This is not a typical episode for the podcast. Today I'm talking to two of the top creators on OnlyFans: Savannah Solo and Aella. Each of them is earning 5-figures a month on the platform, which sits at the intersection of the creator economy and porn. (NSFW… depending on where you work.) In this episode we talk about the stigma of making a living from porn, marketing strategies to get huge on social media, and the future of independent creators on the internet.
• Savannah's NSFW Twitter: https://twitter.com/savannah_solo
• Aella's NSFW Twitter: https://twitter.com/aellagirl
• Aella's safe-for-work Twitter: https://twitter.com/aella_girl
• Courtland's OnlyFans page: https://onlyfans.com/csallen
What's up, everybody? This is Courtland from indiehackers.com and you're listening to the Indie Hackers Podcast. More people than ever are building cool stuff online and making a lot of money in the process. On this show, I sit down with these indie hackers to discuss the ideas, the opportunities, and the strategies they're taking advantage of so the rest of us can do the same.
So, this is a fairly unusual episode of the podcast. I'm here with the two of you, Aella and Savannah Solo, and we're talking about OnlyFans, which is kind of at the intersection of the creator economy and porn. Porn is not a subject that has ever come up on the Indie Hackers podcast before. So, you two are blazing new trails here. Welcome to the show. Thank you.
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Thank you, also. I'm excited.
Me, too. I should do a disclaimer for listeners. People always tell me to do disclaimers. I've never done one before.
So, if you are a listener and you're not comfortable hearing about sex work or listening to women talk about making a very healthy living from porn on the internet. No big deal. You don't have to listen to this. Although, I recommend that you listen to this because I think it's cool.
Both of you are very successful. Aella, you've shared that you're in the top 0.08% of creators on OnlyFans. How much money have you made on the platform before?
My highest earning month was $105,000.
Crazy. Savannah, I don't know if you've shared, but I know that you were able to buy a house last year. So infamously, with your OnlyFans earnings.
Yes, I was. I got to the top 0.06%, but my best month is $64,000.
So these are crazy numbers. I come from the tech industry where there's a decent amount of envy.
Somebody will have a successful startup and people would be like, oh, I'm so happy for him. Then underneath, you can tell they're seething. They're kind of jealous, but from what I've seen of both of you just reading through your profiles, Aella you did a huge AMA on Reddit a few years ago.
There's envy when you're successful on OnlyFans, but people don't hide it. They just let it out immediately. They are not afraid to talk about how jealous or how you shouldn't be making the money that you're making it. It's crazy what you two are able to put up with yeah.
The perception is that it's easy. I think a lot of people are like, well, if I were a woman, I could just go make that much too.
Yeah, for sure. I think when people start selling pictures of their butt, they think. Oh, my God, I have the best butt that's ever existed, and everyone is going to want to look at this, but then they forget that you can just Google butts for free. Convincing people to pay to look at yours is really an art form in of itself.
I feel like you're calling me out here because I just signed up for OnlyFans this week as a creator. I've only uploaded one photo and it's a photo of my butt. So, if you're an Indie Hackers listener and you want to see what my butt looks like. What should I charge? Twenty bucks for it?
Absolutely. It depends on how artistic you did it.
I think it was tastefully done. It's very subtle.
You gotta really hype it.
I I thought that’s what we’re doing right now. This is the hype.
You guys are gonna have to teach me your tricks though, because you're both super good at marketing on OnlyFans. You're both huge on Twitter. Savannah, my girlfriend's a huge fan of yours on Twitter. That's how you got on my radar.
You've got about 230,000 followers. Aella, you have two separate accounts on Twitter that are each at about a hundred thousand followers. So, both of you clearly know what you're doing and you're gonna have to teach me a few things.
We absolutely can. I think between the two of us, you're in pretty good hands, decent decently, good hands here.
For people who don't know OnlyFans, what's the best way to describe it? It's almost like a Twitch or YouTube, but for porn. It kind of exploded onto the scene in the last couple of years.
It allows you to basically post photos and videos for a subscription fee for your fans. They can actually interact with you. It's not just normal porn, but it's interactive. People can DM you and you can message them back.
It's pretty cool. I think it's sort of changing the porn landscape because it's allowing individuals like the two of you to basically make a living for yourself. If you're good at marketing and you're good at taking photos and you're good at basically connecting with your fans on a level that makes them want to feel connected to you, you can actually clearly make a transformative living for yourself.
I was looking at the revenue numbers. I think there's like $400 million in revenue last year. I's not a small thing. A lot, a lot, a lot of people are on OnlyFans. I'm curious how that, how the two of you came to be and OnlyFans. Savannah, let’s start with you.
I have a bit of a fun story about how, well not fun at all. I don’t know why. I said that. How I came to beyond OnlyFans was I had a boyfriend who I'd been with for a really, really long time. I graduated from college with a business degree and couldn't even get a job at the bank.
He was like, I don't know, why don't you sell your nudes? I don't think he thought, I don't know. Maybe he wasn't actually serious about it because I was like, sure, I'll do that. Then I did it and he dumped me. But jokes on him. I'm doing great. He was like the only boyfriend I've ever had and he really, he really failed it.
He's probably one of the people who turned off the episode when I gave the a disclosure.
I often joke that the nicest thing he ever did for me was get me into porn and dumped me. But, I mean, I had never imagined myself doing this before that. OnlyFans sort of fell into my lap and now I'm all up in OnlyFans’ lap. So, it’s mutual.
Do you feel like your business degree is in any way contributed to the fact that you've done so well on OnlyFans? Are there crossovers between what you learned?
There's stuff I noticed as far as marketing, but business degrees are kind of a joke anyway. I don't know. I mean, I would like to say yes, but I know a ton, a ton of people who have no college education who are just doing great on OnlyFans because they just in their own special way know how to draw people in.
Aella, what about you? How'd you get into OnlyFans?
Almost a similar story that is much longer. Years ago, I was dating a guy and he was like, we should try a camming together. You know, the live stream version. If someone listening doesn't know, camming is sort of what was the primary way of making money for frontline sex workers before OnlyFans, where it was typically focused on live streaming. Whereas OnlyFans is a little bit more asynchronous in time. You can post a photo for example, and people view it later.
I was dating a guy and he was like, you should try camming. Because at that point I was sleeping on a couch. I had just finished working at a factory on an assembly line floor for a year, and I had been homeschooled and didn't have a college education.
I was really desperate trying to look for any kind of way that was not a factory to make money. He suggested this and then ended up, we ended up breaking up, but then I kept going with it. I was a cam girl for many years. Then OnlyFans came along.
I had been taking a break from sex work at that point, but a lot of my friends were like, you should really try this OnlyFans thing. We're making a lot of money. So, I switched over and yes, it was in fact, a lot of money.
Yeah, there's something very inspiring about seeing people make a ton of money from something that really gets you off your butt to take action. I mean, it's the entire concept behind this podcast is if I share stories of people making lots of money, other people are like, oh, I should start a business like that. That sounds great.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. My ex had been showing me earning statements of girls. I mean, I saw one earnings statement where a girl had made $45,000 in a month. I couldn't imagine making $45,000 in a year. I could not imagine myself getting a job where I made $45,000 in a year and she would just had done it in her living room in a month.
I was like, you know what, if I can make $2,000 a month off of OnlyFans, I'll never look for a regular nine to five ever again. That'd be it. I was, there was no part of me that was ever anticipating it to pop off the way it did.
Yeah, it was pretty life-changing.
Yeah. Same here. When I was first starting, I was escorting actually in-person, doing in-person sex work. I was like, okay, I'll maybe consider quitting in-person sex work if I happen to make more doing this on OnlyFans.
I didn't really think that was feasible. My first month I made $13,000 and I was like, that's a really surprising amount of money to make on OnlyFans. I could change my life. Then it just kept going. I had no idea.
I was listening to a podcast actually with the guy who's giving OnlyFans tips. His goal was I'm going to record 100 pockets episodes in a hundred days. His 100th episode, he was like, here are three of my biggest tips.
One of them was patience. He was talking about how it just requires patience to get into the game. If you're going hope to succeed on OnlyFans, you need to basically stick with it. But apparently that wasn't the case for you, Aella. How did you make $13,000 in your very first month?
I was already established on Reddit, which what a lot of girls use to advertise. I had already been very active and advertising under it for years before that. It gave me a jumpstart.
I did do a survey of a couple hundred girls on OnlyFans and found that earnings tended to taper off around eight to nine months. So, after working on the platform about eight to nine months is around when you kind of hit where you're going to be for a while.
That makes sense. There's this concept called the Lindy Effect, which basically says that the life expectancy of anything inanimate, like an idea or a career, is proportional to the time that's already been around.
Which book is going to be read a hundred years from now? Probably the books that were already read a hundred years ago. Which people are going to be established on the OnlyFans a year from now and still be going strong? Probably the people who've already been consistent for the last two years, and the most likely people to quit OnlyFans are probably people like me who just joined yesterday or something.
Both of you have been super established. You’re super consistent, but I also get the vibe that Aella you're sort of moving away from OnlyFans. Whereas Savannah, you seem like you're going super strong.
Oh yeah. That's the question that I had. How do you maintain consistency? Because I'm getting burned out already. Savannah, how do you not get burned out?
Oh, well, my first month on OnlyFans in a drastic comparison, I made 80 bucks. So, it definitely took me a few months to get it going, but I have found recently I had all last year, since April, from April to December, I had been going strong between 25 and $35,000 a month.
Suddenly this January, I decided to get on TikTok and start making safe for work, totally innocent TikToks where I just might happen to be wearing a sports bra or something else, a little more revealing. It generated so much organic traffic that everything just doubled for me.
Just yes, out of the blue, out of nowhere. For the past four months, five months now. It has been going at the exact same rate. I have no idea how that happened, but in order for me to not get burnt out, I have to do stupid things.
Not stupid like endangering, but I have to just exist and have fun because if I wake up and I force myself to try and pretend to be sexy every single day, it's just not going to happen. I find that everyone can tell whenever I'm actually not into it.
Because a lot of the times people will message me and be like, actually I kind of hate he did that. Can you not do that anymore. I'll be like oh shit. Thanks. All right. Yeah, no, I won't do that again ever again. Thanks so much for your input.
I'll make stupid videos in my underwear just making a dessert or just having fun. I think a lot of people subscribe to me just because it's pretty laid back. There are videos where they want to get their rocks off, they can go ahead. Then there are some videos where it's basically just my naked YouTube channel, where I'm just doing things and just having a good time.
That's been really fun. It's been freeing to not feel like I have to crank out porn. I mean, it's all considered porn, but like the hardcore stuff, not every day, not every day for sure.
It sounds like TikTok has a lot of fun for you. I'm still not on TikTok. I'm way behind everybody. I think I've downloaded the app, but I've opened it maybe once or twice.
Oh, it's so cool. What's so neat about TikTok is that it's an organic traffic machine. All it does is use algorithms to cater to exactly what you're looking for. I don't have to, I mean, a lot of people use hashtags to do that, but I can do a video with no hashtags on it and just from a handful of people liking it, they'll know that they can show this to a million other people and they'll like it, too. It's just so wild and it drives so much traffic. It's so cool.
Yeah. My friendly Li Jin launched her website on TikTok, or I think someone else tweeted about it. She has a website that teaches millennials basically, or gen Zers how to find work online and make money.
It’s like here's a hundred different services here, they all work. Here's how to sign up. OnlyFans is on there. Even driving for Uber is on there. It just went super viral on TikTok. She got millions of page views in the very first month, which is crazy because I talk to so many people running online businesses and none of them are on TikTok.
Yeah, TikTok’s the way to go.
Yeah. I see a ton of people who are doing small business, handmade things even, and you promoted on TikTok just a few times to the correct niche of people and your products will sell out faster than you can make them. It's really cool the way it all works.
My highest earning month on OnlyFans was when I was posting regularly to TikTok as well. It was a combo of TikTok and Reddit regular posting, really just doubled everything.
It's crazy that Savannah, you were willing to push through those early months of only making like 80 bucks. There's this good idea, the book’s called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. He talks about the pain of being an artist and how hard it is to get up and write every day or paint every day or something. Cause it's hard sometimes.
His prescription is misery. He's like the Marines, they just embrace misery. You know, they brag about going through this terrible process and that's what makes them get up and do it every day. It's like they almost pretend to like the suffering.
Your approach is almost the exact opposite. You're like, nah, I don't ,not about the misery. I would love to just dress up in whatever I want and make fun TikTok videos.
I don’t know. I was trying so hard in the beginning to just be really sexy. I don't like to put myself down, but I also am not, I'm not the face of sexiness, so I had to mix in some fun with it.
Initially I started making funny videos about being an OnlyFans creator. That's what got me, got my feet under me at all. Because other people were just sharing my funny videos about what it's like to just look at wieners all day damn day.
That was really surprising. I wasn't expecting those to pop off. It was really just stress relief for me because it was either that, or I was going to scream. I ended up just having fun with it.
From there on out, once I was advertising, even though it was an accident, once I was advertising with just having fun, people would subscribe and be like, I'm actually a little disappointed that your content isn't more fun that it's just all sex stuff.
I was like, dude, you know, I don't really know what to tell you about that. But if you guys want me to just have more fun, you got it, baby. Be careful what you wish for, because you're going to have 16 videos of me getting margarita drunk in the bathtub in a row. I'm going to talk shit for three hours on live.
I mean, that's really the way to go. I think a lot of girls kind of don't understand this. They think like, oh, if I want to do OnlyFans, I need to kind of show my titties and be this void of personality husk that just wants to droll over a penis. That's not what men are looking for. Men are really looking for a connection with a human being, which is why that works so well.
I think I kind of actually went the opposite direction of you a little bit. When I first started, the only thing that I did was very silly, funny content. I was a naked mime and I did the abducted by gnomes photo shoot and all this stuff.
Then over time I realized that when I was less funny, I made more money. It kind of beat the creativity out of me. Not all the way, I still have to be funny to some extent to survive, kind of like what you said, but I feel a lot more jaded.
Why do you think that is? Why does your income decrease when you were funny? Because it seems like the exact opposite of Savannah.
Yeah. I mean, it's possible that there's a really nice middle ground or you can still be, do funny while being sexy and I haven't figured out how to do that.
This is when I was camming. Right. You can sort of get really fine-tuned, live feedback, how many tips you earn per hour based on how attractive, but based on what you're doing overtime, you get to know exactly the kinds of things earn more money.
As I kind of increased how sexy I was and decrease the sporadic goofiness, the margarita in a bathtub for three hours really speaks to me, Savannah. When I started decreasing that, I started making more money and that kind of built a lot of resentment in me. I was like, oh, if I actually want to make a good living with this, I need to suppress the parts of myself that are really having fun.
That caused me to get burned out with camming eventually. So, I'm like really given some hope, actually hearing you talk about how having fun seems to be so successful for you, Savannah. It makes me wonder if I can sort of pull this off again on OnlyFans.
I'm super curious how your revenue breaks down on OnlyFans. Is it all people subscribing to you and paying a monthly fee? Is it people paying you one-off transactions for photos? How does it work exactly?
For me, it's about 60% subscription and the rest 40%, like tips and videos.
For me, I would say it's probably closer to 90% subscription and then like a 10% on video purchases or tips.
what's your sub price, Savannah?
It's a $6 for the first month and then $7.50 recurring.
Wow. That's impressive to have that high a subscription percentage with that low a sub price.
It's a lot of people. I often joke that I'm the Walmart of OnlyFans. I am the Dollar Tree for porn. I just get a ton of people. It is all volume.
Then I like to leave. I'm always running the $6 sale all the time and it's open to expired subscribers as well, even though they think it's not so that they feel like they've cheated the system by letting their subscription run out and then subscribe again for $6.
But the jokes on them. I did an experiment where I went and I set the settings to only first-time subscribers to get the $6 deal. My subscriptions fell by like half. I was like, okay, going to have to turn that back on.
It's interesting how people, whenever they, even whenever it's a $1.50 off, they feel like they've really gotten the deal of a lifetime. I would much rather have the people coming in resubscribing for six bucks, even if they turn it off and resubscribe every month again for $6 and I miss out on the $1.50 or more since OnlyFans takes 20% off the top.
Aella, what is your pricing strategy on OnlyFans? Cause it sounds like you're pretty surprised by the way that Savannah does it.
Based on the way that I understand how most girls do, the impression I've got from hearing girls talk about it is that there tends to be two strategies for pricing on OnlyFans.
One is you have a really low sub price for entry, and then you have a lot of markups once you do subscribe. You sell a whole bunch of videos or do you do trips or something. And the other strategy is have a really high sub price for entry. Then you don't do quite as many once you're in, I kind of do a mix of both. I have a $23 sub price. 40% of my income is from videos on top of that.
I'm really surprised to hear the low sub price plus such a high income with also no videos. It means you must have a really high amount of both volume and people resubscribing.
Yeah, I do have a really good subscriber retention rate, which I've been very blessed with. They tend to be really chill and they just let it, keep recurring.
There's part of me that wishes if I could go back in time and price myself a little bit differently, right before it started, my page started getting popular, a part of me that wonders if maybe if I had done that, if it would still be as successful.
I think in all honesty, I think a lot of people, when their first impression of me is like, oh, okay. I don't do any nude promotion and stuff. So, they quite literally have to subscribe if they want to find out anything. I feel like people wouldn't chance it if my subscription price was higher, not knowing, they might be like, well, she might not look appealing to me at all.
Then I'm out a lot of money, but then I bait and switch them because turns out I look great. So, they stick around. I do a couple of videos a month. This last month I didn't do one at all, and I felt terrible about it. The first month in like a year that I've done that.
I will do videos under $10, the supplemental, like the porniest of the porn stuff I do still send out in DMS and it’s not really just because I don't want people to see it, but because my content gets constantly leaked. The stuff that is the most explicit, I still feel like, you know, if I even just price it five bucks, or three bucks or whatever, just always under $10, people are still happy to pay to look at that if they really want that.
It does keep my stuff from getting leaked quite as often, because whatever goes on the feed immediately ends up on the sexy butthole e-girl whatever website. I've got a service of people who fingerprint my videos and immediately identify those leaks so that I don't have to look at it or conceive it, or remember that it exists and is happening, but it's still like, oh man, it was a pain in the butt.
I rabbit trailed really hard. Sorry about that.
Well, no, that's fascinating to hear about the sort of the trade-offs and the way that you do the pricing. So, if you're doing basically not explicit content, presumably up on TikTok and Twitter, and then you're giving people the low sort of barrier to entry, low pricing so they can actually not feel like they're taking a huge risk. That makes a ton of sense.
For me, I guess I only have one photo and you probably couldn't guess if I even have an OnlyFans page on Twitter. So, I got to go with like the high price point and just milk that one photograph.
You absolutely should. You've already got a following. You don't have to start from scratch. You just, you just profit, you just profit.
There was that turning point for you, Savannah, where you, oh, shit. Looks like we lost Aella. Looks like she dropped.
Can you hear me? Should I reload? Give me a second.
I am just getting beep bop.
I guess it's better than her internet completely cutting out, which you can still kind of hear.
It is better than nothing. Oh man. Before I bought this house, I mean, obviously I've never bought a house before, but I was so excited that I liked the bathtub I forgot to ask about the internet speed or even Verizon’s speed here.
I got into this house and my first night here, it was me, my twin mattress and a box of pizza, no wifi, because we had just had a hurricane hit and I couldn't do anything. My cell wouldn't even load my Spotify. I was just staring at the ceiling with my pizza. I was like, I guess I'm just going to go sit in the shower for the next six hours for something to do.
It’s hard to be an OnlyFans creator if you don't have internet. So it was pretty crucial.
I was driving back and forth to my mom and dad's house to upload my porn for like a month and a half before they had the wifi people out here.
Can you hear me now?
Yes. Yeah, you sound pretty good.
Okay, fantastic. Yeah. I moved into this house. I was like, oh, this house is beautiful. It's gonna be great for OnlyFans content. Turns out the internet is not great. So, I'm trying to use my phone data, which is usually fine, but occasionally it cuts out.
Are you in the house that you had the party in?
Oh yeah, the party was great. I mean, you keep talking about your butt cheeks being on OnlyFans, but they were definitely out of the party.
I was convinced to wear chaps. I'll be honest. I had no idea what chaps were. I was like, sure I'll wear those as long as they're not assless chaps. Then I got them. I learned that all chaps are assless chaps. It's actually a redundant term. There is no such thing as assless chaps. So, yeah, my butt was out.
What are we even talking about? We are way off topic. Okay. OnlyFans is cool because it's like we talk on this show a lot about people, creators making money on other platforms. We talk a lot about Substack. You have these newsletter authors who were just charging a subscription fee, but there's also a whole new, I think, array of basically ways to make money coming online.
For example, you're both really big on Twitter. Twitter just added a tip jar. Now people can literally just tip you on Twitter once they roll out the feature to your account. They're eventually going to have, you haven’t heard about this? It's pretty cool. It's not rolled out to everyone yet.
I did not know this. That's probably why.
It's going to be a little link on your profile and you could set your tip amount or something. No, you can disable it or enable it and people can tip you whatever you want, but then they're going to do Super Follows, which is going to be very similar to OnlyFans where you can basically have paid subscribers to a Twitter account. Also you can make certain tweets private and people can pay to access those tweets.
I'm curious, if you are aware of this and now that you are, do you think it will change whether or not you use OnlyFans. Can OnlyFans survive in a world where Twitter is basically copying all the paid features?
What percentage is Twitter taking? And can you block not safe for work posts on Twitter? It seems really important.
Twitter is not taking any percentage, but the problem with the tip jar Twitter is is that it's going through PayPal, Venmo, Cashapp, apps that famously discriminate against sex workers.
If PayPal finds out that you're selling your nudes over Twitter, they're going to shut down your PayPal account and take all the money that's in it. I mean, in concept it's really cool. I mean Cashapp is a little bit sneakier and a little easier to fly under the radar, but you still run the risk of getting all of that money taken out.
Not saying that you don't get to have the risk of, you know, your OnlyFans account getting shut down, but it is really all up to the credit card companies and the payment processors, what they're going to allow you to sell on Twitter. I think Twitter will see more restrictions against sex work as far as using the Twitter tip jar for paying for sex work and things of the like, just anything in the adult industry. I think there'll be more restrictions on the tip jar because people are going to make use of that.
I also saw where someone sent a tip to someone through the Twitter tip jar since it rolled out a few days ago. If you do it over PayPal, PayPal immediately sends that person your real name and address if you have it linked to your profile, which would be absolutely disastrous for most sex workers.
Oh god. I feel like they should have thought this through even not with sex workers. Even if I weren't doing sex work, I still have stalkers. That seems like an incredible security breach.
I don't think PayPal is really designed it with individual creators in mind. It's for businesses, what's your business address, et cetera. It's the fact that it's being shoehorned into the Twitter tip jar, it creates all these unforeseen consequences and risks that Savannah's talking about.
Dude, I really hope they do crypto. It would be fantastic if you could tip somebody with crypto, because you can't discriminate against sex workers with cryptocurrency.
It's fascinating. Maybe the last few years has been such a huge push towards decentralization, crypto and the blockchain being at kind of the forefront. All of that should help theoretically sex workers a ton, because almost every primary payment processor in the internet just doesn't allow sex work on their platform.
It's part of why OnlyFans is so big it's because they've figured out how to do it. It's hard for anyone else. Even my employer, Stripe is one of the biggest payment processors on the internet if not the biggest. They own this podcast. they don't allow basically pornographic material on their platform. You can't use Stripe for a porn website. We'll see how they feel about this deficit.
The point is it's not easy to do. The fact that OnlyFans is on the up and up and then also that Twitter might allow crypto in the tip jar and when they do the super follows thing, they might crypto there, is pretty cool for sex workers.
I wonder how popular is the blockchain and cryptocurrencies for sex workers. In the community and in sex worker chats, do you feel like this is ushering in a new age where you have more freedom to do what you want on the internet?
I hope so. I mean, there's a lot of people working towards that direction.
For example, NFTs have been stuff that sex workers are starting to sell. There's SpankPay, which is a really easy way to accept crypto payments, specifically designed for sex workers. You just sort of, I have my SpankPay link in my not safe for work Twitter. Sometimes people just go and tip me there.
I'm hoping stuff like that really blossoms. I mean, I think porn is a very clear use case example for why crypto would be good. A lot of people are looking at it.
Oh yeah, for sure. Especially since visa and MasterCard have pulled earlier this year from PornHub. Now the only form of payment on PornHub, if I'm not misinformed, is just cryptocurrency. This is the only one left. It would be super cool if we moved more toward cryptocurrency because there’s not regulation on it the way credit card companies are, have to regulate what you sell.
I mean, even on OnlyFans, there are so many rules about what you can and can't post, and those rules are regulated by the credit card companies that they can do. They can also do charge backs, which you can't with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. So someone buys all the porn I have. And then they're like, actually I want all that money back that I still got the porn didn't I? They can just go to their credit card company that someone hacked their card or whatever, and then they get all their money back and I'm just out a lot of porn.
It's pretty tragic the fact that, I mean, one of the entire premises behind the show is that if you were a founder or creator of some sort, you can kind of chart your own path and you can be not necessarily platform dependent, but doing sex work, you still are extremely platform dependent.
A lot of the platforms are very hostile. Even on OnlyFans, I think OnlyFans first popped onto my radar last year with that whole Bella Thorne scandal. For listeners who aren't aware, Bella Thorne, was this famous actress and she got an OnlyFans, promised everybody that she was going to post nudes. Her account blew up. She got, I think millions of followers or hundreds of thousands of followers or something.
She ended up making like $2 million in a week. But then the pictures she posted weren't exactly nude or based on, I don't know, people felt misled. They started doing a ton of chargebacks and then OnlyFans had to change all their rules, which presumably affected everybody else on OnlyFans. Effected the two of you as well.
That's kind of an example of the fact that you are dependent on this platform means that your business is really at risk depending on random other things that are completely outside of your control.
That is the frustrating part of it, because a lot of that is just out of our hands. I mean, OnlyFans is a platform that's been made by someone who has worked in the adult industry as, not as a performer, but as someone who has been in the industry and their goal is to marry mainstream social media and merge it with adult content or things that you can put behind a paywall, you know, in that way and to not discriminate between the two.
Still all the time, they don't promote any sex workers on any of their promotional material. They only promote big celebrities who come on. The fun part about that is the celebrities get tired of posting a side boot shots after a couple of weeks after they've made a couple million dollars and there have been consequences that have affected the platform for everyone else.
They get to go home and sleep in their mansion and have had a really fun time cos playing a sex worker for a couple of weeks and then they're done. Then the rest of us are just like, this is great. You really just, you really just kicked over the whole table, didn't you?
Oh, the term cos playing a sex worker is so right. As you said it, I got furious, because that is what a lot of them are doing, sort of like, oh, we stand in solidarity with sex workers. I'm on OnlyFans.
It's like, great, well, where's your vagina? You're not really putting it on the line. You don't really experience like the kind of pressure to actual sex workers do. It's really frustrating.
Is this happening often? I only heard about Bella Thorne. I didn't realize it was a recurring problem in the industry.
It's a double-edged sword because a creator will jump on or a celebrity or some sort of other social media star will jump on. The problem is usually they either condemn selling nudes and boast that they've just sold ludes as if that does not also fall under the umbrella of sex work, but they're better than us. Or they ended up scamming people by making them think that they're going to be selling nudes or lies of omission and leading everyone to believe that they're going to be selling nude content and then not doing that.
It's okay if you want to just sell ludes. It's okay if you never want to post a nude picture on OnlyFans ever, that is a-okay, but you got to tell people that you're not going to post your nudes on OnlyFans, the site that's infamous for posting nudes. You got to be up front with that one, because if you're not, then people will do charge backs. It'll create a scandal and it just makes everyone on the platform look like thieving, lying sons of bitches.
If the celebrities who jumped on did it with a little bit more care and took a little bit more time to understand what's at stake for everyone else on the platform and for all the sex workers’ lives, not just the girls who are earning a ton of money every month on OnlyFans, but for all the people who are doing this because they are just trying to hang on and survive. I mean, they're valid, too, and it totally affects them.
It's just frustrating that when they're done, it just was a thing that they did for a couple of weeks. They just leave because they're bored of it and it's affected everyone else.
Were the two of you affected by the Bella Thorne scandal and the fact that OnlyFans ended up changing a lot of the rules? I think they reduced the maximum price you could charge for a subscription and they changed the payouts from weekly or biweekly payouts to monthly, just a bunch of stuff that made it probably less profitable to be on OnlyFans.
I think some of those changes were country specific. The ones that did impact me, and I assume you too, Savannah, was the pay to view price cap. I think it was $200 and then it was brought down to $150 if I remember correctly. I was selling stuff for quite a lot. Apparently you can, I did contact them directly and they will raise a limit on you specifically if you request. But I had to learn that through the grapevine. It’s not said anywhere inside of OnlyFans, but that was a definitely a direct impact.
That is really interesting. I didn't know that it. Oh man, the inner workings of OnlyFans and their customer service team is such an enigma to me. It is Pandora's box. I feel like whenever Jesus finally comes back, he'll tell me what's going on at OnlyFans support. Then I'll finally know, but there won't be a time to tell him other girls. It just doesn't make any sense to me.
I read somewhere that OnlyFans, whenever they had blown up had only like 20 employees. Which makes sense as to why it took them 21 days to respond to any of my support emails.
Even from the outside. I mean, just looking at the website. I signed up, there's no real onboarding experience. The entire thing is really ugly, quite frankly. It's like a Twitter clone. It's designed for mobile, but there's no actual mobile app.
Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s not allowed, right? The app stores won't allow OnlyFans at all.
Right. So, you're stuck with the website, which is a terrible experience. I know there've been examples of platforms and companies that when they go public after doing very well, they offer some stock to the creators on those platforms. Would you to want OnlyFans stock? Do you think OnlyFans is here to stay?
I think it's here to stay. The cam sites, for example, enjoyed like a 10 year, pretty solid life cycle. They're still going. I think the traffic is less due to OnlyFans. I would not be surprised if OnlyFans followed kind of a similar cycle. We're seeing the rise of a very profitable model and I don't think we're going to get like another OnlyFans for a while.
I think so, too. I mean, I haven't been in the industry more than a year and a half, but I mean, I really feel like OnlyFans has caught lightning in a bottle. If they just did the bare minimum to spruce it up, it would be so unbelievably good and profitable that people would just never leave. They would have no reason to.
I mean, that site moves like you're walking through pudding. It is so sluggish and frustrating, however, millions of people, millions and millions and millions of people use the site anyway, just because, just the model is so good. It's so simple for people who don't, I guess don't really require all the frills and bells and whistles, but I guess it's up to the creator to fill up their own page and make things fun for the subscribers, because the site is not going to do any of that.
They made four hundred million dollars. They should hire a designer and some developers already. Hopefully it’s on their to do list.
It's crazy. The guy who I think owns OnlyFans now who got it, Leo, he's the owner of MyFreeCams and MyFreeCams is the highest earning cam site. I think either the highest or very close to it for a very long time and that site looks like it's still out of the nineties.
If OnlyFans sucks, MyFreeCams is kind of like you're walking into a pile of shit. It's an awful user experience. I don't know how they got that far. They’re just like okay, I guess it's making money. We're just going to leave it.
This makes me a little more pessimistic about OnlyFans. OnlyFans is already leagues better than any other sex work platform online that we've seen. But it still sucks. It really sucks. The standards are so bad for sex work and I'm grateful that it exists. We have come a long way, but if the past ownership of this company by Leo is anything to go by, I'm not super optimistic that it will get faster.
There just isn’t that much competition. There aren't that many founders and entrepreneurs who are building websites for sex workers, because it's in part very hard to fit into the financial framework and get anybody to support you to do that. I guess you can come along with kind of a crappy designed shoddily built website and get the network effects going and that's it, it works.
Yeah. For a while I was looking into building my own website, just a unique, my own Aella.com type deal, where you subscribe and I get to sort of control everything. But the payment processor sort of was where I ran into an issue. They take like 10 to 15% if you're low volume. I'm like, well, I wouldn't be really saving that much over OnlyFans anyway, by that point. So, it's just, there's not a lot of room to maneuver.
Well, what else are you doing outside of OnlyFans? Cause I know that you're a little bit concerned, concerned about the fact that such a huge percentage of our income came are coming from OnlyFans. You've got some other cool stuff. I bought your card game that you made. What else are you working on as a creator and an entrepreneur?
There's the card game. I'm also serving as advisor to a couple companies that are either hoping to help sex workers or be a competitor to OnlyFans. I think there's a lot of potential in the space and really excited to maybe talk about this in the future. Although not yet, not yet.
I am working on helping advice for crosscollab.co. That is a site for creators to sort of find people who you can effectively exchange promos with an, S an S, a shout out for shout out, because right now the landscape for finding good people to buy promo from is really a nightmare. Also working on a book and I don't know, writing tweeting, stuff like that, throwing parties.
A million different things, basically. Yeah. Savannah, did you see an Aella’s card game? It's pretty cool.
No, I will. I'm so interested in this card game. I have to know what it is. Explain everything to me. I want to know the rules.
Can you walk us through the story of how you made it and why and how it's doing?
I've been historically obsessed with collecting questions. For a while I would go to parties and I'm kind of autistic. I would try and figure out, I would just go around with a list of questions to ask people and sort of gauge reactions.
Over time at these parties, I would go through the questions and cut them out into little pieces of paper. People eventually started telling me that I should make it into a card game. I collected 1,500 questions, which I had asked her over the course of three to four years. Then ranked them by how much discussion they generated and how divisive they were.
These questions, a lot of them were especially decide to split the group 50, 50. A lot of them are extremely taboo and irreverent. Apparently this has ended some friendships, this game I have heard reports.
it's like very controversial questions like this one, in a world where prostitution becomes legal and regulated, should sex workers be allowed to refuse clients on the basis of race? Who would even think of that? Aella, you've thought a lot of this stuff. And I know you source a lot of it from Twitter.
I was reading a sex worker forum actually. There were these sex workers who are having that discussion. There's a sex worker who was saying that she didn't feel comfortable. I think that she wasn’t seeing Indian clients in a certain city in the U S because she had bad experiences with them. Then the sex workers were discussing whether or not this was okay to do. That’s one example of where I got that question.
How how's the card game doing? I forgot how much I paid for it, but you're actually, you're selling this on your website. It's a beautifully designed website.
Thank you. I did it. I taught myself how to do that. We’re out of stock right now, so I'm hoping that it will be in stock by the time somebody ends up listening to this episode, but we've been having supply problems that started due to COVID and we're shifting our suppliers and whatnot.
What a clever game too. That is so nice. As soon as it's back in stock, I'm going to be purchasing a deck of my own because that is genius.
I think it would do really well on OnlyFans, too. Tip for a question or, you know, make a video, reading a question per day or something like that. I designed it partially with that in mind for camming.
I can't wait to see it on the shelf at Target.
This gets into the different ways the two of you basically market yourselves on OnlyFans. Aella, I think my brother first told me about you because not your porn Twitter account, but your other one where you're asking all these provocative questions, it's pretty popular in the tech industry.
Actually I know a lot of founders who follow you, respond to your polls. Cause there's just so mentally challenging and engaging. And I don't know how many people come from there to your OnlyFans. Savannah Solo, it sounds like most of yours come from TikTok and maybe Twitter as well.
I guess what do the two of you know about marketing yourselves and growing an OnlyFans account that most people don't because you’re in the top 0.06% of creators? You're clearly doing something very right.
OnlyFans doesn't have any internal discovery, or very little. Everything you do, you have to push out to other platforms. Savannah, it sounds like it's TikTok primarily, and for me it's primarily Reddit.
You kind of have to define the platform where you can get a lot of organic discovery, where you can sort of figure out the kind of content that maybe you have a little bit of an edge on for other people and sort of push it there.
But there's a lot of other places. I would say for me, at least, Twitter is actually less a source of traffic than other websites. Twitter is not, does not have very good organic discovery, especially for porn, but some people do use it. There's also like FetLife and Instagram. Some people do very well on those too.
Can you describe to me your Reddit strategies since that seems to be like the place where you do the best?
My Reddit strategy is quite involved. When I'm doing it regularly, I've been taking a bit of a break from it recently, but when I'm doing it regularly, I get a couple of pieces of content every single day. Then at night I spend between 30 to 60 minutes scheduling it out in advance on Reddit.
I take a photo. I have a spreadsheet with all of the subreddits and I have a scheduler, so I schedule it to a subreddit and then I jumped forward a week scheduled to another subreddit. So, I have a photo that will automatically post to a cascading series of subreddits from most viewed to least viewed over the next three months. I just stack these gradually.
When I'm doing this regularly at my peak, I have automatic postings every morning before I wake up, because that's one of the best time to post between eight to 10 subreddits every day morning. Typically between two to four of those hit the top posts of those subreddits. That's where I was getting most of my time.
That's nuts. What are you, what is doing the automatic scheduling? It's reading your spreadsheet and posting the pictures or is there some other app?
You have to go in and you can put the link to the, or the image that you're uploading and the time, so you actually have to do it kind of manually. It's just automatic in the fact that it will post it for you without you being there. It's Later for Reddit that I use, but there's also Delayed for Reddit and a couple others.
That's an indie hacker who made that. I think, I don't know if I had him on the podcast, but I think I interviewed him on the website. Yeah created Later for Reddit.
Wow. Does he know what his website's being used for?
I'm sure he knows now, but at the time I interviewed him, he didn't mention it.
It’s almost entirely OnlyFans girls, as far as I know.
Really? That's crazy. Small world. I have to message him. Let me see if I can find his old interview. Yeah, I did an interview on Indie Hackers years ago. He was making like $250 a month. His name’s Adam. We interviewed, but I'm sure it's going really well. Do you pay for it?
Yeah, I do. Thanks, Adam.
Yeah. Thank you, Adam. You're powering the Reddit marketing strategy for OnlyFans creators around the globe. It's pretty involved, Aella. I didn't expect you to have such a complex setup for how you, how everything works.
My strategy’s ass compared to yours I'll post a couple of pictures or just one picture on Twitter with a caption that's just stupid enough to get people to look. I do sort of just rely on every once in a while something just pops off. It's never the thing I'm expecting. It's never when I'm expecting. It just happens.
Luckily I've had consistency with it happening whenever it wants to, but I ended up making an exorbitant amount of money in one day or over two days. Then I can sort of breathe a little bit, make just some fun, silly stuff before I have to really get back on the grind. It's like I pedal really, really fast and then I can just coast for 0.1 miles and then I can pedal really fast and just do it again.
But other than that, I've tried to do the shout for shout thing a couple of times. Because I don't do it often on my page I've found that it brings out a lot of whiny, pissy, baby whiners, who don't like that at all. I stopped doing it just because I can't handle people sometimes.
Other than that, I mean, starting out marketing was just clawing my way out of the giant pile of girls who look the same and do all the same stuff as me and just trying to find a way to make myself stand out.
I think where a lot of people go wrong with marketing in the beginning on OnlyFans is they just don't have enough content up on their OnlyFans. It doesn't matter how wonderful you say your butthole is. If there's only one picture of it and you're charging $35 a month for that one picture of your butthole, just like Cortland is going to do but with no followers and no, no previous social media platform. If you're starting from scratch and you just, you have nothing, there's no credibility there, then you're just not going to see people investing in you the way you wish they would.
Seth Godin has a good book on marketing. It's called “This is Marketing” and he has a five-step process to marketing. The very last one is show up regularly, consistently, and generously for years. That's the content production part that both of you are clearly not afraid to do. You just keep putting out content, you keep scheduling things on your spreadsheet. I think that's probably something almost no one else does.
Then his step three or step two in that list is kind of pick a very tiny, specific niche market and just differentiate yourself from everybody else. You can't post the same exact content that everybody else is posting. I feel like both of you have found your niche. How would you describe your niche, Savannah?
The really invested Star Wars porn, someone who obviously loves Star Wars, wrote and acted in not, not like I put red body paint everywhere except for my vagina and just said, “Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi.” I think a lot of my following just comes from the fact that I'm a super massive nerd.
I think whenever guys or girls or those who subscribed to me when they subscribed to me, they know that we've probably all jerked off to the same Star Wars fan art. I think there's a sense of comradery that comes with that. I think that's my niche. Sorry if that was too much to say on here, but that's, that's where it comes from.
I actually feel like we might be a little overlapping in our nature. Although for me it's Star Trek, not Star Wars I am sorry to say. Also the goofy personality type deal, a lot of the content that draws people to my OnlyFans in the first place, it was small sketches that are really creative and sometimes off the wall.
Sometimes are like kind of make a confused boner happen. A lot of the marketing I had, at least I used to, a little bit less now are around Boner Bootcamp. We're going to make your penis rise up and then drop down and then rise up. Who will remain? Only the strongest boners will survive.
That's that sort of the vibe, which I think is actually pretty similar to Savannah. You somehow managed to get like kind of the same vibe creator on here.
That seems like an excellent, an excellent note to end the show on, boner bootcamps. A lot of people listening are trying to figure out how to do their own butter boot camps and would love some advice from the two of you.
What are your tips for young creators getting started on OnlyFans or in any other creator platform who are trying to figure out how to have the consistency and creativity that the two of you have had?
Yeah, for me, keep at it. It's a grind. I know that I started out well on OnlyFans, but it was a grind to get to the point where I could start out well on OnlyFans. I went for years with very little success. Just be really consistent, treat it like a business, cause it is a business.
This is not like you show your titties and, you know, make thousands of dollars. You have to be very clever and deliberate and pay attention to data and feedback. Spend your time researching, find different platforms, figure out what works for you and be really resilient in the face of it not working. You have to figure out exactly the specific strategy that is going to work for you. A lot of people sort of give up before they hit them.
I totally agree with that. I think also don't let it affect your self-esteem whenever you're first starting out. I think that was the biggest hurdle I had to jump over was the realization that it wasn't just going to be titties and profit.
I think a lot of people expect it to be titties and then profit. They don't take the time to take a breather and be like, I'm in one of the most competitive markets right now. Right now is a really intense time to jump into online sex work because of the pandemic, because everyone jumped on because they needed to pay their light bill.
I mean, not that you can ever really oversaturate the market when it comes to porn, but a lot of people jumped on and it definitely made it harder to get yourself out into a place where you could be noticed more for something.
Like you were saying, if you can sort of find a niche, some sort of thing about yourself that it's just unique and market the absolute hell out of it, then do that. Just don't get discouraged, keep going and find something that makes you unique. Do stuff that makes you feel good.
I love it. Feel good, be persistent, and don't let it affect your self-esteem. I think that's sage advice for any entrepreneur. Savannah Solo, Aella, thanks so much for coming on the show. Can you let listeners know where they can go to find out more about what you're up to online, find your OnlyFans or any other projects you're working on?
If you want to follow me on Twitter, you can find me on Twitter at Savannah_Solo. And if you are, I mean, I'm assuming everyone here is over the age of 18, but I'm on OnlyFans @Savannahsolo. Then I'm on TikTok @Savannahsolo. And those are pretty much the only place that you'll enjoy following me. My Instagram is pretty bland.
Similarly I'm Aella girl that's with, and without an underscore on Twitter are my two accounts (@aellagirl, @aella_girl). One of them is the, with the underscores safer work and without the underscore is not safe for work. And also similarly on OnlyFans, I have two accounts there. There’s just links to everything else if you want to go troll. But yeah. Thank you so much, Courtland. This was fantastic.
Yeah, thanks to both of you.
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