OnlyFans emerges into a sex industry empire

User 765 opens up his MacBook Air in his bedroom after a long day of office work and dims his LED lights. He does a double-take, ensuring his bedroom door is locked and there’s not a chance his roommate will stumble inside while indulging in his evening wind-down. There’s already a bookmark signifying the after hours website of his desires, the mouse tapping on his favorite link: onlyfans.com. 

According to the OnlyFans How It Works page, “anyone can earn” money on the website for uploading tutorials, tips and behind-the-scenes content that their subscribers pay a monthly fee to view. While a wide variety of posts are made by OnlyFans creators, many lean towards having behind-the-scenes content and more often than not, those include nude photos and videos. Essentially, OnlyFans has become the hottest new online porn outlet and many users are happy to subscribe. 

#onlyfangirl has a total of 267,000 posts on Instagram and a whopping 38.8 million views on TikTok where creators advertise their accounts in hopes to gain more subscribers. The subreddit OnlyFans101 – which allows those over 18 to view posts NSFW – obtains over 300,000 members. 

Promos on TikTok and Instagram showcase some creators twerking, doing dances in their bathing suits or showcasing their newest cosplay outfits. Reddit lets creators get a bit more freaky, where naked pictures and masturbation videos are commonly found. But, the play is not only reserved for women, as several men and couples (or groups) also have OnlyFans accounts. 

“You’re your one own person porn studio,” said the 31-year-old male OnlyFans ex-creator, who we’ll call Lomania. 

Lomania broadcasted his OnlyFans from December 2019 to August 2020 while working a regular 9-5. He mainly used Twitter to publicize his account and filmed what he called two “big” porn videos a month for his subscribers. Lomania’s typical tasks involved recording having sex with others or taking sexy photos of only himself. He said he “was enjoying the endorphins” knowing his subscribers wanted to see more of his content and felt  “a little bit of exhibitionism” when running his account.

He enjoyed his new job until it blurred the lines of his work-life-sex separation. “I would end up hooking up with people, but the thought in the back of my mind is ‘should I be recording this?’” Eventually, he terminated his account in August. 

Lomania’s subscription rate was $10.99 a month, plus tips or any custom content his subscribers paid him to do. A few of his subscribers would also buy sex toys for him to play with as he made content for them. He saw OnlyFans as a great second hustle and during one month made $1,000 from his account.

Creators income can fluctuate from sustaining as a side-gig or a full-blown career. Creators post whatever they’d like and set up a fitting subscription rate with their only requirement being to give 20% of their subscription proceedings to OnlyFans. For example, Codie Phillips – a YouTuber and OnlyFans creator – said she made roughly $10,000 in two weeks from her OnlyFans subscribers in a video she made in September. That’s more than some folks make in an entire year. 

Twenty-four-year-old Aspen Pauluhn used OnlyFans to express herself as well as make some cash at the same time, and it only took her three months of creating until she decided to quit her day job. She started building up her platform in August, which took lots of dedication as she didn’t have a strong social media following beforehand. 

“I have learned so much from (self-promoting online)” said Pauluhn, “but it also takes up almost all of my free time.” 

Her content is photo-focused, showcasing Pauluhn in sultry outfits that may or may not pose herself fully nude. Soon enough, Pauluhn’s OnlyFans work began to pay off. “I totaled $2,900 for the month of October, the month before I made $1,360. I have made $2,300 in the first 9 days of November, so I’m projected to make around $6k-$9k by the end of this month.”

“Basically your income increases exponentially if you put in the time and work,” said Pauluhn. “That is why it has been such a great platform for helping people get through COVID-19 if they lost their job or to help someone quit their day job.”

OnlyFans indeed changed the economy of sex work. Traditional sexual marketplaces like strip clubs or topless bars are highly dependent on customers physically visiting those establishments, but with OnlyFans all one needs is a WiFi connection and a debit card to satisfy their hungry eyes. 

Undoubtedly, it makes getting one’s fix of sexual pleasure more easily accessible and with the hit of COVID-19, it created the perfect opportunity for the site’s engagement to grow exponentially. 

“It’s only natural that OnlyFans skyrocketed … COVID was the perfect condition for OnlyFans to take off,” Lomania said.“It’s now a competitive market.” 

Business Professor Leslie Boni from California State University Monterey Bay agrees that online marketplaces have the potential to change the financial landscape of in-person business. Sometimes online stores make customers feel more inclined to visit in-person establishments, or it can lead them to keep indulging in goods and services from the comfort of their own home. 

It “depends on whether it replaces or adds to total demand for the product or service,” Boni said. So, OnlyFans could lose some users or continue flourishing after COVID-19 cases start to diminish. As of right now, the platform is still flourishing and the girls (or boys) next door are in high demand. 

Aside from changing the economy, OnlyFans gives creators the opportunity to be their own boss. Grace Elizabeth is a 20-year-old, full-time college student with over 3,000 Instagram followers and many OnlyFans subscribers. She said after making her OnlyFans it helped her reach new financial heights and she appreciates her ability to work on her own time. 

“I can spend time at home with family and friends because I’m not working 9-5 for somebody else,” said Elizabeth. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.” 

Elizabeth also said OnlyFan’s rise in popularity brought sex work to a new chapter. “Only fans definitely changed the sex industry …  everyone has their own specific niche and there’s every kink or fetish available online that anyone can access,” she said. “It’s also convenient in the way that you can stay anonymous and delete your trace.” 

Aside from the pleasure the users derive, OnlyFans offers creators a safe space to play on their own terms and with their own rulebook. Pauluhn believes creators benefit from the online platform as COVID-19 popularizing OnlyFans supports sex workers. 

“OnlyFans basically allows women and men to monetize their bodies while still having full security in how they get paid and what they do with their body,” she said. “Other forms of sex work come with a lot of problems like not getting paid what you should be or getting scammed, being taking advantage of and abused in many different ways and being influenced to work with partners you may not be comfortable with.” 

Posting personalized porn may create pathways for sex workers to avoid endangering encounters with clients as they are working from home. 

“We need to protect people who do sex work, it is a power dynamic,” Lomania said. “Some people aren’t safe, and I think we need to be sure to do everything we can to make sure not only the people who are paying for sex are safe.”

Taking control of your body and using it to create your own income is nothing less than genius. Sex work is a part of life, and OnlyFans contributes to normalizing homemade, ethical porn. Many people love to view XXX content and have a good, consensual orgasm. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. 

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