It’s often said that being a parent is the toughest job you’ll ever do. I offer the following challenge to anyone who believes that: try working a webcam site for one week. Just one week. Then see if you still feel the same way. Webcamming can be a brilliant job. There’s a lot that’s good about it. It offers the opportunity to pick your own hours, be your own boss, and work from home. For someone like me, who doesn’t have the mindset of an employee and lives in a country where English is not widely spoken, discovering that you can be an online domme was a godsend. There are no language issues. I can work from home, and all I need is a computer, webcam and internet connection. I can write when cams are quiet, and take a day off if I’m feeling out of sorts. Camming is often varied, endlessly creative, and can be enormous fun when you really click with a client. But I can tell you this from experience, and any cam girl will agree: it’s a tough job, and can take an emotional toll on you. As I said to my cam girl friend Caitlyn recently, there cannot be one of us unaffected in this way. She agreed. ‘It has extremes. When I do well I get really happy but when it sucks I get really down.’ But you have to quickly learn how to manage the emotional demands, or your career in camming will soon be over as you burn out.
Being involved in sex work carries stresses unique to the job. However comfortable you are with the idea of working in the adult industry, there are times when it’s a lonely job. You’re working at home, and if you don’t make an effort to do outside activities you won’t see anyone for days. People can be very judgmental when you work in the adult industry, so you may prefer to tell few people what you do for a living. Having to deal with expectations and presumptions can be irritating, and judgmental attitudes are common. People wonder why someone as smart as you is doing sex work, as if it’s only for the daft or desperate. Hence many cam girls keep their work private – which means that you can’t talk about it as you would with any other job.
What’s more, camming requires you to be constantly creative and welcoming. You have to provide a service that fulfils the customer’s requirements and come up with new ideas to attract interest. Every session is tailored for the client, and you’re constantly promoting yourself. Camming also attracts a good deal of rudeness, something that is common enough anywhere online. Even though they are seeking your services, some guys are strangely critical of you for offering those services. Indeed, some can be appallingly rude and even reduce girls to tears. Then there are the guys who aren’t thinking with the big head, or have only looked at the pretty pictures. Dommes, for example, often have to deal with guys who haven’t read her profile, ask for services she explicitly states that she doesn’t provide, and turn hostile when their demands are refused.
Camming can often be a delicate balance between encouraging clients into paid shows without seeming too pushy, and avoiding those timewasters (known in my circle as freebie-hunting wankers) who clearly have no intention of paying for so much as a moment of your time. There are few other jobs where you are expected by so many people to offer your time for free, yet cam girls and online dommes are criticised for wanting to be paid. They should just cam for the fun of it! Although it’s understandable that paying isn’t a turn-on for most guys (unless they’re into financial domination), it’s also profoundly irritating for the girls that their time isn’t respected and valued as worthy of payment in exchange.
Another major issue with camming is that, like any form of self-employment, there are no guarantees of work and earnings. That on its own is stressful, without the special demands that come with freebie-hunting wankers and demanding clients. You’ve got to find new clients as well as persuading existing ones to keep coming back for a show. It’s also an extremely competitive environment, with thousands of other girls on the same site, meaning that you have to stand out to get people into your room (and then persuade them to spend money on you). All this while knowing that the pressure is on and you must make money, or you won’t have the cash to pay your bills. And there’s much more to camming than the time a girl spends on cam. One thing that clients are unaware of is just how much time and money goes into promotion: Girls spend a lot of time taking photos, updating their cam profiles, and working on social media. None of this shows an immediate reward, yet it’s an essential part of the job.
One of the downsides of camming that can affect you the most is that there are times when business is slow, or even dead. Days when you’re in your room for hours and no-one wants to pay for a show are demoralising. This is a job, and if you’re not earning you’re then worrying about how you’re going to pay your bills. I see many cam girls on Twitter complaining that they’ve had a session where they’ve hardly earned anything. And who enjoys working long hours for little reward? This then has a cumulative effect, and leaves you less motivated for your next session – which means that clients are less attracted by you. And it’s not just finances that can affect your ability to perform. Caitlyn commented that it can affect her next session if she’s not feeling confident.
So how do you deal with the pressures of cam work? Like any cam girl, I sometimes get very stressed. Time management and learning when to switch off is very important. The problem with being self-employed is that you don’t have set work hours. So schedule your cam sessions, and make yourself take breaks, however worried you are about needing to earn money. Take a day or two off every week, and give yourself a few days off every now and then when you need to recharge, so that you can return to camming refreshed and enthusiastic. This will make it easier to give your show your full commitment and enthusiasm, and you’ll be more attractive to clients.
Another essential aspect of camming is to decide on your limits. Trying something new can be worthwhile. But what you shouldn’t do is allow yourself to be pushed into doing something you’re not happy with, just because you need the money. And I emphasise ‘allow yourself’ because you have control over what happens in your room and how you react. Take no notice of rudeness and attempts to rile you. Kick and ban persistent offenders. Never get into an argument with them; kicking and forgetting about them is far more productive. Assholes come with the territory, so don’t let them get to you. You can also try smiling and being polite to someone who’s being rude; they may then give up and leave when they see they’re not getting the desired reaction.
When you cam, you’re essentially the boss of your own business, and you need to act like a boss. So take control. The more you feel in charge of your work, the happier you’ll be. Make a conscious decision not to get upset by any offensive comments, and remember that just because you’re in the adult business doesn’t mean that anything goes. You run your cam room, and have the right to decide what goes on there. Set yourself reasonable goals, and don’t allow anyone to get you down. If something isn’t working, consider how you can make it work, or if you discard it and move on to something new.
Caitlyn made an important point when she commented that she sometimes sets her expectations too high and lets things get to her. We need a sense of perspective. If you’re having a slow day for earning, look at the bigger picture. It’s depressing when you have slow days, but the days when you make more compensate for that. What you earn over a week is more important. We also need to avoid taking everything to heart instead of taking things personally. If guys are rude to you (and some will be), the problem lies with them – when they call you ugly or a bitch, it’s because you’ve politely declined their demands or refused to put up with their rudeness. There really isn’t anything wrong with you; these guys would find fault with the most stunning of girls.
One of our best tools for handling the emotional demands of cam work is the support of other women doing the same job. There is a strong camaraderie among cam girls and dommes (the downside is that here can also be competitiveness and bitching). But you can find great support from other girls who know the demands this job places on you. Cultivate friends in the industry; many of you will be online at the same time, so you can find someone to talk to when you need a friendly ear. We all go through times when we lose confidence in ourselves or have had it up to here with the assholes and douchebags; fellow cam girls will understand exactly how you feel, and help you unwind. There’s always someone on Skype or Whatsapp for moral support or a simple chat, and that can really cheer you up. You’ll also pick up many useful tips that will help you improve your show and earn more money.
Another way to handle the emotional demands of camming is to remind yourself that it has its rewards. There’s a good degree of autonomy, it’s flexible work, and many girls enjoy being able to express their sexuality (and get paid for it). The rush you get when things are going well is like nothing else. It’s a degree of job satisfaction that’s hard to find in regular work. So when you do well, enjoy the moment and use that to compensate for the more challenging times. And remember that people are coming to you because they want to have a good time. It is business for us, but for them it’s pleasure, so don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s meant to be enjoyable (even subs looking for a painful experience are doing that because they like the pain. Do your best to provide a fun and enjoyable experience for your clients, and that should help to make it more fun for you as well.