more on why this shit ain’t free

I’d like to clarify something about that last request for support: most of my income is not made in this freelance/fifty-dollars-an-hour variety. I think what I said was a bit misleading. (If I did make my money that way, I might call that my career and not keep up a part-time job that paid me nothing.)

What is going on is this: I have a 9-to-5 office job in midtown Manhattan (like thousands of others). I spend my days knee-deep in financial prospectuses, calculating portfolio performance data, creating pitchbooks – I’m a graphic and layout designer. (Actually, the only reason I’m qualified to do that is because I had websites and blogs online for the past twelve years, and I’ve taught myself everything I know.)

Lately, I’ve been becoming slowly aware, however, of my real talents and my real worth. Call it a quarterlife crisis, a Saturn Return by-product. It’s also self-awareness and self-knowledge, it’s asking for what I’m worth, and not accepting less-than. I’m lucky this way: I’ve had contacts, I’ve had support, I’ve had access to education (not that my degree in gender helped me get a job in finance, that was all purely computer/design skills, a hobby of mine through college).

Sugarbutch has done nothing but grow, and I have more ideas than I can keep track of. And while I made it sound like my hobbies – fucking girls, processing with my friends, watching porn – are what fuels this site, there’s a lot more to it than that. The July masthead I just posted took three hours and three dozen shots before I got one that was good enough. I research HTML and database coding issues, plugins for greater productivity, I network with other bloggers and sex bloggers, I strategize, I watch my statistics (but not overly-obsessively), I create advertisements, I write dozens of drafts, I write and rewrite and rewrite and edit and rewrite.

I’ve been keeping more track of just how much I put into Sugarbutch lately, as I’m attempting to get better control of my time. I really had no idea how much I was working on it. And as I’ve been realizing how much time I spend on it, and how I don’t get any monetary compensation from it, I find myself asking: what would I be doing with my time if I wasn’t writing Sugarbutch? I’m not saying that to freak you out, but honestly, I can’t afford to be spending all my free time writing this site. I’m stretched very thin, easily tipping over into too-stressed-to-function, and I need to find a balance.

I love this work. I do this work purely out of the love of it. I don’t do it because I expect to get paid or make a living this way, but people in my life lately have been encouraging me to see if it might be possible to do so. Maybe, if Sugarbutch starts actually paying me for the part-time schedule that I spend on it, I can downgrade my dayjob to being part-time. Maybe eventually I could work on Sugarbutch full-time! Maybe it would support me! That seems impossible – but hey, I am putting it out there to the universe.

Imagine how much more I could do here if I wasn’t spending eight hours a day on financial pie charts and stock holdings! I mean really, is that contributing to the world? Is that subversive and progressive and messing with compulsory heteronormative paradigms? (It is, insofar as that job allows me to work on my Real Work, which is this site. Maybe I should put an ad up for my company to say thanks, hah.)

It’s hard to ask for money. It’s hard to figure out what I’m worth. I may have made it sound like I make $50 an hour, but I don’t – what I’m saying is, the work I do on Sugarbutch, I give away, grateful that there is anyone there to receive it and add to the discussion at all. But I am beginning to sell this same work, writing articles, web and logo design, and blog setups and consultations, and I am beginning to understand what it’s worth, what people will pay for the expertise I bring here. I’m beginning to see the ways that I can make steps toward making this work – my Real Work, all along – my full-time job.

I know how blessed I am to be in this position, I really do. I’m so grateful for this site, this community, this audience, for everyone who visits and emails and comments and links to me and reads my ramblings, for everyone who’s told me that something I said connects with them. What more is there, really, than displaying my inner emotional, psychological, and sexual life, and to have someone say not only, wow, I get it, but wow, your understanding of that has altered my understanding, too.

So all this monetizing is an experiment – let’s see if I can actually make enough money to focus on this job, my Real Job, my real (dare I say it) purpose. It’s a custom-made dream job, just for me, after all.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

9 thoughts on “more on why this shit ain’t free”

  1. Hey, Sinclair? You got it.

    The work you do is important to me, and I am willing to pay you for it. Not just because it's important to me, but because it is important to me to help to create a norm where people get paid to do important, creative, fulfilling work.

    And also, because I just found out yesterday that Rush Limbaugh is getting $38 million per year for the next eight years to spread his message.

    Really, the only way for me to sleep at night is for me to give money, according to my ability, to people who are spreading messages of sanity.

    [Thank you, sincerely. It's a breath of relief to know that I'm being supported. And also, $38 MILLION?! What. The. Fuck. – ss]

  2. AveshaDee says:


    I can't quite tell if you are posting these because you feel we (your readers) are needing justification/qualification/clarification for your asking for support or if its simply your own process toward realizing your worth… maybe it's a bit of both?

    I may -or may not- speak for others when I say that your work, your talent, and your forum are incredibly important to the community and exude a shade of authenticity that is hard to find now-a-days. In this house, you are appreciated, valued, and not at all questioned for recognizing your worth and asking for support.

    Your writings are incredibly powerful and worth whatever you ask in return. We will do what we can, happily and without question.


    [Thanks so much. Yeah, I think it is a combination of being nervous that the readers may need further justification/qualification/clarification, and it's my own process, too. Mostly it's just a clarification because I felt like I said, in that last post, "I make $50 an hour! I'm fancy! You guys should pay me that much here too!" which is not how I meant it to come across AT ALL. Thank you, sincerely, for what you just said, that's really sweet and made me tear up a bit. :) This stuff is hard, and I'm feeling so, so blessed that folks like you here are so understanding. – ss]

  3. linaria says:

    There's a long list of people out there…if Heather at dooce.com can make a living writing about her kid, and if Randall at xkcd.com can write bizarre comics about math and love full-time, I am sure Sugarbutch can support you (as you support it, and us).

  4. I have said this before, but it matters so I'll say it again: Having your hand to hold through this learning process has meant so much to me. I need for you to keep writing for selfish reasons and supporting you makes me feel better about how much I have taken. You have made me feel less afraid and I can't thank you enough for that. You are so very much adored.

    ps- paypal did end up working from my home computer. :)

  5. the femme top says:

    A friend of mine was approached by a premium cable station that was interested in developing her blog (and her book based on her blog) into a series.

    It could definitely happen for you.

  6. alisha says:

    fyi, the edenfantasys link on the last 'this shit ain't free' entry and the one on the sidebar don't have your referral code attached to them. :)

  7. d says:

    hey sin–

    i donated (i think) but i am not sure if you got it; i also had problems with paypal. please let me know if you haven't received it.

  8. saintchick says:

    I have a question, as always.. what if we wanted to give a donation that was more in the line of the"tools of your trade". Is that possible ?

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