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Sex blogger SOS: Share Our Shit

Another day, another avenue of income that slams its doors on adult content providers. Recently Patreon announced a ‘clarification’ of its terms and conditions which means that sexy content providers are – to put it bluntly – fucked. It would make sense if I wrote a blog post now explaining the ways in which you can support your friendly neighbourhood sex blogger financially, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to ask you to do something that won’t cost you a single penny. I’m going to ask you to Share Our Shit.

As some of you might know, I’ve recently been using Patreon to help fund the audio porn project – turning sexy blog posts and stories into audio porn, to make them more accessible for people with visual impairments. As a couple of blog readers told me a while ago, few things are sexy when read aloud in the monotonous voice of a screen-reader. Thanks to a bunch of kind people, I was able to use Patreon cash to buy a little of my time (that would otherwise be spent on contract or freelance work) to spend a few hours each month recording these stories.

They are all live at the audio porn hub, and they are all free to access. The people who helped me do this have done a truly awesome thing, and I am very grateful. If you’re one of them, pop over to Patreon and check out today’s update for details on how we might proceed. [And another update on 26th October]

There are other ways you can support this blog financially: you could buy sex toys through a couple of affiliates (though if I’m honest this is my least favourite way to make money). You could buy my books. You could tell companies you know just how cheap it is to advertise on my site.

But I’m not going to ask you to do that. Instead I’m going to ask you to do something entirely for free: Share Our Shit.

Share Our Shit

Patreon is not the first – and it definitely won’t be the last – company to try and purge adult content from its platform. Tumblr has done it, Twitter does it in drips and drabs (stripping adult content from search, banning accounts with adult avatars and headers, etcetera), Facebook has always been a giant prick about adult content so no change there. Payment providers are usually clear from the outset that they don’t want our money. Ad platforms like Google Ads and Amazon Affiliates don’t want our traffic or money either. No one likes us. We’re just too goddamn sexy.

Alongside being really fucking difficult to make a living from, adult content is also really difficult to market.

Writing a beauty blog or a travel blog is tricky, writing a sex blog is tricky-with-your-hands-tied-behind-your-back. And don’t even get me started on video, camming or image porn – our colleagues over there have as many hurdles to contend with, plus the government’s anti-porn crusade nipping at their heels via things like the Digital Economy Bill. Sex workers have all this plus the police on their back, additional fear of violence because they receive no protection from aforementioned police, and regular attempts by ‘saviour’ campaigners to rescue them from the horror of being able to make their own choices.

One of the primary reasons – in my opinion – that ‘adult’ content is so hard to promote and monetise is that companies refuse to accept one important fact:

Adult consumers are consumers. 

No one lives their life entirely in a ‘NSFW’ silo – only ever engaging with porn or sex blogs. You – the people who read this – have full and rounded lives. You enjoy sex writing, but you also enjoy video games or golf or McDonald’s or cocktails or whatever.

However, when platforms like this strip ‘adult’ from their services, they are banking on the fact that you won’t care. That it won’t make a difference to you because adult content is embarrassing and shameful: no one’s going to share a link to their favourite porn site, or their favourite bit of erotic writing, so really who’s going to notice if all that shit disappears?

I’ll notice, gang. I will notice. And I hope you will too.

So here’s my SOS: share our shit. Share your favourite posts, images, videos, tweets, facebook updates. Links to porn sites where people can pay for amazing stuff. Recommend great erotica to your friends. Make it clear to large platforms that the consumers who click on Amazon and Google ads, who buy clothes and books and video games: these consumers also enjoy porn! And erotica! And other forms of sex! It is not utter fantasy, just a boring and simple truth, that the venn diagram of ‘consumers’ and ‘adult consumers’ is a circle. This is important because when platforms push sex content into a silo they’re effectively telling people that sex is different to anything else that humans do. It should be separate. We should take a surgical blade to our brains and our lives and neatly slice sex from the rest of it.

So find your favourite sex content, and share that shit. Retweet it, promote it, email it to your friends. While we’re getting stripped from search results and pulled from Patreon and told that we can only do our thing on Facebook if we shroud it in censor bars and euphemism… we’ll see you sharing our shit, and it will help us keep going. It will bring more people to our websites, and perhaps help us either make more money or build more traffic and that in turn will keep us going too.

Share Our Shit – not ‘mine’, everyone’s

This isn’t a plea for you to all crowd round and lift me up. The fact is that I will almost certainly be fine. I was deeply fucked off by the Patreon changes, as I’ve been deeply fucked off by every single change on every single platform as and when it’s been announced. But I am one of the lucky ones: I have written books and I have contract work and I can freelance. I am a very long way from wealthy, but I have contacts and ideas and plans and traffic and I will almost certainly be fine.

Those who won’t be fine are the newer writers or the start-up porn sites. Those who are trying to carve a space for themselves but struggling to get noticed. If you want to give yourself a mission to retweet or share one thing each day, head over to the new blogs and sites that you love the most, and spread the word about the videos or pictures or stories you really love.

I’ll probably be fine. Angry, but fine.

As long as you Share Our Shit.

16 Comments

  • jdgalt says:

    Have you considered freestartr?

    • Girl on the net says:

      No because it’s a platform for Nazis. No matter how tricky things might be, there is nothing that would persuade me to get into bed with Nazis.

  • Amy says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this is happening, but not being anonymous online means I’m up against quite a big barrier- sharing your and other sex bloggers’ shit means showing people what I find horny, and I’m not brave enough to do that! I know I *shouldn’t* be ashamed to have kinks, but I still am. I don’t want my brother/friends/colleagues seeing an RT of your blog on my Twitter and I don’t want an anonymous account so am a bit stuck :-/ I know you will take this the right way and hopefully you or others will have some constructive ways to get round this or help me get over it!

    • Girl on the net says:

      Yeah, good point! And I know that not everyone can share stuff on their main channels – apologies if my post looked like it was trying to push people into doing it if they weren’t comfortable. I don’t want you to feel like you have to, I just want to encourage those who can to try and do it more often. If it helps, though, I also try to persuade sex bloggers to write more things that aren’t centred around sex/NSFW stuff to mix in with their normal work that may be easier for people to share even if they can’t share the sexy bits (https://www.girlonthenet.com/2015/05/13/which-sex-blog-posts-most-popular/). I find that often although the porny stuff gets more clicks, the political things/feminist discussion gets more shares, so and again that helps to blue the line and show that sex is *part* of life, rather than in a separate silo.

      But yeah, if you can’t share the sexy things I’m sorry if I made you feel pressured to. xxx

      • Amy says:

        Oh no sweetheart I didn’t feel pressured at all, I just wanted you to remember that you have tons and tons of “silent supporters” outside of the sex blogger bubble who are wishing they were comfortable enough to promote you far and wide! Xxxx

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    Ugh. Like you say, this sadly is nothing new: similar crackdowns have taken place on Paypal, Kickstarter and Crowdfunder, amongst others. The websites always say they’re forced to do it. Well, fuck ’em all, the long and the short and the tall. If only it was practical to boycott the lot of them.

    It would be interesting to know what’s the actual driver of this sort of thing: whether it’s down to pressure from advertisers that don’t want to be associated with porn, or credit card companies, or anti-sex work and anti-porn legislation that punish people from profiting from sex in any way. But whatever the reason it doesn’t matter, the consequences are the same.

    Who do they think they are kidding? All it does is force people onto a different, more niche and less secure system. Do they think they can eradicate sex and porn entirely? Who even wants that? Or do the people who make the policies just do so for good PR, and don’t know or care about the consequences?

    I’m listening to your audio now and just getting more and more angry about this…

    Unfortunately I don’t think I can do like you suggest here and recommend your site on my other social media. I wish there was something else I can do.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Yeah, it’s the ‘don’t know/don’t care’ question that exercises me most too I think: is it a deliberate choice? If so, how can it possibly be that the people at the head of so many massive companies don’t actually watch porn themselves? If it’s the latter, how can they be so short-sighted as to not realise that if they join all the other platforms in stripping adult content, at some point a huge number of people are going to decide it’s just not worth making any more? Sigh.

      I have read a whole bunch of things since yesterday including comments/reassurances from Patreon and a few insider bits and pieces from various writers/creators – Patreon genuinely seems to not have a clue, and just seems to be reiterating its terms then saying ‘if you were OK until now you’re probably still fine’. Which is kind of interesting, and potentially promising, if it weren’t for the fact that I can actually read their new terms and by the letter of them I’m not fine, and nor are most of my colleagues. Hmmm. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do – I haven’t heard from anyone who has actually had their account cancelled yet, but then ‘I haven’t yet been kicked off this platform’ isn’t exactly a stable base from which to build a project/business/income etc. =(

      You already do loads to help out, and I always really appreciate your comments and support xxxx

      • the hatter says:

        On the basis that they seem to be suggesting you (and others) are fine for now, I’d remind everyone who just carries on to be just that bit more careful to move funds into their actual bank accounts frequently, as too many people in similar situations have got to the end of a month, £0 in the bank, and gone to move money across to pay the rent/bills/etc only to find it locked because of a change in enforcement. For people with savings and other incomes it’s less devastating, but equally galling, to do the work then have a middleman stop you getting paid.

  • The Quiet One says:

    I’ve converted 5 other readers to following your blog :)

  • lunaKM says:

    Check your email for a message from the CEO of Patreon. He clarifies the issue and states in it what is going on and that adult content is still allowed, but outright pornography is not (and never has been), the guidelines state that we don’t allow “real people engaging in sexual acts, such as masturbation or sexual intercourse on camera.” Your audio porn is likely not included in that. Unless it includes bestiality, sex with minors, incest or sexual violence. Those four things have been added to the policy.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thanks Luna! Yeah I received that email late last night and I’ve written a little update below. Although Patreon claim they’re just ‘clarifying’, in fact their clarifications are far more significant than their email implies. Where before we had confidence that we were acting within the terms, now by the letter of the terms what I am doing is actually *not* OK. So effectively they are saying ‘we won’t take you down!’ but their terms mean they still could take me down at some point. Which isn’t really a stable base on which to build a business. Anyway, more on this below if you’d like to see the full thing.

      • lunaKM says:

        I read your update below, but I have to ask if you are so uncertain on whether you could be shut down by Patreon or not, that you haven’t reached out to them to ask for an audit to see if are safe or not? After all, before the CEO email, you were ready to abandon Patreon so it makes no change in your jump ship or stay plan and it could give you peace of mind on the subject instead of constantly waiting for the proverbial other shoe.

        • Girl on the net says:

          Hi Luna, my point is that reassurances from Patreon don’t constitute ‘peace of mind’ at all – whether indirect via this email or directly to individual creators asking for clarity. This is because their Ts and Cs still expressly forbid ‘pornography’. What they define as pornography now is not necessarily going to be what they define in the future – the updates already move the goalposts from what adult creators have been allowed to do in the past. Essentially: no reassurance from Patreon, short of them changing their terms and conditions, will be adequate to stop adult providers feeling this way. But yes, my page has been shown to Patreon, by a journo who was writing about this issue – I’m hoping the piece he wrote will go live soon and I’ll share a link to it when it’s up.

          On top of this, though, I’d point out that there are many creators who feel deeply uncomfortable asking for an audit on their pages: it amounts to sticking one’s head above the parapet, and for those who rely on Patreon for an income, I don’t blame anyone at all for not wanting to proactively ask.

  • Girl on the net says:

    This is the message I posted on Patreon earlier today, am just adding here so everyone can see…

    Hey gang,
    Well, it’s been an eventful few days with lots of info and guessing and thoughts flying back and forward about Patreon’s new ‘adult’ rules. Patreon sent an email out to all of us last night – some of you are creators too so you will probably have seen it, but I’m pasting it below here for any of you who might not have had the chance to read.
    In summary they say:
    1. They haven’t really changed the rules, just added clarity.
    2. No one’s going to get immediately pulled, we’ll be given a chance to edit our pages.
    3. They are shocked – SHOCKED – and saddened that this has come as such a blow to so many of us.
    There are a few things I’d like to say about this, but firstly I should say that Pandora Blake has already put down some really helpful thoughts on this, and I really hope those at Patreon are reading. http://pandorablake.com/blog/2017/10/adult-content-patreon
    My own opinion is similar: a little bit of me wants to go ‘OK yay that means that maybe I can keep my page going at least for the forseeable future’ but the bulk of me is disappointed and angry that they don’t seem to be acknowledging just how problematic this update is for a huge number of sex workers and porn producers on their platform.
    Here’s the deal: for now this page will stay exactly the same, and I will cross my fingers and hope that it doesn’t get taken down. BUT (big but) effectively what Patreon has done is ‘clarified’ their terms so that at any point they *can* demand changes to my page. On top of that, the explicit section in their Ts and Cs which says you can’t use Patreon to fund a pornographic website means that if they do demand changes, and decide to enforce their Ts and Cs to the letter, I will probably have to just take it down altogether.
    Whispers I have heard from others essentially amount to ‘yours is safe because it’s audio, not video’, which is nice for me (for now), but sucks for people who are making video porn. It also could potentially change at a moment’s notice, if Patreon decides they are going to start enforcing a broader definition of porn. Sigh.
    The problem here is that people are creating content on Patreon that is entirely legal: there’s nothing illegal about porn! Yet, again, a service provider has decided that although this stuff is legal it wants to distance itself, and potentially get to the point of withdrawing a service. And make no mistake: it’s a service. We pay Patreon every month – you and I. They take a cut of the money pledged, and that cut of the money goes into providing this service. And now we’re paying for a service that may just be cut off at any point, based on who is enforcing their new Ts and Cs.
    To the letter, I am in violation of the terms. But based on the Patreon email, I am not. I am Schroedinger’s porn.
    So. For now I am breathing a little sigh of relief, because as I mentioned yesterday I do actually need the money in order to continue with the audio porn project. And huge thanks to all of you who’ve messaged and commented to express your support – it means the world to me, and you are all fantastic people.
    However it’s not something anyone should continue to rely on. I would strongly advise any new bloggers/pornographers/anyone creating adult content to avoid setting up – and investing a lot of time or money in – Patreon. It’s gone from being a great platform which allows us to make money where others just offered slammed doors to being a very shaky and unstable base on which to build a secure income.
    CEO Jack’s email below, and thank you all so much for your support – both financially and emotionally. Honestly you are all the best.
    GOTN
    xxxx

    Hey folks – there have been a few articles, some talk on social, and even an open letter about Patreon’s recent content policy updates. Last week, the Trust and Safety team explained in a blog post the updates we made to the Community Guidelines.

    I really, really hope you take the time to read the blog and Community Guidelines for yourself. Most of all, I hope you understand that nothing has changed except our stance on four areas of content:bestiality, incest, sexual depiction of minors, and suggestive sexual violence.

    It breaks my heart that folks who contributed to OpenLetterToPatreon.com expressed fear for their pages. Patreon is not that kind of company. I want you to disagree with us. I want you to make your voices heard. I want you to request features and policy changes. I want you to rally the community. That kind of pushing is not only good for the community, but my opinion is that it’s ultimately good for Patreon, too, because it helps our team viscerally feel the voice of our creators. I want Patreon to be the most creator-first company in the world, and that requires you to speak up and tell us what’s on your mind. Patreon will not always be able to do what you want – but at the very least we can make sure we hear you.

    As a creator, it’s always bugged me when tech companies and CEOs stay quiet as changes are rolled out in the background and the community feels left in the dark. It really bugs me, because content policy is one of the most important and tough problems that modern tech platforms face. It’s complicated and nuanced and critical to get right. So, I’d like to personally clarify our update – and I realize that this doesn’t mean everyone will agree with it – but again at the very least I don’t want to be silent. So here we go:
    The way that the Trust and Safety team is evaluating content has not changed. Yes, the public guidelines got longer because our creators asked for extra specificity. So in response, we’re sharing more detail with you about how we evaluate content. It does not represent a change to our content policy – it’s added detail to educate the community.
    We did update four (and only four) areas of our actual content policy: incest, bestiality, sexual depiction of minors, and suggestive sexual violence. If you’re just reading the headlines, you’ll be under the impression that we’re “cracking down on adult content.” Again, this is not what’s actually happening. We only updated the above four areas of our policy.
    Patreon’s stance on pornography has not changed. We have never allowed pornography or sexual services on Patreon and that stance has been clear in our guidelines since they were first published a few years ago. We used to say we allowed “R-rated” content, but that description was ineffective at clearly explaining our policy to the community. It didn’t give you the specificity you needed to understand what’s allowed, and what isn’t. Our updated Community Guidelines explain in way more detail what we mean when it comes to adult content. I also realize that “pornography” is difficult to define, and “you know it when you see it” is a totally inadequate policy. So we’ve added additional detail to the pornography section of our content policy, and the team will be spending even more time clarifying our guidelines in the future. As of this morning, the guidelines state that we don’t allow “real people engaging in sexual acts, such as masturbation or sexual intercourse on camera.”
    Very few creators are affected by any of these updates. Again, the only actual changes to our policy were around bestiality, incest, sexual depiction of minors, and suggestive sexual violence. Most folks – literally *most* creators by multiple factors of ten – even in the adult communities – have nothing to be concerned about
    Patreon won’t pull the rug out from a creator’s income, even in the case of a policy violation. The team actually built a newsystem, a suspension tool, over the last few weeks, to avoid sudden removals. Suspension may still seem harsh – I totally understand that perspective – but in the case of a policy violation, it gives the creator a chance to talk with a team member and get their page back up and running. Creators now have time, personal connections with an advocate inside Patreon, and a team of Trust and Safety reps to help them update their pages instead of simply being removed from the platform.
    Every creator is unique, and every content evaluation is unique. We don’t believe in making sweeping generalizations or decisions about creators’ livelihoods. We avoid broad questions like “Is this OK, or is that ok?” A rep will look at each case and its context one-by-one. For anyone who has any questions or concerns about their page, you can speak to a human being (literally, you can always talk to a human) who will work with you to figure out how to update your page so it works with the guidelines.
    The team made these updates now as a follow-up to the Trust and Safety commitments I made this past summer.We’ve spent the past few months operationalizing the commitments, and several updates were ready (we were especially relieved to launch the suspension tool as an alternative to removing pages). We’ve heard a bit of speculation about whether these updates are related to the recent Series C fundraising and that is not true.
    This update to our Community Guidelines is part of a broader effort to educate our community and give folks more clarity about what specifically we allow, or what we don’t. Our previous external-facing community guidelines were 795 words. The new guidelines are 2,802 words. Hopefully, the added detail offers you more clarity, makes for less guessing, and gives you the specificity you need.

    I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again – I personally take content policy issues with the utmost seriousness. My personal belief is that online content policy is in its infancy right now – most of tech doesn’t do content policy well. In fact, I think tech on the whole under-invests in content policy. Especially for payments products. We’re talking about a person’s income here – we’re talking about a person’s livelihood. We have to be clear, rigorous, and caring. It’s what’s best for Patreon, it’s what’s best for our creators, and it’s also just the right thing to do.

    Thanks,
    Jack

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