Feb 172013

Car Alarms Are AnnoyingYou’d be hard pressed to find an online giveaway these days that doesn’t have the “Tweet about this contest” as an entry method. Same for “liking” a Facebook page. While the Facebook page “likes” are a bit less intrusive to the would-be winner’s social media circle, a Tweet is going to show up on the dashboard of everyone who follows them. And since some people just enter every contest they can, these Tweets are just so abundant that we’ve begun to, I think, tune them out like a car alarm. Remember those? Now they’re just annoying; you hear a car alarm go off and instead of thinking “Oh noes someone is trying to steal a car”, you think “That fucktard just set off their own alarm again I’mma kill that bastard you stupidhead would you just TURN IT OFF!!!”. Or something like that.

While there are people outside of the realm of sex toy giveaways who also will create a “contest only” Twitter account, I think it’s probably more prevalent for our little niche. Unless the person’s Twitter is safe from the prying eyes of friends and family, or they simply come from much more modern stock than I, they will want to create a secret account for entering sex-related giveaways. And then, since their Twitter account contains no valuable content to generate followers, their contest entry is the equivalent of standing in the middle of the woods and talking to the squirrels. Yet we reward them with multiple entries.

During my last giveaway I encountered a large number of these pseudo Twitter accounts, but also more pseudo Facebook profiles than I’d seen in the past. And like I said, to a degree, I get it. I happen to have a blog-me Facebook account and a vanilla-me Facebook account because I wouldn’t want to follow and like sex-blog/sex-toy related things on my vanilla account. It’s not something I need or want my family to see. But while I have followers on Facebook, these pesudo accounts that people use for contests usually do not have many, or any, friends/followers. So again, it’s a middle of the woods entry and we reward for it.

I suppose though that I’m more old school than I should be. While I agree and recognize that giveaways are a great tool to build brand recognition for both myself and the company sponsoring my giveaway, I keep wanting to go beyond that. I want the people to do something deserving of the more expensive prizes. I think I’m alone in this mindset, though. I encountered a giveaway earlier this week for a Vitamix blender – those fuckers start at something like $400. But did the giver-awayer require that I write a thesis paper? Nope. Did they even give a blog post as an entry method? Nope. They know that their audience isn’t other bloggers. All of the entries are nothing more than liking pages on Facebook, following Twitter accounts and a Tweet. Then again….this sort of social media “advertising” works for mainstreamers. People can easily “like” the Facebook page about food or recipes or whatnot, and it doesn’t matter one iota about friends and family, plus they’ll likely have a few friends/family who will also enter the contest and so it spreads, like wildfire.

But we are unique. We are stigmatized, in many ways. We are the dirty little secret. I get it. I do. My family knows nothing of my blog work, the blog-related trips I’ve made in the past to NYC for Calendar parties, to DC for conferences.

So, what to do? Do I need to just suck it up and play the game of social media as if I were giving away a blender and stop caring that most of the Twitter entries fall on deaf ears or half of the Facebook entries are seen by no one? As I was reading some articles about contests and giveaways, they stressed one fact that we already figured out on our own: people are lazy. They won’t want to do anything complicated. If your entry methods are complicated in nature or complicated to report, you won’t have many entries. I can remember once, long ago, Epiphora was giving away something pricey like a Pure Wand maybe(?) and contest entries had to be something creative and effort was required. I recall that she didn’t get many entries.

Past entry methods that netted me permanent traffic increases included things like having people submit a post to Reddit, Stumbleupon, Digg etc…but not many people did those. Any idea why? It’s pretty darn simple, given the Shareaholic plugin I have below that allows for easy sharing to those places. In recent contests I’ve allowed not only the daily contest tweet, but the opportunity to share via Twitter a past post of mine. Again, some people do it, many don’t. It’s still relatively easy.  I’ve had entry methods where I have people subscribe to my RSS feed (can’t track that) or subscribe to email notifications of my posts – but those can be throwaway entries too, as I’ve had people subscribe to my updates and then after the contest they unsubscribe. They don’t want their inbox cluttered with notifications on posts about sex toy reviews. No, that isn’t true for everyone that enters using those methods but it will be true for a decent percentage.

So I’m running out of ideas for “worthy” entries, most effective entry methods, etc. For my 5 year blog anniversary in June, I’ve decided to have 5 different giveaways. Some of the prizes are from smaller, niche/luxury companies like Fucking Sculptures and Nobessence. These companies need traffic, referrals and to just in general create buzz and keep it going. We need to help keep companies like them in business by fostering their growth.

What contest entry methods are you willing to do to win a sex toy?

What entry methods have you seen that you won’t or can’t ever do?

Should I just give up and stick to the status quo?


Edit: I’ve been doing a lot of research and I know that some don’t enter contests that use an app (like my last giveaway) that will ask you to link your FB account and you “allow” it to access your information; it’ll sometimes even say “post on your behalf” which causes panic. First, by using FB privacy controls you can control who see that stuff and what stuff the app can see. Usually apps can’t see things unless they’re visible to “public”. But I found this which is interesting:

Facebook has it own set of Promotional Guidelines.  All sweepstakes or contest promos that run on a brand’s or company’s Facebook page must run within a 3rd party application. This means that you cannot just use the Facebook wall to collect data on the person or use the page or “Like” button as a means to determine winners.   So when you use a Facebook application the user must “Allow” the application access to the user’s personal profile and other data. Many people are still not comfortable with this and don’t understand what data the marketer will be getting and what they will be doing with it. Facebook users should adjust their privacy settings so that they are not sharing their information with “Everyone”. Most apps will only have access to what a user makes public to “Everyone”.

Wow. We’ve been doing this all wrong. 

Apparently, whether or not to allow Canada residents to enter is NOT dependant on whether the sponsor will ship there: In Canada the winner can not be chosen by luck, but rather some element of skill must be involved. And if you do wish to open your giveaway to residents of Canada, you must go one step further and either exclude Quebec or add in the various additional rules that province requires. Quebec is very strict and requires bonding and registration for sweepstakes along with all communications to be produced in both English and French-Canadian. This is why you will see many U.S. based promotions excluding Quebec from eligibility.

 Posted by at 12:40 pm
Dec 182012

Today, something quite unusual happened.

I received a friend request on Facebook ~which was preceded by an introduction message~.

I imagine some of you are cocking your head like “what’s that?”, right? I have two Facebook accounts, as many of us bloggers do – a “real life” or vanilla account where we use our real names and connect with family members and people from high school we’d like to forget; and then there’s our “blog-version” Facebook accounts where many of us do the majority of our social media networking and sharing albeit under a pseudonym. On my vanilla account, I tend to mostly play those stupid Zynga games because many are perfect ADD-fodder: your activity is limited to 5-minute bits, perfect for my waning attention span. So it’s not 100% uncommon for me to get friend requests from people I do not know simply because we have friends in common – for these goddamn addicting games require that you have many “neighbors” who also play, so we suckers look for other suckers so that we stop harassing our actual friends with requests for help. But I still make it known on my bare public profile that I don’t tolerate silent requests and I’d like a message first. Most comply.

Yesterday, I finally cleared out 25 friend requests on my blog-Facebook. Not a single one of those people sent me a message first. I am treated completely different; the respect is gone out the window. Half of those people shared mutual friends, half I presume are foreign readers of my blog. Since I tend to reveal personal life details sometimes on Twitter and Facebook, I have privacy settings up on both and I don’t accept just any request. I have allowed subscriptions on Facebook, but most people do not subscribe to my public updates first, they just send a blind “friend” request. I accept maybe 1/2 of these because I feel as if I should network and use it to gain readers. Also, because I’m apparently part British and didn’t know it.  In fact…I don’t think I’ve ever received an introduction message along with a friend request on blog-me’s Facebook.

Today, though, I did. And it shocked me (quite clearly, as here I am writing about it). It was a simple message, stating that we have numerous sex-positive friends in common and I seem like his cup of tea. Simple! Non threatening, not at all creepy…just friendly. WHAT A CONCEPT, EH?? SO much more appropriate and polite than “Nice pic Liily! Nice girls!” or asking “where are you from? live in nyc” of an anonymous blogger.

Now, I understand if the profile is of a fellow community member where Twitter discussions have already happened or blog interactions. But even if you’re just someone in the sex industry, just because I’m a sex blogger, does that mean manners are exempt? I’ve had a few adult performers send friend requests and it’s fairly clear that their Facebook profiles are another facet of marketing; the request wasn’t devoid of common friends, but still. We have no interaction anywhere. The request seems more like “networking” than anything else and I don’t need that or want to be bombarded with that in my feed.

I have sent a few Facebook friend requests to fellow bloggers that I already know and have even met in person, only to get a canned response saying that this is their personal Facebook account (and I didn’t stalk them, we had many common friends) and they’d rather I just go “like” their persona page. While I am not a published author or famous educator, I contemplate doing that same thing to people I do not know. But I’d feel way too weird doing it to people I’ve actually met or interacted with, like I think I’m some bigshot or something – good lord I’m so not!!  I’m thinking I’ll just remove the option for people who have no mutual connections to send me a friend request. That will only take care of part of it, though.

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Related-ish topic….I’ve read countless posts in the last few years about how commenting is “down” on blogs, too many people are just reading and not interacting thanks to Twitter and Facebook accounts. Or we’re just lazy. Who the hell knows.

I think it’s an important aspect, though, and not at all in an ego-stroking attention-seeking way. Feedback is good, continuing conversations is even better. I’m not talking about comments on photos or erotic pieces, I’m talking about the sort of blogging I’ve moved on to. I’m very guilty of not commenting; I read my stuff via RSS and just move on assuming that the other person could give a shit what I have to say. But I need to stop assuming that. If they don’t care about my opinion then they’ll keep on ignoring me and that’s fine, that’s their choice. But I’m going to make the effort anyways to get back into commenting when I have something valid to add or feel that the post needs a “commendation” of some sort.

I’ve also not interacted much with many people on Twitter for a few months now. I need to get better about that before I bitch about being ignored ;) But also I need to get back into interacting before I make any more decisions on stepping down from anything else.

Dec 122012

The number of articles written about the insipid and unfortunate trilogy, 50 Shades, is staggering. But at least most of them are better written than the actual books. Just look at the 1/2 star reviews on Amazon to see what I mean if you’ve managed to miss out on that aspect. This article I stumbled across today points out that while the actual sex is indeed a ridiculous fairy tale, the relationship is a tale of caution.

Much of the media attention thus far has focused on the BDSM relationship between the two main characters. What’s missing, though — in the media, probably in our book clubs and certainly in our conversations with our teenage daughters — is a discussion of a serious and dangerous aspect of their relationship.

Let’s be clear: We’re not talking about BDSM. Our concern is that the interaction between the characters outside the bedroom has been ignored.

From the beginning of the series, Christian Grey’s need to control Ana Steele is unmistakable. He gives her a laptop and BlackBerry so she can be instantly available and shows up at her house when she doesn’t respond quickly enough. He flies thousands of miles to her mother’s house, unexpected and uninvited. The examples go on and on. These events are explained away as romantic, as products of Christian’s intensity, his wealth, his need to control, his childhood abuse. But they are not romantic, nor are they justifiable. They are hallmarks of intimate partner violence (IPV).

And it touches on the stalker aspects of Mr. Grey:

Intimate partner stalking includes repeated and unwanted contact or attention that causes the victim to fear her own safety or the safety of others. Over 16 percent of women have experienced stalking during their lifetimes, and two-thirds of those have been stalked by an intimate partner, such as a boyfriend, spouse or girlfriend. Although alarming, these rates likely underestimate the actual prevalence, as most instances of IPV are not reported to the police. The most common form of stalking is repeated and unwanted phone calls or text messages; Christian’s first gifts of a laptop and BlackBerry may not be coincidental.

Millions of women are romanticizing the entire book series, skimming over the IPV and focusing on the unrealistic sex and the “romance”. Women who are in the position of Ana Steele likely do not recognize it at first. Even when they do recognize it, they feel that there is nothing that can be done. After all, what will the cops do about phone and email stalking and harassing? Not much until the perpetrator threatens harm or shows up in person. Yet to live with that kind of stalking is terrifying, sickening and is a life filled with despair.

What’s worse though is reading the comments on this article. There are a few people who are still unable to see Christian’s actions as “stalkerish” and still see it as “romantic”. Too many people are going to think that because “oh he had good reason”. There is never good reason to behave this way.

’50 Shades of Grey’: Expanding the Conversation from Sexy to Safety by Peggy Andover, PhD and Colleen Jacobson

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This great post, written well before the 50 Shades bullshit, is very useful for not just kinksters but anyone who is dating. Remove the BDSM aspects and you still have a creepy, unhealthy person: A Field Guide to Creepy Dom.

The Creepy Dom isn’t just a character in a Dungeon or sex club, he (or she) can be the predator next door, the sweet person you develop an online relationship with, or the guy you meet through the vanilla dating site. Sadly, the ability to recognize and run away isn’t something gained with age. The writer of the post linked does talk about the propensity for young girls in the kink scene to be fooled by “Doms” older than their father but I assure you the ability to be conned and believe the con is not bound by age. It can happen to anyone, be they 18, 34 or 52. I wish I had seen this post years ago and memorized it like a doctrine. 

The anatomy of a Creepy Dom, according to Asher (explanations available in the post, so read it):

1. He comes on too strong, too fast

2. He’s consensually challenged

3. He has “connections” and is “experienced”

4. He “essentializes” dominance and submissions

5. He manipulates your desire to be a good bottom

6. He’s usually doing something wrong

I’d like to add in one of my own:

7. He seeks out submissives who have little to no real life experience, for they are easier to manipulate

Read it. Memorize it. Live it. And be careful out there.

Do you have any to add to the list, after reading Asher’s post?

Nov 272012

Oh, life. What a fuckin pain in the ass it can be. And confusing.

It shows that I’m not keeping good tabs on my site when it takes a potential advertiser to point out that I’m no longer page-ranked. I thought it was a glitch that my PR is 0. But no…I checked my Webmaster account and Google basically is telling me that they found suspicious links that look like I’m “selling pagerank” or something. From what I gather, the only way to fix this is add rel=”nofollow”. Until I “fix” things, Google won’t give me my page rank back. I don’t know how to feel about this. This is just another way for them to crack down on links. Many advertisers are gone, slowly falling away. One asked to be removed and replaced as a post sponsor, for sidebar links were counting against them. *sigh* Buy more sex toys, please, to keep my coffee cup full! =/

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I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that I won’t be doing e[lust] anymore. It was honestly a snap decision, but one that feels….mostly right. I’ve always been the gal who did a lot for others and shouldered a lot of obligation, mostly obligation that is brought upon by myself. I kept e[lust] going this year out of obligation. But after 3 years I’m ready to let it die or pass the torch. Either way it’s going to feel a bit odd to me. I’m sure I’ll write a flowery, sappy post about it soon enough. Such a fuckin sap, I am.

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Another thing I’m trying to wrap my head around is wondering how such a shitty turn of events in life can bring me something so wonderful. A door slammed closed and a beautiful window opened. ACK that sounds so cheesy. She would thwap me for that. While I’m not interested in dating anyone now or in the foreseeable future, I’m more than happy to have a friend with benefits. Girly benefits are even better than I remembered! “Fun” stuff aside though, have you ever met someone and just marveled at how alike you are, how many of the same things you just love and how is it you’d not met eons ago? It’s like that. I always used to wish I’d had a best friend of the experimentation sort when I was growing up. A little late in life for “experimentation” now….damn! Oh well. We can always pretend. Ahem. If this were 2009 I’d be going into a lot more details, but these are new and different times for my blog, new directions and all that. SERIOUS BLOG IS SERIOUS. kinda. meh.

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Add another quirky disorder to my long list. I spent my childhood thinking that I truly WAS lazy/stupid, until I learned as an adult that I had Inattentive-Type-ADD. I’ve now finally found that my hatred for certain sounds is real, that many people have it and that I’m not the only person. I ran across an article about the girl who chronicled her suicide attempt on Twitter and it said that she has this disorder called Misophonia. I read it and the lightbulb came on. While my hatred of sounds doesn’t make me depressed or want to commit suicide, it does cause various degrees of extreme irritation or rage. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.  The list of trigger sounds is scary accurate for me in a couple of areas. mine include nearly everything in the “mouth and eating” category:

crunching, sucking, smacking, chewing, swallowing, Gum chewing and popping, Gulping, slurping, water bottle squeezing, ahhs after drinking, tooth sucking, wet mouth sounds, kissing sounds, spitting, nail biting, Toothbrushing, Flossing

When my mother and I would take trips together I would end up driving whilst wearing headphones and blaring music, due to her predilection for foods such as hard candy, carrots, celery, pretzels, dry cereal and gum. And she chews with her mouth slightly open. It drives me insane. When I try, as nicely as possible, to tell her that I cannot help it but I find it irritating and can she please stop or close her mouth, she takes it very personally. Glares at me. Sighs. “I can’t do anything right”. “Everything I do annoys you”. I can’t wait to show her this site. I’ve been known to leave check-0ut or customer service lines in stores if the person next to me is chewing their gum loudly and cracking their gum. I will “internally” plug up my ears (hard to describe – like I can pop my ears myself, it’s similar to that except I hold that and breathe louder so that I hear my own breathing) if there is a lot of kissing on a tv show or movie. I cannot tolerate the opening sequence to Dexter, either.

Frankly if a person naturally does most of the things on that above list, we’re unlikely to be friends. Unfortunately for me I have two family members who cannot be disowned that fit that.  I think back now to coworkers and other acquaintances that I’ve harbored great dislike for and realized that I feel that way about them as a person because they are “noisy”.

As for the environmental sounds listed, some bother me mildly and others make me want to hurt the person responsible. Rumbling bass from too-loud cars is one. Cats cleaning themselves is another….I’ve been known to yell at the cats and throw socks at them if they’re too loud. We had a cat once that was a VERY loud licker and man did I ever yell at her. I feel bad, but I cannot control the irritation.  The last time I had to sit at the DMV, I made sure to bring my phone and I blasted music into my earbuds to drown out the people around me.

Sadly this is yet another thing with no known cause and no “cure”. AWESOME. At least I have a name for it instead of “get over it” and “you’re just intolerant” or “you’re so easily annoyed”. I wonder if this is a dopamine-related thing? All I know is that while I’m not quite as bad as some of what is portrayed in this 20/20 episode yet watching it makes me tear up in empathy.

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I’ll leave you with this lovely image found with these other lovely images. There’s just so much to be said about everything in this ad….so much.

 Posted by at 11:54 pm

Soundtrack of the day (or week, really)

 Navel-Gazing  Comments Off on Soundtrack of the day (or week, really)
Oct 302012

I escaped the Big Storm mostly unscathed…many of my Bubble Crew seems to as well so far. My body is still recovering from the tremendous flare-up that rolled in before the storm did. We only have one family section to worry about, who are on Long Island. It’s sounding like the town and possibly the house are in bad shape and I am very concerned but not as concerned as I was for my mother. I suppose it is because my mother is widowed and frankly…not very strong anymore. Indeed, last year’s flood nearly did her in.

I did a buttload of laundry in preps for the power to be out, thinking I could fold/put away when there was nothing else better to do. Except, the power didn’t really go out and I can find LOTS OF OTHER THINGS TO DO. Poor laundry. So neglected.

In other news  e[lust] seems to be back on track. I admit I’m not ready for it, but I’m also not ready to give up on it.

Today I’m playing music that seems to be fitting in with where my head is at recently…..Strong, supported, and laughing at the stupidity I am seeing. (in related news, I’d give my left big toe to be able to sing as well as these ladies)

But since you been gone
I can breathe for the first time
I’m so movin’ on, yeah yeah

I’ve loved this next song for a long time. I heard Fiona’s Extraordinary Machine when it was leaked and “unreleased”. A good bit got changed when it was officially released and I’m grateful that I had the unreleased version. There’s something both simple and utterly complex about this version with nothing but her, the piano and an orchestra. It portrays every emotion perfectly. While I like the video with Zach G, I hate the song. It’s….manic and messy and it loses so much. When I listen to the “original” version I suppose though that I might look like an orchestra conductor on crack. :) Goddamn it’s just so powerful this way.  The way the piano pedal stands in for a thump of a bass? PERFECT

Conversation once colored by esteem
Became dialogue as a diagram of a play for blood
Took a vacation, my palate got clean
Now I could taste your agenda
While you’re spitting your cud

And it doesn’t make sense
I should fall for the kingcraft of a meritless crown

Turn on my heels
Step out of this sight
Try to live in a lovelier light

I’ve loved nearly everything by Fiona, but I’m not sure about this album yet.  Lyrics are good though….as always.

 Posted by at 12:28 pm
Oct 282012

In recent months I’ve been able to tell a few outside-the-bubble people that I am a sex blogger. It’s always a weird thing, filled with uncertainty and trepidation. A few weekends ago it was a fact about me that came out pretty early on into being introduced to new friends, friends of a friend. And sure enough they seemed to take it pretty well. I’m not used to spitting that out. But OH IT’S NICE to talk about my sex toys, the silicone, the jelly, the chemicals to non-bloggers. I was told I lit up when I spoke of it all.

I’ve lamented sometimes that I feel worthless because I don’t have a job. A few friends remind me that I *do*….this website. So the question is, do I return from leave, or do I hang up the gloves? Revenue from advertisers/sponsors is maybe 1/6th of what it was a few years ago. My affiliate commissions, though, have increased quite a bit so there is a bit of evening out, but not quite enough to balance the scales. It’s not that I do this for the money, I never have. But it’s been very nice and I’ve come to rely on it. Of course, one should never rely on something so fickle.

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for quite awhile. I’ve kept up reading some of them, I check into Twitter for brief moments here and there but that is it. If I really missed it all, don’t you think I’d be checking up on the social media sites more than I am…..? So that’s the question. Do I hang it up. I’ve had some wonderful support in my hiatus. People telling me how much they’ve learned from me, how I’m needed in this “fight”, this “War on Sex Toys (or more accurately, Jelly)”. I think about posts I could write and I come up dry. I have back-logged reviews to write and the motivation is lacking. Perhaps I need to force myself into it, which is why I’m writing this. Squeeze some words out, see if more follow on their own.

I finally will be changing over my site very soon to the New Me. Maybe that will provide the kick in the ass I need.

 Posted by at 9:09 am