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. 


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%.  


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!!


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


Jun 032013

Many sex toy review bloggers, especially right now, got their start at EdenFantasys, a place that handles on-site reviews very differently than any other site. I actually like that aspect (it’s one of the few things about the site that still have me point people to it to help them narrow down their search for a sex toy), because it’s not a few paragraphs from Joe Schmo in Boston, it’s an entire, in-depth review from a person with a profile and a means of contact. Just like in blogging, you can go find their other reviews and see if they rate everything positively, or if they’re picky.

So the reviewers that come from EF are accustomed to their entire review being published on the site, unless they were already a blogger doing off-site reviews. Many were not bloggers and had no place else for that review to get published. Being approached by a manufacturer or retailer to do some reviewing is always nice, but dig a little deeper into their practices before you jump in.

Over the years I’ve been approached by a number of companies, both retail and manufacturer, who I turned down the opportunity to review for. Why? Well, option for an affiliate program aside, it came down to the fact that they would publish the entire review on their site and many without an attribution link. OR they stripped the internal post links and then only added one small link at the end of the review. I couldn’t tell if these were lifted from the reviewer’s site, or re-printed with the reviewers permission.  Some even used the photos the blogger took themselves. If it’s an excerpt, with a link, that’s a horse of a different color. When I first agreed to review for Lelo directly back in 2008, that’s how they did it. At some point in 2010 I discovered that they had slyly changed their tactics, now copying the entire text of the review with no outgoing links. I called them out on it, as copyright violation, and they changed it back.

Some companies may tell you up front that they’ll publish your review on their site, in full. Many don’t. I have a policy on my contact page where I state up front that if you’re asking me to review a product, that you tell me the terms of the review up front before I agree, otherwise those terms will not be tolerated after. The companies that published the reviews on their site never informed me of that “review condition” up front, I had to go poking around their site and find it out for myself.

Why do I care? Shouldn’t I let them? After all, they did “pay” me for my time with a sex toy, right? Given what that sex toy cost them to buy from the manufacturer, it’s not sometimes enough payment for the work I go through in order to review a sex toy. It’s why I usually ask to join their affiliate program. And it’s certainly not enough payment for me to allow them to put my entire review on their site. Even if there is a link (it’s always put in at the end of the review), why would someone shopping on their site click off their site to mine, when the entire review is already posted there? They won’t.

Another reason is that I take copyright seriously. And there are a LOT of scraper sites out there. Oftentimes these companies will re-publish the review to their “blog” section….which is ripe for scraping. So if I find a scraper site with my stolen review, but they scraped it from the sex toy site? I can’t do anything about it. I’ve had this happen once, and I tried to contact the host for a DMCA take down. Because the version of my review on the sex toy retailer’s site was slightly different from mine (if I talked about a competitor’s toy, they would strip that out, or some links were changed/gone), it was clear that the scraper stole from  the retailer’s site and the host said that the retailer had to contact them. They wouldn’t (they ignored my email).  It’s also a copyright issue for me because of my copyright license statement, which I have the right to enforce. The retailers or manufacturer don’t always get my permission before copying my review and putting it up on their site all while stripping out the links I had in there to other posts on my site.

Has this happened to you? Did you mind? If you found out that a company did this, would it change your mind about snagging that “free” sex toy from them?

Feb 102013

copyrightThis isn’t the first time I’ve written about scrapers, and I’m sure most of you have heard about this happening. I’m going to do my best to help you figure out what to do and how to fix it the next time you see your fellow bloggers tweeting about yet another site who has stolen blogger content.

Usually what happens is that an unscrupulous site will use a “scraper” program which copies the content of your RSS feed word for word, link for link, and automatically posts it on their site. Sometimes they will not do anything at all to your post; it goes up on their site, links photos and all. The (slight) upside to this is that if anybody is reading this site, they’ll click on the links and eventually get back to your site. But that’s really not enough of an upside. They are using your post as free content to pad their site for SEO purposes which will in turn net them more advertising.

Sometimes they will put your post up and the post title will link directly back to your page, not to the post on their site. These assholes believe that that is “attribution” and they’re in the clear. No. I recently had to deal with such a jackhole who is still following my blog. Despite my comments on his site to remove my copyrighted shit, and his eloquent email that I quoted on Twitter, and despite me reporting him to HostGator and his posts being removed, he still is trying to add me to places like GooglePlus. FYI: RSS feeds do not at all give someone like him permission to use your content. Their blog/site is not a feed reader; a feed reader is the only thing allowed to publish an RSS feed like he had done. They will also try to call this “re-blogging” and it is not. See: Ethical Blogging Practices

Sometimes they will remove your photos (or if there were none, add their own) and replace them with porn-y pics. Sometimes they’ll take it a step further and replace any links in your post to links that they choose, or they’ll add in extra links for keyword farming. This is what ScandalShack.com did to Mina and many other bloggers back in 2011.

ZOMG But It’s Duplicate Content and Google Will HATE Me!

When they talk about “duplicate content” they’re usually referring to it happening from within your own site. Like you search for a review on the Lelo Mona and it shows up on Google once due to it being a recent post and the title is in your sidebar, a second time under the category “Reviews”, a third time under the tag “vibrators”, a fourth time under the tag “Lelo” and so on. But when it comes to “duplicate content” due to being scraped, 9 times out of 10, Google knows that your post showed up first and is the real post. You won’t be penalized for it.

Says Google:
Before diving in, I’d like to briefly touch on a concern webmasters often voice: in most cases a webmaster has no influence on third parties that scrape and redistribute content without the webmaster’s consent. We realize that this is not the fault of the affected webmaster, which in turn means that identical content showing up on several sites in itself is not inherently regarded as a violation of our webmaster guidelines. This simply leads to further processes with the intent of determining the original source of the content—something Google is quite good at, as in most cases the original content can be correctly identified, resulting in no negative effects for the site that originated the content.

But that’s not why I care – I worked hard on my damn content and I don’t allow others to use it and indirectly profit from it or claim it as their own. I own the copyright. Even if I didn’t have copyright notices out the yingyang here, it’s an unspoken thing, this whole “blog” copyright business. I created the content, I own it. Just like anything on the internet. Creator Owns All.

The Hostess With the Mostest

The entity that will be following the laws of DMCA is the host of the site. Not the domain registrar. Sometimes, though, figuring out who is hosting it isn’t that easy if you don’t know what you’re doing. The tried-and-true method is to use a site called who.is. But what happens? I’m going to use the site who most recently scraped me and I stupidly tried to engage with the site owner (it never, ever works…trust me), the one I mentioned above.

What you'll see when you do a Who.is on a domain

So who.is talks about a lot of stuff there, and what do you see first? GoDaddy. Nope, that’s not the host. That’s the registrar – who they bought the domain from. Many places don’t use the same company for both hosting and domain registration. The word “host” is never used here, but it’s hiding down there in the “nameserver”. Hostgator. Ok, that’s easy, they’re a major hosting company.  Whatever it says in nameserver, basically, just type that in as a site and it usually will take you to a hosting company.

What you'll see when you use Whoishostingthis.comBut in searching for a better way to locate a host, I found another site: Whoishostingthis.com. Supposedly this site will tell you exactly who is hosting the site, in plain English. Except…maybe not. For the site above, it claims WebsiteWelcome is the host. Typing in that as a site comes up with a text-only page that tells you to email abuse@websitewelcome for any copyright complaints. Weird, right? So I did a little Google-fu and find that WebsiteWelcome is indeed related to Hostgator. They are a private reseller label or something. But I had already contacted HostGator and they responded appropriately, meaning they are the  host. If a company is not the host, they will respond and tell you that they’re not. Half the time they’ll tell you who IS.

Let’s try another. Don’t ask me why but as I sat there trying to think up a random, porn-y site address the first thing that popped into my head was midgetporn. So that’s what I went with. Who.is says that the nameserver is he.net. Typing that in takes me to a site that appears to maybe be a little out of date, Hurricane Electric hosting. They don’t have anything obvious up for copyright claims/DMCA takedowns; it takes a lot of digging. They don’t list a contact for that in their contacts list; I had to go locate their Terms of Service under the Legal page to locate their copyright claims email.

But what if I had gone to Whoishostingthis.com? Hmm. They tell me that the (likely a reseller) is “V Entertainment”. Just like above with the WebsiteWelcome company, typing in ventertainment.com gives me not much – but it does give a contact form for “issues with any of our member  sites”.

Hosting Reseller: The problem with using Whoishostingthis.com is that they’re listing the reseller. Many times the reseller IS the site owner, or is just as shady as the site owner. You need to go to the nameserver for maximum effect.

Private Nameservers: You might come across a private nameserver, which would look like ns1.midgetporn.com. A realistic case: I looked up another popular type of spammy site, the work from home arena. Literally, I who.is’d workfromhome.com. Bingo! Their nameserver? name-server.com. Go there and you’ll see a basic holding page which just contains more spammy advertising links to related things. So what about the who.is on name-server.com? It’s more of a circlejerk, but you’ll see the same registrar as the workfromhome – ENOM. Given all that, I would start with the registrar if workfromhome.com was scraping or stealing my content. I would hope that they could point me in the right direction.

I Have No Fucking Idea Nameservers: Twice I’ve dealt with sites where the nameserver wasn’t easy to pin to a host. Once it was Moniker Services for the registrar but monikerdns.net for the NS and I don’t even know how I found their host. I’m sorry. I’m hoping someone else will be able to shed light in comments.


Ironically, you don’t want to push the host to take down their whole site. Why? As a rep from a hosting company once told me, if they take down the site, the site could potentially be back up online in as little as 10 minutes with the person going to an “unscrupulous” “Russian or Chinese” host. And then, apparently, you’re screwed? But if they just take down the page(s) in question, eventually the site owner will stop targeting you, usually fairly quickly.

Also, you can’t report content theft unless you are the owner of the content being stolen. So if you find something of Violet Blue’s, you can’t tell the host to remove it. You don’t own the original, she does. They only want to hear from you.

Many places will have a form online for you to fill out. Some have nothing but an email address. In that case, fill out a standard DMCA form letter and send it to them. With Hostgator, I had to fax them. Who faxes in this century?? Apparently HG does. I wasn’t about to trot off to Staples so I found one of those free, online fax services that will send it for free if you agree to embed advertising. You’re not the one receiving the fax so it doesn’t matter. Hostgator sent me a canned response within minutes of receiving the fax. When the requisite 48 hours for the site owner to Do The Right Thing has passed and they have not, in fact, done the right thing, HostGator emails you to tell you that they’ve forcibly removed the content and you’re done. If your content is on a blogspot blog, that’s the easiest DMCA you’ll ever do, since there is a link in the nav bar above all Blogspot blogs that allows you to report content theft/spam/etc.

Below is a list of some hosting companies and how to contact them, borrowed from PlagiarismToday.com. The post containing links to various sites and hosts is horribly outdated, written years ago, and is missing a few hosts (like HostGator) but there are so many hosting companies that they cannot all be listed. I’ll list whichever ones anybody comments with and update this part.

Blog Networks

Blogger/Blogspot = Google
DeadJournal (see last item) (email)
LiveJournal (email)
Typepad (email)
WordPress.com (email)
Yahoo! 360 (email)

Domain Hosts

BlueHost (See: Abuse department) (email)
DirectNIC (See: 20.s) (email)
Dreamhost (email)
Enom.com (email)
iPowerWeb (email)
MediaTemple (email)
Midphase (email)
Network Solution (See: Copyright Complaints) (email)
Rackspace (See: Copyright Infringement Notice) (email)
Register.com (email)
Surpass Hosting (mail)
Westhost (email)
Verio (email)
XO (email)
Yahoo Web Hosting (email)
YellowFiber (email)

How To Stop a Predator

You can’t prevent RSS scraping. There used to be a WordPress plugin called nomoreframe, but it works no more. The bots found a different way. So basically you just need to add in things to your RSS that mention copyright, link back to your blog, etc. These things, though, will only help you out if they are scraping your RSS feed. If they are taking the long way around which involves copying your text content and replacing links with ads and adding in porn photos, then there likely isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent it. You can only hope that they leave in at least one link.

Why? If you have enabled ping/trackbacks on your posts then you will get notified by WordPress or Blogger when something links to you. For awhile there I was turning off pingbacks because of things like Pleasurists and e[lust], I don’t like to see those things clogging up the comments section. I suspect some people leave them as a way to show that their post was well-liked, a vanity thing, but as a reader and blog owner I find they just add visual clutter. So I have the trackbacks on again but I don’t ever publish them. If it weren’t for the trackback I wouldn’t have known that the illustrious B T Phillips was stealing my content.

©Feed: “Extends the feed! A report of copyright, a digital fingerprint and the IP of the feed reader can be added. In addition, some search engines are scanned for the digital fingerprint in order to find possible content theft. The feed can be also be supplemented with comments and topic-relevant contributions.” This is the primary plugin that I recommend. You can add links back to your page, a copyright notice, and the digital fingerprint will help you find sources of scraping (but it will also show allowed sources, like feed readers).


If you have dealt with a host that isn’t listed, please comment and let us know. I’ll add it in. If you use any other methods for prevention, control or hunting people down, tell us your best methods.

Feb 012012

A number of the 100-some original members are long gone and in their place are newer bloggers who don’t know about the thing that was once the Sex Blogger Co-Op on Ning.com. For a refresher or those who don’t know what it’s all about, read these few posts: Blogger Education? talks a bit about the demise andProjects Abound introduces the Co-Op and talks about what it was.

When the Co-Op moved it was because Ning announced it would no longer host their long-time free networks. They were also closing down “adult” communities without warning and that spooked a few people, despite the fact that our group was private, invite-only and not pornographic. The move to a more text-based forum set-up hosted on the e[lust] site spelled disaster as nobody wanted to to go there anymore. It wasn’t easy or pretty. Without any participation from other members, I closed it down.

I still think there is a need for it, for a private place for just the bloggers to go where we can say “Hey, did you get an email from CompanyX? Is this shit for real?” or stuff like that. For those who were not a part of it, some things we discussed were:

  • Tutorials on how to do certain things on your blog, like design elements, a clickable header, embedding video
  • Discussions on affiliate programs
  • Opinions on the latest company/group to hit us up for reviews/exposure
  • Discussion on advertisers, like what they were proposing, who was telling them to go to hell, etc
  • Blogging prompts

There were debates, arguments, but overall a lot of help being offered and confused questions answered. I’d like to think that it was just as helpful to newer bloggers as it was the veterans. While I don’t expect every sex-type blogger to join I would hope that both veteran and new bloggers would join in, and be active. How active? Whatever you manage….to a point. Since there would be a member cap (150 people) I would have to occasionally weed out those who hadn’t participated in any way for X number of months. It’s not free, of course. The cheap plan (similar to the ToySwap Network, if you’re a member there) allows for forums (including the ability to subscribe to threads or boards to get email updates on new posts) and 150 members. Things that we once had that we would no longer have: The ability for anybody but me to invite people in to the network; chat room; ability to customize the layout. We would lose the few topics that were started or continued once the network moved off of Ning but I don’t think that it’s really a big deal. All the old discussions remain as do your memberships if you were once part of it.

For those who were once a part of it: Would you re-join? It would still be private and invite-only as I feel that it’s the only way we can truly speak our minds on some things. For those who are newer, would you join?

And no, it’s not free. As I said there would be a small price ($3 for me) but the next plan up is a whopping $25 a month and although it will give us many of the features we enjoyed with the free Ning, like chat rooms and customization and no member cap I don’t think that I could get enough people to chip in to come up with a steady $25 a month. I would not require that every blogger contribute something monetarily in order to join but I would greatly appreciate it. I would only ask for a couple dollars per person able to contribute, as it will only cost me $36 a year. And since it’s a month-to-month payment plan if for some reason the whole thing takes off like it never did before and there is a need and willingness to warrant the $25 a month plan, we can upgrade. I don’t see that happening but it’s a door I’m not closing.

If I don’t get much feedback here or much positive feedback then I will allow Ning to delete the network and the contents. I have until February 10th to decide.

Jul 082011

I write this post with full knowledge that I’m going to offend or at least bruise egos of many bloggers. Our blogs are our homes and how we decorate them says a lot about both us individually and the nature of our blog.

I get it. I DO. My first two blog themes were very dark and sexy and gothy and  I cringe, CRINGE, when I look back at screencaps from those days. Why? Well let’s ignore first that my original banner on my blogspot blog was fucking hideous, and admit that I did the whole all-dark-all-the-time and had white text on a dark background. With the blog design that came before this current, bright (in comparison) color scheme was yet another dark and gothic fantasy world – but I’m still proud of that design. I and CoyPink‘s hubby, Alec, worked quite hard at that and I’m still proud of that header with its clickable words. At least I’d wizened up though and made a compromise – dark on the side, white for the posts. Perhaps some things in my sidebar were still a little hard to read for some, but it was a big improvement over the first real design.

What I hate and why I hate it:

1. You can convey a sexy sex blog without all being in the black/gray/very dark jewel-tones color scheme all the time everywhere. A little goes a long way.

2. For the love of pete please realize that for many people white/light text on a black/dark background is VERY hard to read1. As is a very bright colored text on a very dark background (red and blue are the worst). I’ve actually had to stop reading a blog because the color choices hurt my eyes so much.

3. Fun fonts are fun. But fun fonts should be used sparingly because they can sometimes be hard to read. Especially when they’re white text on dark background. They should be limited to the blog name in the header and at most the blog post titles or sidebar heading titles. Something that is bigger than your standard 12pt font – a crazy font will be easier to read when it’s larger.

4. Not knowing and respecting the width of your theme’s sidebars and body sections. Learn how to trim down the size of YouTube embedded videos. Keep your photos in posts to half (3/4 at most) of the width of your post body section. And please pay attention to all that crap in your sidebar. You probably CAN change the size of the items, you just don’t know how or don’t think it’s a big deal. It is. At best it just looks like crap, at worst it covers up text in the post body section.

For some of you reading along I might have just inadvertently told you that your blog, your very own blog, hurts my eyes and makes me cringe. I’m not saying this to offend you personally but to offer the wisdom of someone who’s been around the blogging block a bit. Having a blog that is pleasing to the eye and easy to read visually will not only increase your readership but keep them on your blog to explore. I’ve seen some blogs recently that I’d truly like to explore more but I can’t – I absolutely can’t deal with the color and/or design. Don’t take just my word for it, I’ve not designed nearly as many websites as AAG has. I’ve added her comments in below.

My suggestions for making changes:

1. You don’t need to know much about code to make color changes in your existing theme (the only people who can’t do this are the free WordPress bloggers who aren’t able to get into the CSS stylesheet, I do believe that the newer Blogspot dashboard allows you access to the code, be it html or CSS). If you utilize the Firefox browser and then use this add-on called Firebug, you can bring up your blog, turn on Firebug and see the code. You can then go through it and start “turning off” lines of code to figure out what that line of code affects. This won’t actually change your code – just what you see. (I hear that the latest version of FireFox and FireBug make it so that if you’re self-hosted your changes in FireBug CAN be permanent but that’s not my point here). So scroll through it and try to find the sections that are usually labeled “post”. Using this helpful website, pick a new hexadecimal color and replace it (black is #000000 (zero’s, not O’s), white is #ffffff, occasionally coders will abbreviate those two to just #000 or #fff). This way you can change what the post portion of your blog looks like without having to ditch the theme that you like. You can keep the dark background on the sides and top and bottom just have the posts portion be readable.

2. Use your header and graphical design of the blog theme to express your individuality and sexuality, within reason. Also make that header clickable so that it can easily take a reader back to your home page.

AAG sez: a) Reign in the individuality just a wee bit – the header can be sexy but probably shouldn’t be, for example, a close-up lifesize image of your asshole. (yes, this was a true story)

3. Changing to a hand-writing or script-y font just to be different can lead to your blog being even harder to read visually. Sure, it’s different. It’s “you”, even. But it makes me run away very quickly.

AAG sez: a) bear in mind that not all operating systems will display various fonts (used in the body, not in images of course). Check them here.
b) keep in mind that a font that’s awesome today may be passe tomorrow. ask for feedback2
c) Pick a contrasting color for links that does something different yet recognizable upon hover. Check to make sure it doesn’t do something weird after the link is visited. Check this on various browsers as some display visited links differently.

3. Using a lot of banners & buttons and graphical wonders in your sidebar(s)? Consolidate, and change their size so that they’re all the same (or at least so that they fit into your sidebar’s size allotment and don’t spill out into posts or the outer edge). Easy size change tip: When you post the html code into the text box, erase the “height” marker and change the “width” number on them all3. Caution: only go down in numbers, never go up – it’ll look pixelated and cheap.

4. Don’t use lots of colors and/or font styles in one post. It looks high-school-ish (to me), is distracting, doesn’t flow, and doesn’t always translate very well into feeds (why not? see #5). I even run into the problem with my blog that a certain paragraph-styling looks one way on my blog but completely different in the feed.

5. If you insist on having a colored background for the posts section for all that is blog-holy please take caution in forcefully changing the font color of your writing. If the font color is hard-coded into the CSS stylesheet then it will still appear as black text on white background in your feed. However when you go and force the change in your post editor box it will show up in the feed as the color you changed it to – and guess what? Unless it’s a dark color, it’s going to be damn near impossible to read it for those who use feedreaders to keep up with your blog. You think I hate light text on dark background? Bright & light text on white background is even worse!

6. Don’t use a font that is too small. I’ve been to a couple of blogs where the font size is small even for my 21″ widescreen monitor – ok, it was also white on black, so that added to it. But find the Goldilocks Font4 for your theme – again this is a change that can be made utilizing Firebug and changing the CSS stylesheet – not too big, not too small, not too hot and not too cold.

I could have screencapped or linked to examples of some of the things I’ve mentioned above in a “don’t do this” sort of way but that’s not the angle I’m going after here – I’m not doing this to be mean or pick on a person. This is just about good intentions turned into bad designs. And just because you have violated my personal font/color mantra doesn’t necessarily mean that your blog design is terrible. It might be really awesome in every other way….just hard to read. If your answer to this is a shrug and “hey subscribe to the RSS feed, it’s plain black text on white background, just like you like it” then you’re missing the point. Don’t you want your readers to interact with you and each other? Don’t you want someone to pour through your archives and become a fan or friend? That won’t happen if they get to your site and their eyes bleed.

Comments are wide open. You can tell me to go to hell and why. You can tell me that you agree with me and give some other helpful suggestions or “Don’t”s. You can say “hey I think I might fit a bunch of these Do-not-do things, can you look at my site and give me your honest feedback?” and I will be happy to do so tactfully. I’d suggest a feedback site that at one point helped me really tweak this current layout and design thanks to honest & anonymous feedback on the design, but I got yanked for being “porn” as did another blogger; you can certainly try your hand and see how long it takes you to get flagged (given how easy they’ve made it to flag for adult content, don’t expect to last long): Feedback Roulette. You look at other people’s sites and tell them what you honestly think, good and bad, and then others do the same for you. Or….just ask me here.

 Go for it.


Color Scheme Designer – This tool allows you to input your primary preferred color and get many options. Various hues of the color, complimentary color, and a whole coordinating color scheme. For best use, enter in the Hex value of your primary color on your blog (next to the RGB work lower right of the wheel).

Colorzilla – An add-in to Firefox that allows you to find the Hex color (or RGB values) of any color on any web page.

Firebug – The most important add-on for Firefox to help you tweak your CSS stylesheet (if you need any help figuring out how to use it, please feel free to email me)

How to make your Header/banner clickable – This tutorial is geared towards WP users (self-hosted). For Blogger users I believe you can set that attribute in the Design Dashboard.

  1. Please note that I did not say everybody. And I’m sure someone will comment and say that one group of people or they personally prefer what I am saying is hard to read. That’s fine, go ahead. But when the majority of websites are primarily light-colored, that is when it becomes really hard on the eyes – switching from the contrast of the two.
  2. She’s on Twitter, if I were you I’d show it to her first. Just never Papyrus or Comic Sans.
  3. Why erase the height and only change the width? By doing it that way you are allowing the html to automatically proportionally re-size the height to match up to the new width. Otherwise you need to figure out on your own what is height-weight proportional and no I’m not talking about swinger club and adult dating site body requirements ;)
  4. And no I don’t mean the actual font named Goldilocks, sheesh!
Jun 302011

I have a great deal with you. Why not earn generous recurring commission with your blog? I believe you will make a great affiliate partner when you promote sex toys and “safe for work” products. You can help us promote our websites and we can help you make some money! :-) I’m exclusively inviting you 1 to join our affiliate program. By becoming our affiliate partner, you will enjoy these amazing benefits….

Are you looking for a well converting website which really can help you in making good money? If so, the HeartlessScammer.com affiliate program is an opportunity you are looking for 2.

There’s two times when, as a blogger, you’ll be offered a spot in someone’s affiliate program: If you are a reviewer of their products, or, if they’re just trying to get free advertising from you.

I’m betting a number of you are going to think that the second reason sounds pretty harsh, right? I’ll share my opinion on this and ask other experienced review bloggers to chime in with comments.

Yes, I do belong to a few affiliate programs but only for places that I review for (or once reviewed for). The only one that makes me any amount of money worth mentioning is from EdenFantasys, and that’s primarily because I review the most often for them (plus, personal feelings from anyone aside, you have to admit that they walk the line between overstocking worthless crap like Sextoy . com and not carrying many options like VibeReview . com, all while offering pretty decent prices. Options + prices + lack of total sleaze = most like to be bought from).  By actively reviewing for a company I am an affiliate of, I’m putting my affiliate links “out there” in numerous posts. I might make the occasional (VERY occasional) sale with places I reviewed for years ago but kept my affiliate account (VibeReview, Babeland) but it’s rare.

I once belonged to an affiliate program that I was NOT a reviewer for and I only did it because I already genuinely liked the site – Kink.com. I had a rotating banner widget to show their various sites to appeal to various readers, I occasionally wrote about them (ok, twice) but never once did I make an affiliate sale.

So try to imagine the star-aligning moment that would have to occur for you to make any sales on an affiliate program that merely resides as a banner in your sidebar. A reader would have to notice it, and then click on it, and then purchase something from the click from your site. I touched on this topic briefly when I wrote up the Basics of Paid Advertising on the Sex Blogger Education section of e[lust], but given the deluge of affiliate program offers that I (and undoubtedly many other bloggers like me) have received in the last month I just had to write more about this.

Bottom Line:

Their numbers might sound dazzling. 10-20% of every sale? A percentage of those affiliates who sign up under me?? Free to join??? (wait, this smells a little like an MLM scheme, or is that just me?) But trust me on this: They’re going to get a lot more from this largely-one-sided relationship than you are just in free advertising alone. They want their name out there in Google land, that’s what it boils down to, and they don’t want to pay for it.

You’re worth more than a one-sided relationship that just uses your good heart and lies to you, aren’t you?

Added 7-11-11: A special caution regarding International companies:

I’m prompted to add this because of an email I received today from a retailer and a follow-up question from another blogger who received a email from the same retailer.  I strongly caution against joining an affiliate program when they are based in another country than you, unless you know that most of your readers are from that other country. If you’re a US-based blogger, most of your traffic is also probably US visitors.  If I look at my primary stat counter site, it tells me that 52% of my visitors are from the US, 24% are “unknown”, and only 5% are from the UK. My secondary stat site (which doesn’t log as many visitors as the first, 5000 vs 500, respectively) says that 60% of my visitors are from the US and 16% are from the UK. The second site tends to do a little better capturing IP-location data than the first.

So unless you are actively reviewing for a company that is not in your own country, odds are that you won’t ever make much by just being in their affiliate program. And even if you did review for them, you’d have to be really good at SEO tactics to get in UK dwellers to read your review and purchase from your affiliate links.

So yet again…..it’s free advertising for them.

  1. Exclusively? Ooooo let me be flattered until I remember that you’ve also invited 25 other bloggers
  2. Seriously? I could write a better pitch than this shit, and so could a used car salesman