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Financial Planning for Sex Workers with Lindsey Swanson

Mission Driven Business

Release Date: 04/26/2022

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Brian Thompson chats with Lindsey Swanson, a certified financial planner and founder of Stripper Financial Planning. Lindsey started her fee-only financial planning firm after noticing a severe lack of financial advice for workers in adult entertainment. Through her company, she offers tailored advice in a supportive, kind environment.

On the episode, Lindsey shares financial challenges that workers in the sex industry face, including restrictions from banking institutions, payment processors, social media companies, and website hosting firms. She also discusses the importance of choosing the right people to seek advice from, and why she’s thinking of changing her company name.

Episode Highlights

Mission-driven businesses have integrity that others can see.

It can be hard for people within an organization to self-diagnose a mission-driven business, according to Lindsey. She believes that others outside of a company may be better at recognizing whether a mission-driven business is truly accomplishing a higher goal.

“So many times, there’s a business that alleges they have a mission, but I don’t see any actions coming from that,” Lindsey said. “For me and my own business, it comes down to having a direct line between what I’m trying to accomplish and making a profit.”

Seek advice from supportive people.

Although Lindsey knew the sex work industry is stigmatized, she was surprised that some people wouldn’t give her good business advice if they didn’t believe in her business’s mission.

“One of the things that I realized not early enough is that I can’t ask for advice from people who don’t want the same things as me,” Lindsey said. “I could talk to whoever in marketing or branding or whatnot, and if they don’t think that what I’m doing is worthwhile, they don’t give me good advice.”

For instance, some marketers don’t want sex workers to be seen or heard, and Lindsey felt their advice was tainted by a belief that they didn’t actually want her to succeed. Now, Lindsey specifically seeks out advice from people who are supportive of sex workers.

“Otherwise, I’m not going to get people who are supporting me,” Lindsey said. “And that sounds obvious if you say it, but I thought anyone could give me good advice because everyone has something they can bring to the table.”

Not all industries are treated equally online.

One issue Lindsey faces is online censorship of the sex industry. She initially thought marketing and publicity would revolve around SEO and key terms, but she says the reality is more of a nightmare.

“A lot of my clients are starting to create their own websites and host them offshore not because it’s illegal but because there’s so much censorship that happens on Squarespace and Wix and Wordpress,” Lindsey said. “I built my site on Squarespace, but I’m anticipating that at some point it’s going to get taken down. … And it’s so much harder for people in the business.”

Help your audience find you again and again.

Website hosting is only one censorship-related challenge for Lindsey. One of the main words in her business name -- stripper -- gets censored on social media, which prompts the sex industry to use an evolving litany of alternative terms to outsmart the algorithms.

While Lindsey is leaning into her company name as she grows her publicity and brand recognition, once she’s successful, she’ll likely have to create a more veiled version of her business so she can stay on the internet. It’s a move she’s learned from her clients.

“It’s just amazing how good these individuals are at branding and recreating themselves and having an audience that’s so sticky that they are willing to find them again,” Lindsey said. “I have one client that has put up her TikTok 20 times. … She’s been taken down, and she's recreated that 20 times.”

Resources + Links

About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast 

Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.

On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.