According to Tim Stokely, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, OnlyFans is adding as many as 500,000 users a day and paying out more than $200 million a month to its creators. Thanks to its adult content creators (and a worldwide pandemic), OnlyFans has grown into one of the biggest media businesses on the planet. The company has 85 million users, upward of 1 million creators, and will generate more than $2 billion in sales this year.
With this numbers, generated mainly by sex workers, OnlyFans just dwarfed Patreon, a much older mainstream creators platform — showing the economic power of the adult industry.
One of the biggest celebrities on the site is Jem Wolfie. “Jem currently has the highest number of fans, with around 10,000 fans paying $15 per month to view her content,” OnlyFans founder and chief executive officer Tim Stokely said in April 2019. Until today, that number should have grown by a lot.
Looking at OnlyFans business model, one of the most surprising details is that it does almost nothing for customer acquisition: Jem Wolfie was only successful on OnlyFans because she brought a few percent of her 2.5M Instagram followers to Onlyfans, 0.4% of them to be exact. But these paying super fans made her a multi-millionaire.
To run an adult based content business today, creators have to manage customer acquisition on their own. So they turn to existing platforms to build an audience: Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Twitch, even Tik Tok, and try to convert followers into paying super fans. But by design, these platforms don’t allow NSFW content — which limits the creators ability to promote NSFW content. Many of them build huge followerships on these platforms, just to get banned after a while and start over. I wrote in June 2019 a article about this dilemma.
But the problem goes even deeper: Imagine you run a successful media business with a monthly turnover of $150.000 and you can’t spend a single dollar in advertising to grow it even further. Unthinkable for every mainstream business! The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising. Huge media companies, like Hollywood, spend almost 30% of their overall budget on paid marketing.