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!

[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

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.

[Guest Blog] Erotica, Sex Writers & Consent by Violet Grey

Today’s guest blog comes from Violet Grey. When Violet pitched me this idea, I went “YES” out loud – because this issue is so close to my heart. I think anyone who has ever publicly created content about sex will understand. Thanks to Violet for sharing this piece with me – it is an honour to publish it.

Amy x

It is a truth universally acknowledged that sooner or later, a writer will come across a fan or individual that takes things too far.

While thankfully, I’ve yet to come across a Kathy Bates in Misery type (and hopefully never will!) receiving inappropriate propositions, harassment and even threats are disturbingly commonplace for erotica and sex writers. This is a widespread problem and more often than not, isn’t taken anywhere near as seriously as if it was happening to, say, a history writer or a food blogger.

The perception seems to be, to some, a “well, what did you expect?” mentality.

If we write about sex, we’re going to draw in the weirdos, right?

If we write steamy stories online, we only have ourselves to blame.

It’s our own fault for making the harasser sending us unsolicited nude pictures after reading our erotic stories, despite us having never wanted nor asked for them!

If we write about sex, we must want to have sex with everyone!

This is where the problem lies.

The violation of a writer’s boundaries is subjected to persistent victim-blaming. While we live in a society that is becoming slowly more sexually open, sex is often still viciously demonised; especially so if a woman writes openly about sex, fictional or otherwise.

The general consensus is sex/erotica writers are somehow “worth less” or have less “value”, as writers and as people. Therefore, certain individuals think they can get away with this abhorrent behaviour. The truth is that we are people just like everyone else. We are equally worthy of respect, safety and for our consent not to be violated.

Speaking for myself, I blog about sex and kink and I write erotica. In the online world, people usually have a lot to say about that. It can range from a facetious comment to someone “testing the waters,” so to speak – saying something particularly perverse to see how far they can go.

When blogging about these subjects, you develop a thick skin quite quickly. Before long, you can easily discern harmless banter with fellow friends in the blogging community and someone trying to push things too far.

For example, a few months ago, I received an email from a gentleman who wrote a piece of erotica. Now, I don’t mind people sending me writings, asking for my opinion before they publish it on their blogs etc. or to ask if I am interested in collaborating to write a piece.

However, what this gentleman did was send me a piece of erotica where he was one character and I the other, engaging in sexual relations, as a “response” to a free verse I had written on my blog. Granted, it was well written, but that didn’t make it okay! I was never asked about being a character in his sexually charged story. I made it clear to him I was not comfortable and would not accept being sent any more stories from him. After an apology, he told me that because I wrote erotica, he took that at as, “implied consent” for him to write and send this to me.

(I viscerally cringed here and went “oh HELL no!” – Amy)

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was both angered and horrified. This person was one of many who think this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Along with individuals asking if they could see pictures of my chest, or commenting they’d be masturbating whilst thinking about me, that story and his justification behind it only further solidified to me a problem that needs to be taken more seriously.

If we applied this logic to other writers, you can see how ridiculous it is. For example, because someone writes a crime novel, doesn’t mean they “imply consent” for someone to break in to their house. If someone writes a horror novel, they don’t “imply consent” for you to follow them around dressed as the story’s villain.

There is no “implied consent”. Sex writing is not an invitation to send us questionable stories, requests, unsolicited nude pictures and death/rape threats – and that’s just to name but a few!

Treat us as you would want to be treated yourself. If you have questions on collaborations, guest posts, someone to be a beta-reader, or just have a question or want some advice, always ask.

It’s never okay to do something without someone’s consent. Sex and erotica writers are no different.

Violet GreyViolet Grey is an erotic author and blogger. An avid reader of erotic romances, you’ll be hard pressed to tear her away from her Kindle! Her blog, Life of Violet, details her thoughts on society, sex and her own sexual explorations in to kink and BDSM… along with some steamy poems and short stories to get you hot under the collar!

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.

#SoSS 24 March 2018: Eroticon Edition

#SoSS or #ShareOurShitSaturday comes from a call to action by the fabulous Girl on the Net, calling on all those who love the work of sex-positive creators (writers, bloggers, photographers, artists, educators) to share our work (“share our shit”) far and wide. This is particularly important in the wake of Facebook deleting accounts, Twitter shadow-banning, and Instagram shutting down anything with “BDSM” or “sex” in the name.

For a lot of us, this work is both our passion and the way we make our living. We show up day in, day out, often for peanuts in terms of financial reward, because we believe in the content we make and we know the content we put out into the world has a positive impact on our readers.

Of course, supporting us with your £££ is amazing if you can, but sharing our shit is a way that you can support us without it costing you a penny. So, in the spirit of #SoSS, here’s an Eroticon-themed roundup of some of my favourite content from across the blogosphere this week…

1. A Pub Gang -Bang by Tits & Test Tubes

This post-Eroticon fantasy scene has got it all – group sex, humiliation, spanking and more. It’s so, so good… and makes me even happier because I’m kinda in it. (No, I’m not telling you which character I am, you can use your imagination). Jadis is a serious up-and-coming talent in the sex blog-o-sphere.

2. I Lost My Sexuality for a Year by Miss Eve E

This is a stunning, personal and powerful account of Eve’s last year of pain and illness, and how that affected her sexual desire. Her experience really shows how so much of the medical world doesn’t take sexuality – or sexual side-effects of pain and medication – seriously. But it’s untimately a story of hope, as she talks about how Eroticon helped her to reclaim her sexuality and she will continue to do so in 2018. Really important.

3. What I Took Home from Eroticon by John Brownstone

A lovely piece on the nature and importance of community. I loved meeting JB, who together with his wife Kayla makes up the powerhouse duo behind Loving BDSM. He’s just as warm, friendly and fun in person as he is on the podcast, and this piece really speaks to me as someone who felt very alone until I finally found my community and my people.

4. Eroticon 2018: Ten Things… by The Other Livvy

A great piece from Livvy about the things she took away from Eroticon this year. Features a Star Wars joke, a lovely comment on my ridiculous Saturday night outfit, a hot-as-fuck vac bed picture, some lovely quotes, and a #SinfulSunday picture that I took.

5. Learning Post #Eroticon by Cara Thereon

Some beautiful words from Cara about the things she learned and took away from Eroticon. I loved meeting Cara – she’s lovely, smart and insightful and the piece she read out on Sunday was hot as fuck. She talks about learning about herself, facing her fears, and becoming more enmeshed in the community. I look forward to whatever she does next!

And that’s it for this week, folks. There were so many brilliant post-‘Con pieces that really spoke to me and you can read them all here. This is just a small selection of my personal favourites.

Have a great week, and don’t forget: if you like our work, SHARE IT!

Ten Things I Learned at Eroticon

It’s over for another year! Eroticon, the event that changed my life last year (which I drunkenly told Girl on the Net on Saturday night) has been and gone yet again, and WHAT a time it was!

1. I’ve been undervaluing myself, financially.

I went to two sessions on making money from blogging, one from Kayla Lords and one from The Sarahs (Sarah Bryn Holliday and Sarah-Jane). Through these amazing sessions and chats with other bloggers I admire, I realised that I’ve been undervaluing my work and not charging enough for what I do. I’m resolving to change this and ask for what I’m worth from now on!

2. Age Verification under the DEB doesn’t apply to written content.

I attended a brilliant session on legal tips for sex bloggers from lawyer Neil Brown. Much of this, unsurprisingly, was focused on the Digital Economy Bill, which may or may not take effect later this year if the government gets its act together and works out what the fuck’s going on with it. Though, of course, throwing the whole thing out would be better!

Turns out at age verification, should it be implemented, will not apply to purely text-based sites. This will be a relief for a lot of us. However, the rules around images will still affect loads of bloggers, and this bill is still utterly horrifying and we should be doing everything in our collective power to get it overturned.

3. Turns out there are circumstances under which loud, crowded bars are fun for me.

And those circumstances involve “three or more sex bloggers” and “copious amounts of wine.”

4. I can say no when I need to and it’s okay.

Being the lucky girl I am, I had two offers of kisses from utterly delightful people whom I would be honoured to make out with. I declined on the basis of having not negotiated spontaneous ‘Con make-outs with Mr CK (note to self: negotiate that next year!!!) The same with a lovely offer to spank a gorgeous arse. On all occasions, everyone was 100% fine with my boundaries and lovely interactions continued!

I wish the same could be said for random dudes in bars who seem to think that a sexy outfit is an invitation to circle back around every 15 minutes or so and try their luck again. Speaking of which…

5. I look DAMN fine in a catsuit

Have you ever walked through a bar full of unsuspecting vanillas in a PVC catsuit, leather ears and high boots? If you haven’t, I recommend it. The glance, followed by the double-take and the head turn, is quite something.

Thank you to all the Eroticon babes who were so complimentary of my slightly OTT but utterly fabulous outfit choice.

My body in a very sexy PVC catsuit, from Eroticon 2018

6. Podcasting is a blast 

I got to record an episode of Loving BDSM with Kayla and JB, and it was an absolute blast! I had SO MUCH FUN and we laughed so much. And yes, we had coffee while we were doing it.

7. How to give responsible sex advice.

This was the title of a brilliant session I attended run by Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock, the powerhouse duo behind Enjoy Sex (How When and If You Want To) and their fantastic sex education website.

In this session I learned about self-care when giving advice, about setting boundaries around advice giving, about how to advise someone when the asker is being a dick, and about knowing the limitations of your own expertise and “credentials” (not that such things meaningfully exist in this field). It was SO good and I feel much more confident in my own advice-giving, both on and off this website, as a result.

8. Even the most awesome and accomplished people sometimes feel insecure.

Hearing bloggers and writers and creators I really admire, those who inspire me every day, talk about their own struggles with imposter syndrome and not feeling good enough was weirdly comforting. We’re all a little insecure in our own way. We all occasionally feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. But actually, our work has tremendous value and each of us brings amazing and unique perspectives to the table. Our brains are lying to us. We’re brilliant.

9. I am enough.

Being at Eroticon, and especially hanging out with the of ridiculously awesome people I spent a lot of time with, makes me feel profoundly accepted in a way I’ve rarely experienced anywhere else. It’s okay that I’ve been having a bad mental health time. It’s okay that I haven’t achieved all of my goals yet. I am accepted and I am enough.

10. Your words can change the world

Finishing, as I did last year, with some words of wisdom from Girl on the Net.

Let’s change the world together, babes.

If you’re a reader who would like to support me in continuing to attend events like Eroticon, please consider becoming a Patron, buying me a coffee, or shopping with my affiliates in the right hand sidebar.

If you’re a company who would like to hire me, please email coffeeandkink69 (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll talk.

Ten Things I’m Taking TO Eroticon

Many of you may remember last year’s Ten Things I Took Home From Eroticon blogging meme. Well, I decided to turn it on its head and, with just a week and a half to go until this year’s ‘Con, tell you a little about ten things I’m planning on taking with me this year.

1. My name

Last year’s Eroticon, I wasn’t Amy Norton yet. I was using a haphazard mix of my kink scene name, a diminutive of my legal name, and just “Coffee&Kink”/”CK.” I’d toyed with different names but none of them felt quite right.

This year, though, I’m comfortably sitting in this identity (so much so that select people in my offline life now call me Amy, and I love it).

Hi. I’m Amy. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

2. A schedule

Last year, I pretty much went in blind to Eroticon. I’d glanced over the schedule, but being a newbie I decided to mostly go with the flow and go to whatever felt right in the moment.

This time, though, I’ve got a much more curated workshops plan in order to get what I want the most out of the ‘Con. In case you were wondering, it is as follows:

Saturday:
Taboo (Remittance Girl)
Making Money from Your Blog (Kayla Lords)
Legal Tips for Sex Writers (Neil Brown)
Podcasting Panel (Kayla Lords & John Brownstone)
Different Approaches to Sex Toy Activism (Emmeline Peaches)
KinkLab

Sunday:
Is There a Book in Your Blog? (Cressida Dowling)
Getting It Up (Fetish.com)
Shocking the System (Kendra Holliday)
How to Give Responsible Sex Advice (panel)
Financial Wizardry for Sex Bloggers (Sarah Bryn Holliday & Sarah Jane)

Naturally, I’ll also be attending the Friday evening pre-drinks and the Saturday evening social. Other plans include a pre-‘Con run with Emmeline, dinner with Sarah, and food and recording a podcast with Kayla and John of Loving BDSM. Of course, my planned schedule is flexible if I find I’m really not in the mood for something at the time, but this is a good cross-section of stuff I want to learn plus all the workshops I consider unmissable this year!

3. The signature kitty ears

I wasn’t expecting these to be such a hit last year! To be honest, I wasn’t even expecting to be the only person in feline-themed headwear! I just wore them because they make me feel more confident and they help me to tap into my kinky, sexy, sparkly self. But I got so many compliments on them and people remembered me for them (I literally pitched an article to Girl on the Net with an email that included a sentence along the lines of “if you don’t remember me, I was the one with the ears.”)

Yeah, they’re definitely coming with me again this year. I might even pack a couple of different pairs. Yes, I have daywear ears and formal ears. Doesn’t everyone!?

4. The Catsuit of Joy

Remember this one? It was a review item/gift from my friends at Oscuro Adult Boutique and the cause of The Boobs That Made Straight Girls Question Their Heterosexuality.

Yes, I’m planning on wearing it on Saturday night. Yes, I will also be pairing it with the aforementioned signature ears. And yes, you have my full consent to stare at my chest as much as you like.

5. (Small) sex toys

I’m not interested in hooking up at Eroticon, but I did realise last year that hearing so much glorious smut during the day would inevitably lead me to needing to have a quick wank back in my hotel room before bed. Couple this with the fact that citalopram withdrawal has made my sex drive go a bit haywire this last week or so, and… yeah.

I’m gonna be short on packing space but I think the Tango and MiMi will fit nicely in my case.

6. Fabulous femme things

I can’t wait to get my femme on at Eroticon. I’m already planning makeup experiments of the kind I don’t normally attempt. There will be glitter, for sure, because I need to make the most of this opportunity as I am no longer allowed to wear glitter at home (you get it in the sofa ONE time…!)

There will also be jewellery, made for me by my sweetie The Artist, getting its first outing that weekend.

7. A portable coffee mug and good coffee

Um, hey. Have you met me? I’m obsessed with coffee and would probably replace my blood with it if I wouldn’t die. I just ordered myself an awesome new travel mug, which is coming with me and will be filled permanently with coffee in order to keep me going at top capacity through the whirlwind of the weekend. I’ll probably also bring a stash of coffee bags, because I find the coffee most venues serve leaves a lot to be desired. (Yes, I’m a snob.)

8. My Fuck.com notebook

This was in the goodie bags at Eroticon 2017 and it’s still my favourite notebook to scribble smutty notes in. I’ll be frantically taking notes and story ideas and sound-bites and hanging on every word my favourite presenters have to say!

9. Hugs to give out

There are so many people I want to cuddlepounce the fuck out of next weekend. I will be coming with my best hugging arms and ready to wrap them around anyone who consents.

10. Realness

Last night, I was panicking that I haven’t achieved all of the things I wanted to achieve ahead of this year’s Eroticon. I haven’t lost 50lb, or finished my novella. I haven’t quit my job to spend my days writing about dildos (okay, that one is a pipe dream rather than an actual plan) or completely weaned myself off my antidepressants. Hell, I haven’t even finished my PhD application!

But then I realised: it doesn’t matter. I can bring my realness to Eroticon. I can be a hot mess in all my hot, messy glory, and it will be okay. These are my people and this is my community and I can be both a fabulous, smut-loving #Sparklefemme AND an anxious wreck with a hefty dose of imposter syndrome. Both of these things can be true. It will be okay.

I think the theme of this Eroticon for me will be: I am.

If you’re there too, come say hello!

I’m very friendly. Talk to me about BDSM, sex toys, smashing the patriarchy, what you’re reading lately, musical theatre, coffee, sex ed reform, feminist fiction, femme identity or non-monogamy. Or just tell me about your work and I’ll lap it up.

The Eroticon 2018 rainbow lips badgeIf you want to support my work and help me keep attending conferences like Eroticon, which are the highlight of my year but also expensive, you can buy me a virtual coffee, shop with my affiliates in the right-hand sidebar, or become a Sexy Patron to access some exciting bonus content. Thank you to Oliver, my newest Patreon supporter.

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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