moving past the backpage shutdown

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.

The biggest problems in your life that stem from being a sex worker invariably comes from people you know, not the feds.

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.

brothel work

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.

stripping

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.

social media

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.)

me, guessing

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.

32 thoughts on “moving past the backpage shutdown

  1. Kenneth

    Well arent you the enterprising angel!

    I was vey impressed with your post and thought I would just take a moment to relate that personally.

    Cheers!
    KW

    1. Vivian Morre

      Hi Kenneth, if you con not relate please save the sarcasm and fuck off!
      As someone in the industry I can tell you that Amanda knows her stuff. I have read her book and every post on her blog and her words have been very helpful both practically and emotionally. This being said dont judge what or who you clearly dont understand.

      Peace,

      Vivian

  2. Jill Brenneman

    Kenneth — Amanda is a highly successful escort/businesswoman. She got where she is through hard work, intelligence, years of experience and a very high standard of integrity. That she knew to and knew how to diversify her business and not be locked into one advertising venue is indicative of her business acumen. She conducts herself and her business as a professional completely avoiding amateurish practices like advertising solely in one place or stealing other girls text.

    While I’m guessing that you intended your response to be a compliment it doesn’t come off as one. Calling her an “enterprising angel” is mansplaining chauvinism from an obviously self absorbed oblivious arrogance. Do you seriously think that you anything about the industry by virtue of being male or of possibly being a client of escorts? Neither male nor client qualifies you to assess a female escort’s business practices. An “enterprising angel” would be a five year old who decided to offer a sugar free option at their lemonade stand. The context you use it only reveals you to be a chauvinistic jerk.

  3. Jill Brenneman

    the following sentence above is missing a word. It should read “Do you seriously think that you (know) anything about the industry by virtue of being male or of possibly being a client of escorts?”

  4. Justcallmebitch

    LOL. Jill every moron with a eccie whoreboard membership firmly believes himself to be an expert on the lives, thoughts, feelings and business practices of every whore who ever lived, EVER.
    Nothing is so endlessly entertaining as watching the blind leading the stupid…😉

  5. Former Escort

    Seems to me like a lot of the girls from Backpage have just gone to the men looking for women and women looking for men dating section of Backpage at this point. TBD, RS2K, TER,AVE-X,D-C, are all cliquish and I doubt that the BP girls will do very well there. Of course you will have your happiest it will see the lower not so professional girls but overall I think most girls will just migrate back to CL & The dating section of Backpage.

    1. Amanda Brooks Post author

      Former Escort — Posting in the W4M section is not a long-term viable solution. It will eventually get shut down (I’ve seen this happen before), and since it’s currently flooded, apparently it’s required to spend all your time at the computer reposting and answering emails. Much smarter is to treat this as a business and not put all your advertising eggs in one basket. Or even using only one advertising strategy.

      Forums may indeed be cliquish, advertising on discussion boards is not. I advertise on several boards and don’t participate in the forums. I get clients, I don’t have time to bother with board politics. Getting involved on a board generally isn’t a requirement for posting an ad.

      If this encourages those who can’t treat this like a business to find other employment, it’s probably for the best. If they can’t take this work seriously, they’re likely endangering themselves anyway. If this encourages providers to get involved in activism or to take charge of their business or come up with alternative solutions…so much the better.

        1. Amanda Brooks Post author

          Putadelujo — Expatriates.com, which is discussed in one of my posts that I linked to in here. It shut everything down at the same time as Craigslist.

          Given that prostitution arrests are already being made off the BP W4M section, my guess is it will be shut down.

          1. Putadelujo

            I doubt it. I think they will keep the dating section just like CL did. They aren’t a little known site like the one you mentioned. Then some other site will replace them.

            1. Amanda Brooks Post author

              Putadelujo — Expatriates wasn’t a little known site, not if you were working internationally. They had no reason to shut their sections, except that I heard they were affiliated with Craiglist.

              Other sites have never really replaced CL/BP/Expatriates. I wrote about that at length (linked in the post above). But if you think that posting on the dating section of BP is a great way to work as an escort, go right ahead. I don’t think it will last for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s been very well-publicized a huge number of BP escorts have moved to posting there. It’s certainly not a replacement for the BP Adult Section. I’ve been more right than wrong with my predictions in this business.

  6. Ra.

    Great piece of writing! I could not understand the context of a few points but that is just cultural.
    All the best for your future.
    Regards,
    Ra.

    1. Amanda Brooks Post author

      Ra — Thank you! If you’d care to tell me what you didn’t understand, perhaps I can make it clearer for you? I wouldn’t mind if it helps you to understand the piece more.

  7. Amanda Brooks Post author

    Someone posted some links on here to a website called “copsrcorrupt” (I think). I approved the comment but my spam filter ate it anyway. If you wish to post again, go ahead, but maybe limit the links in your post to one. My spam filter is fairly intolerant.

    1. Daphne Marx

      I’m so sick of client-focused sites and their rhetoric, like calling providers “girls,” that I’m doing research for a project to create more provider-managed sites and verification. Love your ideas from a previous post on verification, Amanda, thanks!

      1. Amanda Brooks Post author

        Daphne — Thank you! And very good wishes on your journey.

        Though I am very, very guilty of referring to other ladies as “girls” a lot. It’s how we referred to each other when I stripped, and it stuck.

        Though you have raised a question for me…did the terminology come from the male managers originally, then become part of strip club culture; or is it terminology used by the strippers (and other sex workers) out of their own volition? It has been pointed out before that the English language lacks a good, casual term to refer to women. (No one wants to refer to themselves as a “gal” or a “broad.”)

  8. Tina

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I’m fairly new to this (not even a year) and actually manage about 4 girls. We are from the Caribbean so our experiences differ. Here we don’t have many options for advertising so bp is our go to, a few use cl. Our aim is to eliminate the shame in the industry, it’s very taboo. Most of the girls live below the poverty line and are not flourishing. The ads and pictures used are below par and the rates reflect the shame the ladies live with.

    I’m pretty literate and since beginning I have seen slight, but gradual change in the way others are posting. Our industry is still male managed for the most part and they simply do not understand the plight of the ladies. I am trying to provide a network and template for the girls to abide by to become classy escorts. It’s disheartening but I have a great team. I have been researching options to BP for marketing our aim being to cater to foreigners instead of locals who can be very disrespectful.

    Also, I’m totally going to buy your book and subscribe to your blog. AND start a twitter (learned that from this article)

    1. Amanda Brooks Post author

      Tina — Thank you so much for sharing! I hope you enjoy my books.

      It is a shame that there aren’t more indies and that men manage most of the business. My feeling about managers in ANY business is if they haven’t done the job, then they have no idea of how to help the workers. Plus, men in this industry tend to be exploitive, as you probably have noticed.

      Eros Guide does offer ads for the Caribbean, however, I’m guessing the cost is out of reach for most sex workers there. As far as looking at BP in the US for tips, I would suggest looking at the Sponsored Ads first. Those cost more and the ladies who spend money on those ads usually have websites and a more professional approach to the business.

      As far as starting a network, I believe that there are sex work organizations in the Caribbean, I can’t think of which ones off the top of my head. They may not be able to answer the questions you have, but it can’t hurt to reach out to them.

      There’s so much more I want to say, but then this would turn into a book! I wish you and your ladies the very best. Feel free to keep us updated on what’s going on, and let me know your Twitter handle so I can follow you.

  9. Lori Christian

    I am so PROUD to see someone just BELIEVE in..” WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN!!”
    What breaks my heart is that if only 25% of the world STOOD up for their BELIEFS regardless of the topic maybe just maybe
    Suicide rates would lower and more DREAMS would be lived out.

    I may be rambling.. And perhaps could stand to do another English 101 lol.. However, at the end of the day I look at the passion you wrote with..moreover, the fact YOU STAND BEHIND YOUR GOAL to be the best at what it is your DOING!

    I have been in the business for 4 years.. entering at 42 now 46 “YOUNG” CAT no longer a Kitten 😂 (yes i used Emoji!) that has been very blessed to attract clients ranging from 21 all the way up.
    I have chosen to be a woman that seeks a particular client and have turned down more $$$ then I care to say SIMPLY due to MORALS, VALUES and the fact that NO one ultimately has a single clue of what this job brings to the table.
    I can say I have met some the GREATEST men in this industry and I think it needs to be SAID..” NOT ALL CLIENTS SEEK SEX.. they are LONELY and missing something in their life and “SOME” truly seek TRUE INTIMACY!”
    I have made more money by listening and HEARING their desires or passions. I have healed marriages that suffered infadelity simply because their partners in life were sick and at times even passed away. ; It’s called the ART of listening to the need and followed by as you put it ” closing the sale/deal!
    ​That said, I am very proud of YOU for this post. I will stand BEHIND ANYONE who just stands for SOMETHING!
    FORGIVE my typos I’m doing this on my cheap phone with AUTO CORRECT in parking lot.. Geez..I just felt compelled to say I dig your courage! Xo

    1. Amanda Brooks Post author

      Lori — Thank you for your kind words.

      I agree, most of this business is listening more than sex. It’s therapy with sex most of the time. Glad you’re doing well with it! Keep on doing what you’re doing as long as it works for you.

  10. Gianna

    This industry has been my sole line of work and income for over 13 years now.
    It is not a good business to be in anyway you slice it and unless one hits dire straits, I have no clue as to why anyone would ever venture into it.
    All forms of advertising are pure risk, a risk you have to hope has a reward aka money that outweighs it. You have absolutely no control of over who sees your ad, and you have no idea what other people you link up with are doing. Guilt by association is real in this business.
    I have been set up, stuck up, stood up and shook up. I have also learned a lot. But if I had never hit such a low point in life as I did 13 years ago, I would never be in this industry. It is seedy. Even high end folks as myself who are not ‘out there’ or really advertising all that much, still underlying seediness. No matter my price point or my privacy point, I still feel seedy.
    Sure I make lots of folks happy and live a comfortable life in return but the older I get, the more trapped I am by physical mental and emotional constraints due to this lifestyle.
    The ramifications of this lifestyle are real and I pray you all get out before you feel them.
    I wish all you ladies the best, be safe, be smart and always have each others back :)

    1. Amanda Brooks Post author

      Gianna — Sex work has funded my life since my early 20s. There are plenty of things I don’t like about the business, and clients, and I have serious burnout. But I haven’t found the business to be all that seedy, frankly. Stupid, aggravating, ridiculous, but not particularly seedy. I think this is how you feel about yourself and I wish you didn’t.

      You certainly feel the stigma of being a sex worker. I do too. I don’t equate those limitations with seediness though. However, I would make the same decision again to enter sex work, only I would do it much smarter the second time around. I don’t know that I would genuinely wish to do something else.

      You obviously feel very differently. There’s nothing wrong with that, as your feelings are based on your experiences. It seems like you’ve internalized stigma though, and that worries me. Stigma means a sex worker is a less worthy person than a non-sex worker and that’s not true.

      This is a real job, with real ramifications. Absolutely! Most of those come from other people’s issues about sex work, not the work itself (aka stigma). Though I agree it’s hard to disentangle what are problems with the work vs other people foisting their issues onto you.

      Some of us feel the ramifications of the work and stay in because it still offers us what we need. Others feel trapped. Other may never feel any serious problems from the work. The work will always be there, it’s not going away. It’s certainly up to each person to decide if the work is for them or not. A huge amount of people obviously answer “yes”.

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