OnlyFans is quickly becoming a household name, arguably less for those of us quarantined in our childhood bedroom; however, following the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, social media has seen the online world of sex work flourish. Leading porn sites began providing free premium content to encourage staying indoors, celebrities such as Freddie Gibbs started hosting strip clubs live on Instagram to provide adult-performers with a platform to compensate for their loss of income, and most importantly, OnlyFans saw thousands of amateur content creators pouring onto their site looking to sell X-rated entertainment as a way to make ends meet. We sat down with Mikhaela, a piercer and trainee tattooist by trade, who’s currently sitting amongst the top 8% of OnlyFans creators.
Thrown out of routine, Mikhaela found time to be meaningless, she polished off an Orchard Thieves while indulging in her first meal of the day – the setting sun a brief respite to the nocturnal gloom of quarantine. While housemates roamed dishevelled, desperately clinging to crumbs of daily structure, Mikhaela remained somewhat unphased by the prospect of pandemic life. Sure, the loss of income, social interaction, and romantic interests have taken their toll, yet her posture remained unkinked, her ambition of self-sufficiency steadfast. Crossing her legs upon a chair at the kitchen table—wearing her favourite oversized tee and comfiest jersey shorts—she took a moment to reposition, preparing herself to speak.
N: Let’s hit it from the basics, when did you get started and what was the reasoning?
“I literally started about a week ago, I made the account a lot earlier than this though, I guess maybe I was nervous? I wanted a better idea on the ins and outs before I really started.”
“I’d wanted to do it for a while, there was always a strong interest there for me. I follow a lot of creators and influencers online who’ve been doing it for ages now. It was always just on the back of my mind – one of those “wouldn’t it be funny” thoughts.”
N: Was there a point that you just thought “fuck it, let’s see what happens”?
“A while back I did a poll on my Insta story to gauge whether or not I should do it, I was always worried about what people would think about it more than anything. Friends showed their worries about the embarrassment of it all or just the general backlash from creating this profile.”
N: It’s pretty obvious that the stigma of being involved with this industry seems to be a huge factor for a lot of amateur content creators, despite knowing this was something you wanted to get into, was it just a poll on Instagram that gave you the final push?
“In the end, one of the main reasons I went for it was based on a lack of confidence, body dysmorphia, what I look like, things I don’t like about myself etc. I’ve battled with eating disorders in the past, especially throughout high school, but once I moved away and into the city I jumped to the complete opposite. Recently—after starting my OnlyFans account—I’ve found myself making healthier decisions and slowly seeing improvement from exercise, it’s all about loving myself.”
“One of the girls I follow did it because she had bad mental health and the photos helped her realise how to feel good about herself. It’s empowerment. It’s not about the guys following me, it’s about how it makes me feel.”
N: So money isn’t really the biggest motive?
“A lot would do it for the finances, students or people in debt, it’s a quick and easy way to make money. It all comes down to what you post, what your engagement is with your following, etc.”
N: Is this wholesome vibe something you see throughout the community of creators? Is there much interaction between creators in this space?
“Definitely! Nobody is just in it for themselves. The support network is actually amazing. I got introduced into people in the industry, they helped me get started, showed me the ropes and helped with promotions etc. It’s a very close-knit community – if someone is getting abused all the girls are there for each other, people help. Everyone has everyone’s back.”
N: Could you elaborate more about your friends being concerned? How’ve you tackled this and what are your thoughts on it now that you’re actively involved?
“People think it’s degrading, it’s like you’re lowering yourself. But that judgement is based on their own perception, their own opinion. It’s still quite taboo which is kind of unhealthy, this platform is full of people confident in themselves, in their body, you shouldn’t base yourself on the thoughts of others.”
“I had friends that were really worried about it, a lot of people thought I’d regret it. I just remember thinking ‘it only matters if I let it matter’, people only have the control over you that you give them, I’d say now that a lot of my friends are really supportive of it.”
N: That change of heart must’ve made it a whole lot easier for you, I’m guessing you’re glad you stuck to your guns with it?
“If you’re sending nudes to someone they’re getting that for free, you might as well make some money off it.”
N: The absolute dream. I guess another big concern for people looking to get involved
in this would be safety, are there a lot of dodgy cunts up to dodgy antics?
“People try to be sneaky and get content for free, deleting accounts etc. Doesn’t work though.”
“A lot of people worry about content being leaked, I’ve had mates who’ve had their content leaked but we have huge support networks. In reality, unless you know about it there’s really nothing you can do. But, if you know about it you’re pretty much guaranteed money, you can sue the shit out of people for distribution – guys don’t think we have as much control as we do of our content.”
N: Sounds like the community is really the backbone of this platform, would you say it’s still viable for people to get involved? There must’ve been a huge influx of new creators getting involved once lockdown measures kicked in?
“It depends on the content you’re posting, looks play a huge part in it too. It’s different for everyone, some girls would show everything, even on a post, whereas others would rely on DM’s for selling extra bits and pieces – there’s a lot more privacy than a lot of people think. It can be quite a niche thing so it depends on the guy subscribing as well.”
N: Would you be playing into a niche to bump up your numbers?
“I don’t really play into a niche, I would fall under the category most guys would go for, big ass, big tits, small waist.”
N: Sounds pretty viable, what would you be looking at finance-wise? Are you bringing in enough to pay rent and cover general expenses?
“In terms of finance, I’ve had this for a week and made close to $1000 USD, I wouldn’t want to depend on it but if I make this much extra a month I’m sweet. Some find it becomes addictive, by posting more explicit content you get more money, I guess it depends on the person though, at the end of the day you’re in control.”
“I got myself a Nintendo Switch on the weekend so I’m pretty happy with how it’s going – a bunch of the other girls on OnlyFans have Animal Crossing now so we all visit each other’s islands and hang out – it’s wholesome as fuck”
N: The addiction is definitely something you wouldn’t really consider, is this something you’ve encountered?
“A ton of girls who wouldn’t have had many subs at the start, so they would ramp up their content to entice more in. Also, if the content isn’t as explicit as a sub wants, they probably won’t hang around for too long. The more explicit, the more people subscribe.”
“At first, I wasn’t going to post topless photos, I was just going to do underwear pics, but now I want their money so I’ve cracked onto it.”
“It’s a lot of pressure and can have a negative impact on body image, a few of the girls I know have started thinking about boob jobs because they think it’ll boost their income and increase their perception of themselves.”
N: Do you have any safeguards within your community to help tackle this?
“We give free trial links to all of the girls in our network so it helps us see what others are doing and base our content decisions off that which is super useful.”
“At the end of the day, I think the addiction to this is very dependent on the person.”
N: What would your advice be to others looking to get amongst Only Fans?
“If you wanna do it, do it. It all depends on how comfortable you are with it, never do anything you aren’t comfortable with. There are a lot of guys out there that’ll try to scam you, just stay safe.”
“If you ever have any doubts definitely reach out to someone, this is easily the nicest community I’ve ever been involved in.”
It was at this point Mikhaela swiftly scuttled away, embarking on a rather speedy ascent up the stairs in the hope of reaching her charger before losing touch with the outside world. It’s an odd time we live in, but despite the challenges of uprooted routines and unforeseen financial difficulties, these online platforms have proved to be an essential service for young bucks looking to make ends meet.
It’s not perfect – the stigma of ‘sex work’ is still present and producing this type of content can highlight a range of body image issues, but the girls of OnlyFans seem to be doing a top tier job of tackling this; all while keeping their community as safe, financed, and as wholesome as possible.
If you’re keen, go for it
It can be a lil’ spooky so only do what you’re comfortable with