

I sit closer to the spontaneous (rather than spontaneous) end of the sexual desire spectrum, typically. This means that I can be mentally interested in sex and prepared for sex without anything specifically sexual happening. If you don’t know the difference between spontaneous and responsive desire, I recommend Emily Nagoski’s fantastic book Come As You Are. The short explanation, though, is that people with responsive desire often need sexual stimulus of some sort (not necessarily physical) to begin before becoming physically arouse, while people with spontaneous desire tend to want sex, well, spontaneously.

When I find I’m not in the mood, though, I have to tap into my own latent responsive sexual desire. This means, essentially, giving myself “foreplay” until I feel aroused enough to want to start wanking.

Often this involves reading some hot erotica. Sometimes it involves watching some porn. Sometimes it just involves giving myself time to fantasise, and touch my body in other places before zoning in on the genitals.

“But you should only do sex things when you really really want to!”

See, I think this is true… up to a point. When it comes to discussions of consent in partnered sex, it’s a solid place to start. But sex is complicated, desire and arousal are complicated, and we all get to decide for ourselves the circumstances in which we are and aren’t willing to engage in sexual activity – whether with ourselves or someone else.

The way I see it, just as sex can have different purposes, so can masturbation. Sure, I might have sex because I’m ridiculously hot for it and just need to rip my partner’s clothes off right this minute. But I might also have sex in order to feel emotionally close to my partner, in order to fulfil the other person’s desire, or just because we’re bored and it’s a good way to pass the time. Masturbation can also be many things. Because I’m crazy-horny, yes… or because I want to sleep more easily. Or to cure a headache, or, yes, test out a new sex toy and write about it for you guys.

Orgasm

For this reason, I don’t think all orgasms are created equal. I mean, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a BAD on. But some are distinctly more “OMG YES WOW” and others are more “welp, that was pleasant.”

So do I orgasm when I’m wanking-for-work? Usually, yes. To be honest, even if I’m testing a toy I hate I’ll try to squeeze an orgasm out of it (or, failing that, throw it aside in frustration, grab something I do like, and complain to you all on here later about how much it sucked.) But typically, how good the orgasm is directly correlates to how aroused I was prior to masturbating. (See also: why I have an orgasm denial kink.) So when it’s a more utilitarian session, the orgasm is less likely to be mindblowing. And that’s okay. The purpose of that session isn’t (usually) to blow my own socks off with orgasmic bliss. The purpose is to figure out how good the toy is so I can tell my lovely loyal readers (that’s all of you) about it.

What do you want to know about wanking for the purposes of journalism?

Ask away in the comments or tweet me!

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Masturbation Monday is a meme owned and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone is getting off to this week! This post contains affiliate links, which make me a small commission if you purchase through them.