How to Be a Sex Writer

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
– Stephen King

Hey gang! Have you seen that I’m sharing Black Friday sex toy deals over on Twitter today? Follow the hashtag to get some bargains on some of my absolute favourite brands and products.

With that out of the way, let’s dive in to today’s post. I’ve had a lot of people ask me this. “Amy, how can I do what you do?” “How can I get paid to overshare on the internet?” “How can I get companies to send me products to review?”

So today I thought I’d share my tips on exactly that.

A Very Incomplete Guide to How to Be a Sex Writer

First, disclaimer: there’s no way this can be comprehensive. There are as many different ways into this strange but wonderful career as there are people doing it.

With that said, here are a few things to know if you want to be a sex writer.

First, you need to be able to write

Sounds obvious, right? But a lot of people think that, because we’re in the adult niche, sex writers don’t need to be good writers. Sorry, but you do. Stray typos are one thing, but mistakes all over the place make your writing look sloppy.

Good writers are those who are always learning and improving. In short, you become a writer by writing. So practice and practice and practice. But don’t think quality doesn’t matter just because you’re talking about sex. It does.

Pro tip: if you struggle with spelling or grammar, Grammarly Premium is a good investment.

You need to know a thing or two about sex

Again: obvious, no?

But seriously, so many people don’t realise just how much there is to know about sex. This leads to them thinking it’s an easy or frivolous topic, and putting out content that is anywhere from cringeworthy to downright dangerous.

You do not need to know everything! None of us know everything! But if your knowledge of sexuality doesn’t extend much past “tab A in slot B,” you might want to study up before you attempt to be a sex writer.

You need to be willing to be surprised

If there is one thing about sexuality that will always be true, it’s this: the world is infinitely varied. Part of being a good sex writer is about being able to stay open-minded, stay curious, and always be willing to be surprised.

I thought I was pretty well-versed in sexuality, including niche kinks of various stripes, when I started this blog. Turns out I’d barely scratched the surface. I still haven’t. That’s part of what makes this field so fascinating.

Study some good resources

I’m gonna shout out The Smutlancers here! Kayla and Molly have created an incredible resource for anyone who wants to create content about sex and get paid to do it. The website and podcast are a goldmine of totally free information, and you can also join the Patreon community for just a few dollars per month.

You should also read other sex blogs (which you’re presumably doing, since you’re here.) Check out my blogroll in the right hand sidebar for some of my top recommendations. Your goal isn’t to copy anyone or write like anyone else, but to see how the pros do it and learn from their vast wealth of knowledge.

Naturally, you should also read books, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, and otherwise consume content in the sexuality space. This is how you keep your knowledge fresh, come up with content ideas, and learn how to be a good and responsible creator.

Don’t expect to make money straight away

I never went into sex writing to make money. I went into it because I find sexuality fascinating and I had things to say. The fact that I did make money and that it has become a significant part of my career? That’s a wonderful bonus that has changed my life in so many ways.

Thanks, I think, to the expression “sex sells,” people often grossly underestimate how hard making money as a sexuality writer actually is. I didn’t make a penny from my blog for the first four months. After that, it was just a few pounds here and there. It took close to a year before my hosting and other blogging expenses were covered – in other words, before the blog started paying for itself.

My first commission paid me a tenner. I spent a good deal of time underselling myself. I’d been doing this work for pushing a year and a half the first time I got paid what I would consider “market rate” for an article.

Go into sex writing because you genuinely love it. If you keep working hard and you’re good at what you do, the money will come. But don’t expect to be rolling in cash overnight – that’s not how this works.

Put yourself out there

It’s easy to think and dream about being a writer. But if you want to actually do it, you’re going to need to take a deep breath and put yourself out there at some point.

Hit “publish” on your first blog post and promote it on social media. Send that pitch to that publication you’d like to write for. Approach that company you love and ask if they’d consider letting you become a reviewer.

Taking that leap is terrifying the first few times you do it (honestly, I’m close to 4 years into this endeavour and I STILL get the butterflies when I pitch new publications.) But it’s the only way you can take your sex writing goals from dream to reality.

By the way… I could be your first commission!

Looking for your first sex writing byline? Pitch me your ideas! I pay a small fee, and I’m generally un-scary. I also LOVE working with new writers and giving them their first paid commission. So hit me up (email in the guidelines) if you’re ready to dive in.

This post was written as part of Quote Quest! Check out what everyone else wrote about this week.

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!

The Masturbation Monday logo for a post about wanking as work



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.