OnlyFans creators made a whopping $2B this year, but their customer acquisition funnel is still broken.

OnlyFans has changed the way that adult content creators can monetize their products. The New York Times called it once the ‘paywall of porn’. Around 1M adult content creators are now able to earn passive income, scale their businesses exponentially, build a brand, and cut the middle man.

OnlyFans is a Billion-Dollar Business

The last years have seen a revolution in work across the whole porn industry.

Before the rise of porn-clip marketplaces, the job was pretty much gig based. Performers would have to sell their time to studios on a per-scene or per-day basis, and would be paid $600–$3000 per gig — selling also the copyrights on their work to the producer. The real profits are then made by the studios who would sell these scenes to their subscriber base on their own paysites.

This only slowly changed with digital platforms like Clips4Sale (founded 2003) and ManyVids (founded 2014) that would allow adult content creators to distribute their own content while retaining full copyright to their work. But it was OnlyFans (founded 2016) that completely changed the game by letting creators earn money in a way that focuses on their personality and individuality. It transformed freelancers (gig workers) into entrepreneurs (creators) by removing the ‘time for money’ dynamic and replacing it with the ability to connect with a fan base and earn a passive income directly through them.

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.

Adult content creators spend zero on paid advertising, because they can’t. Their customer acquisition funnel is completely broken and relies 100% on organic social media growth. They have to blend in with millions of mainstream influencers and creators, and have to be extra-creative to get their message out. Nevertheless they created a billion-dollar market.

Despite these obstacles, the porn revolution is underway: Gig-workers became independent content creators. Their production capabilities are enabled by services like Adobe Creative Cloud, and no longer controlled by studios only. Monetization is enabled by services like OnlyFans, Clips4Sale, ManyVids, and many more, and no longer only controlled by studios. But discovery is still flawed: It is controlled by US corporations like Instagram (by Facebook) who despise NSFW content, and don’t allow ads for adult content.

The solution to this problem is a new social discovery platform that is open for adult content creators, and offers free and paid promotions:

Porn revolution: The Adult Passion Economy is here

Sharesome, launched in 2018, is the first adult social discovery network, and grew from zero to 1M users and 7k content creators in two years. The platform announced in June 2020 ‘Promoted Posts’ as the first free social media platform to allow adult content creators to openly advertise their work.

Since June 2020, Sharesome has delivered around 20.000 Promoted Posts, generating around 75M ad-views for their advertisers. Sharesome’s Promoted Posts are accessible by purchasing “Flame Credits”, with budgets as low as $5. Promoted Posts run on a demand-and-supply basis, and as Sharesome Ads are still in its very early days, CPM pricing is still way lower than on mainstream social media. While CPM’s vary between $5–10 on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, CPMs on Sharesome can be $1 or even lower.

The site provides its users also with a work-in-progress Analytics Tool, that shows post engagements, organic views, paid views, link clicks, new followers, and profile visits.

Sharesome Analytics Tool (still in beta)

The potential size for a platform like Sharesome is somewhere between 450–600 million users. That being the amount of people consuming NSFW content in one way or another online on a regular basis. That would land Sharesome somewhere between Twitter (with 336 million users) and Instagram (with 1 billion users) — and would make it the world’s first sex worker driven top 10 social media platform (showing once again the economic power of the adult industry).

We work hard to make that happen.

Ralf Kappe
Founder, Sharesome