Sex & Relationships

When The Pandemic Hit, Megan Had No Income. Then She Joined OnlyFans.

"If you want my attention, you have to pay for it."

From March to November, the number of total users and creators on OnlyFans, a subscription-based content sharing platform, nearly tripled. The app's rapid popularity is continuing to change conversations about sex media and sex workers' rights. Here, Megan Ixim, 29, a content creator and fat activist, talks about watching her OnlyFans blow up during quarantine. As told to Griffin Wynne.

I first heard about OnlyFans from fellow sex-positive creators, who described it as an online platform that didn't police their bodies. I've been a sex-positive content creator on Instagram for years, having open conversations with my community about sex, queerness, and kink, but I felt like I wasn't allowed the representation that I wanted. I wanted to post the great art I was making, have it protected, and make money off of it.

After months of contemplation, I created an account during the first week of lockdown. I was stuck at home with zero income, unable to run my dog-walking and pet sitting business remotely. I've worked really hard to see myself as more than just my body. Also, because of stigma, I was a little afraid for my “professional” stakes. But I realized there was nothing wrong with profiting off of myself and people who are looking for that kind of content. Now, my biggest regret is that I didn't start earlier.

My "blow up" was almost immediate. I had 50 subscribers after the first month, and I average around 120-130 monthly subscribers now. I charge $15 a month for entry and then offer exclusive content or one-on-one interactions for additional prices. I’m earning in the top 2% of all creators right now.

People don't realize that OnlyFans isn't a marketplace — you have to bring in your own traffic. I had people waiting for that kind of access to me, so I was set up to do OK, but I still spend hours every week promoting my account on Whisper, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram. In the beginning, I was constantly checking, updating, taking new photos, and getting people engaged. It became so stressful, obsessive, and time-consuming, I had to set a schedule. Now, I check my messages twice a day and set up times on the weekends to shoot a bunch of content to share throughout the week.

The monthly subscription gets people in the door, but the real profits come from tips and exclusive content. Creators decide what kind of content to make and how much to charge. I went for the access-approach: offering subscribers behind-the-curtain content at a high price. On my main page, I post a lot of lingerie photoshoots and content showing off my sex toys. I can charge more for sexually explicit stuff, so I don't post a lot of it there.

"This is who I am, and this is what I do."

A lot of my big spenders just want to feel like they’re a part of my life and that I care about theirs. Creators call it the "girlfriend experience," engaging with your subscribers as though you're dating them, via direct messages, videos, and voice messages. It's all about building personal relationships and having actual conversations with your fans — tuning in, listening, and discussing things that may seem trivial, like favorite TV shows or dream vacations.

I think my biggest selling attribute on OnlyFans is my personality, and the girlfriend experience gives that a place to shine. I’m an understanding and nurturing person. But obviously, that’s emotionally taxing, which is why OnlyFans is great — it lets me give out love and actually get something back in return.

The girlfriend experience isn't inherently sexual, but it can be. I love taking photos that make subscribers feel like they're getting nudes from their girlfriend. Those "Hey, I'm thinking about you” photos create an attainable fantasy. I'm all about attainable luxury in my personal life, so it makes sense I like creating attainable fantasy in my work.

I make sure that my subscribers know that it's a privilege to have access to me. This is labor. In my bio, I set specific prices and guidelines for what behavior I will and will not accept from subscribers. I don't accept unsolicited nudes. Unless they tell me they're sending a nude picture and include a tip with it, I won't open the message.

At first, I was nervous to tell my dog-walking clients or the people I freelance for about the nature of my work. That fear sadly came to fruition. An acquaintance told mutual friends that she couldn't believe I was “that kind” of person, and an old freelance boss said she's received “interesting responses” from my references: “She’s brilliant, but she shows her body on the internet,” and, "Are you OK with having your brand associated with that?”

When I receive backlash or negativity from people, I talk to them head-on and make it clear that there's nothing wrong with having an OnlyFans or doing any kind of sex work. When I first started, I didn't connect my business and personal social media accounts. But now, this is who I am, and this is what I do. My OnlyFans doesn't impact your dog at all. I want clients that know me and accept me. I would feel a disservice to myself to work for someone that thought negatively of OnlyFans.

At the peak of the pandemic, OnlyFans was my main source of income. I have a bachelor's degree in marketing with a minor in accounting, and it felt like my education really paid off. Investing in myself and being successful as a result helped me get through a really difficult time — the money has been a bonus.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.