Over the years I have received emails from women asking my advice on how to make money in the online fetish world. If they’re someone I know personally, I might direct them to websites like niteflirt or clips4sale and let them figure it out from there. If they’re a stranger and I’m feeling snarky, I’ll link them to that Forbes article entitled, “No You Can’t Pick My Brain, It Costs Too Much.”
I used to avoid giving advice at all costs because I viewed it as creating competition for myself. Now that I make loads of money, I don’t really give a shit. I’ve received more emails requesting advice than usual, so I decided to write a 10-step guide on how to get started. I hope some of you find this helpful.
1. Know what you’re getting yourself into.
It’s likely this isn’t as easy as you think. You can’t just jump into with little effort and make a ton of money. Many try, many fail, some do okay, very few really succeed. Yes, I can sell a pair of panties for $500, or berate a man on skype for $10/min, and sometimes men just give me money for no reason at all. But I didn’t just pluck my customers out of thin air. it took me 10+ years of building my name, making a website, keeping up with social media, creating thousands of videos, taking ungodly amounts of pictures, and so on. It’s time consuming and often tedious work. Sure, there are degrees of effort you can put into it. If you don’t have the means to do more than set up some phone lines and take calls on the weekends, that’s fine. Just know that you wont make a living this way, you’ll just be supplementing your income at best. To turn this work into a full time, 6-figure earning job, you’ll need to do a lot more and wear many hats. You’ll need to be a producer, videographer, editor, director, performer, writer, make up artist, photographer, & marketer. The idea is not that you have to be a real expert on any one of these things (I’m certainly not) but you’ll need to have a certain level of understanding for all if you want to work for yourself. I taught myself. You probably could too.
Further more, if you have hesitations about certain people in your life finding out you’re doing this kind of work; seriously consider whether or not you’re prepared to deal with that. You must come into this assuming everyone you know will find out: because they will.
2. Learn from others, but don’t copy. Just before I got started working as an internet dominatrix there were 3 women whose websites and blogs I’d read every inch of: Princess Lyne, Princess Addiction and Princess Sierra. I learned a lot from these women, so that by the time I set up my own website, I had a pretty decent foundation of knowledge to start from. The tricky part about this is that you must be careful not to blatantly copy others. If you want to stand out from the pack and not make enemies with well-established women in the industry you need to find your own voice. No, you don’t need to revolutionize the industry and invent new fetishes men didn’t even know they had, but you need to add your own spin to it. It’s a fine line, and there will always be overlap, but if you’re a unique individual with your own personality, it shouldn’t be too carve your own niche. Think of it like a hip-hop artist sampling music to make their own track. You want to be like the Beastie Boys, not Vanilla Ice.
3. Invest in good lighting and a decent camera. Men are visual and they are going to want to see you clearly. If you shoot a video using a canon powershot camera that’s 5 years old, using a table lamp to light yourself, your videos are going to look like shit and customers are more likely to buy videos that don’t. That said, I totally started out that way. If that’s all you have and can afford right now, work with it. But you’ll eventually want to step it up and get some decent equipment. For lighting, I use two Cowboy Studio soft boxes ($150 on amazon) and I shoot with a Canon XA10 ($1500.)
4. Talk to your audience. This should be obvious. If you want to know what your clients want: talk to them. Luckily this is super easy and you can (and should) get paid to do it. Setting up your own phone lines is a great way to start off. Men LOVE telling strange women of no consequence what gets their dick hard. If you’re new to this world, all the different fetishes probably seem so abundant and overwhelming. How could you possibly make sense of them all? Luckily I can assure you after you’ve talked to these men for a while, you’ll find a lot of patterns you’ll easily memorize. For instance, if a guy tells me he’s a “sissy,” I can reasonably assume he likes to dress up in women’s clothes, has fantasies about sucking cock, likes to be called a “slut” and a “whore,” has a small dick, wants to be pimped out, humiliated and exposed. A good femdom learns these various templates and implements them to such a degree that the sub feels like she’s “reading his mind” when really she’s just talked to a thousand other guys just like him.
Of course no one guy is “just” like another, they all have their own idiosyncrasies and specific fantasies that’ll keep things interesting. Which is great if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for new videos. Just turn on your phone lines and let the perverts inspire you.
5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Like I said before, it’s up to you how much effort you want or can put into this, but assuming you want to make as much money as possible you’ll need to shoot videos, take phone calls, perform on cam, and sell used items, as well as doing things that will earn you money indirectly such as blogging, tweeting, posting in forums, etc.
Think of it was a big machine that needs all its parts working to function at its best. If you work all of these avenues, they will feed off of each other. Someone will buy a video and want to talk to you know the phone, or they’ll read your blog and want to buy your panties, or they’ll see a picture of you on twitter and want a cam show. You get the idea.
Another good reason to create multiple revenue streams is that you never know when you can’t use one of them anymore. A few years back Niteflirt shut down for several months because they were redoing the entire website. Even after they relaunched, everything was a mess with glitches and technical issues that took a long time to iron out. Thousands of “flirts” were undoubtedly scrambling as it was their biggest (if not only) source of income. As frustrating as it was for me, I was still paying my bills no problem.
Websites I use to sell content and services: clips4sale.com, kinkbomb.com, niteflirt.com, & ebanned.com
6. Produce, produce, produce. My friend Rene gave great advice one time to a newbie femdom who asked her how to make good money, she said, “Post a clip everyday.” Make no mistake about it: this is work. If you want to make money and get better, you have to constantly be producing and actively working.
Maybe what drew you to this type of work was the concept of “financial domination,” that there are men who will give you money, expecting nothing in return. Too good to be true? Sort of. Yes, there are men who give money to women simply because it turns them on. But it’s not the norm. When it comes to financial domination there’s a lot of supply for very little demand. Anyone can tweet a picture of themselves flipping the bird and say, “fuck you, pay me.” But it’s the women who are consistently shooting clips, tweeting pictures, blogging, taking calls, doing cam shows, and maintaining relationships with clients they’d otherwise have no interest in talking to who are getting this “free” money. Don’t assume you can get rich just by soliciting “pay pigs” online. This kind of bonus money comes indirectly to those who keep their machine running.
7. Get an accountant. Taxes are confusing. You don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t want to get audited. Bite the bullet and pay someone to do it for you. A good accountant is likely worth double whatever they charge you.
8. Know you’ll get burned. This business is full of cheaters and time wasters. It’s just part of the territory. You may be chatting with a guy, thinking you’re warming him up and coaxing him into sending you a tribute, but really he’s just jerking off to what little free interaction he can get while looking at your pictures on twitter, then he signs off abruptly after he comes. Or, even worse, you think you found a high roller sub who’s spending a pretty penny on your wishlist. It’s so easy and effortless. You turn on your cam and he buys more and more. It’s a rush. You spend an hour with him and he’s cleaned the entire thing out, then eventually cums and signs out. You’re stoked. This is what you’ve seen all the other financial dommes brag about. Then, 15 minutes later, you check your wishlist again and find all the items have returned back to “unpurchased.” It’s a lesson most newbie dommes learn the hard way: it’s incredibly easy to return amazon purchases. Never accept them as a form of payment until they’ve arrived in your hand.
It can be very discouraging. Especially when it seems like all the other women in the industry who are doing well never experience this. I can assure we do, in troves, we just don’t talk about it. It’s nothing new. When someone wastes are time, we don’t let them waste it further by ranting about it, nor are we going to tarnish our image by having a blog or twitter account that’s mostly compiled of complaints about guys wasting our time, as oppose to bragging about the ones who spend.
Think of it as just another part of your job: you have to weed through a lot of guys who have no intentions of paying you anything to get to the ones that do.
Don’t forget: these are guys who get off on humiliation. If a guy is being a dick to you and you find yourself wanting to lash out at him, you’re likely giving him exactly what he wants. Don’t let him bait you.
9. Go to conventions. It can be tricky to network with peers in the industry unless you meet them in person. We are all technically in competition with each other, after all. That’s why conventions like AEE and Fetishcon are great to go to. You’ll learn a lot from other women in the industry by trading content with them and swapping tips. Every time I go I learn something new that makes my business run better and more efficiently (usually by talking to Domina Snow.) Further more, if you’re serious about this kind of work and are in it for the long haul, friendships within the industry are vital to your sanity. This is a very strange and unique line of work. While it’s fun to wow people with normal jobs by talking about this world they’ve never heard of, if you don’t have people in your life who can relate to you it can become incredibly isolating and lonely.
10. Consider other options. Are you the type of person who can sit in front of a computer alone all day? Because this work involves a lot of just that. Luckily I am that type of person, but you may not be. Maybe you thrive off lots of socialization, meeting new people, and jumping into new experiences, like my friend (& fetish vixen) Shauna Ryanne. Shauna is very extraverted, she travels around for most of the year doing real time sessions and shooting content for other companies. We deal with similar people and fetishes, but in different ways. She doesn’t deal much with the same tech, editing, writing and marketing that I do. She mostly shows up for the job, performs, then gets a check (and still sets her own boundaries doing so.)
While I think going about it that route can be fun here and there, if it were my entire job, I’d burn out really quickly. I work better solo. Similarly, there are people who would sooner blow their brains out before they’d sit around editing videos all day. If you want to make money in the adult/fetish world, there are lots of ways to do it. Think about how you thrive best and pursue what works best for you.
Bonus step If you’re a guy, don’t bother. There’s no money in it for you.
very insightful and articulate article, Miss. Sorry for misposting.
#9 “power of association” you mention networking with other individuals in the industry, but it seems like your circle is small. When you film with other Doms what is the deciding factor? You think most Doms do business together for a for friendship or financial gain?
Not sure why you put “power of association” in quotes. That’s not what I said nor was it what I was trying to say.
My circle is rather large relative to the size of the niche industry its within. I only shoot with dommes for financial gain. Some of the closest relationships I have are with women who add no monetary value to my clips, so we don’t bother to film anymore lest someone wants to pay for a custom. Our time is better spent socializing.
Thanks for the response. #2 you mention producing clips constantly. Have you done a blog post on some of your favorite tools you use to edit content? Example photoshop, illustrator or maybe even video editing software such as adobe premiere. What about services or software that have helped you streamline your business.
I spent several hours putting this blog post together. The free train ends here. If you want further advice my consulting fee is $300/hr.
Very interesting inside look at your world.
I know what you’re selling is fantasy, but my god you sell it well. You’re absolutely number one in my books.
You fascinate me as much as you titilate me!
Wow, fantastic article. I will likely be sending people to it often.
I have 7+ years in this industry and can tell you absolutely everything is spot on. Well done.
Its a shame there’s no real financial gain to be had from putting a video version of the above together, it would make a good documentary. I’d love to see Tierra, Lyne and yourself et al interviewed together on tape, kinda like a perverted version of real housewives of Beverly Hills.
I’d always assumed you introduced Lyne to the scene, is that not the case?
Well, I did say I studied her website before starting my own, soo….
I’d like to add some thoughts to yours, but from a customer’s perspective. I don’t pretend I speak for a larger client base; but I think generally my comments below may be of some use for a woman seeking entry into the online fetish world.
1. Full spectrum marketing is key. Using a variety of online venues to reveal bits and pieces of yourself to your customers is important if you want to promote loyalty among your customer base. It’s a fine line maintaining your relative privacy while still revealing some personality and character depth; however, the closer you can tread that line, the more attractive you become, and the more enduring your customer’s loyalty.
2. Don’t make or take things personally. It’s a fantasy-fulfilling business, not a lifestyle. To the extent an empowered woman is admired in western culture, a submissive man is not. Your customer’s submissive role play is episodic, not a continuum. The majority of your customers are only seeking temporary moments of submissiveness; not a lifestyle devoted to it.
3. Don’t judge. Sure, some judgmentalism is required in most humiliation role play scenarios; that said, any thoughts you may have about the legal fetishes your customers chose to play are best not mentioned outside of their fantasy. Calling your customers “pervs” or ‘deviates” outside of specific role playing scenarios does little to inspire confidence and trust. If you want to establish a positive and enduring reputation, you have to be likable. Not a total heartless bitch.
4. Don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘online slaves’ are really slaves. Don’t get bitchy or upset if a good customer doesn’t put you atop his list of financial priorities. There’s no surer way to lose a customer than to DEMAND money outside of playtime. Remember, for the most part, the relationship between you and your customer is pretty shallow. For the customer, you’re “glitz on glass” … someone to masturbate to, not sacrifice for.
5. As with any service-based business, customer relations is key. However, because of it’s generally anonymous nature, putting up with ‘bad customers’ is the cost of doing business online. Assuming a new customer is a ‘time waster’ and therefore demanding a tribute before speaking with them may be pragmatic, but that policy does little to promote the loyalty of a sincere potential customer seeking a more enduring business relationship. Weeding out the wheat from the chaff is hard work … but necessary if you want to find and nurture good customer relations.
Pretty solid advice Frank. I concur, especially with #2 and #4.
This is one of the finest comments I have ever read online, Frank. It should help many women to see things from the submissive’s side of things. You made all of these points far better than I ever could.
Whenever I visit Twitter, it feels like a lot of the self-proclaimed findoms I come across ignore a lot of these points. There’s a difference between erotically coaxing money from your followers and coming across as entitled. Likewise, there’s a difference between humiliation and being insulting.
Some dominants don’t seem to realise that a submissive’s fetish is often something they value very highly. They’re unlikely to just throw it away for the first dominant woman who says “men suck” or something else derogatory. As both you and Ceara said, that isn’t cultivating your audience. It isn’t respectful of them or their sexual interests.
Luckily, Ceara isn’t like that; I remember reading her Daily Mail interview and being impressed with how sincere and thoughtful she came across. I don’t always like seeing the Wizard behind the curtain — which I know is shallow but it can sometimes make me feel depressed about how I can’t currently engage in fetishism myself while it’s their whole life — but the difference between Ceara and women who “tweet a picture of themselves flipping the bird and say, “fuck you, pay me.”” is like night and day. The same applies for other dominants I admire, like Alexandra Snow, Savannah Sly and more. All wonderful people. 🙂
been running my own fetish business for 8 years now. this is a very well written article. it applies not only for ladies who would like to enter the fetish industry, but generally fetish production. One can tell that you grew into the business in many ways. #3: I remember, years ago, I personally made a comment about your video quality; you didn’t liked it back then, but you did came to the same conclusion.
people need to realize that choosing this job doesn’t mean easy money (to say the least….). being the cinematographer, editor, recruiter, publisher, actor(actress), feels like doing the work of 4-5 people sometimes. the key (for myself, at least) is simply loving what i do and enjoying from it so much.
p.s: saw you on the mystery box. brilliant. enjoyed it very much. I know its an arrow in the dark, but I hope I’ll get the chance to work with you one day.
keep up the great work and the smile :).
I can’t emphasize how brilliant Ceara is, and how honest she is. All of this makes sense given all I know, and she isn’t the selfish type to keep all the profit for herself. She’s definitely deviant, but in a wonderful way! Will never forget any moment I’ve had in her presense, online or real. If you’re honest with her, and prove it tangibly, you will never forget your experience. I appreciated that it wasn’t a mysterious game with her, feeding only selfish desires, it’s a two-way relationship in any interaction no matter how dominant she is. It doesn’t hurt that she is one of a kind, writes brilliantly, and gorgeous.
No wonder you studied Princess Sierra & Princess Lyne so closely. You all 3 have horse faces
Have you written any books yet? You so should. About anything. Just books, written by you.
Seriously, you must! I’m working on my memoir right now. I would LOVE to read yours. But your writing is engaging to the point that I’d seriously like to read a book you wrote on any subject.
ThankYou for writing this, Princess Ceara. It was a great read, and anything that helps more Women who might be interested in this type of work and be good at it get into the business is great!
#8 made me feel awful for times when i’ve been a time waster in the past. i’ve gotten pretty good about not being a time waster now, but i won’t lie. It still happens from time to time. If it makes any Dommes feel better about time wasters, there have been lots of times when i started out planning on being a time waster and then got so horny that i ended up spending a lot of money that i couldn’t really afford to spend. i assume that happens to most time wasters from time to time. There have been numerous occasions where i planned on being a time waster, and i ended up getting so horny that i tributed all of my grocery money for the week and had to live on stale chips in my pantry for that week. So we do get what we deserve eventually.
Also, i bet most time wasters come back, even if under a different name, and eventually end up paying big. That’s definitely been true for me. There’s nothing like the rush of actually paying. Only getting off to the idea of paying just doesn’t compare, and won’t cut it after a while. In a way, subs who are time wasters are actually cheating themselves more than anyone. The Domme will always find someone else who will tribute them, but the sub will never experience the most sincere form of submission unless he pays.
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So awesome. I’m sure I’ll be directing a few people here. Thanks for writing it!
Really interesting article…and I agree with Lycia. You should write something longer. You do write well and this entire fascinating blog is that future book half written. You are probably too busy now, but at some point when you feel like backing off, taking a hiatus, or retiring, you should give it a go. People are very interested in the inner workings of the porn industry, if they are honest. And, it would be another revenue stream.
Great article and thanks for the tips in person. Coffee or tea soon! I’m at Stumptown on Belmont as I type this lol. 😉
Yes! Amazing article! Though I only dabble in this genre, I think anyone who’s working on their place in the SW industry can take many of these points to heart. Thank you!
But Ceara,why we must reading,this?!?
#1 has got to be my favorite. I’ve seen many chicks come into this scene, and leave just as quickly due to the fact that they didn’t start making money like the top dommes did. It took me personally almost 3 years to see any significant increase in the mediocre money I was previously earning. Here we are 6 years later, and I’m sitting back with my feet kicked up, watching that cash flow in. Get that money, girl! Hope Asia is/was a blast!
Bonus step: “If you’re a guy, don’t bother. There’s no money in it for you.” It is, as long as the guy is a master.
Love your article! Thank you for writing it! I’ve been doing a lot of research in the fetish industry. I’ve been practicing BDSM, kinks and fetishes before I knew it had a name. I’ve been a submissive for some years now. I’m looking to get into it from this spectrum.