Two things: working for free and musical vibrators

Image by the ace Stuart F Taylor

Two things this week is going to begin with a hilarious conversation I had with a website owner this week about working for free. Then, when that’s got you good and angry, I will cheer you up with news of a musical about vibrators. There’s also a bonus ‘good thing’ from Erika Lust, if you have an amazing idea for a porn film.

The bad: working for free

Last week a representative from a website called ‘Sinn and Skinn’ was doing the rounds, contacting sex bloggers and telling us that they:

“would love to feature as many as 3-5 articles from you each week.”

3-5 articles! That’s exciting. Writing 3-5 articles for any of my other clients could, depending on length/quality, net me between £250-£1000. Except of course they weren’t offering any money. They were asking for 3-5 articles per week, for free. Let’s be clear on this: time spent writing articles for them is time I couldn’t spend writing articles for anyone else. So this company was effectively asking me to contribute at least £250 to them each week, in exchange for:

“by line credit, linking credit, and promotion as a contributing blogger on our social media and email distribution.”

They also promised that at some unspecified point in the future they might come up with a revenue sharing model. So far, they’re basically the same as any of the other twats who pop up in my inbox asking me to give them work for free.

Zak Jane Keir has already explained beautifully why this company’s request to get people working for free is above-average on the ‘appalling’ scale, but I wanted to chip in my 2 pence worth because when I responded to them:

“OK, deal, as long as you build me a house that I can live in rent free. “

…they got sassy.

So here’s a breakdown, just in case you’re a writer who’s wondering if what they’re offering is actually a good deal:

“You can use blog posts you’ve already written or plan to use for your own website.  We’re not asking for copyrights or exclusive use.”

This is not a good offer. Google doesn’t like duplicate content (reposted blogs), so by doing this with them, unless they are very very aware of the SEO implications of what they’re doing, and able to manage it, you are potentially hurting your own site ranking.

“in exchange, we’re offering a trade of traffic, to help boost your current Alexa ranking of 373K.  We of course are looking to increase our ranking as well from 112K.”

See what they did there? They tried to imply that I have a bad Alexa rank (Alexa is a site that ranks all the websites on the internet – or tries to, at least. Bloggers are supposed to give a giant shit about it, but of course it’s not really a great measure – far more useful to assess using your own tools and criteria for what counts as ‘success’ to you. My Alexa rank has gone down when my traffic’s gone up sometimes, it’s not massively helpful). Besides, while this site may have a better Alexa rank than my own, they don’t have a better rank than Esquire, Debrief, Guardian, Glamour, or other mainstream websites that have paid for my work. No matter how impressed you are with someone’s Alexa rank, you can’t pour gravy on it and eat it for supper.

“So what you’re getting is a stronger partner, with a larger presence, more promotion, and the ability for us both to benefit.  If we do well enough together, then agreed, we’ll build you a house and let you live in it rent free.”

Can you imagine McDonalds saying this? “You get a strong partner with a large presence. Once you’ve served enough of our burgers, if we deem that you have successfully boosted our business, we might actually pay you a wage.”

No. So I told them to jog on. Thing is, I have the luxury of telling them to jog on, because I do have freelance work elsewhere that pays my bills (which I started doing after Eroticon 2014 – if you want to learn how to be freelance/make money from sex writing too you should grab a ticket for 2017’s event). There may be other writers who are tempted by this, and if so I’m not going to judge you. If you think it would be good for you to do free work for sites like this, I won’t come after you with a torch and pitchfork. I’ve even, in my time, written for free for some people before – because I liked them, because they were a charity, or because I had a book to promote and my publicist said it would be worthwhile.

However, the tone that someone from this site took with me was quite intimidating and rude – referring to ‘unproven writers’ and saying that ‘old models’ like paying writers simply don’t work anymore. Even going so far as to say that ‘the currency of the internet is traffic and followers.’ This kind of thing used to intimidate me when I was a new writer, so if by any chance it’s intimidated you too, and made you feel like you really should work for free because this guy sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, allow me to clear this up:

The currency of the internet is the same as the currency in the real world.

You can’t buy shit with retweets.


The good: Buzz – a musical about vibrators

Let me state for the record that I haven’t seen the musical about vibrators yet, so I have no idea if it’s good. But it has had some great reviews, and I have a soft spot for both vibrators and musical theatre, so I am promoting the hell out of it because why the hell not?

Starts on 11th October, at the Drayton Arms Theatre in London. Tickets are £14 – earlybirds/concessions £10. There’s a trailer below if you want a peek.

Buzz: A New Musical from Fat Rascal Theatre on Vimeo.

Bonus: Erika Lust’s open call for porn directors

Porn producer Erika Lust – who makes XConfessions – is putting aside 250,000 Euro to fund more female-directed porn, which is AWESOME.

The open call for submissions on her website says:

“I am offering my support and funding for you to make a short film with explicit sex. You will need to source your own cast and crew, locations, write your script. You will have creative control, but we will be your support: especially in terms of legal aspects, documentation, information about working in adult cinema and finding appropriate performers. I want to start a global community of female filmmakers. I want to confront mainstream porn and make feminist erotica relevant, not the exception.I want a new kind of adult cinema to spread across the world and I am looking for women to help me.

It sounds like a great opportunity to make some awesome films, and I know that there are lots of people out there with amazing ideas and a hell of a lot of talent but who lack the most important thing: funding. So please click the link above and check out the full call. Looking forward to seeing what gets made!


  • wannabe says:

    You “have a soft spot for vibrators”? Do tell!

  • Snags says:

    Anyone who wants you to work for free first has to answer the question “So you’re not getting paid either, then?”. Or consider whether they’d like to work for you for “the experience/exposure/CV”.

    For some reason the conversation turns sour at that point. I’ve never quite worked out why …

  • ValeryNorth says:

    “You get a strong partner with a large presence. Once you’ve served enough of our burgers, if we deem that you have successfully boosted our business, we might actually pay you a wage.”

    Isn’t that basically the deal JSA claimants get these days? ;-)

    And no, it’s not okay when the Government does it either.

  • Ani says:

    I’m sure my management company will accept exposure bucks as rent.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.