It’s become very apparent since my publishing of the most recent chapter that like all forms of internet entertainment, online erotica has kind of ‘settled.’ I remember being a kid when YouTube was just sort of ‘that one website where you could see videos of some things.’ I remember that Google Video was a big competitor and some outlets had videos that the other didn’t. Then YouTube became more important and the 100 or so most successful video makers got to make money from their stuff. Then anyone who had been on the website over two years got to, then eventually anyone who could verify their account fully.
Online videos went through this weird ‘wild west’ period when no one really knew the rules (probably because there really weren’t too many rules) and you really couldn’t explain how anyone got to the top, nor could you consciously replicate it. Nowadays, it’s like night and day. The method to get to the top is so formulaic that people make money selling classes on how to get youtube famous. Everyone is a little too aware of the rules. Like in most cases, with the internet it felt like online erotica websites were the last to see these regulations.
When I first started writing erotica it was decidedly a wild west-esque atmosphere. There were no moderators that looked over stories before submitting them, and there were no age or anti-harassment guidelines. There were stories that included people WAY too young, there were news posts that were basically cyberbullying other people, and even thoguh there were a lot of bad parts of this period, there were a few good parts as well. Even though I was arguably late to the game, starting in 2014, there were still no age restrictions yet on sexstories.com, where I started. Due to the free atmosphere this gave, the website was hugely popular. Being More Social rackedup six figures of views within days. No one knew what they were doing, there were very few examples of people who mass up/downvoted stories to get onto the top page, and very few people tried to game the system by editing their stories slightly so that it would appear again in the ‘top rated – last 30 days’ section.
The chapter that I most recently posted, when it comes to sexstories.com, reached the number one spot for a few days, but soon after was mass downvoted to 92.5% from 95~% so that it would remain off of the number one spot and indeed the whole list. Soon after, the next highest, which was now number one on the list, was also mass downvoted to >92%. The atmosphere has become very competitive, very capitalistic, carrhing both the good and bad undertones of such a thing. The confusing part of this capitalistic nature is, it didn’t allow anyone to capitalize on any temporary story fame in a tangible form – the moderators cut out my link to Patreon.
I can’t say this is a new phenomenon. When I uploaded Panopticon to Lushstories, the moderator cut out my link to Patreon. Adult Fan Fiction counts Patreon links as advertisement and removes them as per their terms and conditions. To my knowledge, the one website where this kind of thing is permitted is StoriesOnline, where my Patreon link was untouched, as are many others. Still, it’s a confusing, poorly implemented rule – these websites only set the standard a few years into their lives, meaning on Lushstories and Sexstories at least, there are a good few stories with Patreon links still in them. That’s a genuine problem. It allows those who tried to capitalize at a crucially early point an eternal reward and unfair advantage over those that want to make a living publishing free erotica online. From StoriesOnline and my ‘fuck the rules’ comment advertising my Patreon in the most roundabout way possible on SexStories, I got two wonderful patrons who will be able to help me write my erotica faster and with less financial worry. Imagine what would have happened if writers were able to publish the full URL. Imagine how many writers are like me but don’t have enough bitterness to write a full blog post about it. There are a good few erotica writers that no doubt get screwed over by this system.
It’s not the banishment of Patreon links that bothers me, per se. It’s the inconsistency and the fact that not only could people put a link to their Patreon in their stories once upon a time, but also the fact that their Patreon links are still there on the websites. It’s unfair treatment, plain and simple, based on a belief that creators shouldn’t advertise as of a single arbitrary date, without the need for site history revisionism.
I’m currently taking a night class on marketing alongside my job and trying to figure out if I can make my stories a sustainable, frequently updated, dependable way to live my life, while pursuing my other life goals when I’m not doing that. It’s very difficult to say what I’m trying to do at this point, whether I’m prioritizng erotica or not. All I can say at this point is that only time will tell. I’m still working on editing and polishing Being More Social and Panopticon for patrons, and then I’ll be returning to my erotica writing, hopefully to the extent where I’ll have something out for everyone while we’re still in April. I’ll talk to you all next week.