Jul 192013
 

tumblr_mdw5to4Dbp1rl4iulo1_500For those into all things Japanese, the correlation between the Japanese rice ball treat Mochi and the Tenga Iroha line is not lost. The names of the three vibrators, yuki and sakura mostly, are used in describing kinds of mochi too (as well as being words for other things). Traditionally, daifuku mochi comes in white, pale pink, or pale green just like the Iroha vibes. Professionally-made mochi tends to have a perfectly soft-looking, unblemished exterior, especially mochi ice cream. The Iroha vibes were described minimally at first, with a photo showing their powdery-soft looking seamless finish and boasting a bizarre plushness factor. Cue delighted squeals of interest.

MATERIAL  Naturally, sex toy reviewers go nuts for anything new and different. We hope for something awesome and want to tell the world all about this grand new sex toy that we love. I’m no different, and really wanted to try one; mainly because I’d purchased a few Tenga items for my husband over the years, all met with varying degrees of success. Tenga’s material,SquishMidori be it the white material they used for the 3D models or the clear material used for the Flipholes, felt unique and weird and neat and awesome. It wasn’t silicone, but it wasn’t toxic, either. The Iroha vibes are covered in a skin of silicone, underneath which is a layer of squishy something (actually it’s “polyurethane elastomer, so says Zoe Hanis who grilled her Iroha rep – it also fully explains the odor), underneath that is the hard plastic of the vibrator. On the underside is a hard plastic disk with two metal buttons.  The silicone skin can be “plucked” at, it’s not glued to the squishy underlayer so I keep playing with it (in ways not intended). It reminds me of the skin formed on cooked pudding, oddly enough. The skin is also a silicone type that is cured differently than we’re accustomed to – the shiny, lint & fur attracting silicone wouldn’t work here, so Tenga is using a silky, powdery sort of matte-finish silicone. Combine the pliant aspect of the skin with the silky matte finish, and the plushy layer under it, and the whole vibrator feels very soft and pillowy at first. You don’t have to press in very much though before you can feel the hard inner portion – oddly, it’s more plush in the body than the tip.

IrohaMidori

It’s pretty cute, right? Odd, yet discreet I suppose. Although if anyone were to see it they would want to touch it and pick it up.

IT STINKS  Now, granted, my Midori sat in a delivery truck probably for 7 hours on a day where it was 96 degrees ambient temp (so likely well above 115 in the truck) but when I opened the package and took out my Midori vibe I was hit with a very strong odor that smelled exactly like latex wall paint. That was troubling – and nauseating and headache-inducing1. Especially when someone else tells me that theirs arrived stinky back in February, and Iroha claimed to have addressed the issue. The smell has faded so that it’s barely noticeable now to me unless I sniff it close up, but I do notice that it will pick up my natural scent after use, until I wash it clean.  Since the manufacturers admitted that the odor is due to the polyurethane-elastomer layer, unless they change that material, I don’t understand how they could have “addressed the issue” as they told GrittyWoman.

SHAPE  Midori seemed to be the most practical, to me. Sakura, with the weird, Pacman-esque pincher bit doesn’t seem like it would really work for me personally. The Yuki, claiming that a portion is insertable, doesn’t seem big enough to be worth anything when you insert the tiny portion, unless you’re doing anal stimulation. Midori has somewhat pinpoint vibrations in the smaller head. However due to the material, the vibrations are muffled and spread out a little bit more. Those with very plump, fleshy labia and a smaller clitoris, or those who like firm pressure, aren’t going to get much from any of the Tenga Iroha vibes, I think. They’re more for those who want a vibrator that is not as buzzy, but who don’t like pressure and don’t like hard materials. The only way that I might possibly change my mind on the practicality of the shapes would be if Yuki actually had more intense power than Midori but so far I’ve not seen any evidence of that. 

VIBRATIONS  There are 3 speeds and 1 pattern; 2 buttons, + and -. +, when held, turns it on. You can then use either + or – to circle through the settings. Hold the – to turn it off. The buttons are thankfully easy to use, but the button panel is indented just enough that combined with the locations of the buttons you won’t find yourself changing it without meaning to. On the highest speed, I’d say that the power level is fairly equal to the We-Vibe Salsa/Tango on level 2 of 4. The vibrations would be considered rumbly by most, certainly not the dreaded surface-buzzy, but the vibrations lack the oomph needed to really wow me. You’ll get a little bit more strength by pressing the tip of Midori against your skin firmly, to bypass the squish layer, but doesn’t that defeat the presumed-purpose of the vibrator being soft & pillowy to begin with? One thing I will note is that pressing on the vibrator or holding it firmly does absolutely nothing to dampen the vibrations, which is good. The Je Joue Mimi suffered terribly from that affliction, as well as the We-Vibe Touch and, to some slight degree the We-Vibe Salsa & Tango, too.  Since the entire vibe is so small, you’re bound to feel the vibrations in your fingers and hand as you hold it.

CHARGING & STORAGE  The Iroha vibes charge magnetically, by sitting on the black charging platform. This is probably the only magnetic-charging system thing that I’ve not hated. All other sex toys that use this method have a little “fob” that pops off so easily, held on by the weakest of magnetic force fields. You can plug it in USB to your computer, or use the included wall adaptor and plug that into the wall. There is a white LED light on the front of the base that glows while it is charging and shuts off when it is done. The charging base will double as storage; a clear acrylic lid is included – however, this isn’t the most discreet of storage options.  You could then put the charging base & cover back inside the box it came in, too, that would make it more discreet. I was able to fit (but it required finagling) the charging cable inside the acrylic box but could not fit the wall charger. For me when it comes to storage, I prefer to be able to keep everything all together.

MidoriCharger MidoriInBox

CAUTION  First, the Iroha vibes are not waterproof. This doesn’t affect cleaning because the vibes are “splash-proof”, so you can hold it under running water long enough to clean it. You cannot, however, use the toy in the bath or shower. The overall design is seamless, except that the plastic disc surrounding the buttons creates a seam where dirt and fluids could easily get trapped. I have seen many vibrators where the silicone skin goes over the buttons, allowing for a more seamless, waterproof design. Not sure why Tenga didn’t go that route. Another area of caution goes back to how the vibe is made – a plush elastomer material under a silicone skin. While the silicone skin is likely tough, I’d have to wonder how easily it could get punctured. A silicone skin that is firmly against a hard underlayer wouldn’t have this issue, but I could see how a sharp object might get pressed against this in storage and possibly puncture the skin.

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Pros: Interesting material construction, small and discreet, unique, 2 charging options
Cons: Odor, not waterproof, only moderately powerful, could be hard to clean thoroughly
Who would love it: Those who like form over perfect-function; those who do not require strong vibrations; those who do not like hard materials; those who need something a little easier to grip than a tiny2 or oddly-shaped vibrator3. If you’re intrigued, also do consider the Yuki – while I cannot fathom using it internally, externally it could be great for delivering pinpoint vibrations. Also, cute Xmas gift?
Who should avoid it: Those who need stronger vibrations; those who do not like vibrators that vibrate your hand too much; those looking for the most bang for their buck – at $90 it is a little overpriced for what it offers. Instead, go for the We-Vibe Tango.

All in all, it just didn’t wow me…..but I’m notoriously hard to please. If you saw this thing in person you would no doubt want to pick it up and then you would quite likely spend a while just petting it and squishing it. Everything about it, from the charging base that doubles as storage to the material, shape and color is pretty damn unique and overall I’m satisfied with the quality. Some will be awfully tempted to Pokemon it up and “collect them all”. However, I expect a vibrator to really knock my socks off in all categories to warrant a price tag of $90, so that’s why I’m lukewarm on this. I think that the shapes are just not perfect enough for me, and the vibrations are not quite strong enough for me. I do think, though, that many who don’t require the power of the We-Vibe Tango will quite like this adorable little vibe. If I loved the vibrations, then I can see it being worth the price tag.

UPDATE: I wanted to show you that not everyone agrees with me. In fact, here’s the opinion of one reviewer who prefers the Midori to her Salsa!  Navigator sums it up really well as to why it works for them, and this might help you figure out that even though it didn’t work for me, it might work for you:

I read a review a while back that described the orgasm this toy brings about as “comfortable”, and I think that’s a pretty accurate adjective. This is a comfortable toy, rather than an intense toy like the Hitachi or the Wahl, or an insistent toy like the Salsa or the Eroscillator. (You know, the toys that take your attention away from whatever else you might have going on and insist you focus on them.) It makes me feel downright sweet. I’m twitterpated over a sex toy.

But the best thing, my friends, is the squishiness between the silicone skin and the motor underneath. I thought initially this would dampen the vibrations, especially if the motor was in the body of the toy, so I’d be fruitlessly pressing it against my skin wondering where the vibrations were. Thing is, I press vibrators against my clit like a fiend anyway, but the squish prevents me from having a case of Bruised Clit the next morning (I’m looking askance at my Mia and Salsa as I type this). That, and the motor is located very solidly in the little nub at the tip of the Midori, so they’re nice and focused.

Thanks to Shevibe.com for sending me this to review!

  1. that usually signals VOCs for me but I am notoriously sensitive to those
  2. Some people find that the slender We-Vibe Tango is just too small, that it gives hand cramps if held too long
  3. The i-Gino One is a perfect example of that
Jul 122013
 

JopenEnvyOneThreeIf you know that I love my powerful vibrators, then you know that only a few vibrators have been powerful enough internally to knock my socks off. One of those happens to be the Jopen VR6 – it’s not tops as a dual-stimulator because the clitoral arm doesn’t hit me perfect nor is the clitoral arm powerful enough for me, but the internal power makes up for it. So I waited impatiently for the Jopen Envy line to come out, since Jopen was calling it the most powerful, rechargeable vibrator in the world1. I had my doubts, of course, because hello it’s me and I’m jaded now but I tried to have hope.

Unlike the entire rest of the Vanity VR line, the VR6 is the only one with the deep, rumbly powerful vibrations I love.  While the entire line of Vanity and Envy is “Powered by Powerbullet“, it used to be outright stated on that Powerbullet site that the VR6 was the most powerful of all, along with 1 other vibe.  So the mere thought that I could get a regular ole non-rabbit vibe with the power that made my toes curl sent me into fits while waiting on the release.

I was slightly disappointed when I saw that the initial Jopen Envy line was merely 3 differently sized, boring straight vibrators. But hope sprang eternal because it may not matter if the power is enough!

It matters.

It really, fucking matters, to me.

I….HAVE….THE POWER!!! Or not.

First, while I can’t speak for the Two, I can tell you that the One is a major disappointment. It arrived fully charged but I hoped that it wasn’t, so I plugged it in to charge more. I turned it to the top speed and actually said out loud “That’s it?!?”. You see I’d already become acquainted with the power that is Three – and it is fairly impressive. SheVibe sent me the Envy One and I snagged Three with points from…somewhere else. The One that Shevibe sent arrived dead on arrival, my first ever. I used the Three a few times while waiting on the DOA issue to get sorted out. When I finally received a working One direct from Jopen, the difference in vibration power and depth compared to the Three was enormous. I fully expected all three vibrators to have the same motor.  The Jopen Envy One has nothing on the We-Vibe Tango.  The Envy One suffers greatly from “dampened vibrations”2 when it meets with any resistance, resistance being “surrounded by flesh” and not even just pressure. I could lightly wrap part of my hand around the Envy One and the vibrations would immediately dampen by at least half, in both intensity and depth. When nestled in between my labia, I could barely feel anything. That is NOT the marker of the “most powerful rechargeable vibrator in the world”. I would say that if you do not touch the Envy One, if you just barely hold it in your fingertips up at the top by the controls, then the top level of vibrations is about as powerful as level 3 (of 4) on the We-Vibe Salsa. It’s rumbly, but not quite as rumbly as the Tango (or Salsa, RIP).

JopenVR6vsEnvy3 JopenEnvyvsWeVibeTangoLeloMia

While the Envy Three is actually just about as powerful as the internal arm on my Vanity VR6, it still manages to fall short. First as an internal vibrator, it is hella boring to me. I know that not all people like the curved design, so not all will agree with me. One reason why I loved the VR6 so much was that it combined a bit of girth with a wonderful curve and perfect vibrations. The VR6 measured at 1.6″ at the widest, while the Envy Three is barely 1.1″, despite all literature claiming it to be 1.5″. I thought that perhaps it would still make an excellent external vibe, but somehow it doesn’t. Somehow, these vibrations that feel so powerful in my hand have been unable to get me off as well as the We-Vibe Tango. I think that part of the issue is that the motor on the Three overheats and while the heat isn’t painful, it’s distracting.  It is indeed rumbly and deep, and suffers less from “dampened vibrations” compared to the One.

I didn’t bother to try the Two, since I figured that most people would go for One or Three. Envy Two is the same width as Envy One, but a little longer. Also according to literature, the Envy One is supposed to measure in at 1.25″ wide; mine is not even quite an inch, it’s more like 0.9″. It’s still a lot bigger than the We-Vibe Tango, though.

A note on the sizing: A rep from Jopen told me “As far as the width on the product, I’m not sure where you are measuring but I was told the product width is measured from the base of the unit, the widest part ,since the product tappers down toward the tip.”  I measured in the center of the vibe. Not the tip, not the flare.

I replied: “As for the measurement…….for an insertable product it is standard to measure at the widest *insertable* point. Since the flare doesn’t start until close to the base, that would mean that a woman would have to fully insert the vibrator like a tampon to realize that proclaimed width – With the Envy Two or Three, that would be a bit impossible not to mention highly unlikely. There is a large difference in interest between a straight vibrator that is 1.1″ wide and 1.5″ wide. I still really feel like these measurements are misleading.”

I’m still confused on that one. So basically…..none of the width measurements are to be trusted from them if you want something logical.

The Envy Line Has More Issues Than…..

As I mentioned, I received the Three and the One from two different places. My Three was getting quite hot, and a rep from Jopen confirmed that that was not normal. My logic says that a motor that gets very hot is a motor that would burn out in a much shorter time than normal. And then my One arrived dead. When I plugged it in, thinking that it wasn’t charged, the charging light blinked rapidly. It never did work. Again, Jopen told me to submit it for a warranty return. So I was instructed at first to register my vibes with their warranty program and proceed with doing a warranty return3. I held off on that, since the site said that a return would be sent out a few weeks after receiving my defective unit, and I really wanted to be able to directly compare the Three and the One; Shevibe.com was sending me a brand new Envy One so that the review could get underway. Then I received my second Envy One from Shevibe4….and it was DOA, too! At this point I went back to Jopen and updated them, and they wanted to send me a replacement One and Three from their warehouse, without waiting on me to first return the defectives5. They arrived just fine, but I must point out that the packaging direct from Jopen is not at ALL discreet. I’m lucky that it didn’t matter to me, but it very well could matter to others. Is this how it would arrive if you did a warranty replacement? I’m not sure. Anyways, with a brand new (and tested by Jopen before it was sent to me) One and Three, I proceeded to get on the review finally. Disappointment on the power of One aside, I kept at it. And I found that the overheating issue was not solved. This time both the One and the Three were overheating at right around 15 minutes of use. While the temp gun did show temps in excess of the 109 shown below, I didn’t catch an in-focus photo of the temp gun and just didn’t feel like letting it get to that point again.

JopenEnvyHeatDamage JopenEnvytemp box

One other issue that I’m not certain is a true issue, but is weird nonetheless, is something that happened during a flame test. I didn’t really suspect that these were anything other than pure silicone, but I wanted to run the test anyways. I’m glad I did! In the spot where I applied flame, I had no signs of it being anything other than flame-resistant silicone, however the coloring looks….bleached. Literally, like my hair-dying shirt. The pink turned to a pale orange. I ran to my VR6 and tried it, and had similar results. What does this mean? No fucking idea. But I’m going to mention it nonetheless.

From the Jopen rep: “We have our quality control department looking into all issues regarding the batteries and now the motors heating up.”

Other Details

They’re waterproof. They come with a USB charger (If you have a Vanity? Same charging jack, just USB instead of wall). If you want wall charging you’ll have to snag a USB-to-Wall adapter from another toy, though. They’re mostly seamless, and really easy to clean. Only two buttons which are also encased in silicone. Like the Vanity vibes, to increase the power you have to press and hold the button. It’ll blink while you’re increasing and will stay steady once you’ve hit the top speed (it stays steady when you’ve settled on a speed, too). You can only increase, not decrease. The”State-of-the-art memory chip resumes last function used” feature is nice, but it only applies to the function i.e. pattern, not the vibration level. There are 7 “functions” (patterns), but once you’re on the Function side, you have to shut the vibrator off to get back to just straight vibrations….and then do the ramp-up to your preferred speed all over again – this took me a bit to figure out, as it’s not spelled out exactly and I got very frustrated.  They do lock for travel, though.  The silicone is mostly dust/lint-proof, but not entirely. It is a very slightly textured matte finish, it’s not quite as powdery soft as the Jopen Key line.  It completely charges in about 3 hours, but you’ll only get 45 minutes on the highest setting. Just like the Vanity line, the Envy line is only one color. At least the Vanity line was a nice purple that I didn’t hate, but the Envy line is this bizarre, dusty-rose-purplish color. If I put the Intensity, VR6 and Envy all next to each other, the colors all coordinate well. If you like the whole monochromatic thing. And pink. Purple. Pinple. Purnk. Whatever.

Expanded Envy Line

I’m not sure why they came out with only the “classic” straight styles first, but now I’ve seen on the site that there are more6. A few more tailored to g-spot, and two rabbits. I don’t understand the rabbits….isn’t that what the Vanity VR line is for?? Regardless of my feeling that the power of the Three would best work out for me in a more g-spotting style, I’m not about to recommend or try them.

Final Verdict

Avoid these. The price is astronomical and the “powerful” claim is a letdown, most especially with the One. If you were looking for a bigger, better We-Vibe Tango, forget about it.  The Envy line is still, at it’s heart, a hard plastic vibe covered in a silicone skin. I’ll take my hard plastic vibe that is unhindered by silicone any day, thanks, if it means more power. I just cannot at all recommend the Envy One through Three and I would suggest that you avoid the entire line due to all of the problems. With a price range (Shevibe.com pricing) of $109-$118, I expected a hell of lot more bang for that kind of buck.  With the problems I have had in mind, Shevibe is currently not even selling the Envy One or Three until they can see that the problems are ironed out; but you can still get the Two if you insist. 

 

ETA: The Jopen Envy line did expand, and they did go beyond the straight vibes. The Envy Four and Five look to be a bit more g-spot compatible, while the Six and Seven are, oddly enough, rabbit vibes. Isn’t that what the Vanity line is for??

 

 

  1. According to their press release
  2. Similar to the Je Joue Mia, the Leaf Spirit and the We-Vibe Touch
  3. There is also a fee associated with the warranty return; they were going to wave it for me since both of my vibrators were immediately defective but be forewarned
  4. Shevibe.com is very good about this; rather than having you deal with the manufacturer for a DOA or immediately defective vibe, they’ll handle the exchange. I find that preferable to dealing with the warranty process at Jopen
  5. Which was nice; I had informed them that I owed reviews on these and that I felt time was of the essence, plus they felt bad that I’d had the bad luck to get 3 bad vibes in a row
  6. These are due out in August
Jul 102013
 

Once you’ve developed a bit of a “presence” online, with good traffic and other blog-qualifier numbers, you’re bound to get contacted by a company asking if you’ll post their text link (some will outright ask you your rate, a few will try to pawn it off as a “link exchange” which is a topic for a later date). This can all be a bit difficult to navigate until you ask the more veteran bloggers. Here’s some starting info for you:

Updated July 2013I’ve recently done more researching and while the rates and ideas are pulled from the more mainstream sectors of blogging, it’s the only thing we have to go on. I’ve made this into a post because of the influx of bloggers who need more information, it was currently residing as a largely overlooked page.

Updated May 2013: This was written and has been around for a long while over at e[lust], however I decided to move it all here. Sidebar advertising is not as prevalent as it once was for bloggers, especially sex bloggers, because of recent changes made by Google on calculating pagerank. In Nov 2012 I actually had my own Pagerank stripped to 0 because Google felt that I was selling my Pagerank via sponsor text links in the sidebar. I had to add “rel=nofollow” to them all in order to get my rank back. Something that more and more companies want now is a sponsored *post*. To me, sponsored post is just simply my own post but with a sentence and link and maybe even small graphic at the foot of the post saying “This post was sponsored by XYC company who is great at BLAH and you should blahblah there”. To a company, their idea of a sponsored post is basically the entire post is an advertisement for them, including a few links. I won’t do that. I also won’t accept “guest posts” from anybody but a fellow blogger. 

RATES? WHAT RATES?

The first question you likely have is the first question I had: How much should I charge? And that, my friends, is not an easy answer. Because it not only is based on your page rank and overall stats, but what others similar to you are charging. And I know that some people are, IMO, underselling themselves. Added July 2013:

Basing Your Rate on your Pagerank

Companies will likely only approach you for advertising if you have a google page rank of 3 or higher. By having a text link on your sidebar it helps increase their own site’s page rank. (http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php)

So the first thing that your rate depends upon is your pagerank. And to be honest, what else it depends upon – I’m not 100% sure. It could be traffic overall, it could be your Alexa rank. Ever since I started taking on advertisers I’ve been a PR4. I don’t know how I got there, nor do I fully know how to get higher. I’ve read a few tips and tricks but none have helped. After talking to another blogger whose site was considerably better than mine I took a stab at what I thought was a fair price, $30 a month, and that has turned out to be a good price for a PR4 site to charge. Many will prefer to pay for 3, 6 or even 12 months in advance and will ask for a discount. Just because they are taking away the hassle (for you both) of paying monthly doesn’t mean you should take a drastic cut. My personal opinion is to never give a discount greater than 20% of your quoted price. (As of 2012 I dropped to a PR3 and stayed there. Again, not sure why and I can’t raise it.)

IMO for banners, you should charge more. Banners command more of a presence in your sidebar and are used for garnering traffic moreso than raising a pagerank. For a 125×125 square banner, I’d recommend adding on $10-15 per month per banner. For a larger banner, add on $20-25 per month per banner as your starting price.

WARNING: By basing it on your pagerank, though, it means you’re “selling page rank”. That’s what I got in trouble for with Google. To do things on the up and up, every place I read says to add the rel=nofollow attribute to the text link. Inform your advertisers of this, because you don’t want to do anything illegal and lose your search engine ranking. If they’re buying a link just to get pagerank, then they won’t be happy and may not advertise with you. If they’re legit, they will continue.

Basing Your Rate on Daily Visitors

One site that I was reading recommended that you base it off of your traffic, your daily traffic. If you have a stats tracker installed (which, you absolutely should) you can tell how many visitors you get per day and how many page views you get per day. Base it off of visitors. Take your average (most stats trackers will give you your daily average in a summary section) and divide it by 10. This number should represent the most you could charge per month for something in a very visible “above the fold” spot, a banner. For a banner not “above the fold” (when viewing your site on a regular computer monitor/laptop, it’s whatever space is visible without having to scroll at all), deduct 10-15% if it’s still a big banner. For a banner that is small, deduct 20%. For a text link in the sidebar, deduct as much as 40-50% depending on location. If you’re allowing them to sponsor a post, something you’ve already written that will get a decent number of views (probably not a review, since it will have affiliate links, I’d include two text links and quote the full amount based on the formula — see this example of a weekly round-up post over at The Bloggess for what I mean by a sponsored post. I’d also say that if you’ve managed to get a consistent high, daily traffic but can’t get pageranked above PR2, also consider deducting 10-20%.  

NO PERMANENT LINKS

A few bloggers I’ve spoken to had done this and I’ve been asked (rarely) for what they call a permanent link. What they mean is….they pay you once, and only once, for a link on your site until your site dies. I advise to never do this. Neither you nor the advertiser knows how long you intend to keep your site, for one. Two, these types of offers are generally given to test your mettle and see if you’re a newbie to paid advertising. If you don’t know any better and don’t have a resource, you might think this offer is grand and snatch it up. I can guarantee you that there is nothing they will offer you that will make it a fair deal in the end, for you. Sure it makes life easier on you, you don’t have to remind them. But by doing this you are A: throwing off the bell curve for the rest of the bloggers and B: You are losing revenue!!

AVOID “CONTENT” POSTS

Many will try to get you to allow them to write a post for you. Please avoid this if you want to keep the respect of your peers and readers. It will be a shit article peppered with their links. They’ll also sometimes allow you to write an article. This is slightly less irritating for your readers, but if it’s a post that you would normally write anyways, at least make it informative and useful to your readers. They will again want links throughout the post, so please give a small warning *before* the post that it is sponsored and the links will lead to the sponsor.

PREPAY

Always, always have them prepay. I’ve known a couple bloggers who put the link up on their site and then the company didn’t pay. The companies are all going to use Paypal. If you don’t have a Paypal account, get one. I’ve had one for a long ass time and never once had a problem. I know that some people who have little experience buying/selling/doing monetary business online are a little fearful of it. Some bloggers will say that Paypal is very anti-sex and will shut you down and take your money – just use a bland-sounding email address. Most of the companies that pay you do, too. I’ve been doing this for 5 years and have never had Paypal give me a problem.

BE FIRM

Stick to your guns. They’ll ask you to go lower half the time. Don’t go drastically low just to get their business. I’ve sacrificed advertisers before, even though money is money. Once you give them an ultra-low and unrealistic price, they’re going to use that against other bloggers. They’ll say to me: “well I’ve got a link with this other PR5 blogger and they charged me less than you!” To which I say “You got a really good deal then, because it’s worth more than that. I’m worth more than that.”. They accepted my price in the end. The thing is, the sex blogging genre is likely the most undervalued. We get shafted by traditional ad companies, so companies assume we’ll just accept any old offer. And because *some* bloggers will, because they’d rather have $10 a month than $0 a month, it drives down the overall value of the “neighborhood”.

MONEY DOESN’T TRUMP STRESS

Sometimes, there’s not a rate high enough to make you want to deal with certain people. If you’ve given them your metrics, your rates, if you’ve explained in detail what you will and won’t do and they still ask you questions over and over as if they weren’t already told? If they argue a lot with the pricing? Just listen to your gut. You’ll know pretty early on when someone is going to be a pain in the ass to deal with. I’ve turned companies down just because the person I was dealing with gave me a big headache and that was halfway through the negotiation process!!! I recently had someone who claimed to have read my Media & Advertising kit and wanted to set something up right away. They sent over the banner but wanted it for two weeks. If they’d read, they would have known I start my rates per month. Then they try to get me to do an interview or post to further their campaign. No, sorry. Well, they posed, what if I write the post for you? I had to point to the numerous places on my site where I say, in no uncertain terms, that I do not take guest posts or content. I write the stuff here. I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when they paid and it was a fraction of my rate.  My advice is to nail down early on how long they want the ad for. If it’s anything less than 6 months you shouldn’t tolerate anything other than a simple, easy transaction.

WATCH THE CALENDAR

Set up a Google Calendar reminder; keep the info on a spreadsheet; have your husband make you a program (oh wait, that’s me) – whatever it takes to remind you to contact them about a week or so before their contract is up to remind them to renew. Check your PR before contacting them, in case it went up. If it went up, so do your prices. If you don’t hear from them in the expected timeframe (1-2 weeks for longer contracts, 1 week max for monthly renewals), remove their link from your site. Tell them you’ve done this and will put it back up once they renew their contract. You can’t have unpaid links up – it only helps them and not you.

DON’T CHANGE YOUR BLOG TO PLEASE THEM

Call your sponsors section whatever you want, don’t listen to them. They want their links to appear as if you put them there because you love the store…..not that you were paid to do so. I put my sponsor links lower in the sidebar. Places I like and support go up higher. Unless of course the sponsors are ALSO places you love and support anyways.

AFFILIATE DOES NOT EQUAL PAYMENT

I’ve been asked in the past by bloggers about companies trying to get a link by telling the blogger that they’ll be put into an affiliate program in exchange and will receive 10/15/20% of sales on a commission basis. Unless you are reviewing toys for a sex toy retailer on a regular basis and you have high site traffic (at least 10K visitors a month), the chances of you making money off of an affiliate sale are slim. It means that someone has to click that little text link in your sidebar and then buy toys from that company. Very unlikely to happen. Again, this is a tactic used to separate those new to the text advertising game and take advantage. One example: I was recently contacted by a company who makes hetero long-distance sex toys that work via the computer and are way overpriced. They didn’t outright offer ones to me to review, they just wanted me to join their affiliate program. They tried to “sweeten the deal” by giving my readers 5% off. 5% off a $190 toy ($380 if you buy both male & female version – why would you buy just one?). I know my readers, at least I’d like to think I do, and I really doubt that even 1% would purchase these items. So instead though, people will click because they don’t know what the item is, and the site will get traffic. Meanwhile, I’d likely never make a sale, especially without ever reviewing the items and giving it a glowing review. Added July 2013

ANONYMITY – BE AWARE

I’ve known this all along, but have also known that there is nothing I can do about it. When someone sends you money via Paypal, they will be given your legal name. There does not seem to be a way to circumvent this at all in Paypal. While nearly ever advertiser you will deal with will naturally understand the sensitive matter of your name, bear in mind that accidents can happen. It is a very small chance but it exists. I’m not telling you this to scare you off but merely to prepare you. I didn’t think about this until an accidental case of mistaken identity lead me to receive the real name of another blogger via a potential advertiser. I’m not going to do anything with the information and I don’t know how the other blogger feels; but what if situations were reversed and what if the person who received my personal information was not a friend and not someone nice? I could then have to deal with the worry of them outing me if they wanted to. While there are not a lot of unsavory characters in our community they still exist occasionally. I would recommend that you put in a clause in your email correspondence with potential advertisers that says something along the lines of “Your payment to me denotes acceptance of my terms, which includes that any and all personally identifying information you will receive about me shall remain in confidence.” or whatever. I’m not sure on the wording of this and how legally binding it is; this is something I’ll research further and would appreciate input on.  Added Jan 2012

Please ask questions or give your own tips! Thanks!

~Lilly

Jul 072013
 

This post has taken me weeks to write, and has seen more drafts than hockey did this week1. Most people write big, sappy posts for a blogaversary as grand as 5 whole years. 5 years! I’m older than internet dirt now! This also happens to be my 800th post2. I can’t say I’m proud of all 800 posts; in fact I’ve changed so much over these 5 years that I’m pretty mortified by many of my earlier posts and reviews.  Sadly, I’m marking off my 5 years with a quickly impending for-the-foreseeable-future-hiatus.  I’ve known for weeks now that my time here was limited, but I kept that to myself. I wanted to finish up the giveaways I planned and the first big fundraising push for Dildology. I wanted to help out with Dildology as much as I could, even though I feel like I didn’t do enough.

Wait, what?

I’m not sure if this is 100% permanent goodbye from blogging, because who knows what’ll happen. This isn’t my final post, because I do have obligations to fulfill and whatnot.  My reasons though for walking away from this world right now are serious and real, but not my story to tell. I’m fine; as is my marriage/husband/family. But there is something happening in my offline world that requires my full attention and for me to be actually offline. I won’t say anything more than that publicly because of …reasons3. I don’t know how long I’m going to be needed.

One thing I do know to be certain is the fact that I won’t be attending CatalystCon or anything like it ever again – I have a lot personal reasons which I don’t need to discuss publicly; financially though it’s just not feasible for me to go. Hopefully in 2 years we’ll be buying a house, and the trip to DC is just way too expensive.  I justified it in the past because the funding for it came 100% from affiliate commissions or advertising dollars. It still would, but every penny needs to go to our future.

I might find that I can still get in a semi-regular post & review per month. I might find that this change in my life is so time-consuming that I let things here die off. I don’t honestly know what will happen in 6, 8, 10 months.

The Future of this Blog and My Projects

The site will stay live because it’s paid for already til the end of next year I believe. Yes, you may link to an old post. Yes, you may quote an excerpt from and link to an old post. Yes, if anything I’ve written inspires you to write more and research more and uncover dirt more, I want to read it so please email me the link!! Have a question about …. anything …. you think I can help with? Seriously, don’t be afraid to email me. I can’t promise I’ll be able to answer that day or even the next, but I will answer. I’m not that scary, I promise. I just have Bitchy Resting Face. I honestly want to see you all succeed at whatever you’re trying to accomplish online. You’ll still see me on Twitter via mobile, and email works of course, so I’m not going to be 100% gone online. I have a bunch of reviews and a few other things scheduled to post; my social media accounts will stay open but I will be disconnecting Twitter from Facebook, so if you only follow me on Facebook you won’t see anything for quite awhile. Oh and Sex Blogger Co-Op + ToySwap will be kept alive, too, if members want it. They largely run themselves anyways. I’ll be finding someone able to take over things like member invitation and whatnot until I decide what to do on a more permanent basis (probably Epiphora and maybe someone else?).

Dildology

Due to my offline commitments I will be stepping down as Marketing Director of Dildology in an official capacity. I’ll continue to support them via this blog, of course, but otherwise my ability to contribute will be virtually nonexistent, and that’s not fair to anyone. Their mission is so very much needed in the industry; I look forward to the changes that will happen, for the better, because of Dildology. Dildology is the creation of Crista and Val, and they are always willing to answer questions, explain things and so on. Should you ever need anything or have any questions in regards to Dildology, make sure you contact them via Dildology on Facebook, Twitter, or email. While I wish that I had been able to contribute more than just the fundraiser event, I have faith that the posts from the blog carnival will live on to continue to educate others who browse your blogs and learn a few things about toxic toys.

EMO SHIT

In 5 years I’ve made a lot of really great friends, met a few fakes/sociopaths I can do without, pissed off a lot of people, had so much fun, and made one of the top 5 biggest mistakes of my life. But I learned a few very important lessons from that mistake, so I’ll focus on that aspect instead of the ugly person. I’ve made some great, life-changing decisions because of this site. I’ve learned a lot from the community and I feel I’m a better person for being here these last 5 years. To the friends I only got to hang out with at the spring conference, I will truly miss your faces. Those who live within a few hours of me, I hope to see again – If you’re ever in Connecticut, please let me know! To my friends & mentors in the industry…Metis and Jenna of Tantus, Pam, Sandra of Shevibe, Laura from The Toolshed, Shelley of Crystal Delights….your patience with my brain and my inquisitive nature meant so much to me, and you all taught me so much and supported me so much. You believed in me, you didn’t blow me off or pat me on my head.

 

Watch this space for upcoming reviews on Tantus products, a Tenga Iroha vibe, the Jopen Envy line, the Minna Ola, the Split Dildo and of course I have a couple of posts scheduled that are things other than reviews.

OH WAIT. I think I forgot something….

The winners! I made the winners of weeks 3, 4 and 5 wait until now to be announced.  The winner of the Lelo Mona 2 is ALICE. Her review suggestion reminded me of an unfinished one and her question about shower curtains and VOCs happens to be right in line with what I’m looking in to next. The winner of the We-Vibe Salsa + Tantus O2 Flury is OLIVE. If I’d had the ability, I would have chosen more winners, a few others were top contenders. It’s so hard to choose just one!! And finally, the winner of the Fucking Sculptures dildo is EMMA. Again, this was fucking hard to choose a fucking winner. Ha.

  1. I’m sorry that was a really bad attempt at sports humor and I probably failed. I won’t do it again
  2. why yes, yes I DID plan that as soon as I noticed it was feasible
  3. Stalker Hint: Hidemyass doesn’t work
 Posted by at 9:32 am
Jul 062013
 

Hot on the heels of the Blogger debacle wherein Blogspot.com owners were given less than a week to remove ads and affiliate links from their adult blog, WordPress.com gets in on the action.

Unlike Google/Blogger, though, WordPress.com gave no notice. Literally out of nowhere, it was noticed that some blogs were disappearing and in their place was a TOS violation notice from WordPress.com. While WordPress.com was never an ideal option for any sex blogger who also wanted to review sex toys, due to them saying that they would never allow advertising or affiliate links, plenty of sexy-words-n-photos bloggers still clung to the free landscape of WordPress.com.

Unfortunately for everyone, there is a lot of confusion about well…..everything.  First of all, what exactly did these bloggers do to violate TOS? We don’t know yet. If they find out, I’ll update it here.

Second, since WordPress is what most self-hosted bloggers are using, confusion again arises. Are you at risk because of that?

Nope. WordPress.com is the Blogger/Blogspot/Livejournal equivalent. It’s free, you’re limited in what you can do to tweak it, but they’ll of course offer you the ability to buy a domain, get rid of the “wordpress.com” part of your blog’s address, and you’re completely bound by their TOS. The Toyswap Network’s public “face” is on a WordPress.com account. This blog here is “powered by” WordPress, and I’m fine.

If you’re under the thumb of WordPress.com, your dashboard likely looks like this:

WPcomdashboard

If you’re self-hosted, this means that you went to someplace like Hostgator or Dreamhost or GoDaddy, you bought your domain and hosting, and you *installed* WordPress. WordPress is a Content Management System. This is also referred to as “WordPress.org”, because in order to get support or plugins, you need a WordPress.org account. This is what your dashboard may look like in part:

WPorg

Basically, the company/person who can have any control and say over what you, their guest, can post is the host. In this situation, WordPress.com is the host. WordPress as a CMS is NOT a host, it is an application that is downloaded and installed. When you bought your domain, you had nothing but an html file. Until you (or the host) installed WordPress.

We (the folks at Automattic) run a blog and web site hosting service called WordPress.com and would love for you to use it. Our basic service is free, and we offer paid upgrades for advanced features such as domain hosting and extra storage. Our service is designed to give you as much control and ownership over what goes on your site as possible and encourage you to express yourself freely. However, be responsible in what you publish. In particular, make sure that none of the prohibited items listed below appear on your site or get linked to from your site (things like spam, viruses, or hate content).

Today, we assumed that people’s blogs were being yanked because of adult content. But, it’s actually been against TOS since 2009 to have “pornographic content”.  The only recent change to the TOS, visible in the TOS Change Log at the end of the page, is “June 12, 2013: Edited “Attribution” paragraph to specify that footer credits and the WordPress.com toolbar may not be altered.”. I doubt that this is the reason.

Things become fuzzy even more because WordPress.com offered a few services for a steep upcharge to people who were too intimidated to go seek out hosting and such. It allowed you to buy your domain, and some other services, to get rid of the “wordpress.com” part of your blog address. These people are still at risk. The “host” is still a company who is against a fuck ton of shit.

One other blogger, The Sin Doll, briefly had her blog pulled. We couldn’t figure out why, until a who.is revealed that despite being self-hosted, her host, Gandi, uses wordpress.com nameservers.  This could be the reason. It’s got to be the reason, since there is no other. Sure, she bought a theme from WordPress, but that’s a theme. That’s not control over your content. Only your host has that control. Unless the domain butts in…..which maybe it did. It makes no sense. 

Anyways.

Look at your dashboard. Can you see this -> “You are using WordPress 3.5.2.”? And did you go to someplace like GoDaddy, HostGator, DreamHost, etc and purchase a domain, hosting, etc? YOU’RE FINE. If you can look at your dashboard though and see “Store” in the left menu? You’re not fine. Go get thee self-hosted, STAT. And back that shit up

 Posted by at 9:42 pm
Jul 062013
 

VixskinRaquelFor a long time, I wasn’t interested in dildos. After all, it was in 2008 that I found the Pure Wand and everything after that felt so boring. But as soon as I learned the great brands of the silicone world, Tantus and Vixen, I kept my eye on them. Vixen is consistently the more expensive of the two US-based silicone dildomongers, and they also seem to favor the realistic designs which are not my cup of tea. They’ve always had a couple, though, that were in non-realistic colors and slightly less realistic shapes. After giving up hope on trying a Randy, I kept my eye on the others. Finally I decided on the Raquel, but I knew I wouldn’t personally like it. Yet I still got it.

What? I just really wanted to own a Vixen dildo, to be able to have this brand and their super-awesome VixSkin style in my hands so that I could be a better informed adviser. I r srs dildo adviser. It was on sale so that I could finally afford to get it for myself.

I’ve always liked the Tantus O2 line for their squishy outer layer of silicone. But people always told me that it’s not nearly as squishy as the VixSkin, so I had to find out for myself. They were right. I can’t speak for the other designs but the Raquel has this pillow-y, marshmallow-y bulbous head that would be really great for people who have tried a super firm dildo for anal play but hated the firmness or for people who just really want something softer that won’t ram and bruise their cervix. The Raquel is also a dildo for those who don’t like girth. The pillow-y outer layer isn’t just at the head, as you’ll see in this Vine clip:


However…squishing this thing can get addictive. One factor that I wanted to test was the realism of Vixskin vs Tantus O2…and Vixskin wins. I put the two dildos underneath fabric next to my husband’s bio cock and the Vixskin Raquel felt the most similar. I can only imagine that their more realistic designs would come even closer to the mark, if that’s your thing. Here’s the Vixskin Raquel vs the Tantus O2 Cush:


The Raquel also has an amazing suction cup. Standing up on a flat surface it is surprisingly strong. On a window….not so strong. Of course, the window in question was likely dirty and is 100 years old and probably not perfectly flat.

 VixskinRaquel2

It’s pink. It only comes in pink. Some people will hate this. But it’s a super pretty pink…! The white base is opalescent and so is the pink. I couldn’t really capture that very well in photos. It’s swirly, with depth to the color and is just so very pretty. I’m really not a high-femme girly girl swooning over everything frilly and pink, but the color is damn nice.

VixskinRaquelBase

Overall, I personally like elements of this dildo but it’s not my cup of tea due to the size (width). The length is awesome, but I require either a decent girth or a very firm and definite g-spot curve (like the Pure Wand or the Tantus Raptor XL). As you could see in one of the above video clips, since the Vixen Raquel is a thinner dildo it’s also quite a bit more flexible in the shaft. This lack of resistance or whatnot would possibly make it a bit difficult to use as a suction-cup dildo solo.  I’d still highly recommend this, though, for anal play beginners or those who don’t like girthy dildos poking their cervix. In addition to being anal play safe, it could go in a harness. The base isn’t perfect for this and might creative some bizarre suctioning-to-your-vulva action. Who knows. But  the fact remains that it has a base.  It’s also the type of silicone that is hard to keep clean from dust, fur, etc so be sure to keep wipes on hand for when you want to use this toy.