A reader asked me a very good question, one that I’ve confronted more than once in my own life: What if one is ready to get started as an Internet escort now and is on a budget that’s not getting any larger as the days go by? What can one do to safely and successfully launch a positive debut?
I know everyone thinks the answer is to simply put an ad on CraigsList or BackPage. That might work for some, but others want to get started with a better, more-professional image, even if they can’t afford a custom-designed website right now. Fake it till you make it — yes, it can be done.
Please understand, I’m not giving you advice as I am not living your life with your concerns. But I am sharing cost-effective methods I’ve used with success. As you can imagine, one or two successful appointments can feed your new business needs, pay the rent and relieve financial anxiety.
Things You Need
- anywhere from $20-$500 for a budget
- a quality digital camera (ideally with a self-timer), a “bendy” tripod ($15) and/or a trusted friend
- a good mirror
- locations, props, clothes for doing your photos
- Internet access and time to do research
- a TracFone
- both of my books: 1 and 2
One of the big concerns is getting a website. This helps you present a professional appearance and gives you more room to express yourself than an online ad. Websites can be done extremely cheaply, you don’t even have to buy a domain name. WordPress is sex worker-friendly and a well-regarded free blogging site. It’s easy to use and you get your own domain (yourname.wordpress.com). If you want to spend $10 to register your own domain, you can then point it to your WP site (an extra $10 will get you domain “privacy”) and it will look like: YourName.com even though it points to your free blog.
I personally find WP sites much more attractive than those free Rare-Escort-type sites. But to each their own. The drawback of having a blog-site or a Rare-Escort-type site is that many advertisers and other escorts won’t trade links with such sites. Link-trading is mostly an issue that crops up later, though.
If you have a website design ready to go, you can buy cheap hosting for the year at GoDaddy (they offer some of the cheapest, most feature-rich hosting). We’re talking hosting with a blog, other goodies and plenty of email space for $60/year (or $15/3 months). I don’t think GoDaddy is the greatest host around, but it is cheap, quick, reliable and offers you plenty of options.
If you can, install Google Analytics to your site so you can start tracking the effect of your advertising efforts.
The best investment you can make is great photos but it also blows the budget I’m discussing. Professional photos aren’t cheap. Why should they be? The next two options are the DIY type. Just because it’s DIY doesn’t mean it’s effortless. It’s not impressive to have fuzzy, boring or ugly photos. Having good poses, good lighting and good locations on high-res photos takes planning and lots of bad shots (pros take lots of shots too — though unlike you they have lots of good shots and some superb shots, you’ll have lots of bad shots and a few good ones).
I would get a trusted friend to take photos — after I spent some time scouting some locations, judging lighting and picking out my outfits/poses with the help of a good mirror. Or…I would buy that cheap bendy-tripod at Wal-Mart and take my own photos (if my digital camera had a self-timer). I would try not to do anything that would require retouching. There is a free program called Photoscape available online that is easy to download and use to crop/resize photos for advertising. It’s fairly simple to use once you learn its commands. It’s not much of a retouching program though.
If you aren’t opposed to showing your face online and having it appear in a photographer’s portfolio, consider trading Time for Prints (TFP) with a professional photographer. This is a great way of getting good shots with little effort or worry on your part. He may even offer free minor retouches or cropping/resizing for you.
Or consider if you know a skilled photographer who is willing to trade services with you. I never advocate trading sex for anything because it very often leads to personal conflict and serious misunderstandings. That’s not what I mean by “services.”
If you’ve been downsized due to the economy, maybe you have a skill or contacts your photographer might want? Or even something as stupidly simply as housecleaning, babysitting or errand-running might work. These trades will probably work best if you know the photographer as a friend and work out an informal arrangement. They may not wish to spend all day in the studio with you, but will give you an hour of their time for some professional headshots and some nice lingerie shots. That’s all you need for a debut if they’re truly professional-quality photos. (Of course, later when you have some money in your pocket, book a full paid session with them and make sure to refer them to your friends.)
Most US escorts want to immediately buy an ad on Eros. Nothing wrong with this, but it’s an expensive investment that may not yield the best results.
Eros is not always the best advertising in every city. Do a lot of girls advertise on discussion boards? Some are good and they’re always free. Do some smaller ad-sites exist that are very nice and cheap or free? Larger cities often have a couple of local sites that very good for local girls. CityVibe has a free classified section and I’ve gotten good clients off there (under another name). [Cityvibe is now charging $3/posting as of 1/27/10.] BackPage, oddly enough, has sometimes worked but it seems to depend on the city (law enforcement most certainly trolls BackPage). Girl-Directory is another site I like to be on. I’d research all my options via lots of Googling for search terms and using the Links pages of the girls in my city who seem to be successful and at my market level.
I would pay for an Eros ad in my city after scouting the categories and trying to find one that has the least amount of girls yet still describes me (e.g., I’m old enough to advertise in the Mature category, but it’s probably a waste of money for someone in their early 20s). I’d study the writing/photos/thumbnails of the girls in my chosen category so that I could best compete against them in getting clients’ attention. I want to stand out, not follow the herd.
Of course, you also want to keep in mind how much personal information the advertising site requires of you, especially if you haven’t set up any business structure yet. By their own admission, CraigsList most definitely shares info with the authorities. If you’re starting off because you need to make money right now, you’re probably more worried about making rent than protecting your information but this decision could be detrimental to your future security. Make smart choices from the very beginning. Once you get funds coming in, it’s easy to use some of that money to invest in structuring your business in a way that protects you yet gives you the freedom to do more sophisticated advertising (like having an alternate business address and using prepaid cards that don’t have your personal info on them).
An Investment of Time
Be prepared to spend a lot of computer-time getting things ready for your debut as well as creating records (like where you’ve advertised). Once your ads go up, be ready to answer the phone and/or check your email at a moment’s notice. Being on top of your business is the best way to make money when you need the funds.
Few people can sustain this intense investment of time (because we all have lives). At the beginning of an emergency debut it’s an important part of the process to maximize any interest you get. Your schedule may be more packed than you initially like. Keep in mind that you may not get this opportunity again. My mentor told me to work at my maximum volume when I started (it didn’t take me long to figure out what that volume was) because that initial interest rarely lasts. She was right, so take advantage of now right now, especially if your finances are in trouble.
Of course you’ll want to screen as you have planned to. If you’re desperate for cash you’re likely to let things slide. Don’t. Stick to the safety standards you’ve already decided on. Safe is safe, no matter what your bank account look likes. I’ve never been burned when making decisions in my best interest but I make myself uneasy when I go against my better judgment. Follow your instincts and if your gut tells you no, listen to it.
On the other hand, you may have to be more flexible right now than you wish to be later. This is where the TracFone comes in handy. You might post that number online to maximize your potential attraction to clients, though later on you’ll ditch that phone and remove your number from the Internet. Or you may start with rates slightly lower than where you really want to be.
FYI, you’ll need a phone for confirmation/directions regardless of your decision to post the number online or not. TracFone lets you register the phone without revealing any personal info, but do check the area maps to make sure you have coverage before you buy.
You may have to be more flexible with an emergency debut than if you had no financial worries. Flexible means creating more options, not taking risks.
You may have to be flexible on your debut rates but going too low may not attract quality clients. E.g., if you’re a mid-range escort, set your rates in the mid-range for your city. If you’re mid-range in quality but set your rates really low out of desperation, you won’t get the good mid-range clients and may have some bad experiences.
There’s nothing wrong with being flexible in your debut, like taking earlier or later appointments than you ideally like because you need to make money. Still…good clients aren’t awake at 3am wanting to see an escort. Good clients don’t ask explicit questions over email or phone.
To cut overhead, you may want to offer outcall-only, but not if it makes you uncomfortable because you know police in your city often do outcall stings. Likewise, you may not like the expense of renting a hotel room for incall, but it could allow you to have several appointments with good local clients. Researching your local scene allows you to make the best decisions for you and shows you where you can be flexible to maximize your debut income.
Flexible is good; throwing common sense out the window is not part of being “flexible.”
The reason I recommend buying my books is because they explain all the gaps in here (except the screening part, there’s a post coming on that). If you have questions about what it’s like to work as an escort or choosing a stage name or details on building a site…that’s what the books are for. This post is what it is: a quick start-up based on things that I’ve done for myself, but only after putting in place all the other issues I discuss in the first two books.
And if you’re really on a tight budget and have to borrow them from a friend to read – that’s fine too. Maybe a client will buy them for you later on if you drop a hint
It never hurts to start reaching out to your local community. Girls are understandably wary of newbies who might be undercover cops. However, networking as soon as you can helps you get established, starts word-of-mouth, and helps with safety/screening. You might have to wait to get a couple of reviews before you start getting trusted. If you decide not to allow reviews, expect a slightly more difficult time in establishing your identity. It is important to reach out. It doesn’t cost you anything and the benefits of making new escort friends are enormous.
Let’s see, I’ve spent $20-250 so far on getting myself up and running, depending on how I approach a few different options. I’ll probably spend another $50-100 on a hotel room (for incall), or if outcall-only, then only a little extra for personal necessities and/or transportation. I’ll probably recoup my initial investment with the first mid-range appointment I have (mid-range rates in major US cities are still $250-500/hr). Any appointments beyond that is the beginning of my financial cushion and funding for further business investments.
The other two things I need are patience — since it can take up to a week (or longer) to really get things rolling for an emergency online debut. And positive thinking helps. Concentrate on attracting good clients, having good experiences and relieving your financial stress.