The Year of Onlyfans
As coronavirus cases began to spike around the world, the number of new OnlyFans creators rose significantly. During an era of furlough and record job insecurity, it’s safe to assume this wasn’t a mere coincidence. In the UK, for instance, the amount of new OnlyFans creators rose by a hefty 42% between March and July alone — whilst in the U.S., the website reported an enormous 75% increase in fresh sign-ups, with over 170,000 new users joining each day at one point, the Huffington Post reports.
For those unfamiliar with the online phenomenon, OnlyFans is a platform on which subscribers pay a monthly subscription fee to access creators’ photos, videos, live streams, and beyond. Despite common misconception, OnlyFans does not specifically exist to host sexual content. However, many creators chose to go down this route, and the results can be very profitable indeed.
But what about the people behind the profile? Well, to gain some behind-the-scenes insight, I spoke to three LGBT creators who signed up to OnlyFans during lockdown about making money, navigating backlash, sexual liberation, and more. These are their stories.
After documenting my fitness journey online a couple of years ago, I noticed people on social media were interested in seeing more of me. So, I mulled it over for a while, and after requests to “start an OnlyFans” became more frequent, I just decided to give it a go.
I first began making OnlyFans content as a way to express my sexuality, and even though I had a partner during the early days of lockdown, we decided not to post anything as a couple. Instead, I began to cultivate my ‘boy next door’ brand, with light, playful, and erotic content — and I had a blast. My following has always stayed small, probably because I prefer to keep advertising minimal. And in terms of money, my OnlyFans profit started to cover the costs of my weekly grocery shop, as well as some daily expenses for my partner. I guess we could have switched our marketing heads on and began to think about world domination, but that isn’t essential for me. I’m happy with the balance as it is.
I do plan on continuing with OnlyFans for a while after lockdown. However, I don’t see myself going much further with it. The platform helped me garner income during the pandemic, and so I’m thankful for that. But, for me, it’s not a life goal. It’s just a part of this phase of my life.
I’m definitely not alone in starting an OnlyFans during lockdown, either. I think part of the reason the platform has become so popular is because people enjoy the allure of being wanted. This is especially the case on social media, where vying for likes and follows is the norm. Of course, there’s always the risk of backlash when you sign up to a website like OnlyFans. However, I haven’t really had any. It’s something I’ll use as an ice-breaker, and a lot of my friends tell me they’re tempted to sign up too. I just think it boils down to expression. Sexual identity is such a large part of us, and we’re drilled into thinking that it’s taboo. Sure, you can see some videos I’ve made, but you can’t fuck me, so are my morals really compromised? In the age we live in now, how is expressing your sexuality anything other than empowering?
I feel like I’ve found out so much more about myself since I’ve started listening and communicating with my sexuality — I recommend it. But for anyone seriously thinking about starting on OnlyFans, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Don’t do it to get back at an ex or to make a bit of cash. I’d say do it because you’re passionate about it, or because you simply want to have fun. And remember to always be comfortable. It’s your body, not anybody else’s.
The feeling of dread I experienced during the early days of lockdown isn’t something I’d wish on my worst enemy. Because of the pandemic, I lost the job I loved, and my decision to join OnlyFans for some emergency income was a quick one. I spend most of my days scrolling through Twitter, and was more than familiar with how profitable sexual content can be. After setting up my first account, I began making money almost immediately. Not a ton, but enough to cover rent costs and the occasional treat.
However, as any creator will tell you, publicly sharing nudes and jerk off videos online comes with great potential for backlash. Sadly for me, this was indeed the case, and when strangers began regularly mocking me online I made the decision to go anonymous. Surprisingly, my anonymous profile became more successful than the previous. Perhaps this was because I wasn’t worried about being too explicit anymore — and soon after I realized my OnlyFans would be longterm. I mean, the pay checks were nice and it was easy work.
After a couple of months, things seemed to be on the up. I was making regular income again and began pushing my creative boundaries whilst filming content. Sadly, my own worst case scenario became reality when a family member stumbled upon some of my older, less private videos. In a state of panic, I completely removed myself from the OnlyFans universe and haven’t looked back since. In the past couple of weeks I’ve thankfully managed to fall back into my preferred line of work, but I can’t help but feel a sense of disappointment. I was really starting to take off with new subscribers and felt like I was on the cusp of building my very own online community. I’ve also never felt so liberated, and, although my time on OnlyFans was brief, I’ll always be appreciative of that. Unfortunately for me, the fear of being found out was too much to bare — and I advise anyone with similar reservations to keep this in mind before putting yourself out there.
I began posting NSFW content online a few years ago, mainly through live cam shows on platforms such as Chaturbate. While working abroad last year, I met someone who encouraged me to start an OnlyFans so I could reach a bigger audience and I decided to go for it at the beginning of lockdown. Overall, it has been a very positive experience, having found a new outlet in an otherwise difficult time, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities it has given me.
As with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in. I've seen some treat it as a get rich quick scheme and I think this could be what discourages some people from subscribing. There is a plethora of free porn out there, so paying subscribers rightly expect higher quality content.
Since starting, I've told a few friends about what I'm doing, and they’ve all been super supportive.
I do believe that stigma towards sex workers is decreasing nowadays, especially among the younger generation.
I have also noticed there is very little Asian representation on OnlyFans and the pornography industry in general — and I think the worry of judgement is magnified when you come from a culture where sex is a particularly taboo subject.
And to anyone who perhaps does take issue with OnlyFans should know that it’s real, and often very hard work. Creators are cameraman, producers, editors, marketers, social media managers, among other things. Working hours can quickly add up. My academic background is in business and languages, and these skills have undoubtedly helped, although I continue to learn every day. I would advise anyone wanting to start an OnlyFans to look at their own skillset and identify what can set them apart. I think the most important thing, however, is to take the time to build relationships with your followers and not to take them for granted, these are the people supporting you.