Paid vs Trade: What Do They Mean? 1

I’ve been in this industry long enough to have a fairly definitive idea on the options available to models & producers. This isn’t meant for bigger production companies (because I don’t know of any company that offers any sort of content trade), but instead for newer models & performers or those just starting to branch out into working with others. There are essentially 3 types of work in the fetish video industry: Paid, Trade, and Shared. I’m going to give you a break down on each of the 3, what they mean, pros vs cons, and what I see as being the most profitable based on return on investment (ROI). All of this is based on my personal experiences over the past 8 years. 


This one is pretty easy to understand. There is a financial agreement made between a producer and a model (I realize that it isn’t always outright financial; sometimes this is more of a barter system such as airfare, theme park tickets, etc. Some form of payment in exchange for work). Generally speaking, a producer hires a model to sign over use of their image & likeness in video and/or photos from that particular production. Much like any other job, the one doing the paying is the “boss” and the one being paid is the “employee.” Easy peasy to understand, I think!

When it comes to paid work, I see two options out there: pay per hour or pay per scene. Sometimes, models who work on a pay per hour basis have slightly discounted rates for half day and full day bookings, some don’t. Sometimes producers use “pay per scene” to undersell the model (i.e., a 30 minute video which ends up taking all day because of chit chat. The producer doesn’t want to pay an hourly rate when this is something that they expect to happen). While that doesn’t often happen, it is important as a model to talk to the producer about estimated times on set before agreeing to a pay per scene shoot.

I tend to prefer paid work as a producer. Here’s why:

  1. I pay for a set number of scenes as discussed with the model ahead of time.
  2. I own everything shot that day. Everything is 100% mine, a model release is signed, and that’s that. No bickering over who owns what or anything.
  3. Better quality work. It’s not that content trade doesn’t get quality, but paid work gets better quality. In my experience, I’ve never hired anyone who wasn’t there to work. They showed up, they got shit done, they signed their paperwork, they maybe chatted a bit, they hugged me, and then they left. It’s a matter of being efficient and being a good worker.

Content Share

This is my least favorite option I’m presenting you today. The idea is that each person contributes ideas and everything gets filmed or photographed, and then everyone shares the content. Unlike content trade and paid content, there is no exclusivity.

Some people try to argue “well, this will sell well for you because of ___________.” That X factor is generally who is in the clip or what the clip features. But in my experience, whoever puts the clip up fastest is the one who gets the profit, especially with sites like clips4sale where you generally don’t “own” your traffic. I’ve worked with top name Fetish performers who have claimed that even with shared content, it will sell because they’re in it. This is not the case for me, therefore making it a waste of my time. 

Content share is the least profitable for me. Occasionally, I make a profit of shared content, but the reality is that the return I get on my investment of time is far less than minimum wage…a wage I haven’t worked at for years and do not wish to return to. It is problematic to me to invest time and ideas into a shoot and not own any of the content 100%. Because of the ROI I see from content share, I do not shoot it anymore. For anyone.

Content Trade

This is where I think things get a little more complicated. There are a lot of ideas of what content trade is, so I’m going with my definition of content trade. Content trade is when 2+ models and/or producers agree to share their likeness on camera for one another. For example, Whitney Morgan and I often do content trade, so she agrees to be featured in my videos in exchange for me being featured in her videos. There is no money exchanged nor is there a barter system beyond video for video (or photoset for photoset). The theory with content trade is that each model gets exclusive content for themselves while allowing others to get the same thing. A common means to achieve a successful content trade is to shoot “round robin” where each person gets an exclusive video, then the next person, then the next person until everyone has 1 exclusive video and the next round starts so then everyone will have 2 exclusive videos and so on. An alternative to round robin is going hour for hour, where each person gets an hour to get whatever content they’d like. This can go well, if it’s a smaller group and everyone is respectful of time. Planning it out in advance tends to help the flow for both types of content trade. Both can be slowed down dramatically with chit chat.

As a model, I tend to like content trade a lot. I think that it breeds creativity between one another because each person has their own way of doing things, which tends to inspire others to try new things. The biggest problem I see with content trade is the time factor. You’re spending a lot of time getting exclusive content for each person, and in the end you walk away with less and less the more people are involved. I’ve had content trade shoots that last all day and each person only gets 2-4 exclusive clips. To me, that’s not the best ROI. For some people, it is though.

The Bottom Line

For me, the bottom line of what is most profitable for me is easy: hiring models has the highest return on investment. Since I hire for either a set number of videos or a 2-4 hour basis, I know how long to expect to be shooting and what I am going to get from it. It is most efficient for me, as I pre-plan everything as to waste as little time as possible. In 2 hours of hiring a model, I can usually get 6-10 videos that I own 100%. With content trade, to get the same number of exclusive clips that I own 100%, I would have to invest at least twice as much time. More than likely, it would end up being 4-6 hours for me to get the same number of exclusive videos if I am lucky and those I am working with are as driven as I. An investment of time is equal to an investment of money for me. 

That being said, I find content trade to be a great means of acquiring new fans and gaining exposure of potential future customers. It also gives the chance for me to learn from my peers and for them to learn from me.  In an industry that is constantly evolving, this sharing of knowledge is vital to staying successful. I am, however, very picky on who I trade with. I do not trade with male producers who will not be on camera without a mask or who are unwilling to do things which I consider to be my “bread & butter.” 

As I previously mentioned, sharing content is not an option for me anymore. The hours I’ve invested in sharing content just have not paid off for me. As someone who has other work I could be doing to make money, investing time into something for business purposes that never pays off is just bad business. 

For my readers, are there other types of shooting that you like? What are your thoughts on the 3 options I’ve presented? Share your thoughts with me! 

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One thought on “Paid vs Trade: What Do They Mean?

  • Lauren Kiley

    I have a lot of love for shooting content trade, especially because I’m rarely in a financial situation that allows for hiring performers. I also like the system (credit to Dixie Comet!) where each model gets ~1.5 hours of time to direct the shoot, which can obviously vary depending on how many people are there, but also prevents the same kind of underselling of time you mentioned with paid shoots.

    But the intangible benefits of learning new techniques, playing with new fetishes, and connecting/playing with other people have made it my favorite way to shoot these days. It also gives me a sense for how someone approaches shoots for the future. The social element and combination of energies/ideas is a super important element to me that also fuels my own creativity down the line.

    I also wanted to re-iterate your point about how much of this depends on who you’re working with. Shooting with people who are professional, articulate, and enjoyable to be around makes a world of difference. If I’m spending a day laughing and having sexy times with close friends and we all walk away with 2 high quality exclusive clips that also cross-promote each other it feels like a different investment than a day I walked into expecting to be a straight work day. But that also depends on working with people I trust to bring quality work and energy into the situation. And that’s disappointingly rare combination to find.

    But you know I’ll show up and shoot whatever you tell me to. You’re the ultimate exception to my rules!