How to Make Your Client’s Content More Inclusive, Part One
If you’re creating content for an adult client, it’s important to follow their vision, strategy, and rules for their brand. But as sex positive smutlancers, it’s equally important to be as inclusive as possible. Most of your adult clients want this (the best ones definitely do), but making it happen isn’t always easy.
Adult companies have to think about SEO and what people search for online. They likely have a certain demographic they want to reach. These things aren’t as antithetical to inclusivity as the client might think. But it does take effort, patience, and a bit of creativity.
In part one (of two), I’ll share how you can help your client see why it’s important to be as sex positive and inclusive as possible in their content. By helping them with this, you’ll be seen less as a creator-for-hire and more as an expert and partner. This can make for a much more positive, longer lasting, and lucrative business relationship.
Know Who They Want to Reach
When you create content for an adult/sex company — blog posts, sales pages, social media posts — you have to know who they’re trying to talk to. “Everybody” isn’t the right answer. Sure, they want everyone to buy their product, use their service, or read their content, but all content needs to be directed at a specific audience.
You can’t (in good faith) promise you can write to “everyone,” so some guidance is needed. If you try, you’ll only create watered down, boring content that doesn’t resonate with anyone. Which means eventually, the client will wonder why they hired you in the first place.
When you ask who they want to reach, the answer might be “women who use vibrators” or “men who are curious about anal sex.” For some of you that will sound very gendered — and it is! Before you reject them completely, ask why that specific audience. If the client starts talking about search results, target audiences, and SEO, don’t give them up as a lost cause. SEO is extremely important in the adult industry.
Let them know you can give them what they want without leaving anyone out — and help them grow their audience.
Explain Why Inclusivity is Important
For most adult companies, their search engine results are a huge driver of their business. They (and you) can’t completely ignore this as part of their business strategy. Some adult companies, however, get so fixated on being found on Google that they don’t see the bigger picture. If you make all bodies, genders, and sexualities feel comfortable and welcome, you can attract more people. When your content is good and doesn’t alienate people, your audience grows.
Sometimes a company has to be reminded of this. As the content-creating professional, you’re in the perfect position to share this with them. One company may respond well to the “be good humans” argument, but another (most of them) will perk up when you talk about increased revenue. Find what message speaks to them, but make the case for inclusivity — even if only a little at a time for now.
In some cases, they may give you a lot of leeway with some content but not all of it. Remember, an entire industry — and the buyers who use Google — will have to change before “vibrators for women” or “gay sex toys” stop being common search terms. Until then, be the change when and where you can. Even if it means you occasionally write content like “5 Sex Toys Your Male Submissive Will Love.” (Yes, that’s a variation of a title I’ve written for a client.)
Use the Right Terminology
When we create content for other companies, we represent ourselves to them. But to the rest of the world, our content represents their company. Getting it right is extremely important. Say the wrong thing, and you’ve pissed off people before they can become customers. Put the company in an embarrassing call-out situation, and the client may question your skills.
The one thing that stresses me out, more than anything, about writing content for non-partnered non-straight people is getting the language right. Creating inclusive content that draws people in and helps them feel safe doesn’t work if you use terms that alienate readers.
My best advice for you on this is to follow sex bloggers and other people from across the sexual spectrum on social media: people with disabilities (I still worry that’s not quite the right way to say it), people of color, people who have different sexualities than you, kinky people, anyone who openly discusses their lived experience that looks nothing like your experience.
Pay attention to what they say and how they speak about themselves. When in doubt, find trusted people who are happy to help you when you’re stuck. Ask first if they’d be willing to help before demanding their knowledge. Some creators are happy to educate others; some are not.
And remember, Google is, usually, your friend. When in doubt, search for the correct terminology, use your reading comprehension skills, and do the best you can.
Create Change Where You Can
I’ve had clients who gave me complete freedom to create whatever content I wanted, as long as I used their keywords. Others have given very specific instructions on who they want to reach and what to include in their content. Every client is different, of course, but you’ve got more power to affect change than you realize. When you position yourself as the sex positive professional who can make them look good and grow their audience/business, you get more opportunities for work and freedom within your work than you expect.
Use this influence wisely, and remember that your work will reflect on the company who hired you, not just on yourself.
In part two, we’ll talk specifically about what to do within the content itself to create inclusivity and diversity.