Do Not Trust Call Siren

New adult services pop up all the time. Most are fly by night. They think, look at all the free sex worker money! Then they find out how much work is involved and fold. Sex workers actually work their asses off (some literally) to make a living. They can fade away pretty fast. Escort directories linger on the web with no paid ads because they cant bring in the customers, clip sites do little or no business and barely stay a float then shut down. Some take the time to get sex worker allies on their side so that they can show they are legitimate and not there just to make money off them but want to be a member of the community and support them with their new business (see https://www.slixa.com and the now defunct clippette) But they too have trouble navigating the difficult waters of how to make money in an often flooded adult market. As much as people think its free money its not its hard work, very hard work.

Enter Call Siren.

It was brought to my attention by a sex worker pal Pinky Galore. “Hey do you know who Call Siren is? They are re-tweeting all my tweets from NiteFlirt” I had never heard of them before. They had a web page up but it was a squeeze page. (hello 2004 called they want their marketing back) the site had no information  about who they were, how the money would work,what personal info they would need, what the split was, what they were offering other then some kinda phone sex and sex chat phone app that would launch “soon” but they sure wanted your email address. Whois says they have been in existence for only a month.

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The first thought is why would anyone RT auto tweets from NiteFlirt? My colleague asked them via twitter if they were affiliated with Niteflirt?

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What ensued next was nothing short of both hilarious and infuriating. Call Siren spent a good amount of time trying to convince sex workers on twitter that they didn’t need to give them info that said sex workers should just sign up with them no questions asked. Just sign up bitchez and find out later you dumb whores! Okay i’m paraphrasing but thats how it was taken by many including me.

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That didn’t go over very well as sex workers (especially the vocal ones on twitter) don’t really like it when they are patronized and treated like they are dumb whores.  They even “LOL’d” at me in response to a serious question. They might as well called me sweetie cuz theres nothing more professional then calling a prospective customer “sweetie” or LOLing at them in response to questions.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 7.57.21 AMThis went on for a while, until yours truly got frustrated with them and did a little digging. Their trademark that they have a ™ on their twitter profile is not registered with TESS. I pointed that out to them and they not so veiled threated to sue me for slander. Clearly geniuses who don’t know the difference between slander and libel and what cause is in a legal case. Lucky for them i do, so i pointed it out to them.

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It spiraled down hill from there. With Call Siren tweeting that the sex workers questioning them and at this point laughing at their ineptitude, poor business practices and stated that all the bad press they were getting somehow was good PR for them. Yes, they trotted out that old dog.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 8.16.24 AMPlenty f people had seen all this and it was re-tweeted far and wide. They did plenty of damage to themselves because they just couldn’t stop. They couldn’t stop responding and every time they made themselves look worse and more unprofessional. They refused to answer any questions  which made them look shady. Its all out there. I thought it was done they slinked away hopefully to re-think their approach. Until this morning when 4:30 AM San Francisco time, where they say they are located.. Hello crack-heads! I get this…

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 8.21.05 AMTheir twitter count had jumped from only 25 on the first day of the exchange, to over 4K. Thats 3 days and an amazing return wow who knew my bad PR reach was so long! Oh wait… they bought followers in an attempt to somehow smite the people questioning them. Thats just plain old sad. When you look at their followers list you see dead accounts, bible thumpers, bots. its a plethora of bought followers! The most concise and to the point response to them was one by Fiona Foremost.

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And thats really the bottom line.  All the shenanigans aside, when you are dealing with a sex worker support service you need them to be above board, professional and legit. They will be handling your money, they will have your personal information such as an ID and social security number, they will be able to connect your real identity to your working one. They need to be not just trustworthy but super trust worthy. If they are easily baited into petty arguments, watch out! If they are not upfront in their business practices watch out,  if they wont tell you anything about WHO is running the site really watch out. Sex workers need to be very careful about who they trust with sensitive information. Many live double lives, many can reap heavy repercussions in their lives if ex husbands, clergy, parents, neighborhood busy bodies, the sheriff in Polk county FL find out they are sex workers.

The people that stay in business do support sex workers but are not all perfect. Most if not all protect your information are professional and trustworthy thats WHY they sick around to make money. Call Siren is not one of those business. Call Siren is not trustworthy. I’m going to guess they either never launch and will sell their email list to try to make some money back or when they do they flop. Or they just screw over people royally. Mark …My … Words.

Eros Guide and the 1500 photoshoot

photagsI was minding my own Twitter business when it popped into my stream, Eros Guide announced they were coming to my city, Washington DC for a photo event. I clicked the link. Seems Eros is getting into the escort photoshoot business and they are doing it in DC. I was pretty irritated right away but not for the reason you might think.  What bothered me about this was that Eros Guide was selling these photoshoots for outrageous amounts of money 1200-1500 dollars of hard earned escort cash thats 3/4 times the going rate and marketing it towards “new escorts” The package they were offering was a shoot with a photographer with a minimal portfolio that had a grand total of 1 adult photo, one location for everyone just to make sure your pictures looked like all the other girls shooting, a make up artist, a “social media blast” whatever the fuck thats suposed to mean and of course an ad on their site. You’d also get a cookie cutter website of some kind as if online escorts don’t overwhelmingly have those already. If you opted for the higher shoot price you would also get a totally unnecessary video which they would give you the embed link to or put it up on YouTube or Vimeo for you where it would surly violate TOS and get your account deleted. Ask me how I know that.

Lets break this down…

Photoshoot: I’ve done shoots with multiple girls in one day and i’ve always offered a discount on them. I used to call them “shootouts” back in the day and it was mainly used by ladies who just needed a few current photos to add to their existing galleries. Why did I offer a discount on them? Because when you have one location and multiple girls you run the risk of having your photos look similar. You don’t have time to reset lights 5,6,7 times when you are pushing though that many models a day. You only have time to pose a girl in the same 4 poses as the girl before and move on to the next. Thats just a fact and anyone who tells you different either hasn’t done a shoot like that before or is flat out lying to you about what they can achieve.

The Eros shoot information was vague, never telling you how long you’d get to shoot or how many photos you’d get and if they’d be retouched or not. All the details you’d want to know and information you should have before making a decision on any shoot let alone a shoot that expensive. For that kind of money you should be shooting with a photographer with a name and reputation or you should be getting a fair amount of shoot time, like a half day or a full day. You will get neither with this Eros Guide Photoshoot event. Its just logistically impossible.

So why is Eros getting into the photo business?

vintage-cameraIt seems to me Eros is trying to compete with Backpage. Backpage is kinda kicking their ass in some markets and i’m sure they would like a slice of those profits.  Instead of buffing up their 2nd or third tier markets and getting those markets to recognize Eros as the go to site, it looks like like Eros is trying to peel off Backpage customers in hopes that the eyeballs with come with them. The implication is Eros thinks those customers don’t know how to market themselves or doesn’t have photos up to Eros’ standards. All that would all fair and good if thats how they were framing these little photoshoot events. But thats not what they are doing. They framing as if they are helping providers. To further add to that perception they are offering a free lunch (no such thing as a free lunch!) where they will have “speakers” who will offer escorts services. Let me rephrase that. Where escorts will be captive audiences to people who want to sell them stuff.

The frame is, come to our one stop shop and walk with everything you need to market yourself as a high end hooker. I.E. Advertise with us and not with them. With us you’re high class with them you’re just a whore. And thats what pissed me off most about this. This whole thing is being marketed to girls who wouldn’t know any better because they might be new to the business or  who have little resources which is why they are advertising where they currently are and Eros is taking advantage of that to the tune of 1200-1500 bucks.

Lips Real Talk: how many dicks does a escort have to suck to pay for a 1500 dollar photoshoot? Because when you start thinking like that then it becomes crystal clear what a rip off this is. Is Eros luring ladies with the promise of getting more money per hour because she has an ad on Eros and some assembly line photos?  Really thats all it takes? Who knew! Oh i know anyone who’s been around the block a few times and has been in the business for more then a hot minute. If it was that easy everyone would a high end hooker.

I’m extremely disappointed in The Eros Guide. I have been critical of them in the past but they spent a long time building up good will, trust and reaching out to members of the escort community. That effort was reflected in my continued support of them over resent years and my personal efforts to try to always answer questions when i was asked to help them understand sex workers and their needs better. But this…. this is a huge miss step. Add to that fact that after i tweeted my utter disgust over this whole debacle i got chiding text messages from a Eros staff member i’m friendly with who attempted to tell me how wrong i was but in the end only solidified my opinion that they are being totally and completely tone deaf at best and have a hidden agenda at worst. Years of trust crumbled in just a few hours. How fucking sad is that.

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 

 

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.