What is OnlyFans, who uses it, how does it work, and why is it banning porn?

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(Pocket-lint) - There are a handful of content-sharing platforms that allow creators to earn money online. Patreon and OnlyFans are popular options, but OnlyFans is by far the most controversial because for several years it has let creators upload any kind of content, including porn, and lock it behind a paywall.

OnlyFans has been around since 2016 and is best known for being used by sex workers, though celebrities like Cardi B and Bella Thorne have also used it at one point to earn an income. Some TikTok creators also point their followers to OnlyFans, where they promise exclusive content in exchange for money. The thing is, OnlyFans, which has amassed a base of more than 130 million, recently announced that it will ban sexually explicit content in autumn 2021.

Here's the reason why, plus what you need to know about OnlyFans.

What is OnlyFans?

OnlyFans is a content-sharing platform, based in London. Founded by Timothy Stokely and is a website only with no official apps. Creators can use it to offer videos, photos, and even chances to chat one-on-one for a price. It is popular in the adult entertainment industry. The New York Times even ran a story in early 2019 that claimed OnlyFans had changed sex work forever, dubbing OnlyFans "the paywall of porn". But it won't be known for that for long.

Why is OnlyFans banning porn?

The UK-based company revealed on 19 August 2021 that it is banning the posting of any content containing sexually explicit conduct, citing a need to comply "banking partners and payout providers", according to a statement provided to the media.In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines", OnlyFans elaborated in its statement.

That said, OnlyFans said creators will continue to be allowed to post content containing nudity if it is consistent with its Acceptable Use Policy". The company plans to share more details soon. Keep in mind it recently launched OFTV, a free streaming service, that also doesn't allow sexually explicit material, but rather original content from more than 100 OnlyFans creators. OFTV now has over 800 videos ranging from fitness to cooking on the platform.

Let's also not forget that, because OnlyFans has X-rated content, it's available only on the web, not on mobile app platforms including iOS and Android. Axios noted that OnlyFans is struggling to find outside investors because it has allowed porn. We suspect Apple and its app store, plus potential investors, are unable to get past OnlyFan's porn issue. It's no surprise that, despite its large userbase, OnlyFans might think it needs to "clean up" to secure funding. 

Who uses OnlyFans?

OnlyFans it's used by all sorts of creators, not just sex workers. Models, musicians, actors, physical fitness experts, and influencers all use OnlyFans to generate extra revenue. They can receive money directly from fans on a monthly basis or from tips and the pay-per-view feature. Blac Chyna, for instance, charges fans $20 a month to access her OnlyFans page, and rapper Rubi Rose made $100,000 on OnlyFans in two days by posting photos from her Instagram.

Actress Bella Thorne also claimed to make more than $2 million on OnlyFans in one week.

Here's a small selection of notable people on OnlyFans:

How to join OnlyFans

Go to the OnlyFans website to create an account. You can create an account from scratch, or you can join with your Twitter or Google account.

Once your account is created, you should be routed to the Home page. We recommend going to your Account settings page first if you want to change your username, email, and other preferences. The sidebar on the left lets you access your Profile, Security, and Notification settings.

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Go to Profile to change your display name, set a subscription price, and more.

How does OnlyFans work?

There's five main pages: Home, Notifications, Create, Chats, and Menu.

Home

Home is where you can see your feed - a stream of content shared by those you follow, including your close friends. You will also see suggestions for more people to follow on OnlyFans. At the top of the Home page, there is a search bar so you can look for other creators and users to follow.

Notifications

From the Notifications page, you can see your notifications. Go figure, right? These include past interactions, liked, subscribed, tipped, and more

Create

Ready to start sharing? Go to the Create posts page to compose a new post and share it with your fans. You can even add media or start a poll.

Chats

If you have contacts, like someone you subscribe to or even a fan, you can go to the Chats page to start direct messaging them. Self-explanatory.

Menu

Menu slides out from the right, where you can see your display name, user name, and the number of fans and followers. You can also access your profile from Menu, as well as bookmarks, lists, settings, cards, bank info, and enable a dark mode. You can log out, too.

How to earn subscription money

To start earning on OnlyFans, you need to add your payment information, verify your account, and set your subscription price. After you've done all that, you'll be free to start creating posts and locking them behind your paywall.

Add payment info and verify account

Once you're logged into OnlyFans, go to the Menu and select Add Bank. You need to be 18 years old and you will need to verify your account. OnlyFans will ask for your personal data, like your name, address, date of birth, and your ID document such as a passport or driver's license. It also asks if you plan to post porn. US creators will also need to complete their W-9 form (learn more about this from the OnlyFans Help hub here).

Set subscription price

To set your subscription price, go to the Menu, select Profile, click the Edit Profile button, and look for Subscription Price and Bundles. There, you can set an amount per month. You must add your bank account or payment information before you can set your price or accept tips.

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How to earn from pay-per-view messages

There are additional tools you can use to make money on OnlyFan, including pay-per-view messages or PPVs. This is content that you share, via message, with your fans, but they have to pay to view it! You can send PPVs to individual accounts by going into your messages, composing a message to the account, attaching your media, and clicking the price tag in the bottom right to set your price.

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To send PPVs to all of your fans at once, go to the messaging page and select New message and All subscribers. Add your message, attach your media, and click the price tag icon to set your price. Click send, and it'll send to all of your subscribers.

How to become a fan/subscribe to creators

OK, so let's say you don't want to be a creator and instead you want to be a fan on OnlyFans. Create your OnlyFans account and then go to the Home page and start looking for someone to follow. Once you find them, you can tap the star icon on their profile to favourite them or save them to a list.

You will also see their subscription tiers on their profile. Musician Cardi B, for instance, charges $4.99 a month - though, currently, she only has six posts locked behind a paywall. You can see when she is online because her profile will say "available now". Her profile will also say when she was last seen. At the time of publishing this guide, she was last seen on 9 August 2021 - just a few days ago. 

This is one example of what it's like to be a fan and subscribe to a creator on OnlyFans. As we've explained above, you can also PPV or tip a creator if you don't wish to subscribe monthly. Some OnlyFans creators also link to their Amazon wishlists, where you can purchase items for them. Just keep in mind this is separate from OnlyFans and it does not guarantee access to their content.

Make sense? 

Note: If you want to subscribe to a creator, first add a bank card (Menu > Add Card). When you subscribe to users, OnlyFans will charge your card.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 29 August 2020.

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