By now surely you’ve heard of OnlyFans. But if you’re not using the platform — as either a fan, a creator, or both — you may not realize that it has become, quite obviously, the future of pornography. But not just porn, either. Among the over one-million creators currently on the platform, you’ll find Hollywood celebrities, musicians, fitness experts, chefs, and any other stripe of content maker you can imagine with the talents and skills to attract a paying audience.
Of course, many of those creators are selling sexy content directly to the people who want to see it, and it’s those creators the platform has to thank for its meteoric rise. The pandemic definitely deserves a shout out, too. According to The Guardian, the OnlyFans user base jumped up from just 7.5 million users in November of 2019 to 85 million by December of 2020.
85 million users! Why would anyone pay for porn when the internet has so much of it for free?
Plenty of reasons. Traditional studio porn is starting to feel more and more antiquated and downright alienating and tube sites are full of questionable content. A platform where a sex worker can directly interface and explore kinks in a consensual and openly transactional way with their audience is the kind of creator-controlled system people struggling to reconcile mainstream porn’s exploitive nature with a values-driven sense of sex-positivity have longed for.
It puts the power directly in the hands of both the performer and the consumer, allowing for a customizable and curated stream of content. That’s rad.
To help fill us in on the ins and outs of this new frontier, we linked up with five creators making a living on OnlyFans — Suki (AKA Mvngokitty), Chloe (AKA Softbby123), Haley Spades, Zelda O (AKA Aquaxelf), and Devin Ladner (Neon Harlot) to ask them about the best and worst aspects of the platform. Their answers proved deeply insightful and offer incredible context for anyone trying to understand this new frontier in sex work.
Whether people admit it or not, most of us watch porn. In your opinion, how can we better destigmatize sex work and open up conversations about sexuality in America?
Suki: A lot of people watch porn, it’s everywhere nowadays. To destigmatize sex work, I think we should stop letting the wrong people speak for it. SW has been booming recently due to OF and it’s recent popularity with celebrities hopping on the bandwagon, and many people think it’s that easy to just create an account and hoping money would appear all because a popular celebrity spoke about it.
It’s not. In fact, that celebrity is probably causing more harm than good…
Making an OF account does not make you a sex worker. You’re an Onlyfans creator, don’t let it confuse anybody. Being a sex worker is pouring hours into content and creativity while managing this all from a business standpoint…It’s easy to call yourself a sex worker nowadays because of OF, but I feel like people are doing it for the wrong reasons: they scam, lie, etc. Sex workers don’t do that… Do sex work because you want to, speak up for what’s right/wrong regardless of who it is, and never feel ashamed for what you do.
Chloe: I think the first step to destigmatizing sex work and sexuality is to normalize letting women be sexual and talk about sex. I know that not all sex workers are women but the profession is very heavily dominated by them, so a lot of whorephobia is based on patriarchy. To destigmatize sex as a profession, we need to start seeing women’s sexuality as natural.
Haley: Destigmatizing sex work begins with the acceptance of sex work being work. To this day people still do not see sex work as a “real job” when in reality, it very much so is. We have lives outside of the work that we do, including having our own partners, other careers, etc. It would also help to recognize and understand that sex workers are meeting a demand, a growing, never-ending demand.
Zelda O: Destigmatizing sex work and sexuality ultimately begins by dismantling belief systems that are taught to us by the institutions of society, be it government or religion. If the laws of a nation shift then the collective mind will follow suit. Decriminalization of the sex trade would have a positive effect leading to less stigmatization.
Devin: I think communication is important. In all ways. Moving away from abstinence education. Talking to our children about sex and not just the biology of it but consent and pleasure. People are taught so young to fear or shame their sexuality, though it’s a basic human function.
What is the biggest misconception people have about OnlyFans creators?
Suki: That everyone on there is a sex worker. Not everyone on OF does adult work, but a majority of the platform is used for that. I’ve seen many people use it for workouts, recipes, etc. It’s always really nice seeing how creative others are [operating] and what people choose to do with a platform they have.
Haley: One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that when creators have a low subscription price, we are “selling ourselves short.” A low subscription price ($3-10) in a saturated market really benefits us and allows us to grow faster and make more revenues. A higher subscription price ($15+) limits us from reaching our goals, substantially. We would rather have 500 fans than 50.
Zelda O: For buyers, it’s that we are available 24/7 as if we’re porn-bots. For those outside the industry, it’s that we “sell our bodies” for money. That perspective is silly and rooted in a religious and cultural bias of anything sexual being immoral. I may as well be a gardener or ballerina.
Isn’t that also selling my body?
Devin: That’s it’s easy work. It’s not. Onlyfans does no promotional work for you. At all. You can not search for people. All marketing and advertising you have to do yourself and that’s difficult when most other platforms censor sex workers.
What about the platform works for you?
Suki: It’s easily accessible through phone and Web. It’s simple and easy to configure for first time users.
Chloe: Because it’s so popular, there are a lot of buyers on the site. When people want my content, they assume I have an OnlyFans, and they find it in my Twitter bio and subscribe! Simple.
Haley: The automation the platform provides creators with. I can schedule posts out weeks in advance and I can also schedule out mass messages. This allows me to better plan my schedule and coordinate time for other responsibilities that I have, while not losing touch with my fans.
Zelda O: What works the most reliably for me is the queue feature on the platform. It helps me be efficient and consistent with my posting schedule for both of my pages. Yes, both. I have two OnlyFans accounts, as they allow two per creator. One is free and the other is the monthly subscription.
That’s another one of my favorite things about the platform.
Devin: I think I’ve always enjoyed the anonymity of the subscribers on OnlyFans. It allows them to indulge without fear or shame. I think that’s important.
Is audience interaction/connection a positive part of being an OnlyFans creator?
Suki: The majority of my interactions on OF are positive, but there are always a few hate comments. I don’t pay attention to those though ’cause it’s not important.
Chloe: Audience interaction/connection can be a positive part of being an OnlyFans creator, but it varies from person to person. I have some supporters who tip upon subscribing and leave likes/comments on my content, chat respectfully, but I have others who call me babe the first time we talk and start getting way too familiar and talking about their dick right away.
I think sometimes they forget we’re real people and not 24/7 sex robots.
Haley: The audience interaction is definitely a positive part of the platform! I love interacting with my fans, it makes it special and it brightens my day seeing how happy my content makes them.
Zelda O: I enjoy connecting with my fans and it’s energizing having that enthusiasm come my way. No pun intended. The majority of my fans are kind and courteous. But if you brave the open DMs on a free page like me then you know it can be quite the opposite. Learning to set boundaries by blocking or restricting has helped to keep my experience positive.
Devin: Yes and no. Since people are used to consuming porn for free, they can be rude or demand a lot for a little. Onlyfans, though, allowed me to stay in contact with people who were previous clients during a pandemic and those people are generous and respectful.
What is your least favorite thing about OnlyFans?
Suki: How disorganized it is. Sometimes a girl just wants to organize her content in folders so it’s easier for people to find rather than just scrolling through a huge feed til you find something good.
Chloe: Probably how little they keep us in the loop about new features. When they introduced the percentage system, which in my opinion elevated the competitive nature of online sex work tenfold, we didn’t even get so much as an email.
Haley: How awful their chargeback system is. There is virtually no protection for us against chargebacks. I’m lucky to only have two chargebacks on my account, both being minuscule amounts of $7. However, there are other creators who are not as lucky and lose out on thousands of dollars.
Zelda O: Temporarily losing the functionality of certain features that are crucial to how I run my business. The platform runs unannounced server updates and the site usually has bugs afterward that take days, sometimes weeks, to fix.
Devin: Onlyfans refuses to acknowledge that majority of their money comes from sex workers. They do not acknowledge that and they allow celebrity actions to change the platform, which directly affects other sex workers.
What would make the platform better?
Suki: In the future, I hope Onlyfans has a better verification process to reduce catfishing and exploitation. For creators, I hope we get better tools to help organize content and maybe an option to customize our profiles to our own personal liking/flair, I think it’d be fun.
Chloe: I think OnlyFans could be better if they put more effort into making sure the site functions smoothly. It’s taken me over an hour to send a video to someone through direct messages and at that point, I just had to quit and start over. With all the money they make, I’d think tech problems would be rare, but I have issues frequently.
Haley: I wish OnlyFans would upgrade its servers, as they go down multiple times a day. This is a major issue that seems to have no end in sight.
Zelda O: It’s difficult to pick just one. What works and what doesn’t is always changing. I’d like to see more robust functions for direct messaging. As it’s where I make the majority of my income on the platform. Organizing with folders, notification categories, better push notifications, deletion option for unsent mass messages.
Devin: Honestly, there just needs to be a completely new platform that honors and respects sex workers.
What piece of advice do you have for someone interested in starting their own OnlyFans?
Suki: If you’re interested in joining the platform, don’t be afraid to be yourself! Be confident in yourself and believe in your work (whether it’s cooking, SW, working out, art, etc). Just because one person does something doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing! Find your style and what suits you, and apply it to your OF :) It’s your own world!
If you’re interested in being a sex worker, please take into account your friends and family, your future, safety, etc. I’ve heard from friends that people will share you on forums and try to find where you are and stalk you, all this crazy stuff. I’ve experienced this personally four times during my three to four years as a sex worker. And that’s just me alone, I’ve heard worst from others. It’s up to you to look out for yourself — always be safe and careful with what you share online, regardless if it is accessible through payment. It’s still the internet and people will leak you. If people find out about you being a sex worker, you will get rejected and refused service for anything — housing, banking, etc..
People think it’s easy, but it’s not.
I was heartbroken when I got rejected to my first housing and humiliated when I found out my bank teller looked up my name and rejected working with me. You will lose friends, people will not be afraid to voice that it’s all you’re good for, and you will feel like shit. Sex work isn’t for people trying to make a quick buck, this is real life. Your work follows you.
Chloe: Assuming they’d do so for sex work… think about it long and hard first. Are you joining because it’s trendy and seems like an easy way to make money? Are you prepared to be outed to your family and friends? If you’re getting into it for the right reasons and are prepared to put in the work, that’s great. But being a sex worker can be very isolating and taxing, and you should know that before making an account as a joke.
Oh… and use my referral code.
Haley: Network with your co-workers, and really study your inspirations. I recommend subscribing to creators whose content genuinely piques your interest. Seeing how they operate their page and how they interact with their fans can really help you figure things out for yourself. The platform can be intimidating, and new creators easily get discouraged. Doing some research along with trial and error will help new creators get their footing. Networking with co-workers (i.e. other creators) is also pretty intimidating, however, most of us do not see each other as competition. Networking and sharing tips on how to maximize revenues, as well as doing SFS — shout-out for shout-out — is highly beneficial.
Zelda O: My best advice is to take it day by day. Steady progress over time is the most realistic outcome but only if you put in the work. Stay true to yourself and what you’re comfortable with. It’s okay to say no and have boundaries. It’s your page, your creations, your rules.
Devin: I always tell new girls to not do online work unless they are prepared to be an out sex worker. Whether or not you try to be anonymous, the internet is forever. People will doxx sex workers. It could affect your future career. Unless you are ready to accept all of that, do not do it. It’s not something “fun” and “easy” to do. It is a big decision and being prepared for that is important.