What It Takes to Make Smutlancing a Full-Time Job
I wish I could wave a magic wand and give you a 10-step checklist so you can make all your smutlancing dreams come true. But anything that can be boiled down into a single list should be taken with a grain of salt. (Says the woman who’s making a list to help you become a smutlancer. Oh, the irony.)
The answer is that it always takes work, time, effort, and patience. But in response to my dear friend, Marie Rebelle’s comment about achieving success, I thought it was worth outlining what it’s taken for me to make smutlancing a full-time job. Your results will always vary. But once you get an idea of what goes into it, maybe you’ll be less upset when it takes a little longer than you think it should.
Start a Blog
We’ve gone over this a few dozen times. If you want to create content for money, you need to make it for free first. Very few companies will pay you to write or make a thing until you prove that you can do it. Your blog is the perfect showcase for your talents. It also needs to be something you enjoy enough that you’ll do it for free, at first.
Because bloggers and other content creators don’t become millionaires. The people you see out there claiming a seven figure blog income are the exception, not the rule. It takes a long time, and you may never earn the money you hope to — or in the way you hope to. So do it for love of the craft or to express yourself first.
Build an Audience
In terms of numbers, I don’t know what’s right. And it depends on how you want to earn money. If you’re looking for steady affiliate sales and site sponsorships (with banner ads), you need a big and growing audience. At least a few thousand unique visitors a month, on average to start.
But if you want a place to try new ideas, hone your creativity, and get feedback, there is no right size. What you need is an audience that talks to you and comments back. For sex bloggers, blogging memes are great for this, because your feedback will also be from readers who do what you do.
To be honest, a bigger audience will often be a more effective in terms of money. But don’t forsake good content, authenticity, and real effort for larger numbers. A loyal audience will click your links, share your content, and do their best to help you.
How do you build an audience? You show up, consistently, and share what matters to you. Leave some piece of yourself on the blog — the realistic version or some fantasy in your head. But blog so that your readers and audience can feel it, too. Share what you know online. Be yourself (with boundaries, of course). And then keep doing it, over and over and over again…for as long as it takes.
Get Your Name Out There
This can be guest blogging, pitching ideas, entering contests, joining memes, and partnering with other creators. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing, taking pictures, or making other art or content, you need to be known and seen. Sometimes you’ll do this for free with no guarantee of compensation. Other times, you’ll do it for pay.
While brands and companies shouldn’t expect free labor, don’t be afraid of unpaid opportunities either. Each site has it’s own audience, and you never know who will find you or where. While compensation is important, don’t automatically rule out an opportunity for not offering any or enough money. It’s not always about how much you earn.
Take Jobs You Don’t Always Love
Never, ever (if you can help it) work for the abusive asshole who doesn’t value your work. Or don’t work for them long (I did it for two years). The eventual split will never be good, and in the meantime, they can kill your creativity and confidence.
But that being said, yes, take jobs that don’t necessarily fit with your vision of the future. Want to be a writer? Write for someone who will pay you even if it’s not on your preferred topic. Maybe it’s not sexuality or gender issues. It might be insurance or real estate (ask me how I know).
You’re being paid to write content. Someone thinks you’re good enough to send money to in exchange for work. That’s a confidence builder you didn’t see coming and an income builder.
You also learn something new with every creative job you take on. How to deal with picky clients, research new topics, find new ways to say the same thing. Plus, you’re making connections, building a solid reputation, and setting yourself up for a glowing testimonial that will land you better gigs later.
Put in the Hours
Did I mention that you’re likely doing all of this at the same time? To be a full-time smutlancer takes a lot of effort. In the beginning, even if your clients are few, you still need to promote yourself, create fresh content, and interact with people online. You should also learn as much as you can about your chosen field, get new ideas to try, and learn more about the business side of things.
Thankfully you can do all of that online and (usually) for free. But it’s still takes time — on top of the rest of your responsibilities, including any other day job.
At the same time, you can’t forget the audience and blog that helped you get to where you want to be. Abandoning them means you may lose a creative outlet and a potential well of support and money later. So yes, keep blogging, being a member of your creative community, and talking to people.
And it all takes a lot of hours to do. More than you feel like you’ll have in a day.
Start Small and Build Your Income
The first paid gig you get is often the most exciting. For me, it was the moment I realized I could be paid as a sex blogger. (Who knew?!) But it wasn’t a straight line from that gig to a full-time income.
I had to convince other people to pay me, and pay my rate. The rate I charged was based not just on the raw numbers in my audience, but also the value I provided. Even then, that rate was lower than I charge now.
Why? Because as time goes by, you gain more experience and expertise, the audience (ideally) grows, and the value you bring to any gig should be higher than those early days.
Making the money that you want in order to achieve your version of success is a step-by-step process — and you’ll do the cha-cha of two steps forward, one step back.
Get Used to the Cycle
The smulancing life, where you depend on clients, affiliate sales, ads, sponsors, pitches, contents, and more, is cyclical. I’d be lying if I said I’d cracked the cycle, because I haven’t. But I know it exists.
One month, you’re on fire. The next, all is quiet, and you wonder if you’ll ever get hired again. The more diverse your income streams, the less the cycle will impact you, but it still exists.
Some months, clients throw projects at me — and I’ve even turned work down. Other months, all I get is crickets and my base rate for contracted work. It’s an emotional and financial roller coaster.
Keep Grinding It Out
I work when I’m sick, when I’m exhausted, through mental health crises, and when I don’t feel like it. Why? Because I’ve got deadlines, and I need the money.
While I don’t recommend ignoring your health (and I am getting better at that), you’ve got to be willing to show up without inspiration pushing you, wanting to, or being ready. A deadline waits for no one. And your ability to keep getting paid depends on being on your game more often than not.
The full-time smutlancer life can be a grind at times. Not always, because that’s not sustainable either. But if you’re imagining sleeping in every morning, being done by three in the afternoon, and never feeling stressed, I want whatever you’re having.
My goal is to get to a point where passive income (affiliate sales, ads, book sales, etc) earn a decent income so I can take fewer client gigs. But to get there I have to build the audience, write the blog, and do everything else.
In the meantime, I keep grinding.
What It All Means
In the beginning I took jobs that had nothing to do with sex or kink, because the goal was “be a freelance writer.” It didn’t matter what I wrote about. If someone would pay me to write it, and I thought I could, I did. Over and over and over again. I went looking for work, and when I managed to get it, I worked hard to prove my worth so they’d want to work me with again. And I worked hard to build relationships with clients, brands, and the people who have money to (potentially) pay — including my audience.
I dream of the day that I can take a breath, do a little less work for a little more money, and focus on creating only content that I love. But until then, the goal is to be a full-time writer and smutlancer. And this is how I did it. Your path will be different, but I firmly believe most of these elements will always be a factor.
Think I missed something? Have questions about anything? Comment below or talk to me on Twitter!
Have you learned something new, been inspired, or moved forward with your goals after visiting The Smutlancer? This site doesn’t produce income on its own (yet) so it’s genuinely a labor of love.