Is OnlyFans A Sustainable Platform For Sex Work As A Means of Survival?

OnlyFans, a subscription service where consumers pay a fee to view uncensored content from different influencers, has recently seen a surge in content creators. This is directly related to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic; OnlyFans became a viable money-making alternative to those who became newly unemployed because of the pandemic. Soon enough, however, OnlyFans became more than just a side hustle to these creators; hundred-thousand-dollar checks transformed OnlyFans into a primary source of income for many. Twentythree-year-old OnlyFans creator Savannah shares how she earned a gross income of slightly over 150,000 dollars in just four months on the site. While she has received some criticism, she says she does feel that she is breaking the stigma against sex work.

This is completely true as Savannah, among millions of other creators, has proven through her own success that sex work is not only a completely valid way of making a living, but it is also not limited to a kind of professionalism or specific look that we see in scene work popularized by the pornography on sites like Pornhub. While building a successful OnlyFans account isn’t as easy as it seems, as there isn’t any criteria, you are granted a kind of autonomy that is not given to porn studio actresses — whose work is oftentimes stolen and monopolized by tube site companies, leaving them with barely any revenue.

Recently, however, OnlyFans has been subject to much scrutiny, beginning with ex-Disney star Bella Thorne. The actress created an OnlyFans to try and “bring attention to the site” making a whopping one million dollars on her first day, according to OnlyFans. It was when she charged 200 dollars for a photo in the nude that wasn’t actually in the nude when backlash arose. While she claims this is completely untrue, OnlyFans received many refund requests, prompting them to place a cap on how much a creator can actually charge. OnlyFans insists that the changes have been long in the works, still, there has been an uproar of anger, as this significantly decreases the revenue of creators who rely on OnlyFans as their primary source of income.

Sex worker Rebecca Madison, who switched to OnlyFans after having lost her job due to the pandemic, expressed her concerns for the future as it pertains to sex workers of intersectional backgrounds.

“I think it’s very important to note that it especially impacts sex workers who are already the most marginalized and having a harder time during the pandemic. So Black sex workers, indigenous sex workers, queer sex workers, trans sex workers. Everyone that was already struggling,” she said to

Not only this, but the sudden influx of celebrities on the platform is increasing competition, given they only share exclusive but not sexually explicit content. Creators now have to deal with a lowered income, as well as a lowered ranking as these celebrities are now making millions of dollars off OnlyFans, taking the top ranks from “civilian” creators.

So is OnlyFans really the big break sex workers dreamed it was? While the pandemic has revolutionized the way content is both created and consumed especially with respect to the porn industry, and OnlyFans has arguably aided in normalizing sex work and widening the industry’s inclusivity, it doesn’t seem as if they are taking the lives of “civilian” sex workers seriously; it even seems as if we are now living in an era where the destigmatization of sex work has turned into a joke, and sex work as a means of survival is being overlooked.