I’ve worked in the sex industry for more than twelve years now…and I’ve seen a lot of changes. One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed is in the quality and range of options for advertising my services.
For most of my career, the Internet has been my preferred place to find customers. But back at the start, the choices available were pretty abysmal. Most sites were expensive to advertise with and hard to navigate. They came in unpleasant shades of red and black, looking more like used car sales businesses than a place to find sexy professionals. Worst of all, I often never knew who owned the site or whether they could be trusted.
Luckily, all this is changing. Thanks to the bold entrepreneurial spirits of my fellow workers, a selection of new advertising platforms have entered the market over the past several years. These new businesses boast beautiful, user-friendly websites and a community-minded approach.
New escort advertising websites often struggle to get established. Clients are too accustomed to using their regular platforms - why switch to something new, even if it’s better? But supporting ethical, worker-owned advertising platforms has a huge advantage: the chance to meet happy, productive workers who don’t feel as though they’re being exploited by their own advertisers.
To find out where to point your browser next time you’re looking for a companion, we surveyed independent Aussie escorts and asked them which online advertisers they use, and who they’d like you to visit. Here’s a guide to four ethical sex worker owned and operated websites - Ivy Société, Dakota Dice, Available Angels, and Tryst - that give you a better experience and also support sex workers.
Before we begin, a disclaimer or two…
Before we examine these businesses in more detail, you need to know that I’m not an impartial observer. I write blog articles for Tryst, one of the websites on this list. To minimise personal bias, I’ve tried to rely on survey results and the information that these businesses have shared with me directly, rather than giving my own opinion. But please make sure you do your own research too, when you’re deciding where to visit.
Please also note that none of the opinions and comments from our survey participants have been verified, and they’re all anonymous. It was a small survey, with only a few dozen participants, and I can’t claim that they speak for every worker.
What does ‘ethical’ mean? And why does it matter?
Why are ethical ad sites so important? And why, as a client, should you care how an ad site treats workers?
For some entrepreneurs, escort advertising businesses are seen as a cash grab - a place where they don’t need to behave professionally but can still make a lot of money. This can lead to super unethical behaviour. A few examples:
- Sites that wait until they have the lion’s share of web traffic, then raise their prices unfairly, knowing that workers have to pay or risk losing income.
- Shady operators who know nothing about the industry and sometimes compromise our safety and security.
- Sites that don't understand sex work and its politics - they might spread the wrong information about our work or repeat negative stereotypes about the sex industry.
- Businesses that aren’t inclusive of people from all backgrounds, all genders, trans people, or diverse body types. They might charge migrant workers extra, or push people who don’t fit their criteria to the bottom of search results. And that’s just not okay.
If we hope to make a living, sex workers have to advertise on the sites that clients visit. This means that we’re often stuck patronising businesses that treat us badly, even when better options are available. “So sick of scumbags thinking they can get rich off us whilst caring zero about the community,” one survey participant wrote.
An escort that you meet via an unethical site might already be feeling stressed and mistreated - and that’s a very poor basis on which to start a good professional relationship.
To me, ethical means:
- Owned and operated by a current or former sex worker
- Inclusive of all genders, backgrounds and body types
- Advertising costs that are fair, and transparent (no hidden costs or fees)
- Being sex-positive and supportive of sex worker rights
- Listening to workers and being receptive to criticism and feedback
To change things, it’s up to the clients themselves. The more you visit ethical sites, the more work escorts will get from that business, and the more they’ll feel empowered to abandon other platforms. When we’re feeling happy and well-treated, we’re going to respond to your enquiries with much more enthusiasm, and you’re more likely to have a good experience when we finally meet.
The survey: how we got our information
Back in August of this year, we ran a small survey focusing on Australian escort advertising sites created and run by current or former sex workers. Escorts offered their opinions about a range of key features of each site, including advertising rates, support for diversity, and customer service.
We then reached out to each of the sites that were mentioned, and found out more about their business model and their backstory.
Without any further ado, here are the five sites I investigated.
Fresh-faced newcomer Ivy Société is a great example of how much times have changed. The site boasts slick styling and all the professional features you’d expect from a modern escort advertising platform.
- Fairness of pricing: 6.5/10
- Sex-positivity: 6.8/10
- Inclusivity: 6.2/10
- Customer service: 7.4/10
Ivy Société was founded by Blaire Hunter, a current sex worker. "It’s no secret that escort directories in Australia have become less empathetic to workers,” she says. “So Ivy Société strives to fill that void."
She calls her work 'a labour of love', emphasising that compassion and community are an essential focus. "The sex work community is supportive and generous, so at the heart of Ivy Société are people working towards elevatating empathy for sex workers, in and outside of our community. We host social networking events, free webinars and frequent giveaways. For convenience we offer personalised profile onboarding and guaranteed same day replies. We also provide access to copywriters to help build personal brands, and a portion of our future profits will be given to various sex work charities that are selected by the Ivy Société community.”
As with all ad platforms, a positive client experience is essential. All profiles are verified and the website offers a SMS template to simplify the booking process. Clients can search using an 'interests' filter. And for workers, Ivy Société prioritises fair pricing, with no hidden costs and randomised listings rather than paid boosts. Doubles profiles are included at no extra cost.
Our survey participants praised Ivy Société’s inclusivity: “They contacted marginalised workers to be on the site before launching, massive A++.”
Dakota Dice is gaining traction in the sex indistry as a platform that appeals to workers and clients alike, offering innovative options that other sites don’t.
- Fairness of pricing: 6.5/10
- Sex-positivity: 7.4/10
- Inclusivity: 7.4/10
- Customer service: 8.3/10
Dakota Dice was founded by Danielle, who has previous experience as an independent escort, erotic masseuse, brothel worker and online sex worker. This project is motivated by her experiences, and the need for better options. "I created Dakota Dice to offer escorts a platform that is aesthetic and advanced, prioritising advertisers needs and wellbeing over anything else," she says.
Unlike some early-phase escort ad sites that charge at the very first opportunity, the platform is currently free to advertisers. Danielle assures us that advertising packages will remain free until the website can offer high levels of exposure.
In our survey, Dakota Dice was the clear winner at customer support. This was echoed in some of the comments: “I find them extremely helpful and kind.” Dakota Dice has made a commitment to introduce any new employees they might take on, so that workers always know who they’re speaking with when they reach out for support.
Special features for advertisers include unlimited free doubles advertising and automated Twitter sharing of tours. The site also verifies workers, to keep agency escorts off the platform - an advantage for everyone.
One innovative website has worked to make the concept of ‘short-term bookings’ work for escorts, rather than against them. It’s called Available Angels, and it allows workers to leverage last-minute booking requests and use them to their advantage.
- Fairness of pricing: 5.8/10
- Sex-positivit:y 7.3/10
- Inclusivity: 6.2/10
- Customer service: 6.5/10
Available Angels was founded in 2015 by sex worker Eden Love, in partnership with another worker. The site was created to fill a gap in the market - those persistent 'are you available now?' clients that often confound workers. "Wouldn't it be nice if another worker could benefit from that, instead of clients giving up?" she says. “The two workers expanded on this idea, allowing advertisers to add their specific availability so that they only receive short-notice requests at times that suit them.
The feature-packed site offers a number of benefits including the signature 'available now' status option, a feature that allows clients to subscribe to a specific worker's availability, and an automated booking request system. "They fill out a form of particulars of their booking type and preferences, then we email this out to every escort that matches." Profiles are verified to ensure they’re genuine.
In order to keep pricing fair, there are no tiers of advertising options and everyone gets access to all features on the platform. Feedback in our survey indicated that Available Angels is receptive to constructive criticism and helpful suggestions.
Tryst has been around for a while now, and the company has been picking up speed (and clients) at a rapid pace. In a very competitive market, they’re proving their worth to both workers and customers, with a feature-packed layout and lots of helpful industry education.
- Fairness of pricing: 6.9/10
- Sex-positivity: 7.8/10
- Inclusivity: 8.4/10
- Customer service: 7.2/10
The team behind Tryst is Assembly Four, a collective of sex workers and tech experts. Two of their three founders - Lola and Eliza - have full-service experience. One of their biggest priorities is to ensure the team reflects the broader working community. “All of us come from marginalised backgrounds outside of sex work.”
Founder Lola is reluctant to claim the label ‘ethical’, saying it raises some issues, “Ethical is a bit of a tricky word as I, personally, don't think it's possible to run a business ethically under a capitalistic system as capitalism is inherently exploitative. In saying that, we do operate as ethically as we can in the current environment.”
Because Tryst is self-funded, the founders are free to run the company without investor influence and make decisions that are in the best interests of workers. “There are nuances within the industry which non sex workers struggle to grasp or identify. It’s vital to have a team who understands these nuances, when running a platform intended to reduce harm.”
When it comes to features, there’s a lot to talk about. Lola highlights their educational client guide, in-platform messaging, free provider verification to reduce fake accounts, and an advanced search feature. Lola also says that feedback and improvement are integral to their business. “Alongside feedback from sex workers, we also value feedback from clients. We have recently released client feedback surveys located on the dashboard in which clients are able to tell us how they use the platform and what would make their experience better, helping us improve long term.”
Of all the sites covered in our survey, Tryst has the highest rating for diversity and sex-positivity. One participant wrote: “I think they're fab with inclusivity, and so willing to listen and adapt.”
Supporting ethical ad sites makes a difference.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this array of sexy, modern and very convenient options!
Like I said earlier, helping ethical advertising sites such as these succeed really does depend on clients like you. Where clients choose to go, workers follow…so why not use your consumer power to boost the businesses that take good care of both escorts and their customers?
One last bit of advice: Don't forget to mention where you saw your escort when you contact them for a booking. It means we'll be able to track whether a particular site is bringing us business, encouraging us to make the switch. And knowing why it matters helps prove to us that you’re an excellent potential client.
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