How to Make Your Client’s Content More Inclusive, Part Two
In part one, we discussed how to help a client see why being more inclusive in their content is important. Now, let’s focus on what you can do while creating their content.
This is your opportunity to let your sex positivity and professionalism shine. The content you create needs to be excellent so it makes an impact on the audience. Changing a few pronouns or descriptions won’t mean much if no one pays any attention to it.
While these tips will help you bring inclusivity into a client’s content, you still need good research, interesting titles, and good topics so people will actually read it.
Be Gender Neutral When You Can
For search result purposes, some content with a specific approach (man, woman, straight, gay, etc) may be required by your client. But this doesn’t have to be all the content, all the time. It’s good to know a few tricks to make this easier and less awkward in your writing.
You can also slip in more gender neutrality than you realize, even in the most gendered content.
Use “you” as often as possible. Online content should speak directly to the audience. When you use “you,” you’re not supposing any specific gender identity.
Refer to partners as “they.” Switch it up between “You or your partner” and “they” or “them” whenever appropriate. Let the readers fill in the blanks with who that means in their life. You might also use fuck buddy, lover, FWB, hookup, or whatever is appropriate for the client and the content.
Talk about body parts instead of gender. Whenever possible, refer to what a product/sex act/kinky fun might do to/for a vulva or a penis, instead of “her” or “him.” Unless a piece of content is supposed to have a very specific audience (and some will), anyone with those specific genitals may see themselves in the content.
Don’t Suppose Sexuality
Again, unless a piece of content has an extremely specific audience, don’t assume a sexuality about your reader. This is where using “you and your partner” can be a good, albeit clunky, phrase. Neither you nor the company you’re working with presume where or how your advice or product might be used. That’s up to the reader to do.
And if you get asked to write the “Top 5 Sex Toys Gay Men Love” — one, it’s up to you to take that writing job, and two, you may have more room for inclusivity than you realize. I love to write “Sex Toys You Didn’t Know “You” Could Use” pieces. I’ve done it with couples sex toys, “men’s toys,” “women’s toys,” etc. It turns the entire topic around to show that any sex toy can be used for any body in any kind of relationship. The client gets the SEO they want, and the reader gets information they might not have received otherwise.
Use Different Images
For every adult client I work for, part of my service includes finding images for their content. I love this, because it means that I can visually show inclusivity and diversity. Readers can (hopefully) see themselves within the content and feel an affinity with the company.
But here’s the reality. Finding sexy, interesting images that show large bodies, people of color, people with disabilities, or anyone not white, cis, and hetero can be a major pain in the ass. That doesn’t mean it’s not important to do, but it’s not as easy as searching “sexy couple” or “BDSM.” In nearly every instance, if I’m searching for anyone other than white, cis, and hetero (in appearance), I have to dig through the images. Even worse, sometimes I search through hundreds of images and still can’t find what I want.
Don’t use this as an excuse not to do it.
Look anyway. Bend over backwards to find photographs and images that represent the full spectrum of humanity, as often as you can. It matters to the audience and (ultimately) to your client’s business. We (smutlancers) know that representation matters. When it’s in your control to do it, make it happen. When it’s not, counsel your client on why they should do it.
Redefine How Products Can Be Used
The vast majority of people searching online for products, services, or information, think in terms of how they can use it. Because many people see themselves in gendered terms, you get search results like “sex toys for her” or “good sex toys for men.” If what we’re trying to do is teach clients and audiences how things can be different, this is a great way to educate and make your client look good.
Most of us already know that any sex toy can be used on nearly any body for any gender. But people who don’t live, eat, and breathe sex like we do, don’t. Teach them. When you’re asked to write that list of sex toys for a client, throw in things the reader wouldn’t think of. Add lines like “any sex toy can be used on anyone.”
Clients tend to love this because it helps them sell more products to a different part of their audience. Readers tend to find it interesting because it lets them know that secretly using their partner’s vibrator on their balls wasn’t weird at all.
Tell the Audience the Truth
Sometimes a client wants you to write a piece about “X Product for Y Gender” or “Top X Reasons Why He or She Will Love This Thing in Bed.” Yes, you can always decline, but we’re talking about being working creators here…who make money? Right?? Clients will often want content you wouldn’t create for yourself.
Take the job and use the power you’ve got (as long as the client is okay with it). What does this mean?
In gendered pieces of content, I’ve often included a note that says (I’m paraphrasing): Note: Anyone can use and enjoy these products, regardless of your gender and sexuality. In this post, we’re specifically helping women with vulvas find pleasure in this sex toy. You can and should use this toy in any way that suits your body and desires.
Yes, I talk directly to readers who may not identify with the body parts, gender, or sexuality I’m referencing. And yes, I will say that someone who identifies as the same gender may have a different type of body. Why? New readers see themselves reflected somewhere in a piece and I educate cis readers that other people exist.
Tip: Not all clients will let you do this. But if someone strongly objects to an acknowledgement of the gender and sexuality spectrum, they might not be a good fit for you as a client.
These aren’t all the ways to be inclusive, of course. We can always find new ways to do the job. But these tips are what I use to help my clients. If you’ve got tips on bringing inclusivity to your client’s content, share in the comments below!