Aside from the internet, nothing has changed the adult industry as drastically as OnlyFans. The site allows content creators to deliver their work directly to fans, interact with their customers, and keep more of the profits for themselves.
OnlyFans effectively cut out the middlemen in adult entertainment, and the results have been astounding. Stars who would have made a mere thousand dollars or so per video are now enjoying steady income from subscriptions and tips, and some of them are making millions of dollars per month.
So how did OnlyFans change the game? How does it work? Here’s the story.
How It Started
OnlyFans launched in November 2016 and was founded by Timothy Stokely, who had previously owned two adult performance websites. It wasn’t an instant hit, but the COVID-19 pandemic sparked demand for online content and gave many sex workers the free time and incentive to create their own.
The site started as a way for creators to make money from their work through subscriptions and tips. It’s not exclusively adult content, but the vast majority is. The pandemic caused OnlyFans’ net revenue to skyrocket from $375 million in 2020 to $1.2 billion in 2021 and an estimated $2.5 billion in 2022 – the rest is history.
Who Are the Content Creators?
Chances are you know someone who’s making at least a little money from their OnlyFans, and you’ve definitely heard of some celebrities who have accounts. Content creators range from students making money on the side to pop stars and actresses.
As the site expanded, it started attracting celebrities and influencers such as Cardi B, Bella Thorne, Bhad Bhabie, and others. Most creators don’t get rich from their OnlyFans, but the top earners make millions; Blac Chyna is the highest-paid creator and rakes in $20 million a month. For most creators, though, the average earnings are $151 each month.
OnlyFans uses subscriptions as its main source of income and only takes 20% of what creators earn. Once a user subscribes to a creator, they get to view the NSFW content, make requests, and send messages.
Unfortunately, this system doesn’t always work without controversy. In 2020, someone leaked terabytes of pornographic images of Instagram models, porn stars, TikTok stars, and others on the internet for free.
There isn’t much stopping someone from screenshotting and redistributing a model’s content, which can be devastating for sex workers who need the income and don’t want their pictures to be so accessible.
However, this hasn’t stopped celebrities from making insane amounts of money. Rapper Bhad Bhabie raised eyebrows when she made over a million dollars within the first six hours of launching her account just days after her 18th birthday.
Many people think the platform is bad for teens, even if they are of legal age. In 2021, OnlyFans announced they would put a stop to adult content, but quickly did a one-eighty after severe backlash.
Despite the controversy, OnlyFans doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. The site gives sex workers control of their own work and lets them keep most of their revenue. When the company tried to move away from adult content, creators and fans alike fought to keep it.
There’s no doubt that OnlyFans (and platforms like it) are the future of sex work, and most people seem to be happy about it.
Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/00Mate00
Dr. Aliyah Moore (she/her) is a certified sex therapist, writer, and sexpert at SexualAlpha. She’s passionate about educating and empowering women to embrace their sexuality and identity. Read more about her story and experience on her website: AliyahMoore.com.