How sex workers on Tumblr help to prepare me to become a first-time entrepreneur

This article was also published in Vulcan Post and The Financial Diet!


In case you didn’t know, Tumblr has an active sex worker community. They are the escorts, the strippers, the elite companions, the cam girls, the fetish models, the professional dommes and subs, the sugar babies and the spoiled girlfriends, the aspiring trophy wives, to name a few in the wide spectrum of what the community considers to be a ‘sex worker’.

omg *dies*

Fascinated with these women who are unapologetic on being sexual service providers, I followed a few… and was quickly blown away by their wit, charm, charisma and least of all, beauty. They are businesswomen, plain and simple. Here are some things they taught me, which helped me to prepare to be a first-time entrepreneur:

1) Take control

Sex workers do sex work for a variety of reasons – they are people, and people are complex, after all. However, there is one common thread – the women are highly independent. They rely on themselves and refuse to take the ‘oh pity me’ route. They realize that they need to take charge of their financial life, and build a business out of supply and demand. Most importantly, independent sex workers (as opposed to sex workers tied to an agency) are incredibly good at managing their time to run their business smoothly.

How this helped: As a first-time one-woman entrepreneur, I knew that I had to do everything myself, then I realize that I had to do everything myself. Effective time management to handle every aspect of my business is crucial, and these ladies are pros – oftentimes juggling work/study with their sex work.

2) Minimize risk

Many of the sex workers operate their business from countries where prostitution is illegal. Because of this, sex workers have to take extra precaution to avoid getting busted by the LE (law enforcers). Due to the lack of protection, sex workers are meticulous in screening their clients. To, you know, avoid getting raped or murdered. Furthermore, reputable sex workers take precautions in avoiding STDs (sex workers from medical backgrounds are very helpful in this), as well as take precautions against being flagged by the bank when making hefty cash deposits.

How this helped: I realize that minimizing risk is important and it should be ongoing. Leaving it unattended is a recipe for disaster. For example, I’ve become more attentive in checking my online bank account, to avoid late fees and penalties. I read every finance-related T&C documents – once I checked a contract and successfully negotiated for free travel insurance, because it was needed for the job. You have to see what could go wrong and fix it before it does.

3) Hustle hard

Some haters of sex worker say the worse things. ‘That’s an easy job – you just have to lie down and spread your legs!’ After following their blogs for a while, I found that successful sex workers are the hardest workers. They put in time to take care of their product (body), to produce marketing tools, to network, to maintain repeat clients, and perform menial, administrative work like answering the goshdarn emails and the website maintenance.

How this helped: There is no substitute for hard work – there is no reward for simply being ‘a pretty face’ (at least, not sustainably). Glamour is superficial. Be humble – no small task is beneath you.

4) You have to look out for your fellow women

Sex workers warn each other on horrible clients, especially physically abusive clients. They provide advice to new sex workers – ranging from tips on being discreet to photography referrals to verified websites to get clients. Some even provide mentorship. Generally speaking, despite the few bad apples, the sex worker community on Tumblr is very supportive of each other. They maintain that low-paid ladies are just as equal as higher-paid ladies – and give advice to help improve the situation. It’s honestly heartwarming and feminist. Some are also anti-trafficking activists, helping to stop the non-consensual sex trade.

How this helped: Biggest lesson of all – putting other women down in order to get ahead is not cool. Being exposed in the corporate sector, where women peers fight for that one seat in the board, we have to realize that the solution is to have more seats, not to have more fights.

5) Your personal branding is important

Successful sex workers work on their personal branding – this helps to attract the types of clients they want. A sex worker I follow charges $500 an hour, and she is extremely successful because of her personal branding as an educated multi-linguist. This niche expertise enables her to charge more and draws clients who are not intimidated by educated women.

How this helped: I feel that in this globalized economy, telling clients what you can do will no longer be enough. There will always be competitors who are willing to charge way less than you. So I’m going to shift my strategy – I’ll work on my personal branding instead of rock-bottom prices.

I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t sure if I’d publish this piece because, um, Malaysia (and consequently my target audience) is not exactly sex-positive. Shame shame shame and all that. Like that GoT scene:

All in all, whether you are pro or anti sex workers, you have to admit that being able to sell something that roughly 50% of the world population has the tools for is no easy feat. And that is why I have mad respect for sex workers.

p/s – I have discovered how to add gifs in posts 😀


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  1. Wow, excellent piece! Original and insightful in a way that can only written through personal experience. I was never part of Tumblr (more active in Blogger in my teens) so now I feel like I missed out on quite a bit.

    It’s amazing how the people who work in what is possibly the most stigmatised job in the world have the best attitude. When you say they have no time to for self-pity, it really made me take a good look at what other things I can do more of instead of worrying.

    Thank you for writing this piece. I enjoyed it tremendously.

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