The testimonies of "success" of young people and sex workers reopen the debate on the convenience of making soft content more free and accessible on the Internet. From people making $1 million on a day to people quitting their jobs for pursuing a life of exposure, read below to find out how this works.
The OnlyFans boom continues to shine. The premium content platform with access through subscription payment has created a whole consumer ecosystem where professional or occasional creators subsist, who earn considerable amounts of money for selling their x-rated photos or videos to the point of becoming a viable alternative work for many people.
During 2020 and because of the pandemic OnlyFans not only entered the regular conversation of social networks, but also achieved unprecedented growth in record time. While at the end of 2019 the platform closed the year with 120.000 content creators, by the end of last year, this number had multiplied to 1 million creators.
It is estimated that every 24 hours between 6,000 and 7,000 new creators and 200,000 new users join and that in the last four years their transactions have reached at least 1 billion dollars.
But what is the appeal of OnlyFans? A quick answer could be “for the easy money”, however, there is much more to this than the simple idea that by opening an account to upload your nude photos or videos you will make enough money to quit your job.
Since the amount of earnings a creator makes is directly proportional to the followers they have, maintaining a profitable account requires considerable effort, as much or more than a full-time job, if what is intended is to live from it.
"It's not a part-time thing, you wouldn't make enough money,"
says Monica Huldt, one of the creators who earns the most on the platform worldwide.
However, many people continue to turn to OnlyFans to earn money, whether or not they were linked to some form of sex work before the pandemic. Why?
Solution to desperate times
Brayden Bauer dreamed of being a singer and moved to Nashville (United States) to pursue that dream, but ended up working as a bouncer for more than three years until the situation became intolerable when the pandemic struck and the bars closed.
Months passed and the place reopened but Brayden felt unsure about going back to work and decided to look for options. He tried Twich, the live streaming platform that is very popular with gamers, and there he started selling merchandise such as hoodies and hats that featured marijuana jokes or internet memes.
He started to make some money, about $ 2,000 a month, and with that he could pay rent and food, but it was a very time-consuming job and he had nothing left to dedicate to music. That experience led him to try other platforms until he came to OnlyFans. With no prior experience in anything resembling sex work, Brayden began uploading nude photos and videos of himself alone, often in the shower, and began building an entourage of about 100 male and female subscribers.
"I realized that it was my only option,"
he says, as the desperation of not finding a well-paid job and the fear of COVID-19 ended up driving him to the platform.
Brayden has curly brown hair, brown eyes, a slim complexion, a warm singing voice, and 26 tattoos. He often wears nail polish. His 'success' began on Twitter, where he has about 43,000 followers and in November, when he created his OnlyFans account, he managed to take advantage of the initial wave of curiosity to earn about $20,000 in his first month, a figure that was previously unthinkable for the young aspiring musician. Brayden is part of a trend among low-wage former workers turning to OnlyFans, finding on the platform a place to earn money, not only to survive, but to increase their level of income.
Since that time, he has managed to maintain an average monthly earnings of around $ 3,500, well above the salary range that he could aspire to in the jobs he had access to before the pandemic.
Actress Belle Thorne was partly responsible for the Onlyfans boom because when she announced that she would create an account on the platform, she managed to earn a million dollars in just one day of subscriptions, in addition to making it known worldwide.
How the business works and why it is not so easy
Aella is a 28 year old woman who is among the most successful creators of OnlyFans. She is a data-driven, savvy former tech worker who has increased her income on the platform to six figures in one month, a success that she found was far from easy.
She was born into a family of evangelical Christians, at the age of 17 she decided to enroll in college and permanently separate from her parents. To pay for her studies, she ended up working in a factory in northeast Washington assembling electrical components for $10 an hour and living with five roommates. It was not an easy job and she did not always have money for rent or food.
She later came to webcams, a business she desperately dabbled into in search of a livelihood. With her work, he was able to improve her conditions, averaging earnings of $200 an hour at her best and earning about $50,000 in her best month. The site where she used to work, MyFreeCams, charged dearly for her use, taking 50% of her earnings.
Last March Aella started at OnlyFans and now earns much more than ever, around $ 60,000 a month.What stands out about the platform is the commission it charges (20% of the creator's income) is significantly lower than that of any other adult content site - Porn Hub for example takes 35% - and that its subscription model allows to divide the income among a potentially infinite number of fans, breaking the toxic dependence of a single person or small group of people that is favored in other webcam platforms, where many times the income of the models ends up depending to a great extent on the likes and fetishes of few subscribers.
This “democratization of pornography” is certainly being beneficial for many sex workers who now not only own its content and the direct income it generates, but are also free to choose the best way to market it, a very important point in this equation that is sometimes overlooked.
In this Aella stands out, who due to her knowledge of her data has carried out market studies on OnlyFans in which she shows that not all of them manage to access a significant level of income on the platform. She interviewed 400 content creators and her results could suggest that half of the more than 1 million OnlyFans creators make no more than $ 100 a month. Earning $750 per month would already put you in the top 10% of income.
Data that seems to agree with the calculations of a blogger who last April obtained the Gini coefficient of Onlyfans, an international index to show income inequality where 0 is perfect English and 1 is the most unequal distribution possible. OnlyFans scored 0.83.
That's why keys like showing your face on content, posting more often, and charging higher subscription prices correlate with higher income, Aella's research results say.
Freedom or sexual exploitation?
Although the platform is created for adults to freely share and consume content of all kinds, not just sexual, in a free and consensual way, the truth is that OnlyFans and other related platforms raise the eternal debate on the risks of Internet pornography. Risks to which industry giants such as PornHub have not been at all uninterested, since it has meant constant demands and questions for allowing their website to be uploaded