Monday, May 28, 2012

PSO FAQ

I've been asked a lot of questions about being a Phone Sex Operator, so I thought I'd pull together a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Enjoy!

What does PSO stand for?

Phone Sex Operator, which I've been since July 2010.

Why did you become a Phone Sex Operator?

I was a theater major (1988-1992), who became a self-taught learn-on-the-job programmer/data analyst/tech consultant/business analyst/IT manager (1995-2009), then I came down with a mysterious neurological vertigo that makes me feel drunk all the time and prevents me from managing geeks (2009-present).

When I found a medicine that balanced my brain chemistry enough to allow me to talk on the phone, answer emails, and write blog entries now and then, I realized I had the skills to try being a phone whore, so I tried it, I love it SO MUCH I CAN'T STAND IT, and I'm still doing it!

Why did you choose NiteFlirt (and MyPhoneSite, which I started doing later)?

I researched phone sex companies by doing something brilliant like googling "phone sex jobs", and talked with my friend who had done NiteFlirt.com (which works the same way MyPhoneSite.com does in terms of starting up). Here's what I found:

- The Basics : NiteFlirt, MyPhoneSite, VIPWithMe, TalkSugar, and a few other similar sites are essentially platforms for independent PSOs (I'll lump them all together as "NiteFlirt" or "NF" for the rest of this post, but I probably mean all of them unless I specify otherwise), so you set up your own ads (listings), and you don't report to anybody. When you work with a phone sex company like LDW Group or one of the 800 numbers in the back of porn mags (which I'll call "a company" or "companies"), they set up your listing for you, and you report to someone.

- Schedule : Many companies require 40 hours a week, or for you to maintain a set schedule. I am incapable of committing to any type of regular schedule (see vertigo above), so that disqualified most of them for me. NiteFlirt lets you log in and out as you wish. Typically, the more time you're available, the better you do.

- Traffic : Companies drive their own traffic by putting out ads, etc, but some of them also require you to drive traffic by participating in chat rooms, blogging, or other activities. You should be able to quickly build a full shift of calls with a company. NiteFlirt specifically has tremendous traffic (in the top 100 adult sites on Alexa - by far the highest of any phone-sex-focused website), but also has thousands of active providers, so the competition is fierce. Many independent PSOs choose to help drive traffic by having blogs, twitter, taking out ads, etc, but you don't have to. I've heard anecdotally that many people take three to six months to build a full shift of calls, and even then, it's much less steady and much less of a sure thing than with companies.

- Time-to-income ratio : Many independents (NiteFlirt, etc) spend 2-4 hours being available for calls for every hour they spend actually on a phone call getting paid. From what I understand of companies (although I've never worked for one), it's more like 1 hour of available for each hour of talk, and that improves as you build regular favorites.

- Pay Rate : On NiteFlirt, you set your own rate and make 60-65% of the rate you set. Other independent sites go as high as 70%. The exact NF formula is: (YourRate - 0.20/min) * 70%. So if your rate is $0.99/min, you'll get $0.55/min and if your rate is $1.49/min, you'll get $0.90/min, and if your rate is $1.99/min, you'll get $1.25/min. Companies typically pay 30-70 cents per minute of talk time.

The most I made in a week was $1,700, and my rate was $0.99/min at the time - but I was available about 80 hours that week, and that included tributes (like tips, and you get to keep 70%) and Amazon gift cards (which I count as income). However, most weeks when I'm available at least 50 hours, I usually make between $600-$1000. The less I'm available, the less predictable my income. I know women who make more, and women who make less. Your mileage WILL CERTAINLY vary. For planning purposes, I guesstimate an average of $20/hour when I'm available.

- Taxes : Independent sites DO NOT take out taxes, so you have to send in self-employment taxes quarterly (if you're in the US). I don't know about companies.

- Pay Schedule : NiteFlirt wins this one hands down: if you set up direct deposit, they sweep your earnings out of your account EVERY DAY and send them to your bank, where they are usually directly deposited about a week later, depending on your bank and other logistics -- that rocks. Most independents and companies pay one or two times per month, although some more frequently.

- Getting Customers : The easiest way to build customers as an independent is to start cheap -- if you're $0.99/min you will get calls once your listing is started. The irrational thing about getting your listing started on NiteFlirt is that you don't show up in searches until you have at least 2 points (you get points by having a 15-minute call or from someone leaving you feedback). So, to get your listing started without breaking any rules (because you are NOT allowed to call yourself or leave your own feedback), your best bet is to have a friend or lover make an account and call you (spend at least $2 so s/he's allowed to leave feedback), and then leave feedback. If you have a couple of willing friends, then "seed" your account this way up to 10 or 20 points - after that, the calls will come in on their own. Yes, this is ethically questionable, but as long as there isn't a way to search for new listings, it's the best way to work around a broken system.

If you're above $0.99/min then you'll just have to wait - one of the top providers on NiteFlirt started a listing at $2.49/minute on a whim (she was unemployed, but a lifestyle Mistress in real life), and left herself logged in for three months, totally forgetting about it, but remembered when the first call came in, and she got lucky and that guy stayed on with her for two hours and sent her tributes and helped rocket her to the top of the listings, where it's easier for people to find you.

Twitter, blog, ads, chat, skype -- your mileage may vary on those. Some people swear by each of them, some people got nothing from each of them.

If you're with a company, they should be driving calls to you, or telling you what to do to drive calls.

Either way, as an independent or with a company, your best way to get customers is to make your existing callers happy so they return. Repeat customers are the easiest, by far far far far far. I can't stress that enough: the easiest way to get phone calls is to please the callers you get.

- Availability : If you're independent, the best way to drive more calls is to be available more often. If you're available at the same time most days, guys start building you into their habitual routines, which is how to make good money. You can't log in for a different 10 hours each week and expect to be busy. Consistency and availability are your friends.

- Multiple Characters : Some PSOs create multiple characters, where each character has a different look and feel. If you're using your own pictures, wigs and outfits and camera angles can do wonders, as can colors and fonts and word choices on your listings. If you're buying someone else's pictures (also called "content") then you can just buy a different set. Since I've never bought content, I'm no help there, but I understand most PSOs guard their content sources as if it were the arc of the covenant... It's very difficult to find models that nobody else is using.

I did, however, create another character using suggestive pictures of my eyes / lips / decolletage, and I had a different speech pattern and a fictional back story for her. Logistically, I found it dizzying (literally) to be logged into multiple characters at once, because you have about 20 seconds from the time you pick up the phone to when the phone call starts to log out of your other characters. But it is clearly true that creating more characters, and having your listings on multiple services, drives more traffic. In the end, I can't do it well - I feel guilty and awkward about keeping details straight on a fictional persona, and I find the logistics stressful when I'm logged into multiple services or multiple characters.

I know some industry people might be shocked or angry that I put this information on a public blog, because it reveals the "industry secret" that sometimes the pictures on a listing are not the actual pictures of the person you're talking with. However, I'm okay sharing it because (a) it's not a well-kept secret (b) not everyone uses content - I know lots of providers who use their own pictures (c) the PSOs who use content pictures often have good reasons to do so, like having school-aged children at home and a crazy ex-husband who would sue for custody if they were discovered, (d) it's clear that many providers using content pictures are amazing at their jobs as well as doing the right thing to protect their family, and finally (e) phone sex, to me, is best when two people are mutually experiencing the energy of a fantasy, and I think that is primarily about the connection - you can have amazing phone sex with someone while picturing their voice coming from someone else's body. So it doesn't matter to me, and I know it doesn't matter to a lot of phone sex callers.

Other Thoughts

- Creepers and Safety : Yes, you'll get creepy calls, but I've talked with over 1,000 men, and I've only blocked 5. Other PSOs have much higher ratios, but still, most callers are genuinely nice people. Your phone number and your identity is protected by the service, so they can only find you if you give them enough information to find you (from your blog, twitter, what you say). Your phone number is protected because they call the service and then the service calls you, but there is no way for either of you to see the other person's number.

- Video : The highest per-minute rates are usually for women who are willing to do videos or go on camera by the minute instead of just over the phone. But obviously, one of the appeals of being a PSO is that you can be anonymous, so if you need to be anonymous, you absolutely can make it to the front page of NiteFlirt by using someone else's pictures... in fact, on any given day, probably at least one person has.

- My Blog : I have blogged ridiculous amounts about being a PSO. If you look at the Categories and click PSO and its subcategories, you'll get more complicated thoughts, and be able to see how my ideas have evolved over time.

More Questions?

I actually kinda love talking about this, so feel free to comment if you have more questions, and I'll try to incorporate the more common ones I may have missed by editing this post.

The truth is, I love to help new PSOs, and help people who are considering becoming PSOs, when I can. Other people helped me when I first started. It's good karma!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fam Visit

I've recovered enough from my March back injury to un-tether myself from my awesome chiropractors and have a trip back to Houston to visit with the family, including the dubious privilege of attending a middle school graduation, an activity which I can only recommend to those determined to show support and love for one of the participants. I would have expected at least some lessening of the mind-numbing boredom of such ceremonies since mine in 28 years ago, but no. Noooooo such luck.

This upcoming week, I'll fly back home, then turn around and get on a train to Chicago to see a friend act in a show. Obviously, I love her too, because taking the train a day after taking a plane will be... ummm... not conducive to me making any sense at all that evening. I expect to be a confused zombie at the show itself, but hopefully my brain will untangle enough the following day to make sense of it so I can appreciate her good work.

So let's tentatively schedule the first full week of June for my triumphant return to communications, shall we? (fingers crossed, knocking wood, salt over shoulder, etc.) Try to keep yourselves safe til then, won't you?

In the meantime, I've gathered some questions about being a phone sex operator into a Q&A, so that'll be my next post, but I wanted to do a little update first. I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Retro Picture Sets

As I explained in this post from December, I had a photo shoot that went extremely well, and I'm finally posting the results for sale.

My local BDSM and kinkster communities have an amazing treasure in a gentleman named Sir Wallter. He's not only a devoted student and teacher of high-protocol domination and submission, and a master bondage rigger, but he's also one hell of a photographer.

Before we met him, I saw his photography and loved his eye, and I heard good things about him from both sides of the D/s gang: giggling blushing young women playfully competitively bragged about how much of his training they had been able to take, and other local dominant women and men had warm words for him as well.

So I reached out to him, he graciously reached back, and we loved meeting him, and I loved being shot by him. The photos are stunningly high quality. Not only does he have a great eye for composition, but he can draw out some very fun emotions as well. I was delighted with the outcome!

The evening split nicely into 4 photo sets, each with at least 15 pictures, and all pictures are at least 2000 pixels wide or tall.

I'm selling the sets for the ridiculously low price of $5 each, through NiteFlirt (secure and easy) because (a) it's in my best interest for you to have a lot of sexy images of me in your head, and (b) because I want to sell lots of sets so we can take Sir Wallter out for a really nice dinner -- he refused to take payment up front, but agreed I could spend the proceeds on a luxurious dinner out together if they sold well.

I have the best life sometimes, don't I?

The outfit most deserving of a high-quality photo shoot was my Secrets in Lace items: retro garter belt and bra and ostrich feather robe, matched with lacy black panties, pearl jewelry, true red nail polish and lipstick, black stockings, and sky-high black-and-cream Carlos heels. Whose long legs are those?!?

Retro Strap-On

We started the evening with me on top, wearing my 7.7 inch Vac-U-Lock strapon. We were in his dungeon, where he kindly let me pose in front of his St Andrew's cross, with his ropes in the background, holding his deliciously wicked paddle.

Mmmmm it feels warm
He got amazing close-ups of the shoes, the stockings, and oh yes, the strap-on. Now all I need is a volunteer to get smacked and pegged ...

To purchase the set, click this link: http://www.niteflirt.com/messages/click_payment_button?id=85983413

Retro Pinup: Hair Up

Then we moved to his vintage bedroom for some retro pinup poses, of which he is a huge fan and aficionado.
You want to feel your hands on me where?
He directed my positions like a champ, and got a good variety of me up and down, close-in and full-body. I felt flirty and fun and beautiful.

To purchase the set, click this link: http://www.niteflirt.com/messages/click_payment_button?id=75973093

Retro Hair Down

Then my hair caught on something and I shook it out, intending to put it back up again, and both my husband and Sir Wallter blinked strongly and protested, and the words "freshly fucked" were used appreciatively, which made me feel even more beautiful and flirty.
Crawling. and Wanting.
In addition to the come-hither crawling-across-the-bed sequence (which prompted a real-life kiss with Sir Wallter because the sexual tension was just so damn high), there is a fantastic picture of my back side in the lacy panties.

To purchase the set, click this link: http://www.niteflirt.com/messages/click_payment_button?id=75964693

Retro Topless

Then the bra needed to come off. It was practically falling off anyway, honestly. It was time.
a rare moment of demure
Although the preview picture has me covering with my hands, the other pictures in the set expose at least one entire breast each. These are the pictures that my breasts have long deserved, but which I had heretofore neglected to give them. They're happy to finally have their due.

To purchase the set, click this link: http://www.niteflirt.com/messages/click_payment_button?id=85969463

Then, sadly, I needed to call it a night before we got into bondage or full nudity or play time. Very upsetting for me, but apparently he doesn't hate me for it, because he has since been an honored guest in our home, and he has invited me back for another shoot.

I'll confess: I hope next time to let him tie me up and do naughty naughty things to me! Wow. I just got thumpy thinking of that. Maybe I need to schedule sooner rather than later...

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bunny Hop Recovery


I seriously injured my back about 2 months ago now, and my recovery has been a bunny hop: two hops forward, one hop back.

I knew I was ready to write a blog post again finally when the thought of putting on pink lipstick and my roommate's bunny ears for a picture didn't confuse or overwhelm me.

(For the record, my roomie is RIDICULOUSLY cute in the bunny ears with her matching pink hair.)

To make a long story as short as I'm capable of (not very), I've been having rolling compensation re-injuries climbing steadily up my back. The first injury was basically compression in my tailbone, so I compensated by shifting pressure up a few vertebrae, which then injured them, but not quite as seriously. So far, it's looked about like this, with the area injured:

* tailbone: 2 weeks out
* okay-ish: 2 days
* between the tops of my hipbones: 10 days out
* okay-ish: 3 days
* just above my hipbones: 7 days out

... and so on.

When I'm actively injured, I can do very little other than go to the chiropractor, do my stretching exercises, take walks, take muscle relaxers, and fall back into a very deep haze which my husband has forbidden me to call "coma-like" because it freaks him out, so I call it "grog-sleep". We tried other medicines, but either they didn't help me heal, or they made me just as groggy. The side effect of being deeply confused by everything more complex than getting dressed has been worth it for the pain relief and ability to knock myself out so I don't push myself too hard to fast (it would have been worse without the meds, I'm sure).

When I've been okay-ish, I've been tackling my personal to-do list, trying not to do too much too quickly, and being more grateful than I can express for the extraordinary generosity of my in-person lover with sugar daddy tendencies for making sure I could take this time off to recover without worrying about expenses.

I've accomplished a lot, actually, in my lucid hour or two at a time. The biggest emotional victory was: I have no more boxes marked "misc" from any of my five moves in the last ten years - not even "misc electronics" or "misc bathroom". The resulting trips to goodwill and the recycling center felt fantastically satisfying. I know what all my things are, and where they all belong! It's wonderful to feel a little less cluttered and a little more purposeful about my belongings.

And I have taken a few appointments here and there on days when I've been up for it. Slipping into someone else's fantasy has given me welcome respites from the navel-gazing.

What do I predict for the coming weeks? Not even gonna try. I'm officially crappy at predicting my abilities ahead of time. But if the best predictor of future performance is past performance, then this much I know: I will do as much as I can. I've been working hard at my recovery, and as soon I can come back to phone sex more regularly, I will.

The one funny solace I have about all this time off is that now I have proof when I say: I won't get on the phones unless I'm feeling sexy. I won't make an appointment or keep an appointment unless I'm feeling sexy. If I'm logged in, I'm feeling sexy, and I'm ready to play, you can count on it.

If you've sent me a check-in email or a note of encouragement and I haven't responded, thank you and I'm sorry. I will reply to them all some day when it doesn't overwhelm or confuse me - I will, I promise, and I'm deeply grateful.

In the mean time, it's a major fucking accomplishment to hit publish on this blog post, so I'm gonna pat myself on the back and treat myself to some peanut-butter-filled pretzels that I save for special occasions. It's not exactly a life of ease and luxury, but I'm grateful to the point of mushy sappy hyperbole to have the chance to live it.