The online sharing platform has been booming in lockdown, with stories of creators making €100,000 a month. But the reality is that pulling in big bucks on the ‘adult’ site isn’t nearly as simple as it seems. Here, five Irish content creators reveal what their average day is like...
When people first hear about OnlyFans, there is one thing that immediately comes to mind: porn. But is OnlyFans strictly speaking porn — or a whole new “adult” online phenomenon? In essence, the platform allows women and men over the age of 18 to create content — usually “X-rated”, but sometimes not — for a paying audience. It has grown immensely in popularity during the pandemic lockdowns and by the end of last summer had over 50 million registered users.
So, how does it work? OnlyFans is a subscription service that allows people to sell exclusive content for a monthly fee. These content creators can post photos or videos on their main feed and also make extra money from interacting with their fans through private messages, sharing pay-per-view content or getting tips.
The Irish OnlyFans scene really started booming in August 2020 when trailblazer Niamh O’Connor reported raking in €50,000 in two weeks. The creator, who posts adult content on her platform, recently shared an image of her earnings on TikTok, revealing an almost $33,000 salary for the month of February. Matty Gilbert, famously known as the Irish Viking, discussed his OnlyFans career on Claire Byrne Live and has revealed that he makes €60,000 a month through his page.
These high-profile success stories perpetuate the idea that everyone on OnlyFans is making a fortune through selling explicit material, when really there are lower earners from a broad range of industries on the platform showcasing their skills. While O’Connor and Gilbert are indeed two highly successful examples, not all content creators experience the platform in the same way.
The reality is that only a fraction of people are making big money on OnlyFans, and the astronomical numbers of people joining every month means the odds are skewed against those who don’t already have a large social media platform elsewhere, or a strategic marketing plan. Without a strong online fan base, making a fortune on OnlyFans can be quite the challenge. The Irish men and women who post anonymously due to work commitments, or fear of condemnation, and the single parents who are looking to make ends meet are living proof of that.
It is true that there is money to be made on the massively popular platform, but managing an account isn’t nearly as simple as it seems: it requires a lot of time and effort. There is more to being an OnlyFans content creator than meets the eye, and it takes walking in the shoes of someone who has risked jeopardising their career, personal relationships and emotional health for the site to truly see that.
Ciara* (29), Co Meath
“It wasn’t until the end of my seven-year relationship that I realised how financially reliant I was on my now ex-partner. We broke up back in March, in the middle of a global pandemic, and I found myself having to explore different ways to make money after relying on him for so long.
“I have two small children to look after. While I still have my ex-partner’s support, it doesn’t change the fact that I am a single mother now, and I have to be able to fend for myself and my kids. The dance classes I usually teach had to be brought to a halt during lockdown — I don’t have the luxury to just wait around and see what happens. Being a newly single mother-of-two after almost a decade of having the security that can come with having a partner had me feeling completely stuck... to the point where joining OnlyFans seven months after the break-up felt like the best option for me. I had seen how much money people were making from it.
“As a full-time OnlyFans content creator, I’ve found it to be a lot of work. Under the microscope of online critics and naysayers, all we do is ‘take selfies’ — but there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes. I put in so many hours each day.
“I start my weekdays by dropping the boys to the local creche for 9am. When I get home, I do a quick workout and after I’m showered and ready, I set up my lights and camera in the sitting room and spend about two or three hours taking a number of photos and videos. My monthly subscribers, who pay $9.99, get to have access to the photos of me in lingerie or topless, as the images of my bare cleavage are the ones that I post on my main feed.
“The kids are in bed by 7pm and that’s when I’d usually get ready for my late shift. From 9pm until midnight, I take the time to respond to DMs from my fans and reply to any explicit requests they might have for me — this seems to be where the money is. I have around 200 fans at the moment and I generally make €1,500-€2,000 a month from my account, which has been a huge help to me and my extended family.
“I’m hoping in the next few years, before my children start school, that I will be off it. I know the pictures are forever, but I’m going to raise my kids to understand that the naked body isn’t something to be ashamed of.”
Emily* (25) , Co Dublin
“I am a professional woman and I am in a loving long-term relationship, but in the last two months I found myself more drawn to the idea of setting up an anonymous OnlyFans account, which I finally succumbed to exactly six weeks ago. I don’t need the additional income, as my current salary is high, but I’ve worked in the beauty industry and I have first-hand knowledge of what benefits can come from profiting off your looks.
“As an anonymous OnlyFans content creator climbing the corporate ladder, I have to be very strategic about what I post and when. I dedicate one day a week — usually over the weekend — where I shoot a bunch of content that I post throughout the week. On my actual OnlyFans profile, I give my subscribers a few teasers. They pay a monthly fee of $12.99 to see me in sexy underwear and if they request to see my face or any explicit content, that’s when I really take advantage of their pockets.
“I have a total of 12 subscribers, five of which contact me regularly. In my short experience, I’ve realised that it’s not actually the content creation that takes most of the time: it’s the communication with the fans, which can be hard to commit to when you’re in a relationship. I think it would be hard to succeed without actually putting time and effort into having conversations with these men, even if I can’t get emotionally attached. There is no motive for me to start a real or valuable relationship with any of them. In the back of my head, I always ask myself, ‘How can I make money out of you? Out of this conversation? Out of your thirst right now?’ That is always the motive for me.
“I maintain the trust in my relationship by giving my boyfriend access to my messages. He is supportive of me because he knows I only want their money. When I am not sexting my subscribers, I spend the evenings promoting my OnlyFans in a number of international subreddit groups since I can’t post on my personal social media accounts.
“After a month now, I’ll be getting a paycheck of less than $300. But that’s from exchanging a few words and taking nudes that I would have taken anyway. Generally speaking, I didn’t have very high expectations because I knew I was going into this without the support of a public social media [account]. I know my earnings could be a lot, lot more if I could just use my already-public platform to promote it, but I have no plans on doing that because for me the priority will always be my professional career.”
Simon* (23), Co Louth
“I joined the platform towards the end of last summer when it became a bit of a trend. I’m a very open-minded person and I’ve always taken kindly to trying out new things. A friend of mine who has gained a substantial following and earnings from the platform helped me set it up when I was first starting out. She told me that you can’t have one foot in and one foot out — you’re either in it or not in it at all. It was only a matter of time until I saw that for myself.
“In my first few months of being an OnlyFans content creator, I was also trying to juggle having a full-time job and being a student. I sometimes wondered if people in my work saw my photos on Instagram — it was something that would have been in the back of my mind.
“On top of the slight paranoia of my colleagues finding out about my hobby, creating content for OnlyFans was never an easy task. I found it very difficult to find a consistent routine since my timetable was so hectic. I’d often take photos at the spur of the moment before I left for work, or whenever I was at home and an idea for OnlyFans just randomly sprang to mind.
“I stretched myself too thin while on the platform, as I was putting too much pressure on myself to create content that people would pay for, so I had to take a step back. In November, I decided to take a hiatus from it.
“In the three months that I spent on OnlyFans, I gained over 100 subscribers, which might not seem like a lot to some people, but I was bringing in around €1,000 every month from simply sharing photos and videos of my naked body.
“It wasn’t all about sex, though — not everyone was looking for a sexual thrill. Some of my fans have asked me for my advice to help them with their personal life. They just needed a lending ear to talk about their afflictions.
“I’ve had countless scenarios of men battling with their sexuality, men who wanted to explore a different side of their sexuality, and men who feared coming out. One man in particular was in a relationship with a woman even though he was subscribed to my feed and enjoyed my content.
“I still have quite a busy schedule working as an intern, and personal responsibilities, but I do plan on going back to creating regular content once the Covid restrictions are lifted. I miss being active on OnlyFans because, aside from the €1,000 a month, I found it to be a great confidence-boosting platform.
Sarah* (25), Co Offaly
“Seeing 18-year-olds posting in OnlyFans support groups makes me wonder if I’m too old to be on the site. I decided to join the platform after a friend of mine encouraged me to set up a page last summer when I lost my job. I was working in a bar when Covid struck and our industry was hit pretty badly by it. There was no telling when I’d get back to work and start making my own income again, and I had seen so many women make money from it online — that was the main draw for me.
“I usually start my day around 11am and spend about an hour and a half getting myself done up for my photos. I put on a thong with a lace bralette along with a pair of high heels and take a series of photos for my feed. I tend to spend a few hours trying to get the right shots when I take them from my bedroom, because I have to make sure the lighting and angles are appealing when there’s no one to help. The person I live with is usually downstairs when I am creating content but sometimes I get my photographs taken professionally by a friend in my social bubble.
“After a few hours of filming, I take a bit of a break and then log back on to my account later in the day to post on my feed and engage with my fans. I usually find it hard to talk to them regularly and keep a conversation going, as it doesn’t come naturally to me to text them on a constant basis. I tend to make my money from posting regularly on my feed — I post about two or three photos a day every day and videos every second day.
“It mainly started off as a side hustle, but at times I feel it has taken over my life as I spend almost every day either shooting, posting, sharing or promoting my OnlyFans account and trying to get more people to join my community of 200 subscribers.
“Some of my current fans feel they are entitled to my body; they think I owe them more than the terms set out by our agreement. They expect me to bend to their every will simply because they pay me $12.50 a month to produce content they could probably find for free anyway. I think you need to have thick skin to be on OnlyFans because people around town will feel like they can badmouth.”
Caoimhe* (26), Co Dublin
“I’ve had my OnlyFans account for two years now. I joined the platform shortly after an injury put me out of work. I needed the money since I was seeing specialists quite regularly and while I was a recipient of illness benefits from the State, my medical bills were stacking up and I needed something extra to tide me over.
“I take a very relaxed approach to managing my OnlyFans account. I don’t structure my day around creating content for the platform or dedicating any day in the week to shoot material. When I was on sick leave, I would pick any time during the day to plan shoots because I had a lot of time on my hands so I could do it whenever the mood would strike me.
“Sometimes it took me half an hour to take photos but there were also times when I’d spend four or five hours trying to get it right. There are always days when things go perfectly and other times when things just don’t go your way.
“I started off posting one or two things every two to three days and eventually it became a daily occurrence so I started scheduling my posts. I share photos of me with no clothes on my timeline and sometimes a two-second snippet of a video of myself. I’ve been asked by my fans to bring someone else on my platform for extra tips, but it’s not my cup of tea. I’ve also been asked to take nude videos in public, but that’s not something I would be into either.
“My monthly fee is $13, which is quite a bit higher than some of the other OnlyFans creators. Every now and again, I decide that I’m done with the platform and I don’t want to do it anymore so I put the price up — but that just seems to attract more subscribers. I usually get an even flow of about 30-40 fans and I take home somewhere between €80 and €250 a month.
“I’m never really worried about anyone in my day job finding out because of the nonchalant nature of my work environment.
“I enjoy sharing content on OnlyFans on a casual basis. If my platform grows, then of course that would be great because that would mean extra money for me. But I’m not particularly looking for my platform to grow — it’s just a handy little extra that comes in when I need it. I really just take it as it goes.”
* All names have been changed