Posts in this series:
- Setting everything up (here)
- Your first reviews
- Getting Products for Review
- Connecting with the Community
This sex toy review blog has been a recent but very large part of my life for the last year. I’ve met amazing people in the community, I’ve received thousands of dollars worth of toys I’d never be able to afford, and I’ve helped connect readers to bodysafe sex toys. It’s been just over year, but so far, my blog has been more successful than I thought it would be.
I’ve also helped a fair number of new blogs start up. I’ve answered a lot of questions and I’ve always been really happy to introduce new bloggers to a few newbie-friendly companies for review toys. I’ve thought about starting a guide like this for some time, and figured now is as good as time as any to do it.
That being said, there are great guides already out there. I suggest reading as much as possible from different sources to find ideas and methods that suit your style and abilities.
Part 1: Decide to do it
Okay, this sounds obvious. If you’re reading this, you’ve obviously decided to start a blog (or you’re at least thinking of it). By this, I just mean that you should ask yourself a couple of questions:
Do you have the time to do this?
Each sex toy review you’ve read on this blog took me hours to complete. And I’m a fast writer. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes — finding the company, asking for review toys, waiting for it to arrive, taking photos, editing photos, using the toy (3–5 times), taking notes, and then actually finding the time to write the review. Then edit the review. Then promote it and answer reader questions. Please don’t think you’ll be getting a “free” sex toy review. Your toy won’t ever be free for review. You won’t have to pay a cost upfront in dollars, but you’ll be spending a lot of time and effort into each review. I easily put around 15–20 hours every week into this blog (writing, testing, keeping up with emails and social media). After the 10th (or 50th or 100th) review, fatigue will start to seep in and I promise you it will feel like work.
When you agree to receive a toy for review, you’re committing to putting in all that time. One of the reasons newer reviewers have such a hard finding companies to send them review toys is because companies are used to new bloggers taking and leaving. That behaviour makes it less likely that any new toy reviewer will have any success. In my first 3 months, I was declined multiple times because companies had a bad experience with new bloggers not living up to their part of the deal. You need to commit.
Why do you want to do this?
Is it for money? If yes, run away. It took me almost the whole year to start accumulating a noticable amount of money from affiliate sales and advertising. Now it’s a tidy tiny supplement for my income, but it’s certainly no where near enough to actually pay for my existence. If you wrote a post that made your blog amazingly viral overnight, maybe you’d have it differently. For others though, you’d need to put in years worth of effort for any substantial income.
Is it for the sex toys? I just established above that sex toys aren’t exactly “free.” You’re going to put a lot of effort into them. Then again, I LOVE the effort I put into these toys. I enjoy it, so for me, it’s a fair payoff. And I (like many of you) would never be able to justify spending $5000 in sex toys in one year. It’d be absurd. I would even argue that wanting sex toys is a really good reason to start a toy review blog, simply because it might be a strong enough motivation to keep you going. You’ll likely face a lot of silence or rejection from companies when you’re starting up, and that can be demotivating. Wanting MOAR TOYS might be the push you need to keep plodding along.
Is to to meet people? The sex toy community is great. We all convalesce on Twitter. The vast majority are sex positive, body positive, feminists. The community is inclusive too. Many of us are queer, poly, or living with a disability. If you want to be misogynistic, you won’t find many friends here. If you want to be homophobic or oppressive, you won’t find many friends here. But if you want a place to share your experiences with sex and orgasms with friendly, like-minded people, this is an awesome place.
Is it to find a place in the industry? The sex toy industry is diverse. I see the industry as broken up into four parts:
Manufacturers can be broken up into Bad, Sometimes Bad, and Good. In my eyes, the bad ones only produce porous or otherwise highly offensive toys (ie, Pipedream), the Sometimes Bad throw in a nice line of silicone toys toys here and there in among porous toys, and the good ones are committed to bodysafe toys and inclusive marketing (i.e, Tantus). I view distributors (companies that sell not make toys) in much the same way. Then there’s the bloggers. In my totally biased opinion, this is the best place to be, but several sex toy bloggers also double as employees in the industry.
Bloggers aren’t totally powerless either: our social media reaches into the ears of employees managing which products to stock in their stores. After sex toy reviewers complained about Fifi’s horrendous marketing campaigns on twitter, several companies promised to not stock them. After I wrote angrily about the Silicone Stroker’s originally creepy advertising video, they changed their video. Blogging has real tangible effect on companies, and this in of itself might be a powerful draw to you. If you’re passionate about the sex toy industry and want to join the voices trying to change the industry for the better, this is a good place for you.
Do you know enough about sex toys? I didn’t know about phthalates when I started my review blog. I knew that there were such things as porous and non-porous toy materials, but I didn’t know about each of them. As I’d never owned an anal toy, I didn’t even know that anal toys must have a flared base. I learned pretty quick. If you pay attention and do some research, you’ll learn quickly. The important thing is to make sure you don’t start out blogging by making unsafe recommendations. So do some basic reading, but don’t fret if you aren’t totally down on the chemistry of every toy material.
Then set up your domain
Okay. So you’ve decided to start a blog. Yay!! Now what?
Step 1: Choose a name. I thought of “Miss Ruby Reviews” in a short time span. I was simply trying to find something that wasn’t already taken (though, as it turned out, there was already another Ruby in the community anyway). Once I decided on “Ruby,” I looked around for any variations of “Ruby” that had available domains. “Miss Ruby Reviews” just happened to be free. As you’re brainstorming names, see if it’s available by running it through NameCheap.
Do I wish I chose a different name? Yup. I don’t like mine anymore, but it’s part of my identity now and I’ve built up a little brand around it.
More importantly, it’s easy to remember and spell. What ever you choose, I recommend choosing something that’s easy to remember. And easy to spell. Don’t name your blog “Magnanimous Reviewer” because many people will find magnanimous difficult to spell and remember. This means that, if they read a good review and want to find it later on Google, they won’t be able to.
If you want to remain anonymous, don’t choose a handle that’s tied to all your other internet aliases. If you’re known in online gaming forums as PrincessPeachyFeet don’t go name your blog this.
Step 2: Buy a Domain and protect your privacy
I purchased MissRubyReviews.com on NameCheap. It was an easy enough process to navigate and I googled any questions I had (or asked my partner, who was helping me with the process).
After your domain is purchased, you need to purchase AND activate WhoIsGuard. You need to do this for your protection. By default, when your purchase a domain, all of your contact information is open to the public. Your real name, your home address, your phone number, your personal email…it’s all open to the public and easily accessible. It isn’t unheard of to receive stalker-like messages from readers (very rare, but it happens), so this is absolutely mandatory, whether your blog will be anonymous or not. You do not want your home address visible to anyone that reads your sex blog. Period.
If you go through NameCheap, WhoIsGuard is free for the first year. Remember to activate it.
You might be tempted to just make a wordpress account so that your website URL will read “PrincessPeachyFeet.wordpress.com.” I don’t recommend this. You’ll have a lot less control over your site and you’ll look like you’re just here for a temporary toy-grab-and-go. Spend the $20 or so.
So then you have a domain. This just means that you own the URL (ie, PrincessPeachyFeet.com).
More on keeping things Private: It’s not enough to have an anonymous domain. To keep things as simple as possible, start a new email account and new social media accounts. I personally use Google Chrome as my web browser, and Chrome lets me use entirely different “Users” — i.e, when I open up Chrome, I can have one window with all my personal bookmarks, tabs, information, and an entirely different (blog) window with blog tabs, passwords, cookies, etc. This way, I *never* have to worry about accidentally posting a blog-related tweet on my personal twitter account. Everything is kept perfectly separate, as if I were using two entirely different computers. I highly recommend you do the same.
For a great guide on privacy, check out Erika Lynae’s guide on Internet Safety for the Sex Blogger.
Step 3: Get a Web Host
So now you have a domain. But you still need a company to be your web host. Just to warn you, not all webhosting companies are okay with blogs with adult content, so not just any host will do. I recommend HostGator. This company doesn’t mind if you have adult content on your blog and you won’t find that your blog is randomly down from technical errors.
Designing your blog is fun. You get to choose the colors and your style and it’s an exciting process. A lot of your blog’s design will be shaped by which WordPress theme you purchase (there’s free ones out there though).
Be Readable. Avoid clutter. Avoid high-contrast (such as black background directly on white text). Try not to give people a headache, as many people are photosensitive to certain colors.
I also try, when I can, to avoid clutter. I keep my menus organized. I keep each of my posts organized with headings. I chose a sans-serif font for my main text so that it’s easier to read.
Be unique. If you can find a way to make your blog stand out from the crowd, that’s fantastic. I put a ton of work into my blog’s design for the first couple of months to make it different from others I saw. I used consistent standardized headings within each review. I used a review plugin to chart/score each toy. I photographed my toys on a fabric backdrop. The drawback of this is that people may start mimicking you. I don’t mind a single element here and there, when drawn from various sources,, but it’s disheartening when another blog has appropriated several of your key features. Do NOT do this. Do not plagiarize another blogger’s design/words/structure. Spend some time being creative and developing a unique style to your blog.
Also don’t be afraid of change. My first header was awful. Here’s my embarrassing history of my banner, which spanned a month or two. The first one up there actually never even made it onto my blog, but it was the first thing I saved in photoshop. It took a longer time for me to get rid of my red banner. Red is a tricky color – it’s simply too harsh and also reminds you of warning pages – but I wanted to have it in there somewhere. I eventually scrapped my original design altogether and settled on my current gem-themed banner, which I’m pretty thrilled with.
More Posts in this series:
- Setting everything up (here)
- Your first reviews
- Getting Products for Review
- Connecting with the Community