What is OnlyFans? A Sex Worker’s Guide to the Site

After two months of social distancing, Beyoncé named OnlyFans during her post on Megan’s « Savage » Thee Stallion. Now everyone wants to be part of the experience. But by the time you’re reading this you probably have the same question that most quarantined internet ask: What is OnlyFans?

Here’s a hint: it has something to do with porn.

Luckily, as the NSFW expert / horny sex worker on the Daily Dot, I don’t just know about the website; I also use it myself. Read on to learn more about OnlyFans, why sex workers use them, how it became so popular during social distancing, and whether you should try the site out.

What is OnlyFans and why is it so popular?

OnlyFans (one word, not « Only Fans ») is a subscription-based content creation platform that allows users to share multimedia content behind a paywall. The site is primarily used by sex workers and adult content creators, especially independent models. While there are work-safe OnlyFans accounts run by influencers and online celebrities, the site is mostly an adult site. And let’s face it: Beyoncé didn’t brag about selling coconut water.

At OnlyFans, fans subscribe to an artist’s website for a monthly fee. This grants them access to the model’s page with dozens (if not hundreds) of adult photos, videos, text posts, and more. You can also tip models, send them DMs, or buy exclusive content through pay-per-view messages. All of your model subscriptions are displayed under a dashboard that allows you to quickly scroll through the latest updates.

Sex workers have been using the site since it emerged in 2016, so why is it now exploding among civilians (or non-sex workers)? Two words: lust for quarantine.

When the coronavirus pandemic brought widespread social distancing and a staggering American unemployment rate, OnlyFans attracted pent-up civilians willing to pay for the models’ content and new sex workers willing to produce content.

In April, the platform saw a 75% increase in logins with approximately 150,000 new users every 24 hours from May 1, Motherboard reports. High profile news – including the Indiana mechanic fired for her OnlyFans, viral memes about big earners at OnlyFans, the visit from influencer Caroline Calloway, and the verse from Queen Bee – all helped drive public interest in the platform.

But before that, online sex workers made OnlyFans the big name it is today.

Why do sex workers use it?

Since I started sex work in the summer of 2019, I’ve used a couple of websites to make money. Before OnlyFans, ManyVids was my main source of income. Now my OnlyFans is by far my highest paying service, and I say this as a relatively new queer sex worker with a somewhat niche following.

Sex worker and Liaraslist administrator Ashley Lake works with me as a consultant for my OnlyFans and I owe a large part of my success on the platform to her advice.

OnlyFans has features that make it an ideal platform for building a fan base and selling works. The site is doing content updates, and sincere, amateurish selfies are more than welcome. This means that you don’t have to regularly schedule, shoot, and edit half-hour porn clips or block a night from having sex with clients. Posting photos and short clips regularly is more than enough, and you can schedule new posts through OnlyFans’ queuing system.

Of course, running an OnlyFans is a lot more work than taking a selfie and posting it online. You need to market yourself, interact with customers, handle new custom content requests, take time out for shoots, edit your photos and videos, and network with other sex workers. If you’re an established creator or already have a sizeable online following, OnlyFans makes the jump a little easier. If you’re an offline sex worker considering an OnlyFans, it’s a lot more complicated.

“For people new to online sex work, it is important to consider the safety and stigmatization risks associated with online sex work. Even if it’s legal work, the stigma can have a serious impact on any vanilla job, ”Lake told me. « There is no real way of preventing piracy, and face recognition has come to the point where it can only match parts of a face. »

Another reason OnlyFans is so popular is its payout system. Payment is in the form of weekly, monthly or manual withdrawals which only require a minimum of $ 20. In addition, OnlyFans only takes 20% off subscriptions and tips, which is particularly low in the adult industry. In comparison, ManyVids takes a 40% cut in all video sales through the service and only issues direct deposits with a withdrawal of $ 50.

But the biggest and most important reason OnlyFans is so popular is because it’s already an established service. To make money as a sex worker, you need customers. To get customers, you need to market yourself where your customers hang out. OnlyFans has gradually built its reputation over the past four years as customers both new and old entrust their time and money to the site.

« OnlyFans was lucky enough to go big when other feed-organized sites fell – namely Patreon and Tumblr, which have started porn in the past few years, » said Lake. « OnlyFans porn users like having the one-handed browsing experience on the feed, so they usually follow a few different followers to replicate the feed experience they had on Tumblr. »

Can I get OnlyFans for free?

Sorry, there is no magic trick that allows you to access a paid OnlyFans subscription for free. However, there are certain ways to land free OnlyFans content. It depends on the particular model, the content being hosted, and your relationship with you as a customer.

Some adult models host a free OnlyFans that doesn’t require a subscription. Instead, they offer a mix of free and paid content like lewd public images and pay-per-view nude clips. Alternatively, OnlyFans offers a free trial, and some models may give away free OnlyFans subscriptions or occasionally run free trial periods to improve their work. That being said, you have to spend money to get access to a paid OnlyFans.

How to use OnlyFans

Let’s chat the etiquette of OnlyFans. Before we get started, there are some universal rules that apply to adult YouTubers across the board at OnlyFans.

Like many adult websites, OnlyFans prohibits many controversial kinks. These include vomiting, feces, peeing, fisting, incest role play, drug use, diaper fetishism, age games, and hypnosis. OnlyFans does not allow users to schedule full service sex work on the site or to take any money for full service work. For my sex workers, in general, it is a smart idea not to schedule, link, or even accept payments to your sex work outside of the website on OnlyFans. Client: If a performer says they can’t discuss outside work on OnlyFans, or if they refuse to shoot content that is against the rules, respect that line.

Lake says content restrictions aren’t necessarily made by OnlyFans. The website’s payment processor, CCBill, violates credit card company guidelines. « CCBill has been around for 22 years, » Lake told me, « so it’s wrong for people to pretend this is a particularly negative thing about OnlyFans. »

Plus, every adult model has their own set of rules for their side. Some promise to reply to all of their messages. Others prefer not to write DM unless you tip. Some creators update daily or more often. Others only post a few posts a week. Read each welcome message and see your model’s pinned post before contacting us as it may contain answers to your frequently asked questions.

Last but not least, the best way to get a model’s attention is to purchase content, tip for posts, tip in DMs, tip large, tip small, tip random, tip, tip, tip! Messages with tips appear at the top of models’ inboxes, which means you’ll get a response faster, Lake said.

« It is also common to tip when sending pictures of your own genitals, » she said. « If you do that and get no response or a frosty response, it is likely because you forgot to tip. »


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