A Porn 101 Video Every Freelancer Needs To Learn From

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I recently came across a video that the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee put out called Porn 101, which explains the basics of navigating the adult performance industry. It quickly gained traction, not only because of its comprehensive outline of sexual health information, but because it taught adult performers how to get paid, and advocate for themselves. Because members of the porn industry are independent contractors and content creators, it’s hard not to notice that so many of the lessons (specifically in the first four minutes of the video) directly relate to freelancers. Learning to advocate for yourself, determining fair compensation rates, and budgeting effectively are lessons that all professionals — especially those starting out or working for themselves — need to understand.

The video starts by addressing how much you’ll actually be working. As most freelancers know, work is not guaranteed, and while you can bring in a lot of money some months, in other months, you could make half as much. We’ve discussed how to deal with a fluctuating income before on TFD, and generally goal-setting and savings are two key components. As Mick Blue says in the video, “You need to set goals. Make a plan and keep your future in mind.”

They also outline how to break into the adult entertainment industry. While I certainly do not want to oversimplify, it reminded me a lot of the hours (okay, weeks) I’ve spent sorting through submission portals and figuring out how to pitch different magazines and websites. You need to be able to show your value when applying to each job, but you also need to know when to stop and realize if someone is trying to take advantage of your work. Beyond applying online, or using industry-specific agents, you can produce your own content. This is a worthwhile reminder for freelancers. You can start a blog, curate an online portfolio of your content, and take steps independently in order to have something to show for yourself.

The APAC video also discusses negotiating payment, basic contract information, and knowing your worth. You always have to be on top of your work; you need to know exactly what clients owe you because you won’t always be paid immediately. The longest I’ve ever waited for a check is about six weeks from the date that my work was published. (For some, it can be three months or more, and often you need to follow up with the clients more than once.)

Furthermore, you need to be diligent about taxes. While some jobs (depending on the nature of the contract) will take out taxes, you may need to take out taxes yourself. When I get paid the full amount with no taxes taken out, I generally put about 33% into my savings account so I’m able to pay quarterly taxes. Most independent contractors (myself included) need to talk to an accountant to make sure everything they make is reported to the IRS. Many adult performers (and similarly, about half the freelancers I know) get incorporated as a business, which can change the nature of your taxes. APAC recommends you have at least three months of living expenses put away in savings in case you need to fall back on it. For payment, rates in the porn industry vary and are often contingent on how much experience you have. And as James Deen says, “Make sure you are comfortable with the rate you’re getting paid. If you think it’s too low, it’s probably too low.”

Here’s Porn 101. While only the first four minutes apply directly to freelancers, the rest of the video is filled with important sexual health information that, frankly, every high schooler and college student should be watching — instead of whatever terrible sex ed they have right now.

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