OnlyFans is a content subscription service based in London. Content creators can earn money from users who subscribe to their content—the “fans”.
It allows content creators to receive funding directly from their fans on a monthly basis as well as one-time tips and the pay-per-view (PPV) feature.
The service is popular with and commonly associated with sex workers but it also hosts the work of other content creators, such as physical fitness experts, musicians, and other creators who post regularly online.
It was reported on August 19, 2021, that from October 2021 onward, OnlyFans will no longer allow sexually explicit material.
The website, which hosts 2 million content creators and a user base of 130 million, had said that this change was due to pressure from credit card companies.
OnlyFans was launched in November 2016 as a platform for performers to provide clips and photos to followers for a monthly subscription fee.
Tim Stokely founded the company alongside his older brother, Thomas, and with the help of a £10,000 loan from his father, Guy Stokely, who told him “Tim, this is going to be the last one”. His brother became the company’s chief operating officer and his father is head of finance for OnlyFans.
Two years later, Ukrainian-American businessman Leonid Radvinsky, owner of MyFreeCams, acquired 75% ownership of Fenix International Limited and became its director.
After this, OnlyFans became increasingly focused on not safe for work (NSFW) content and “gained a pop-culture reputation for being a hive of pornography”.
RISE IN POPULARITY
In 2019, OnlyFans introduced an extra safeguard into the account verification process so that a creator now has to provide a selfie headshot with their ID in the image in order to prove that the ID provided belongs to the account holder.
The site has over 24 million registered users and claims to have paid out US$725 million to its 450,000 content creators.
After the site was mentioned by Beyoncé in the remix of the Megan Thee Stallion song, “Savage”, in April 2020, CEO Tim Stokely claimed OnlyFans was “seeing about 200,000 new users every 24 hours and 7,000 to 8,000 new creators joining every day.”
There was reportedly a 15 percent spike in traffic after the remix’s release. In the same line, “Savage” also mentioned Demon Time, a social media show, and shortly after the release of that song, OnlyFans announced a partnership with Demon Time to create a monetized virtual nightclub using the site’s dual-screen live feature.
In January 2020, 20-year-old American Kaylen Ward raised more than US$1 million in contributions to charity during the wild bushfires in Australia. OnlyFans teamed with her for their first partnership for a charitable cause.
This started a trend with some OnlyFans creators who have been raising money through their accounts.
Bella Thorne set a new OnlyFans record when she earned over $1 million within 24 hours of joining the platform in August 2020 and more than $2 million in less than a week.
Her activities on OnlyFans sparked controversy after she allegedly promised nude photos for $200 but instead provided lingerie-clad photographs, leading to a slew of chargebacks.
Following the debacle, new restrictions were introduced that limited the amount that other creators on the platform could charge and how quickly they could get paid, though OnlyFans stated the restrictions were unrelated to Thorne but rather part of “an evolving process”.
Thorne’s actions caused a backlash among sex workers who felt Thorne had selfishly appropriated their profession.
Bhad Bhabie broke Thorne’s OnlyFans record in April 2021 by earning over $1 million in the first 6 hours.
This event sparked criticism on social media about her subscribers given that she had turned 18 the previous week.
How Does OnlyFans Work?
The purpose of OnlyFans is to provide a platform for creators to create and distribute valuable, premium content they can’t get anywhere else.
Creators can set their page to be free or paid and fans then pay to get access to the exclusive content. While creators can create accounts for free, when they earn money from the platform OnlyFans pays out 80%, keeping 20% of the earnings as a fee.
Since a lot of the content on OnlyFans is explicit, users have to be at least 18 and will need a government-issued ID in order to sign up.
Every creator’s branded content is also protected by OnlyFans, ensuring that it can’t be shared outside the platform. In fact, if a user tries to take a screenshot on the site, the content will show up blacked out.
Users are also subject to banning if they’re caught trying to screenshot or record what’s going on.
Who Uses OnlyFans?
OnlyFans can be used by anyone. OnlyFans is home to writers, poets, inspirational speakers, authors, artists, chefs, and more. But the site is more commonly known for being a content hub for sex workers, porn stars, and more.
Since OnlyFans lets people post content that would get them banned on other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, it’s also widely used by sex workers and amateur pornographers who upload videos and images, and who interact with their fans using direct messages.
How Much Can You Earn on OnlyFans?
OnlyFans sets the minimum and maximum subscription rates. The minimum subscription price is $4.99 per month and the maximum subscription price is $49.99 per month.
Creators can also set up tips or paid private messages starting at a minimum of $5. Paid tips and private messages can not only boost earnings but help creators engage their fans and build a loyal following.
Miss Swedish Bella (aka Monica Huldt) is one of the top-earning creators on OnlyFans despite the fact that her monthly subscription price is set at $6.50.
She makes the bulk of her money through the fees she charges for commissioned work sent via private message.
Business Insider reports that Huldt has gained more than 1100 subscribers and brings in more than $100,000 per year on OnlyFans.
Even though Huldt had a large Instagram following before she joined OnlyFans, she revealed to Business Insider that she works on OnlyFans content seven days a week to maintain her level of earnings.
Huldt offered up some advice for creators considering joining OnlyFans to earn money: “I would never advise someone doing it if they only wanted to do it like two days a week or something.
It’s not a part-time thing in your mind. You wouldn’t make enough money.”
This is echoed by many online sex workers who have established a presence on OnlyFans.
Many of them talk about how difficult it is to earn decent money on the platform since a big part of it is wrapped up in being able to build a following.
Beyond that, you have to spend time and energy to produce content consistently for some time before the account starts turning a big enough profit.
OnlyFans creators can sell personalized or interactive content on the site for additional fees. Some creators have built a tip menu that details the content and interactions they’re offering and how much each cost.
Again, OnlyFans takes 20% of the earnings creators to bring in and offers this advice on earning money on the platform: “Your earning forecast really depends on the quality and quantity of the content you upload.
The more you post, the more incentive there is for your fans to subscribe (and remain subscribed) to your profile.”
How do you subscribe to creators?
You don’t have to be a creator to use the platform — in fact, it’s fueled by users who don’t post on the platform.
In order to subscribe to creators, you simply have to create an OnlyFans account, go to the Home page, and find someone you’re interested in following.
Check out their subscription tiers, and decide what kind of bundle or offer you’re interested in paying for.
You can also tip a creator any amount you want, or pay for messages and individualized content with pay-per-view messages that range anywhere from a couple of dollars to more than $100, depending on the creator.
And if you have a friend who’s started posting on OnlyFans and you want to support them, there are ways to do that, too, from subscribing to their pages to offering emotional support.
What Creators Like About OnlyFans
OnlyFans is a way for many people to make money quickly and easily from home — a godsend during COVID-19.
It’s what drew Paige, a flight attendant from New York City, to the site back in March. She tells Bustle Docs creating an account was a way to take back control of her finances after her hours at work were reduced.
Her content focuses on photos of her legs and feet in pantyhose, which she also sells to her subscribers.
The highest offer she’s received? A whopping $500 for a pair of worn, torn nylons.
On average, Paige says her photos alone bring in $100 per week. And when added together, it makes for a lucrative side hustle.
Even though her content is sexual, Paige doesn’t try to hide her OnlyFans and says it isn’t likely to have a negative effect on her career.
In fact, she knows several other flight attendants who also sell photos of their feet.
Marcus, a full-time hotel operations supervisor in New York City, is equally unbothered by his OnlyFans account.
He tells Bustle he signed up after a three-week furlough thinking he’d share hair tutorials, but quickly shifted to sexy photos and modeling content, since it generated more income.
His OnlyFans page contains a lot of nudity, but Marcus says it wouldn’t hurt his career if his coworkers or general manager found it, mostly because it would mean they paid to see it.
He says one of his coworkers is even a subscriber, which just might mean this type of work is slowly becoming normalized — and isn’t necessarily guaranteed to get you fired from your day job.
Of course, OnlyFans isn’t just for sex work. It’s also open to creators who want to share other types of content, like Lexington, a full-time corporate social responsibility manager.
She started her account earlier this year after moving to Los Angeles, and mainly posts videos of herself singing, dancing, and working out, with the goal of motivating her subscribers.
Lexington tells Bustle Docs she first signed up as a joke but quickly began taking it more seriously once she began pulling in $1,500 a month.
Now, she proudly displays her OnlyFans link in her social media bios, saying she’s all about authenticity, sharing her life, and, of course, making extra money. For those looking for additional income, she asks, why not give it a try?
What Creators Don’t Like About OnlyFans
But not everyone has had a positive experience on the platform. Aaliyah, a model, actor, and activist based in Los Angeles tells Bustle Docs they created an account earlier this year after hearing about it from people who were web-camming.
As someone who’s done sex work on the street, Aaliyah thought the platform sounded like a great way to continue making money — in a safer way.
And yet, after giving it a try, they heard about fellow creators receiving death threats, and others having their content stolen and shared by “fans” who just wanted to call them out. So they deleted their account.
Aaliyah’s not the only one who’s been vocal about issues on the platform. Recently, sex workers — who rely on OnlyFans for income — have criticized celebrities for taking attention away.
Former Disney star Bella Thorne created an account in August, promising nude pay-per-view content, and made a cool $2 million in seven days.
A week later, OnlyFans announced that going forward, there would be a cap on how much performers can charge for pay-per-view content ($50), how much fans can tip ($100), and they changed how often performers get paid from once a week to once every three weeks.
While OnlyFans said the update had nothing to do with Thorne, it’s sparked conversations about the challenges sex workers are facing.
RECENT CHANGE IN POLICY.
OnlyFans Says It Is Banning Sexually Explicit Content.
The company is the latest digital platform to crack down on such material. The site became a source of income for millions during the Coronavirus pandemic.
On 19 August 2021, the company announced that coming 1st October 2021 it will not be allowing sexually explicit content. The company pushed the update through a new Terms of Service Policy.
The reason for this shift was due to pressure from credit card companies. However, the company will allow nudity on some grounds.
Comparing the new OnlyFans Acceptable Use Policy to the old one makes the additions clear:
1. Do not upload, post, display, or publish Content on OnlyFans that:
2. Shows, promotes, advertises, or refers to “sexually explicit conduct”, which means:
3. actual or simulated sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, between persons of any sex;
4. actual or simulated masturbation;
5. any exhibition of the anus or genitals of any person which is extreme or offensive;
6. actual or simulated material depicting bodily fluids commonly secreted during sexual conduct;
All existing Content that shows, promotes, advertises, or refers to “sexually explicit conduct” (which has the meaning given to it in section 5(b) of this Policy) must be removed before December 1, 2021, or by any other date which we communicate to Users.
Other sections of the policy that ban deep fakes, drugs, or violence, remain unchanged. In an email to OnlyFans creators, the site specified that “Content containing nudity will continue to be allowed as long as it is consistent with the policy.”
Posts can show off body parts, but doing anything explicit (or zooming in too close) means they will be in violation. Any breach “may lead to your account being suspended or terminated, and access to your earnings being revoked.”
OnlyFans has largely built its billion-dollar business and brand on sex workers providing exactly the kind of content that’s being banned. Now those content creators have until December 1st to wipe any traces of the suddenly unacceptable content from their profiles.
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