About once a month, I get an email from someone asking if I take on apprentices or would be willing to train them. I respond to these emails often enough that it seems wise for me to write up a response here, so I can share it with the next person who emails me seeking advice.
- Become active in local lifestyle organizations as a starting point for learning, building a kinky social network, and establishing credibility within the community. Don’t go trolling local groups looking for clients, though it’s certainly possible you may meet some in this manner. I began my professional Domme work somewhat by accident, because people saw me playing at a local venue and asked me to train them. After the fourth or fifth such inquiry, I realized that I was building a business. It’s important to note that I had been playing in my personal life for several years by that point, but my skill set as a nascent professional was quite limited.
- ProDommes are 1/3 Domme, 1/3 therapist, 1/3 business owner. You must be skilled in all of these areas.
- Be prepared to spend 80% of your work hours unpaid, behind the scenes: conducting correspondence with prospective clients, updating websites, building your business, and marketing yourself.
- Dominance has to be a labor of love. If you aren’t truly involved in this as a lifestyle, you are merely a performer, and your clients will notice. I love what I do, and this makes all the difference. Passion for the craft of BDSM also translates into less stress and lower risk of burnout. I joke with my painslave that he is my best form of stress relief, since I’m always so much happier after our meetings.
- If you are seeking big income, you will probably be disappointed. Quality equipment, private dungeon facilities in safe locations, health insurance, and national advertising are quite costly. It takes several years before your investments really pay off. In this economy, people have drastically reduced their discretionary spending. Even well-established Dommes are struggling these days, though they may not publicly admit it. Just look past the photo updates of fancy Louboutins and you’ll see women with no health insurance, sitting on stacks of unpaid student loans or overdue medical bills. (Disclaimer: I don’t have any unpaid student loans OR Louboutins.)
- You will not get paid sick days, paid holidays off, or regular paychecks. If you are lucky, you may get delightful paid vacations with really fun kinky people.
- Never sacrifice your personal safety or ethical limits for a client. It will erode your sanity, and it’s simply not worth it.
- Everyone has different boundaries and interests in sessions. Figure out what yours are, stick to them consistently, and don’t apologize for them. I totally respect women who have very different tastes and ethics from mine; we simply have different opinions or different kinks. I could make a whole hell of a lot more money if I did some of the things other Dommes might do, but I either wouldn’t enjoy those activities or feel they cross legal lines that are a little fuzzy and potentially risky.
- Be creative, but be consistent. Some of my clients have seen me on a regular basis for nearly a decade. Some of them have widely-ranging tastes, while others focus on only a few core kinks. Find a way to keep it fresh and interesting, but don’t be so scattered that you stray away from the energy that drew them to you in the first place.
- Get a wide variety of training, on a diverse array of kinky subjects. As a professional, you don’t just need to be proficient in your own personal kinks, you need to be proficient in numerous areas of BDSM. Granted, there are some things that may be hard limits for you as a professional, and that’s totally okay. (Personally, I have no interest in toilet scenes or smoking.) However, the more breadth to your training history, the wider a net you can cast for prospective clients. I shudder to think back on the first few years I saw clients – I ran out of things to do with them after a handful of sessions! Don’t find yourself in that same situation. 😉
- Training for me has come in many forms. Over the past fifteen years, I have read dozens of books on BDSM. I have attended probably a hundred workshops at lifestyle organizations all over the US and in the Caribbean. BDSM was the topic of my dissertation, which gave me an avenue to pursue kinky study from a different perspective. I learned my medical play techniques from a doctor, cross-dresser makeup techniques from a professional makeup artist, and I have a PhD in the social sciences which helps me understand how the human mind operates within our delightfully kinky culture. I never stop learning, which is a large piece of the fun for me. I suggest you consider a similar philosophy.
~ written by Lady Elizabeth