fifteen rainbow glitter women photographed by Jill Kerswill

Fifteen years ago today, I posted the first post on ErosBlog. I am, frankly, amazed to still be at it. I hope you’ll forgive some of today’s wordy indulgences, as I complain about stuff that has gotten difficult and gush about the things I’ve grown passionate about that weren’t even on my radar fifteen years ago.

But first, it’s a birthday! There’s supposed to be cake. I ordered plenty for everybody by clicking on a social media recommended-for-me advertisement. Big Data knows exactly what we want and need these days, right? The cake should be awesome! But when the cake actually got here…

chocolate worm cake

On second thought, maybe we should move rapidly along from birthday cake. Let’s start with a look into my earlier predictions and expectations, shall we?

10 years ago, I was pretty damn upbeat about sex blogging:

I love doing this blog and I can’t imagine stopping voluntarily. Five years ago it was still possible to claim that blogs were a fad. Five years from now, it’s possible we’ll all be considered impossibly old-fashioned, like paper magazines and network television and phones that plug into the wall. But this is about the sex, baby! And people don’t get bored with that, so I should still have an audience.

Five years ago, and five years after I wrote that, I was just a little bit less sanguine:

Where in all this do sex blogs fit it, in the waning month of 2012? Well, people still like reading about sex and viewing dirty pictures, and they all have these miraculous and awesome (I think so anyway; that’s how you can tell I’m old) little always-connected internet devices in their pockets now. Even if “blogs” finish going away and “surfing the web” has become hopelessly quaint, there’s got to be some way to keep on doing what we do (find sexy stuff, pull it together, make a few wise-ass remarks about it, entertain the folk). Our challenge as sex bloggers (or whatever we become when blogging is as dead as carriage racing) is the same as it always was: to do it well enough to be valued, to earn and maintain the attention of our readers in an overstimulated world where attention is the scarcest currency.

In 2007 I asked “Will there be a Ten Candles post on October 3, 2012?” In my secret heart, I was pretty damned sure the answer was “yes”. I’m delighted to have been right. But what about the future? Will ErosBlog still be here in 2017? I’m less confident than I was in 2007; I grow older and move more slowly, while the world speeds up and accelerates into the future. But I’m persistent, and I’m stubborn. Unless I stop being entertained by porn (which seems unlikely) I can’t imagine not having bits of it that need pointed at and talked about. So, just as I did in 2007, I’ll say “I truly do hope so!”

Well, friends, here we are in 2017, and we fuckin’ made it. But blogs in general and sex blogs in particular are not just quaint by this point, they’re positively obsolete. I don’t mind saying that 2022 is starting to look like it might be a serious reach for ErosBlog. More on that later. Let’s talk statistics and history for a minute.

In fifteen years, ErosBlog has published 5,358 posts (5,026 by me, the rest by my several guest bloggers). That’s just under (.98) one post per day — a pretty decent 15-year average if I say so myself! Those posts have attracted 20,499 approved comments, although it must be said that most of those were in the first seven or eight years; since the rise of social media, comment frequency has plunged through the floor, fallen off a cliff, choose your own plummeting metaphor. Only the most loyal blog readers comment any more. Once social media came along, people took their comments there for the most part — and thanks to the #pornocalypse, sex bloggers aren’t welcome on most social media platforms. Or, to be more precise, we may be welcome there in our own persons under our true names, but except on Twitter (the final holdout, for whom the death knell of the #pornocalypse has yet to toll) we aren’t reliably welcome on any major social media under our porn-industry pseudonyms and the adult content of our blogs isn’t welcome there at all.

As for traffic, I don’t have any sort of meaningful long-term traffic numbers I can share. Web traffic is notoriously difficult to measure in any objective way. It’s going down, though, and has been for at least half a decade. I’ve stripped the numbers from this three-year line graph because they aren’t very illuminating, but the trend is clear:

three year declining erosblog traffic trend

There are many factors that are taking traffic away from independent sex bloggers. They include:

  • The decline of the open web and its replacement by closed and adult-hostile social media and app-based ecosystems such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and others;
  • Decline in desktop computing and rise of mobile computing generally, feeding the app-based replacement open-web activities noted above;
  • Google’s algorithm changes that display virtually all adult websites (except for select popular tubesites) at locations that are buried many pages deep in the search results;
  • Deterioration of the paid-subscription porn model that (through affiliate sales) used to support independent adult websites;
  • App-based dating software replacement of subscription-model dating sites that (again through affiliate sales) used to help support independent adult websites;
  • Rise of video-based “tube” sites based predominantly on free (stolen or promotional) video clips, undermining the paid-porn model and sucking up adult-internet surfer time and attention.

Changes in the porn business and the steady decline in traffic have meant a lot of alterations in the business of sex blogging over the last decade, too. Five years into this gig, it was going really well; I was making more money as a sex blogger (mostly from porn subscription sales) than I ever made at a square job (and I used to work in an office with a tie and a 401k and an eye-watering mortgage). Ten years in, not so much; porn sales were fading fast, but I was making up some of the difference selling ads against my traffic to people who were still making sales on offers that weren’t available to me (stuff that didn’t have affiliate programs). Now? That’s all gone, or nearly so. At these traffic levels I can’t sell a traditional display ad on ErosBlog to save my life, not at least for a price that’s worth having the ugly on my pages. (And the ads that are available are awfully sleazy.) The blog no longer makes me anything that could be considered a living. Such income as does come in is from my generous and much-appreciated Patreon patrons, from sporadic sponsored posts, and from the faded and tattered remnants of the once-mighty affiliate sales ecosystem. Other web projects, freelance writing and research (adult and otherwise), and custom web work take up the bulk of my time, and ErosBlog visibly suffers for it; but it is, as they say these days, what it is.

If you’ve wondered, sometimes, why day after day the new ErosBlog post is just another obscure bit of pulp cover art, that’s why. I am awash in art that I’d like to share, but I simply don’t have enough free time to spend two or four hours busting out a detailed post for the blog every day. A time-consuming post doesn’t pay any more than an image post, things are financially lean chez Bacchus, and it makes more sense to focus on paying work. So, instead, in my free time I use the blog to indulge my passions, which lately have been:

  • Surfacing outstanding vintage pulp art from scans that may be online, but are in formats (.pdf and such) that aren’t easily image-searchable and that folks haven’t seen before;
  • Tracking and documenting the #Pornocalypse, which is my word and hashtag for the process that social media platforms go through of imposing censorship on their users at that stage in their development when they come under the scrutiny of the moneyed Wall Street and banking interests, who are inevitably more prudish than the Silicon Valley techies who have typically been willing to allow porn on their platforms while they are trying to achieve user volume and “liftoff”;
  • Performing curatorial work of all kinds on interesting porn (typically vintage) that exists online in a condition of scandalous disorganization and degraded metadata;
  • As resources allow, procure and digitize actual offline porn resources like this, bringing them to the digital world and finding them a secure home here;

Will I still be doing these things in 2022? Well, if we still have a technological society and a more-or-less free country and a somewhat uncensored internet and a functioning economy and a power grid and if I still have access to all those things: probably. I’m pushing fifty, folks; what I enjoy doing seems to change more and more slowly as the years pass.

But will I still be doing all that at ErosBlog?

serious man doing serious things with seriously obsolete test equipment

Cautiously, hopefully, nervously… I think so. Maybe not on the gold-plated, managed-hosting, all-services-provided commercial-grade server that I’ve been using since 2004; the economics are starting to seem highly questionable, although I treasure the rock-solid uptime and the professional support. But I’d hate to abandon my archives (even if Google mostly won’t show them to any but the most dedicated searchers) and I still believe in Bacchus’s first rule. I might get pushed to discount hosting somewhere, but I can’t imagine not keeping up a self-hosted WordPress blog (although five more years of technological change could easily make this sound like a silly thing to have said.)

It’s possible I’ll have to give up on my near-daily posting schedule. The posts I truly value are the lengthy and meaty curatorial ones; and I’m only managing a few of those every month as it is. There’s not much indication, in the traffic numbers or the comments or in any other feedback, that anybody but me would miss the daily pulp art posts, so if I have to cut back to focus more time on making a living, those will be the first to go. The “post every day” rule is a discipline from another blogging era, when (among other virtues) it was thought to help deliver a high volume of Google traffic. If it ever did (and it seemed to) it surely no longer does now!

Reading this over, it “feels” a bit like I’m whining about how ErosBlog used to be a business and has now become a hobby I don’t have sufficient time for. Perhaps I am whining, but if so, please accept my apologies; such is not my true intent. Fifteen years of sex blogging have given me a great deal to be thankful for, including:

  • A long list of online sex-blogger friends who, though I may never meet them, I feel I know as well as if we were siblings, and whose good will and ready wit I treasure daily (even if I usually now have to go to Twitter for it);
  • An huge visual vocabulary of vintage erotic art and contemporary porn that, although typically it isn’t a thing that’s easy to get paid for having, is ridiculously convenient when undertaking one of my curatorial or provenance-research projects;
  • A unique (as far as I know) set of skills for researching the provenance of visual erotica, along with unusual amounts of image-searching skills generally;
  • A growing passion for reversing (by means of reconstructive curation and preservation of imagery together with its metadata) the erosive, destructive, entropic destruction of metadata that social media sharing wreaks on internet erotic visual media; and
  • A long term ambition to find and digitize “lost porn” that’s still stuck in the analog world — especially rare and vintage specimens thereof — to provide it with a secure digital home and the best possible accompanying metadata.

These are are all fine things to be passionate about, even if I never imagined any of them back in 2002 when I first started this blog. If the last two are the passions that I would still like to find a way to spend more time on than I can currently afford, I shan’t apologize for that; I plan to keep trying to find a way. With any luck at all, by 2022 I’ll be having more success than presently, and it is to be hoped that ErosBlog will still be a part of whatever scheme is working.

a researcher at his desk -- detail from  Franklin the Editor

The WordPress word count meter tells me I’ve already spent 2,000 words on “me me me” navel-gazing, so let me close with a post-script directed to you, my treasured audience of loyal readers. There’s still a thousand-plus-a-few of you who stop by to view and read on any given day, which is a trust and a responsibility that sometimes weighs heavily when I am being lazy or self-indulgent. I’d like to know a lot more about what brings you, and what keeps you, and what would keep you coming back for the next five years. Even if you don’t normally comment, please consider leaving a comment today. Tell me what you like, tell me what you ignore, tell me what you’d like to see more of. All feedback gratefully accepted!

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