There are three concepts I want to discuss here: Supply and Demand, Diversification, and Budgeting/Savings. As I have said many times before: Try to take the longer view. You may have days on end with no income. That could add up to a bad week, but don’t assume that to be the case. Rather, try to look at months, quarters, and years instead. This keeps the days and weeks less fretful, if you see you are on target for the month. If you have prepared for down cycles, you will be better positioned to get through them to the next up cycle.
Supply and Demand
This is a very complex topic, and at best I can offer only guidelines and broad brushstrokes. But here are some concepts to consider:
- How many escorts are in the area where you want to live/visit? I prefer to look first at areas that have ~15 – ~75 escorts when I ad up the unique entries from Rentboy, Rentmen, and M4Rn. Too few escorts implies there is no demand, too many implies there is too much competition (depending on the size of the city in question). But this doesn’t work 100% of the time. Some areas with very few escorts are starved for supply and can be very profitable for the few escorts who are brave enough to go off the beaten path. Some areas in the Goldilocks Zone are already over-saturated. Some areas with huge numbers of escorts can actually support them all (e.g. NYC, San Francisco, etc.). The range I listed above is a guide line. Place a feeler ad and try to be more educated about the response level of local client base.
- What are other escorts charging? If you see people listed as escorts who are charging massage therapist fees (which tend to be 1/3 – 1/2 escort fees), then something is amiss, especially if the pics show a top caliber dude. Either the escorts in the area have undermined themselves by trying to compete with each other on pricing (and have lowered the quality of the experience for everyone involved), or else they may be listing a fee just to meet that then goes up from that base. Another possibility is that the clients in that area simply can’t or won’t pay what I consider a reasonable escorting fee. Whatever underlies a situation with remarkably low fees, reconsider whether or not the area in question will be supportive. Again: Try a feeler ad. See if people balk at your fee. Get educated about the clients and their perception of value.
- What is the overhead for the area? Some places cost more than others, but you cannot presume the big cities are always more expensive. For example, I can get very low prices for flights to some big cities where the hotels cost more. This means trips to big cities can cost just as much as visits to smaller places with cheaper hotels but higher priced flights. For example, I can fly from Charlotte to New York City round trip for somewhere between $150 – $250, and I have a friend who has a place where I can stay for free. This means that New York City is an extremely low cost trip for me, but when I checked on Austin, TX the flight alone was $800 (but the hotel was only $150 for three nights, if that is any consolation). Learn as much as you can about the cost of a trip and compare that to what you think you can generate while you are in the area.
Remember: Do your research before going to a new area by first putting out a feeler ad. See what kind of response you get. Keep the contact info for the people who reply. If your initial poke yields only tepid response, hold off. You can try again in the future, and you will already have some people to notify next time you want to try again. In the end, everything is a gamble!!
I have not done an entry in this series in a very long time. I think that may have been for a reason. For so long I was doing so well that I think I was getting arrogant. But right now I can plainly see why it was good for me to have created a cash cushion. I am currently at what I hope is the end of a down cycle that started in November 2013 and went all the way across to February 2014 and possibly March 2014. The nature of accidents and the unknown is that they cannot be anticipated usually, and that is what happened to me. In November 2013 I accidentally planned the wrong weekend off for Thanksgiving. A silly mistake until I realized I would have to take half of November off as a result. My bad! But December, despite being half devoured by time off for Yule and New Year, looked great on the books. I had lots of appointments scheduled throughout the month… until a massive flu season wiped out my entire month as people cancelled for illness. Okay, January 2014 comes, and I’m ready to go. Two unimpressive months, and I need to make up some lost ground. And I would have, except winter weather undermined my trip to NYC, I unknowingly scheduled myself to be in DC during a kink/fetish festival, and then had to perform at the Asheville Fringe Festival. Three weekends lost. I barely got the money for February together in time, which meant I went into February without any head start for March. And then the winter weather caused more cancellations in February, I had to eat more non-refundable plane tickets, and through it all I was very close to having to tap into savings. At this point I still have not done so, but the ice I stand on is splintering… Every time it looks like spring will appear, winter beats it back down and sends me more complications.
I have been lucky in that I keep barely managing to make what I need each month to cover my costs; however, I do have some peace of mind knowing that I have a buffer. This winter has taught me a valuable lesson: I desperately need to diversify my cities, so that I have a client base in areas that experience mild winters. All my current cities have the potential for rotten winter weather.
This is a process I have delayed implementing for a couple years, much to my regret now. I was at the Philadelphia airport the day Hurricane Sandy came ashore there. It was an abject fiasco. Sandy was my first lesson in diversification. At that time I had my ad only on Rentboy, and all my cities at that point were susceptible to hurricane damage. For weeks or months after Sandy I couldn’t go to my cities, because they were having so many problems after that storm, and I couldn’t let anyone know I was going anywhere else, because Rentboy’s server was down completely for a while during the storm surge in NYC, as well as intermittently for weeks after that. Because of Sandy I was forced to make two points of diversification: I added a few new cities to my roster (and a couple have become regular stomping grounds for me, except in winter), and I placed ads at Rentmen and Men4RentNow. Although it took something extreme to force me out of my comfort zone, the changes have profited me greatly. I had avoided making these changes until I was in crisis (such is the nature of change, yes?), and now Winter of 13/14 is going to force me to re-diversify my territory to minimize winter complications in the future.
Learn from my stubbornness: Diversify as much as possible. Not only in your escorting practice, but in all parts of your life. You will be safer and sounder for it. I got through this season only because I had the psychological comfort of my savings cushion. Thankfully, I haven’t had to touch it yet. I’ve resisted tapping it… but if I had needed to, I could have.
So, how do you build a savings cushion? By being organized! I suggest gradually building up a 3-month cushion at first, and taking it slowly up to a 6-month or even 12-month cushion. That means you have three, six, or 12 months’ worth of cash in case of illness, burn out, retirement, Hurricane Sandy, etc. If you need $2,500 per month to cover everything, then strive to keep $7,500 (3-month cushion), $15,000 (6-month cushion), or $30,000 (12-month cushion) in some form for your use during less lucrative times. Building savings can be a slow process, just like getting fit, so make a goal of setting aside $x every week or month until you have built up your cushion. Treat savings the way you do strength training, one short-term goal at a time that adds up to long-term success.
I prefer to know my itinerary before I ever show up in a city. Over the course of a week I am looking for 7 – 12 billable hours during trips away from home (and only 3-6 billable hours if I stay in Charlotte for the week). I need two billable hours to cover hotel and food; one or two to cover airplane fares; three to amass the money I need that week for living expenses; and then the difference goes toward savings, personal/creative projects, and/or spending money. This means that out of a maximum of 12 billable hours in a week (this is one way I avoid burnout!), a quarter of the money goes immediately back into my travel expense account, a quarter goes towards bills, and half goes to me. And THAT is how you divvy your money: Repay travel first, so that if you have a disappointing weekend you can afford to try again the next week. Put aside money to pay your bills next, so that you are not in a weakened financial position at home. But pay the business FIRST! (You can pay your bills late if need be! If you pay them first to be on time after a bad weekend, you won’t have the money to travel!) Finally, PAY YOURSELF. You would be wise to put some of what you have netted after business/bills into savings, some into investments, some into an emergency store of cash, and the rest into something nice for yourself (nice food, new clothes, travel, JEWELRY!!! hahaha). However you decide to pay yourself, be sure that you do so at every opportunity.