My last post was written more for creators and businesses about Facebook Pages, but this post is for you, dear reader. Just like entertainers would be nothing without their fans, bloggers (like any other type of writer) would be nothing without their readers. You literally make or break us. It’s our job as bloggers to be interesting to you, to provide you with hot/funny/smart/helpful blog posts, but it’s hard sometimes. We do our level best to write great content and promote ourselves but then one by one the places we connect best with you, the places we were told we could be, are silencing us and throttling our reach. Every post that someone writes from the depth of their soul, whispering a thing they think they’re alone in feeling/doing/wanting, someone else out there feels a little bit better knowing that they are not alone.
The Social Media Problem
Facebook is throttling pages. Twitter has been shadow-banning. Tumblr hides adult content from the searches. Instagram, and Facebook, can decide on a whim if you’ve shared a photo they deem too revealing and suspend or delete your account. They all automatically try to tell us that we, too, can reach more people if we just give them money yet every single time they say “NOPE. You write about sex. Some of our audience finds SEX offensive. We don’t promote you in exchange for money. Good day, Sir. You lose! I SAID GOOD DAY!”
Every one of these social media platforms uses algorthyms to better determine what they think you want to see. I mean, you’ve followed us, so you know you want to see our content but these networks want proof. In triplicate. Repeatedly.
So what can you do? Like. Retweet. React. Comment. Reblog. Share. These actions all tell that social media network that you love us, you really love us and you want to continue to see our content.
Currently, you can find me on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, and Facebook (but please click “Follow” rather than “Friend” if we don’t actually know each other). Follower counts mean a lot, more than I wish they did, so that would be awesome if you follow.
An update to this post about Instagram: If you follow us on IG and feel up for it, comment (4 words or more) on our pictures. React as soon as you see something. Because Facebook owns Instagram, they are similarly deciding to throttle IG. Shit gets really complicated and it seems like there’s a lot of hoops to jump through.
The Money Problem – Advertisers and Sponsored Posts
Often you may see ad banners in your favorite bloggers’ sidebars or notice a sponsored post. If they’re good, and many are really good, that sponsored post is nothing more than a post they were going to publish anyways but someone with a business relevant to the subject matter said “hey, I’ll pay you to put a link to my porn site into that post about porn” and that’s it. The best sponsored posts aren’t written by anyone else but the blogger and don’t read like a giant advertisement, but they’re making money on what is truly a job – yes, blogging (writing) is a job.
So you notice the ads and you see the sponsored links, but maybe they don’t appeal to you. Maybe it’s for a sex toy shop that you know your favorite blogger wouldn’t really want you to shop at, because they care about supporting feminist sex toy shops that give accurate product descriptions, educate their buyers, behave well on social media, and more. But it would still be rad if you just click on the link or banner because then those advertisers feel like they got their money’s worth which means they very well may renew their ad banner or work with the blogger again on another sponsored post. Some bloggers list their advertisers as “sponsors” because companies get salty about such blatant words that convey that money changed hands and we’re not organically recommending them. If you’re ever unsure about which banners are for companies the blogger recommends and which banners are there because they paid to be there, ask the blogger for clarification.
Another easy thing to do? Comment on our posts. Any of them – but preferably make your comment relevant and if it’s a big detailed “help me find a sex toy” thing, send an email instead. Comments on the posts are the easiest way for advertisers to know we have an engaged reader base, that people are actually coming through from social media to read our stuff. This makes them more likely to meet our rates or pay us at all. Not sure what to say? Literally the simplest things can be enough; from “Oh, cool, I didn’t know that!” to agreeing with a reviewer’s opinion on an aspect of the sex toy they loved/hated, or “This was a great post, thanks for writing it”, and even just “Sharing this!”. Your favorite bloggers may, or may not, respond to every comment so don’t go in expecting that but do know we see you, we appreciate you, we thank you.
I currently use Disqus for commenting, and hold everything for moderation because hey, it’s the internet and that means spam. You can have a Disqus account, or not, on my site. How? Click in that field that says “Sign up For Disqus” and instead, go check the box below it that says “I’d rather post as a guest”. Please still use your email address, a valid one, if you ever want a response – your email address won’t be visible to others!
The Money Problem – Affiliate Earnings Explained
Many bloggers, especially review bloggers, have affiliate links. Most bloggers are ethical and are not recommending any old thing just to get you to spend money. Most bloggers who review sex toys give you their opinion, be it good or bad. Most of us don’t want you to buy that crappy sex toy we just couldn’t like, so our review will be negative but we’ll probably tell you which other sex toy you’d like instead. My point is: affiliate links are not the devil, they’re not proof we’ve “sold out” or can’t be trusted.
We can’t exchange our vibrators for cash and our landlords and electric companies and web hosting companies won’t take a dildo as payment. We’ve tried, no dice. I got some Looks at the grocery store when I tried to feed my out-dated vibrators into the Coinstar machine. After the 9th sex toy you’ve reviewed that just doesn’t work for you and will never be used again you, as a reviewer, start to realize that the “free sex toy” isn’t compensation enough for the hours you’ve spent writing the review and testing the toy.
Here’s the thing about how affiliate links work: It doesn’t cost you anything. There’s no upcharge at the retailer for buying your stuff through our links. The retailers don’t charge more overall to make up for it1. But you do have to buy something; just clicking the link doesn’t do anything for us. If you tend to visit a lot of review bloggers looking for the review that tells you what you need to know and you’ve been clicking on a bunch of affiliate links, the best way to make sure the blogger of your choosing gets credit for the sale is to clear your cookies for that retailer’s site and then click the blogger’s link. It doesn’t matter if you click their link to the Magic Wand and end up buying the Doxy, it’ll still give them credit for the sale.
Buy through the stores I support to support me: SheVibe, Early to Bed, and Smitten Kitten are US-based but will ship elsewhere. Come As You Are is in Canada. I’m also affiliated with GoodVibes, and, if you’re shopping at Amazon I am also an affiliate there. Naturally I would rather you not buy sex toys from Amazon but I get a bit of a commission on anything you buy. I do still have an affiliate account with Lovehoney US, even though I’m no longer supporting them.
If you can’t purchase anything, you can still comment on our reviews, and share them far and wide! This helps the shops know that our reviews are seen and anybody new who sees our review might end up buying from our links.
Support Us With Money
What if you come to me for sex toy buying advice but, due to your location, can’t buy from a website I’m affiliated with? Easy – send me a little something via Paypal, if you can. If you can’t, that’s okay too, just find the other ways here to support us. When we spend multiple back-and-forth emails with you we’re helping you because it matters to us that you find a great sex toy, but it’s also a lot of labor. It’s not mandatory but it’s definitely appreciated2. Other bloggers might use something other than Paypal and you’ll probably find a button for that in their side bar. Don’t see anything? Ask. They will happily tell you.
Have I helped you, but you couldn’t use my affiliates? Drop me a few bucks at Paypal.
If the blogger you follow has a Patreon account, support them there. If they have a wishlist someplace, buy something from it for them.
Other Ways to Let Us Know You’re Out There, For Free
At the end of the day, unless a blogger never wants to have advertisers, never cares about having many readers, never wants to make any money for their time and efforts at all, it’s important for us to have tangible proof that you like us. Ranking lists use our follower counts across all platforms to determine our popularity and therefore value. Advertisers look at our traffic and our subscribers and followers to know that they’ll be getting something for their money.
But you know what? We also just want to know that our words matter to someone. That we’re doing an okay job. I’ve seen too many bloggers who were decent and on the path to being great just quit because they simply didn’t think anybody was reading their stuff. It’s hard sometimes to put forth the immense effort (and some money) to write when it feels like you’re basically an astronaut floating in space, nobody listening to your mic, no one there to see or be seen.
**You can help by sharing the posts that you liked; many bloggers have a sharing plugin installed like mine that shows up beneath each post and lets you quickly and easily share this post in a multitude of ways.
**You can help by signing up for our newsletters, even if you already follow us on social media. It’s another measuring stick but it’s also a great way to ensure you really do see our posts. Those of us who have newsletters also often put content in them that isn’t on the website, or give you perks when it comes time for giveaways. You can also subscribe to our RSS feeds.
**Some bloggers are only on Twitter, some are on multiple social media platforms. Try sharing their stuff on a platform they don’t use! Many of us can’t stomach the harsh environment of Reddit, but it can be a really big boost to our traffic and earnings to find that someone linked to our review or our educational post, etc. I used to spend a lot of time there, helping people with their sex toy questions, but the toxic environment got the best of me. If you see someone recommending a shitty brand or a shitty material, educate them with my posts! Share responsibly, though. You never need permission to share a link but you do need permission to quote large tracks of posts or share our photos.
**Some bloggers are also educators – they’re doing workshops at stores or online, and signal-boosting their marketing for those workshops is important and helps. Their audience turn-out will determine if they get hired again, and sometimes the stores themselves don’t do a great job at promoting all workshops.
Many years ago we sex bloggers started getting the shit end of the stick from the free blogging platforms like Blogger and WordPress. Blogs would be deleted with no warning, no way to back up. Bloggers have realized that they need to rely only on their hosting company and own their domain, but that costs money. Nearly everybody in the sexuality spectrum online is working for peanuts – educators, bloggers, podcasters, Youtubers. The way YouTube is censoring sexuality and LGBTQIA ‘Tubers from making any ad money means these folks are working for tips (aka affiliate earnings or literal tips), often times. And I know from experience that making a video is harder than writing a blog post. We are educating you, we are supporting you, we are letting you know you’re not alone but we need your help. So make note of those bloggers you enjoy the most and do whatever you’re capable of to signal-boost or line their pockets. Every single little bit matters.
Thank you for reading, and for wanting to take care of your bloggers.
Thanks especially to those folks who’ve already purchased through my links; 2017 was a fucking hard year for me and my partner, and he missed a lot of work. A lot a lot. If we didn’t have a ridiculously understanding boss and this blog, he would be unemployed and we would have lost our house. For as hard as the year was, I still have a lot to be grateful for.
- How do I know? I don’t know everything about every company, sure, but I’ve worked with enough retailers in my time to see that some charge more than others while either not having any affiliate program or having one but offering a very low percentage of the sale. I’ve come across companies who don’t yet make enough consistent sales to afford giving a percentage of their profit to affiliates, but I’ve never found a company willing to charge more than other retailers simply to afford paying affiliates ↩
- but please don’t let this stop you from asking us for help – we know our limits and when we have the time and ability to help ↩