Dear Tits and Sass: The Hooker Slump Edition

by suzyhooker on April 3, 2013 · 4 comments

in Dear Tits and Sass, Prostitution

Image via Business Week

Image via Business Week

Dear Tits and Sass,

I’ve been an escort for 3 years now. I’ve painstakingly built up a great brand that is original and true to my personality, I update my website regularly with new text and pictures, I keep my blog relatively up to date. I advertise on four different sites (3 local, 1 national.) I have completely plateaued in my business, and I have no idea what else to do. I have a local core of clientele but lets face it, it’s not paying the bills. How do I shake out of this hooker slump? Is it just time to pack it in?

Sincerely,

Down in the Slumps

Alice: There’s no need to pack it in unless you really want to. You’ve got options!  It’s great that you’re keeping your website up to date, and that’s probably a piece of what’s keeping your core group around. The trick, though, is getting new clients to get to your website via your ads. Since you advertise on multiple sites in your local market, try diversifying your ads with different photos and approaches on each and keep them as fresh and updated as you do your website. It might seem counterintuitive, but taking an ad down for a while can give your business a boost, especially if you’ve been advertising on the same sites for the majority of your career. 

Having a strong brand is fantastic and is one of the best ways to bring you the kind of clients that you’re looking for, but make sure that you haven’t created such a niche that you’re excluding or confusing potential clients. Don’t be afraid to add on to or expand your brand, too. If you’re usually a solo provider but like to do doubles and have a lady you like working with, incorporate that into your marketing (and maybe make one of those diversified ads I talked about focused on that) in a more significant way. Maybe you speak another language, are a great cook, or have a love of sports. These are all great things to work into your brand and ads, too. One thing I don’t suggest is running specials or lowering your rates. The bottom line: stand by your brand, your rates, and your business because they’re working for you. Small tweaks in how you present yourself and your ads will make sure you keep your current client base while making sure new folks get to find out how awesome you are!

 

Caty: I guess I’m expanding on Alice’s suggestion–find a coworker you really have chemistry with and make the offer of a two girl call itself a new brand. Make another website for the two of you as a duo. Have it feature an enticing backstory about how the two of you met and got together. I noticed that when I got my friend B on board and included her in my ad, demand rose dramatically. I was lucky with B because the two of us really are best friends and really did date for a while in high school, so there’s nothing to feign, but I noticed that telling that story in the ad really piqued clients’ curiosity. Even if this requires that you go gay-for-pay, don’t fret. Clients think they want a lesbian show because that’s what they’re told they want in mainstream porn, and they may ask for one every once in a while, but really, what they want in a threesome is the luxury of two pairs of hands on them. I’ve found that working in partnership will also increase your profits. When working alone you might have succumbed to the urge to blow off being on call, especially if you’re frustrated with slow business, but having a steady coworker will allow you both to motivate each other. Finally, there are benefits to focusing your business on two girl calls beyond the accompanying upsurge in appointments—they give working a low key, girlie sleepover vibe and they make the job easier by giving you a partner to share the workload.

 

Johanna: I really sympathize with your situation. I’ve been there, and many of my friends have been too. An extended dry spell at work can be demotivating as hell, and can easily chip into your wider sense of self-worth, so it’s important to respond proactively.
You’ve already put a lot of work into your brand and service, so I definitely don’t think you have to quit now. There are the normal things you can do like refreshing your advertisements, and taking new photos, but in this case it might be worth breaking out of your rut with some more dramatic changes. One pal of mine cut her waist length hair into a bob and dyed it red during a slump, and suddenly found a bunch of new clients.  Another took a risk and upped her rates by a hundred dollars and broke into a whole new market. You could offer a new role-play or fantasy if that’s your style, or you could find a doubles partner (as suggested above). In the end though, there are a lot of variables that can contribute to a slump, and the most infuriating thing is that most of them are probably out of your direct control. So don’t lose heart – keep on trucking, and I’m sure things will pick up eventually.
In the meantime, make sure you don’t beat yourself up too much. I know this is frustrating, and probably very stressful, but it doesn’t make you bad at your job or undesirable or any of that stuff.  If money is a major stress, perhaps consider a part-time job until the cash starts flowing again. After all, this doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision. I’ve done sex work as my only job for long stretches, and at other times I’ve subsidized it with other part-time jobs, or have just seen a couple of regulars while I focus on other projects. Diversifying a little in this way has actually helped me particularly during slow patches – it gave me something to do other than sitting at home in my underwear staring at my cellphone and playing The Sims while crying. And if you know your bills are taken care of, refreshing your brand can be a fun activity instead of just a stressful one. Good luck!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

dr_manhattan April 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Just a suggestion, but have you looked into SEO?

I’m a web developer but my wife’s a sexworker and I give her what help I can drumming up business: obviously the web is limited in terms of actual, reliable contacts but as I always say (I[‘m freelance myself) “downtime is downtime” – that is to say, if you’re not working then you may as well try things in the spare time.

Anyways, SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a really wierd and ever-changing specialised area of study, where you start to look around at what your clients are searching for, and start to tailor your web presence to “hook” their searches. There are a million different ways to do this, but if you can manage it then it has the potential to totally change your business online – corporations pay BIG money for SEO people, simply because it’s a really wierd area and it can be very valuable.

I hope I’m not butting my head in here with obvious tips, but I do find that regular business tricks are often missed by sexworkers cos you guys can sometimes just not see the forest for the trees. I’d recommend sites and people but to be honest it’s such a diverse area – and who knows, maybe it’s just not gonna work for a given branch of sexwork in a given geographical area – I would start with reading a decent definition of SEO and then searching for blogs and people from there.

Meanwhile best of luck – as johanna says, this is not an all-or-nothing proposition, mixing incomes can be great; but that’s also a reason I recommned SEO to sexowrkers – if you’re good at it, it’s a transferrable skillset with no real recognised form of college degree to support it. In otherwords, if you’re good at SEO people will pay you a lot of money and not ask questions about how you learned it.

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lola April 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I really needed to see this today. Thanks, ladies.
Here’s a question: what if you HAVE created a niche that’s excluding potential clients, just by being yourself? For example, I’m both a BBW (whatever the hell that means – not enormous, but big enough to not be mainstream) and I also have tattoos, wild hair, etc. AND I’m working in a pretty conservative market and unable to tour. Things have slowed to a snail’s pace… but the only thing about myself I can change immediately is my hair. Which I’m willing to do, but it doesn’t seem like it will be enough. I have a part-time job, too, and don’t plan on being in the industry forever, but man, my self-image is *trashed* right now.

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Johanna April 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I’m amazonian in stature (6ft 1,’curvy’ etc) and my hair is a weird color, so I sympathize (although I recognize that the terrible size politics in this industry mean that being a BBW must be a whole extra bit harder than that).

I used to lie about my height in adverts because it scared off so many clients (or that was my ex boss’s theory), and tried to downplay my curves, but then I realized I was just missing out on a bunch of clients who actually liked tall women with big (great) asses. So my approach now is just to play up all the weird different things about me, instead of trying to flail around in a category I don’t fit into.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to get work if I was really thin, a foot shorter, etc etc, but I also think the clients I do get tend to really appreciate me for being, well, me. I bet yours are the same. I say keep your wild hair, and instead of trying to change things which, as you say, you mostly can’t do anything about (which is good, because you sound awesome), try some brand rejuvenation of the kind suggested above (which might help you connect a different set of clients), and then just focus on being your own great self.

I know the self-image stuff is really hard, and I don’t want to come off all “just think positive thoughts and get a manicure!” here, but I think self-care is a good idea anyway. Is there stuff that helps? Things that make you feel good about yourself, or that help you disconnect your self-image from sex work stuff (I feel like my dependence on sex work for validation of my attractiveness/acceptability is pretty fraught)? Do you have friends who get this stuff? Now is a good time to call in reinforcements, I think.

Luck! x

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B April 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Whoa, you’re 6’1″? That’s awesome! I feel like such a freak at my studio because I’m 5’11” with weird shortish hair, and all of the other girls are under 5’5″ with perfectly straight natural-looking blonde or brown hair, but I suppose I’m not getting clients *despite* being tall, but possibly even because of it. Mind-blowing.

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