The indictment is out and you can see by looking at it the feds ( FBI and IRS) are totally following the money trail. They have all the money transfers listed and all the assets. Seems you can make millions of dollars off escort advertising, but i already knew that. The people arrested had cash in banks, a couple of cars but no real property at least if they do it hasn’t been found yet.
I cant express enough how important it is to pay your taxes. If you deposit 10K or more into a bank, the bank will report that money to the IRS and eventually you will have to account for that money and if it doesn’t match your income then you are in it deep with the government.though it might take them a few years to find you ans seize everything you have. In this case i’m guessing The Redbook people will lose it all and lets face it an ad site is a legal business. So it is all unnecessary and short sighted. They really screwed the pooch on this one and a lot of people are scrambling because of it.
I know i’ve been bitching a lot lately (especially if you follow me on twitter) about Google and traffic. Theres not conformation in regards to what i’ve been seeing reflected in my traffic stats and research as to Google’s algorithm changes.
Xbiz did an in depth article into Google changing heir adult advertisers policy as in buh-bye adult advertisers. To which I add F’ you Google.
Heres what I don’t get, if Google is in fact bowing to the pressure of pornography prohibitionists, what is the benefit? They own the damn Internet, what do they think these groups are actually going to get people to stop using Google.. in favor of what search engine? What is Google afraid of with these groups? I know Google isn’t very sex worker friendly. In fact they are sometimes downright hostile to them but what does Google have to gain by squeezing out adult traffic? I would think Google would be more worried about government regulation because of the up and down stock drops with their monkeying around with search rankings and traffic ( hello retailmenot) then what some head up their ass “for the children” anti porn group… but oh well no one ever called Google forward thinking well at least not in 10 years. I personally hope their get more competition, id like to see other services squeeze Google a little who ever they may be. I can already see Yahoo and Bing increasing their reach with certain sites of mine in fact one has more search returns in its niche then Google. Thats new and i hope it continues, especially in light of Google being a total dick to legal business that happen to be adult in nature. Cuz thats what the world doesn’t need, Google telling you what you can look at, read or listen too.
City Vibe was a major player in the escort advertising world. You could get a big glossy ad in any major city in the US and even some not so major ones. They had some kinda link exchange deal with the big national review website, yanno the one that boasts a gazillion escort reviews. If you had a profile on that site you would often find a link to your ad on Eros or some other site replaced by a link to City Vibe. When I started touring, City Vibe would often give me a free ad in what ever city I was traveling to. I didn’t ask for this ad they would just do it and somehow they knew where I was traveling to. They would call me every once in a while and ask me to advertise with them often giving out great deals and every once in a while I would bite, hoping they could bring me more work but it never seemed to play out that way. Eros was the big player and City Vibe didn’t net me more business and why spend hundreds on an ad that didn’t perform. I didn’t. Other people did though, some big named girls always had ads up on City Vibe. I’m guessing it worked for them or they wouldn’t spend the cash. It just never did for me.
Did i accedently click on Backpage?
I promptly forgot about them (and their free ads) when I stopped touring. Until the other day. It started on Twitter when a friend who was a regular City Vibe advertiser was having a fit about some redesign changes. Apparently City Vibe was now adopting the look and feel on their front pages of Backpage. You’d have to dig for the escort ads among the long list of items for sale like clocks and dressers. Once you did find this escort sites escort ads, you find that they are heavily pushing their new VIP ads, which look strangely familiar. Upon a little further inspection they also seem to have their own “review” site attached. Cuz what they world needs is more “review” sites, especially one that is almost an exact duplicate of that national review site they used to be partnered with. It’s weird to see such a long established site have such an obvious identity crisis.
Its like a scavenger hunt to find the escorts
Skip ahead a week and its all over my twitter stream City Vibe is being sued. Sued? Yup Sued! I was able to find the legal complaint that was filed (it was easy to find) and it turns out City Vibe isn’t being sued by that review site they took the whole review model from, or Backpage whose concept they are appropriating but they are being sued by Slixa for copying the look and feel of their VIP ads. Slixa is an upstart escort advertising site that’s been hitting the ground running and earning a lot of good will in the escort world. Its a splashy new site and when I first saw them, thought that they were positioning themselves to take on Eros. Trying to be in direct competition with the most high end of all the escort advertising venues. I thought good for them, there needs to be more options for escorts. They have a unique look and feel and do a few things Eros doesn’t that I personally think makes them appealing to escorts, like not doing traffic trades or having links on their site that go off to cam girls or porn sites. Escorts like that cuz when you pay the big bucks you don’t want to give away your eye balls.
As I’ve long stated my background is in advertising, more specifically art direction. That’s what I went to college for. So my first thought was really suing over a design? Is that even possible? Then I did the compare and contrast and its clear to me that City Vibe is directly copying Slixa’s VIP pages. To the smallest of details. Seems City Vibe doesn’t have an original thought in their head. Maybe they think they need to swipe ideas from everyone else to be competitive, or maybe their art department is lazy or …who knows the why of it all. I’m no legal expert so who knows if Slixa will be successful in court (a jury trial was demanded in the filing) But to an ex art directer with some knowledge in aping other peoples work and making it your own I can say with confidence that City Vibe didn’t even try to modify they just out right aped. I don’t understand that business model. Sex workers are always trying to be unique to try to find a way to stand out from a crowd. That’s why I always advise people to find their best feature and whats special about them no matter what that is and play that up. City Vibe might do well to take the same advice and try to stand out instead of trying to blend in by swiping everyone else’s business models and looks. They been around a long time, are well established and its strange to see this implosion and to watch them self destruct. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them just disappear one day or maybe hear though the grapevine that they are up for sale.
Escorts need more options for advertising not less and more then that, they need GOOD options not cookie cutter slapped together miss mashes of other sites. I hope City Vibe pulls themselves together and once again becomes a real option for escorts and their advertising needs but I’m not holding my breath.
Full disclosure I am a contract writer for Slixa but in this blog… all my thoughts are my own!
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.
I’ve given up trying to deal with third parties when it comes to hosting my video promo clips. YouTube thinks my tongue is “adult” and actively goes after any of the fetish girls posting non adult material which is compliant with their TOS. I’ve been deleted off that site so many times I cant keep count. Vimeo and I got into it last year when they decided i couldn’t link to any of my websites (including this blog even though other users link to their self promotion blogs) and told me i couldn’t watermark my videos with anything that would direct any Vimeo viewer to any of my sites where i then in turned linked to a clip site. Yes, Vimeo is trying to police several links out and also actively goes after any fetish people to try to harass them into not using their site buy giving them special rules that dont apply to other users of Vimeo. WTF! (I now watermark with my Twitter fr them, cuz they suck ass)
Fetish people are often targeted even though so much of our content is R-rated at best. My theory is because we confuse and upset people. Yes, me talking about my shoes isn’t adult content and there are video after video on these sites with women talking about shoes showing off shoes and the like but if I’m aware and make it known that i’m aware that my viewer gets a rock hard cock at me talking about my shoes then well…. DELETE HER! Even though my videos comply with their terms of service. It happens to us all and I’ve given up trying to use those sites for any kind of traffic generating device, they just delete me or make me spend hours justifying my content and fighting with them.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to host my own content on my own sites where I can embed a payer into the actual post. Its harder then you think. You can upload but embedding though a player well that’s hard. Right now i’m using a plug in just discovered but I had to convert my content to a .flv file and i’m pretty sure that means flash which means you iphone/ipad users cant see squat (sorry guys). So Its not a perfect solution but i’m not done trying to find a better one.