Sex Blog History: Tiny Nibbles, Erosblog and more
Let’s talk about the early days of sex blogs. It’s not easy, though, because what exactly is a sex blog?
As the proprietor of ErosBlog in the early days, I was there — I lived that history. I think I was the first person to call my blog a sex blog. Having that experience, though, doesn’t make the history of sex blogging seem any less complicated.
Everybody knows a “sex blog” is a blog about sex. But what do you mean by “blog”? There are many definitions, but here’s the one I was using in 2002, when I started ErosBlog. A blog to me was a personal website where people would post regularly, their posts would be dated, their newest posts would be at the top of the page, and they would also have a link list or “blogroll” pointing to other blogs. Were you doing all that while talking about sex? Congratulations, you had a sex blog!
It’s different now that social networking sites are so big, but back then, if the site wasn’t personal in some way, it wasn’t a blog to me. Blogs (“web logs”) evolved from the online journaling/diarist tradition that had grown up at sites like LiveJournal, and they were distinct from news sites or “web magazines” because those sites didn’t speak with a human voice. If you didn’t have a human-sounding authorial voice, you didn’t have a blog.
Similarly, if you didn’t have a list of outbound links, you weren’t a blog because you weren’t part of an ongoing conversation. In the early days, bloggers talked to each other in the comments. Blogging was a true social network back then, in a way that it no longer usually is.
Finally, your posts had to be dated. Lots of people had “web pages” where they would edit the HTML by hand from time to time to make updates, but if you couldn’t see at a glance when a thing was posted and how that thing related to other posts, you didn’t have a blog.
What did early sex bloggers post about on their blogs? Well, they posted about sex, of course! But it was different back then, because most sex blogs were almost porn-free, at least in a visual sense. Dirty pictures were quite rare on sex blogs, because in the mainstream blogging world, there were still a lot of taboos. “Internet porn” was a big thing, but many people reading blogs would not dream of viewing a “porn site”, and many more were reading blogs at work, which is why “NSFW” (not safe for work) became the obligatory adult warning tag among bloggers generally. It’s difficult to describe just how delicately a sex blog had to treat erotic images back then. It was incredibly easy to be “too” graphic, with the resulting loss of links and traffic from the blogging community at large.
Still, there was plenty for the early sex blogs to talk about. Many bloggers talked frankly about their own sex life and kinks. Posting erotic stories was also common. People would post their own stories, or they would post short excerpts from another blogger’s dirty stories and then link readers to the author’s web page to see the full story. There were occasional reviews of porn videos, and there was a lot of commentary on the sex writing that existed in the mainstream print press and on the mainstream websites of the day. In those days, print magazines were publishing such terrible sex articles that making fun of them quickly became an overused trope for sex bloggers. (Mocking the sex tips in Cosmo is probably the most famous example of this; some bloggers did it as a regular monthly feature.)
In the early days, though, it’s probably fair to say that we had sex blogs in fact before the idea of sex blogs ever existed. People were sex blogging but not thinking of it as sex blogging; and then for awhile they were thinking of it as “sex blogging” but not calling their blogs “sex blogs.”
I believe I’m the first person to ever start a site and call it a “sex blog” from day one. This was ErosBlog’s header in early October of 2002:
The day I started sex blogging, I only knew of one other blog I considered a sex blog, and that was Susannah Breslin’s The Reverse Cowgirl’s Blog. She didn’t exactly call it a sex blog, but it totally was one:
Breslin concurs; she wrote in 2014 that she “would consider” Reverse Cowgirl to have been a sex blog.
Breslin volunteers Daze Reader as her nominee for the first sex blog, and I have to agree that it was a very early one. Daze got his start almost two years before Breslin and me; in September of 2002 Daze said his site was “nearing its second anniversary”. The oldest archive I can find (October 2000) confirms that. Even in 2000, Daze Reader was a sex blog by any reasonable measure, linking mostly to sex stories in the mainstream press, but with editorial comment and the blog subheading “All about sex, technology, culture, news, art, gossip, politics, ideas, drugs, rock & roll…but mostly sex.”
Another early “sex blog” that didn’t use the name was Debrah Hyde’s Pursed Lips, which had its origins in an even earlier web diary and by August of 2000 was using “Sexuality News” as a header over content that’s indisputably sexblog-like:
One of my biggest influences in my earliest sex-blogging days was the website Tiny Nibbles run by Violet Blue, dating back to 2001 at least. Violet wrote about sex toys and sex education and sex in general, all with an open and unabashed sex-positive authorial tone that was extremely rare at the time. Her site, and especially her editorial voice, impressed me hugely. But it never crossed my mind that she was doing a blog, because her articles were undated until the early months of 2003, when she began including a “Tiny Log” on her pages, and putting dates on her articles:
Beginning in 2003, sex blogs started to take off as a category and as a community. They completely exploded in number, sophistication, and popularity. Over the next five years, sex blogs got better connected into mutually-supporting networks, while becoming more honest, more raw, more explicit, more pornographic, and more commercial. Sex toy reviews moved from an occasional oddity to a supporting industry, and explicit imagery (whether amateur, artistic, or commercial) became much more common. It would be a daunting task to even briefly summarize the sex blog world during those years. For an article that serves as a good place to start, I recommend Dangerous Lilly’s A Brief History Of Sex Blogging.
2008 marked a sort of “beginning of the end” for the sex blogging community, although the actual “end” never came, and probably won’t. The US economic crisis in 2008 had a big negative impact on the affiliate sales that supported so many sex bloggers, and the rise of social media sites (most of them hostile to adult content) sucked a lot of the traffic, readership, and community out of the blogging world in general. What’s more, the explosive rise in people using mobile devices (and spending all their time within specific apps instead of browsing the web) began to sharply diminish the amount of general web traffic to blogs of all kinds.
It was roughly then, too, that Google started filtering adult sites and deprecating them so they stopped appearing in the most prominent search results. That meant people doing general searches for adult topics mostly stopped landing on sex blogs at all. That was a big negative change for sex bloggers, who were used to appearing quite high in search results for sexual keyword searches of all kinds.
Despite such challenges, we sex bloggers are resilient. We won’t be going away any time soon. If the last fifteen years of sex blogging were a wild roller-coaster ride (and they were) I can’t wait to see the next fifteen!
Bacchus is the author and proprietor of ErosBlog, writing since 2002 about sex, porn, and the adult internet. In recent years he's become passionate about curating digital porn and about the challenges of stabilizing it in well-sourced collections.