- OnlyFans allows users to monetize their content by placing it behind a paywall, which has led sex workers and adult content creators to flock to the site.
- A paywall is the platform’s most obvious source of revenue-generation, but creators can also make money via the site’s informal tipping system and its pay-per-view media function.
- Most creators use some blend of the three revenue engines, but some prioritize tipping and pay-per-view media revenue over subscriptions, which changes their business strategies.
- Only OnlyFans can know the actual “average” revenue-split of its creators, but the site declined to respond to emails from Business Insider.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Like other creators on the site, North’s most obvious business is based on users buying a monthly subscription to view her content. But dig into the numbers, and you’ll find that North, like many other creators, makes the bulk of her money from tips and pay-per-view media.
Texting, says North, is the backbone of her business, because it creates and maintains relationships with subscribers who then tip her and purchase pay-per-view media. While OnlyFans subscriptions have caught the attention of the outside world, creators like North say that this text-based economy is the real way to generate revenue.
Some OnlyFans creators make the lion’s share of their revenue through tips and pay-per-view media, which rely on creating and maintaining relationships with fans via text.
Using the OnlyFans native messaging system, North says she exchanges texts with subscribers almost non-stop. To distribute a pay-per-view message, an OnlyFans creator sends a text through the platform to their followers or a subset of their followers. The message contains media, such as photos or videos, that fans can “unlock” by paying a fee set by the creator. Free accounts can charge up to $50 for premium content, whereas paid accounts have a $100 cap.
Subscribers can also send up to $200 to creators at any point via the site’s tipping function. Unlike pay-per-view media, no formal guidelines dictate when or how much a fan should tip.
North credits the tipping system and pay-per-view media for the majority of her revenue. Since February 2019, she has generated more than $251,292, total, through her OnlyFans account, or $13,960 per month, according to documents reviewed by Business Insider.
Broken down by source, she has made $104,311 through subscriptions, $9,779 through tips, and $137,201 through pay-per-view media, roughly a 41/4/55 split. When these sources are grouped into subscription versus non-subscription (pay-per-view and tips) content, the split becomes roughly 40/60.
There is no standard model for generating revenue on OnlyFans. All OnlyFans creators rely on a blend of subscriptions, tips, and pay-per-view media to make money, but different creators employ different combinations.
In order to understand how different creators structure their businesses, Business Insider spoke with several creators and viewed documents to verify their financial claims.
These conversations revealed the diversity of approach that OnlyFans creators bring to their business strategies. Ultimately, whatever blend of subscriptions, tips, and pay-per-view media that a creator decides to employ depends on a constellation of factors, including their time commitment, long-term goals, personal affect, and areas of expertise.
North’s approach represents one end of the spectrum, wherein creators prioritize establishing, growing, and then monetizing fan-creator relationships through tips and pay-per-view messages. While this method is an effective way of maximizing per-subscriber profit, it requires a substantial time investment that some creators find overwhelming.
One such creator, Talia Sable, generates 60% of her revenue from a blend of tips and pay-per-view messages, according to documents reviewed by Business Insider. When she first launched her paid account in March, Sable exchanged hours of messages with her subscribers. As a result, nearly 18% of her total revenue comes from tips, which she credits to those first few months of frequent texting.
However, unlike North, Sable soon found the time-commitment and personal investment to be too demanding, and now limits her messaging to one hour per day.
“Messaging generated a lot of money from my subscribers, but it was much more emotional labor,” said Sable. “Plus, subscriptions scale very well: In one hour you can work on getting a dozen new subscribers, or you can get to know one person’s life very well.”
Other creators emphasize subscription-based revenue, which requires less communication and scales more easily.
Other creators fall somewhere in the middle. Miss Henley, a creator in the top 0.44% of OnlyFans, makes 40% of her total revenue from tips and pay-per-view media and 60% from subscriptions, according to documents reviewed by Business Insider.
Then there are creators like Aella, who make the vast majority of their revenue from subscriptions. Since June, Aella has generated $209,600 from subscriptions, $27,233 from tips, and $62,789 from pay-per-view media, according to documents reviewed by Business Insider, making subscriptions an average of 68% of her total revenue.
Aella, like Sable, chose to focus on subscriptions rather than messaging-based revenue after the time commitment and diminishing financial returns of messaging became apparent.
“Once my subscriber count crossed over a certain point, I just couldn’t keep up,” said Aella. “Now I respond to messages, but unless they’re a high tipper, it’s just minimal chatting.”