Answering some frequently asked questions about my job as a sex toy reviewer!
Epiphora’s Beginner’s Guide to Sex Toy Reviewing and Blogging – Hey Epiphora
15 Rules For Writing a Sex Toy Review That Doesn’t Royally Suck – Hey Epiphora
The Business of Blogging About Sex class
When people ask me what I do, I often joke that I masturbate for a living.
That is, of course, a huge oversimplification. But as a person whose job title includes the words “sex toy reviewer,” it is kind of true.
Because my job is so unusual, I tend to get a lot of questions about it, both from people who watch my videos and read my blog and from people I meet in my day-to-day life. So today I thought I’d answer some of those frequently asked questions and demystify the life of a sex toy reviewer.
1. How did you get into reviewing sex toys?
So I got into reviewing in a sort of weird, lucky way that I’m not sure is really replicable these days, unfortunately. In 2015 I decided I wanted to start a sex ed YouTube channel that talked about a variety of subjects, but specifically sex toys and sex toy safety since that was something I was really interested in and something that other sex ed YouTubers at the time weren’t really talking about.
I had been reading sex toy review blogs like Hey Epiphora and DangerousLilly for years and knew in the back of my mind that that was something I kind of wanted to do someday, but I wasn’t making any real effort to pursue it at that point.
A few months into all of this, I put up a blog post on some of the best sex toys under $30. And lo and behold, one of the brands heavily featured in that post, Tantus, reached out to me and asked if I wanted to review some of their toys. I was really surprised. I had never reviewed anything before, and I was pretty nervous about the prospect, but I said yes. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Fast forward another six months or so. By then I had reviewed a few Tantus toys and a LELO vibrator that a lovely subscriber sent me a gift card to buy, and I’d posted maybe 20 or so educational videos and blog posts. It was the month that Kinkly hosted their annual Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes contest — and in a strange turn of events that I still don’t entirely understand, I came in at number 10, ahead of so many reviewers and educators that I respect like crazy. I also came in at number 1 in the New Sex Bloggers category and number 4 in the Sex Toy Reviewers category.
After that, brands like Lovehoney started reaching out to me, and as I reviewed more and more I started getting contacted by more brands and developed the confidence to reach out to brands that I was interested in. It all just snowballed in a really bizarre way, and I’m very grateful.
Though I don’t know how useful this story actually is to people trying to get into toy reviewing in 2017, so I’m going to answer a few more questions and hopefully give some real advice.
2. How do you get companies to send you free sex toys?
First of all, I want to say that companies do not generally send me free sex toys. Very occasionally a company will send me a toy with no strings attached, and those I consider free.
But the vast majority of toys I’m sent are part of an explicitly agreed upon exchange. They send me the toy, and in return I post a review of it. Reviewing can take a lot of time and effort — it’s work, this is my job — so I don’t really consider products I get for review “free.”
Now, if you are an aspiring reviewer trying to figure out how to get sex toys sent to you for review, it can help to think about why companies send out products for review in the first place. And there are two primary reasons they do this.
One is just to get feedback on the product. Reviewers’ insight can be incredibly valuable to companies because we’ve generally tried more sex toys than the average person and therefore have a more nuanced perspective.
The second reason is marketing. We have an audience, and they want to get their brand in front of those eyeballs.
So to get companies to send you toys, you want to be able to show them both of those things — quality reviews and an audience. Start getting content up on your channel or blog and reviewing things you already own. You want to make yourself look as established as possible when you start reaching out to companies.
Interact with the sex toy reviewer community on social media and make friends. This will help to both build your audience and create a support group of people who can give you advice on everything from working with companies to banishing self-doubt to filing taxes as a sex toy reviewer. Which brings me to…
3. How do you make money as a sex toy reviewer?
This is a question I tend to get asked by people in my offline life, and then when I mention I do most of my reviews on YouTube they kind of nod as though that explains it. It doesn’t.
At this point in time, I have never made a cent from YouTube or Google. People like to imagine that YouTubers are rolling in cash, but that’s not usually the case, and especially not with YouTubers making videos that have anything to do with sex. Sex is not “advertiser-friendly.”
Most of my toy reviews and a few of my educational videos are flagged as 18+ and don’t have ads running on them at all, and the videos that aren’t age restricted tend to only get the lowest paying ads possible. After two-and-a-half years and hundreds of thousands of views on my YouTube channel, I am still nowhere near the $100 AdSense payout threshold. And that sucks, but that’s just how it is. So I have to make my money in other ways.
One of my main sources of income is through affiliate programs. Those are basically sales commission programs, and the sex toy industry has some great ones. If you click a link to a product or shop in my video descriptions, blog, or social media and you buy something, I will get a commission of around 10-30% of the retail price of whatever you purchased (depending on the specific shop and its program). I’m going to link a page on my website down in the description that has links and information on all of the affiliate programs I am a part of.
I have a policy where I will not accept a product for review if it isn’t available through somewhere with an affiliate program. Other reviewers I know sometimes just charge the companies for reviews in those situations. That’s not something I’m personally comfortable doing just because I don’t feel like I could be unbiased if I’m being paid to review something, but others feel differently and it works for them.
I also do the occasional sponsored video, where a company will pay me to create content that mentions their brand. I usually try to keep it to the same sort of educational content that I would be making anyway, such as my Sex Toys + Disability Guide video and my 5 Sex Toy Shopping Mistakes video.
Finally, if you’re running a blog, you can always host advertisers there in the form of banners and links in your sidebar or elsewhere on your site.
For more information on becoming a sex toy reviewer, I’m going to give you three links: Hey Epiphora’s Beginner’s Guide to Sex Toy Reviewing and Blogging, her 15 Rules For Writing a Sex Toy Review That Doesn’t Royally Suck, and her online sex blogging class, which I haven’t taken but have heard great things about.
If you’ve got any other questions about reviewing toys, leave them down in the comments!
Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time!