How Much Does A Bondage Producer Earn?

My lovely wife Joceline (whose screen alter-egos Ariel Anderssen and Amelia-Jane Rutherford you will likely know) just posted a video on her YouTube channel about how much an Internet model earns. Oh my god, this is SO un-British. That probably seems strange to Americans and maybe people from other cultures, but in the UK it is a really taboo thing to talk about. Doing so was really brave.

You can see her film here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY74D89eIs0

Between us, Joceline and I have evolved a policy of being more and more open and transparent. It’s really important to us. So I thought it would be cowardly of me not to match her in transgressing this British taboo. I’m still too cowardly to vlog about it, of course, so here’s a long essay!

I’ve spoken about website economics in the past in general order-of-magnitude terms. But what can you actually make as a bondage producer?

Well, unlike modelling, income is limited by sales rather than the number of billable hours you can charge to clients for standing in front of the camera. As a result, I suspect that there’s a much wider range of incomes possible for being a bondage producer. Clearly, Kink.com have a much higher turnover than RestrainedElegance.com does. But here’s how the numbers stack up for me.

This is based on my last tax year for which I have accounts; the next year is due to be sent off to the accountant this week but I don’t have proper figures yet.

If you follow producers on twitter it is probably no secret that sales have declined across the industry since then; we’re all hoping it turns around.

My total sales were around £120,000 AFTER deductions from billing partners (who typically take between 15% and 50% of the sales figure customers actually pay to download the content). So I’m only counting the money that actually got paid to me, not what was paid out by you kind folks.

Wow! I must be super-rich, right? Sadly as a producer most of that goes straight out again. There are a lot more overheads than in being a model. So my profit margin was almost exactly 20%. My actual profit, the money I have to live on, was £25k.

Of those sales, the lion’s share was Restrained Elegance membership, maybe 70%. 20% comes from cart sales including Elegance Studios, Clips4Sale and the rest, and the remaining 10% comes from custom video commissions and external jobs. SilkSoles sales are modest, we do that mostly for love. These numbers have been broadly consistent over the last few years.

Of the expenses, by far the biggest was models (and a few other employee costs for friends who help with some admin jobs like web programming and doing data entry on shopping carts for me). That came to £30,000 or a cool 25% of turnover. (This money has to be spent up front, months or even years before the sales from a given shoot might pay off, by the way. So I’ve got money invested in material I’ve shot but haven’t sold yet.)

Website hosting and fees, location hire, repairs and renewals of broken or worn-out kit, insurance, licence fees (for music for the videos), professional fees like accountancy, purchase of props, costumes, bondage gear, and general expenses like electricity and heating etc. make up the bulk of the rest.

This is a little disingenuous, because I also invested £20k that year in the Sony A7RII and lenses, plus a replacement for the ten-year-old video tripod which was no longer really safely holding up the RED on shoot days. I did have some choice about investing that money or not, so I could have had a bigger profit if I’d not done that. This is always the way with investment for the future though- jam today, or choose to sink the cash back into the business for the longer term?

How much worse have sales got since then? Quite a lot worse. I’m going to be lucky to hit £100k turnover this year, even with some big customs and more external jobs. As you can see, when your profit margin is only £25k, losing £20k turnover is a big deal. Annoyingly, few of the expenses scale down with lower sales, at least the way the business is currently structured.

For now, I’ve compensated by buying less kit (anticipating this might happen is partially why I did the two big-ticket purchases in that previous tax year). I’ve brought a few more jobs in-house. We’ve reduced the shooting schedule a bit because we’d got to the silly point of having more than two years of content on disk- which makes no sense when sales may decline further if the economy tanks some more, the pressure from piracy and the looming threat of increasing government censorship.

So we’re striking a balance between shooting fantastic new stuff with hot new models, getting through the content we’ve already shot a bit more, and finding more shoots via customs. I know a lot of producers have switched over to customs funding 100% of production- I don’t want to do that even though it would probably be better business. I hope it isn’t pretentious to claim to be an artist and the commissions are fun, but if I didn’t get to shoot any of my own ideas I don’t know that I’d be able to carry on long-term.

I’ve been in the business for nearly 17 years now, we have good brand recognition I think, and a fantastic audience of regular customers. I’m lucky enough to be able to do this full-time, and I know not all producers can do that. I don’t know how this compares to other producers right now. I get the feeling I’m probably losing out by not pursuing customs more assiduously – but in return I get to shoot more stuff from my heart, which is REALLY REALLY important to me. It’s why I took this up as a full-time job in the first place 🙂

I get the impression that producers concentrating on mass video production are doing best right now- the guys and girls posting daily new videos to Clips4Sale funded via customs. I could do more of that if I pulled back on how many stills sets I shoot. I love stills best, though.

So unlike Joceline, I don’t have any real notion of where we sit in terms of how much it is possible to make as a bondage producer so I can’t give you a broader perspective. I hope it’s been interesting, and I hope you don’t hate me (seriously. I had shivers writing this post. It is SO Un-British to be open about this stuff. But. Transparency. Bravery.)

Urgggh. Please don’t hate me.

Hywel

Digital Detox. Back in August.

Hi Everyone,

I’m going on a digital detox.

I’ve got a vacation with my University friends starting tomorrow, followed by a language course and then landscape photography art shows.

I’ll be back in mid-August.

Of course, everything is loaded and ready on all the sites and carts and will update automatically while I am away.

I may check my email when I have signal, but I’m going to try not to. I really need a proper break this time so I’m going to try not to obsessively check my phone a dozen times a day!

If you have a problem with membership or purchases in the meantime, please email support@surfmail.net or open a support ticket:

For RE membership: https://ts.surfnetcorp.com/ts/ts.cfm?code=RE01&urlid=66&service=4

For SilkSoles: https://ts.surfnetcorp.com/ts/ts.cfm?code=RE01&urlid=119&service=4 membership

For the Shopping Cart: https://estore.surfnetcorp.com/store/elegancestudios/contactus.cfm

If support can’t help you, I will assist when I get back.

Apologies to the people still waiting for a quote/response from me for custom videos, I’ll do my best to catch up on those emails tonight but I have to pack and I’m out of time. Please bear with me.

Cheers, Hywel

Problems with some video files on Windows? Try VLC Player

Hi All,

Looks like the Windows Media Player MP4 bug is back, for some people at least. If you are having difficulty playing some video files (typically they play the audio but black instead of the picture) on windows media player, try downloading VLC player here:

http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.en-GB.html

This seems to solve the problem.

I’ve no idea why WMP won’t play some of the files- they’re all made exactly the same way on my Mac, and Quicktime player and VLC seem to be able to play them fine. So I believe it is a bug in WMP.

A little bit of a Google indicates that other set-ups can cause WMP to do this- a lot of GoPro users complaining about it a couple of years ago, for example. Installing fresh MP4 codecs might fix it. A member has tried transcoding with ACDSee, and the transcoded versions play fine- but that again implies that there’s nothing wrong with the original, as the transcoding software can process it just fine. So it genuinely looks like a Microsoft WMP bug that they don’t seem to be in a hurry to fix. Download VLC 🙂

Hywel

Windows Media Player sometimes plays black screen

Hi Everyone,

A couple of people have reported issues playing some of the videos with Windows Media Player. The sound plays fine, but the video shows a black screen.

I’m afraid I have NO idea what’s causing that.

I’ve not been able to replicate it myself, and I compress all the videos in exactly the same way using the same program on one of the same two Macs each time; it doesn’t seem to correlate with which Mac I prepared the final video on… which was the only thing I could think of that might be different. So I’m at a loss.

I will investigate more, but without being able to identify anything different my end it’s really hard to know where to start.

VLC media player, an open-source player which you can download for free here http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.en-GB.html plays the rogue files just fine (as do our Macs and iPhones etc of course).

So I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the files, and I have no idea why WMP sometimes throws a fit. If anyone has any ideas please let me know, it’s very perplexing.

In the meantime, if you experience the problem, please let me know and let me know which videos it happens on… and please download VLC media player so you can still watch the films. Apologies.

Cheers, Hywel

#GameOfSlaves for producers and models

This page is for producers and models interested in getting involved with #GameOfSlaves. If you aren’t a producer, photographer or model this page may be a bit dull, you might find the #GameOfSlaves Trailer page of more interest… and that’s the page you should check out first for an overview and flavour as a producer, too.

What is #GameOfSlaves?

frame-000025-7

In the fictional world, it is an underground, decentralised social media tag for sharing subversive, clandestine BDSM erotica which has been banned on the sanitised interwebs of 2047. Popular performers gain fame and wealth from rich fans in the game who commission customs, host private parties to be filmed or promote their favourite dommes and subs. A good enough player in the game can become a millionaire.

In the real world, it is a series of loosely connected stories about the fictional game world. Some stories follow characters’ development from starting sub to top player or from middle-ranking domme to top-ranked sub. Other stories are just self-contained posts from the fictional characters posted on the game to try to get likes and followers.

As I said, the #GameOfSlaves Trailer should convey the general look and feel of the world.

frame-000011-9

How Do I Get Involved?

Shoot, post, tag #GameOfSlaves

The simplest way? Decide on a character you are going to play in the fictional #GameOfSlaves world. Shoot something- still photos, selfies on your phone, selfie video, anything. Post it to your usual sales or distribution channels: your own web site, Clips4Sale, ManyVids, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, anywhere. Tag it with #GameOfSlaves. Job done.

Amateurs VERY Welcome!

You DO NOT have to be a pro to join in! Take a selfie on your phone, tweet it, tag it – congratulations, you just created a character and now you are on #GameOfSlaves!

What about photographers?

If you’re an amateur photographer, next time you are shooting with your partner or a model, take a few photos set in the game world with a collared sub or a styled-up domme. Post it, tag it – you’ve just helped us build the #GameOfSlaves world.

We’d be honoured to host guest galleries of your work on RestrainedElegance.com as well, email me and we can sort one out.

Not a hot chick?

See diversity section below. EVERYONE is welcome to join in. Although RestrainedElegance will be primarily featuring female models, it is an open world. Come and join in, whoever you are and whatever your orientation.

You can find a style guide down below if you want more inspiration or want to follow the format we’re using more closely, but remember than the characters in the game are shooting stuff themselves and posting it in a decentralised way. So by design, anything you post and tag should fit right in!

We’ve decided to do most of our promotion via Twitter, via the hashtag #GameOfSlaves. If you post with that hashtag and tag me ( @RElegance) I will see it and retweet it. If we all do that, we can hopefully build some momentum to share links and publicity and build it into a real-world event.

To facilitate that we’ve decided to use models’ existing names and consequently their Twitter handles as the names of the characters they are playing the game. That keeps things simple and maximises the opportunity to cross-promote.

A link back to RestrainedElegance.com would be much appreciated, but is not necessary.

If you’d like me to promote your clips/photos/etc. then email me and send me a trailer, a selection of pics for a guest gallery, or the first video you shoot in a series and let me know where to link back to so people can buy the full clips or the rest of the series.

I don’t use Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. much so if anyone wants to volunteer as the contact person to help us all cross-promote and cross-post on those platforms please get in touch!

If you would like to shoot something but would like more input to get you started, or you’d like help underwriting the cost of production, I can help.

frame-000017-12 copy

Getting Involved: Collaboration

Content Share

If you’re already a producer or model, I’d be happy to collaborate! You shoot a clip or photos with some input from me, I feature the clip on RestrainedElegance.com, you can sell via your own websites and places like Clips4Sale.

I’ll pay you something towards the production costs in exchange for being able to feature the content on my membership site. You retain the rights and can sell everywhere else.

We both build on the #GameOfSlaves publicity and hopefully get to carry on and shoot more and make a living. Since Clips4Sale and others are fussy about clips not being uploaded twice, I’m happy to forego the clip sales in order to feature the clips on my members’ area. If you have a members’ area I’m happy to have you put the clip there too of course.

If you have an idea you’d like to shoot, please email me to discuss.

Custom Shooting For #GameOfSlaves

I am willing to buy content outright for use of RestrainedElegance.com if it fits in very well with the world, it’s sexy, and the production values are high enough. If you have an idea you’d like to shoot, please email me to discuss.

This is not my favourite option- frankly, it is a bit high risk for me. If I want content shot to our production standards, why not shoot it myself? But I’m always up for a compelling proposition: I know that there’s stuff I am not very good at directing, models I’ve not had the opportunity to shoot, places I don’t get to go… Make it big and exciting and thrilling and fast-paced like an action movie with beautiful barefoot girls in hot BDSM action and I’ll certainly consider commissioning you to shoot it!

Regular RE Model Shoots

Of course we will be shooting plenty for #GameOfSlaves ourselves in 2017. If you’d like to model for us, please drop me a line to email me but be aware that our shoot schedule is pretty full for the first half of the year already. It would be hugely helpful if you could shoot a selfie or two and post in the meantime 🙂

I know that’s a bit cheeky but the more we build the buzz around #GameOfSlaves the better. We get contacted by more models than we can possibly shoot… but I’m hardly about to pass up a shoot with someone who’s already kindly been shooting stuff to help with #GameOfSlaves! So in the meantime please consider shooting something yourself or with other producers and help build the momentum and we’ll shoot you as soon as we can.

Only Female Subs? What About Diversity?

Restrained Elegance features female submissive barefoot elegant bondage and BDSM. That’s what Ariel and I are into, so it is the only thing we feel qualified to do a good job of shooting.

The sub-set of the #GameOfSlaves world featured on our site will be likewise focussed on women getting tied up. We’ve decided to make male doms a rare occurrence, more like game enforcers than participants. That’s because Hywel HATES appearing on camera!

BUT THIS IS AN OPEN WORLD

#GameOfSlaves is an open world- nothing is stopping you shooting a more diverse set of characters! Please do! Male subs? Male doms? Trans? Genderqueer spanking? Sissy transformation? Pet play in 2047 on a post-apocalyptic farm? Go for it. Just shoot something in character for the world, tag it and post it! HAVE ALL THE FUN IN THE WORLD WITH IT!

We’d LOVE IT if you could shoot the stuff we aren’t good at!

Style Guide and Background Information

frame-000014-9

frame-000188-2

Setting

The year is 2047. Global warming has happened; lower-lying parts of the world flooded. The world is ruled by three economic superpowers: India, China and Facebook. The USA is a dust-bowl post-civil-war wild west. Russia has collapsed under the weight of corruption. Europe has fallen apart, the bits which function best are greater Germany. The UK suffered massive economic decline after the leaving the EU and now survives by exporting the thing it has been best at for a hundred years- entertainment.

Facebook rules half the globe in fact if not in name, and rules the information infrastructure with an iron hand of prudish “safe for the children”, and “all your secrets are belong to us”. But it is still built on the internet, and there are places and spaces and ways. So while posting a nipple online in 2047 might result in revocation of Facebook privileges and instant loss of job, home and reputation, there are still cracks.

Twitter survives, and out of Twitter and the underground BDSM scene, some entertainment entrepreneurs in the UK started the latest forbidden sensation: #GameOfSlaves. Contestants vie to live out their BDSM fantasies on screen for an audience of kinksters deprived of any other outlet. The game is decentralised, no mastermind to arrest, and no-one to stop you entering yourself just by posting a video or a picture and hashtagging it #GameOfSlaves.

Contestants choose whether to enter as a dominant or a submissive. In the RestrainedElegance version, effectively all contestants will be female- but see “diversity” above. Just because we don’t feel qualified to shoot a male-sub version doesn’t mean you can’t! We’d love you to.

Dommes outnumber subs approximately two to one. So subs are very valuable, and dommes compete with each other to assemble a stable of desirable, popular, highly-ranked subs. This brings dommes into conflict with each other constantly, which means they end up battling it out and getting tied up by rivals at least as often as the subs do. It’s important to maintain that feeling of subs being valuable and dommes being at each other’s throats for tension and drama in the setting. You don’t have to actually show them on screen- just saying at the start of a single-girl struggling clip that she’s been tied up by her rival “Mistress Dariah” is enough to invoke the world-build.

Contestants start out with selfies shot on phones and webcams. If they are popular enough, GameOfSlaves will send a camera crew to film them. The top ranked contestants live a life of luxury in secret kinky manor houses provided by shadowy wealthy fans of the game where they play out their kinky fantasies in front of the cameras.

There’s a big crossover between the mistresses and slaves because a large fraction of the viewing population likes nothing better than to see a top-ranked mistress brought low and turned into the abject slave of an up-and-coming dominatrix bitch. Especially if she is reduced in social rank in the household to below that of former slaves and mistresses over whom she used to preside. A slave might collaborate with a popular mistress to develop web shows that will get them both followers, or fight to free herself and usurp the previous domme’s position. Everyone is out to improve their own ratings, forming temporary alliances and betraying them when they get a bit stale.

There is a shadowy distributed, decentralised open-source organisation in charge of the game and who enforce the small number of rules. This is something we’re going to expand upon in stories on RestrainedElegance.com.

Feeling

The contestants are doing something for which they could be arrested. It’s tense, but for many it is their only outlet for BDSM. And it is their only chance for fame and fortune, too. Some contestants shoot stuff as though it were fictional, some as though it were a documentary, but many break the fourth wall to speak directly to the fans and viewers because they know they are being filmed.

Make it gritty, edgy, exciting. Or make it cute as the character plays up to the cameras. Up to you. If you are old enough, it’s like recapturing that feeling the first time you saw BDSM porn on the web or a Usenet newsgroup!

Game Rules

These are optional but would help fit in with what we’re going to shoot.

The only weapon permitted in the contest is a stun gun, which stuns the target for six to ten seconds. We’re using Star Trek Next Generation phaser toys for this (with an appropriate “zappy” sound effect added in post). The guns recharge slowly: you only get one shot a minute. So dommes have to be quick and accurate at zapping a sub they want to steal or a domme they want to conquer.

The distinction between the Mistresses and Slaves on-screen is obvious. Slaves may or may not be naked, but Mistresses never are. Mistresses may or may not wear necklaces or neck adornment, but slaves are always collared.

You can enslave a mistress by stripping her naked and collaring her. Doing so will be grounds for a long-running feud. Should the mistress ever free herself, you’ll be her target forever.

You can steal a sub just by grabbing her and carrying her off. It is customary to replace at least her slave collar with one of your own when you get her back to your base.

To free yourself from slavery you need to get your collar off and get some clothes on, in theory. But in practice you need to physically escape from your captor’s clutches and shoot a film of yourself showing that you’re free for it to have any meaning in the game. Pics or it didn’t happen.

One exception: you may also free yourself if you manage to strip naked and collar your current owner on camera. If you achieve that, you are automatically freed and your previous owner is enslaved for a mandatory 24 hours where she cannot be freed by any means. Make good use of the time to either make good your escape or take control of your ex-owner’s household!

Styling

Slaves are ALWAYS collared. They are usually naked but nothing stops them filming themselves enslaved in sexy satin or hot lingerie or rainwear or latex or whatever their owner or fan-base prefers.

Dommes are ALWAYS clothed. They may possibly wear something around their necks but avoid anything which looks like a collar. Because losing all their clothes gets them perilously close to enslavement, they tend to wear multiple layers of clothes which are hard to remove.

In the RestrainedElegance.com version of #GameOfSlaves that means saris, chinese dresses, silk and satin, corsets and a steam-punk influence. See #GameOfSlaves Trailer page for more examples.

Because I’ve got a bare foot fetish, dommes and subs are usually barefoot in all our stuff (and on SilkSoles.com too. If you don’t have a strong feeling about footwear, making the girls barefoot would make me very happy 🙂

In our stories, subs are mostly going to be locked up in metal whereas when dommes tie each other up, they usually use rope. That gives a rival domme chance to escape eventually (although not in time to prevent you running off with her stable of slaves). Using metal is tantamount to saying you want to enslave her, which is much more likely to spark a long-running feud.

Of course, subs can be rope tied for their owners’ or viewers’ pleasure as well!

reh_20161004_1334188

res_02122016_reh_20161202_1336551

res_03102016_DSC05649-2

Visual styling: go low key, lots of darkness in frame with pools of light, saturated colours. Add some backlight for maximum glamour. Our style is lush, decadent, moody, elegant. Of course, a lot of the characters are selfie shooting so there can be a lot of variation.

ss_03102016_DSC05875-2

res_02122016_DSC01740

Stories and Ideas

For your first video, why not introduce your character? Who are you? Why do you want to be on #GameOfSlaves? If you love talking, like Ariel does, you could film a piece to camera in the manner of a YouTuber. If you hate talking, you could just shoot an edgy bondage video of yourself and post it just labelled with the hashtag. If your character is a domme, she could be punishing a sub, or just dominating the camera, or giving jerk off instructions, or have the camera spy on her in voyeuristic style. Really, anything sexy and shot with the background in mind should work just fine!

If you’re a solo model, you could do some simple self bondage with handcuffs (make sure the key works!). Or just tell the camera a fantasy you’d like to have enacted upon you. Want to be spanked? Want to tie someone up? Show it or say it. Shoot more explicit stuff than we’re good at- edging, toys, whatever.

Just make it sexy, intense, fast-paced, dramatic. The whole thing should be like a trailer for a film you just HAVE to see. Don’t hang around, change the camera angles a lot. Cut it down so it moves much faster than a normal one-rolling-take video. The characters are trying to grab attention in an underground, jaded setting. Make it compelling and stylish and leave them wanting more.

(That’s the thing we are going to be working on most intensively ourselves for 2017).

HAVE FUN!