Last week Bella Thorne broke an Only Fans record bringing in over $2m in earnings in a single day. Thorne gained prominence for her role as CeCe Jones on the Disney Channel series Shake it Up and has appeared in films including, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Amityville: The Awakening and Infamous. At just 22, the actress now boasts one of the largest OnlyFans pages. Her rise to popularity on the platform has come at a cost with several fans accusing the star of misleading subscribers after suggesting she’d offer access to “no clothes” and “naked” images upon the purchase of 3 images totalling $200. She has since announced she has no intention of posting any nude images on her page.
Thorne has also been accused of exploiting the platform that was originally created for sex workers who are still stigmatised for their profession. Her monthly subscription of $20 (£15.40) affords her millions while many sex workers put their lives at risk and yet, struggle to put food on the table- one Twitter user wrote.
OnlyFans- a popular content sharing platform, allows celebrities and influencers to share exclusive images or videos with paying subscribers. Often its content is deemed too risqué for social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Copycat content contributors, often strapped for cash, are willing to broadcast their content to their “fans” in exchange for monthly subscriptions and purchases that can be quite lucrative.
So how does it work?
Only Fans don’t provide much information here. On their website they simply provide an earnings calculator with two variables. Firstly how many followers you have on traditional social media platforms and secondly how much you’d like to charge in monthly subscriptions. They make no reference to the platform’s primary use (uploading risqué content) but instead suggest your followers would be willing to pay for exclusive access to your “tutorials, tips, behind the scenes footage or just endless selfies”. Perhaps endless selfies can be construed as your personal porn collection…
Based on my number of followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (c.2000) and a rough estimate that my subscription would be valued at $4.99/m (based on the size of my abs and chiseled jawline), Only Fans suggest I could be earning anywhere between $99 and $499/month. This monthly revenue figure is on the assumption that between 1% and 5% of my followers subscribe to my Only Fans page (highly unlikely)- but, if this article hits 5,000 claps I’ll look into setting one up.
I somehow doubt many new OnlyFans members take the time to analyse their potential earnings. The info page was pretty obscure on the website and of course the calculator holds little real-world validity. That being said, having an extra $499/m in my pocket would be nice and no doubt even more enticing for someone without a steady income. As this article goes on you’ll come to realise that being successful on OnlyFans is extremely difficult and not something I’d have the capability of doing.
So what holds people back from creating an Only Fans account? A recent survey on ThisThat ranked the following factors to be most likely reasons why someone wouldn’t create an Only Fans account. You can always leave your own thoughts on the app via this link.
Friends finding out
Family finding out
The very fact that you leverage your OnlyFans followers from existing social media followers makes it very hard to grow your OnlyFans base without revealing your identity. As such, it will be very likely that your friends and potentially your family, will eventually catch wind that you are revealing yourself promiscuously online. For me ,this would be a determining factor holding me back. I can only imagine just how quickly news of my OnlyFans admission would spread in my circle.
But how would people react in 2020? - the mother of all fucked up years. Surely a friend selling themselves online wouldn’t be that groundbreaking? 10 years ago we were all warned never to post anything online that could come back to bite us. Fast forward to today and the definition of what bites you has changed dramatically. The online space has become the breeding ground to show off looks, talents, quirky behaviour and yes, explicit content.
People flock to TikTok to show off their dance moves, to Youtube to share funny videos, Snapchat to send disappearing images to their friends and Instagram to broadcast their best lives. OnlyFans is where they go to make money and make money fast- or so they think. Take money out of the equation and you’re left with uploading content to Porn Hub. OnlyFans provides and comes with far less stigma.
Money is the lure that would turn a once reserved individual into an OnlyFans member. In our recent survey on ThisThat an incredible number of people said they would upload explicit content for money.
When asked “would you create adult content for £10,000/day, a staggering 40% of men and 63% of women said “yes”.
When asked “would you stop a friend making an Only Fans page?” 98% of people said “no”. From this it is clear that in today’s society not only are a large proportion of people willing to sell their intimacies online but also, very few would see any cause for concern if friends were considering joining the platform. In my opinion, being liberal is no longer “cool” but rather, the status quo. In fact, I’d argue that if you criticised someone for contributing content to OnlyFans you’d be met with more hate yourself.
So who is funding the new hype?
It is estimated that 30% of data transferred across the internet is porn. YouPorn, one of the larger video porn sites, streams six times the bandwidth as Hulu. Everyone you know has watched, or watches porn. 70% of men and 30% of women watch porn with time spent on sites averaging at 12.5 minutes. Porn sites attract 450m unique visitors monthly. That’s more than Netflix, Amazon.com and Twitter combined…
Clearly it’s big business but with an abundance of material out there why are so many flocking to Only Fans? Since lockdown the platform has seen a month on month user growth of 15%.
The answer is simple. We spend our lives following the lives of others. We learn about those we “admire” through their stories and posts. We feel like we know our idols despite having never met. Only Fans offers a gateway into a space otherwise unobtainable. A space not only private, but a space that traditionally required trust, and in some cases love, to reach. It is unsurprising that people are willing to pay to enter that space despite pornography largely being free and in abundance online.
With more and more influencers earning big bucks on OnlyFans the danger is that people follow in suit, attracted by wealth, popularity and an easy alternative to conventional work. However the industry isn’t for the faint of heart. Suicides, drug overdoses and health implications are rife in the porn industry and many of those joining sites like OnlyFans won’t be aware of the risks, or able to handle the damaging mental impact associated with distributing personal pornographic material. 60% of people in the ThisThat survey said it is normal to be promiscuous online but by normalising the industry are we putting the well being of contributors in jeopardy?
With more and more people unemployed since the outbreak of Covid-19, it’s no surprise that people are finding alternative ways of generating income. Lack of job opportunities and restrictions on face-to-face interactions force many to think outside the box and try create value from home. Creating value from home is no easy feat and more often than not requires skill, resources and time- factors many young people haven’t had the luxury of obtaining. What people don’t realise is that running a social media page is no different. Conceptualising, producing and publishing content takes a lot of time and effort. I know this from running my startup’s social media with limited success. To stay ahead of the competition, members have to interact with their fans, distribute rewards and publish press releases. Being successful on OnlyFans can, and more often than not, require the same long hours seen in traditional workplaces.
Since lockdown we’ve seen a sharp rise in the amount people resorting to amateur pornography.
It is estimated that 29.7% of people are spending 1–2 hours more / day on social media. Many influencers are candidly expressing their motives to join sites like OnlyFans. Greater exposure to the lifestyle, normalisation fo sex work and higher levels of unemployment make amateur pornography as enticing as ever. To add salt the wound, platforms like OnlyFans and IsMyGirl have specifically targeted recently laid off workers to create content on the site offering higher earning proportions. StripChat doubled payouts to Italian contributors stuck in lockdown and have targeted laid off hotel workers.
Countless influencers promote their friends to join the movement, simultaneously building hype for the arrival of their peers to the platform. The image on the left shows Tana Mongeau throwing wads of cash into the air as she asks her audience if fellow influencer, Charly Jordan, should join OnlyFans. The large sums of cash, laissez faire attitude and depiction of two attractive individuals seemingly happy make for a persuasive advert to all viewers.
What can you expect as you grow your OnlyFans page?
Earnings on OnlyFans have on the whole increased significantly with more and more “Fans” turning to the platform as a means of interacting with with their idols. Top 1% of contributors earn approximately £255,000 a year, or near £30,000/m. The median earning however is just £136/m so don’t jump on the bandwagon too soon. In order to succeed you’ll need to stand out, be disciplined with you routine and engage your audience on a regular basis. There has also been a noticeable shift in responsibilities. Since lockdown many have highlighted a surge in members looking for companionship as people seek a new form of human interaction while semi-isolated in the real world. Some sex workers on the site have even started referring to their responsibilities as “essential work”.
Whether you are thinking of setting up an OnlyFans account or not please respect the decisions of others and hold judgement in these trying times. What may seem absurd to you may well be the passion, necessity or best hope for someone else. I admire those willing to take the leap and hope all that do, enter the space fully aware of what they are doing and the associated risks involved in distributing explicit content.
There is plenty of support out there. If you are ever struggling with mental health please always seek medical advice.
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The data included in this article is largely sourced on ThisThat- a next-gen surveying platform developed by myself and co-founder Max Osborne. If you’d like to speak to us about using our survey and analytics platform please get in touch.
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