Savannah Benavidez stopped working at her job as a medical biller in June to maintain her 2-year-old son after his day care shut down. Needing a option to pay her payments, she created an account on OnlyFans — a social media platform the place customers promote authentic content material to month-to-month subscribers — and began posting images of herself nude or in lingerie.

Ms. Benavidez, 23, has made $64,000 since July, sufficient not simply to maintain her personal payments, however to assist household and pals with lease and automobile funds.

“It’s more cash than I’ve ever made in any job,” she stated. “I’ve more cash than I do know what to do with.”

Lexi Eixenberger hoped for the same windfall when she began an OnlyFans account in November. A restaurant employee in Billings, Mont., Ms. Eixenberger, 22, has been laid off 3 times throughout the pandemic and was so in want of money by October that she needed to drop out of dental hygiene faculty. After donating plasma and doing odd jobs, she nonetheless didn’t have sufficient to pay her payments, so on the suggestion of some pals, she turned to OnlyFans. She has made solely about $500 to this point.

OnlyFans, based in 2016 and based mostly in Britain, has boomed in reputation throughout the pandemic. As of December, it had greater than 90 million customers and multiple million content material creators, up from 120,000 in 2019. The corporate declined to remark for this text.

With tens of millions of People unemployed, some like Ms. Benavidez and Ms. Eixenberger are turning to OnlyFans in an try to supply for themselves and their households. The pandemic has taken a very devastating toll on girls and moms, wiping out elements of the financial system the place girls dominate: retail companies, eating places and well being care.

“Lots of people are migrating to OnlyFans out of desperation,” stated Angela Jones, an affiliate professor of sociology on the State College of New York at Farmingdale. “These are people who find themselves frightened about consuming, they’re frightened about maintaining the lights on, they’re frightened about not being evicted.”

However for each individual like Ms. Benavidez, who is ready to use OnlyFans as her major supply of earnings, there are dozens extra, like Ms. Eixenberger, who hope for a windfall and find yourself with little quite a lot of hundred {dollars} and worries that the images will hinder their capability to get a job sooner or later.

“It’s already an extremely saturated market,” Ms. Jones stated of express content material on-line. “The concept that individuals are simply going to open up an OnlyFans account and begin raking within the dough is admittedly misguided.”

Probably the most profitable content material creators are sometimes fashions, porn stars and celebrities who have already got giant social media followings. They will use their different on-line platforms to drive followers to their OnlyFans accounts, the place they provide unique content material to these keen to pay a month-to-month charge — even personalised content material in trade for ideas. OnlyFans takes a 20 p.c reduce of any pay. Some creators obtain ideas by means of cellular fee apps, which aren’t topic to that reduce; Ms. Benavidez earns most of her cash this manner.

However lots of the creators who’ve joined the platform out of dire monetary want shouldn’t have giant social media followings or any option to drum up constant enterprise.

Elle Morocco of West Palm Seashore, Fla., was laid off from her job as an workplace supervisor in July. Her unemployment checks don’t cowl her $1,600 month-to-month lease, utility payments and meals prices, so she joined OnlyFans in November.

However Ms. Morocco, 36, had no social media presence to talk of when she joined the platform, and has needed to achieve subscribers one after the other — by posting photos of herself on Instagram and Twitter, and following up with individuals who like and touch upon her posts, encouraging every one to subscribe to OnlyFans. It’s more difficult and time consuming than she anticipated, and fewer financially rewarding.

“It’s a full-time job on high of your full-time job on the lookout for work,” she stated. “Followers need to see you posting each day. You’re all the time churning. You’re all the time taking photos to publish.”

She has made simply $250 on the platform to this point, regardless of generally spending upward of eight hours a day creating, posting and selling her content material.

Ms. Morocco additionally worries that her presence on the platform will make it harder for her to be employed for conventional jobs sooner or later.

“In case you’re on the lookout for a 9 to five, they won’t rent you in the event that they discover out you may have an OnlyFans,” she stated. “They might not need you in the event that they know you’re a intercourse employee.”

Digital intercourse work can provide the phantasm of security and privateness — content material creators can receives a commission with out having to work together with purchasers in individual. However that doesn’t imply there aren’t dangers.

“On-line intercourse work is a way more interesting various to many individuals than occurring the streets or promoting direct sexual companies,” stated Barb Brents, a professor of sociology on the College of Nevada, Las Vegas. “That stated, anyone entering into this sort of work must be conscious that there are risks.”

Final April, a mechanic in Indiana misplaced her job at a Honda dealership after administration discovered she had an OnlyFans account. Creators could be the goal of “doxxing” — a type of on-line harassment during which customers publish non-public or delicate details about somebody with out permission. In December, The New York Publish revealed an article a few New York Metropolis medic who was utilizing OnlyFans to complement her earnings. The medic believed that the article, revealed with out her consent, would harm her status and get her fired from her job.

Creators will also be topic to “capping,” a follow during which customers take unauthorized screenshots or recordings after which share them elsewhere on the web. OnlyFans creators have additionally acquired demise and rape threats on social media.

OnlyFans content material creators can face not simply skilled penalties however private ones, too. Ms. Eixenberger has been maintaining her account secret from her father, however is aware of he’ll discover out now that she has gone public. “I don’t need to be shamed or disowned,” she stated.

Others say the expertise has been empowering. Melany Corridor, a single mom of three, earns $13.30 an hour as a paramedic in northern Ohio, barely sufficient to cowl her payments. She began an OnlyFans account in December.

“I’m a mother of three children. I by no means thought anybody would pay to see me bare,” stated Ms. Corridor, 27. “It’s been a confidence enhance.”

She has made about $700 to this point — not sufficient to vary her life, however sufficient to make the vacations particular.

“That is the primary yr I didn’t have to decide on between the electrical invoice and Christmas presents for my children,” she stated. “That is the primary yr I’ve been in a position to do all of it on my own.”

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