I don't have a question, but I'd like to congratulate you and I'm happy for you that the model is working out and that you made more money than the year before. And I don't just like your business model, I like your stories, too!
Congratulations that is so amazing!! I’m glad you are enjoying running this unique storefront.
I have a question related to how you started this, do you have an estimate on how many followers/supporters you had on sites like Tumblr and Patreon before you moved onto your website? Maybe too specific but what was your earnings from Patreon at that point? How did you convince those followers to start using a new website to being with? Do you think a good amount of traction comes from your fans sharing with other non-fans?
I’m curious because I do some social media related work elsewhere, and I find it really hard to get viewers to click a link to move to any other platforms at all! Maybe with an authors, or specifically lewd content creators in general , it’s an easier sell to get fans to click a link. For this account of mine’s content I’d be interested in attempting your approach in some form, but I worry I’d make an effort branding a website just to have nobody ever visit it! I’m interested to know how you made that transition work so well for you! :)
My novel length stories on XNXX/Sexstories had over 100,000 reads at the point I started on Tumblr, which is what prompted me to try on Tumblr. I can't remember what kind of following I had on Tumblr when they kicked the porn off there but I think it was a couple of thousand followers.
I started monetising on Patreon at about the time I left Tumblr, and by the time I left Patreon I think I had over 5,000 followers on BDSMLR. I now have about 10k followers on BDSMLR, a few thousand on newTumbl, a bit under a thousand on ReblogMe, and some unquantified number of readers on Reddit, CHYOA, ROM and MCStories. (MCStories refers me as much or more traffic than those 10k on BDSMLR, so there must be a lot of eyeballs there.)
I'm on Twitter too, but not a lot of followers there (which I think is partly a reluctance to be horny on main), but also Twitter deprecates and sometimes shadowbans erotic content, and then further deprecates posts with external links, and then \*further\* deprecates posts that it algorithmically decides to be trying to sell something. So making an imprint on Twitter is tough.
I haven't bothered with Facebook or Instagram because my content is clearly well outside their terms of service.
In terms of clickthroughs, the main factor (for me) is that people don't \*trust\* erotic sites, and so getting them to do that clickthrough is about generating the trust that you're a real site, that you're not out to scam them, that it's run by an identifiable and accountable human. (The other factor for clickthroughs is probably the "thinking with your dick" factor, where horny people make bad decisions if they need to cum, but my model doesn't overtly exploit that the way a lot of adult sites do.)
But I think people also appreciate the way my model works - that if you have disposable income, you can support what you love with your cash, but if you don't have that money to throw around, that's okay. There's no guilt involved.
But also I only sell to a fraction of the people who read my stories, and there is a fairly low reader-to-clickthrough rate, and then another loss at the clickthrough-to-conversion stage. I'm not a trained marketer (though I've read a bit) so it's very likely I could improve both of those ratios if I had a more targeted sales program.
>witter deprecates and sometimes shadowbans erotic content, and then further deprecates posts with external links, and then \*further\* deprecates posts that it algorithmically decides to be trying to sell something.
I did not know this about Twitter and it explains a great deal
Thank you so much for the answer I really appreciate your insight! It’s so cool that your work got so much attention. I never really knew the true depth of tumblr’s nsfw world until I saw everyone leave the site lol, and Twitter is a total nightmare to use for all web creators.
I love your thought that it is a trustworthy link, that’s not something I would’ve thought of but it makes a lot of sense. My main kink only has like…one practically dead forum website now, I’m pretty new to this erotica world of lewdness so it seems I’ll have to do some research on where I should be posting my completed works to get some eyes. Thank you so much! 😄
How are you getting clickthroughs from those sites? Looking at them I don't see any options for linking.
BDSMLR, newTumbl, ReblogMe, CHYOA and Read Only Mind all allow you to put hyperlinks in your stories / text posts, so most of my stories end with something like "If you enjoyed this story, you'll love my e-book **Harlot's Hymn - Stories of Religious Corruption and Lustful Worship**, available for only $3.99 at my creator site. (Click here to view in store.)
For some of those (CHYOA, Read Only Mind) that's qualified by a requirement that you're submitting real, complete stories, not just dropping snippets that you need to pay money to complete.
MCStories doesn't let you put links in stories, but you can have a link to your paysite on your author profile, and the community there are weirdly very willing to find that link and click it - I get a lot of clickthroughs.
I no longer put new content on Literotica or XNXX because they have policies about links and monetisation that basically make it impossible to convert readers into buyers.
So I was looking over your page and it's fantastic. I have been living off free Google Sites templates till now, but maybe it's time to move to wordpress.
I have a few direct sales on my page, but I worry about pay processors. Has PayPal given you any issues?
They haven't yet. They may in future. PayPal is in a weird place where theoretically they don't service adult businesses, but they definitely provide payment processing to a range of mainstream websites that sell text erotica (usually alongside other non-erotica books).
The four key concerns for PayPal around adult businesses are:
1) Legality. Everything I'm selling is unambiguously legal in my country and in the US.
2) Specific laws around images, including revenge porn and CSAM. I'm not selling images.
3) Hate speech / politics. My kinks aren't my politics. I'm not selling or promoting politics.
4) Chargebacks. Adult businesses often have a lot of chargebacks and disputes. I have a very low rate of returns / refunds / disputes.
So I'm hopeful that PayPal doesn't really consider me a problem. I'm selling legal text and my customers are happy. Fingers crossed.
What's your best selling book?
For July 1 2021 to June 30 2022, my best-selling book was "Secret Message - A Novella of Hypnotic Entrapment" [(link)](https://alltheseroadworks.com/product/secret-message-a-novella-of-hypnotic-entrapment-digital-delivery-pdf/), which sold 171 copies over the period at $3.99 USD a copy. ($682 USD total before payment processing fees). It was released in October, so it was available for purchase for nine months of this period. It makes up about 2% of my total revenue over this period.
That's just sales on my main site, but once again, Smashwords is peanuts, and including Smashwords numbers doesn't change it much. These numbers also don't include sales in bundles. (This book is included in my Hypno Bundle #2, which sold a further 18 units.)
The next biggest sellers (not counting memberships or bundles) are "Abby's Identity" (158 units - a longer mindfuck/bimbofication story), "Emma's Policy" (111 units - a workplace humiliation/bimbofication story), "The Guidance Counsellor" (105 units - a schoolroom slut-transformation story), and "The Popular Girls" (103 units - a "peer pressure" themed collection of shorts).
It's worth noting that Abby's Identity is a longer book, and sells for twice as much as the regular releases, so the 158 sales of that add up to $1,260 USD, making it the biggest \*earning\* book, if not the largest seller. (About 3.6% of my total revenue for the period.)
It's also worth noting that all new book releases are included in my two tiers of membership, and that my premium memberships include access to a free rotating library of older e-books, so paid members generally won't need to buy the new books in addition to their memberships.
The top seller list shows a clear preference from readers for longer continuous stories over collections of shorts, as well as an interest in my top-selling themes, being "hypno/mindfuck", "office/demotion fetish" and "bimbofication".
My output has been shifting towards longer serialised stories over multiple shorter ones as a result of these stats.
You can also see from these stats that no single book alone sells anywhere near enough to be big money. I only reach "full-time income" from the combination of a large catalogue of books, plus memberships. The two specific kinds of sales that make my model viable are the people who buy premium memberships for at least half the year (either renewing monthly or buying six months at once), and the people who purchase a large percentage of my catalogue all at once.
Wow, thank you for sharing! I’m working on a podcast for writers. Are you open to an interview?
Possibly! Get in touch via chat here or at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) if you want to set something up.
This is fantastic! Very well done, AllTheseRoadworks. I'm always pleased to see erotica authors succeed without depending totally on Amazon.
I, too, am curious if you've ever run into issues with PayPal.
Also, has anyone ever attempted fraudulent purchases? Like buying stories then doing chargebacks or demanding a refund after downloading a book?
I've never had a customer attempt anything dodgy with me.
My general policy is to just automatically give refunds if requested, no questions asked, because good word of mouth is valuable, disputes aren't worth the time they take and could cause me problems, and one unhappy customer could do a lot of reputational damage.
Plus I just generally want people to feel they've done business with an honest business and they got what they paid for.
This is quite probably the best data porn I’ve ever read. Your self awareness is just nice to see. <3
Hey, thank you for this outpouring of data and process for us to pick over for gems. It's very kind of you to provide.
If you wouldn't mind, what's your experience been with MCstories? I've looked through the site and it seems so bare bones, but you list it as a top referrer. Do you participate on their forums (it looks like they have two different ones?) or is it purely passive posting?
I email stories to Simon, who admins the site, and he posts them manually. He's fairly picky about not taking stories below a certain word count, and that disqualifies a lot of my shorter stuff, but it's his site, and he's always polite and professional. New stories go up regularly once a week on the site, and they must have a lot of readers, because it refers me as many people to my site as all those 10K followers on BDSMLR.
My impression is that it's an older site that built a lot of following when there were just less sites around (like places like ASSTR and Literotica). Its interface looks like ass (pardon my French) but it does what it needs to do and its user base are used to it. And I think that user base are demographically a little older than some other sites I post on, because they seem on average more likely to pay money for what they like, and in larger amounts. Wonderful customers.
I generally avoid the forums. I don't see a lot of value in literary critique of erotica, particular if the person doing the critiquing isn't basically hot for the specific kinks in the story.
I should say I'm a cis hetero man, writing stories about submissive women. I've heard stories from people outside that specific box having some particularly bad experiences on the forums there, but that's their story to tell. (And it's one of the main reasons Read Only Mind got set up, to provide a more inclusive space for those writers.)
The mind control erotica community generally are numerous, and passionate about what they like, and I have to say it's pushed me to write more hypno stuff, because there's just such an eager market for it.
Thanks for the assessment!
I've found generally the same experience in terms of the forums associated with erotica sites - very cliquey, with a few very loud people extolling a narrow set of views. I also highly doubt participation brings anything but negative reviews since the participators seem so utterly catty (and jealous of success). The reason I ask is because it's such the opposite mentality people preach about the mainstream online fiction sites - there it's basically expected that you need to be reading/commenting/soliciting other writers constantly to try and gain an audience. Erotica is just so much more chill?
I guess as a little followup, I assume you don't post to Literotica/see referrals due to their no-links policy?
That's right. I have some stuff on Literotica that I've never bothered taking down, but they have a no-links / no-monetisation policy, and after having a polite but frank exchange of views with the site owners about that, I chose to not put up any more content.
(It's their site, and their right, and it's intended to protect the site and its users, but I think it's ultimately exploitative of the people adding value to the site through free content while making it unnecessarily difficult for those writers to transition to being pros.)
I don't disagree with your assessment at all. It just also happens to be where my current largest audience base is, so I'm stuck with it while I try to transition to author-friendlier climates.
Not that I lose anything reposting already-free content there anyways, but still - one can wish.
Yeah, it's why I recommend that authors don't use Literotica, even when they're starting out, because that difficulty in moving your reader base to somewhere that they can pay you just gets harder the more you invest.
Too bad I started out back in 2015/16, kind of on a whim. I have a story with 1.4m views and another 3m combined on the other 19 stories/chapters.
I took almost 6 years off of writing erotica, chasing the mainstream dream, and accumulated 4.5k 'followers' on Literotica without publishing anything after they implemented that feature on their site. If I could gad damn message them or something I'd be happy, but nope - 0 functionality without posting a new story in which I can't mention Patreon.
i love these dataporns but sometimes they make me feel like a CA. congrats on your last year.
I don't have time to read through this all right now to comment but just wanted to say thanks for posting this!
Who's your payment processor? A lot of places I've tried to engage with don't allow adult content and I got accidentally banned from PayPal many years ago.
Thanks so much for sharing this; you continue to be an inspiration for those of us planning to escape Amazon.
I answered questions about Paypal a couple of comments further up. Not to fob you off, but it's easier to direct you to that rather than repeat it. :-)
No worries, way more efficient! Thank you!
**UPDATE**: I forgot to talk about charitable donations when I first posted, but they're relevant to my stats, so I've gone back and included them in the OP. Short version is I donate 5% of profits to secular registered women's charities, and in the 21-22 financial year this amounted to $1,725 USD or $2,414 AUD.
Hi, just a quick note about bdsmlr: I find that newtumbl is ten times better, the site loads fast and has a huge userbase by now. Definitely give it a try if you haven't already, you can do whatever you do on bdsmlr and it will work the exact same way, just better and faster.
I'm already using newTumbl, and all my free stories on BDSMLR also go live day-and-date on newTumbl.
But the site's userbase is only a tiny fraction of BDSMLR's. I've picked up only 2.2K followers there over two years (versus 15K on BDSMLR), and the rate of clickthroughs to my main site is less than 10% what I get from BDSMLR, even taking into account that BDSMLR is basically a train wreck now. Plus for whatever reason I get less audience interaction there - less comments, less shares, less personal messages.
I'm sticking with it because the user interface is SO easy, and it's almost zero work to crosspost to newTumbl when I'm already posting to BDSMLR. I wish it \*was\* bigger - but if I was relying on newTumbl to replace my BDSMLR traffic, I'd go out of business.
(On this topic, I've also been using ReblogMe, which was very promising, but just this week the official ReblogMe Twitter and support email were both deactivated, and all their paid subscriptions were cancelled from the ReblogMe end, so clearly something weird is happening to that site and I wouldn't be surprised to see it suddenly go offline in the near future.)
Interesting to hear! I have over 100k followers combined on newtumbl and find bdsmlr much harder to grow a following on. (that is mostly with niche blogs reblogging images though, so not so comparable). Maybe I need to revisit bdsmlr, I completely stopped using it about half a year ago or so.
Edit: Hah, I can't even log in because of server errors :D
I would be very grateful for tips on growing following on newTumbl!
My BDSMLR following was a combination of getting in at just the right time to catch a wave of new accounts (during the Tumblr purge), and having a few fans with relatively large followings of their own that regularly share a story or two.
Very informative post, and also the comments are very useful. I’ll read with more attention later on, in the meanwhile I just wanted to write that your donations are an interesting point.
Have you had any luck with the BDSMLR Queue?
I filled it up with about 200 pending posts but they are not randomizing
A problem because I had put in X free stories, Y Caption stories, and Z Promo posts.
But I did them in batches and without a shuffle, the account will post like 20 advertisements in a row.
I don't use the random function, so I can't speak to that. I want my content to post in order, so stuff comes out at the same time as the other places where I queue content.
But the ordered queue \*mostly\* works. Occasionally it gets stuck and stops posting and I need to manually hit "publish" on the next post to get it running again.
As a general proposition, though, BDSMLR is busted, and the owners aren't interested in improving it, squashing bugs, or responding to any correspondence. Whoever now owns it appears to be just passively farming it for ad revenue with zero work or input.
Sad to say since I get so much traffic from it lately.
I may just have to take more time and manually set up my queue. I got all excited about the bulk uploader + random posting that It felt like a set-it and forget-it solution.
I know, right? Queuing content across multiple sites is at least 40% of my total work time, and by far the most tedious part of my work day, but it's how I get the eyeballs.
Even with BDSMLR in such a parlous state, it's still my second-biggest third-party referrer, after MCStories (and not counting Google), although there's been a noticeable drop-off in the last four months particularly.
My biggest source is "Direct" which I assume is people looking up the site from Instagram posts.
Thank you so much for sharing your business model! Your earnings are inspirational.
I have thought about setting up my own site to sell taboo. (I have a suspicion that somewhere down the line, Smashwords will reject taboo content.)
Edit: I'm surprised Wordpress Business is OK with taboo.
Wordpress' policies - as far as I have been able to read and understand them - are that any text speech is okay, as long as it's legal and non-political. They've got more issues once images get involved though. That clarity in their policies is what led me to set up shop there.
Love your work, seriously inspiring stuff seeing you find your own unique path that works for you and seeing it pay off. That extra $7k AUD must be nice, you can afford lettuce!
Do you have any plans to change anything about the way you operate or are you pretty confident your readership will continue to grow?
For some of the 20-21 financial year I was still working the "day job" on a part-time basis, which I quit during that period, so while my erotica income has gone up this financial year, my total income is actually slightly lower.
My biggest challenge over 22-23 is going to be finding new markets and referrers. June 2022 had a significant drop in sales, and while July recovered and was very good, August is also down. It's hard to tell exactly what's caused that. I'm generally looking at the decline of BDSMLR as a major factor, giving me less referrals, but who knows? It could be general economic conditions or a range of other factors.
In any case, the main thing I can do about it is to find more places (sites, forums, whatever) where I can put my work in front of potential buyers. (I'm open to suggestions.)
It's tough, though, because things right now are hard for adult industries generally, with multiple choke points on hosting, content, payment processors, etc, arising from pressure from fundamentalist religious groups like NCOSE being applied to companies and legislators without them being willing to listen to counterpoints from those actually affected.
And even if I do find those communities and sites, it's tough, because queuing daily content takes work, and each additional site I publish on is more work, and there's a limit to how many places I can maintain the effort of regularly publishing content. If I found a clear winner in terms of referrals, I may have to look at my current schedule and work out what to drop.
I admire the detail of this post so much!
I’ve skimmed it and the comments, because you mention things in AUD, are you writing in Australia? I was curious about whether we are allowed to publish on Amazon outside the Amazon australia store, if not, is that part of the reason why you’re avoiding Amazon? There are lots of reasons why it seems like Amazon would be a good company to avoid but I wasn’t sure if this was it? Thanks for reading and no worries if you don’t have time to rely
No, there's no issue publishing worldwide from Australia. I told Amazon I was in Australia, and they quite happily offered my books on a range of their international storefronts. I just avoid Amazon because:
(1) they don't make me any money unless I do the promotional work, and if I'm promoting I make more money in promoting my own site instead;
(2) I don't really like them as a company, in terms of ethics or practices; and
(3) I don't like the constant risk of a book getting dungeoned and banned, and/or my account suspended and my cash seized.
Thanks heaps for your answer! Okay that’s good to know. Yeah I don’t like them for their ethics much either :/ and not surprised to hear they’re not a great platform to self-publish through!
Lots of people make tons of money on Amazon, and many of them are on this forum and will tell you how.
It just doesn't work for me. :-)
Amazon is substantially more viable if you write the kind of erotica that has low risk of being dungeoned or banned, though.