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Brief Business

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One might think that selling your—ahem—well-worn undies to the online fetish community would be a lucrative snap—you buy a cheap pack of panties from Target, wear ‘em around for a couple days, toss ‘em in an envelope and get some cash transferred into your PayPal account. Right?

We’re in a recession, people! Nothing—not even airing your dirty laundry—comes as easy to us as it did to our parents. Wait... gross. Since Craigslist buckled to prudish pressures and axed its “adult” section, becoming an Internet skid-mark entrepreneur ain’t as easy as it used to be.

First, you’ve got to find a place that’ll host your online listings. You can either do this independently, by purchasing a domain, or you can join the skivvy-selling masses on an underwear auction site such as pantybid.com or usedpantyportal.com that is free to join but has lower exposure.

Then you’ve got to promote your pretty underthings and build your customer base, which is much harder than it sounds in this competitive kink industry. The most successful panty-sellers are the most personal. Key personal touches include having professional (faceless) photos of you wearing your girlish goods and maintaining an ongoing blog about what you’ve been doing with your dirties, how they got dirty in the first place and even with whom (hint: don’t mention the hubby).

Then you’ve got to manage the countless email exchanges from potential customers, which rarely take the form of a quick-sell and often include a “girlfriend experience” of extended online chatting before any purchase is made—or the fulfillment of common “special requests” that can range from going tampon-less during your monthly to wearing a particular pair for up to a week straight (now that’s just unsanitary!).

Now, just because a dude’s got a panty fetish doesn’t mean he’s stupid. It’s common practice for kinky clients to request “validation,” that is, personal proof that you are indeed a real live lady wearing real live lingerie that smells like your real live ... you get the idea. Oftentimes this looks like a picture of you wearing the panties whilst holding a sign with his name on it or signing his name on the panties themselves before shipping.

Once you’ve snagged yourself a spankies-sniffer, you’ve got to get paid. But popular sites such as PayPal disallow adult exchanges, and having someone send cash to your home address is obviously risky business.

Many panty pros opt to be paid via online giftcard to their favorite websites. Some report luck with PayPal alternative, AlterPay. Beginners can expect a measily $5 a pair until they build of band of loyal followers, while the average “24-hours-worn” pulls in $20-$30.

Other braver (or more stupid) undie-slingers have cashed in over $100 for in-person exchanges like meeting your client at a Starbucks and dropping your dirty drawers then and there (see Nerve.com writer Meghan Pleticha’s entertaining personal account of her brief stint in the briefs biz).

The real question is--it worth it? Once you factor in costs such as shipping and webhosting alongside billable hours of your time shooting and editing photos, blogging, emailing clients and satisfying special requests, a casual foray into the fetish community could become a draining, underpaid gig. Then too, you’ve only got so many vaginas to work with, so how high can your production rate really get? Unless you’re personally committed to the fetish, the pay-off’s really pretty low.

More importantly, many knickers-selling novices mistakenly think that this lewd-but-legal exchange is far enough away from “real sex work” to take any emotional toll. While the heyday of Craigslist may have provided us with an impersonal way to make some dirty dough, today’s suffering, gunky G-string market now requires really selling yourself, which can include using a wide array of disturbing vaginal vernacular such as “gusset” and “nectar,” bartering the prices of your “natural scent” and getting in heated email debates about the validity of your soiled clothing.

Sure, scraping up enough quarters to sit in a laundromat with nothing but a three-year-old People magazine to keep you company is a crappy way to spend a day off, but, hey--at least you’ll leave feeling a little bit cleaner.•

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