BetweenMySheets.com (originally called Between the Sheets) was started as part of a large blog network circa 2006. A year later Rori, the blog’s current mastermind, took it over from its previous owner and what started as her personal blog covering a range of BDSM and dominant and submissive topics has evolved into a loyal community. Rori sat down with XBIZ to discuss turning an online journal into a full-time business venture.
When did you launch Between My Sheets?
Originally, I took over Between My Sheets in 2007 when it was part of a big blog network. It was just a place where I posted about sexy topics, like whether or not a celebrity was hot. Then I started to get more personal with the content, and readers really responded. When the company that owned the network tanked in early 2008, I decided to start my own blog so I could continue that relationship with readers.
This was also around the time I started exploring BDSM, and I read others blogs that really helped me work out my personal feelings about kink. I credit those blogs for helping me feel confident and “normal” in my own skin, and that’s what I set out to create at Between My Sheets.
My overall goal has always been to let people know that they aren’t alone, no matter what their sexual preferences.
Describe Between My Sheets.
Today, Between My Sheets has grown into a much bigger and more strategically planned blog than the original online journal where I wrote about my feelings. You can still get that in the section called “Rori’s Story,” but I also post erotica (mostly with a D/S spin), advice and opinions on sexuality-related topics, videos, and reviews.
I’ve started taking pictures too, to reward my community members for being so loyal. Once a year, I host the annual Top Sex Bloggers list, which is a resource put together from community nominations to help get the word out about other sex bloggers writing amazing blogs, so if D/S isn’t your kink of choice, you can find a blog that fits your tastes.
In addition, Between My Sheets is home to Masturbation Monday (a weekly kink porn feature) and Rori Asks (a community feature where readers are invited to share answers to a weekly sex-related question). I’m also really excited to have recently announced that a few new contributors have signed on to write monthly columns for Between My Sheets, so readers can expect to get content dealing with polyamory, kink fashion, female domination and more starting [this month] in May.
Through it all, the goal remains the same — to help people understand that they aren’t alone, no matter what their kinks.
In June 2012, I’m also launching “Blogging Between The Sheets,” a new part of the site specifically for other sex bloggers who want to learn more about being successful in this industry beyond keeping an online journal. I make a full-time living as a blogger, so I’m looking forward to passing on that knowledge.
How would you describe your relationship with your readers?
I absolutely love my readers! I try to personally answer every single email I get, because I think it’s the least I can do after someone took time out of their busy day to write to me. One of the challenges I’ve found as a sex blogger (as opposed to a blogger in a different niche) is that fans are sometimes a little shy and would rather lurk on my blog than leave a comment or share thoughts on social networks like Twitter. So I try to always provide several open lines of communication, including private emails. I want people to feel like they’re part of the Between My Sheets community, even if they are shy. I’ve found that a lot of other sex bloggers are extremely snarky and unapproachable, and I never want to be like that.
What is your motivation behind reviewing sex toys? How does it serve consumers (and manufacturers)?
Sex toy reviews can be great to help consumers get first-hand accounts of whether or not a product is worth the money. At the same time, it helps the manufacturer create buzz (no pun intended) about a product.
I don’t do as many reviews as some sex bloggers, though — and that’s by design, not because I’m not getting offers. Fleshbot’s editor Lux Alptraum gave a really great talk at Ignite NYC (youtu.be/6ezyOO7TyS8) about sex toy innovative, which I think every toy manufacturer needs to watch! The highest value for everyone (readers, manufacturers and bloggers) is when a company creates something really cool and wants to introduce it to a new audience that’s a perfect fit.
Right now, I think most toy companies and sex bloggers are getting it wrong. A lot of bloggers say yes immediately when they see the word “free” without stopping to think if the review will interest their readers … and toy companies send them boring vibrators that are a dime a dozen and have been produced for years. The ROI on sending out a ton of these free toys to random bloggers in the industry probably isn’t going to be very high. My community is going to actually pull out their wallets when I promote a product that is super relevant to them, not just another pocket rocket. They’re also more likely to actually make a purchase when it’s a matter of loyalty to me — i.e., I’m talking about a company that is sponsoring my blog, not just working with me for a onetime review. I want to give that high ROI to companies who work with me, so I say no to free stuff unless it makes sense for my community.
What do you think it takes to be a good blogger?
It depends on your definition of a good blogger. There are a lot of bloggers out there still doing what I started out doing — basically, writing a personal journal. And that’s okay! But there are also bloggers who want to take it to the next level and actually build a community and make blogging their fulltime job. That takes consistent, hard work. Go to blogging conferences. Seek out blogging advice from experts in the field. Shell out some money for your own domain name, design help, and other professional tools. Being a good writer is only half of the battle. You also have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and educate yourself about the online industry.