An online sex worker in Halifax says she’s seeing a spike in numbers on her OnlyFans account since the coronavirus pandemic started.
OnlyFans is a subscription content service, launched in 2016, that allows creators to earn money from users who subscribe to their content that’s too racy for Instagram.
As reported by Global News in April, the company has also been reporting an increase in new model and fan sign-ups.
“Lots of people who might not otherwise have been interested or might not otherwise have tried but are now bored and at home, they’re much more likely to sign up,” said Chilly.
Chilly is a pseudonym the model uses in her line of work to protect her real identity.
Chilly is a 24-year-old woman who started with other kinds of online sex work, like independent webcamming and sexting, starting to use OnlyFans a couple of years ago.
“It just seems like a good and efficient platform to have everything organized in one place. All of the things that OnlyFans was offering I was already doing,” said Chilly, who also uses other online platforms such as ManyVids and iWantClips to sell her content.
“OnlyFans is just, like, one stream of income… The nice thing about OnlyFans and ManyVids especially is that they form a kind of passive income so people can be signing up and you already have content on there and you don’t have to necessarily talk to every single person that’s buying your content.”
Chilly says the most she has ever made in a day was $1,500, and that was before the pandemic. However, since March, Chilly notes that her subscriber count on OnlyFans has doubled.
But despite the increase, Chilly stressed that online sex work is not a way to get easy or quick money.
“It comes with a lot of stigma and relative risks… I think a lot of people are thinking about OnlyFans as a short-term way to make a lot of money,” said Chilly. “But the way that it works, like, whatever your social media following is shows how much you can make from that.”
She says models need to promote their OnlyFans through Instagram and Twitter to really gain subscribers, a point echoed Halifax OnlyFans model Oliver Potts.
“You have to promote the sh-t out of yourself, like, I’m on Twitter for probably four hours a day and I try to limit it. But I’m gonna be honest, on the days where I’m on it for eight, 10 hours I get way more subscribers,” said the 23-year-old, who uses the pronouns him/they.
They said people don’t realize it’s not about taking a quick nude and sending it, rather it involves a lot of editing and relationship-building with clients.
“You need to have your body in crazy contorted positions for the clients,” Potts said.
Potts said OnlyFans was their side hustle when they started it in January, but it turned into their full-time job when COVID-19 hit.
“Right now, I’m making as much as I would if I had any other job,” said Potts. “I’m making anywhere from 600 to 700 a month. Maybe a bit more if I was to count things that people buy me off my wish list.”
Potts said they’ve been able to pay their rent and groceries during this uncertain time.
“Being able to be my own boss and being able to make money the way I want to, that’s pretty fulfilling,” said Potts.
Chilly, who has been able to pay for her higher education through online sex work, says OnlyFans has become slightly less stigmatized as more and more people join the platform.
“I guess there is even more mystery around us now,” she said.
Potts also noted that the increasing popularity of the platforms is due to people realizing how accessible it is.
“I have some friends who work at women’s shelters and a big part of actually working at women’s shelters is trying to help them maybe transition from getting sex work that’s not safe or getting them off the street completely and showing them you can actually do online work. So I think that’s really cool,” Potts said.
Moreover, during this time, Potts said people are having more conversations about ethical porn.
“I think a lot of people are subscribing and they’re being quiet about it. Maybe it’s the first time they’re buying so they’re, like, really shy or embarrassed about it,” Potts said.
“But I think there’s a lot more people doing it and buying right now because there’s just so much to talk about… when it comes to what ethical porn means.”
Potts said many of their friends on OnlyFans have been able to financially support themselves and their family by choosing to do this independent work. They said some have put a down payment on a house at the age of 22 or have been able to completely pay off their bills.
“Buying your bread or seeing a local show that’s a way to support small businesses, and buying local porn is a way of supporting small businesses, too.”