Leaving his OnlyFans to counter inflation?
The number of creators on OnlyFans has increased 7.5 times between 2019 and 2022, from 400,000 to more than 3 million.
After experiencing dramatic growth during the health crisis, OnlyFans – a social network where creators sell exclusive and often sexual content – continues to thrive. To believe that the pandemic like inflation would be fertile ground to allow the platform to democratize.
It was during the pandemic, when confinement pushed us to look for ways to get bored, that OnlyFans saw its number of users jump, up to being multiplied by six. Since then, the platform has continued to welcome new creators who, for many, are neither influencers nor professional sex workers, but Mr. and Mrs. the world, in short.
Does the context of high inflation that we have known for more than two years now have something to do with it? “Certainly!” answers the economist and professor at the University of Sherbrooke François Delorme.
Sex work in times of inflation
Historically, sex work has always seen a resurgence when economic hard times come, he explains: “During a recession, you always see an upsurge in prostitution.”
The more people are in precarious situations, the more they will turn to other solutions that may be less “legitimate”. And it's not just to make ends meet, but really to make up for a shortfall, to live.
François Delorme, economist and professor at the University of Sherbrooke
The psychological barrier would also be less strong in the case of virtual sex work, he believes, since it does not involve no physical contact and that the creators can generally choose what will or will not be shown.
While the rise in the cost of living has probably prompted ordinary people to set up an OnlyFans account, the phenomenon remains difficult to document and quantify.
“It's a matter of what we calls the underground economy, the economy that is under the radar of official statistics, explains François Delorme. That doesn't mean it's illegal, it's legal, but it's underground. When people declare such income, they generally do so as self-employed workers, without necessarily specifying the nature of their activity.”
Dream and reality
OnlyFans may therefore attract more and more people who would need additional income to meet inflation, but is it an effective solution? In other words, is selling erotic or even pornographic photos and videos really that lucrative?
We're mostly talking about those who make a lot of money, but it's hard to think that everyone could have such substantial incomes. On this type of platform, the more people there are, the lower the income will be for the majority of workers.
Julia Posca, sociology researcher at the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS)
She says that while the field of sex work generally holds up very well during economic downturns, the median income of a content creator on OnlyFans would not be more than US$180 per month. .
Creator of sexual content on the platform, Chloée-Mitsou Fortin, aka Chloee_fitgamer, makes a very good living, but she confirms that this is not the case for everyone and underlines that this activity requires a lot of effort and involvement. Previously a teacher, then a streamer on the Twitch platform, she now devotes at least 30 hours a week to feeding her account and interacting with her subscribers.
“On TikTok and Instagram, we sometimes see designers who lead a luxurious life and that can make you dream, she testifies. But every time a young woman asks me for advice on getting started, I also explain the negative sides of the job to her and I talk about the time and energy it takes.
Not to mention that depending on a platform like OnlyFans with self-employed status also carries risks. “The platform takes a 20% commission, but does not guarantee benefits or job security. We are a bit at her mercy, since she can decide at any time to change the rules, ”notes Julia Posca.
In the summer of 2021, OnlyFans had also announced that all sexually explicit content would henceforth be banned before retracting in the face of the reaction of the public and creators. < /p>
Between empowermentand stigma
Inflation and financial difficulties may therefore push some to start selling sexual content on OnlyFans, but the platform may also owe its popularity for purposes other than money.
“What I have observed in a few people is that it came mainly from a desire to explore their sexuality, to regain power and so much the better if it makes money. For many, it's a way of playing on their appearance, of choosing how they want to show themselves and stage themselves, ”explains the sexologist and columnist at Métro Myriam Daguzan Bernier.   ;
“There are also some who do it on Instagram or other more open social networks, like Sunroom or Lips, a site where queer and non-binary women share erotic content.”
While she notes that the use of OnlyFans to create or consume porn content is increasingly popular, the sexologist also believes that sex work is still the subject of a lot of judgment .
“You have to be aware that, on the web, you are never completely anonymous and it can quickly overflow, she adds. I believe that everyone would benefit from being better educated on these subjects. When you consume porn, someone somewhere gets paid to produce it. You have to be aware of how this industry works, both as a consumer and as a creator.”