Category Archives: Money Management

Death and taxes, okay just taxes

Uncle Sam Another year has come to a close and that means it’s time do start worrying about your taxes. But I’m a sex worker, I don’t pay taxes you say. BAD idea! Everyone needs to pay their taxes be you PSO or escort. Uncle Sam wants the cut of your money he’s entitled to and it’s a good idea to give it to him so you don’t get caught up in him just taking it from you and he will just take it away from you.  Uncle Sam doesn’t care if you’re a hooker or a cam girl he just wants his money. Besides it’s good to pay your taxes for other reasons. Do you ever want credit? Want to buy a house someday? Get a car loan? Health insurance? Those are just some of the things you may need to show your tax returns to accomplish. Now that you’ve decided to be a productive member of society you need to fill out those pesky tax forms and saying “prostitute”  or “Dominatrix”  under the what do you do for a living part may not be what you want on your tax forms. That’s okay, you can say “model” or better yet say  “consultant”  Thats vague enough but is also mundane enough that it will just be glanced over. Lots of people are consultants you do not need to specify what kind of consultant. Problem one solved!

Depending on the kind of sex work you do you may get 1099 forms from the work you’ve done, or you may not. You still have to declare your actual income, even if you don’t get a form. If you’re an escort or pro domme and work only for yourself you will get nothing from no one. You still need to declare your income. It’s a good idea to begin the year keeping records of your income and expenses but thats an article for another time. If you are a cam girl, PSO, adult actress, dancer, adult content producer, fetish model and the list goes on and one you will likely get 1099’s from some companies and nothing from others. You are what is called an independent contractor/ sole proprietor which is commonly referred to as a freelancer. It’s your responsibility to keep track of your income so you can report it at the end of they year. Plus knowing what you make helps you budget in areas of the rest of  your life. You know like knowing if you are living above your means.

Now that you know what you make, its time to figure out what you can deduct as business expenses.

This about it like this, what things are you paying to run your business? Internet connection? Web hosting, domain names? Did you buy equipment this year for your clip shooting business? Did you pay a photographer for new pictures or take out expensive advertising on that pricey escort mall site? Those things are likely deductible. If you have a home office you can not deduct the full cost of your rent but you can deduct a portion of it. Usually based on the square footage of your office compared to the square footage of the entire place. Don’t try to scam the system keep track of your legitimate expenses. No those new $300 jeans you bought are not a “costume”

Viola you’re well on your way to filling your taxes. It sucks that you may (probably) will have to be cutting a check to Uncle Sam. No one likes that but nothing is being withheld from your earnings, including social security. You need to be prepared to be an responsible adult and write that check even if your hand shakes when you do it. I know mine does, every single fucking year.

Official disclaimer: I’m not a CPA or a tax attorney or anything along those lines. Sex worker friendly people in those professions are out there willing to take you on as a client if you look hard enough.  I’m just a sex worker who pays her taxes who’s trying to help figure out how to pay yours.

Jenny DeMilo: Dominatrix, Hypno-Domme and former GFE Escort

Follow Jenny DeMilo on Twitter

 

How to spend your advertising dollars

PWoman-holding-bag-of-money-via-Shutterstockaying for advertising sucks, but it is necessary. All successful business pay for advertising and sex work is no different from any other business. Spending your money wisely.. now thats the hard part. It’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t and there’s a lot of superstition involved in sex work advertising. Especially because where you are getting your clients from is often hard to know.  As a result people tend to keep ads up that are not working for them just because they always had them or out of fear that if they make a change their work will slow. Remember just because you like or don’t like a  specific site or because they are friendly to sex workers ( they all should be as you are their clients)  is not reason to keep yourself off it or put yourself on a specific website. You are in this business to make money and advertising is a business decision. If the money you invest in ads pays off then it’s a good investment, if its not paying off how you want then you need to find something that works better for you. A lot of trial and error is involved in sex work advertising, a lot. Set yourself a monthly budget and get to putting up and tracking your ads. Keep in mind that spending your hard earned cash wisely is the key.. so here are some tips to help you get more for your advertising dollar.

1. Track your web hits: Do this! Seriously do it now, right now. Tracking your web hits will often give you the best picture of how people are finding you. What keywords / search terms they are using to find your clip site, your escort site, your blog, etc. Where are you getting link referrals.  (Protip: this is also a good way to see who’s sharing your files if you are a clip producer) If you are paying a company big bucks for an ad and no one is clicking over from that site to your site, then you’re not spending your money well. Not at all, not one wee little bit. You must use all the tools available to you and tracking your web hits is A number one.

2. Ask your clients: Be aware that they often don’t know, cant remember or just plain will lie  about it but it never hurts to ask. When I would get a phone calls, I would always ask “Where did you see my ad?” Often they would say some site I wasn’t listed on cuz they can be stupid, but a lot of the time they would tell me where they actually saw my ad and if i was real lucky what they liked about my ad and why they were moved to call. Bonus! Asking where your ad was found is also a good way to track your bullshit callers too. If the time-wasters are always telling you they saw you on site X well then maybe its time to take your ad off that site. Its not doing you any good and in fact its wasting your time. d=Dealing with time wasters all the time contributes to sex worker burn out in a big way.

01USDA wise veteran escort friend of mine told me way back in the day when I was a baby ho how to figure out where to place my ads and it holds true today, maybe even more so. Do a Google search as if you were a client looking for an escort to see. Google: Escorts, Los Angeles or Escorts, Washington DC or escorts and whatever city/state you happen to be working in. Now look at those sites, you should have a presence on most of them. There will be a mix of junk sites, mall sites and review sites. So take a little time and look them over. Someone is always trying to capitalize on what they think is escort cash cow money so there are new sites popping up all the time, many in fact most never last. Make sure a site has been around a while and is established, look over who else is on the site, anyone you know? Anyone you respect? Does it look like a slapped together directory with stolen photos? Weed out the crap and hone it down to the solid options.  If something offers a free ad and in the top 10 search returns and looks reputable then it might be worth sticking an ad up there and see what happens. If there’s a splashy mall site with a solid reputation in the top 10 then maybe its time to see about what they have to offer, if there’s a review site in the mix and you are a reviewed escort that allows reviews maybe its time to step up a little participation. All things to think about. If that review site has an ad section, get a price list. Then do a cost benefit analysis. If i spend X, i expect to make X in return. Then track as best you can those results. If it pays off great take that ad out again. If it doesn’t then cancel that ad. Remember the Internet is ever changing so you want to fine tune your potential ads all the time. A site that seems great may stop working and its time to move on to something else or maybe a site that under performed made some changes and is performing better so you want to give it a second try. This is an ongoing battle one that you will have to adapt too all the time. It will drive you nuts but its worth the effort and your time.

Do all the free advertising you can and by that I mean, If you like to blog then write a blog, If you like to take pictures of what you had for lunch then get an Instagram, if you enjoy reposting sexy photos give Tumblr a try. Of course tweet but remember this is your work persona and keep that in mind when you are tweeting up a storm. Make sure if you use 3rd party sites that you carefully read their TOS and keep it clean if they require that. You don’t want to get kicked off sites just when your marketing was starting to pay off there.

Find out what works for you. Invest your advertising dollars wisely. Then go out there and bring home the bacon.

So You Want to Quit Your Day Job

So you want to quit your day job…

Ok, first thing? Don’t.
Not right away, anyway. You’ve got some serious planning to do first, sugarbritches! It took me nearly a year to get everything ready to go from working in this industry part-time to making it my full-time job and my sole means of income. If this is a choice that you have the luxury of making in advance, make the most of the time you have to make the move as painless as possible.

Are you making at least the same amount of money whoring part-time that you are while working full-time at the day job? If the answer is no, stop reading this article and start honing your skills in your chosen field and come back after the answer is yes. When you’re getting your footing while moving into being your own boss all the time, you’re going to need to take time figuring out a new rhythm, a new schedule, a new well… everything. This could very well eat into your planned “work week” at the beginning and allowing yourself enough time to adjust will save you some serious gray hairs. Especially since there really aren’t any guaranteed paychecks in this biz, bogging yourself down with “holy shit I have to whore for 60 hours to make this week’s bills.” will kill you. KILL YOU. So yes, make sure you are comfortably making your current pay with part-time effort right out of the gate. it will make your transition that much easier. There will be booming times and lean times, be prepared.

Are you prepared to no longer have a mainstream job as an answer when someone asks you what you do for a living? Do you plan on being “out”? To whom? These are questions that you may not have had to think about when this was just a part-time gig but once you are all-in, be prepared to be asked about this “great new job you’ve started” and you should have an answer ready, (whatever it may be) for people that matter to you. Obviously, not everyone needs to know your business but be prepared to be asked, and be asked often. This is also a good time to remind you that at some point in time you could possibly be recognized or god forbid, outted.

Have a hefty amount in savings put away before you give your notice. I hope you’ve been saving your whore money while you’ve been slaving away at your day job because you really never know what adjustments you’re going to need to make once you make your ho job your only job. I saved 6 months worth of expenses because my husband had been laid off the year before and that showed me how important a safety net was, especially with a mortgage.

Let’s talk health insurance. Because let’s be real, this is a giant issue for us all and if you’re leaving a job without health insurance, you better have a plan to replace it. Many of us go without, on a hope and a prayer and lord knows that shit ain’t smart. (I was lucky enough to only have to wait a few months until open enrollment for my husband’s plan through his employer. I know how lucky I was to have had that option.) Paying out of pocket for every last bit of health insurance you’ll need can get CRAZY expensive, and hopefully the Affordable Healthcare Act will help lessen some of the burden in the future. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to do your research and plan for what decisions you’ll need to make.

So yes, if Sex Work is the job you love (or love to hate) and the career path you’re choosing, please don’t jump in hastily. Plan ahead, save your money and come to terms with whatever social hangups others will have about your profession before making the leap.
It’ll serve you well in the long run.

 

Savannah Darling: Fetish Specialist, Webcam Mistress, Phone Sex Operator, Professional Domina

Work Smarter – The Marketing Edition

Marketing is probably the most time consuming aspect of success in the adult industry. Actually, I should correct that statement to encompass all industries, not just the adult industry. Because there is no one sure fire way to be successful at marketing, it involves a lot of trial and error. Sometimes you’ll find that one venue of marketing works amazingly, but then six months later maybe it’s a completely different venue. This royal pain in the ass also happens to be your best friend in the path towards success. Be careful though, it sometimes feels like an uphill battle. In stilettos. Since marketing is an ongoing trial and error process, your first instinct may be to advertise one month on one website and then the next month switch to another website. This can definitely have its ups, but an ad needs to be seen at least 3 times for the audience to make a decision on the product or service. Assuming someone goes to a website once a week, your ad would have to be guaranteed to show up each time they visit that website for them to remember you. That seems like it would be easy, until you factor in that you are not the only advertiser on a website. Most websites use banners that either change every 5-7 seconds or that change each time you click to a new page within the website. Give your ad on the site a 3 month trial period. If you haven’t gotten at least a 10-20% return on your investment, it is definitely time to look elsewhere.

When you’re paying for advertising, be smart about where you spend your money. A fellow producer friend of mine decided to invest by advertising on a popular fetish based tube site, which seems like a great idea except he advertised on a niche fetish tube site and his site doesn’t cater to that specific niche! Of course he was really disappointed by the results since he didn’t get a return on his investment, but he made the mistake of not investing intelligently! Make educated decisions on where and how you spend your advertising budget (do your research!!) so that you don’t end up making the same mistake.

If instead of paying for advertising, you’re doing your own advertisement, consider where and how you’ll be doing it. Are you sticking primarily to forums and interaction with potential customers to drive traffic your way? Maybe you’re running a blog or twitter? Consider this for a moment: what is your hourly rate for a cam show or session? Are your efforts at marketing bringing you that rate for each hour devoted to the cause? If you’re spending 3 hours a day tweeting, and your hourly session rate is $250, that’s $750 worth of work. Did you make that money up? Did you book a session during those 3 hours directly off twitter? No matter how you are advertising, you need to expect a return on your investment, which means not only did you make back the time and money spent, but your earnings go above and beyond that.

If you are advertising by your own means rather than a third party site, use tools that are readily available such as Google Analytics, keywords/search terms, social media sites, and forums (where you are allowed to market yourself. Check the forums TOS before posting ads!). Remember that time is money, and if you’re spending all of your time posting ads and trying to drive up traffic there needs to be a return. Perhaps you spend 10 minutes writing a blog post, be sure to add keywords to make finding you easier. Or maybe you’re tweeting, spend 30 minutes scheduling your tweets to post at popular tweeting hours. See if people you know are willing to do a banner exchange to help drive traffic to each others’ sites or blogs.

There is a lot that can be done to advertise on the internet, and taking advantage of all the avenues is one of the best thing you can do. Whether you decide to pay for advertising or do it yourself, make sure that you’re smart about it. Don’t present yourself or your brand in a bad light, choose the right venues for advertising, and make sure that your ad or banner catches the eye and is memorable!

Follow Sydney Screams on Twitter @sydneyscreams4u

Sydney Screams: Fetish Model, Clip Producer, Adult Actress, Radio Talk Show Host

The Money Doesn’t Last

Most of us got into this industry for the same reason – Money. We want to earn a lot of it and we want to earn it quickly. Whether it’s out of necessity or pure desire, money is a powerful force, and can be intoxicating if you’re not careful.

Here’s the thing about money in the sex industry – it’s rarely, if ever, constant. You have good weeks, bad months, killer years, and rough seasons. Ideally you get a feel for the rhythms that you’re going to experience and over the long run can live relatively steadily on your income. But that takes time, commitment, preparation, and dedication. It’s a challenge that few of us rise to on the first try. An added challenge is that we can be surrounded by clients who make obscene amounts of money, and are generally expected to present a glamorous and upscale lifestyle. Whether it’s as simple as having our nails taken care of or a deeper persona we develop – it’s important to have a REAL sense of what kind of lifestyle we can afford. But before you even get to that part – you need a really simple understanding that your income is not constant. You do not earn an annual salary. You do hours of unpaid labor. And sometimes the money just isn’t there. Sometimes you can do everything right, but the night is slow, the clients are flaky, or the worst economic recession in recent history fucks with your regulars. There’s a lot that is in your control – but there is a lot that isn’t. Your income WILL fluctuate.

This is especially important for New Girls. For your first 6 months (maximum – and depends on your field – for some it’s more like 6 weeks or 6 days) you will be the New Girl. You will be the hot new flavor, and you will be exciting. Milk this time. Build a base of regulars. Enjoy the relative freedom you have to make mistakes with fewer financial consequences. And remain fully aware the entire time that you have New Girl status, which will eventually fade.

It may not fade right away. It may not fade suddenly. You might not even notice it fading at first because (hopefully) you’ve developed your own rhythm and regulars and understanding of how you work. You can tell yourself that you’re going to do everything right. You’re going to be prepared, have some money saved, and have done such a good time building regulars and having new ideas to stay fresh that the experience you gain will counteract the disappearance of the New Girl status.

But you probably won’t. Honestly, most of us don’t. And that’s ok. For most of us there’s a significant dip between when we started and then when our businesses really started to grow significantly. Here’s some ideas to minimize the damage that dip can do to your finances.

Five Things NOT To Do With Your $

  1. Extravagant shopping sprees. Treat yourself for sure, but try to keep it within reason. Better yet, make someone else take you shopping.
  2. Taking on major financial commitments based on your brand spanking new salary. Like buying a new car. Or signing a lease on an upscale apartment. Make sure you know how much you’re going to be making over a longer period of time.
  3. Getting into debt. Don’t assume you can just pay it back later because you’ll see an extra client or sign on an extra couple of hours.
  4. Quit your day job. Yes, that’s usually the point. But hold on to it for a little bit of time while you get your feet wet and figure your shit out. It takes time. Really. And this industry has an extremely high turnover.
  5. Act like an asshole and brag about or lord over all the money you make to your friends. They’ll be far less sympathetic during the rough times, and well, you don’t want to be that asshole.

Five Things DEFINITELY To Do With Your $

  1. Put some in your savings account. Put more than you think you need in your savings account. Save 30% for tax season (see #5)
  2. Pay off your debt. Just good advice in general.
  3. Invest in your business. You already bought your domain, right? Get a decent camera. Get enough supplies to last for a while – condoms, lube, whatever. Get some dungeon gear. Get some new lingerie. Get toys! And keep your receipts if you’re going to file taxes!
  4. If you have financial goals – stick to them. Saving for a house? Don’t touch those savings under the assumption you can earn it back later. Putting money away for a college fund? Leave it there. Be disciplined and it will happen.
  5. If you have trouble with any of this – hire help. Get good software. Get an accountant. Hire the Tax Domme – and especially if your income is tracked, which it will be for just about any legal area of the industry, pay your damn taxes. It’s far more expensive not to.

I’m not a financial expert. I wish I had taken more of this advice when I was new. Just be conscious, cautious, and smart. It can be feast or famine in this line of work. Don’t let yourself starve if you can help it.

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Lauren Kiley: Webcam Girl, Fetish Performer, Fetish Clip Producer, Former Escort, Activist, Dirty Girl Next Door.