Why I'm Independent

Before I launched as an independent, someone claiming to be from a local agency tried to recruit me via a social network (one I shall not name). Overall it was sort of flattering (little old me, cute enough to be an escort in a competitive market like NYC? What can I say — external validation is a helluva drug).

But the terms they offered weren't great. The agency would claim fully half of my earnings. And what value would be they bring to me? Advertising, client screenings and hotel bookings. Which I can do myself — and in the case of advertising and marketing, can do quite well, since I have years of professional experience under my belt. 

So I decided to flex my privilege (privacy, a nice laptop, upfront cash, deep seated nerdery, etc.) and strike out as an independent. How could I not? Being an inquisitive, doggedly determined, detail-oriented person — and a voracious researcher — is probably my greatest strength in life. Google searches led me down rabbit holes; within a week I had a rough plan, had booked a photographer, and was jotting down website and ad copy ideas on every piece of paper within arm's reach. 

Mostly, being an independent is about control. I want to control my image online — the photos I commission and distribute; the way I describe myself; the sites I advertise on — down to the typeface on my website (and even the choice to have a website). Details matter — my details matter, when I'm the product. (If you're the sort who has looked at 100+ paint swatches before custom mixing a custom wall color yourself, we will probably get along.)

Going independent is a delicious puzzle to solve. It's a test of chutzpah, creativity and verve. How to maintain my privacy while showing off my corporeal assets to their best advantage? How to earn my way into communities like P411? How not to blow all my money on ineffective ads? How to establish myself without allowing graphic reviews? (This last one is my biggest bugaboo at the moment). But I'm glad that I'm the one tackling these issues, not someone at an agency who's making decisions on my behalf. Feminist? Maybe. A reflection that I'm confident and prideful? Absolutely. 

Shae Ashbury