Being a Sexworker Online – A Reflection
I wanted to give OnlyFans a try, for three months. It has been almost five months now and I think I have a pretty good idea about, how it works and if you can really make money with it. I think most potential sexworkers and OnlyFans models are probably most interested in the last question, while others might want an insight in if online sexwork really is safe and gives the content creator more power than conventional sexwork does.
Why I wanted to do it and Ethical Porn
The reason why I started an OnlyFans account was to just check it out, and take a step forward. I had been feeling stuck with my blog, and I wanted something fresh and exciting that would give me a bit of a push when it comes to my picture taking. It wasn’t only that though. I felt like I was in a place where I could challenge my negative perceptions of my body, and my attractiveness. I was prepared for both success, failure and everything in between.
Doing online sexwork seems pretty easy from the looks of it. There is still this weird stereotype that it doesn’t take a lot of effort, and many either don’t want to recognize it as “work” and others see it as scamming because free porn and pictures are available everywhere on the internet. I personally think that there is a need for a shift, and that there are ethic ways to consume pornography.
I used to go to all the free porn sites too, don’t get me wrong. But if you do some research, you will realize that many of the videos that you are watching are not consensual, they are rape, they are abuse. Ethical porn will cost you money, there is no way around it. But you can make sure that the videos and pictures are consensual, and often taken or owned by the model or sexworker themselves. There is no middle man, there is no “pimp”, they will get your money.
And don’t give me the whole “But I am so poor” -routine. Most OnlyFans accounts cost $5 a month to subscribe to, you can find good porn for that amount on ManyVids as well. That is the cost of a Starbucks coffee. No one is asking you for huge amounts of money. As a matter of fact, sexwork doesn’t pay as well as you’d think it does.
What is it like to be a sexworker online?
Now that I have made it clear that I support ethical porn and that I really urge people to do the same, what is it like to be a sexworker online? Well, it isn’t glamourous. It is a lot of work if you want to make money with it. It is a reality check too, and it takes a lot of time if you actually want to make it work.
I went in, knowing that it would be difficult for me. I am not 20 anymore, I am a big girl, and I don’t look conventional. And I also have an issue with consistency due to my health issues. So I had to set up a plan for myself that worked. But first, I read up. I read all the guides, I joined the Reddit help groups, I became part of the sexwork community on Twitter. And that was my first reality check.
Most of the work that you do is not to take pictures or videos, it is in promoting yourself. Well, that is, if you want to make any real money. The sexworkers who can live off what they do, spend hours upon hours on Twitter, Reddit, Fetlife, Telegram and Instagram, constantly posting teasers, joining repost groups, replying to comments, chatting with potential customers. It is SO much extra-work.
Plan and Organize
And that is where it becomes boring. Because it is work, and to be on top of everything, you need to be organized. I did what the guides suggested: I made spreadsheets, and planned out when to promote myself where with which pictures. I tried to find the right repost groups for my niche on Twitter, I looked through thousands of Subreddits, I looked up Instagram hashtags that were safe, I read up on how to promote yourself without getting banned on Fetlife. It sounds like a shitload of work, and damn it, it was. I was lucky that I was already running this blog, so I had an audience. I can’t imagine how daunting it would be if you started from zero.
Surprisingly, I kept up with all of that for about a month or so, then I only did it sporadically. It took me three to four hours a day to do all that, because I also had to reply to a lot of messages, had to constantly put up boundaries with people asking for freebies or a sex chat. It was just not worth my time and energy. My main goal was never to make a lot of money. But if you want to make money, you need to do that promotion work. There is no way around it.
Fans, Followers and Subscribers
The platform that I use is OnlyFans, but there are others out there, and new ones are popping up all the time. OnlyFans is okay, but while it is accepting of sexworkers, it is not supportive. Kink and fetish content is not really allowed there (they censor words like flogging, caning, spanking etc.). But it is an okay platform because it works most of the time, it is not overly complicated and paying is easy for the customer. Ah, let’s talk about customers. Because you know, there is a weird idea that you can get them quickly, and thousands of them too. Well, you don’t.
My current count is 12 paying fans, which is actually quite the average on OnlyFans. Of the people that I have been and am still in touch with, who are also sexworkers, most have between 10 and 30 paying fans. I have had 82 different people subscribe to my account, but many don’t renew their subscription after a month, either because they signed up during a free promotion, or they just didn’t like the content.
There are sexworkers who have thousands of paying fans. Let me tell you how they do it. They are young, slim and pretty. That is it. I follow a few on a free subscription and they don’t put more work into it, they don’t post hardcore videos. They often just post a picture in lingerie, or maybe a nipple here and there. But they have thousands of fans, who tip them on those teasing pictures. They offer customs though, and I assume that that is where they make the big money. Customs are videos and pictures that are only for one customer, and they pay extra money for it.
So I realized that the sexwork industry is pretty much a reflection of society as a whole when it comes to attractiveness or what is considered attractive: white, young and slim cis women. It was not a huge surprise for me. I knew from the beginning that I was more of a niche person. But if you consider going into online sexwork, maybe that is something to keep in mind. It is also important to consider that a lot of the world is in a lockdown at the moment, so there is an oversaturation of the market. Lots of people are out of a job, so they are looking for ways to make money from home. Sexwork is one of those ways that seem lucrative.
Money, Money, Money
Let’s talk money! If you want to make money online with sexwork, you need to put a lot of effort into it. That means you need to promote yourself to get subscribers and paying customers, you need to constantly create good new content, you need to regularly share new content, and you need to offer customs. You want subscribers who stay. You want to share content that people want to see more of, so they pay for customs. It is a neverending cycle of work, work, work. There is nothing glamourous about it. If you are having a bad day, you still need to take pictures. Don’t feel horny? You still need to shoot videos. It can be fun, for sure. But it just isn’t all the time.
I personally have been able to keep up with it but I am slowly feeling like I rather want to focus my energy elsewhere. Having to take different sets, snapshots and videos several times a week is time consuming if you also do the editing and the uploading. And when you are in a time where you libido is low and you don’t even want to look at yourself in the mirror, it can be hard to get the motivation.
But I was talking about money, eh? I have made a bit more than $100 so far. In almost 5 months. I haven’t had a single person asking for customs, but I do have fans who renew their subscriptions every month. Most of my fans are silent, they don’t heart my posts, they don’t tip. they don’t message. They pay $5/month to see the things that I post publically on my feed. The funny thing is, that you can only start taking out money from OnlyFans if you have made over $200. So basically, so far, I have sort of not made any money at all. I have made more writing sex toy reviews and the occassional article.
Looking at my experiences, I have come to realize that this is just not a money maker for me. Not because I am not pretty enough, or sexy enough. But because for me to reach the audience in the niches that I belong in, I would have to slowly build up a following by putting a lot of effort into promotion. And I have seen niche sexworker do that, successfully. The kink people, the trans people, the BBW people. But many of them do it for many months, even years, and then might have a following that will guarantee them an income. I don’t have the passion to do that. I don’t want to put thousands of hours into it.
Art, not Porn
It has also become clear to me that approaching photography from a sexwork angle isn’t really what I like. I don’t want to be sexual, I can’t really sell that. I like to view my photography as art, where my body is not the primary focus, but my art is. Because if I post a boob picture, or a simple nude, I can’t compete with others, even in my niches. My body is just not very attractive. I create art with the help of my body, not because my body is sexually attractive. Another thing is that I absolutely hate seeing myself on video, and even more so when it is pornographic material. I just can’t. It is so awkward and I find myself quite, ugh.
I know I am fuckable and that some people might find me attractive enough to want to look at sexual pictures and hardcore material of me. It is good that I have had that confirmation. But I don’t think sexwork is my passion and I don’t think I will ever want to put in the work that is required of a niche person like me, to actually make some real money. And that is fine.
I never expected anything much. I will continue with my OnlyFans because I do have subscribers, and I often have a backlog of pictures and videos that I don’t post anywhere else. And it is fun to do when I am in a phase with high libido. But I won’t prioritize it. I will abandon the spreadsheet approach and I am now going with the flow. And put my energy into things that might make me money, or that at least ignite a fire of passion in me.
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