One evening several years ago I went to a panel discussion by sex worker activists. One of the speakers shared a personal story about being too disabled for a full-time job, and yet apparently not eligible to receive state disability support. In order to pay her bills, she was working as a dominatrix, and doing pretty well. To tell you the truth, I felt very envious of this woman. Throughout that year, and the year before, my own health was declining for an unknown reason. I would haul myself to my mainstream office job in the morning, sitting in front of my computer for hours, mostly stupefied with muscle aches and brain fog. Most days I’d only accomplish half my task and then crawl home in exhaustion just to be in bed by 7pm. Some days or weeks were better than others, but I suspected that sooner or later I would have to quit. Without a formal diagnosis, there wasn’t a way to receive disability benefits in the UK, not with this current climate. In order to receive benefits I would have to make it a full time job and fight for them. What could I do instead?
This is not a story where a choir of unicorns gallops onto the scene encouraging me to try webcamming and changes my life in an instant. Let’s skip the months of dithering, wondering, researching, talking to friends and changing my mind over and over. I did eventually try webcamming, and here I am two and a half years later just as disabled. However now I’m much less exhausted, and have a more hopeful outlook. From talking to other cammodels I know that my story is far from unusual. Lots of other people with a variety of unpleasant health conditions find that camming offers them a financial incentive where the welfare state has failed.
That said, being a cammodel isn’t a fountain of free money. Sure, the monetary rewards can be amazing and as you get more experienced, your daily pay can be up there with freelancers in the tech industry. Even so, we all face unique challenges in trying to pay our bills. I can’t speak for other disabled performers, but personally I find that my health issues present me with an interesting puzzle: some of the conventional wisdoms of the webcam trade are impossible or even downright damaging for me to follow. I simply have to make adjustments, otherwise I won’t be able to work at all.
Idealistic Advice For Cammodels And My Personal Adjustments
1. Work a set schedule.
This is great advice, and I’d love to be able to do that. But if I could guarantee to be on top form at a pre-defined hour, I’d actually prefer to be a dominatrix in the physical world. As it is, I have a “best case” schedule that I follow as much as I can, but I don’t advertise set hours, and log on when I can. My regulars now know to follow announcements and grab me when I’m available.
2. If you make your daily goal quickly, don’t log off straight away.
This is also very sensible: if money is flowing quicker than usual, maybe it’s a particularly good day, and all the guys are feeling flush. It makes sense to seize the day. Unfortunately, I have a limit on how long I can perform for: about 1 – 1.5 hrs of paid shows per day. Much more than that, and I might not be able to log on at all for days afterwards. I have set my rates high: 40 minutes in paid chat brings me all the money I need, and 1.5 hrs means a great day. Trying to do more is fool’s game.
3. Cammodels should advertise and promote themselves as much as possible
Absolutely, this is very wise. But, in connection with the previous points, more often than not I’m not physically able to talk to any more people than already arrive in my cam room. Any additional promotional efforts (also quite taxing) are wasted if I’m not there to do the shows. The remedy for this is to embrace affiliate work: instead of advertising my own room, I promote other models much more than I do myself.
4. Have Multiple Streams Of Income And Diversify
I do work on a bunch of different sites, but again, moderation has proved time and again to be the safest, most sustainable option. It has felt sometimes like I’m leaving money on the table by not being signed up for every kind of site, uploading clips everywhere, and having my phone constantly on for calls and sexting. But whenever I’ve tried to spin up my activities to that level, I’ve found myself flat on my face, in bed for weeks, watching my savings melt away. Now I have a core of sites I work, and I’m adding bits and pieces whenever I feel up to it.
Not going to lie: I often feel petulant and resentful about the lot I’ve been dealt. The more experience I get under my belt, the better I get at my craft and the more I marvel at the potential of camming as a career. Refusing lucrative shows because I feel like death that day is annoying. Logging off even though business is clearly booming can make me wonder if I’m fooling myself or if I’m actually lazy instead of just being kind to myself. And you know what? I’m not an advocate of wall-to-wall positivity. Sometimes it helps to have a good old fashion vent. Usually after the venting, the thinking cap comes back on and I try to come up with work-arounds. Measures that will help me grow my internet vixen empire, given the reality of my physical constraints.
If there’s a general conclusion I could draw from a story that is so specific to my personal circumstances, it’s this: All cammodels face difficulties and limitations. Maybe it’s childcare issues or perhaps a location deficit. And just maybe it’s a physical or mental health disorder. By all means try to follow the basic advice on the best ways to enhance your cammodel career, but if it doesn’t work out accept it and discover your own path. There’s no virtue in throwing yourself against a glass pane like a fly trying to get outside: maybe look for an open window instead.