BBC News: Cost of living – The people using OnlyFans as a second job to help with bills
With prices rising at their highest rate in 40 years, many people have taken up a second or third job to make ends meet.
But it’s also led to a rise in young people posting sexual content for money on sites like OnlyFans, alongside their day job.
That’s according to the English Collective of Prostitutes, who told Radio 1 Newsbeat they had received more calls about young women joining the site because of the rising cost of living.
The campaign group is warning people who post sexually explicit content online that they could be opening themselves up to long hours, a risk of abuse and even stalking.
Alexia* is 20. She says she’s recently put herself on to four separate sites, including OnlyFans.
“Even if it is an extra couple hundred a month that’s a huge amount for me. It can help pay an unexpected bill, like last month I had a bill from the council of £400 so without that I probably wouldn’t have been able to pay that.”
She says she started posting videos and pictures of herself during the first national lockdown after losing her job at a restaurant.
Alexia now works an office job 9 to 5, sometimes six days a week, as well as posting content online.
“I don’t think people realise how much hard work it actually is. If you look at the screen times on my phones, it’s ridiculous. It can be 17 hours a day,” she says.
“I want to keep my normal job as a safety blanket. Because even if my OnlyFans doesn’t do well, I know for a fact I’m going to get my pay cheque every month.”
But that 9-5 salary is now dwarfed by the earnings she makes from her online presence.
Since she started, she has managed to gain thousands of followers and says posting on the site earns her more than £3,000 a month.
Without the extra income, she says she’d still be living at home with her mum.
And Alexia isn’t alone.
The English Collective of Prostitutes say calls to their helpline from people telling them they are doing sex work to pay for increases in the cost of living went up by a third in June.
Laura Watson, from the group, says they have been contacted by women of all ages asking for help on how to set themselves up on sites like OnlyFans.
“They need to make extra money to make ends meet with the price of everything going up,” she says.
Laura says these women are also “working in everyday jobs”.
OnlyFans makes its money by taking 20% of all payments made to people like Alexia.
The content subscription service told Newsbeat it’s paid out $8bn (£6.5bn) to more than two million creators since 2016.
But Laura says becoming a “top earner” takes a lot of work.
She also says people are being pushed toward making content which shows their face, voice or an identifying feature – something which makes them “more vulnerable to stalking, abuse and threats”.
“We’ve had calls from women who are in this situation and are under threat of being outed, some women have even been tracked down and face violence as a result,” she says.
“It’s directly linked to women’s need for money because the more desperate you are, the more ready you are going to be to take these risks.”
OnlyFans told Newsbeat “creator and fan safety are a top priority” and that it had been “repeatedly praised by creators for creating a safe space for them to share digital content with their fans”.
Blake* started posting content to OnlyFans during the first lockdown, while not working. He’s since moved over to another site which allows him to post more explicit content.
“The cost of living has been affecting me quite a fair bit,” the 23-year-old says.
“I’m not treating myself to any luxury products, I’ve stopped eating meat because prices are so expensive. I was struggling for quite a while.”
Blake says he earns about £1,000 a month for posting content online – which is about the same as what he earns from his main job.
But despite this, he says “it’s still quite a struggle”.
“Without it, I probably would have been pretty down, pretty depressed and just living with my mum and dad working at my local corner shop still.”
* Not their real names
Cost of living: The people using OnlyFans as a second job to help with bills – BBC News