Sensual Mistress Wants To Price Control Your Content

sensual mistress masthead I’ve been around the block a few times. I have my mp3 sessions available for sale in several places. I’ve opted to not put them on some platforms, I’ve pulled products and ended relationships with others if I felt they were being shady. I’ve always been very vocal about it when I feel a platform is not dealing with content creators fairly or ethically. I feel those people should be called out in hopes that others don’t get taken for a ride and platforms will think twice about acting unethically.

Enter Sensual Mistress. You might not know of them. They are a website that deals exclusively with Hypno-Dommes and Hypnosis Mp3s. When they first hit the scene I was reluctant to get involved. They are European-based and at the time they arrived the banking looked to be in Cyprus, a hotbed of Russian money laundering. The site is run by a Hypno-Domme who goes by Samba and the site didn’t look professional, it still doesn’t. I begged off joining, for years.

At the end of last year a colleague of mine, a top selling Hypno-domme, with a sterling reputation convinced me to put my files up on Sensual Mistress for sale. She had been listing with them since the beginning and told me of her positive experience. She made sales, she always got paid on time. I decided to give them a try. I wish I hadn’t.

It went well for the first couple of months. I made some moderate sales. The site takes 30% of your sales off the top but I saw some potential. 30% is ridiculous but that’s what a lot of sites take (which is why you should always buy hypnosis mp3s direct from the creator if you can) After a little trial and error I began to see that there was a slant to the kinds of files that sold there and began to list my back catalog in that fetish and a smattering of newer files.

Jump ahead to this last month’s payout. When I was short. Not a lot but enough for me to inquire as to what was going on.  That’s when I was informed I was being paid in EUROS not dollars and I lost about 5% in the exchange rate. I suppose if I had been paying better attention I would have noticed this with the first payment but it took 3 payouts for me to realize there was a discrepancy. The way the site does payments to its content creators there was also a high fee to getting paid about 4%. So my 30% off the top when to 39% off the top. Meaning I made 61% of each sale and that my friends is a shitty deal.

I decided that for Sensual Mistress to remain worth the effort I would have raise my prices on Sensual Mistress $5.00 per file. That modest price increase would allow for any fluctuation in the exchange rate and the payment fees. The site owner was not pleased I raised my prices. Even though her off the top cut of MY work would increase with my price increase, she worried that someone might say something bad about Sensual Mistress on some unknown random forum somewhere on the internet. Clearly she believed the people buying mp3s were her customers, not my customers and didn’t know that in fact the content creators on her site were her customers. Whenever I see people make the number one business mistake of not knowing who their customers are it throws up red flags. Red flags were flying everywhere.

The site owner was worried someone on a forum (lets face it forums are where people pirate) would say something about how a file of mine increased 5 bucks and that somehow would sully the reputation of Sensual Mistress. We had a brief email exchange. I told her I increased my prices to cover costs. She decided that she would try to school me in pricing strategy (oh shades of Kinkbomb trying to school me on the definition of a charge back) and how I should price my products and compared her site to Clips4Sale and how on her site I made a 1% more then with C4Sale, therefore it was so unfair to her and her site that I didn’t in turn increase my prices across the board on every site I sell on. Including my own site where I make over 92% of my sale price (always buy direct!)

Lets talk about Clips4Sale. C4S is a huge platform, one of the oldest in the business. I’ve been with clips4sale since I started making content. I sold my fetish clips with them (since retired) I continue to sell my Mp3s with them. They have paid me on time for years and years and years. They have a huge built in customer base and massive traffic. I’m currently getting an extra 10% on all sales I drive myself, they will send out DMCAs for me, there is 24/7 technical support and if I have something to say I can call the owner on the phone and HE ANSWERS and he listens to my concerns. I have exchanged emails with him about features id like to see on the site and he listens. I’m small potatoes on C4S and the owner takes the time to listen to my concerns.

So I told Sensual Mistress that:

A. Her calculations about how much I make on C4S was inaccurate

B. Other sites offered other services that were of value to my business

C. If listing my content on her site was predicated on HER pricing my content (on her site and others sites) that I would happily remove my profile and files from her site.

I’m an independent content producer and I have never seen a platform attempt to price control and market control their content producers. Lots of sites have issues here and there but once you try to control how a producer prices their material and police their content on other sites no less, you have moved into real SHADY and unethical territory.

Before I got a response from the site owner my content was removed and my access to my store was disabled. My profile though remained and my listing was live. The email in return when it came was that the site couldn’t allow me to raise my prices. At that point it was done, I sent my termination letter, asked for my profile and listing to be removed and that all outstanding monies be paid in 24 hours. My profile and listing was removed I however have not been paid, it’s been well over 24 hours. I doubt I will be paid.

I thought that was the end of it until I heard that other well known Hypno-Dommes that were listed on the site had been treated the same as I was. Some got emails, some just got access to their store disabled before they got an email telling them that they were only allowed to sell their products on the site of they priced their files how the owner of Sensual Mistress dictated to them they should.

Sensual Mistress had clearly made it policy (though it’s not written anywhere when you join) that independent content producers were not to be in control of how they priced their content. The website Sensual Mistress is to decide how independent Hypno-Dommes are to price their products on ALL WEBSITES.

I’m not sure how my colleagues are planning on dealing with this but I know at least one was allowed her access back and got a grilling about how she was going to price across other platforms. To clarify, I made on Sensual Mistress in a month what I make on Niteflirt in a weekend. I joined because of a colleagues good experience and in the hopes that I might gain a few regular European buyers. I certainly didn’t join to be told by someone who cant seem to do any consistent branding how to price MY products.

Any platform that tries to price control, you should avoid like the plague. That’s unethical, it’s shady and it’s just plain stupid. When a platform that already charges you an abhorrent percentage because your products are adult, something no other industry could get away with, then tries to market control and price control how you do business with other platforms on top of telling you how to price your products on their site, That… Is … Crazy… and you shouldn’t allow yourself to be treated that way in business.

I know everyone has to make their own business decisions but if you are considering using the Sensual Mistress platform to sell your products, think hard. Do you want to make a less money per product with the fluctuation in exchange rates and very high fees for payout. Do you want a platform owner to meddle in how you do business with other sites. Do you want a platform to meddle and dictate your pricing strategy? Because all these things happen with Sensual Mistress. I deeply regret listing my files and lending my hard earned credibility and long standing reputation to Sensual Mistress for the short time I was on the site. Hopefully you can learn for my mistake.

 

 

 

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The Google algorithm

Oh really Google?
Oh really Google?
Its a mystery the Google algorithm. Everyone knows its whats brings you eyeballs to your site but no one really knows how it works. Sure you can go the the Google FAQ pages to try to learn how to “properly” interact with it but those pages are always woefully out of date and telling you to create meaningful content well that’s not very helpful. lets face it Google owns the Internet and as a result Google owns us. Small business or large business alike. I try not to rely too heavily on Google and though i do better then some, they still own my ass when it come to eyeballs and searches to my website.  Ebay took a hit just yesterday because Google updated the algorithm but Ebay isn’t the only one.

I’ve been noticing changes in traffic to my femdom hypnosis website. Now i own a lot of websites but thats my main business website and it gets a fair amount of traffic. Or rather it DID get a fair amount of traffic. That was due to a few things. I spent a lot of time working on my SEO, making my site SEO friendly and adding quality content on a consistent basis. Having the words “femdom hypnosis” in my domain name was also a big traffic push. Lots of people scramble for good domain names that sound great but also have good keywords right in the domain. I’m not so sure that’s helpful anymore. My traffic dipped in March got worse in April and I’ve spent weeks trying to identify the issue so i can address it. I got pretty much nowhere. . I’ve talked to peers, its not just me. There was a shift in the force. Something happened, but i was at a loss for identifying the issue. Knowing something changed but not being able to address has made me pullout my hair frustrated. I’ve been frustrated and angry.

Last night came across some news articles that may shed some light on the problem. Google updated their algorithm, Panda 4.0. They also updated their payday loan algorithm. It was officially released 2 days ago but i’m guess there was a soft roll out weeks before it hit for reals. Its not just effecting the big guys, us small guys are being hammered too and we don’t have the resources or access say Ebay does. I’m guessing Ebay makes a phone call to get answers, not exactly possible for me to get on the phone with Google to ask WTF and how do i address these new changes. I am left to dangle in the wind. And so are most of you.  The payday loan algorithm is supposed to target “spammy” search queries and temper results that come back with a lot of spam. How much do you wanna bet the word “hypnosis” is on that list. Of course i wont be able to get a definitive answer to that question either and i’m not sure what the work around on that might be but i will figure it out eventually. In the mean time all the hypno-dommes suffer with lower traffic numbers.

Hypno-Dommes are a cagey bunch. They hold their cards very close to the vest and really i cant blame them. Were a very small group of niche content providers and most of us want to keep it that way. As a  result we don’t share a lot of information that might be helpful to each other. We suffer in silence. I hope this little post sheds some light for some of you who might be noticing that paradigm shift as i did. As i try new things to see and see if i can rectify the situation and get myself back to neutral i’ll make sure to share that info. Because thats just how i roll.

Google explains Panda reforms: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html 

 

Femdom Hypnosis And Me

hypnotic-1I’m focusing on femdom hypnosis or more commonly known as erotic hypnosis. You may have noticed old sites of mine are disappearing. That is by design. Ive been a sex worker for a long time. Ive run the gamut, i’ve done a lot of things that some people may think exciting and others might be horrified by. I am neither, its simply who i am and what ive done. Escorting to me was always a job it had good days and it had bad days much like any other job. I liked the lifestyle, i liked making rent in one night. I was well suited to making strangers feel special, i had a knack for it. I was an outlaw, i lived off the grid. Now… not so much. Though im a still a sex worker i work on the legal side of things now. I am a hypno-domme… a erotic recording artist. As such my focus has shifted, that doesnt mean i don’t care deeply for the rights of sex workers no matter which ball field they play in because i do. That doesnt mean that i don’t get blindly angry when i see some hack journalist conflates sex work with human trafficking because i do. That doesn’t mean i don’t see red when some well meaning simpleton thinks they know whats best for all sex workers and will force their morality down our thoughts so they can get a ego boost or a pat of the back, because  i do. However one cant push that boulder up that hill forever just as one cant fuck for money forever. I did get burned out and i did “retire” I no longer meet strangers and spend my time trying to make them feel special for cash. Those days are long gone but they will never be forgotten.

Now if you want a tasty bite of Jenny it will have to be an audio recording of my voice…. echoing in your head.

 

File Sharing Myths

Look into my eyes.. hear the truth
As an adult content producer my work can and has been pirated, shared, traded and generally not paid for by people looking to get free stuff. Its par for the course and yes, it pisses me off. I’m a little guy not Warner Bros Records i don’t have their resources nor their cash flow and every dollar counts when it comes to making a living this way. I do my best to create quality content and as a result people like my work (you dirty perverts, i love you all) unfortunately there is an underbelly and they also love my work and love to rip me off to get it. They make up all kinds of excuses as to why they are entitled to steal from me..

Some misconceptions about selling adult content online.

1. Hypno-Dommes dont report their income and pay taxes

Yes we do! When selling content online you fill out tax ID information (which includes detailed identity information) and that information is used by the company’s processing your sales in their tax reporting.  I get W9s at the end of the year and trust me writing that check to uncle Sam at the end of the year hurts like a motherfucker but tax evasion is not an even an option when you have a paper trail for every… single… item you sell online. That’s worth repeating for the people who think adult content producers dont pay taxes or report their income. EVERY SINGLE SALE is documented. That’s how they got Capone and if they can get him you can be damn sure theyd get some piddly adult content maker.

2. No one would know about you if it wasn’t for file sharing

This is almost laughable. Its in fact the other way around one you’ve built a reputation and its solid then you start seeing your files up on sites being shared. I had been making content for 2 years before i had to start sending out notices and playing whack a mole with my work. But people love to take credit for your discovery when in fact you’ve been working in the business and making a living for years before you were brought to their attention.

3. I’m a greedy bitch

Yeah I’m a greedy bitch if by that you mean i want to get paid for working. This is my actual job just like you saying “would you like to super size that?” is YOUR job. You wouldn’t want to work for free and neither do i. I know it’s hard for some people to understand because they jerk off to what i make but this is my job. I do other things for fun and trust me making Mp3s about sucking cock, isn’t one of them. That my friends is a J..O..B…

Sending out notices to get files removed is part of the territory and i do it diligently. It does however take time away from making new content, which is how id rather spend my working time. It does in fact hurt business when my files get shared, that is a stone cold fact. When i have to send out another notice to get another file removed it truly ruins my day. It’s the part of being in this business i dislike the most, dealing with people who feel entitled to steal from me.

Gumroad, paved with bad intentions

The road to hell and all…
As  a creator of adult content I’m always looking for new platforms and ways to sell my content. When Gumroad was brought to my attention it perked up my ears and I delved in to it to see f it was compatible with what I was doing. I read over the FAQs and the TOS and there was no restriction on adult content. Gumroad fees are 5% of the sale price plus .25 per transaction. At the end of they month if you have over 10 bucks in your Gumroad account they Paypal you your earnings. In the non adult world thats not exactly a bargain, in the adult world its well worth the time to look into this more. When you sell your work though clips sites they often take a very hefty chunk of your cash but clip sites also also bring traffic, Gumroad doesn’t, with Gumroad you need to bring your own traffic to the table.

Step one was done. That’s always the most frustrating step because makers of adult content are excluded from so many places. (Yeah, I know we have cooties) Step two was to test it out. I began in  Aug 2012 uploading a handful of  MP3 files and placing the links to them on my Mistress Demilo website. I get a lot of people searching for hypnosis mp3s from that sites so I though it would be a good test. I made a couple of sales. I waited until the end of the month and the transfer of funds was made. It went smooth. I did this for a couple more months adding a blurb about Gumroad to my monthly newsletter to my customers and asked them for feedback if they purchased products though them, I also wrote blog posts about how you could get some files though Gumroad and I diligently used the Gumroad dashboard feature of tweeting my content to my close to 4k+ followers on twitter. It’s worth noting  that feature automatically adds an @gumroad to its tweets. More files were bought, end of the month more smooth transactions were made.

In Oct I decided to expand with Gumroad, I had tested them out and all went well time to do more with this new platform to sell on. I added the ability to buy though Gumroad to two more of my websites, both Sissy slut hypnosis and Erotic femdom hypnosis, I devised a marketing campaign around Gumroad, I made a few files exclusive to Gumroad and my sites for the month of October. As a result of this added time and effort my Gumroad sales went up about 400% maybe a little more.  I was pretty excited about the progress. I tweeted to and told other ladies who I know sell content about Gumroad encouraging them to check them out. I waited for my transfer of funds at the end of the month. It didn’t come.

I made sales on December 1st (2) but never got a notice that my money was transferred.  On December 2nd I couldn’t access my account, it would say “logging in” but it never connected. I had a bad feeling. My better half told me I was panicking to early, though hes very sensitive to sex worker issues, until you walk a mile in a sex workers shoes you cant know what its like to have that powerless feeling that arises when your gut tells you someone is disrespecting you or taking advantage because if what you do for a living. I tweeted at Gumroad that i couldn’t access my account.  In the afternoon when i still couldn’t access my account i investigated further, I found that Gumroad was up and running for other people, that other peoples items were still for sale on Gumroad and that links to my content was met with 404 errors. I also checked my public profile and though it was there there was no content listed available.

I sent in a email to support informing them of all this including the info that i hadn’t received any funds on the 1st. I was met with radio silence.

I waited 24 hours, still nothing. I sent in a second email this time I found the email address of the founder ( a 19 year old wunderkind of some sort the media tells me) Sahil Lavingia and sent him a note too just in case my gut as wrong and they were experiencing a bigger database or email issue. Hell it had been even suggested to me that maybe they had fired their IT or support person and were scrambling.

A little over an hour later I got a response. A two line email telling me my account had been suspended for “Illicit” content. No mention of the money they owed me, nothing addressing any of my questions just a curt yup, we deleted you. Let me break this down.

Illicit means Illegal, they were telling me they shut me down and from my perspective were going to keep my funds because my content was Illegal. Which of course its not. Its adult, its mature, its erotic but its not Illegal. I wrote Gumroad back a rather not nice email telling them  such asking them for my money and accusing them of stealing. I then assumed I would need to get a lawyer in involved. I re-read Gumroads TOS and they had changed as of Nov 19th. it looked to me a catch all for deleting accounts had been added “otherwise objectionable”  If your content was “otherwise objectionable” well that’s a pretty wide net. Translation “for any reason” including no reason at all or because you have red hair and gingers are scary. But sir i object!

This is why you don’t do business with 19 year olds. Who runs a business like this? Who thinks its okay to treat their customers like this. Is this how everyone is treated by Gumroad? No its not, they have good feedback, this is how Jenny DeMilo Sex worker was treated by Gumroad. I felt discriminated against, I felt powerless. Gumroad had my money and closed down my account, my inquires were met with silence and only after tracking down the founders email did I get any response at all and that was unacceptable in any business. Just because I’m a creator of erotica does not mean you are allowed to treat me any different then if my name was John Smith and I sold post it notes to the PTA. Business is business. Not for Gumroad though for them this is acceptable.

I then received an email from a customer who told me all the purchases he made of my content though Gumroad were suddenly refunded. Refunded with out my consent and not by any request from the customer.

What  the motherfucking hell is that! Who does that. What business school did these morons drop out of.  Who thinks they have the right to refund My money to My customers with out MY consent. My products were delivered, my customers happy but Gumroad though yanno they could give away my content for free. Gumroad had clearly forgotten their role in this arrangement.  Shady Shady Shady.  I started thinking that yep a law suit was definitely in Gumroads future. Because though I might just be a little guy, a small business and a sex worker, I am not going to allow you to steal my hard heard money from me. That is not an option.

Then the next Gumroad email comes though, this time obviously written by someone who had at least taken a class on customer service. it started with an apology which is customer service 101. It went on to tell me my funds would be transferred in 24 hours and that no they didn’t think my content was illegal but that they couldn’t handle “some kinds” of adult material. That once an account had been “flagged” by their user base, it was gone. Well whoopdie fucking doo. My guess is their lawyer told them to pay the fuck up and that some idiot over there refunded my clients in a panic. They did the transfer in 24 hours and get this they even tossed in some extra cash as an oops we deleted your account with out notice and then were stupid about how to deal with you kinda bribe or something. Though it’s always nice to get a few extra free bucks…WTF. I wonder how that little item reads on their balance sheet.

So there ya have it, Gumroad is a great idea but its run by people who make terrible decisions, treat their customers like crap and have zero idea how to handle business. Oh as a side not they use Stripe for their platform. Stripe takes .30 a transaction and 2.9 on each sale so Gumroad is working on a pretty thin margin. Oh Stripe clearly states in their TOS no pornography. Gumroad neglected to incorporate Stripes TOS in their own. Another really bad business decision. Gumroad is run like a teenager who’s never had to think beyond himself. Impulsive, never thinking a situation though to its conclusion. Though i’m sad it all went down like this I had high hopes working with them and had invested a lot of time and effort to make something out of it.  I’m sure my next months sales would have increased more then the 400% the last months sales had, and I’m pissed I was treated so poorly, as a business person I would never do business with a company like this. They will limp along but I cant be the only person who has had such horrible dealing with Gumroad. Im just not that special. They will run themselves into the ground or lose their financing. Though it might be cute to invest some bucks into a 19 year old “wiz kid” who is basically just making Stripe easier to use for more money, I find it hard to imagine any VC giving more money over to a group of kids who haven’t the first fucking clue about how to treat a customer. Oh as of this post my Gumroad Profile  is still active.