23 Things I Wish I'd Known: #17: You Can Fire Any Client. At Any Time. For Any Reason.
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:
#17 You can fire any client for any reason at any time. And not feel bad about it afterwards.
This didn’t come to me right away. In fact, it took years for this idea to ever enter my mind, and I never got as good at this as I should have, which is why I’m writing about it now. I was bad at firing people out of fear and guilt. None of that was necessary.
When I first started out in my early twenties, I hardly ever fired a client because I was afraid I’d never get another one. As if there was some giant switch in the sky that would shut off if I said “no.” If they didn’t stink, weren’t rude, and showed up somewhere in the hour we were supposed to meet, I thought that was good enough—I had no faith I could hold out for better. I basically thought I had to put up with whoever chose me.
In my thirties, my outlook changed. I needed to pace myself, so I grew more discerning, since one dick client could throw me off for a week. So I upped my game and got better at firing clients (and better at screening them in the first place.) And I also consciously cultivated a regular clientele. With a devoted fan base, a lot of my fear subsided. After all, now I had confidence knowing I had a stable of followers lined up in my appointment calendar.
But a different urge kept me from letting a marginal client go now, which was some strange mix of guilt and loyalty. I mean, after all, if someone was willing to follow my rules and pay me hundreds of dollars an hour, why should I be picky? If they were world-class mansplainers, or always trying to talk me into going out to dinner with them for free, or just a little too in love with me, this was all part of the grind of the job. I should just be grateful that I wasn’t living with all that anxiety screening out weirdos and creeps anymore.
Looking back on it now, those old, stale clients needed to go too. Not all at once, but phased out periodically as I cultivated fresh clients. They made me feel safe, which was a good thing, no question. But they also allowed me to get complacent and bored, which, in the long run, contributes to burnout.
Keep checking in with yourself to be sure you’re seeing the right mix of people, to give you everything you deserve. It doesn’t happen overnight—it’s a process that takes time and intention to cultivate. The goal is a clientele that nourishes your heart, mind, body, and bank account. You and your business are so worth it.
I talk so much more about cultivating your target clientele in Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry, now available as an ebook and in paperback.
Until next time, be sweet to yourself—
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