Over the 13 and a half years of blogging about sex (that’s right — since April 2006!), many folks ask me about the tools that I use. Here are some of my favorite tools, the ones I’m in almost every day, the ones that are now the core of the work I do here at Sugarbutch.
All of these include affiliate links! If you sign up through one of them — first of all, thank you! Second, if you want me to help you set it up or walk you through how I use it, I’m glad to share some of my best practices as appreciation for using my links.
1. You must have a mailing list. Try Convertkit
You have a mailing list, right? You gotta set up a mailing list. The free services are great — don’t pay for something until you use the free service and outgrow it.
When you start noticing you want more features — like segments, or drip campaigns, or tags, or landing pages — take a look at Convertkit. It starts at $29 a month, and it does all the fancy email tricks that you can imagine, plus it’s beautifully designed, intuitive, and plugs in to all the major web apps.
2. And you want to promote your blog posts on social media. So, Coschedule, obviously
In 2019, it’s not a blog if there isn’t all kinds of social media attached to it.
Coschedule is a social media manager — like Buffer or MeetEdgar — plus an editorial calendar. You can have multiple users all working on the same blog and create to-do lists and other assignments. I love their “Requeue” feature, which will automatically recycle certain content on social media based on criteria. For example, I have about 25 tweets in a Requeue folder called “holidays,” and set it to be active around Thanksgiving and let it run through the New Year. It automatically rotates through the tweets, publishing one a day at the “best time” (as determined by Coschedule — but I could set specific times, if I want).
I use it to push all my WordPress posts out to social media after one is made.
Starts at $40/month, but there is a referral and benefits program that cuts that in half if you write a blog post about it, and can get the price even less with more referrals.
3.Once you grow, you might want to offer webinars! Crowdcast is the best
There are many platforms for this. Zoom is a common one, which is great for discussions and meetings where you want to see everyone on the call. But if you want to do more of a lecture type webinar, look at Crowdcast. It includes a chat, a place to ask questions and then mark if you are currently answering that question, polls, and the ability to bring someone on screen with video or audio to talk to you. Plus, replays at the exact same link.
Starts at $49 a month. Worth it. Sign up here.
4. You gotta make everything pretty — Canva is better than Photoshop
Maybe don’t tell Photoshop I said that. I’ve been a photoshop user for e v e r and I love that program, but honestly? I have barely opened it up since I started using Canva. It’s so much simpler and all of it is right there.
It includes all sorts of design templates for just about any image you can imagine — book covers, instagram posts, facebook event covers, featured images, business cards, resumes, brochures, flyers. On and on. And they’re adding more all the time. Now there’s a Pexels integration, too (which is still one of my favorite photo stock sites).
5. Once you’re ready, launch a Patreon
The only one on the list that gives you money, rather than costing you money.
You know what this is by now — Patreon has been making a splash in the blog world for years, and it seems to only be growing. I really hope they will get themselves sustainable, the creator world needs this service so desperately! It has seriously changed what Sugarbutch is for me the past five years. I’ll ever be grateful for the structure it offered, and all the people who support me through it. (Here’s my own Patreon, if you’d like to become a patron. Like a patron of the arts! Thank you!)
5. Last, but not least: WordPress.org, not .com
First of all, watch out for the adult content rules on .com. Make sure you know what the guidelines are, whether or not you decide to adhere to them.
And while we’re talking about it …
It’s not a resource, but you gotta brush up on the kinds of content that are allowed on every platform. Guy New York has collected a round-up on the various content platforms and what is allowed and not allowed.
Those are the essentials, in my opinion!
Eight years ago, you offered me a blow job and I didn’t usually date boys but you were so fucking cute. We immediately had chemistry and I immediately wanted to make you wince and melt, and I can guess what you wanted, so we had a scene.
Seven years ago, we were still talking. Getting more serious. Navigating the other partners we both had, navigating my crippling grief, navigating long distance D/s turning into M/s and what does that even mean how could we ever use those words. You were about to leave California and spend the winter in Texas, a slower life, with your dog and your horse and your family ranch, chopping wood and sending me photos of you topless with leather gloves and an axe. I came to visit you four times that winter, for weeks. We finished writing and signed our first temporary contact.
Six years ago, we were settling in to our first apartment together. My cat your dog all our baggage together. My moods and unresolved grief, your deep desire to serve. We made caramel apples and went to a pumpkin patch and I found out you love dressing up for Halloween. You set up a peg board in our bedroom with hooks for all the toys, a hard point in the wall for me to chain you to, a hand-made sling. We had a beautiful collaring ceremony and I told all of my closest folks that I was your owner, and what that meant to me.
Four years ago, I was recovering from some major physical health challenges. A digestive issue had me on a medical diet for six months and was way harder than I expected. A breast reduction surgery was easier than I expected, but significantly changed what I could do – soon, for the better. These changes were helping, they changed things. But it wasn’t enough.
Three years ago, we were in the depth of it. Deep trauma demons clashing in ways that I was pretty sure would be the end of us. My terror up against yours. We still don’t agree on the story of what happened, but that’s how I see it. It would get worse before it got better. But first, I would formally propose.
Two years ago was the summer we got married. It was a leap of faith and my deepest heart’s desire. We can manifest together so well. We visioned, we created. It was so much more beautiful than I expected. We were still in the deep battles, but they were more often our own, and less often each other’s.
One year ago, I was starting to see the forest and not just the trees. I was back to myself. We were still repairing, are still repairing, but we were ourselves again, and better. We were already preparing to run for the leather title in spring 2019 and spending a lot of time talking about our dynamic, our foundation. I had to revisit everything. I had to relearn everything to apply to where we now were, what I now knew. About myself, and about you. In some ways, we were starting over. In some ways, we were stronger than ever.
This year, it has been eight years since our first date, seven since our first contract, six since you were collared, two and a half since we got married. You have stayed past the trauma monsters that have shown up in every other relationship – of course they have – and you have persisted. You have turned toward me again and again where others have turned away.
I have witnessed you change and grow and evolve and strengthen. You are pursuing just what you want: your work, your relationship with the wilderness, your storytelling, your friendships, your community. Your family has grown, your work has grown.
I’ve never passed this precipice before, so I don’t really understand what comes next. How we just keep going, keep asking ourselves what our needs are now, keep asking each other. But apparently that’s ther plan. And I plan to carry it out, until I can’t.
I’ve learned so much about me and us and you. You continue to excite, entice, and enliven me. You bring my life so much joy.
It’s a game: Try out one protocol a week for a year — keep ones you like, forget those you don’t. It’s pretty simple!
rife + I are doing a webinar at the end of April where we’ll walk you through how to actually come up with 52, making training categories, and some best practices for making protocol happen. The webinar is on April 27th for $5+ patrons — sign up here.
We’ll do most of the workbook right on the webinar, so you’ll walk away with the game set up — you won’t stick it in your desk drawer and discover it three months later thinking oh yeah, I was going to do that wasn’t I?
I highly recommend it for folks in and out of power dynamics or relationships, for dominants or subs or switches! It’s been very helpful & successful for un-owned subs in the past; it gives a sense of structure, things to practice, and ongoing reminders of D/s identity.
Some of our key learnings:
The first few times we set it up for ourselves, rife + I found that sometimes the protocol I set up for him were actually things I had to do — like: “receive a flogging every night” is actually kinda my protocol, something I had to make happen, not his. So the second year we did the game, we each had our own.
We also split the protocols into tasks vs protocols:
Protocols are “if this then that:” when you wake up, offer me sexual service. When you shower, shave your cunt. when you do the dishes, wear a butt plug.
Tasks are one time: clean the refrigerator. Get waxed. Buy new rope.
I’ve had (mostly) vanilla friends of mine use this for other things, too. Once I helped a friend set up 52 dating experiments, because she wanted to date more but was coming up against all kinds of blocks. It can work for all sorts of realms of exploration and growth and goals.
But how do you come up with 52?!
Coming up with the actual protocols can be the hardest. I asked so many dominants if they would mind sharing their list of the protocols with me
Breaking it into training categories, or, as we call it, making a training wheel, can help with that:
(PS, it’s really helpful to have a graphic designer / illustrator as my owned property, I gotta say. Reminds me of how all those singer/songwriters marry their sound techs. I get it.)
There are also more serious high-level overviews of life like this one, from the book How To Be, Do, or Have Anything (which is actually better than it sounds).
There are other life matrix-esque charts, but it’s often best to come up with the areas of your life specifically that you want to make the most progress in. They could be the ones that are holding you back, but don’t forget the ones that are sexy, fun, power-driven, exciting, juicy!
We break protocols into multiple categories:
- Sexy for sexy’s sake — just, because
- Making pragmatic things hot — dishes (but with a butt plug!), paperwork (but tied to a chair!)
(But go easy on the self-improvement one, okay? We can so easily get caught up in Making Ourselves Better, and it’s important to also be accepting of where we’re at and just stay still, too. Meaning: make sure you also have a lot of sexy ones that just feel good in your dynamic & identity! Plenty more of those than the self-improvement ones.)
In her book Discipline (now out of print), Lily Lloyd set up these Three Core Rules for protocol which I really like. If a protocol goes against any of these things, don’t do it! Or, reassess it!
If all of this sounds interesting, come join me + rife on April 27th for the Protocol Game workshop!
The $5 or up levels on Patreon include the monthly webinars —— which will include D/s PLAYGROUND this summer!
Getting these ebooks compiled, uploaded, and released into the world was a HUGE accomplishment of 2017. They weren’t actually written in 2017, but the publication is part of the writing process, so it definitely counts.
View From The Top on Autostraddle
- Topping While Butch: The reconciliation between being masculine and being a top, the questioning of the assumption of the power alignments and coming to my own conclusions.
- The Thing About Sadism: This one was quite controversial, and generated some of the more … colorful comments. I’m particularly proud of the writing on this.
- I’ll Take That Risk, And That Knife Play: The trust of dominance and submission, the believing that is necessary for the tension to take place.
- Where I’ve Been: The penultimate piece, a retrospective of the series but also of my topping journey.
- Where I’m Going: The finale of the series.
In addition to publishing half a dozen posts about strap-on technology & psychology, I updated the Cock Confidence page here on Sugarbutch to be a better list of ALL of the posts and reviews I’ve written in the past. It’s fun to see them all together!
- Review: Sam
- The Best Uncut Strap-ons
- The Best Double Dildos
- #SexEdPornReviews: Episode 235 of Crash Pad Series, Featuring Mr Pink and Unkle Daddy
Private journal entries
I started publishing private journal entries on Sugarbutch again in 2017. After writing private entries for almost two years for the folks on Patreon, I moved the private entries over to Sugarbutch (about 30 of them) and made them visible to the world. They’re still only readable by the folks who are part of Patreon. This has been a big focus and growing edge of my writing this year.
- The Personal Blog Is Not Dead
- “Even between the closest people infinite distances exist.” about getting married to rife this summer
- Sixteen, poem/list of all the things banging in my head
- For giving, about letting go and what forgiveness means
- Pansy, about resilience
- Morning, a dirty daddy/girl story (as opposed to a not-dirty daddy/girl story about … breaking curfews and borrowing the car?)
My Dog by Avery Cassell is the top guest post of the year. I’ve been publishing a few things by authors I admire here and there, which I’ve liked doing … there are so many good erotica authors out there. Thanks to Avery for sharing this one.
I write monthly over on the Body Trust blog on a theme connected to the wheel of the year and my personal journey with spirit and connection and resilience.
- Everything Must Change, musical anthems for times of dire destruction
- Seeking: Transformation in spring, the time when things can grow anew. This has the small list of things from my notebook to do when I’m in that frenzied state
- A Magical Day, morning meditation mantras and ways to make the day not suck
- Ice portal with birds, because it’s an amazing video of an iceberg with seagulls that I took in my hometown
- “Success is not a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” — Arnold H. Glasgow
One more thing: #2017bestnine
How I’ve been using Instagram and posting photos publicly has changed this year, and I mostly keep my Instagram account private, but I still really enjoy posting there. It’s kind of funny, I used to have such a huge photography habit and eye, and carry a complicated camera with me everywhere, but as smartphones have taken over my (and everyone else’s) life, I feel less inclined. I guess snapshot photography became more accessible, and I got a little less interested. But the self-portraiture used to be so valuable to me. Not sure why that’s changed exactly.
Here’s my top nine photos from 2017 over on Instagram. Come on over and follow me.
Two of the nine are (professional portrait) photos by Bill Wadman from November — I’m working on a sort of retrospective post with a lot of the photos he’s taken of me over the years. More of his work soon.
I’ve been writing personal journal entries online again. For a while, it was on a completely different WordPress subdomain, but recently I imported all those posts to Sugarbutch — about 30 of them from the last two years. Since I brought them in to Sugarbutch, I’ve had more supporters there, and sharing them again has been inspiring me to write even more of them.
The new password is available for people who are Patreon supporters. You can be a supporter at any amount. (There are other benefits, too! Like free ebooks and giveaways and following my work in all the places I’ve been writing and personal updates and musings.)
I understand the frustration of someone you follow putting their (arguable best) work behind a paywall … but at this point, 11 years into writing on Sugarbutch, and with the death of personal blogs, things have changed so much. I just can’t share like I used to. A big part of the challenge of publishing personal things is the vulnerability, and the overexposure. There are just too many people reading, and when things are very fresh, when the things I’m writing about are still happening, it can be crippling to have comments or even acknowledgment.
So I am narrowing my audience. I tried to narrow it before, offering the password to the mailing list. But the mailing list is over 10,000 email addresses now. So now, it goes to the Patreon folks. I know that they are invested in me, in my art and expression, in my journey, and that feels like buy-in in a different way than folks who consume my writing as more of a reality tv show. Sharing it with the Patreon folks is a new experiment, and I’m not even sure how long it’ll last.
When I met rife, and Kristen and I started breaking up and having deep challenges between us, I started writing less about what was happening for me personally. Kristen requested me not to — but also, I was shutting down, struggling. Maybe I’d call it a sort of writer’s block, but really it was because I didn’t want to read or admit what I was writing. As I started writing less personally, I also started building Sugarbutch as more of a ‘brand,’ studying entrepreneurship, and trying to turn my work into a more serious business. That too took my focus away from sharing the personal. And in lots of ways, it was good for me; I learned a lot and it moved me forward. And I kept struggling. Those years were a major depression for me, and it’s taken a lot to get out of it … but maybe I am out of it? It’s certainly different now.
Plus, I have a job again. My grip on survival and money is not quite so terrified. I’m not working on my brand, my work, my websites, my marketing for every spare minute of every day, and collapsing when not working on it. It’s taken about a year of this new job (and 18 months of therapy) to get back to myself in this way, but it’s been a relief now that I’m writing more.
And yet, it still incites panic in my stomach to think about publishing those very personal things. But the Patreon has been deeply supportive … I love that it gives me hope that my writing is actually a valuable addition to the world, and it gives me financial proof in exchange. I love getting to know folks more and recognizing their names and having deeper conversations — it feels like I’m building friendships, not ‘readers.’
Money isn’t the only kind of exchange for my work, though. I know sometimes money is just not an option at all — my finances have at times been that tight, where it’s just impossible to spend even a dollar. I get it. I’m open to other ideas. As many of my friends have said, “I can’t pay my rent in vegan cupcakes,” so there are plenty of things I don’t really need and that won’t help me to exchange, but I’m sure there are even more which are useful and lovely. I’m not sure what they are? Perhaps folks who are interested in trading for something other than money can let me know and we can talk about what we could do?
I often hate it when people put their (arguably best) work behind a paywall, and I have in the past refused to give them money on principle. Even through all of the work I’ve done in the entrepreneur world, and knowing how little artists and activists get paid, it still feels arrogant or self-righteous to me — though I know it shouldn’t. But now that Patreon has rolled around, it feels very easy to support artists in that way. At first, as research, I pledged $10 a month to be divided among different folks on Patreon, and I’ve kept with that for the past few years, moving around the money depending on whose work is speaking to me right then. I’ve loved seeing behind the scenes and getting to know the struggles behind the creations. It really is a wonderful platform for creators online.
There’s also news that Patreon has changed their terms of service to exclude certain kinds of adult content. Violet Blue has been following this and investigating very closely, and I’m sure there’s still many updates to come, but it has made me panic much more than I expected. Will this support that has become so important to my work suddenly be taken out from under me? Will my CONSENSUAL explorations of fantasy cause me this circle of friends and support that has become an essential piece of my work? They aren’t saying that all adult content is banned, but I know my content with consensual non-consent and age play sets off alarm bells. I don’t really want to remove all of that from my site, but what if they say I can stay if I do? Would I do it?
I don’t know what’ll happen next with that. But for now, please come join my inner circle, and tell me you support my writing not with your words, but with a little bit of energy. For the price of a cup of coffee once a month. For a dollar. For a hundred dollars. For whatever you can spare. It tells me you want me to keep going, that you get value from this. And I’ll be glad to bring you in and share some of the harder, deeper truths that I’m struggling with, and learning.
PS: The old password still works for the older journal entries. The new ones tagged with mentalkink have the new password, the older ones have the password you got via email on the mailing list. I probably would go back and change all the old ones if I could, but that will be a deep to-do item for the site, since it’s so time consuming.
A couple big news sex blog roundups came out today —
Cosmopolitan listed this site at #2 on their “7 Best Places To Read Literotica Online” article!
“Sugar Butch Chronicles features well-curated smut from Sinclair Sexsmith, a non-binary feminist. Like good visual queer feminist porn, Sugar Butch Chronicles makes sure to include notes on consent and erotica that features a variety of body types, gender, and orientation. Along with dirty stories, the site, visually designed with a classic mahogany template features informative essays on getting your period as a butch lesbian and explainers on what it means to be genderqueer. But back to the dirty stories. “Cruising in the Woods” introduces us to Kai and DJ, a queer couple with a knack for getting one another (and you) off with outdoor oral sex.”
I love that it mentions rife’s fantastic web design skills. (And just in case YOU need a website, go to Rowdy Ferret Design and check out his work and contact him.)
I’m also on Kinkly’s top erotica sex blog list at #4! thank you!
I’m also on the general top sex blog list at #46. The top blogs are majority white cis straight women (with some notable exceptions!) … but I suppose that is the general demographic of sex blogs.
Interesting that sex blogs have a ‘demographic’ now, when they were once so radical and bold and felt *important* … now they feel like an industry, a job that college students aspire to.
I’d love to see a little sub-list of the best queer sex blogs, though there really aren’t very many [that aren’t focused on sex toy reviews]. I built one a few years ago, but I’m sure there are more? There must be, right? Let me know if there are any more to add!
Speaking of queer sex blogs and promotion and getting our work out there:
There’s been some difficulty with Patreon lately — they adjusted their terms of service to exclude [risky] adult content. I’m pretty nervous that they’re going to shut down my account. Since launching mine in 2015, it’s been a HUGE piece of what’s kept me going and motivated and writing online — it’s so easy to feel unsupported and taken advantage of when giving away free writing online. It feels great to have a (small) audience again for personal current journal writing.
(And you can join the Patreon to get the password for the recent protected posts where I’m writing more journal entries again. It feels good, it’s starting to infuse my writing online more lately.)
Violet Blue is doing an amazing job of cataloguing and reporting about these Patreon changes. (Follow her on Twitter.) She notes that this is just one in a long line of online censorship, and says: “Since censorship of sexual expression is at an all-time high, I’m going old school: Here’s a sex blog roundup.”
I LOVE THIS! So old school. Remember when the round-ups were around? The search engines weren’t nearly as reliable and the way to find other good blogs was in bloggers’ sidebars, and in roundups, and carnivals, and things like e[lust].
I guess my point is … Thanks for following sex writing, dears. Thanks for following me all these years or just discovering my work now … thanks for reading.