Patreon Turns Against NSFW in a Big Way
My plan had been to add Patreon to the ongoing “How to Make Money” series as a viable option for most sex writers and creators to build an income from your work. I’ve used and loved Patreon for a long time, and although I disliked their stance on not allowing NSFW creators to show up on search, at least they gave us a space to earn money doing what we love. When PayPal threatened to shut them down for working with us in 2015, I received plenty of communication and what felt like genuine empathy from Patreon. Now…things have changed.
Patreon Turns Against NSFW
Patreon has gone the route of many other mainstream companies and changed the rules. Once a paragon of (mostly) sex-friendliness, they’ve quietly and, what feels like secretly, changed the terms of service to effectively ban many long-time NSFW creators.
From their TOS Guidelines:
You might read this and think, “I’m a writer, not a video producer” or “I have no plans to do any of this, so I’m good, right?” Maybe. But maybe not. In my experience, once a company targets some of us, they begin to target the rest of us. First it’s video porn, then audio, then certain kinds of erotica, and on and on. Where does it stop? Almost never anywhere good.
I self-hosted my websites after a WordPress purge of multiple sex blogs. I’ve been rejected by Facebook ads many times simply because of my content (but they’ll take Russian money). To become an Amazon Affiliate, I have to ignore my largest audience on one website because it’s been labeled “pornographic.” And don’t even think about using Twitter ads, Google AdSense, or any other mainstream options.
So no, I’m not convinced Patreon will stop here or that it won’t get around to impacting sex writers eventually.
Why Is This Happening?
Smarter bloggers and writers than I understand this better. Since they’re not the types to freak out and think the sky is falling, I’m paying attention. A lot of these conversations are happening on Twitter so go there and follow smart people.
Violet Blue wrote a story about the last dust-up Patreon had with NSFW accounts in 2015 when PayPal threatened to shut down the entire site. Why? Because Patreon allowed accounts about sex to accept dirty, dirty money and PayPal doesn’t want any part of it. She also pointed out in her piece how much of the excuses companies like PayPal give for why they won’t take money from NSFW/sex creators – in any form – are pure bullshit.
Bacchus on ErosBlog wrote about how this big change to Patreon is likely part of what he calls #pornocalypse. Why? Because Patreon raised outside funds with investors. And once outside money gets involved (regardless of the individuals own personal kinks and sexual preferences) they don’t want any NSFW getting on them.
Pandora/Blake, who will definitely be impacted by the change, wrote their thoughts on the topic. They sum it up quite nicely — it’s like a punch in the gut to creators, especially sex workers, who’ve worked hard to build an income and an audience.
Ultimately, it’s happening because it can and because money talks. As single creators or small businesses, we’re not always big enough for anyone to pay attention to. So PayPal, Patreon, and others can do what they like with impunity.
What Can You Do About It?
I don’t think there are easy solutions, but it goes back to the importance of having your own sandbox. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, PayPal, MailChimp, and countless others keep those of us who explore sexuality and eroticism in multiple ways out of their sandbox. And they can, because they get to make their own rules, and we haven’t banded together enough so they can’t ignore us.
To me, that’s probably what needs to change the most. We need to be so loud and so effective, we can’t be ignored.
Girl on the Net has a great solution…share our shit. Share the sexy stuff you love, not just from established bloggers and creators, but also from the newbies out there. As she points out in her blog post, these companies want to act like people who enjoy porn and sex are somehow different from the people who like fast food, videos about cats, and laundry detergent. The more we can remind companies that as GOTN stated, “Adult consumers are consumers,” the harder we’ll be to ignore.
Encourage your followers to share and like and speak out. It’s not just the NSFW creators that are being restricted – companies are restricting the buying power of everyday consumers. Sometimes we really can make a difference with our wallets. I don’t know if this is one of those times, but I’d love that to be true.
What I’m Going to Do About It
I don’t have a lot of good answers, but I can tell you what I’ve done and will continue to do…
- Build your own sandbox and play in it. This mean’s having your own website and space where you can make the rules.
- Monetize your website. Coming up soon, I’ll write a post about offering a subscription or membership based website as part of the making money series. Patreon does this for you on their platform, but as it’s no longer reliable, you use it at your own risk. Yes, it’s harder to do it yourself and there are lots of costs associated with it, but for some people, it may be worth the hassle.
- Support your fellow sex creators. Pay for your porn. Speak up for sex workers. Share the smut you love.
- Work with companies that support NSFW accounts. I thought Patreon was one of them and now I have to reassess because while I’m not (currently) caught in their cross-hairs, others are. If one type of smut is rejected, you can be certain that others will soon follow. Instead of being grateful it’s not us, we should be outraged it’s happening to anyone at all.
Pay attention to smart people. I’ve linked to a few in this post. Always read the Terms of Service of any company or website you work with. And, keep creating your smutty stuff while supporting others, too. If we could come together as a bigger, louder, angrier group, maybe we could effect real change. We might all create content about sex in different ways, but none of us are immune to prudish attitudes.
Anyone got other ideas you’d like to share? Other sources you’re using for funds? Alternatives to Patreon that don’t get any attention? Share in the comments below!