Is Selling Explicit Content Online Worth it?

The pros and cons of making a living as an explicit content creator


Graphic by Andie Kalinowski.

“In the olden days, this woman would’ve been tied to a stake and burned to death.”

This soundbite has been trending on social media in recent weeks. It usually plays under a quick video of someone engaging in behavior that would be frowned upon in past societal norms. It is even used as a joke when someone is failing a community standard.

Examples of these are TikTok videos of women showing off revealing outfits before going out, a man dancing, twerking to Megan Thee Stallion songs or a wife swapping her husband’s books for plant decor.

However, the olden days are not centuries ago or even a few years ago for a demographic that has embraced the soundbite.

The sound is used by some people on social media to mock the stigma of making money by selling explicit content online. This act has been a controversial topic and can get many people fired from their conventional jobs or looked down upon by society.

Originally launched in 2016, OnlyFans is a subscription-based social media platform that allows users to sell and purchase original, explicit content.

In 2020, the website OnlyFans gained rapid popularity amidst the pandemic.

Some people made a five- or six-figure income a month from the platform, allowing them to quit their 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. jobs, drop out of college or pay off student loans.

The idea of making stacks of cash is appealing when some people are able to buy their parents an $800,000 home or pay for their sibling’s tuition.

However, making “spicy” content online does not always lead to financial success. It can cause detrimental consequences in a person’s personal or professional life.

In 2012, a high school guidance counselor was fired after pictures were posted of her online from when she worked as a lingerie model 17 years prior.

In 2013, a woman who did online work as a fetish model was fired from her two regular jobs as a waitress and bartender.

In the past two years, a nurse in Boston, a mechanic in Indiana and a middle school teacher in North Carolina have also lost their jobs after their workplace discovered that they were creating content online.

People encouraging others to join the platform or similar ones do not always relay all the risks.
Conversations with a few content creators on the platform shed light on the real outcomes and risks with making OnlyFans content.

One individual who has found success on the platform goes by the name of Billy. He said that the examples seen on TikTok of hundreds of people posting their OnlyFans earnings upwards of $40,000 a month is “inflated and overstated.”

Billy said many of those claims are fake. They are posted by people riding off of one screenshot when in reality, making significantly less.

An example of someone not making tens of thousands of dollars a month is a 26-year-old man from Los Angeles who at the time of this writing, has 126 subscribers with a monthly subscription fee of $15 per month.

Without predicting any additional income from pay-to-unlock pictures or tips from subscribers, that puts him at making $1,890 a month. That’s before OnlyFans 20 percent commission and state and federal taxes.

When asked why he decided to start an OnlyFans, the L.A. man said he was a chef before the pandemic. The restaurant he worked at shut down as his daughter was being born. He felt that he had too many responsibilities to not be willing to try anything he can to make ends meet.

However, some people do find financial success close to what’s being hyped up on TikTok. The most common demographic of people who find financial success on the platform are women.

Women on OnlyFans and similar platforms have shown higher chances and results of financial success compared to men content creators but even then, not without issues.

A 30-year-old woman from New York highlights a dangerous risk anyone on social media faces, but that can be amplified when the factor of sexual content is present.

In a podcast interview, Mariah said that she was making between $500 to $2000 a day and on track to make $200,000 in a year on OnlyFans and similar platforms until she quit due to getting harassed and stalked by subscribers.

People posted her real name and information online and found her and her husband’s phone numbers and would call them. It got to the point where people sent her death threats which led to her having to research what to do if someone threw acid in her face.

She said that even though she was making a lot of money, she wished that she could pay to not have to research that in the first place and not have to be worried for her life.

She quit her online presence for a few years.

Social media make OnlyFans seem like the trend and the next popular site to become internet famous like in the olden days of MySpace. They also make it seem like a great additional source of income, but the decision to start slanging “spicy” pictures online should not be a light decision.

Sure, the stigma of being someone who sells nude content online is becoming less taboo and controversial. This is apparent through creators like Manuel Ferrara and Mia Malkova, who became successful in mainstream platforms on YouTube and Twitch for non-explicit content. They have people and companies willing to work and associate with them.

However, the stigma is not completely gone yet, as can be seen with Alexandra Hunt, an OnlyFans content creator who is running for U.S. Congress. The risks to one’s safety, career and reputation that come along with becoming an OnlyFans creator should be weighed and considered thoroughly.

Now this closer look at the OnlyFans trend may sound like its purpose is to completely dissuade people from becoming “spicy” content creators but it is not.

The goal is to inform and bring awareness to the realities and risks that content creators who promote the activity don’t often mention. If people do want to join, they can do so knowing what they may face online.

Not everyone will become rich. Not everyone will stay anonymous. Yet, should someone reading throw caution to the wind and respond with another TikTok soundbite that goes, “Okay, well that’s you. But on the other hand, me? Oh, I’m finna turn up” this writer’s response is, “I actually did it myself. Yeah…”