How I Earn My Smutlancer Income | 2020 Edition
Disclosure: Affiliate links may be included in this post. If you click a link and make a purchase, I make a small commission which fuels my work and my addiction to coffee.
A few questions after my January 2020 income report came in about what kind of work I do as a smutlancer. I thought it might be good to put it in a blog post — and link to it each time a new income report comes out. If this changes significantly over time, I’ll create a new edition.
In my income reports, I break down my income by “client work” which is further broken down between vanilla and sex/adult and as well as a list of revenue streams created by my content — blog, podcast, videos, other work. Let’s talk about what that means.
My vanilla (read: non-sex) client work isn’t that much different than my sex/adult client work. Meaning I do very similar jobs for both types of clients. In fact, I only have one remaining vanilla client. As I’ve had a goal to move away from non-adult content completely, this is a good thing. That being said, the vast majority of what’s listed below is done for adult companies.
What kind of adult companies?
- Sex toy retailers
- Erotica sites
- Online publications
Most of the writing I do is for the blog posts on whichever client site I’m working with. My single vanilla client focuses on insurance, but all the rest is sex and sex toy content. I charge a flat fee per post based on the word count and the amount of research/work required to create the content. I’ve written content as short as 500 words and as much as 2000 words. Most of my writing work is consistent — I write for the same site every month and provide the same amount of content. Some of the work is inconsistent — one-off writing gigs or as needed articles.
I list this separately even though I don’t bill for it separately, but it is its own job. “Ideation” means that I suggest topic ideas for the content I write. So those blog posts and articles in the section above need to start as ideas. If I provide the ideas (and I don’t always), I charge a higher price for written content. Why? Because coming up with ideas — and making sure they’re unique to the site you’re writing for — can sometimes take longer than writing the piece itself.
Social Media Management
While being a social media manager can be a career by itself, I offer basic services for the clients who want it. This means I keep my eye on specific social media profiles — retweeting, commenting when appropriate, and answering questions (or forwarding those questions to the people who can really answer them). Most often, this work involves creating graphics for the new content and scheduling social media posts for the site or brand. I use tools like Canva, Buffer, and Co-Schedule to make it as easy and efficient as possible.
For a couple of clients, I’m allowed to be the “voice” of the social media platform, but since truly diving into that often takes more time, I only do it lightly because the company can’t afford to pay me to spend hours on Twitter. Most of the companies who hire me to do this don’t want that. They want their content posted on a steady basis, and they want a little activity on their social media profile.
Online Sales Content
This is a little different than blog post/article content. Quite frequently, I’m asked to write content for a page that will generate income for a company. It could be for an insurance company selling auto insurance or a sex toy retailer showcasing their top vibrator. In this case, the content has to be easy to read, answer a question or solve a problem for the potential customer, give clear reasons to buy, and offer a clear call to action.
Even though these pages of content are often much shorter than blog content (300 to 400 words), I charge a higher price. Why? Because these pages have a higher value to the company. They’re designed specifically to make the company money and lead to a sale. If I do my job well, it works. This company might make thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars from my 300 words — so I charge a little more.
This one is relatively new, and one I’m only just starting with one of my long-term adult retail clients. For many months, I’ve created short, simple videos for their YouTube page — screenshots and voiceovers with light editing. I priced it within their social media management, even though it requires a completely different set of skills instead of charging for it separately.
In 2020, I will also host and produce a weekly podcast for this same client. Finding the right price for this was difficult, and I’m still not sure I charged enough. The price feels right for the work I’ll do — record an intro, discuss relevant news and information related to sex toys and sex, and then intro an interview recorded by someone else. I’ll also edit it (with John Brownstone’s help) and publish it in all appropriate channels.
One of my clients runs an online sex toy shop, and they decided to start an affiliate program. My job requires approving affiliate applications, communicating with affiliates, and (when available) coordinating sex toy review requests. I don’t handle payment processing or technical needs. It’s primarily an admin role that requires a few minutes a day.
This is on an as-needed basis. I set up recurring email newsletters for a sex toy retailer. If you buy a specific kind of sex toy — say a dildo — you will get a series of emails. My job was to write those emails and schedule them. I also schedule emails (and social media) for the sales the retailer wants to run throughout the year. This is primarily Christmas and Valentine’s Day. I only charge for these services in the month when I complete them — so a few times a year.
A relatively new thing I do for content-based sites — both informational and erotic fiction — is to act as their editor. I write the submission guidelines for the site and manage the pitches that come through. Because I’m also the social media manager, I can put out requests for submissions as I need them.
I also edit the pieces that are accepted for publication (and yes, I’m the one deciding who and what gets published). After that, I schedule them for publication, make graphics for social media (thank goodness for Canva), and schedule the posts on the clients’ social media. The most labor intensive part of the job is going through the pitches and communicating with the writers. I get paid for both my time and the admin work I do.
Written Brand Guides
Currently this is something I only do for my one vanilla client, but it’s a skill that translates across industries. Brand guides outline a company’s vision, mission, and voice. They help establish who the company is and who they want to be. It also outlines the tone and voice to be used in all materials (online and print), as well as rules for logos, design elements, color palettes, and typography. My job is not to gather this information, but to compile it into an easy-to-read guide that a company can hand to any employee. Because of the value to the company — and to whoever runs their website in the future — I charge a premium for this content, even though it only amounts to about 1200 words.
I’m not going to through the details of my non-client income, as they’re listed in my income reports, but I do want to mention them here, briefly. These are the streams of revenue I generate from my own work — the content I create, the ideas I have, the brand I’ve built. Of course, I don’t do this alone, as John Brownstone is my partner in life and for Loving BDSM, and we work together on his kinky woodturning business (affectionately known as “weapons ass destruction”).
- Patreon — both for Loving BDSM and The Smutlancers community
- Affiliate Sales — primarily sex toy companies we love but also Amazon
- Book Sales — many years ago I wrote a few erotic novellas, plus this includes the 30 Days of D/s workbook
- Product Sales — these are the aforementioned weapons of ass destruction
- Podcast/Blog Sponsors
There are a few others listed in the monthly report, but this is where the majority of my non-client income is made. I don’t worry much about book sales or sponsorships and let them come as they will. The focus for 2020 is to increase Patreon, product sales, and affiliate sales.
There is a lot of money to be made in smutlancing. It’s about finding the people and brands you want to work with who want to work with you and are willing to pay for your time, effort, skills, and knowledge. Writing takes many forms beyond a blog post, and if you can write a paragraph, you can write anything else.
I started out writing blog content for my first clients. Everything else I write now is a result of saying, “Yes!” when a client asked if I could go it. And then frantically Googling how to do it.
Building relationships with clients and providing value beyond the work I’m paid for keeps them coming back. In my experience, it’s not about being the best writer (there are definitely writers more talented than I am). It’s about meeting deadlines, communicating well, setting clear boundaries, and delivering on promises made.