If there were a retrospective award for Worst Sex Toy Reviewer 2016, I would win it hands down. Like, how do any of you even remember who I am? I barely remember who I am! I don’t post for months at a time, I fall asleep mid-review, I am haunted by the ghosts of vibrators I lost and never covered, and I can’t write intros to save my life. SO. I’m giving you all my top five tips on how not to be a sex toy reviewer, because I want you to learn from my mistakes and do better. I might be incapable, but I know that the hundreds of aspiring dildo critics out there aren’t, and you all have the potential to create great, sticky things.
1. DON’T BE CONSISTENT (I’M BUSY)
I am BAD at this whole being timely thing. I’ve barely posted at all for a good year and a half, mainly because I was sick as a dog, but also because I was busy! Really busy! Really busy doing really important things, like working 65 hour weeks in order to, y’know, live, but also things like seeing how much coke it takes to fell a 55 year old city property developer and spending three days doing nothing but watching conspiracy documentaries and ignoring the growing pile of brand new sex toys that desperately needed reviewing three+ weeks ago.
It takes me approximately one and a bit space nazi documentaries to bang out a mediocre review, and sometimes – 85% of the time – slightly sub-par content is better than no content. Doesn’t matter how clever, funny, charming or modest I am if I’m not actually producing anything to showcase that or fulfilling my half of the contract. Most companies’ll understand that you have a life outside of dildo blogging, and it’s absolutely fine to have a hobby and treat it as such, but it’s not fair to take on things you know you can’t handle or string some poor marketing intern along on a never-ending trail of “oh I’ve just been busy, it’ll be up by next week”. Not being consistent has also made me nigh-on unsponsorable, which leads me to my next point –
2. CONTACTS? WHAT CONTACTS?
I respond to maybe 1 email in 10 and make only minimal effort to retain relationships with companies I’ve already worked with, let alone reaching out and attempting to forge bonds with new ones. I’m shit at twitter. I am not particularly friendly or open, and this is fine for me until I need something, like, for example, a small amount of some delicious hard cash to get myself to Woodhull in order to hobnob with a few of the finest faces in sex toy blogging and go to IHOP. This has quickly become next to impossible because a) where’s your written work? and b) er, who are you? Oh, right, you’re the one we emailed four times about a sponsored post three months ago and you studiously ignored all our emails. We’ll pass. Moral of the story: don’t be me.
3. LIVE LIKE A FILTH-WIZARD
If you’re a burgeoning dildo blogger, I beseech thee – please get yourself a nice new notebook or a wall calendar and one of those nifty multi-drawer setups from Ikea, or a couple of stackable crates, or one of those over-the-door shoe racks, because all the toys you’re going to accumulate are quickly going to spiral out of control and you won’t be able to keep track. I used to have a couple of vintage suitcases to keep them in, all pretty and organised, and then I moved and now I have 6 feet of sex toy soup living under my bed. Where’s my Doxy Don? My Lelo Siri? My Vixskin Raquel? Fuck knows mate, best to just rummage through with your eyes shut and go by touch.
4. WAIT, WHO ARE YOU?
I don’t have a niche, unless taking pictures of vibrators against 70s deadstock and being snotty is a niche in itself. This is something I’m comfortable with – I’m not particularly eager to bring in elements of my irl interests due to privacy concerns, but being memorable in one way or another is usually only ever a good thing in such a rapidly expanding blogosphere. Having said that, don’t try too hard to think something up immediately because it’ll usually come to you fairly naturally as you continue to blog and find out what makes you tick in more detailed terms.
5. BE AN ENTITLED LITTLE SHIT
Right, so – I’m frosty, I’m lazy, I’ve a poor work ethic, I’m forgettable, my ego’s the size of a hot air balloon and I don’t care to bond with my community, but am I entitled? Nah. Nope. Nobody owes me sex toys just because I make it my business to write about them, and they probably don’t owe you sex toys either, unless you already paid for them or signed a contract.
I will tell you a story: once upon a time, I ran a little online shop where I sold vintage and collectables, and stuff I produced myself, zines and stickers and prints. And it was good, and I was happy – I still needed my day job, but it just about paid for my nails and lashes and weed. And every so often I’d wake up and I’d check my emails and I’d have piles of messages from sub-par lifestyle bloggers who’d demand that I send them something from my shop so they could “showcase” it on their blog or insta or whatever in return for “brand exposure”. I don’t run that shop anymore – not because I got bored of fending off aspiring influencers, because I moved and my circumstances changed, but christ on rollerskates did sifting through those messages get draining quickly. Maria of Fucking Sculptures also wrote a little bit about how this feels for a shop owner and how to request product in regards to sex toy reviewing, and it’s a good and useful read.
Obviously reaching out to an industry heavyweight like We-Vibe or Lelo is significantly different to targeting small-time etsy store owners and/or artists with day jobs, but my point is – don’t be fucking rude. Be polite. Be professional. Don’t get stroppy if they don’t want to send you product for whatever reason. Don’t use the squirty emoji, or the aubergine, or the abysmal tongue out winky face. And please don’t copy & paste a generic product request email and forget to customise it – although a remarkable amount of companies still seem to struggle with this one, so I wouldn’t worry too much.