An introduction to the real economic factors involved in running an escorting business
Business – A person’s regular occupation, profession, or trade. A commercial activity.
Economics – The branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.
In my opinion, the biggest hurdle to truly understanding the financial implications of being an escort is this.
Many of us don’t really feel like we actually “run a business”
We all claim to be business women (or men), and yell about the tax we pay or jump at the chance to highlight our cross over skills when people question our choices. But truth be told, what we do as sole traders doesn’t really have the weight that “running a business” is expected to have.
It took far too long for me to really settle with the idea that Sienna James is a business. Now, being Sienna James is a job. Escorting, and more so, sex work (as a whole) is work – We all agree with that.
But a full blown business? It seems too simple when you start… Make a profit by spending less than you make. That’s it, right? Do all the equations, spreadsheets, and business names for “money made, money spent” really have a place here?
Scarily enough – yes.
The point of a business is usually (although not always, but that’s a story for another day) to make money. That is done by receiving payment in return for the product, goods or service that it provides. The who, what, when, where, why and how, in relation to both the vendor/supplier, and the customer/consumer is where the economics we are discussing here kick in.
I put a basic definition of economics at the beginning of this article. But its bigger than that
Economics is a social science
It’s about people. Economics is about the way we spend money and consume resources. It’s about how we as humans, in society, decide on the cost of things. It’s the way we work, buy, sell, trade and generally interact surrounding anything of value, or anything considered to have an affect on things of value. Even “work-life balance” can be looked at from an economic standpoint.
Yes, economics involves money and all the maths that goes along with it, but that’s not always the focus, or the most valuable part.
This is why I have called this post Escort Economics.
This is not just about your escorting profit and loss spreadsheet. Escort Economics is about your behaviours, and choices you make in your escorting business. It is also the knock on affect those choices have on your service, wellbeing, profitability and business as a whole.
To start, let’s get something straight.
Sex work is expensive
Although it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, it was less than two years ago when I finally took a hard, detailed look at what it cost to be Sienna James.
My lesson? That bitch is expensive and I felt like a proper idiot for embodying the quote “ignorance is bliss”.
We all know that looking flash isn’t free, and having an image that reflects your brand and justifies your rates, is incredibly important. But even when armed with that knowledge, and a base understanding of business principles, many of us choose to be lazy or even completely inactive.
So let’s dig in.
The entry level stuff is what we usually consider, and so it should be.
- A place to work
- A phone + credit/data
- Looking the part eg: outfit + hair/beauty
Seems simple enough, right? Digging deeper and analysing what’s really going on though, is another story.
First things first: Your real horly rate…
I recommend working out your actual hourly rate. Meaning, what is your time actually worth. I don’t always know exactly what mine is down to the dollar, but I sure as shit know it isn’t $650 an hour.
Here are some things you need to consider to have a better idea of your actual rate per hour. (As an example, I have put in some of my own times and costs.)
On average, how long does it take you to communicate and set up a booking?
30 minutes – This includes the initial chat, scheduling, screening, confirmation on the day, any checking in with clients or discussions around special requests or circumstances, and the work I spend on social media, advertising, networking, researching.
How long does it take to get ready?
45 minutes – Washing hair, waxing/shaving, deciding what to wear, packing, make up, hair and getting out the door.
On average, how long does it take to travel to your booking?
15 minutes each way– Thank god Perth is small.
How long does it take to clean up?
15 minutes – Laundry, prep space for next booking, and shower.
We are now at 3 hours per “1 hour booking”.
Next – the costs involved in supplies, consumables and products etc. Think about:
- Condoms/lube/massage oil
- Make up/perfume/shampoo
- Washing powder
- Client toiletries eg: Body wash/mouthwash/toothbrushes/deodorant
What about the extra waxing, hair or nail appointments you go to because of your job?
What about the costs for extra sexual health screening?
Do you have babysitting costs?
I do mainly incall bookings, so there is the cost of the actual space, utilities, cleaning and keeping it well furnished.
Do you find yourself needing an extra physio, therapy, self care/pampering session because of your job?
Side note: If your back plays up when you do too much doggy, so you have to get a massage to make sure it doesn’t seize up, that’s a cost, and an economic consideration. To decide whether or not you take that booking isn’t always as simple as “booking rate – massage = Still making a profit therefore YES”. Think about whether it’s:
- A $100 massage per $2000 booking with someone great and not draining.
- A $100 massage per $200 booking with a guy who exhausts you emotionally.
- A $100 massage per $2000 booking with a guy who exhausts you emotionally.
As long as you don’t NEED the money and/or are in a sex work for survival situation, whether or not you take the “too much doggy, need a massage after” booking is a very personal decision, and one only you can make. What one person deems “worth it” in terms of putting up with something less than ideal/inconvenient or uncomfortable, is so “NOT WORTH IT” for the next.
I’m not saying I know exactly what all of these cost me. To accurately work it out would be difficult. You would need to track every minute, every enquiry, and every millilitre of wine or foundation you used. Next, you would need to compare it to your base standard of living without your escorting business. Then average it out. For me, that’s just a bit over the top, but as an estimate, I would conservatively say I have a $50 cost per booking.
I knock $50 off my rate per booking for costs. My first hour isn’t worth $650, it’s now worth $600. Now, as my time isn’t only the 1 hour in the room, it’s the 3 hours total, my hourly rate is actually $200 p/hr.
It’s not always $200p/hr though. It takes the same time to screen a client for an overnight booking as it does for a 1 hour, and my prep time is the same for a dinner date as a 90 minute booking. That being said, I also factor in how I may need to recharge after longer bookings, catch up on sleep lost on an overnight, or even have a day or two off because I’m drained from being even the most wonderful clients sounding board or support.
Consider the equations in the table below:
|Booking Length:||90 minutes||2 hours||4hr dinnerdate||14 hr Overnight|
|Prep time:||2 hrs||2 hrs||2 hrs||2 hrs|
|Additional factors:||n/a||n/a||30 mins |
(catch up admin)
|2 hrs |
(catch up admin/extra sleep)
|Actual hourly rate:||$257||$288||$254||$208|
As you can see, it’s important to remember we are paid very well for our time, but not quite as well as it looks at first glance, because there is more to this job than being in the room.*
This knowledge may or may not affect the decisions you make with your business. However, economically speaking, it should make you look at things in a different light.
Next time a client is pestering you to talk to them over days or weeks in between bookings, remember this is brings your hourly rate down.
BUT it’s also valid to realise you may get more work because of that time and attention you invested in them.
There is always a sweet spot. Try to find yours.
I know that my sweet spot for time outside of bookings spent on extra chat involves touching base with my regulars enough that they know they matter, and I am grateful they choose to see me. Not constant chat with anyone who has booked me once, or says they might one day.
If that’s what I did, it’s likely I may be better off getting an office job or a job as a PT.
I remember explaining to a wannabe client once: If I engaged in chatting to them as much as they wanted me to, and was fair to all my regulars and did the same for each of them, I wouldn’t have enough time in the day to actually do bookings. I would have to quit.
It’s also important to consider that you may have this job as it enables you to earn where you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. This may be because of factors such as time/availability, disability, mental health conditions, location etc. In that case, economically, you aren’t comparing your $100p/hr escort rate with your ability to jump right into a career making $80k + a year. You are comparing your escort hourly rate, even if its $20p/hr with the ability to work and earn at all. So fuck me and all my maths, because you should be proud you have chosen to not be a victim or make excuses, and instead jumped right in, caught those lemons, and are making sweet lemonade!
You also may do this because you straight up enjoy it, and enjoy the way you run things, even if they aren’t money or time efficient. THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE TOO!
If you are investing time or money that you have worked out is essential to your business, or just because you like it, don’t let other people tell you to change. If your rates are lower, or time/money investment is higher, but that’s what you need to or want to do, do it.
Just make informed decisions about this stuff. Choose to engage or not engage with chit chat, or turn down a booking if that’s what you want or your business needs.
Consider that you may be better off not working today, as you need a day off to recharge. If you feel obliged to take the booking now, how many times over will that decision cost you next week when you burn out, or your standard slips and you get a bad review or you even lose a regular? As long as you can live in between bookings and have the money to say no, sometimes it’s better for your business and your own mental health to sit on the couch.
Your time is valuable. Be empowered to make these conscious choices.
There is also no shame in paying someone else to assist you, or using software to automate aspects of your business. In fact it quite literally may be cheaper.
Social media – Consider scheduling posts for the week with Hootsuite.com, in one go so it’s far more time/cost efficient.
Website/Advertising/Profiles – Consider an assistant or professional to update your advertising or website for you.
What does it cost you to do those things? It will take you longer than it would take an expert, the quality may not be as good, and how does it affect your hourly rate/how would that time be better spent?
Having said that, you also have to have the money to spend on someone to help or paid software to assist, so don’t feel bad doing these things yourself. Just actively make that choice after considering all the options.
Do not be a passenger in your own business.
Here is another example as food for thought:
When you make a choice to advertise on a new platform, the base consideration is how many more bookings do you need to do, to cover that cost. However, even if you know you are covered, there are many more things you could be considering.
- Is your profit after the cost to advertise on this new platform worth the effort, time and money you spent? (eg: The advertising cost $100p/m, and your rate is $150p/hr. If you only get 1 booking p/m from this new platform, is that $50 left after the cost of the advertising, worth the time and effort spent to get it?)
- What is the increase in time wasters per genuine enquiry from this new platform?
- What the time wasted talking to them worth to you?
- If there is mental/emotional drain and does that affect the quality of your service? Will that have an affect on keeping regulars or getting other bookings?
- What kind of clients are using this new platform? (over and above Tw’s) As in, are they more or less upmarket? Does that mean you need to change your marketing/image/brand?
- If yes, how much does that cost and how does that affect your other advertising or existing brand?
- Does this all differ in different cities if you tour? If yes, how so and how can you combat that or use it to your advantage?
It goes on. And on and on and on. You can dig as deeply as you choose to with your own business, but be aware that all of these things are happening whether you ignore them or not.
I can’t even begin to cover it all here, and this is already too long. (I’m surprised some of you are still with me!)
Just think next time a decision pops up… What is that incall space is actually worth? What does it actually cost you per year to forget vibrators in the bible draw at hotels? Should you or should you not offer an “Orphans Christmas” package over December for those in your city without family, and what you should charge due to the roast you cook, and the naughty elf costume you buy? If you should implement a 2 hour minimum or put in place a “strictly no doggy” policy because it’s costing you too much in massages and not being able to sleep comfortably is making you cranky, which ends up meaning you don’t get as many bookings. Are you better off working your ass off until you burn out, then taking off a month to lie on the beach in Thailand, or are you better off cutting bookings by half and consistently working all year round?
These are all Escort Economics – Remember it’s the who, what, when, where, why and how, in regards to making, spending and consuming.
Your business. Your choice. Your Escort Economics.
Until next time,
Sienna James xx
* Regardless of a persons chosen job, everyone has time and expenses to factor in. Everyone has a right to do these equations based on their personal circumstances, so don’t start with the “oh woe is me, I’m actually paid $200p/hr not $600!” when your client, John Smith’s hourly rate as an office worker also has gone down from $50 an hour to $40 too.