What Is OnlyFans? A Closer Look at the Subscription-Based Social Media Site

Subscription-based social media sites are gaining popularity. Perhaps the most popular (notorious?) of these subscription-based services is OnlyFans. But, what is OnlyFans? In this article, we’ll share what OnlyFans is, how it works, who uses it, and how much you can earn on the platform. Additionally, we’ll walk you through setting up your own OnlyFans account so you can jump on the subscription-based social media trend.

What Is OnlyFans? A Closer Look at the Subscription-Based Social Media Site:

What Is OnlyFans?

OnlyFans is a subscription site that lets content creators monetize their influence. Creators can lock their content behind a paywall, allowing fans access for a monthly fee or one-off tip. The site was founded in 2016 by British tech entrepreneur and investor Timothy Stokely and now has more than 30 million registered users and more than 450,000 content creators.

Since OnlyFans launched in 2016, the site has paid out more than $600 million to creators. Creators can allow their fans to pay for content via a monthly subscription between $4.99–$49.99 each month (OnlyFans retains a 20% fee). They can also have free pages where they then charge fans to access content via pay-per-view. Other creators have both a free page and a subscription page to diversify and optimize their earnings. After actor Bella Thorne joined OnlyFans and racked up millions of dollars in just a few days, OnlyFans implemented transaction limits which capped PPV pricing at $50 per post and tips from new fans at $100 per tip. They also changed the payout frequency in some countries from weekly payouts to payouts every 21 days.

OnlyFans is a site, not an app. This is important to note since Apple doesn’t allow apps in the App Store with “overtly sexual content.” But, wait… What do they mean by sexual content?

Not Just Porn… But That’s a Big Part of It

OnlyFans creators can post themselves doing any number of things that wouldn’t fly on other social media sites, but it wasn’t created solely for that purpose. In fact, there are creators on the site that don’t offer adult material—artists, fitness instructors, chefs, and others who want to use the site to monetize their content. Given the site’s lack of restrictions, however, OnlyFans quickly became a home for adult performers, sex workers, and models who share NSFW content.

Creators can post uncensored, X-rated pictures and videos as well as host live streams where followers can engage with creators in real-time. OnlyFans also has a messaging feature that lets creators market to their viewers similar to email marketing, letting them know about new or exclusive content, polls, and more. These live performances go a long way toward increasing audience engagement, brand affinity, and optimizing viewership.

Who Uses OnlyFans?

OnlyFans is home to fitness trainers, writers, artists, chefs, and more. But that’s only the non-explicit side of things. Since OnlyFans lets people post content that would get them banned on other social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, it’s also widely used by sex workers and amateur pornographers who upload videos and images, and who interact with their fans using direct messages.

The purpose of OnlyFans is to provide a platform for creators to create and distribute their content, build a following, and earn money. Influencer Caroline Calloway, for instance, set up an OnlyFans page where she dresses in costume as literary characters. Sharing this content nets her a projected annual salary of more than $220,000. Other influencers like e-girl influencer Belle Delphine are able to charge fans a membership fee of $35 a month for access to adult content.

Reality TV celebrities like Blac Chyna, Chad Johnson, Safaree Samuels, and Erica Mena are also on the platform. And, again, not all creators use the platform to sell explicit content. The-Dream created an OnlyFans account to promote his new album, SXTP4. He uses the platform to connect with his fanbase and encourages them to post their own “sensual choreography” to his songs.

How Does OnlyFans Work?

OnlyFans is easy to use. Creators simply upload their content (videos, articles, photos) to the site. Creators can set their page to be free or paid and fans then pay to get access to the exclusive content. While creators can create accounts for free, when they earn money from the platform OnlyFans pays out 80%, keeping 20% of the earnings as a fee.

Since a lot of the content on OnlyFans is explicit, users have to be at least 18 and will need a government-issued ID in order to sign up. The content is also protected by OnlyFans, ensuring that it can’t be shared outside of the platform. In fact, if a user tries to take a screenshot on the site, the content will show up blacked out. Users are also subject to banning if they’re caught trying to screenshot or record what’s going on.

OnlyFans takes privacy seriously, and it shows in how they try to protect the content that creators trust to the platform. In a statement, OnlyFans indicated that they have a “designated DMCA team that issue formal takedown notices against all reported copyright violations.” The DMCA team issues notices on all illicit hosting services, target websites, and domain registrars as well as notifying all major search engines of copyright infringements.

How Much Can You Earn on OnlyFans?

OnlyFans sets minimum and maximum subscription rates. The minimum subscription price is $4.99 per month and the maximum subscription price is $49.99 per month. Creators can also set up tips or paid private messages starting at a minimum of $5. Paid tips and private messages can not only boost earnings but help creators engage their fans and build a loyal following.

Miss Swedish Bella (aka Monica Huldt) is one of the top-earning creators on OnlyFans despite the fact that her monthly subscription price is set at $6.50. She makes the bulk of her money through the fees she chargers for commissioned work sent via private message. Business Insider reports that Huldt has gained more than 1100 subscribers and brings in more than $100,000 per year on OnlyFans.

Even though Huldt had a large Instagram following before she joined OnlyFans, she revealed to Business Insider that she works on OnlyFans content seven days a week to maintain her level of earnings. Huldt offered up some advice for creators considering joining OnlyFans to earn money: "I would never advise someone doing it if they only wanted to do it like two days a week or something. It's not a part-time thing in your mind. You wouldn't make enough money."

This is echoed by many online sex workers who have established a presence on OnlyFans. Many of them talk about how difficult it is to earn decent money on the platform since a big part of it is wrapped up in being able to build a following. Beyond that, you have to spend time and energy to produce content consistently for some time before the account starts turning a big enough profit.

OnlyFans creators can sell personalized or interactive content on the site for additional fees. Some creators have built a tip menu that details the content and interactions they’re offering and how much each costs. Again, OnlyFans takes 20% of the earnings creators bring in and offer this advice on earning money on the platform: "Your earning forecast really depends on the quality and quantity of the content you upload. The more you post, the more incentive there is for your fans to subscribe (and remain subscribed) to your profile."

How to Get Started on OnlyFans

Unlike some social media platforms, you can only use OnlyFans as a subscriber or creator. To become an earner you just add your bank account to your profile and start uploading content. As we’ve mentioned, creators can set their own pricing within OnlyFans’ minimums and maximums ($4.99 per month to $49.99 per month for subscriptions with a minimum tip amount of $5). Creators receive a payout every 21 days of 80% of what they’ve brought in. OnlyFans keeps 20% of the fees to cover the costs associated with running the OnlyFans site and apps, hosting, and payment processing.

Let’s talk about how to get started on OnlyFans as a creator or a subscriber.

How to Become an OnlyFans Creator

Start by heading over to the OnlyFans site. Once there, click Sign up for OnlyFans.com under the Login button.

From there, you’ll need to enter your email, set a password, and add your name as well as agree to the OnlyFans terms of service before clicking Sign Up.

After confirming your email address, you’ll be taken to your profile. It’s pretty boring out of the box, so be sure to take the time to personalize it by adding a custom username, a profile image, your website, location, and fill in your About section. You can also connect your Spotify account or even add a link to your Amazon wishlist. At a minimum, you have to add a profile image, header image, and fill out your About section. You can learn a lot about creating a profile that brings in followers from our guide for how to become an influencer.

If you want to set pricing, you’ll need to click Add a Bank Account or Payment Information under the Subscription Price section.

Choose your country from the dropdown then tick the radio button to confirm that you’re at least 18 and the age of majority in your country before clicking Next.

On the next screen, you’ll need to share your legal name, address, date of birth, and upload images of your government-issued ID (and a selfie of you wish your ID) as well as indicating whether you will be sharing sexually explicit or pornographic content. Once you’ve entered all of your information, click Send for Approval.

After your account has been approved you can add your banking information and start earning.

How to Become an OnlyFans Subscriber

Becoming an OnlyFans subscriber is also easy. Once again, start by going to the OnlyFans website and clicking on the signup link. After confirming your email address, click on the profile icon in the upper right corner of the OnlyFans page. Next, click Your Cards to add a payment card and become a subscriber.

After you’ve saved your payment information, just click the subscribe button on any profile you want to follow.

Once you’ve subscribed to a profile, the content will be immediately available. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Get Paid for OnlyFans Referrals

OnlyFans also offers a referral program in which those who refer a creator to the platform can earn 5% of the referred creator’s earnings for the first 12 months up to the first $1 million earned by the referred creator. There are no limitations to the number of referred creators or total referral earnings. Referrals are paid out monthly on the first business day of the month.

The referral program used to payout 5% of the referred creator’s earnings for life but with the platform’s popularity, referrals are now being limited to the year following signup, up to the first $1 million earned by the referred creator. Some creators have taken to creating and supporting a petition to push OnlyFans to reinstate the old system, especially since many sex workers are relying on the OnlyFans platform for their income. When you consider that OnlyFans already takes 20% off the top of creator earnings, this isn’t really an unfair expectation.

The Rise of Subscription-Based Social Media

OnlyFans is just one of the subscription-based social media platforms that are popping up. MeWe, a subscription-based social network that prides itself on being the anti-Facebook has launched a premium service, giving users of the platform the option to pay for services like adding a business page, adding voice and video calling, and adding cloud storage. For $4.99 a month, users can get access to all of the premium features. MeWe has already gained millions of users on its platform who are looking for an alternative to Facebook.

Since the global COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, searches for “onlyfans” have increased tremendously on Google and OnlyFans reports that between March and April the site saw roughly 200,000 new people subscribing to the site each day, resulting in a 75% increase of new users. Only time will tell if this upward trajectory will continue for OnlyFans but what is clear is that subscription-based social media is a viable and thriving answer to social distancing and our increasingly digital world.

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