23 Things I Wish I'd Known: #21: Know Your Business
At age 22, I started stripping. For the next fifteen years I worked off and on as a dominatrix, porn actress, and escort.
Now I’m 49.
Here are 23 things I know now that I wished I’d known then:
#21 Know Your Business
One of the worst things about sex work is feeling like you just have to take whatever comes. The job can bring such an emotional high—that rush from turning someone on and earning cold hard cash. But it doesn’t last. Once you earn $400 for a couple of shifts, it takes $600 to feel like a great night. $200 can feel like a catastrophe, even if before you started stripping, that might have felt like a huge payday.
Same with the bump to self-esteem—it can be amazing to feel so desirable. But when the phone stops ringing, it’s like a dagger in our hearts. Time management can be a huge challenge as well. The work can take over our lives, or we can find ourselves putting off getting on cam or checking emails when we don’t have a boss to answer to.
Getting on top of your business is possible, but it takes some work. The best advice I can give is in three steps. The first is pay attention and take really good notes. Write down what you notice about what affects you, the good, bad, and all the in-betweens. Keep a journal of much you work, how good the work was, what you earned, how you felt physically and emotionally before and after—there are great low-cost and free journaling apps that make this easy. The goal is to have a true sense of exactly how much work you have and how it affects you.
Next, don’t assume a pattern unless you have proof. One of the easiest traps we fall into is relying on our memories to identify patterns. The problem with this is our brains tend to emphasize extremes—those really good periods or those truly bad ones. It’s not always easy to identify what is “average,” especially when we’re always hoping for better or fearing things will get worse. It can make it hard to know what the actual truth is, not filtered through our hopes and anxieties.
And finally, use that data. Once you are armed with facts, not just impressions, you have the power to make changes—to your schedule, your marketing pitch, your fee structure. You might think the term “moderation” comes from “moderate,” or “middle.” It’s actually derived from moderare: to control. When you know what your business actually is, not just what it kinda feels like from day to day, you can take charge.
I offer my very best advice on self-employed sex work in Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry, out in paperback and ebook formats.
Until next time, be sweet to yourself—
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