Recently Satisfyer sent out boxes full of sex toys (7 each) to sex toy reviewers. Twitter quickly divided itself into the group of sex toy reviewers who were annoyed they had been sent unsolicited sex toys and the group of (new) sex toy reviewers who would have loved to receive a box full of sex toys.
I used to be a baby sex toy reviewer – well, we all used to be – and when I started out I would have loved to receive a box of vibrators for free. So I understand the people upset that more seasoned sex toy reviewers are less than delighted with a load of extra work. Because, when all is said and done, sex toy reviewing is work. And free sex toys aren’t really payment for work, let’s get real. It may seem fun and exciting to receive sex toys to test, but after the umpteenth bad sex toy it can get tedious. And sex toy reviews are not even the focus of my blog! Check out Epiphora’s post on what it’s really like to be a sex blogger.
When I started out, I was thrilled to bits when I received my first sex toy to review. I had never really owned any sex toys and to be sent not one, but two, expensive toys for me to test was a dream come true. And as I had recently found my libido again, being “forced” to masturbate was not at all a hardship.
But a couple of years – and more than a few bad sex toys – later the shine has worn off a little. Because, as I said above, sex toy reviewing is work. And it’s even more work when a sex toy isn’t to your liking or doesn’t agree with you, because then you’re masturbating seemingly endlessly without getting any pleasure. And you do need to test it under different circumstances to give the toy the attention it deserves. Our bodies are great and will react to stimulation differently depending on a host of factors: how relaxed we are, how horny we are, the time of the month (if menstruation applies to you). You can’t just lie down on a particular evening, try out the toy and write your review.
Once you have tested the toy, and hopefully have achieved a few orgasms with it, your work is just beginning. Now you have to take pictures of the toy (or, actually, it’s best to take the pictures before you use the product). You have to write your review, which should be informative enough so that a person unfamiliar with the toy can determine whether or not they will like it enough to buy it. If you didn’t like the toy, you still have to write a review, and give reasons why you didn’t like it. You can’t just bash the toy, unless it’s actually dangerous. You may not have liked it, but others with different preferences and different bodies may love it, so your review has to be specific about what did not work for you. Which also means you have to be quite personal.
After a few sex toy reviews I started to realise that my body had a preference for particular sex toys. I don’t generally like insertables, although Tantus makes some gorgeous ones that I did like. I prefer very rumbly vibrations rather than buzzy and I’d rather have pinpoint stimulation on my clit than broad stimulation. I am lucky enough to have been able to test enough toys to find out my preference. And knowing this, when a company approaches me for reviews, I ask for ones I think I will enjoy.
Sex toy reviews can take me up to 5 hours to prepare. This includes testing time. So if I receive a box of 7 sex toys, none of which I have asked for and most of which I don’t think I will like, it will take me 35 hours to write reviews for all of them. I do not get paid for this work. And unlike some people on the internet, I don’t consider sex toys adequate payment for my work. I can’t go to my bank and pay my mortgage with sex toys. I can’t buy groceries with sex toys. I can’t sell the used sex toys to make money. And after two years of having reviewed sex toys, I have enough sex toys for myself without the need for more. Especially ones I will never use again because they failed to get me off.
So yes: sex toy reviewing can be fun. I enjoyed it in the beginning of my sex blogging career and I enjoy it when it’s a toy I asked for which I think I will enjoy. But in the end, sex toy reviewing is work. And if you want me to perform labour for you, you better get my agreement before you send me toys to review. If the toys came with a paycheck I wouldn’t be so annoyed. But they don’t. And in the two and a half years that my blog has been active I have made a whopping $10 in affiliate sales. So no: I am not going to be happy when a company expects me to put in 35 hours of unpaid labour that I didn’t agree to undertake. As I said on Twitter, I can use those 35 hours and write a number of erotic stories for which I do get paid.