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QUESTION: Is there a resource you have that would be helpful for survival SW when it comes to creating a budget? (27/02/24)
ANSWER: We are working on creating those resources but for now, let me give you some tips.
Firstly, write down the base expenses you need to meet every week. Rent, food, school fees or child care, petrol etc
The base amount you can survive on weekly. Then write a list of your larger monthly/yearly expenses, like car or health insurance, medical bills, other big bills, tax. What is the base amount you need to make each week to survive? What’s the amount you need to make to thrive?
Look into any sinkholes in your budget. Maybe you’ve been shopping at Coles or Woolies but could save a few $$ if you tried another store such as Aldi, IGA or farmers market, and purchased non-perishables in bulk (if that’s possible). Could you get creative and make some interesting meals with the supplies hidden in the back of your pantry? There’s many food banks around Australia also worth a visit, where they sell the same products but at a hugely discounted rate.
Cheaper Buy Miles and NQR is great for cheaper pantry items.
Do you have some forgotten subscriptions you could cut like Netflix or Spotify?
Can you call your electric, gas or telco company to start a payment plan, negotiate a better rate on your bills or potentially switch providers to help buffer your budget? Your state government should have a dedicated website to help you compare market offerings (just google ‘compare energy’ and the state you live in – make sure the address ends with .gov.au) or use this service provided by the federal government if you live in one of the listed states: https://www.energymadeeasy.gov.au/
Once you have these written out it will help you craft a budget.
Remember, when those good weeks happen (and they always do come around) try to put some extra money towards saving. Even If it’s a little, some buffer in a high interest savings account is better than nothing. There is no shame in only being able to save a small amount. Use those good weeks to buffer the hardship of a rough week upcoming, buy in bulk, pay off a bit a debt, invest in your business, make sure some money is not easily accessible and protect yourself from impulse decisions.
When we have a variable income it’s incredibly hard to budget.
When you know your base weekly needed income, it helps you to know what to prioritise.
Bigger Sister Channel is facilitating a free online roundtable style Skillshare Workshop on How to Diversify your Advertising (including information on directories that allow you to post free and low-cost ads if you are a FSSW) on March 27th – 1-3pm AEDT, that may be helpful.
At the end of the day, there is no secret perfect answer to this question – everyone has unique barriers and situations that a one size fit all solution won’t work. But these are just some tips to get started. It is incredibly hard to budget when poor and incredibly hard to budget when on a variable and small income. We can only try our best.
There are also some great spreadsheet templates available for free on google if that is something that will help visualise your spending
(Disclaimer: Please note this is not financial advice as we are not qualified accountants, please speak to a CPA or financial advisor before applying this to yourself.)
xoxo Your Bigger Sister.
QUESTION: Is this really anonymous. (27/02/24)
QUESTION: This might sound weird but how do you wind down and go to sleep after a booking? (27/02/24)
.ANSWER: It can be really difficult to switch ‘modes’ from work to personal, from on to off, especially for us neurodivergent/insomniac folks in the community. There are two main issues at play that lead to difficulty winding down:
1 ) Difficulty transitioning from one state or activity to another.
2) Difficulty with calming your nervous system
Here are some tips for both:
Music & sound can help you transition states. I have certain playlists I will listen to, to get in and out of a work headspace. Listening to music that feels authentic can help you reconnect with your real self and out of a ‘work persona’ mindset. You can also utilize different HZ frequencies to help calm and relax your nervous system. If you are driving home from work it can help to loudly sing along to the music in the car, singing helps regulate your nervous system which in turn calms your mind and body. If possible, try to listen to work music only at work, and have a dedicated genre or playlist for winding down, to signal and train your body to switch.
Shower/bath – having a shower or bath after you get home can help you transition into another state. Bathing is often internalized as an indicator of a transition state – you go from sleepy-to-awake and ready for the day if you are a morning shower-er and daytime-to-sleepy if you prefer to shower at night. As your mind is likely familiar with this concept having a shower/bath can help indicate that you are mentally transitioning from one state of being to another. The heat of bathing also activates the parasympathetic nervous system which can make us feel sleepy. If you’re feeling particularly wired, try having a cold shower for a few minutes to shock your system out of this state
Give yourself enough time to wind down and don’t beat yourself up about it, some people take a few hours to wind down and some people can be asleep within 15 minutes. If you are in the former camp, accept this fact about yourself and don’t get angry at your body/mind for not working like other peoples. I’m sure you naturally excel in many other areas. If you take hours to wind down, keep track and note of your process, to increase your awareness of where you’re at. If you know it take two episodes of a TV show to wind down, and it’s taking five episodes this time, that you may need to introduce gentle interventions to get you back on track.
Journaling – our minds can often refuse sleep if we feel we have a multitude of mental tabs open. Try writing down your thoughts, feelings or just to-do lists for the next day. Your mind will be more relaxed if it feels it can “let go” of these thoughts and tasks.
Debrief – sometimes we need to talk about things to process them. If you can have a chat to your partner or friends (online or IRL) about the booking this can help your mind process the experience and move on. Sometimes people debrief vicariously by reading the experiences of others in similar positions, you might want to look at the social media of someone you feel connected to, read a book or article of a related topic, anything that makes you feel like your experience is being acknowledged.
Intrapersonal reflection – many of us have been affected by trauma in our lives and suffer from nervous system de-regulation as a result. This can feel like being on high alert all the time, being extremely reactive to noises and racing thoughts. If any of this sounds familiar it can be beneficial to interpersonally reflect and seek out further resources such as learning about nervous system regulation and utilising therapeutic practices.
Supplements can be your friends, some people swear by melatonin, I personally like magnesium. There are many other sleepy time supplements to help you relax such as valerian and passionflower. As always when introducing new supplements do your own research and speak with your doctor about possible side-effects and interactions with any prescription medication.
Limit screens – I know you will hate this, but limiting screens before bed is immensely effective. I like to read before I go to sleep, some people like to meditate and some may listen to audio-book or podcast. If you really cannot live without the screen make sure its on night-mode to limit the emittance of blue light and limit yourself to comfort shows and non-stimulating media.
Move your body – gentle stretching, somatic exercises or yoga at the end of the day can help your body to relax any tension it is holding. Even if regularly exercising is not accessible to you, some sort of movement can calm the nervous system. Before bed, you might want to have a quick boogy, shake and jump around for 5 minutes, and if you have barely any physical energy left in you, but a surplus of nervous energy, you can lay in bed to your favourite song and dance on your back
Review your sleep hygiene. A quick Google will reveal the aspects that determine sleep hygiene, it may be worth visiting this concept to see if there’s any elements to sleep hygiene that can be improved for how you operate. For example, temperature is an element of sleep hygiene, and sometimes when you drink alcohol you will feel warmer. You might want to cool your room, or take a cold shower before to maintain your body temperature. Sleep hygiene is very personal, but there’s some generalised principles you can draw upon.
Interventions and rituals. Once you understand your habitual patterns before bed or winding down, you can begin customising and adjusting what you do and introducing interventions if needed. Know your general ritual before bed; taking off makeup, washing face, brushing teeth, flossing, mouthwash, three stretches before bed, doom scrolling for an hour etc. I have a system in place for when I’m out of sync with my ritual, for example, I know if I’m still awake after 2am, I’ll take a Valium, because I can tell my body is struggling. But before that, if I’m not asleep within an hour of trying to, I’ll get an icepack and place it on my chest. Or if I known I’ve drunk a bit that night, I’m might eat a protein ball to help my body recover.
Hope these tips help you and if you have any further tips to add, don’t be afraid to tell us so in the the Ask Us Anything Box.
xoxo Your Bigger Sister
QUESTION: With protection: full service with HPV can we keep seeing clients? (13/02/24)
ANSWER: HPV is incredibly common. Family Planning NSW says it is estimated up to 80% of Aussies have HPV at some time in their lives. Many people don’t even know they have it and the body clears it up on its own, there is no testing for men but they can be carriers of the infection.
To protect yourself against HPV, as it is more concerning in AFAB people, you can get the Gardasil vaccine if you never did. It’s $200 per 3 shots or you can seek a referral to your local women’s hospital to get it to for free. It is also important to undergo regular Pap smears and cervical screenings.
Men can get the Gardasil vaccine too!
HPV can lead to genital warts in some strains but not always. It is spread through skin to skin contact, and condoms are not completly effective against HPV.
Yes HPV can be scary, it can lead to cancer. But it is not treated like other skin to skin contact viruses. You do not need to tell your partner and stats say they have likely been exposed previously anyway!
Stay safe out there.
xoxo Your Bigger Sister.
QUESTION: Why is there a lack of representation of mature (eg 40 plus) SWs in media etc when there's a fair few of us! And we bring a wealth of experiences, skills and unique perspectives to our clients and peers. (13/02/24)
ANSWER: There are a lot of reasons why we don’t see great representation of older sex workers in media both inside and outside of the industry, these include:
1. **Ageism:** Society tends to prioritize youth, and ageism is prevalent in many industries, including the sex industry. Older individuals, especially women, may face stereotypes or be marginalized, leading to a lack of representation in media content which influences perceptions of their representation in the industry.
2. **Cultural Norms and Beauty Standards:** Media often perpetuates narrow beauty standards that favour youthfulness (as well as other attributes like being cis, thin, white and able-bodied). This is magnified in the sex industry, which contributes to the sidelining of older women who may not fit the conventional image portrayed in the media.
3. **Limited Roles:** Older women are often confined to stereotypical roles in media representation, such as the nurturing grandmother or the cranky old lady, rather than being portrayed in diverse and complex roles that reflect the full spectrum of their experiences and capabilities. This media portrayal affects the perception of older women both within and outside of the industry.
4. **Market Pressures:** A perceived bias around attraction and age. Workers may assume clients prefer younger sex workers, and as a way to capture more clients, mature sex workers might conceal their age and market themselves as younger than they actually are. Clients, as a result, tend to assume some sex workers are 10 years older than their advertised age. This has led to a bit of confusion within our industry about how to represent their age.
5. **Intersectionality:** The intersection of age and gender can compound the issue. Older women may face dual stereotypes based on both age and gender, making it more challenging for them to break through existing barriers. When new ‘types’ of characters are introduced television and film writers often worry it will be confusing for viewers to depict intersectional identities, as the older woman and the sex worker are both newer ‘types’ of characters – we often get one or the other, but not both
The team at Bigger Sister Channel knows that the representation of older sex workers in media does not line up with their lived experiences, this is one of the reasons why we are taking the mic back with our Community Podcast – where we can platform sex workers of all ages! If you would like to help rectify the lack of representation of older sex workers through recording your own community podcast episode, we would love to interview you!
xoxo Your Bigger Sister.
QUESTION: How do you deal with chronic UTIs? (13/02/24)
ANSWER: It seems sex workers often fall into one of two camps: chronic UTI or chronic thrush. For those that fall into the first camp, here are some things to consider. This is coming from a sex worker who had chronic UTI’s, could not get off antibiotics without a UTI reoccurring but who can now spot a UTI a mile away and curb it before it takes over.
Protective daily practices:
– Wash your hands thoroughly before bookings/sex
– Have a dick hand and a pussy hand, don’t let the two hands touch
– When inviting clients to shower, ask specifically that they mouthwash and wash their hands (including under their fingernails)
– Make sure all sexual partners use mouthwash and wash their hands before and after sex
– Pee before sex
– Pee after sex
– Clean your toys before and after use
– Make sure you’re changing condoms if you’re changing orifices
– Wipe front to back, not back to front
– Change your underwear daily
– Don’t use soap or any other products on your private bits. Stick to water and make sure your hands are clean before you clean yourself
– Don’t hold in your pee and pee fully
As a first line of defence:
– Learn the signs of UTIs for you, and learn to identify when a UTI is brewing, such as frequency of peeing, sensations, length of peeing etc.
– Drink cranberry juice regularly (or eat cranberries), and drink plenty of water
– Get your hands on preventative UTI medicine, supplements or naturopathy, like cranberry tablets, Ethical Nutrients Urinary Tract Support and take them proactively if you suspect a UTI is creeping up, or if you’re engaging in regular sexual activity
– If you’re drinking coffee or alcohol regularly, try to ease off until the upcoming UTI subsides
As a second line of defence:
– Get your hands on an antibacterial medication like Hiprex, to take as a response to upcoming UTIs rather than antibiotics.
– Know the timing of your UTI’s, if you take something like Hiprex, you should start feeling better within a few days, but if you don’t feel you’re improving you’ll know to start moving onto the next step
– Keep an emergency pack of antibiotics in your medicine cabinet after speaking with your doctor. Sometimes doctors can’t see you same day or next day, and the longer it’s untreated, the worse it will be
– You want to avoid antibiotics as much as possible, it can destroy your gut flora, cause thrush or worst case, you can get a resistance to the antibiotic. Take antibiotics when all other methods have been exhausted and take it as a last resort
Last line of defence:
– If you’re doing these daily practices, and being proactive with your response to upcoming UTI’s, and it’s not preventing back to back or chronic UTIs, you need to see a doctor or a urologist. There are other causes for chronic UTI’s but if you’re a sex worker, it’s usually a matter of contamination, not giving enough nurturing support for that area, and healthy practices. If you’re following these best practices and they’re not working, there may be other underlying reasons for your UTIs that only a doctor can work through with you.
If you are consistently getting UTI symptoms, especially if you test negative for a UTI or your UTIs are persisting after anti-biotic treatment please get tested for Mycoplasma/Ureaplasma. This is a fairly new type of STI so it’s not on a standard screening, however it is very easily transmissible and currently on the rise in Australia. The symptoms include: pain upon urination, pain in the urethra and bladder, chronic UTI’s and the smell of ammonia.
The treatment is easy, so please get tested by asking your doctor for a PCR vaginal swab to test for the following STI’s:
xoxo Your Bigger Sister
QUESTION: Just started FSSW and can't tell anybody, would love to make SW friends but dont know how, I feel lonely. (16/01/24)
ANSWER: Full service sex work (FSSW) can seem isolating, especially if you can’t tell anyone in your life. However, there is plenty of opportunity to make friends if you know where to look! Our suggestion would be to get involved in your local sex worker community, check out sex worker support organisations in your area for gatherings and events and see if they have any volunteering opportunities you can get involved with. If you are located in Melbourne come along to one of our Bigger Sister Channel skillsharing workshops or if you are located in Brisbane you could attend an admin day. As well as utilising sex work organisations you can find friends and community support in online spaces, create some social media profiles and follow your peers. Try to find a sex worker who you vibe up and ask them if they’re interested in expanding their social circle within the industry and respect their answer either way (some people are very private!). Of course, do your due diligence before meeting up with anyone from social media, but don’t be afraid to strike up conversations – we’ve met some of our best friends through social media, including members of the team at Bigger Sister Channel!
xoxo Your Bigger Sister.
QUESTION: How do other workers deal with really quiet times? I feel like all I do is wait for the phone to ring. Is it true that at some stage you have to tour after staying put in one city too long (clients get sick of you)? (16/01/24)
ANSWER: Quiet times in this industry happens to us all! It’s a pain but one thats very common. Around school holidays, holiday times like Easter, Christmas, Ramadan and January for some reason. Around tax time, it’s notoriously known these are quiet times for us sex workers.
After enough time in the industry you start to know when the quiet times are coming and if you can plan around those, build up a side hustle, do some online content maybe, or have an emergency fund for them, this helps!
Quiet times are also a great time to invest back in your business, redo your website or ad copy, come to a Bigger Sister Channel workshop and up-skill, do a photoshoot or selfie session! It might be the time you need to start expanding your social circle in the industry.
Try to not just stick by the phone, go out and live your life and bookings will come. The stress of being stuck waiting for a booking is not healthy. The clients will come when you live your life, waiting by the phone doesn’t speed up anything.
As for touring, touring is expensive and I always say, if you can’t afford a holiday you can’t afford a tour. Many workers survive fine never touring, and for others it’s our livelihood. Don’t race in quiet times to feeling like you MUST tour.
If you want to give touring a chance, put out a post on your ads or socials, gather some interest and see how you go.
No harm in trying!
xoxo Your Bigger Sister.
QUESTION: Tax advice / resources for Australian OF creators? (16/01/24)
ANSWER: Unfortunately, there is no generalised tax advice that can be applied to OnlyFan (OF) or content creators except that we should do our taxes as our income is easily trackable. Be wary of some financial professionals because you shouldn’t have to pay more than a few hundred dollars for a tax return, and some do charge an arm and a leg if you have a higher income.
OF creators (and any other content creator) are considered sole traders, and we’re not treated exceptionally to any other sole trader. That means anything that’s work related, we can claim as a tax deduction, we just have to keep track of receipts, income and expenses.
To start getting your head wrapped around the basics of being a sole trader and meeting your tax obligations, you can listen or watch this interview with Shelin David, a chartered accountant who was a guest in our Community Podcast. You can even book in a 15 minute consultation with Shelin to see if she’s the right tax advisor for you (but keep in mind she’s on leave for January)!
Further resources can be found in the Hnry Tax Resources section. Hnry is an app that deals solely with freelances and sole traders and all of their resources are catered towards sole traders like us. For resources specific for sex workers, you can view the futureproofed Tax Q&A Workshop we did with Hnry, and view some of the most commonly asked questions and answers. If you like the sound of Hnry and want to claim your expenses + have your tax automatically deducted, then trial Hnry with our BIGGERSISTER code.
It’s a bit cliche but finally, the Australia Taxation Office has some great resources for sole traders that you can read about here.
Stay tuned for our economic empowerment program where we will dive deeper into these topics.
xoxo Your Bigger Sister.
Want to support our community project?
Bigger Sister Channel is now accepting financial donations for those who share our vision and want to support our mission. Donations go to operation costs, providing free workshops, compensating expert presenters, developing peer-to-peer education content, having monthly giveaway and supporting sex workers in need or crisis.