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 2013 – I’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.
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.
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”.
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!
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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.
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?).
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.
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.
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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:
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:
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.
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.Read More
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For 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.
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.
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.Read More
If you’re arrived here from elsewhere, be sure to read Part 1 first.
As “toxic sex toys” are being talked about more and consumers and retailers are slowly being educated more, the idea of the “novelty use only” tagged sex toys is being held up as the poster child for all the is bad and wrong in the sex toy industry. But I learned something when I started talking to companies – some of them just don’t know jack shit. They’re doing it because there are no legalities or formal ways to do things, there is no governing body or regulations of any kind. Some companies are taking tentative steps out on a limb and doing away with the wording of “novelty” in any fashion; some get more creative and legal with their warnings. Some companies still use the term….companies that we have come to trust and respect. One such example is Standard Innovations, the Canadian company responsible for the We-Vibe family of vibrators (and my beloved Salsa/Tango). They are regarded as a company who only produces body-safe sex toys; “luxury” sex toys. Their vibrators are made of silicone or hard ABS plastic. They are clearly not a “joke” vibrator, they are clearly meant to be used for sexual purposes. Below is a disclaimer from Evolved Novelties that comes from a pack of their Vibrator Enhancer add-ons (since those are just a hunk of silicone, it’s clear the disclaimer is their stock one), the one from the We-Vibe Salsa, and the one from the Jopen Intensity. Hover over the thumbnails to read the full disclaimer.
But they’re not exactly denying the sexual part of usage in their disclaimer. They are contradicting themselves, sometimes, by telling you to use it externally only in the disclaimer (after giving explicit directions to insert it in to your body, like Jopen did with the Intensity as seen here). I’ve yet to run across a disclaimer that outright says : “This is not for sexual use”; they’re denying a medical use: “not a medical device, it is designed for pleasure only. No therapeutic benefits are claimed” is one that I’ve seen. I think it’s akin to the warnings on bottles of herbal remedies like taking Turmeric pills for inflammation – “these statements have not been proven by the FDA”. Does this mean that Turmeric is bunk, that it will have no chance of reducing inflammation? Nope. Just that big company pharmaceuticals is where the money is at, and where all the testing goes. The redirect of language to avoid trying to look like a “medical device” is simply to avoid getting in to bed with the FDA when it comes to exporting since, as we’ve learned, a large percentage of vibrating sex toys are produced in China or Japan. After receiving some “blowing smoke up my ass” responses from a few companies, I contacted Jopen. I know that they’re a division of California Exotic Novelties1 but I still see them as a little bit separate since the designs for most of their items come from a company called Swan. However, the blunt response I outright asked, nay, begged for came back from Al Bloom of CalEx:
Actually, it is quite simple. To avoid being classified as a medical device by the FDA, we have to make a clear distinction in our labeling that our products are strictly for pleasure, and not a medical device of any type. Once pleasure products fall under the auspices of the FDA, the thousands of choices that consumers enjoy today, at prices they can afford, would dry up, and they would be left with a handful of very expensive products that weathered the storm of FDA testing, retesting, and multiple fees and costs along the way.
Listen, we support FDA testing and protections on consumables, medications, and actual medical devices, but when it intrudes into the bedroom, the consumers will end up losing choice, affordability, and a whole lot of varied degrees of fun!
Now, please understand that because we are classified as pleasure products, and labeled as novelties, does not mean that we disregard safety issues regarding our products. In fact, we go overboard in this area. We use only body safe materials, and our motors and internal wiring conforms to the strictest testing using European Union guidelines for RoHS and WEEE.
I respect him for this answer. I may hate 99% of the stuff that CalEx puts out and feel that they still produce toxic toys and I may now be feeling that Jopen is a highly overpriced trainwreck, but I still respect Al as a person for telling me this stuff. When I asked for clarification about the tariff rates as I mentioned in my first post, he responded:
Yes, US Customs classifies medical devices at a much higher tariff rate than pleasure products. That is not our main concern, it’s really the hoops you mention…and, it can take years to get a product through FDA testing, a huge stumbling block to get over.
He’s not exaggerating – a friend told me about the piles of paperwork, the fees and the hoops and the time that someone had to go to to get a sexual lubricant FDA-approved. Now, they can still use FDA-Approved materials, and make that claim. That doesn’t necessarily mean that, for example, Lelo went to the trouble of getting their silicone FDA approved. It means that their material supplier did, and they can carry that certificate on themselves to inform their customers (to the best of my knowledge, and practice assumptions are gleaned based on facts derived from a company I’ve done work for that does work for medical companies – they have to use medically-approved supplies but they don’t have to get the FDA approval, the supplier of those materials does). Interested in what Lelo had to say? I’ve annotated it with comments from my anonymous friend to decipher the smoke-blowing:
As all LELO products are made of 100% body-safe, FDA-approved2 materials3, we have never used the word “novelty” on any of our packaging, so this part of your inquiry does not really apply to us. It is good you are bringing this issue to attention on your blog though, as consumers should realize that the word “novelty” on sex toy packaging can sometimes serve as a legal loophole4, since the materials may not necessarily be body-safe certified5. It is best for consumers to always research a company’s reputation online, ask questions to in-store sales representatives, seek advice from bloggers like yourself, etc.
Yes LELO is manufactured in China, but the thing that sets us apart from any company worldwide, is that LELO manufactures all of its products fully in-house6. When we say that we believe in and stand behind our products, it’s not based solely on faith. All of our products are put through a rigorous pre-testing and post-testing regimen to ensure that LELO’s high standards of quality are met. Being the only company in the industry to manufacture products fully in-house7, we are able to keep a close eye on these testing processes. And even after our products have passed our in-house tests, they also go through independent testing agencies like Intertek and SGS to receive official product certification, and to ensure all health and safety requirements have been met8.
Alright so let’s hear from SI/We-Vibe who produce sex toys that I (mostly9) like (even if some don’t work for me) and who do use a disclaimer:
We-Vibe products are labeled, “Sold as an adult novelty. Not for medical use.” Although our products are often found in pharmacies, OB/GYN and therapists offices they are not classified as medical devices and we want to ensure there is no confusion with consumers. Medical devices must meet a host of defined regulatory standards unique to specific jurisdictions. We-Vibe products are designed for pleasure purposes with safety as a top priority. Our products meet or exceed many international standards for consumer electronic products10.
The silicone used in We-Vibe products is sourced from a medical manufacturer and undergoes a series of inspections and quality control processes before it makes its way to our production facilities11. We-Vibe regularly, as often as once a week, conducts manufacturing inspections to ensure our high standards are being met. In addition, our products are routinely inspected by an independent lab to ensure they meet or exceed REACH (the European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use), RoHS (an electronics standard to reduce hazardous materials found in electric components) and other international consumer electronic standards12. Body-safe and eco-friendly is not just a stamp on the box – We-Vibe’s primary concern is quality products and consumer safety.
You’ll also want to let your readers know about counterfeit products that are showing up more often and being produced without concern for the health or safety of consumers. Beware of highly discounted product, if a deal seems too good to be true, it’s likely the product may be counterfeit and the safety claims may be questionable. Authentic We-Vibe products are available from authorized distributors and retailers. Consumers should purchase our products from reputable, established and trusted businesses13.
All in all, I’m disappointed with their answer….but yet there are other ways to look at it. First, that they don’t take me seriously. Second, that perhaps they’re shutting the door on a trade secret. Third, that perhaps they just don’t know why they label it that way, but everybody else does/did and they will too. There was not an ounce of facts there that came even close to answering my question. At least Al Bloom answered me without a crap ton of marketing fluffy bullshit. On the other side of the coin, at least they answered. The contact I have couldn’t answer it so they passed it along to someone else internally. Half of the companies I contacted wouldn’t even respond to me.
Okay so what about companies who produce mostly in the US, like Tantus? I know that a few items need to be outsourced. I don’t know which items. Do those items have a more strict disclaimer? Tantus, though, isn’t using “novelty”. In fact their disclaimer on the suction cup is kind of intimidating. I’ve shown the disclaimers below for one of the Secret Vibrators and the Suction Cup. Mouse over the photo to get the text of the disclaimer to pop up if you don’t feel like clicking.
Aneros is also a little concerning, especially (in my opinion) since the item is meant to do prostate stimulation. The butt seems to be just a little bit more ….. sensitive, or maybe that’s just mine. “Disclaimer: Use of Aneros products is at your own risk. Neither the manufacturer nor retailer assumes any responsibility or liability for use of Aneros products” Again, I don’t know if this negates any legal claims if you get hurt. As Davis told us before, they can’t prevent a lawsuit. But it sure will deter the consumer.
I attempted to contact Vibratex, to ask them why they’ve never had to use a disclaimer, but they wouldn’t respond to me even with repeated attempts. I put out an email to Evolved Novelties, but received no reply there, either. I’ll wrap this up with a little bit of industry history courtesy of Metis Black of Tantus:
When the industry was a baby Ted Marche made toys in his garage and he sold them very prolifically. This was the first US large manufacturer. He made a toy that had a wire inside the soft latex which rotated, much like the modern rabbits do. On one toy the interior wire was not capped, the edge of the wire as it was being used inside a man’s rectum chewed through the toy and did severe internal damage to his body. I think this was the mid 70’s. He (Marche) was sued and lost. The judge gave the victim a $14 mil settlement- which of course Mr. Marche couldn’t pay. That is how Ruben Sturman, and later Ron Braverman, got Doc Johnson. He took it off Mr. Marche’s hands.
I don’t know, but I suspect that was the turning point for having a disclaimer on the box. And that is why legal liability is so important in the industry. We are an industry that pays through its teeth for our liability insurance. You never ever have to see a claim and still, because of what we make as an industry, we are charged an arm and a leg and we are told we are lucky to even get it since 99% of insurance companies won’t issue insurance on our products.
I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with the quality, or lack thereof, of a sex toy. I think it has to do with history. Small manufacturers are less likely to use this terminology. Large one’s are more likely.
I’m going to continue to work on this list, with the help of others – if I have something listed incorrectly, let me know and if there’s a brand not listed, let me know how to categorize it. If you see a brand we trust with a disclaimer of any type, can you photograph it and send it to me? It’s going to be a given that the larger and older companies will continue to use the disclaimers.
Companies that do not use a “novelty” “not medical” or anti-liability disclaimer: LELO, Je Joue, Vixen, Fun Factory, Vibratex, Vamp, BS is Nice, OhMiBod
Companies that do include a “novelty” “not medical” or other anti-liability disclaimer: Jopen, We-Vibe, Tantus, Aneros, CalEx Novelties, Doc Johnson, Pipedream, Topco, BSwish
- which I am vocally not a fan of ↩
- “‘FDA approved materials’ is nothing more than a clever marketing ploy to confuse consumers into thinking their products are FDA approved” ↩
- “The fact that they use FDA approved materials has nothing to do with anything. The FDA is concerned with the final product, not the individual materials used, so it has no bearing on importing, costs or otherwise.” ↩
- “There is no “legal-loophole” and they are perpetuating the spread of misinformation for their own gain.” ↩
- “Who is the certifying agency of their “body-safe certified” products? I have never heard of such a thing.” ↩
- “I am assuming this means they have their own factory?” Me: Maybe yes? See this ↩
- “This is a false statement. They are far from the “only” company manufacturing their own toys. Doc Johnson, Blush Novelties, Odeco (which is also the factory for NS Novelties), IMToy and Maia Toys are also producing their own lines, along with many, many other factories.” ↩
- “While this is true, what she is not saying is that they HAVE to perform these tests if they want to sell in the EU. There is NO WAY around this and every single toy that has vibration goes through the same testing procedures, no matter what the company (unless they don’t want to sell in Europe). These are the RoHS and CE certification tests. The only question in regards to testing that would be worth asking is WHO does the testing and Intertek and SGS are in fact, the most reputable testing facilities.” ↩
- Still hate that Thrill ↩
- NONE of this is an answer, it’s marketing ↩
- Yep this is what I was talking about up above with Lelo’s claims ↩
- Once more WITH FEELING! They do these tests because they HAVE TO ↩
- What on earth did THIS have to do with my question?? Nothing ↩