When I was asked to write an article about Only Fans by Mel, the lovely Editor in Chief of Mama Life magazine, I took an intake of breath. Not because I’m a prude; I experience all kinds of situations and work with all kinds of people almost daily in my counselling practice.
Whilst I’m not a psychosexual therapist, understandably, sexual issues are talked about, as they can often have an impact on clients’ relationships.
I guess it was because I didn’t really know anything about it. But that has never stopped me before, and I’m always up for a challenge. I also realised that I needed to carry out my own research rather than just rely on the media headlines I had read, and the impression I had was that Only Fans was best known for being used by sex workers selling their services.
So, my research began.
Let’s start with the background
Only Fans is a website only, with no official apps. It’s been around since 2016. It’s a content-sharing platform based in London and was founded by Timothy Stokely and Erika Heidwald. But it really gained more interest and popularity during the pandemic. Understandably so, with so many of us stuck at home with not much else to distract us. I guess for those who were out of work it could have appealed as an income stream.
Basically, once someone joins as a Creator, they are verified and can then create content which followers can access for free, or they can charge fans for content, with Only Fans taking a 20% cut.
Only Fans Mission Statement on their website states:
‘Only Fans is the social platform revolutionizing creator and fan connections. The site is inclusive of artists and content creators from all genres and allows them to monetize their content while developing authentic relationships with their fanbase.’
There doesn’t seem to be much information on the website apart from the suggestion that if you produce your own content and use social media, you should be using Only Fans as people will pay for tutorials, tips and behind-the-scenes footage, or endless selfies. This means in principle, anyone from musicians, actors, models, fitness instructors or influencers could charge for the content they share, either on a pay-per-view basis, by subscription, or even one-to-one chats, as well as more exclusive videos.
MARRIED AT FIRST SIGHT AUSTRALIA
If you watched series 9 of this series, (which I will admit I was addicted to) you will be aware of the furore around one of the contestants, Olivia, sharing an alleged nude photo of a fellow contestant, Domenica, with some of the other members that Domenica had shared on her Only Fans account. There was a huge upset around that incident, although Domenica wasn’t upset about the image, and fully owned it, she was very upset that Olivia had somehow obtained a copy of the image, and had shared it with others in the group, behind Domenica’s back.
By the way, it seems that Olivia has recently opened up her own Only Fans account, which is an interesting twist. So, it begs the question of how Olivia obtained this photo. Whilst we are led to believe that you must join to be able to view members on the site, and the website appears to be secure, it seems someone has developed a website that allows you to see contributors’ content without joining. All you need is the person’s name and location. So, either Olivia or her friends on the outside had done some digging and found the image.
Whether the person who found the image of Domenica had an Only Fans account, we will never know. But even the most secure websites can be hacked, as we know. The point I’m making is that Domenica didn’t protect her identity, and if someone, like Olivia, sets her mind on trying to shame someone they really dislike, they will find a way. Although those involved in that incident were very much in the public eye, it does illustrate that all of us need to be careful about what we share on the internet.
What I discovered
Although Only Fans claim that the content isn’t all about sex and that you can find content about fitness and healthy living, that wasn’t my experience from the research I found. (Why am I not surprised?)
Although I did read about a couple of women who bake and give demonstrations – naked. I did wonder where the cake mix might end up!
Many of the Creators start with Instagram accounts. When I typed the hashtag ‘Onlyfans’ I found most of the accounts that came up were from scantily dressed girls, as well as a few guys. I checked out a few, and it was pretty clear that those accounts are promoting and encouraging followers to their OnlyFans account. Several had a link where you could subscribe, pay per view or private chat, as well as encouraging fans to send monetary tips. So, from free images on Instagram, where they may show some enticing images, mostly boobs or bums, to then inviting followers to more provocative images, videos or chats with the price increasing with the level of what they share.
I did find one Creator who specialises in foot fetish and there was also mention of another who poses with a huge dildo. So, it seems that many tastes can be catered for!
You don’t have to be a Creator. You can just join to be a fan and follow someone on there, just as on Instagram for example. But if you want to subscribe to their content, then you need to add your bank details.
MY CONCERNS ABOUT ONLY FANS
I discovered that the BBC carried out an investigation in 2021, in which I read there has been some unsavoury, as well as illegal, content on the website. Since then, and I don’t know if the two things were connected, Only Fans announced in October 2021 that they would ban sexually explicit content, although nudity would be ok. It seems more likely that investors would be put off by being involved in a site that allowed porn-type content.
I’m unsure how safe the site is, or how vigilant the moderators are, despite their assurances. Young people can lie about their age as we know only too well, so yet another thing for parents to be alert for. Sadly, not all sex workers do so of their own free will, with sex trafficking on the increase. But saying that, there are plenty of free porn sites that show explicit, unsavoury and maybe illegal content at times, all for free. I am not anti-porn, but I do have concerns when it comes to the issues I just mentioned. Porn videos give a very distorted perception of sex. Often
those watching porn videos don’t recognise it’s only entertainment and shouldn’t be confused with real life. Neither is watching porn a substitute for the real thing.
I read an article during my research in which it seems that Kerry Katona, formerly a singer in Atomic Kitten, has an account, and the article was about her partner taking images of her in see-through lingerie for her Only Fans account. I felt really uncomfortable reading that, and can’t
quite understand why her partner would take those photos for fans to pay to look at. Is he her partner or her pimp?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE AN INCOME STREAM FROM ONLY FANS?
I guess just like anything there is an element of luck. There are thousands of Fitness experts out there, but most don’t get to make it big as Joe Wicks has. Neither are most of us famous enough to be able to get the number of subscribers to make it worth the effort.
But if you fancy your chances and have some original content you already share on Social Media, then why not try and make some money from it? I’ve heard of a few people who have made a nice little income from it. I guess it’s all about how daring you want to be!
Just one tip – don’t use your own name. It’s probably best that your neighbour doesn’t find any dodgy photos of you!