- OnlyFans is a subscription-only platform whose lack of content guidelines allows for NSFW content.
- People in the sex work industry have flocked to the platform because it allows them to have more control over their content and the paywall helps them turn it into a business.
- Aella, a sex worker based in San Francisco, began using OnlyFans full-time in April, when the site’s number of users grew large enough to allow her to transition from escorting.
- In addition to running her business, Aella is also a prolific writer, pyschonaut, entrepreneur, musician, and amateur philosopher.
- Aella walked Business Insider through a normal day in her life to show the entrepreneurial nature of modern, online sex work.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Over the last few weeks, controversy has been swirling around OnlyFans, a subscription-only content platform that allows sex workers to have more control over and earn money from selling explicit photos, videos, and live services.
After former Disney star Bella Thorne and social media influencer Caroline Calloway joined the platform and quickly racked up millions of dollars, many in the sex-work industry decried their presence on the site as a form of digital gentrification. Critics claimed that the celebrities’ foray onto OnlyFans was drawing attention and money away from real sex workers.
The criticism reflects a key reality: that finding success as a sex worker on OnlyFans takes a tremendous amount of ingenuity and entrepreneurial thrift.
Adult creators work full-time to create and market content valuable enough to generate subscriptions, and they often employ an array of different skillsets to do so. Beyond making material unique enough to beat out a world of free porn, creators also have to juggle social media, marketing, finances, networking, video-editing, copy-writing, and a host of other entrepreneurial challenges.
Aella, a sex worker and OnlyFans creator based in San Francisco, is an example of the diversity of background, brand, and content that OnlyFans creators embody.
The OnlyFans creator was raised in rural Idaho by professionally evangelical fundamentalist Christians. After losing her faith and moving away, she worked a variety of jobs before turning to porn and sex work.
Now, Aella has more than 3,200 subscribers, which nets her around $100,000 a month. Her impressive numbers position her among the top 0.04% of creators in terms of monthly revenue generated.
While that “sounds high,” she told Business Insider, “it’s an insecure income right now, and I don’t know how long it’ll last.” She also pointed out that she puts aside 50% of it for taxes, including self-employment tax.
She has two accounts, a free and premium version, and she posts regularly on Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitch, as well as on OnlyFans. She also runs a Telegram account where she shares business strategy and software hacks with other female sex-workers.
In addition to her work on OnlyFans, Aella is also a prominent writer, and she blogs routinely about her sex life, men, and philosophy; amongst other topics, she has written about her addiction to LSD, the semiotics of gender pronouns, and going braless in Saudi Arabia.
She also plays accordion; is the co-creator of AskHole, a more explicit rendition of Cards Against Humanity; and dabbles in Burner philosophy, a Burning Man strain of worldview. She said she hopes to turn her house into a meditation center once the pandemic subsides.
Aella first joined OnlyFans in 2017, but she has only been creating content full-time since April, when enough users joined the platform to make it financially viable for her to switch.
“I signed up three years ago, but it wasn’t very profitable at the time. Nobody really used it, so I dropped off,” said Aella. “I was escorting before this, and OnlyFans very quickly started making me more money than escorting did.”
Aella spoke with Business Insider about what a normal day looks like for an OnlyFans content creator in the platform’s top 0.04%.
The first thing I do every morning is wake up, sit in bed, and check my OnlyFans to see how much I earned overnight. I also check Reddit to see how well my posts performed — I have them scheduled to post early in the morning, because that’s the best time to post on Reddit.
I have a spreadsheet that helps me coordinate, but I use Later for Reddit to schedule more than 200 posts that will post automatically over the next three months. I’ll post on r/RealGirls and other subreddits.
I also run a Telegram group that currently has 83 other OnlyFans girls in it, where we exchange tips and tricks. We share graphs and spreadsheets with each other to see how we’ve been operating, and I’ve shared some calculators that I’ve built that do things like predict your income based on how many subscriptions you’re getting per day.
I make coffee and film a short video called “The Naked Morning Coffee Chat,” where I’m either topless or naked and talk to the camera about my thoughts or rant about something that’s been on my mind.
I post this a few times a week, and it’s to try and connect better with my subscribers — this is no make-up, hair messy, very relaxed.
After my coffee I have some personal time where I’ll watch YouTube videos, respond to people, maybe eat something, and check my Twitter.
I start putting on my makeup in the early afternoon and get ready to shoot content, which takes up the majority of my afternoon.
This process is very lazy, very relaxed. I take a lot of breaks and usually change outfits a handful of times.
Every day I have a personal goal of getting two really good photos and one gif that I can post online as advertisements on Twitter and Reddit. In between that, I film a bunch of content for my OnlyFans.
For everything outside of OnlyFans, content under 30 seconds performs much better. For my OnlyFans, I will post longer stripteases or videos that are more explicit.
Two days a week I’ll film a porno, which means I go to PornHub, sort by “solo girl content,” and look at what’s been popular recently. Then I essentially pick one and replicate that.
If it’s Saturday, instead of filming a porno I’ll live-stream myself playing AskHole with my viewers.
I try to film in natural light, so I finish when the sun sets. After I’m done shooting content, I’ll start editing everything on OpenShot. I’ll edit the porno into two versions: a 30-second video that I post on OnlyFans as a preview, and then a longer version that I’ll direct message out to my OnlyFans subscribers that night or the next morning.
Once a week I’ll set aside two hours to research new platforms to consider posting on. For example, a lot of escort sites have gone online-only because of COVID, so I make it clear that I’m not escorting but I advertise on a couple of those. There’s also BDSMLR, which is the alternative to Tumblr because Tumblr banned nudity.
I’ve even posted on some conservative websites, but that hasn’t turned out very well.
Lights out. I usually double-check my Reddit schedule, queue up all the content I filmed that day, and schedule my Twitter posts before I go to sleep.