Pay what you want?

I watched an interesting Ted Talk by the musician Amanda Palmer. I strongly recommend you take the 13 minutes to watch it. It’s really fantastic & the rest of my  blog post will make more sense if you’ve seen it.

Here it is:

In a nutshell, she discusses the concept of asking people to pay what they want for her music (or music in general) rather than trying to make people pay for it.

I wonder if this would work for porn? Maybe not all porn…but would it work for mine?

We all know that the internet & file sharing has changed how we access music, movies, TV shows, games, education…& yes, porn. I don’t want to discuss piracy too deeply but would rather focus on the concept of letting people pay what they want. What would happen?

If I started a website with free access but asked people to just donate or tribute what they wanted to…what would happen? I know a lot of my fans feel like my content is worth a lot more than they pay for it. For example, I have a lot of custom vid buyers who have no problem paying $150 or more for a vid that others can then watch for $15 or less.

Naturally many would take advantage. BUT would there be enough others who paid a little or a lot to equal or exceed what I currently make charging a monthly membership fee?

Please comment. I’d like your feedback. What would you pay for access to my members site if you could pay whatever you wanted?

Mistress T

Members site:


31 thoughts on “Pay what you want?

  1. It reminds me of the tipping situation in bars and restaurants everyone should tip but they don’t always. Some do the right thing and others do their own thing. I remember giving an elderly lady the Heimlich because she was choking on her eggplant and then receiving a 3% tip….and she stole my pen. What??? It’s also could be compared to washing your hands after using the bathroom everyone knows this is the protocol yet some people still skip it… Some do the right thing others do their own thing. Go figure.

    • Thanks for commenting…as I said, some will certainly take advantage…but would YOU pay? If so, how much?

      • I’m of the mindset that you can’t put a price on things that make you happy. I would pay for something I truly wanted or for the experience..

  2. I’m interested in seeing the responses you receive. Personally, it seems that society is moving to a culture of entitlement. I see less and less people willing it shell out for porn, music, movies, rather choosing to download them from torrent and pirate sites without consideration of the consequences to the artists of the material. Why pay for the cow when the milk is free? I do believe that there is still a sect of people who will pay, and believe in reciprocation of goods and services, but more and more I run across individuals who are more interested in avoiding payment of any type.

    Personally I believe your content is absolutely priceless and could be charging a lot more for your unique material. After all there is only one Mistress T!

    • I hear you & thank you. You are ‘probably’ right about people not wanting to pay…& again, I know people will take advantage…but despite there being so much free porn out there I am still making a decent living. There’s something to that. It says to me that my fans value my content enough to pay for it even if they could jerk off for free.
      If that’s the case, are there others who can’t afford what I charge, but would pay a little something…& are there others who would pay a lot more out of gratitude?
      It’s just a curious question at this point & an interesting discussion topic.

  3. Just as it is in human society, the self-serving majority would seek only to serve their own personal interests. Your true admirers, fans, and servants would reward/tribute you for the time & energy that you invested to create your erotica.

  4. i agree with the most of what has been said, and as you allready commented, Mistress T, there will always be “free riders”.
    what about something like this: everything for a free donation, but only for a donation….we are using psychology here. first off, those that are not willing to go through the effort to giving their data, and going through the whole payment shit, to send you 3 cents…..?? I dont think so. those not willing to go through the process…would have never payed anything anyway, no loss, and those that went through the whole process of indentification to make a payment, will in the most cases not want to be recognised as a cheap skate, after being identified.
    these are all theories……

    by the way, i would donate several times a year, and only use the services for a time after donating…

    • Thanks for your feedback & comments. All of this is just a curious discussion at this point. I have no specific plans to change how I’m currently running a very successful business (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it) but perhaps in the future…In any case, I think it’s a discussion worth having. Thanks for participating in it:-)

      • of course Mistress T, you need no suggestions about how to make it work…it is obviously working for you…. and then we consider the IT running gag, ” dont change a running system”, which you allready had pegged in “if it aint broke, dont fix it”.
        but certainly, discussion on how this scene might work in “so many” years is definitely worth while, and informative.

  5. Interesting idea. I think many would pay more and feel that they’re getting a great value, because you really do offer exceptionally great content. But it could be a problem if you attracted a huge number of new users with no intention of paying. Those guys would be downloading a lot of bytes, and that could put your bandwidth costs through the roof, or even out-strip your providers capacity.

  6. You raise an interesting question MistressT. For me I much prefer subscribing to a site and paying a monthly fee. Sites such as yours have excellent content, and members are so pleased that they visit daily and look forward to every new entry. I have not yet requested a custom video, but may wish to do that sometime in the future. I’ve even contemplated how incredible it would be to be a slave/cuckold in one of your videos. For those custom videos you post, we as members are lucky to be able to enjoy them as well. The theme or content may be slightly different than some members have as a fetish/interest in, but we can still appreciate them.

    Some FemDoms only post on their Clips4Sale studios, or KinkBomb, and do not have a website that people can subscribe to. As much as I may like their postings, I’m reluctant to pay for individual videos, as it cumulatively would drain my wallet. Ironically some of these Dommes’ goals are to do exactly that! I would love to subscribe to their website, if they had one, but restrain myself from buying video after video.

    I suppose I’m of the opinion you get what you pay for. I’d be more open to increasing membership costs if it means maintaining a quality site. Free porn is generally mediocre and tedious to filter and search. Quality material produced by professionals such as yourself, should be available to paying members only. Anyone who re-distributes or makes such material available via torrents or other sharing methods should be ashamed, reported, and prosecuted if needed.

    I suppose selling your videos on Clips4Sale, supplements your income, but I would hope your personal website (and its members) provide a more reliable source of income.

    • Thanks for you contributing to the discussion! So, to answer my specific question, it you could pay what you want for my site, what would you pay?

  7. I think it’s a smart move. and you can also speed things up in the future, by holding new updates until the donations reach the number you want, or by offering a “special” things for the active donators. but in general, membership site with “reasonable” fee sounds good too.
    best luck

    • Thanks for your comment BUT please don’t misunderstand: I am not planning on changing my payment structure (at any point int he near future). This is just a discussion.

  8. It’s a genius idea really. There will be a “guilt factor” if you will. The people who can just find everything for free will actually be motivated to spend because the “pay what you want” model has a personal aspect to it. It’s not just, go to a store, set price, you buy, you leave. There is an intimacy to it. I think it may have to be the business model of the future, as gray areas of piracy are becoming more broad by the day. Much love.

  9. To preface, I have a background in marketing for small businesses so I’ll address this from my experience.

    While I think you could incorporate this idea, I don’t think there’s a question of whether to simply adopt it as-is because you really have a different revenue model (not just a different product). Music relies on building a mass audience and sustaining numbers over time through evangelists (those who go out and convert others into fans), while your site is targeting a tight niche which will bring you the best conversion (of viewers into money) through a combination of loyalty and novelty. I could go on, but if you want a technical business analysis, it’d probably be better to discuss that in private.

    But there is something important to learn from Palmer’s talk. Like the music industry, what most people are buying from you is something of an illusion. When you purchase an iTunes file or a CD or a record, you’re not buying music. The music is free, on the radio, when your friends play it, even in your own head. The advent of downloading only showcased that fact. What people were really buying are alternate things like support (keeping the music they like going), memory (having a copy of a song or a souveneir of a concert, or what the song means to you), or status (being able to show off what you have). All three of those examples work better when you pay, because the more you pay the more likely the band will keep making music, the stronger you make the memory of the item you buy, and the more you can flaunt your purchase.

    Likewise, no one is really buying your videos, those are just the vehicle to paying you. That said, I expect you have very different things that you are selling. The commonality is your fans want to support you and keep you making more content for them, but the nature of your industry makes it less experienced based (you aren’t touring doing events as far as I know, your videos are the focus of the viewer, not in the background where they can attach to other memories, and your fans are probably less likely to show off their support of you to the world). On the other hand, your art form is more directly appealing to the desires of your base, which is a powerful incentive.

    So where does that leave us? By making your content free, you would get much more exposure and a lot more viewers and supporters, but at the cost of revenue. Think of it as advertising. But you need to replace that revenue by selling something else, something more dear to your base in its place. Luckily, you already hit on it in your post! Your biggest customers are the ones paying you $150 for a custom video. Influence (over what video you make next) is your most valuable commodity because it is what your fans are least capable of obtaining without you. And it’s clearly in high demand. What you want is to put as many people in that category as possible. Ideally, you want to allow people to commission new videos for as low a cost as possible without making those paying you the most feel like their influence is too diluted.

    My recommendation is this: try giving your current videos out for free (maybe not all of them, just to start) and then focus the traffic to your site to pages where you allow people to both to pay what they want for your highest res videos (guilt IS a powerful thing and if you want to see it implemented correctly, check out the checkout that changes with the amount you enter to pay) but also to a page where you talk about what videos you might do next.

    On that page, I’d recommend you set rate for suggesting new videos that is very low at first, and you can raise it until you’re not swamped with submissions. These aren’t immediate transactions, as I’m sure some people will ask for things you just don’t want to do. But once you approve them, you would put them up on the page with their own donate button. People could effectively vote with their money on which video they want you to make next. The one which has raised the most by a certain date becomes your next project and the rest are shelved for later.

    But don’t stop there, while you’re in planning, make a closed forum for those who contributed, even as little as a dollar, to that project where they can comment on details they’d like to see in the upcoming video (you can even have how much they contributed show up by their name, now creating a status value for them). This way, the person who would normally just wait for you to release the free video could easily be coaxed into making a small purchase. This not only makes you money from those who wouldn’t pay you normally, but also makes them more likely to pay you again in the future. You could even add milestones to encourage fundraising, for example you could say that every time a video makes some threshold of money (say $10,000 for the sake of argument) you will make a sequel of it (and again, take input from those who paid into it). Some fans of the video will want to pay all they can early on to spur others to donate to it, and others will give what they can when it seems so close, then after you reach the threshold, others will donate more over it to get access to the discussion board for it!

    This I all, of course, based on my assumptions of your business and I’d need to get information from you to really tailor a revenue model to your needs (which I’d be willing to do for free if you don’t mind it being in my spare time), but I hope this gives you a more concrete feel for how Palmer’s advice could be applied to your craft.

    • While I see your well-thought out reasoning & appreciate the amount of effort you put into this….my knee jerk reaction is: too complicated & too far from the norm to work in this situation. Not enough immediate gratification for horny guys…not simple enough for guys with less blood going to the brain.

      I think the % of porn buyers who would pay under this model would be very small. Believe me, I would love to charge every guy who sends me a personal request…but based on several years & hundreds (maybe thousands of emails) I can tell you the % of those willing to pay anything extra is very low.

      I am currently doing very, very well with my current model, so one may say ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ I am simply bringing the topic up for discussion. I’m curious…but I am not seriously considering changing anything at this time.

      • Well I’m happy that I could sate some of your curiosity, and I think you raise some fair concerns. Of course, if you were going to actually implement a new revenue model, it would be rolled out slowly over time with each phase testing and validating the theory before moving on to the next. That said, if what you have is working for you, I would never encourage you to abandon it. There are two obvious opportunities that using such a model in addition to your own could grant you.

        The short-term opportunity is just giving you an additional revenue channel. If you don’t give out a significant amount of content for free, the “pay what you want” model is not nearly as effective, but you could still take the paying for influence idea of my suggestion and apply that on top of your current model. Not so different from creating polls (which is a good idea anyway as it keeps your viewers engaged and returning to your site frequently, much like this blog does). Just letting people vote with their money for what you do next and potentially aspects of it (what outfit you wear from a few options, or what kind of characters are involved, for instance) gives you valuable input that could make your video sales increase and rather than paying for research, you’re getting a modest amount for it. Please note that run in this way, you would not get a good indication of how well the paying for influence model would work as a primary revenue stream, because your selling your videos would choke it quite a bit. Instead, this is a sort of easy additional income I would compare to advertising revenue, where there’s really no downside as long as you use it somewhat sparingly. Also, unlike advertising, it’s not annoying to your visitors because its engaging them rather than distracting them.

        The long-term opportunity is significantly reducing the risk of expansion. I don’t know what your exit strategy is, or what your long-term goals are, but as you move closer to it, you’ll want to consider how to convert your current assets into long-term revenue you don’t have to work at to create. There are many options such as becoming a producer, writing, or otherwise cashing in on your brand (the identity you’ve built). Any such project could be funded in a similar way to what I described (think of it a your own, private Kickstarter, but with the money being able to be turned to revenue straight away rather than becoming seed investment (there are also some legal changes in the pipeline which will drastically change Kickstarter’s model soon which would make it far less applicable to your potential needs). There are, of course, ways of preparing for the future this model would be bad for, namely if you are planning on selling your catalog and investing that money or living off royalties, you want to be extremely guarded about what content you make available for free. Sadly, I wouldn’t expect either of those to be viable revenue sources in the future (looking 5 to 10 years down the road).

  10. If I was the creator behind Adult/BDSM/Erotica/Fetish content/material I would do something totally unforeseen in the industry, and in the form of providing an initial free video to any/every party interested. Or the option of receiving a free video if you purchase the initial video.

    Yes, people would pirate it, but people will pirate anything/everything, even if they must first pay $ to have a copy of the content.

    Anyways, while short trailers are released upon sites to give viewers a taste of the content, IMHO they are not the best way to maximize the value of the product that yourself or any other Adult performer/lifestyle artist is trying to market/sell.

    Yes, I understand that conventions help to further reach out to your fan base and to garner new support, just like traveling around the globe. Similar to musicians who go touring, as they make most of their income from that.

    But for the sake of the internet and in order to establish as diverse and loyal a fan base as possible, I will throw out this idea that I had briefly mentioned to a current Adult Film personality earlier today.

    For starters, release a general video that all parties must buy in order to be privy to further content that would be free. Or, you release a video that is free in order for you to entice individuals/groups into paying for the next release, and the next, or however far they are willing to journey.

    Make it a buy two, receive one free.

    Yes, I am sure that I know exactly what some people or perhaps a lot of people will think if they read this post, “Damn, this guy is so dumb. Someone is just going to buy the subsequent must buy content & release it on a site for free.”

    No shit. But as I stated before, people are going to pirate material anyways. Hell, off the coasts of Africa (as many are aware) exists modern day pirates and if caught they face possible repercussions of military force by naval vessels.

    Does that stop them? No. Yes, they are poor and want to strike at rich, but a lot of people that harbor desires are poor of spirit and will do anything to fulfill their need for self-gratification.

    Point being, not everyone is a pirate or total p.o.s. and not every person is going to look to find free content created by Adult performing artists who provide a kinky medium for people to enrich their lives and well, get off.

    Back to the original point.

    The take on this being that it would be a continuously running theme for the given scenario/series/situation. Each series would involve a submissive (and you could have them pay tribute to be included & reward them with not only being your kinky canvas, but also, providing them with a copy of the entire series for free).

    So, it is a win, win for you then, right?

    I mean, you not only received tribute for the initial creation of the material, but you were also able to satiate your desires by exercising your dominance on a true admirer/fan.

    And then, you have the reassurance that your true fans/servants will purchase the content that you later post to your site.

    For example, say for instance that you were to make a short tease and denial video that will later branch off into further fetishes/FemDom scenarios with the video itself being downloadable for free in order to generate exposure.

    The inclusion of you in either high heels, leather boots, bare feet, or clad in latex or leather, with stockings, fishnets or whatever other outfit that you decided upon etc. etc. etc. along with verbal humiliation, close-ups, etc. etc and then your entering a room w/ the submissive for the ongoing scene.


    Or as I had mentioned, you make it a must purchase (at a low rate) and then offer the next video (another short teaser so to say) for free.

    In the video game world for example, new game consoles are initially released at a much lower price than companies would like to, but they do this in order to help establish a larger fan base and to reward their long standing consumers who possess great interests in seeing the next-generation of systems/content.

    Heck, you could make an initial free video like the T&D one mentioned above and include a closing verbal message asking to receive feedback on your blog.

    “Did you like that? I bet you did. Now crawl or surf over to my blog and let me know what you all think.” – Ms. T

    The purpose of this being to generate exposure (as mentioned before in previous posts by other individuals) and to also fuel the ongoing fires of seasoned kinksters and to stoke the flames of people who have only just begun to dip their feet into the fiery waters of their fantasies.

    If they wish to see more, then they pay for the next video, or if the first video was a must buy then they receive the second video for free, and you can be the judge of just how much content you will include within that segment to further encourage sincere individuals and couples into purchasing more of your content.

    Yes, there are probably grammatical errors/repeats in my post, though I hope that I made my point clear. It is on you or any other party who might have read my post to possibly apply the Scientific method to this theory, but I do believe that it would be a quality marketing tactic for generating dollar$/euro$ and to establishing an even larger fan/servant base.


    • Thanks for contributing. Your idea of making the first part free & other parts for sale or vice versa might make sense for another business…but probably not mine.

      #1. My current monthly membership fee is kind of like buy one, get one (or many) free because you get SO many vids for 1 low price. Way more value than buying them individually from my pay-per-view store. So I’m basically already doing this:-)
      #2. I rarely, if ever, do multi part scenes.

      Someone else may read this idea & run with it tho!

  11. It’s really very complicated question. There are 2 groups of people that complete Your audience. 1) People who visit Your site are just those who ready to pay and do pay already. Some of them will be glad to pay more than usual price, but only some of them. Most of them would not miss a chance to get more stuff for the same money at least from time to time. And some would even hardly stand such a temptation to get their usual stuff for free. 2) People who look for free shared clips now most probably do not visit Your site really often. I guess the largest part of them do not visit it at all. So they won’t even know about the new option (unless You will not be providing all of Your clips with corresponding info).

  12. It’s basic human nature that people will pay what you charge. If you charge nothing, but ask for voluntary donations, the vast majority will pay nothing. There will be a few who are very devoted, and will pay more than you would have charged, but I’d doubt that would make up the difference of volume, unless your actual subscriptions were very low. If you were not getting many subscriptions then maybe going the donation route would be more profitable for you.

  13. Mistress T

    I absolutely love You! I feel like your biggest Fan, but in reality I suppose I am Not.
    With all due respect Mistress T, CASH IS KING! & Anonymity is KEY! You definitely attract clients with a lot of money & some with less, but I myself like to be discrete & prefer not to have personal information associated with porn, even though its your Hot porn: (
    Therefore if you could perhaps set up a po box for cash or maybe western union money transfer is send something.
    I really enjoy your blog & they way you include a variety of pics. It’s cleverly done. I like seeing you as yourself on trips & love the l

    • I do have a PO Box & I accept cash in the mail for membership sign ups, etc. I always explain that the risk is entirely on the senders shoulders (everyone knows there’s a risk in sending cash through the mail). Although it’s never happened, if a guy said he sent cash & I didn’t get it, I wouldn’t take his word for it.

  14. Love the porn pics. If you had a movie of the week or perhaps special occasions/events (birthday) where you kinda prompted viewer’s to send a tribute I bet guys would pay
    Good luck ! Again your blog idea totally rocks, Please come back to NYC soon : )

  15. As someone mentioned above, Radiohead did this a while back during the Napster days. If I remember right they made the same amount of money that they would have if they just sold their album like normal. The Smashing Pumpkins did the same as well.

    I’m actually kind of surprised how popular this Ted talk is, a lot of my friends have been posting it. I figured most people were aware of this concept already. It’s also not unlike what Louis CK is doing.

    I think the key to making this model work is to create a genuine connection between you and your audience. Without that, what else would inspire them to pay? Music is inherently effective because it automatically does this when it’s really good. Porn on the other hand would be a little more tricky. Even if it’s really good, it’s married to a very fleeting feeling that is often associated with shame.

    However, I could see someone like you making it work because you’ve created a powerful connection with your audience through this blog (as well at twitter and sessions.)

  16. There are also some restaurants who work on this principle. You pay what you think the meal was worth.

    An interesting question might be what would happen if you gave people some idea of what others had paid for the item. Say the highest and lowest payments made. Or what most people paid.

    How would that influence other people’s behaviour?

    I think you have a rather special connection to a lot of your audience because of what you do so I think you’d be in a better position than some sites to try it if you wanted to.

  17. Interesting concept.
    I suppose the question comes down to that of changing economy and the changing face of erotic work.

    No one can doubt that there’s a lot of free content and a lot of pirated content chipping away at the profits of every entertainment industry at the moment, and I think the reason for this is a combination of people not feeling like the content is always worth the price and people not always having the amount of money they’d like to in order to feel comfortable purchasing content.

    While I’m sure that you’re still making plenty of money to keep yourself afloat (and better), the question does arise of how long content producers will be able to charge the amounts they do. And, of course, how many more customers could you have if you charged different levels?

    I think it was Chris Guillebeau (blogger and digital book writer) who once stated that the best customers were the ones willing to pay the absolute most for your product because they knew what they wanted and they were willing to pay for it and the worst were the bargain hunters because no deal was ever cheap enough for them.

    Of course, Ramit Sethi of the I Will Teach You To Be Rich blog has talked at great length about his process of testing different price points to find the one that creates the most sales with the least returns or complaints, and he’s often found that higher is often better in a lot of cases.

    So those two would point towards charging more rather than less.

    But, there is Louis CK’s example of charging only $5 for a comedy special to support the idea of charging less in order to get more customers.

    Honestly, I would probably suggest having a starting point and allowing people to pay whatever they like for your content above that in order to weed out those who would take advantage. Maybe have some little extra bit of content for those who really splurge and a few little bits of occasionally updated content for free visitors to see, really truly see, the quality of your content.

    Far too many independent porn producers only have a few images and a single video that never updates to click through before you hit the “pay me” button, which rarely gives enough information about the actual quality of the producer.

    If you were to start with something reasonably low but not too low as to attract the genuine bargain hunters, such as $5 a month, and let people pay more from there, maybe adding an option to tribute more as they please throughout the month of their membership (being as, for many of us, it can be deeply erotic to tribute money to an attractive, dominant woman when we have the extra to give), you would probably find that you’d not only keep the customers who happily pay more but would gain many who normally couldn’t afford, or justify, the expense.

    In my particular case, I’ve been employed and unemployed on and off over the past several years and I’ve found that there are times when I can afford no more than maybe $10 a month for porn (one of my favorite forms of entertainment and thus one that I prioritize in my entertainment budget) and times when I could easily afford several hundred dollars a month.

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