Art by Annie Nguyen
Let’s be honest; it’s financially a bad idea to be a full-time student in 2023. The cost-of-living crisis is in full-swing, Youth Allowance rates are only slightly better than those detailed under the Panhandler Award 2010, and retail and hospitality jobs are rarely tolerable. I’ve been saying since 1st year that I’m going to start an OnlyFans every time my transaction account balance made me wince. It took my card declining at a pharmacy as I was trying to buy antibiotics for a killer UTI that I decided that 2023 was the year for it.
I ran an OnlyFans for approximately 3 weeks and hit the top 28% of creators. In case you’re considering making one yourself, I’m going to be forthcoming with you about what it actually takes to run and profit off an OnlyFans.
How easy is it to make money on OnlyFans?
I’m not going to say it was equivalent to a 12-hour shift in the mines. I will say it is definitely not as easy as your worst guy friend says it is, unless you have a built-in following on another social media platform or you’re absurdly conventionally attractive. The majority of people who make an OnlyFans account don’t make enough to buy a Cornetto at the service station, let alone a $3.5mil house or two. I know this because I hit the top 28% of creators on OnlyFans, and I made less than $400. I did not make enough to pay rent, I did not make enough to pay my bills, and I did not make enough for even a month’s worth of groceries. This might seem reasonable, even desirable, if you’re picturing a post or two a day of yourself in your underwear, face cropped out and minimal interaction with your subscribers. This is not the reality of your work as an OnlyFans Creator.
What will people pay for?
The majority of OnlyFans subscribers will not pay for anything less than hardcore content, equivalent to what you would find on free porn sites (with of course, the exception of you being an overwhelmingly physically attractive person. You caught me, I’m mid). If you’re not planning on doing this full-time for as long as it’s feasible, your first instinct is going to be to crop your face out. It’s not impossible to make money with faceless content, but the general consensus is having your face in your content will make you way more money, way quicker. Given that I was always planning on having an OnlyFans for an extremely short period of time, I not only cropped my face out, but I edited out all my tattoos and obscured the background of everything I posted and sent out as a pay-per-view message. It’s hard to say whether I would have made more money if I were less scrupulous about my privacy. What I can tell you is that a subscriber offered $100 to see my face. The other suckerpunch waiting for you in the fine print is that you will make very little money off subscription fees themselves. You will make the majority of your income creating pay-per-view content —usually customised to the taste of a particular subscriber.
Combined with the content you’ll have to post daily on the OnlyFans page itself, content on other social media sites to promote your page, and time editing, to make a living from OnlyFans, you’d be required to put in as many hours as you’d be working full-time.
How do I get subscribers?
Consistent promotion on sites like Reddit and Twitter will be your primary method of acquiring subscribers. I primarily used Reddit. Promoting an OnlyFans page in general requires you to identify a ‘niche’ — what makes your content notable? To be straightforward, that’s HR speak for what makes your body notable? It’s true that there is someone who is into every kind of body, but generally the further away you are from the beauty standard, the more you have to cater to people with unconventional interests.
You will have to post tons. Your posts will get buried quickly under piles and piles of others who are more tapped into the niche you share with them. An issue specific to Reddit is the absurd amount of verification you have to do with moderators to post on most subreddits where you might have a chance of catching a potential subscriber’s eye. The standard way to ‘verify’ yourself is sending a moderator multiple photos of you in your underwear holding a piece of paper with your Reddit username and the subreddit’s name. This process is usually necessary to ensure that people have permission to post the photos that they’re posting — but sometimes it just felt like I was making free fansigns.
Is it worth it?
This is up to you to decide. My expectations were limbo-level-impossible low. I made way more money than I was expecting to, but overall, including the startup costs of video editing software and services to scrub your leaked content off the internet (this happens to every OnlyFans creator at some point), I don’t think I was making enough to justify the amount of work I was doing. The market only continues to get more and more saturated every day, weeding out those who have less time, less drive, less confidence. You have to have thick skin and the ability to set boundaries with your subscribers. The sad reality is that new OnlyFans creators often experience large bursts of profit from subscribers who want them to do things more experienced creators wouldn’t consider. I wasn’t cut out for it. The reason I persisted even beyond 2 weeks is that to get a direct payout from OnlyFans in Australia, you need to make $200 USD. That’s about $300 AUD — an amount of money most creators will never see.
Perhaps you are the drop-dead gorgeous. brilliant time manager with no trouble setting boundaries who could run an OnlyFans while studying full-time. How does it feel to be a unicorn? But on the off chance that you’re not, I would reconsider.
Editor: Anh Noel