Improper record keeping can cost you dearly. In fact, not doing something could even destroy your career.
Like it or not, the world runs on paperwork — whether it’s on actual paper or signed digitally. Paperwork dictates who owns our work, how much we make, how much we pay in taxes and proves whether or not we’re cleared to work. And, if anything ever goes wrong, the very same paperwork could wind up in front of a judge — an expensive proposition, indeed.
As a performer, you should always be aware of the Terms of Service (TOS) on all sites where you perform or sell content, have copies of 2257 releases for yourself and everyone who appears in your content, save all your work-related receipts and make sure you’ve been tested for STIs before working with others. If this seems daunting… well, it is a lot to think about. Take a deep breath, take things step by step and keep reading for tips on each.
Get Tested For HIV (and Other Things)
Always get tested for HIV and other STIs — sexually transmitting infections — within two weeks of working with other people — and make sure they’ve been tested within two weeks of working with you. Also, hang on to your printed test results. This is an old and common practice in the adult industry, and it’s a good one that has probably saved many lives and could save your own.
Your primary care physician can test you for STIs, but you need to make sure you’re getting tested for the correct panel of STIs. Talent Testing Service (TTS) is one provider that specializes in STI testing for adult performers, is inexpensive and has testing available all over the country. You can find them at TalentTestingService.com.
Get 2257 Releases From Everyone You Work With
What we do with other people, for work, is very intimate, and we often involve our friends. In the spirit of friendship, we often assume we don’t need things like contracts. Believe me though: We do.
And there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that friends come and go and people change. When that happens, it can be very costly for you. One classic example: Filming with someone whose next partner doesn’t want their content out in public. This happens constantly, as do many other costly and unpleasant scenarios.
If someone asks you to take down their content from a clip site and you don’t have their signed 2257 release form and ID on file, you don’t have much of a choice. Either you’re taking the videos down, or the site will take them down, and the sites could retaliate against you.
Get Contracts From Whoever You Work With
Before we delve deeper, let me make this clear: There is nothing wrong with asking a friend to sign an agreement that clearly outlines what the terms of your business relationship will be. Honest friends respect this.
Maybe you’re filming together and each getting a copy of the content to sell. Maybe one of you is paying the other a flat fee for filming together. Whatever it is, it’s perfectly fine to write down what it is you’re both doing and sign it. If you feel guilty about asking for this, remember: Friendship works two ways. You shouldn’t feel bad about wanting them to sign a contract. It protects their interests as well.
Know the TOS
We’ve all quickly looked over the Terms Of Service for things like Facebook and then immediately forgotten whatever part of it we actually read. Or, we just check the box without even reading a sentence because we want to get a sign up or an upgrade moving along. Truly, if we studied every TOS on every app and site in detail, it’s all we’d ever do with ourselves.
But the TOS for the sites where you broadcast and post filmed content are enormously important. These aren’t Angry Birds. These are the companies and agreements that pay our incomes. If you haven’t read the TOS for your cam and clip sites, do it right now. You are in imminent danger of losing a portion of your income.
You might be thinking, “Well I basically know the rules and they’ve never complained to me about breaking any of them.”
You’re setting a trap for yourself. Many sites don’t enforce rules consistently, and they often wait until a user reports you. So while you might be very comfortable thinking that you don’t need to know the rules, you might be one angry troll complaint away from the site’s admins reviewing what you’ve been up to and banning you. Or, even worse, shadowbanning you by cutting off your on-site promotion.
Become an expert on every TOS on every clip and cam site that pays you. It’s worth it. You’ll probably also find out there are things you can do that you might not be aware of. For example, some sites allow smoking and drinking. Some sites allow different sorts of fetishes. Read the TOS and find out which are which. You might find that knowing the rules actually expands what you can do in terms of your work.
Save Your Receipts
Most cam performers I know work on contract, rather than having salaries. This means we are responsible for paying our own taxes, since they’re not normally withheld from contractor pay. It also means that we can receive enormous tax benefits by writing off business expenses.
Editor’s note: For models working in California, independent contractor versus employees is a thing AB5 is about to impact significantly. Please read up!
Keep receipts for anything that has anything to do with business. If you cam from home, this includes everything from rent payments to printer ink. If keeping track of all these chits seems like a big job, don’t worry — there’s an app for that. In fact, there are lots of them. Just make it a habit to scan your receipts when you pick them up, so you have them for tax time. One of the most used is Expensify, and it’s available both on Google Play and in the App Store.
To find out exactly what you can and cannot write off, talk to a tax accountant. If you haven’t done so already this year, hurry. The year is almost over, but there is still time to get more write-offs. Also, ask your accountant about the tax benefits of making your brand into a business (like incorporating, or starting a LLC), and if that could be more financially rewarding than the tax benefits you’ll receive as an individual contractor.
Like I said before, take a deep breath and take these things step by step. Work through one at a time and before you know it you will be a paperwork managing and records keeping pro. Trust me, this will help you in the long run as your career gets bigger and bigger.
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Regram from @OhHappyDay "We just discovered @expensify and it's changing the way we handle expenses for our small business. The app makes it super easy to organize our team purchases (no more rummaging around for old receipts at the end of the month.) Now we can just take a photo of each receipt – and all the hard work is done for us. It even allows freelancers to track their time as an expense. For photoshoot props, snacks in the studio, Lyft rides – we're making sure to #ExpensifyThis!"
Sammy Shayne recruits and coaches cam models for LiveJasmin.com. Find her on Twitter at @SammyStrips. If you have questions or a topic you’d like her to cover in an upcoming Sammy Says, email her at email@example.com.
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