Welp, that was inevitable.
When I was touring a few months ago, and Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage, was arrested, I had about $800 of credit in my account. I started spending and not replenishing because I knew BP wouldn’t last much longer. As of today, I have less than $200 in my account. I have no way of getting that money back, that I know of, but at least it’s still there and it’s not very much, really.
Yes, I’ve been successfully advertising on BP this past year. It was never my #1 go-to place but…it helped. I figured out a formula for my ad that worked and it attracted men who were looking for someone with professional photos who seemed professional and wasn’t charging super-low rates. Someone who could write a complete, grammatically-correct sentence and didn’t use emojis in their writing. (Not that any of this deterred the illiterate idiots who just liked my photos but were unable to write coherently themselves.)
advertising on Eros
So I used BP, just as I used CL when I was traveling the world. I have a website, of course. I run ads on other sites that seem useful to me. Most notably, of course, I use Eros.
Eros gets a lot of complaints from the girls who are staunchly pro-BP. I’m not sure why. I’ve never had problems getting decent clients from there (and yes, I also get the illiterate idiots who just like my photos but are unable to write coherently themselves.) But that’s because I understand advertising/marketing as it applies to my business. I understand it so well that my ad gets copied, a lot. I’m so plagiarized I could make fetch happen.
Eros also requires that you submit your ID. This really scares the types who are afraid the government will suddenly realize they’re sex workers. If the government was truly that up into your shit, a) you have bigger problems and b) they already know because they’ve looked into your finances and read your emails.
Eros has had my ID on file since 2002. The people who have caused the problems in my life due to my sex work have all been people I know, including one person that I was friends with for over 15 years, an ex-client, and my mother. Government? Not involved. Eros? Nothing to do with any of it.
[pullquote]The biggest problems in your life that stem from being a sex worker invariably comes from people you know, not the feds.[/pullquote]
The government most likely knows that I’m a sex worker, and that I’m Amanda Brooks. So far, I’ve yet to see any indication that they care. I doubt they will care about some random escort who is possibly breaking some misdemeanor laws in her city while otherwise living a regular life.
What the ID check does do is keep accusations of underage sex trafficking at bay. Which keeps the site up and out of danger. Which means it’s a fairly stable platform on which to advertise. Nothing is written in stone, of course, but Eros has survived for over two decades and many other sites have not. Sites that don’t check IDs, like Craigslist and BP, have not survived.
The other gripe many BP advertisers have about Eros is the price. You pay for a month at a time. I’ve seen ladies pay for a week on BP what it would cost for a month on Eros. I don’t understand how the math works in their head but that’s their money, not mine. It’s probably easier to pay a few bucks a day than a chunk of money at one time, I get that. What I don’t get is why they’re not tracking their total income and expenses and reviewing that information.
Other sites require ID checks to advertise. Do I trust them? No. Eros is the only site to have my ID on file. Other sites might be okay, it’s up to each person to decide. I trust Eros because I’ve been with them for so long. I know they have good lawyers and follow that advice to the letter. It makes for frustrating advertising, but I know they’re getting legal advice and not simply pulling it out of their ass.
alternatives to BP
Discussion boards, obviously, are free to post on. Often, you have to allow reviews on that board to get to post, which usually isn’t a problem for the average BP advertiser. You may be required to post a link to the board on your site. If you don’t have a site, this could be a problem (and you should get a site, but not because you need to post links).
Finding boards in your area: Google. Follow links on other provider’s websites. Googling is what the men who have lost BP will do, it’s what you should do too. See what they see.
You cannot just decide to post on a site because you like it or another provider has said it’s good. A site is only worthwhile if you can get clients from it. One free and easy way to find out if clients can find it is Google. Because if it’s not coming up quickly on Google, clients aren’t going there. That’s the first step.
The second step is posting and seeing if you get responses. Having a website with tracking on it will allow you to see what sites bring the hits to you. If a site doesn’t bring you hits, find another that does. If a site brings you hits but you’re not closing the deal, the problem may not be with the advertising site (or it could be: the site could attract men outside of your ideal market).
Other classified sites, like Eeow and Cityvibe might be answer for some. But both of these sites have been around for a while and I’m not sure that the clients are there. Maybe they will be after the BP closure.
There are other sites like Eros, but in my opinion, if you’re going to pay for an advertising mall for the first time, stick with Eros. It’s established and good clients definitely go there.
Yes, the legal brothels in Nevada are an option. For those who are concerned about handing over your ID, this probably isn’t going to work. Registering for a brothel is a serious invasion of privacy. For those who can’t take off a couple weeks to go hang out in the desert, this is not an option. For those who don’t like giving someone else 50% off the top, nope, won’t work for you.
But this is a 100% legal option, and the only legal prostitution option in the US.
Do your research and get into a decent brothel. If you get into a cheap brothel, you’ll be working harder, for less pay, than you ever did on BP. Trust me, this is a nope.
Melissa Mariposa recently made the transition from indie to brothel worker. It can be done.
Can you strip? Do you want to work in a club? Can you get employed without having to get registered? I think this will be an option for very few but…it’s there, at least until you get your online options sorted out.
Since you may very well have come to this blog post from Twitter, you’re already on there and know lots of sex workers and clients are on there. Utilize it better. Lots of sex workers find clients on Twitter.
Instagram. Not as popular as Twitter, but definitely there, especially if you’re a selfie-taker. Naturally, you can post on Twitter and Instagram at the same time using social media management tools.
If you’re not up to speed on either one, I recommend reading social media marketing guides first (I recommend Neil Patel, just Google his name and Twitter). What works for mainstream companies certainly works for us, especially since our audience is vastly smaller than the average company selling stuff to the public.
this is a business, treat it like one
This is not a hobby. If your livelihood depends on the success of your ad, if you’re scrambling in fear because of the BP closure, then this isn’t a hobby to you, is it? It’s a business.
I know there are survival sex workers who live day to day based on what they can make off BP. They can’t get ahead enough to branch out. I also know that there are actual victims on there, being pimped, who are going to end up in the streets today until their stupid pimps figure out another way to advertise. These are the people most affected by the BP closure, just as they were affected by the CL closure (the street action in Singapore went up after CL closed down, as I’m sure it did in other cities). These are the people who were kept marginally safer by the existence of BP and since there is no ready alternative, they’re really screwed right now. (BP was the alternative to the closing of CL, at least in the US.)
But the rest, and this includes a fair amount of people, simply relied on BP because it was easy and didn’t bother to consider this is a business and an unstable one. One has to be constantly thinking ahead and not relying on any one thing to bring you business. It’s not a fun mindset to have, but necessary.
If you don’t already have your own website, on its own host (not a freebie site), then you need to get one yesterday. Have professional photos. I hear girls who say guys prefer selfies. If you want to use selfies, get a Twitter or IG account, and post them there. Decent clients still prefer professional photos. And they also enjoy the seemingly more personal interaction on social media. Utilize both.
After you get a website, SEO the crap out of it. Trade banner links with other ladies. Raise your game. Just like any other business, you’ll be able to charge more and attract better clients the more effort you put into your business. This also helps insulate you from website shutdowns. They’ve happened before and they’ll happen again; at least until the laws change in the US. Until then, you should always assume that all sites, except your own, could go down at any minute. Diversify your advertising, keep your site up to Google SEO standards, have it optimized for mobile. (Consider hosting your site offshore. It’s not super cheap but if you’re truly worried about your online presence, it’s certainly peace of mind for you.)
While it’s unlikely that sites like Twitter or Instagram will get shut down, it is possible they could start closing the accounts of sex workers. Please keep that in mind when building your social media business. It sucks to have to think this way, I know.
Does this sound like a huge investment of time? Yes, it is. It’s a business. The reward is knowing that when one advertising site is shut down, you have other options already in play. You’re not severely affected. You are insulated enough that you can wait to see what happens next without scrambling to make a living. You’re running a business. Not only must you deal with economic fluctuations, you have to deal those who would like to stomp out your work, your very existence.
The market is going to be there today, just like it was yesterday. All you have to do is find it. Even better if you can bring the market to you. Got a milkshake? Create your own yard, instead of depending on someone else’s yard. (I couldn’t resist, sorry.)
While I can predict that there will be an influx on Eros, the ID requirement will stop a lot of that. The monthly cost of advertising will stop a lot from renewing their ads (I’ve seen this before). Certain discussion boards will be discovered and ads will flood in. That could change the nature of the board. My guess is that an already existing classifieds site will suddenly become the “it” site, though any site will have difficulty topping BP’s Google rankings for quite a while.
I also think that BP shut down their ads preemptively. I notice they had some powerful support for not shutting it down, and there was no actual governmental order to do so. I think this was actually a savvy legal move, basically saying “How do you like trying to find traffickers now?” They have a point.
I don’t think BP will come back for US advertisers. Will they try to create another advertising site to continue to fund their legal battles? I doubt it. Playing a shell game isn’t in their best interests. They’ve been fighting for their right to free speech since 2010.
One of the best ways to advertise is still really under-utilized. Link-trading with escorts you know and like is a great way to share clients: they get variety, you get safe clients and everything stays in the family. The government can’t come in and shut down each and every single indie escort site just because they’ve traded banners with each other. (Well, I guess they can, but it would be a difficult thing to do.) If all of you host off-shore, good luck in trying to get your sites taken down.
This is also me being an optimist: that things like BP getting shut down will make more providers wake up and take charge of their business, and promote solidarity with other providers.
Instead, the panic and feeling of financial insecurity leads to less solidarity in the practical sense. Sex workers fractured and competing with each other play well into the hands of those who want us to go away. Guerilla advertising and marketing undermines the message of the antis, a successful business is an even bigger slap in their faces.