Kate Sloan is a successful writer, podcaster, journalist and speaker in the adult industry. In 2012 she started her own sex-positive blog, building a large readership interested in adult lifestyle and education content. Making no secret of living with bipolar II and social anxiety disorders, she is more than qualified to write on topics on the challenges and triumphs of relationships and sex. Her blog is top-ranking in many sex blogging lists, including #4 on Kinkly.com and #3 on Molly’s Daily Kiss, and she has a multitude of accolades bestowed upon her by reputed and respected media, organizations and individuals.
Hi Kate, a warm welcome to the Adultsmart community lifestyle blog. I appreciate you taking the time to partake in this interview as I know that it is valuable and limited. Let’s start at the beginning! How does a self-described ‘nerd’ end up starting a sex toy review blog of her own?
Hi, thanks for having me! When I graduated from high school at age 18, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life yet, so I took a year off of school to consider my options. During that time, I applied for a job at a local sex shop – and, while I didn’t get the job, during the application process I did some research online to make sure my sex toy knowledge was up-to-date. I discovered sex toy review blogs like Hey Epiphora and Dangerous Lilly, and knew immediately – being a lifelong sex nerd and a born writer – that this was something I could do, too!
With the encouragement of my boyfriend at the time, I started Girly Juice. That was more than six years ago now and it’s still going strong! Additionally, those first few months of sex blogging emboldened me to apply to journalism schools; I got into all the ones I applied to and ended up getting my bachelor’s degree at the illustrious Ryerson School of Journalism here in Toronto. So, in a way, I owe my entire career to that one impulsive decision I made when I was 18.
That’s pretty daring for an 18-year-old Toronto-based bisexual woman. Since then your blog has evolved into lifestyle writing. Was it difficult to make that transition and expose much more about you and your personal self?
At first, yes, it was really scary! For years, I just called myself “Girly Juice” online, and never showed my face or any other identifying features. I was terrified that linking my real-life identity with my sex-blogger alter-ego would jeopardize my future employment options. After all, what conservative public relations firm or well-to-do magazine would want to hire a girl who’d spent years detailing her sexcapades for thousands of readers?!
But the deeper I waded into the sex-writer life, the more I realized it was my life. Writing about sex is what I do best and I think it is what I was put here to do. So I decided to “come out” as my real self – name, face, and all – and start writing fewer sex toy reviews and more deep-dives into personal topics like my relationships, my journey into kink, and my sexual and romantic philosophies. I acknowledge that not every sex writer is willing or able to be so public about who they are, but I’m much happier now that I’ve pulled back the curtain.
What were the obstacles that you faced starting off your blog?
When I started Girly Juice, I was in a long-term, vanilla, monogamous relationship. I was very much in love, and hadn’t yet figured out that I’m kinky and non-monogamous, so those qualities of my relationship didn’t bother me – but they did make me feel like maybe my contributions to the discourse about sexuality would be pretty limited in scope. I’d only had sex with two people in my entire life; what could I possibly have to say about sex that hadn’t already been said?
What I learned is that your experiences might be common but your perspective and your voice are not. You don’t have to have a wild, off-the-wall sex life to write about sex in a way that is thoughtful and compelling. I will add, however, that I do think my writing has gotten deeper and more interesting as I’ve amassed more sexual experience, had my heart broken a few times, and discovered my kinks.
In life there are always highs and lows. With your blog,
- What most do you regret?
- What is the highlight?
I regret all the time I spent trying to mimic other sex writers’ style. Artists of all sorts often learn through imitation, and I’m sure this process was ultimately helpful for me, but I cringe when I look back at it sometimes! I admire lots of other sex writers whose work is flowery and erotic, or snarky and biting, or precise and academic, but none of those styles are exactly “me.” One of my favorite writers, Alexandra Franzen, says you don’t “find your voice” as a writer, you create it – and I wish I had created mine a little sooner!
The highlight of doing this work, so far, has definitely been the reactions I’ve gotten from readers. So many people have written to me to say that my work helped them figure out some aspect of their sexual identity – their kinks, their relationship style, even their genitals’ preferences – and it fills my heart with sparkly joy every time I hear this. I’ve always essentially endeavored to write the type of blog I wish 15-year-old me had had access to, so she could’ve learned about sex and kink and dating in a way that felt fun instead of scary, and when people tell me my blog has changed their sex life, I feel like I’ve achieved that goal.
If you could do anything differently when starting out, what would that be?
Aside from embracing my authentic style and voice earlier, I wish I had been more willing to branch out in subject matter sooner. I thought my readers were only interested in sex toy reviews and erotica, so I shied away from doing the quirkier or more expansive stuff I really wanted to do: writing about the awkward side of sex, for example, or anxiety and insecurity, or gender inequality as it pertains to sex.
Once you’ve developed a readership, I think you can and should trust that your readers are interested in your perspective, not just in the topics you tend to write about. Your true fans will follow you where you’re going, so you may as well go where your gut pulls you.
How would you best describe the way you review sex toys?
For years, I wrote sex toy reviews that were fairly technical and dry: I outlined toys’ key features, listed their dimensions, and maybe included a paragraph or two about how they actually felt. After a while, though, I realized that this wasn’t the type of review I most liked to read, so maybe I should take a different approach in my review-writing.
Nowadays, when I write toy reviews, I focus almost exclusively on my experience of the toy. Technical specs are easy to find on any product page – but what’s harder to sleuth out on Google is how real people actually felt when they used a particular toy. So that’s what I highlight in my reviews. For example, my recent review of the Neon Wand is mostly about the kinky headspace that it and other pain-inducing toys help me access – and I recently collaborated with my boyfriend on a post about cocktail pairings for sex toys, which moreso emphasizes the way the toys make me feel than the bland details you’ll find listed on their packaging.
Blogging is one thing – and pretty time-consuming. But you did not stop there! You guest and host radio shows, podcasts, workshops and writing for other media as a journalist/essayist. How do you fit it all in?
Luckily for me, I work from home, so I basically get to arrange my schedule however I like. I get up at 8AM every weekday and do some work for my part-time dayjob at an adult-industry marketing firm. Sometime in the mid-morning, I usually head out to a local café to finish up more of that work, draft a blog post, write an article for a copywriting client, and/or edit a podcast episode. Caffeine certainly helps keep me on track and is a vital part of my creative process!
My brain tends to move a little slower in the afternoon, so that’s when I’ll typically switch to less creative and more methodical tasks, like answering emails from advertisers, taking photos for posts, or scheduling tweets.
I rarely relax on weekends, which is one not-so-glamorous explanation for how I stay so productive. If I don’t have social plans on a weekend evening, you’ll usually find me holed up in my bedroom with a beer and my laptop, pouring out my feelings into a blog post draft or sending out pitches for wacky essays I want to write.
What of the many hats you wear do you most enjoy and why?
My best friend Bex and I started our podcast, The Dildorks, almost two years ago, and it remains one of my favorite projects to work on. I get to giggle with my best friend over Skype every week, and then I get to edit our conversation into a hopefully-helpful, hour-long piece of programming. Our fans are so sweet, especially those who travel to events to see us do live shows. Plus our theme song is catchy as hell! (You can find The Dildorks on iTunes or whatever other podcast platform you use, FYI!)
Do you get a buzz out of teaching workshops? What do you hope attendees will gain from them?
Teaching is so exciting! As someone who does most of my educational work via writing, it’s always a delightful challenge to step out from behind the laptop and impart information in a real-world setting.
My favorite workshop to teach is one I developed last year called Vagic Tricks: Hidden Hotspots of the Vulva and Vagina. It focuses on little-known vulvovaginal erogenous zones, including the A-spot (anterior fornix), external G-spot, clitoral shaft, and more. I love teaching this one because many people have genuinely never heard of these spots, so I feel like I am shifting their sex lives in big ways. The first time I taught this class, the crowd was mostly cisgender men, presumably attending so they could learn how to please their partner(s) better, and it made me so happy to potentially be teaching them something useful that they hadn’t heard before.
On a personal note, it took me many years of experimentation to figure out how to get myself off most efficiently, because these little-known spots are of great importance in my particular genital configuration. So it thrills me to think that someone might learn about the A-spot or indirect clitoral stimulation from my writing or teaching, and thereby be able to learn the easy way what I had to learn the hard way.
Running a blog is a time-consuming exercise. How do you find the time to fit everything in?
One of the best blogging tips I ever learned was from the ladies at the Blogcademy, who recommend “batch-processing” tasks. This means that you group similar tasks together: write a few blog posts at once, or take the photos for your entire week of blog content all in one afternoon, or spend a couple hours answering all your emails instead of just replying to them as they come in. It’s a simple tip, but it helps me a lot, because switching tasks takes up time and mental energy.
My other secret weapon is the Editorial Calendar plug-in for WordPress, which gives you an at-a-glance overview of which blog posts you’ve got scheduled for the next few weeks. I publish 2-3 blog posts a week, so I have to stay on top of what’s coming next, and this plug-in makes it easy. I can drag-and-drop my posts around as needed, plan my editorial lineup weeks or months ahead, and make sure any time-sensitive posts are scheduled for when they need to go live. It’s brilliant!
Have you any advice for somebody wanting to start their own adult blog?
Before you start, make a list of at least 50 different ideas for blog posts. If you can’t come up with that many, this might not be a sustainable endeavor for you. (I’m 700+ posts in and still have new ideas constantly, but I’m a huge nerd about this stuff.)
Make sure you really, really like your blog name before you decide on it officially. (I’ve come around to liking, or at least accepting, Girly Juice, but there have definitely been times when I’ve regretted choosing it!) Oh, and check to make sure the social media handle you want is available on every platform you’ll be using.
Talk to a lot of people about sex. Friends, family, partners, your Twitter followers, whoever is willing to chat with you about sexual issues. Make friends with other sex bloggers and talk to them, too. You’ll learn a lot and come up with lots of ideas from these conversations, even (and perhaps especially) when you and the other person have wildly different perspectives on the topic at hand.
Trust that your view on sexuality is important and valuable. You don’t need to copy other people’s opinions or approaches; the things you have to say are valid all on their own. That said, stay informed: read other sex blogs, read the news, read critical theory and legendary writers in the field. They’ll bolster you when you agree with them and inspire you when you disagree with them.
Pay attention to what people ask you all the time, and what people search for on your site (a tool like Google Analytics or Statcounter can show you this data). These queries can guide your writing, by showing you what interests people most and which topics you haven’t yet addressed in enough detail.
Chase after what authentically fascinates you, even if it’s kind of weird. Some of my most popular posts of all time, for example, are about blowjob-friendly lipsticks, the external G-spot, and keeping a sex spreadsheet – all somewhat bizarre topics I had never or rarely seen addressed anywhere else, and wanted to write about because I found them interesting. Your weirdness is what sets you apart, so follow it wherever it takes you!
What do you feel is your greatest achievement?
While steadily writing a sex blog for over six years is no small thing, I always feel overcome with pride when I get a chance to write for other publications I respect. For example, I’ve dreamed of writing for Cosmopolitan since I was a wee little sex nerd, so I was thrilled this year when I got to write an essay for them about blowjobs, mindfulness, and pleasure. The prestigious Canadian magazine The Walrus also asked me to contribute an essay about “the future of sex” this year, so I got to wax poetic about how the eventual ubiquity of sex robots will transform our sexual culture. Interesting stuff!
How do you want your many followers to view/see you?
I hope they think of me like a cool, knowledgeable older sister whispering sex secrets into their ear in a way that feels fun and accessible. We all need a sister like that, methinks.
I also hope they come away from my writing feeling uplifted and invigorated. There’s a lot of awful stuff happening in the world right now (and always), and indeed a lot of aspects of sex itself can be discouraging or even traumatizing, so I try to provide a more lighthearted perspective on sexuality. If you leave my blog feeling reminded that sex is, at its best, goofy, fun, and connective, then I’ve done my job, as far as I’m concerned.
What will you be doing in 10 years’ time?
It’s my hope that I’ll have written and published a book or two by then, and that I’ll have expanded my sex-positive “media empire” even more. Think Dan Savage, only less problematic…!
On a more global scale, I hope we’ll have taken even more steps toward eliminating sexual shame and stigma by then. Writing about sex toys, blowjobs, and spanking can shift things in small ways for individual people, and I hope that my work contributes to the large-scale attitudinal shifts we need as a society on the topics of sex, gender, and relationships.
Rick is the owner of the Adultsmart, an online sex toy shop that stocks a huge range of adult orientated prouducts. He has been involved in the adult lifestyle industry for more than 25 years. Rick is an active sex blogger who provides a wealth of information and experience. He is an advocate of equality for gender and sexuality.