Why a sex educator thinks you should mix business with pleasure
Mixing business with pleasure has always been seen as taboo, something you simply don’t do. We separate these entities to allow us to be two different versions of ourselves depending on the space we inhabit (traditionally, this means more formal and buttoned up for business and more loose and authentic for pleasure). But what if your business is pleasure? How is one expected to go about their work and daily life when those never-to-be-intertwined ideas are inherently enmeshed? I’ve been working on answering that question since 2017 when I made a drastic and wonderful career pivot. I went from always working for someone else to finally working for myself.
I’m Danielle Bezalel, Creator and Host of Sex Ed with DB. Sex Ed with DB is a multimedia platform bringing you all the sex ed you never got through unique and entertaining storytelling, centering LGBTQ+ and BIPOC experts. I’ve been doing this work in total for 6.5 years and full-time for the last 2 years. It has been the greatest joy of my life to be able to be a sex educator and business owner; to be able to learn from experts in the space while also fiercely advocating for comprehensive, inclusive, pleasure-centered, medically accurate sex education for all.
But working in the sexual-health-education space is not as easy as I thought it’d be; it comes with guardrails on the content I’m able to post and red tape when it comes to advertising for my business (these limits are much harsher for sex workers due to SESTA/FOSTA). It comes with constant uncertainties regarding how I’m going to keep my business profitable, whether or not my team members are going to stay on for another podcast season, and how I can ensure my content gets to the right audience (you may not realize, but if trolls find our content, the hate comments can take a real toll on my emotional and mental health).
I wouldn’t trade this job for anything in the world, even with these challenges it brings. My every day is so much more enjoyable and fulfilling now compared to when I was working for somebody else. My people-pleasing anxiety that used to bubble up no longer does even though the stakes are arguably way higher than they were before. My successes and my failures are totally in my hands. I, luckily, find this fact more empowering than daunting.
Before working for myself, I was a content creator and educator for multiple start-ups in the sexual health space. While they were mission driven organizations that I wholeheartedly believed in, I never felt like I was fully living up to my potential while working at each of those companies. I more so felt like I was being shoved into a metaphorical box my hiring manager wanted to fit me in, utilizing only a few of my skills that didn’t let me fully shine. I was creatively and mentally stifled.
Now, as the showrunner of Sex Ed with DB, I wear a different hat depending on my goals for the week. Some days, I’ll have meetings with sponsors and flex my saleswoman / business bitch side or create a goofy TikTok to tap into my creative talents. Other days, I interview an incredible guest for the podcast and get to use my improv chops or teach a sex ed class at a local middle school to engage my facilitator-self. These little differences in my day-to-day feel invigorating; they allow me to embody the fullest version of me. I live as the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none me that I always believed was a strength which only felt truly celebrated by my family and partner, never in a professional setting.
One of the most (surprisingly) exciting parts of my work is getting to teach other sexual health professionals how to do this work full-time. I get immense satisfaction in sharing everything I know and being as transparent as possible when it comes to how I make my money, how much I charge for certain services, what goes into podcast production, and how to grow a social media following on a small budget. The more sex educators getting age-appropriate, sex-positive, science-backed info out there to the masses, the better!
If you’re someone who has ever had the thought: “It’d be a dream to run my own sexual health business” -- I’m telling you that if I can do it, you can do it. The first step is truly believing you can and the next step is going for it, whether that be setting up an informational call with someone you admire in the space or taking a course. Maybe it’s simply writing a post to your community and seeing if anyone wants to go on the journey with you (don’t judge me for using Facebook, remember I started this in 2017 when Facebook was cool!).
If what’s holding you back is the age-old question: “Should I really mix business with pleasure?” I’m here to tell you that yes, you absolutely fucking should.If you want to learn from DB in her November workshop, “Building a Profitable Online Sexual Health Brand,” join here (spots are limited).