It’s been five years since I started this blog. Which is fucking bizarre when I sit down and think about it. Five entire years of my life – that’s nearly 16% of my time on this planet – has been spent sex blogging. For nearly three of those years being ‘Girl on the Net’ has been my full-time job.
So this post might be a bit meta and involved for some of you, but for others who are either sex blogging already or thinking of setting out, I wanted to give you as honest an overview as I can of what 5 years’ of sex blogging looks like. The numbers, the lessons learned, the mistakes and the occasional successes. Here goes.
5 years’ of sex blogging: the numbers
I started blogging on September 22nd 2011. Since then, I’ve published 691 blog posts. They’re not all total filth – to give you an idea there are 247 filed under the category ‘filthy ones‘, 232 ranty ones, 99 under ‘the human body‘ category and 138 guest posts. Some posts overlap in more than one category, so don’t try to do maths on this, it will hurt your brain.
Sex blog traffic and stats
Since launch, over 3.4 million people have stopped by, creating a total of 4.7 million sessions and 10.2 million pageviews.
My most popular post ever (this one on sleep sex) has had over 260,000 pageviews. My least popular post has had around 400 pageviews (it’s this one about Eroticon 2017, which you should definitely check out if you are interested in more of the nerdy details around sex blogging, and ironically now I’ve linked it will lose its place as least visited).
When I first started blogging – and if I’m honest every single day since – one of my greatest heart’s desires was to know what other people’s traffic was. I am constantly evaluating what I do to try and work out if it’s good enough. Like, yeah, I posted something yesterday that got retweets but how many retweets equals success? How many clicks is enough?
I don’t have the answer to that question, and I worry that the answer is the same as when I asked my friend how many more people she’d like to have kissed before she got married: one more. Always one more. It’s vital – though I can’t work out why – to keep chasing more. Traffic, clicks, retweets, comments. Anything and everything that could conceivably be used to measure whether I’m good enough. And I realise it sits in that murky grey area between ambition and obsession, and that isn’t always healthy.
On top of that, though, there’s the vague feeling that talking about numbers is crass. I spoke to another sex blogger recently who confessed to me that while she wanted to talk about things like money and traffic – because it’s helpful to other bloggers to do so (and it is – it really is) – she didn’t want it to seem like she was boasting. She nailed something I feel too. Alongside the constant nagging guilt that I’m not quite good enough, I also struggle to talk about the things I’m proud of, because to say ‘I’m proud of this’ sounds crass and narcissistic.
But for what it’s worth, while it’s never enough, after five years I really am proud of this.
Here’s me, as measured by Google.
Where do my sex blog visitors come from?
Of those who have visited, around 35% are from the UK, 30% from the US (although this is an average over all time – now far more of my traffic comes from the States, I’m not sure why). I won’t go through the whole list, but I’ll pick out a few things because they’re fun. My blog’s been accessed 185,000 times by people in India. At least, according to Google Analytics. 44,000 times in Kenya. 2000 in Iceland. 8000 in Japan.
This genuinely blows my mind, and isn’t really something I’d considered before. At any given moment, somewhere in the world, someone is reading this blog. Which is pretty cool.
Other fun sex blog numbers
Over the last five years this blog’s attracted 10,284 published comments. That’s not including ones that were trashed or spam (my spam folder currently holds 99,842). I rarely consign comments to the dustbin, but of those I do the top 3 reasons are:
- Giving identifiable details.
- Being a prick to one of my guest bloggers.
Sex blogging: other numbers
While I’m obsessed with traffic numbers, there are plenty of other numbers which I should probably pay more attention to:
- 3. Number of years since I gave up my day job. It’s been a rocky road, but a massively rewarding one.
- 4. Number of times I got to say ‘porn’ on Woman’s Hour the other week.
- 708. Number of dick pics I received before I stopped counting and had to start begging people not to send them any more.
- 3. Number of times I’ve attended Eroticon, which is the event that made my freelance life possible.
- 13. Number of people who have listed me as a fetish on Fetlife.
- 1. Number of times I literally got to go to AMERICA because I ran this blog. Thanks Woodhull people for being amazing, and Doxy for sending me.
- 2. People I met through the blog who I ended up fucking.
- 7. People I met through the blog who I now count among my closest friends. And I don’t really have that many friends, so this number is pretty high.
Questions about sex blogging
I offered to answer anyone’s questions about sex blogging if they fancied asking some, and as ever was genuinely surprised to find that people did. So here goes – a few questions from Twitter, and I’m trying to take a fairly chilled approach to the rest of this week as a reward for doing five years of non-stop waffling, so I’ll be around to answer other questions in the comments if you have them.
How has your blog changed in 5 years? And/or would you do any part of it differently?
Oh God there is SO MUCH I would do differently. Some boring practical sex blogging things like the name (let’s face it: Girl on the Net is a shit name and is not really fit for purpose) and other boring practical things like email newsletter and Facebook page (I started both of these very late, so I’m still playing catch-up).
But on a proper, thoughtful level, I would be a less judgmental writer. Some of my first posts were appallingly narrow-minded. There were also a few that were unforgivably bad. I hate going back and editing things after the fact to make it look like I wasn’t ignorant, but I do sometimes go and add caveats/shoutouts at the beginning of a post if I think they need them. Please be gentle if you stumble on awful old posts, though: everyone has to learn, innit.
I think (hope) that my blog now is more thoughtful than it was when I started, and I think I’m also a lot more aware of issues surrounding it. As a result, I’m often a bit more tentative – less prone to making sweeping statements, and definitely more wary of talking about certain things. This isn’t me saying ‘oh I have to be so nervous now because the PC BRIGADE might LEAP ON ME’ – I’ve learned things, and I think (hope) it’s made me a better writer.
The other thing that’s changed is largely down to one other person: @Chainbear – aka Stuart F Taylor – who draws beautiful illustrations for me every week, and has been doing so since June 2014 (his first image was this one – on first time pegging). Each week he surprises me with a sexy take on the idea I’ve sent him, and he’s always keen to try and represent more different body types than you usually see in the sexy pics that are published in mainstream media. He enhances this blog, and challenges me, and generally makes this blog a better place. I think bringing him on board was the best thing I ever did, and I am immensely grateful to him for everything he does.
You can see a selection of his SFW images below, or more images here.
Do you write for yourself or your audience?
Kudos to the asker of this deliciously wanky question. I would love to say that the answer is ‘both’ – I write the things I love, and I hope my audience will like them. But if I’m to dig really deep within my soul and examine the gruesome mess that lies within, I suspect the answer is ‘audience.’ Given my obsession with numbers, I have to consider this: would I genuinely keep writing even if no one would ever read it? No.
What’s more, if I were writing purely for myself, I suspect I’d end up with a mish-mash of angsty poetry, limericks about penises, and only the occasional gem of an actual blog post.
What are your favourite things that you’ve done/created/started in the past 5 years, blog-wise?
Ooh, lots! I am massively pleased with both the write your orgasm and draw your orgasm competitions – they were so much fun and the entries were amazing. My Doxy massager review remains one of my favourite blog posts ever, mostly because of the noises embedded in it (which are 100% genuine, by the way).
A lot of my other favourite things are bits that have been started by the blog but ended up elsewhere: books, for instance, or interviews and writing elsewhere. I once got an entirely gender-neutral ‘sex position tips’ article onto a very mainstream website, which I was really chuffed with at the time.
But sometimes it’s the little things that are the most pleasing:
- I got the word vimphilia into the urban dictionary (thanks to whoever added it!)
- Occasionally I get rude commenters to change their minds
@girlonthenet At the “I have impeccable taste” office…
— Adam Richman (@AdamRichman) March 26, 2013
Oh, and this one:
@girlonthenet it is a great honour to be number two on this list.
— Robert Llewellyn (@bobbyllew) September 7, 2016
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years, blog/writing-wise?
OK, so someone else asked me ‘what’s next’ and I’m going to roll those two answers into one: the near future and the future-future.
Near future: I’m going to focus a bit more on fiction (like the wedding night fuck, or ‘Sin‘), because there are some things I’ve done in real life that I can’t write about without fictionalising. And while I do have some more real life sex stories to tell, the dynamics of them are more complicated and require a lot more cautiousness around getting consent of the people involved. So… watch this space and see if I can write them well enough to justify those people putting their trust in me to publish them.
I’m also helping to run Eroticon. And now I can see why every year Ruby swore never to do it again because it’s HARD. I’m incredibly excited about it, though, and it’s going to be amazing. Come along if you’re a sex writer – or if you’d like to be.
I also have some more boring plans that involve commercialising the blog. Right now, I make exactly £0 from it each month: all my money comes from contract work, freelance writing or book royalties. That’s not because I haven’t had offers, it’s just because the offers I’ve had would involve far too many banner ads and flashy gifs, and I can’t quite bring myself to do it. But I do need to pay my mortgage, so please forgive me if you start seeing a few more brand names on these pages. I hope that the extra stuff I’ve got planned makes it worthwhile.
I would like to work fewer hours. Writing, blogging, emailing, invoicing, meeting people, and other things take up around 70 hours each week at the moment. In five years’ time I hope I’ll be able to work about half that amount, but for the same money, and then spend the other half of the time drinking cocktails that I’ve bought with my ill-gotten gains.
On top of that, I have a couple of super-exciting potential projects in the works, which frustratingly I’m not allowed to tell you about on the grounds that they might not happen. But watch this space (or subscribe to my newsletter). I suspect in 5 years I’ll have written another book or two as well, because writing books is fun.
Sex blogging: lessons learned
I’ve learned a million things since I started here, but I’m going to try and keep this list short.
Write loads. The excellent thing about sex blogging is that there’s no limit on how much you can write. If you want to post every single day for a month, go for it. Some of your stuff will be great, some will be rubbish. Don’t worry about being perfect first time around. People will generally remember the good stuff you wrote and quickly forget the posts that were boring or missed the mark. I’ve written at least twice a week, every week, since the very beginning.
Don’t run competitions. I know when people have blogging anniversaries they usually run competitions with loads of free cool stuff, but honestly running competitions is a nightmare and involves a lot of admin. And then even when you do manage to do it right you’ll end up paying fifty quid to ship a random thing halfway round the world. And the people who didn’t win it will be annoyed, and the people who couldn’t enter will be annoyed, and everyone will hate you. This one’s tongue in cheek, by the way: feel free to run competitions if you like. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Get boundaries and stick to them. Some of the most stressful things that have happened to me over the time I’ve been blogging have been the result of my own desperate need to be polite rather than firm.
Help other writers. When I started sex blogging I was always nervous/envious when I saw other writers being fucking incredible. I would worry that they were so much better than I was, that my own work was nothing in comparison to theirs. I still, to be honest, read some other blogs and think ‘shit. You’re so much better than me. I should panic.’ Those are useless thoughts, though, because it’s not like one person’s talent takes away from what you’ve done. In fact, the more brilliant sex writing there is out there, the greater our collective power to change the world.
Take the time to reflect on what you’ve done. I’ll be honest: I’m still learning this one. I rush so quickly from one thing to the next, impatient for the next bit of excitement, that I rarely spend time looking back. If you’d told me when I published my first posts that in five years’ time I’d have this many visitors, 2 books and an actual honest-to-god career I’d have laughed.
But I have, and it’s all down to you, and I’m incredibly grateful.