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Unfair competition, colossal investments, heavy workload: OnlyFans’ underbelly

By December 18, 2020March 3rd, 2021No Comments

In addition to being community managers, videographers, graphic designers, performers and businesswomen, the models working on OnlyFans have to deal with competition from influential women who are much more popular than them. Diving through the glamour mirror’.

« I don’t really count my hours, but I would say that managing my fan communities on the networks takes me half a day every day, including weekends. The rest of the time, I also have to manage my photo shoots, retouching, shooting, arranging my sets, buying equipment and of course answering the hundreds of messages I receive every day… » This discourse, which seems to come straight from the mouth of a growing startup, is in fact held by PiaLora, Erotic photo model on the networks and virtual girlfriend of nearly 500 customers

Like 450,000 other sex workers, this young tattooed girl officiates mainly on OnlyFans, « the Instagram porn » which allows anyone to sell content for a paid subscription. Having become very popular during the first containment, the platform is gaining a double reputation. On the one hand, the application is seen as an emancipatory tool for women who want to trade on their own, without depending on shady production companies. On the other hand, the network is increasingly decried by its users who must constantly adapt to changing rules, visibility constraints and a system of promotions between models that is almost akin to a pyramid scam.

The migration of charm models

To practice its job, PiaLora must manage more social networks than a classic community manager. There is of course the OnlyFans application on which she broadcasts her photos and erotic videos. In addition to that TikTok where she makes short videos of funny dances, Instagram, where she posts soft erotic photos for free, Facebook and of course Twitter, which serves as a hub and promotional page for the entire media web.

But that’s not all. In five years of business, PiaLora has changed platforms several times. I made my debut as a model for,” she says, referring to the famous website publishing erotic photos of tattooed and pierced women. That’s where I built my community. Then I continued on Patreon which was one of the few funding platforms to allow nude photos. But she ended up changing her repayment rules to our disadvantage. Internet users could subscribe, get a quick look around and then ask for refunds. From there, I moved to OnlyFans ».

In competition with influencers

Launched in 2016 by British Tim Stokely, CEO of the mysterious Fenix International Ltd, OnlyFans was really designed for sex workers. CIt wasn’t the first time Tim had created other specialized sites such as where users could pay porn stars in exchange for personalized videos. Used discreetly by cam girls, escorts, or even students looking for pocket money, the application will remain under the public’s radar for a long time to come.

However, in October 2018, Leonid Radvinsky, the owner of MyFreeCam, will acquire 75% of Fenix International Ltd. and bring the application into mainstream culture. In addition to the go-go dancers and porn stars who sign up during the lockdown, the app will also attract influencers tired of Instagram’s restrictions. In the 2 Girls 1 Podcast, specializing in web cultures, Allie Eve Knox, a long-time user of the application, explains that she has seen the small world of fitness and star-studded series and reality TV. And if this type of characters can attract a larger audience, they have also greatly changed the rules of the platform.

As on Patreon or the Substack newsletter platform, OnlyFans doesn’t really offer an exploration tab. Unlike an Instagram or an X site, it is very difficult to navigate through the hundreds of thousands of profiles and it is better to know the name of the person you are looking for in advance. For this reason, most of the models like PiaLora ensure their presence on other social networks and especially on Instagram and Twitter. But there are other ways to promote yourself on the platform. The first one consists in making sponsorships, organized by the application itself. « When we receive money from our subscribers, OnlyFans takes 20%,” explains PiaLora. But when we are sponsored by another model, the platform shares half of the commission with it in exchange for visibility ».

Pyramid scam

Very popular, this system, which guaranteed regular income to sponsors who knew how to identify growing profiles, was finally limited to one year in May 2020. However, another alternative system has since been installed. « It’s called the story for story or share for share, explains PiaLora. It consists of posting pictures of another girl on her account while she does the same with my photos. Quite often, we end up with influencers who have a larger community and who will ask for money in exchange for visibility on their profile. “This system, which she finds not very advantageous, has been described as “gambling” by Allie Eve Knox, who indicates that the results are often random in terms of additional subscriptions. This does not prevent this system from existing and taking the form of a Ponzi pyramid where influential women with the largest community exploit those below them. This is notably the case of the star Blac Chyna who also practices this technique on Instagram (it costs the modest sum of $250 to be followed by her).

Another collateral damage, the transaction price for personalized requests (photos or videos) has been capped at around $50, while tips are limited to $100. This measure was implemented last September after ascandal caused by the actress Bella Thorne. After promising nude photos for up to $200, the company finally provided only images that were much less hardcore than what its customers had expected. Accused of scamming its customers, the platform was therefore forced to implement these new rules, to the great displeasure of the models who depended heavily on these sales. People don’t realize the investment that our business represents,” says PiaLora. We have to pay for cameras, retouching software, lingerie, and film sets. Unlike the stars who come here, many girls depend on OnlyFans for a living. They don’t really need it. Despite these difficulties, she still has mixed feelings about this platform that has revolutionized the porn industry: “On the one hand, OnlyFans is run by men and it creates a form of exploitation,” she says. But on the other hand, its operation has allowed many women to become independent. It’s always very paradoxical. »

Seeking new horizons

Despite its glamorous image, OnlyFans is increasingly disappointing users who depend on the platform. In addition to the unfair competition from influencers and intense community management work, the fluctuating number of subscribers that can vary over the seasons also needs to be managed. At the moment I have 480 subscribers following me,” explains PiaLora. A few months ago I was closer to 520. But with the holiday season, people have less money to spend, it’s normal. »

To maximize her income and find more stable working conditions, she is trying to migrate to TOP4Fans, an alternative to OnlyFans. “They only take 10% commission, the transactions are in euros and not in dollars and they allow payment via Paypal Access which allows married men who buy content to remain discreet (Note: transactions via Paypal are not detailed on the invoices). “Created for male models, the platform is increasingly used by women looking for a more profitable system. There is no shortage of competition. JustForFans, ismygirl, FanCentro, MyTribe, Manyvids, are all platforms that would like to take the place of OnlyFans, which is attracting more and more users. Whoever offers the fairest working conditions will win the jackpot.


Article published by  DEC. 17, 2020

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