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

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”. 

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."


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