There's been a lot of talk about OnlyFans since quarantine began, but not a ton of understanding about how the site works or what the experience of running an account is like. So we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who actually have an OnlyFans to tell us about their personal experiences and thoughts on the platform. Here's what they had to say:
Note: Not all submissions are from BuzzFeed users.
1. It's surprisingly similar to social media.
"I joined after being on SeekingArrangement (a dating site for sugar babies and sugar daddies) for a few months. OF has been much more like a social media profile than I expected! Likes and comments matter almost more than your subscriber count. However, I love that I get to choose my own hours and it’s mostly online."
2. Sometimes it's not worth it trying to please everyone.
"I had an account from January to April. I’m also a stripper, so I’ve been in the sex work industry for a few years. It was just too much work to make everyone happy. People expect a lot for a little bit of cash on OnlyFans, and since I'm also a stripper, I just couldn’t keep up with it, especially based on how I’m used to being paid. A lot of people felt entitled to have my attention 24/7, and that just wasn’t the case. It was OK, but not something that could keep me going."
3. There's potential to make more money on OnlyFans than there is on other platforms.
"I make free erotic audios on Reddit and started an OnlyFans as a way to expand on that and connect with listeners interested in an additional visual experience to go along with my voice. A lot of other NSFW audio performers I know have jumped on the platform too, and I've made more money on it than I have on other platforms. And being in Canada, where anonymous payment options are few and far between, I've been able to sell commissioned audios through OnlyFans to folks who want to keep their info private. It's been a total game changer for me."
4. It's helped people stay afloat during COVID-19.
"Thanks to COVID, I lost my job twice. Without the supplemented income, I wouldn't be able to pay my bills. The website can sometimes be a bit finicky, and it can occasionally take hours for your media to process, but it's absolutely worth it. My subscribers followed me over from Reddit, so I did already have a small following before I started, but if you want to make big money, you really have to grind and promote."
5. It can be a nice side hustle and a great way to connect.
"I started an account a month before the world turned upside down. I have about 1,500 vids and 3,000 selfies on my phone because I like selfies. I figured I already had content; I just wasn’t making money on it. So I approached the account like a side hustle.
"Since I have premade content, I just schedule one video and one picture post per day. I never intended to 'make money,' and take whatever comes as gravy. I’ve built a healthy recurring fan base that allows me to treat myself and my husband to things that we wouldn’t normally get ourselves. I also really enjoy interacting with the fans who have a more direct line to me personally. I find that most folks are just seeking connection with someone they find attractive. I don’t necessarily make 'porn,' so I think that fans can appreciate my content as something within reach."
6. It's only super lucrative if you have a super-strong following.
"I started my OnlyFans back in August, but I ended up deleting it in mid-October. I found that it’s a way to get some side cash, but the only way you can start making any real profit is if you put a bunch of dedication into promoting yourself online or if you already have a fanbase/large following. The only subscribers I ever had were friends of mine because it’s exclusive access to someone you know personally. I also found that it was too much effort to take pics and post every day when the only real money I was making was monthly prescription payments and small tips."
7. If it's what they want to do, OnlyFans creators should be supported, not shamed.
"My best friend made an OnlyFans, and she makes enough money from her Etsy shop and her OF that she doesn’t have to work a traditional 9-to-5 job. She absolutely loves it, her husband supports it, and I think it genuinely helps with her anxiety/depression. I don’t get why some people are upset or offended by their close friends being on OF. If it makes your friend happy and you’re *really* their friend, then there’s no reason not to support them!"
8. It's helping to normalize paying for sex work, and that's a good thing.
"If you believe that sex work is real work (a good philosophical start to ensuring protections for sex workers), then making use of free pornography, especially pornography that is pirated and posted in copyright violation, deprives sex workers of income. OnlyFans actually gives income to sex workers."
9. It's also helping to diversify sex work, which is super important.
"OF has democratized pornographic consumption and sex work — it used to be said that there was pornography for everything, but that just wasn't true. The overwhelming majority of pornography featured very specific physical features, and OF has provided sex workers who don't fall into those categories to find the audience that studios couldn't (or wouldn't) develop for them. It also allows sex workers who were already creating that content to professionalize their camera/lighting and make higher-quality content, rather than rely on a studio that doesn't have their best interests at heart."
10. It's a great way to build confidence.
"I started my account because I wanted to build confidence and earn some extra cash. So far, so good! I have great stories, I've met interesting people, and I'm really enjoying it overall."
11. It lets people play into their most specific fantasies and makes it more personal.
"I know someone who charges for photos on OnlyFans. The appeal of it seems to be that the buyers can get exactly what they want — specific outfits, specific poses, and other things that make it a more personalized experience. There are people out there willing to pay money to fulfill a specific fantasy, and if that's what they want to spend their money on, I say go for it. I don't think it's any more frivolous than me spending a little extra money on *the* perfect shade of red lipstick, which I've done."
12. Some subscribers don't quite understand that it's just a job.
"I want my subscribers to understand that I have a private life besides OnlyFans. Me flirting or being nice doesn’t mean I'm in love; it’s just work. I don’t want them to be my boyfriend; I’m happily taken and not willing to cheat. I am selling nudes, not porn or sexual services. There’s a huge difference, and most don’t understand."
13. It's NOT a place for celebrities like Bella Thorne who have scammed and falsely advertised things to subscribers.
"I'm a former sex worker. Sex work is work. Period. Actors and professional models should not be on this site. It takes money away from hardworking people who are just trying to put food on the table and support themselves."
14. And finally, because sex work is real work, it would be nice if celebrities who profited from OnlyFans (like Thorne) would donate their earnings to actual sex workers who rely on the platform to survive.
"I'm a longtime sex worker and activist. Bella Thorne needs to take all the money she made on OnlyFans and give it to sex worker mutual-aid organizations! Our community is severely struggling right now, and she has a powerful platform to truly make a difference. FKA Twigs has been publicly supporting the sex worker community and is a good example of how celebrities can actually make a difference. In the US, check out your local Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) on where to donate.
"Also, look for mutual-aid funds run by and for sex workers. The Black Sex Worker Collective and Lysistrata MCCF, both in NY, are doing amazing work, along with HIPS in Washington, DC. And there are countless others that are easily searchable."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.