OnlyFans is a content subscription service with a reputation for adult content. Content creators can earn money from users who subscribe to their content—the "fans"


  • Set your own prices
  • Keep 80% of what you charge
  • Several ways to earn money

  • Reputation for Adult Content (con for other creators)
  • Spending limits imposed by the platform
  • BYO audience means you’re not likely to grow it

What is it, exactly?

Chances are, if you’ve heard of OnlyFans, you equate it with adult content. It’s what the platform is known for. Occasionally, you might stumble upon an article written about the service that contains some variation of the idea that it started as a way for influencers to monetise their content and only naturally evolved into a hub for sex workers looking for safer alternatives to in-person interactions. 

OnlyFans started life in 2011 as a service called Customs4U, the main conceit of which was to give men the opportunity to pay and direct cam performers for private shows. The idea to target influencers didn’t come until 2016, and even then the focus was still on adult content. The pitch to get creators on the platform was simple: entice your fans with PG-13 content on Instagram as a way to promote your R- and X-rated content on OnlyFans. 

There has been a more recent push to broaden OnlyFans’ palette beyond its niche. With brand collaborations becoming more competitive and a global pandemic driving the world indoors, influencers of all kinds are looking to the site as a way to supplement their income. Is OnlyFans the best way for them to do that? 

What’s the Cost?

The fee structure is pretty simple: OnlyFans takes a 20% cut of everything a creator earns, and creators can earn in three different ways:

  • Subscriptions — This is the heart of OnlyFans’ model, which empowers the creator to charge whatever they want. And by “whatever they want,” we mean “between $4.99 and $50 a month.”
  • Direct Messages — No one’s sliding into your DMs on the platform, not unless they pay for the privilege. This is actually a great feature: apart from creating a supplemental revenue stream, it also protects creators from harassment. Prices can be set from $3 to $100 per message.
  • Tips — Tips give the creator unlimited flexibility in their earnings. The feature isn’t unlocked until you have a minimum of 10 posts, and you are posting regularly. Once the button is added to your profile, though, people can tip just to be nice, or the creator can use it as a way to take one-time payments for custom content. For new users, the limit is $100 per tip. After four months that doubles to $200.

Payouts are available on a seven day rolling basis, with a minimum of $20 per payout.

Is It Easy to Setup and Use?

Creating an account is quick and painless. The rest of the set up isn’t difficult, but you’re also not given much in the way of guidance. The signup process never asks you if you want to be a Creator or a Fan. You just create the account, and then you’re presented with what is essentially a blank page. You’ll have to figure out that you need to edit your profile some to get started; add your banking info for payouts and you become a Creator. Add a credit card for payments and you’re a Fan. 

Fans can’t see anything, even free content, until they’ve added a credit card. This means no one will be stumbling upon your account through traditional methods of social media browsing. Of course, if you’re an influencer with a sizable audience elsewhere, you can use those channels to promote your OnlyFans presence. And the OnlyFans does give you some pretty decent promotional tools, allowing for limited time discounted subscriptions and free trials.

Once you’re all set up, OnlyFans works like any other social media site. You post content, interact with people, drive engagement. A good thing to remember is that your content is only part of the equation. Engagement—meaning you interacting with fans—is what will really drive subscriptions. If your fans were only in it for the content, they’d just look at your Instagram feed. They’re paying for a more personal and intimate experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fitness expert getting naked, or a musician getting naked, or a fully clothed photographer with naked models—if your fans aren’t getting exclusive access to you, the person, they will cancel their subscriptions.

Show Me the Money

There are a number of success OnlyFans success stories to choose from: Bella Thorne and her million dollar day is now the stuff of legend. But she’s an outlier. One of OnlyFans’ top earners is a woman named Monica Huldt, who makes more than $100k a year on the site, but it’s by no means easy money. She works seven days a week, spending two hours of every day just getting back to fans who message her (and who paid for a response). Situations like these aren’t uncommon.

The Bottom Line

Try as it might, OnlyFans likely isn’t going to shake the perception of being a sex-centric platform. If you’re not planning on providing the kind of content the site is known for, you’d be better served finding another platform that won’t sully your reputation, to say nothing of playing to your strengths. You’ll need to bring your fans over with explicit instructions if you’re offering the kind of content that doesn’t fit in with the OnlyFans “aesthetic.” And if you are of the mind to go all-in with what the site is serving, you may want to look at some alternatives as well.

OnlyFans is a content subscription service with a reputation for adult content. Content creators can earn money from users who subscribe to their content—the "fans"

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