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SaaS for OnlyFans Creators: An untapped niche?

Two days ago, The Hustle published an article about the lucrative business of OnlyFans consulting.

Some of the stats mentioned blew me away. For example, did you know that OnlyFans paid their creators over $2 billion in revenue in 2020? This figure is expected to rise to more than $5 billion this year and $12 billion by 2022:

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During the pandemic, OnlyFan saw explosive growth, with 200k new users and 8k new creators signing up every day.

During a gold rush, sell pickaxes

I learned about this a few years ago from Chris Dixon:

When a major new technology trend emerges – say, the rise of online video or social media – entrepreneurs can try to capitalize on the trend by creating a consumer product (mining for gold), or by creating tools to enable consumer products (selling pickaxes).

For most technology trends, the number of successful companies created in gold mining and pickaxes are comparable, yet the gold mining businesses tend to get much more attention.

This has also been the case with OnlyFans. Almost every mainstream media outlet has written about it, but The Hustle is the first (that I am aware of) to cover the "pickaxes" part in depth.

Their article focuses on human services for OnlyFans creators (marketing, accounting, etc.) I'm old enough to recognize that where there is a market for B2B human services in a specific niche, there is also a market for SaaS products in that same niche.

The OnlyFans creators market appears to be a good fit for this. Here are some stats:

Btw, if you want more founder opportunities like these delivered to your inbox every week, feel free to subscribe below:

OnlyFans creators spend a lot of time on marketing

Richard Lewis is the founder of SEO Bounty, a digital agency for OnlyFans creators. Richard surveyed 105 OnlyFans users to find out how many hours they spend each week promoting their OnlyFans page:

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SaaS ideas: How many of these hours are spent on repetitive tasks? If you spend some time talking to these creators, you're bound to discover repetitive/hard tasks you that a SaaS product could automate.

OnlyFans subscribers have a low retention rate

According to The Hustle, the retention rate of OnlyFans subscribers is quite low: creators may lose up to 50% of their subscribers each month.

This "forces" creators who want a steady stream of revenue to constantly look for new user acquisition strategies.

SaaS ideas: There are numerous SaaS products that address retention in a variety of industries. I haven't come across anything related to the adult industry. Can you think of a creative way to ask about why subscribers stopped paying, for example?

OnlyFans creators actively spend money to promote themselves

The most important question of all: If I make a SaaS product, will creators pay?

Richard Lewis has a Twitter account with 139k followers. Most of them are male OnlyFans subscribers. Richard charges $20 to share a post linking to a creator's account.

He's currently selling around 400 posts per month.

OnlyFans models also have hundreds of private Telegram groups where they promote each others' accounts for a certain sum.

So the answer is yes; just like in any other business, if you help people make money/save money, they will pay.

Other SaaS ideas

Take a social network like Facebook or Twitter. See what are some successful SaaS tools that exist for them. Can you replicate the same model to OnlyFans? Here are some ideas:

  • More sophisticated post scheduling
  • Innovative ways for models to promote themselves
  • Accounting-based software for OnlyFans models (The Hustle reported about a 27-year-old who has a Virginia-based firm that helps OnlyFans models handle taxes. She currently has over 100 clients).
  • There are currently a few books that popular among OnlyFans models. One of them is by Amberly Rothfield, a creator with nearly 27k followers on Twitter. Can you take a piece of advice of that book and automate it via software?

Ethical dilemmas

The adult industry is quite controversial. A few months ago, Axios reported that OnlyFans couldn't find investors due to its adult content.

The adult market is quite large, as we've seen in the first graph, and there are no signs of it slowing down.

As the "gold rush" continues, more and more people will figure out how to sell pickaxes to OnlyFans creators.

Would you ever go into this kind of market? Why? Why not? Let me know your thoughts below.

  1. 7

    I noticed this last year. So I started working on WishTender, a wishlist app mainly focused on the adult industry.

    I had this feeling like, "If I can just get over what people will think of me, I can be successful by making a product for sex workers."

    But it didn't turn out to be so simple. This industry is hard.

    There are barriers everywhere.

    1. There's the obvious: Your bank. Your payment processor. I'm not even selling adult content on my site. But even just associating with onlyfans models is an issue. Just allowing them to use my platform is an issue for these companies even if there's nothing related to the adult industry on my platform. High risk processors charge way more 8-20%. I did ended up using Stripe but we've had problems and had to do some hacks along the way. There's always a risk they will just shut me down though with no explanation.

    Stripe doesn't even want to block sex workers- they say on their site that they support the adult industry. But they answer to companies who answer to other companies etc etc.

    1. Then there's audience building. Unless your personal brand is already in the adult industry, it's also going to be hard to connect with your audience. OnlyFans models are really suspicious and private, especially with non-sex workers. Their clients, even more so, don't want to talk to you. So customer research is difficult. There's high churn on both sides so even when you make connections it's short lived. Additionally, your current audience is going to be put off by your new audience.

    2. Then there's social media. My platform is constantly banned or shadow banned on social media simple for saying "SW friendly" or similar. With little rhyme or reason, as other accounts say this don't get banned. I think sometimes even you can be shadow banned just for having sw followers- though not sure. So social media marketing is super tricky. There may be similar SEO bans but I'm not sure.

    3. Mental drain. If you are not highly interested in porn, which I doubt most IH's are, you will often find the draining times extra draining. Because you can't say to yourself, "Well at least I'm progressing something really cool." I thought I would always think "I'm helping entrepreneurs in the sex industry. And I love entrepreneurs!" But it ends up that's what I think on the good days. On the tough days- I just feel the adult industry is draining.

    4. Less help from others. Other also aren't interested in porn. So they aren't going to donate their time to help you.

    But the pro's are- if you can get over these barriers there's possibility for a lucrative businesses. At least I think! I'm still growing my company.

    1. 1

      Wow. Thank you for your insights. Have you tried “infiltrating” into OF Telegram groups? Or maybe even paying a model as a “spokesperson” for you?

      1. 1

        Not really, I felt like companies were unwelcome there but maybe I'm wrong. And I'm tight on profit so still not sure where to spend my money.

  2. 3

    It's crazy how big OnlyFans has become. 5B is just mind-blowing.

    1. 1

      That was my first thought as well.

  3. 3

    This is tricky. There's definitely a psychological barrier to entry to the adult niche.

    Also, I think you forgot to mention the payment processor problems. Many processors distance themselves from anything that even remotely smells like 'adult'.

    1. 1

      Do bear in mind that Crypto is likely to solve this.

      I had a bizarre brain wave some years back for a really well designed platform/marketplace for people selling adult services. In the UK, such services are not illegal and providers even have a tax code. This is a fun read.

      https://metro.co.uk/2017/03/15/sex-and-self-employment-the-items-that-can-be-expensed-will-shock-and-surprise-you-6503923/

      But though I think it's an area that's prime for a really nice solution with lot's of security features, I couldn't really even research it, let alone work on such a thing, because I'm married.

      The payments part was also a blocker back then, the providers are niche and always look shady to me. But if I were single and not a father, I might give it a shot. I think a thoughtful, well researched and caring platform with diverse people on board and professional industry advisers could produce a lot of good outcomes in the real-world.

      1. 1

        Interesting, thanks for sharing.

    2. 1

      Good point. Yeah, payment processing can be a problem with adult.

  4. 3

    This is quite a sensitive topic. Sensitive topics by themselves dissuade people from creating projects/involving themselves in the market, which is by itself a "barrier to entry". That's another thought to consider as well.

    1. 2

      Def agree. There are many such "sensitive" niches. I've known people who prospered in them though. Starting from essay writing (which has a stigma in the academic circle) to "spy on your ex-boyfriend" type of services. Another point: maybe the lack of VC funds creates an environment where many small players can prosper (not a winner-takes-all market who out-spends everyone).

  5. 1

    Honestly think the OF paywall model is the future of content creation, especially as we start diving into web 3...thoughts? 👇

    1. 1

      Can you elaborate how you think web 3.0 will contribute to the paywall model being more widespread?

      1. 1

        Long story short: Web 3.0 will be heavily data-driven, communities will be a key priority for success in any industry with data as the backbone, and communities allow & provide more data/user insight. The pay walls will encourage users to be more engaged which = more data/insight. (you used to pay for cable tv, now you will pay for your favorite podcast, or content creator...same idea, hard to sum up in a few sentences, but yea...)

  6. 1

    Retention is unsolvable in this particular industry where novelty counts.

    Thanks for your article!

    1. 1

      Low retention = constant need for acquisition = people are more open for novel acq. tactics. Just my 2 cents.

  7. 1

    I did not get raising money is difficult why so? Why can’t they raise money from any adult film running company?

    1. 1

      Because many VCs don't want to associate themselves with anything adult. Interesting though about adult running companies...

  8. 1

    Pretty interesting article! :)

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