Sex sells. But if you’ve been paying attention, so does beauty.
The beauty industry is a $532 billion dollar business, according to a report by retail analytics firm Edited. And according to Vox, beauty influencers with follower counts in the millions can make upwards of $100,000 on an Instagram post, and can earn hundreds of thousands per year on YouTube from advertisements and sponsorships.
Of course, all that money doesn’t go straight into an influencer’s pocket. YouTube keeps 45% of ad revenue garnered through AdSense, which enables Google to run ads on videos and pays creators based on view count. At the end of the day, the creator only walks away with 55% of the total revenue they’ve generated from their content. YouTube also has the power to stop ads from running on videos if they believe the content violates their ad policy, which, as it turns out, is pretty often.
Creators who want to keep more of what they make are turning to other platforms that take a smaller percentage of their earnings and allow creators to have more freedom to discuss topics that aren’t so “advertiser-friendly,” without the risk of being demonetized and losing their source of income. Enter: OnlyFans, the subscription-based social media platform known for revolutionizing the sex worker industry. But the platform is quickly shifting, becoming the next destination for beauty content as well.
Founded in 2016, OnlyFans might be most well-known as a platform for sex workers to sell their NSFW content, but it was created with influencers and entrepreneurs in mind to allow for the monetization of many unique talents. At its core, it’s a subscription-based platform, similar to Patreon, where users pay a monthly fee to access a creator’s content, whether that’s explicit images and videos, fitness videos, music lessons, makeup tutorials, and more. But unlike Patreon, which has multi-levels of subscriptions (you get more if you pay more), OnlyFans is donation/subscription-based. It doesn’t place any restrictions on content, and the platform only takes 20% of a creator’s earnings.
Although we haven’t seen any major players in the beauty influencer game join the platform, a representative from OnlyFans says that smaller influencers have found great success on the platform.
“Creators on OnlyFans often have smaller, more engaged followings in comparison to platforms like Instagram and YouTube,” OnlyFans tells Very Good Light. “Because of this, beauty creators have more opportunities to connect with their fans directly, allowing them to share personalized beauty advice, expert tips, and product and service recommendations directly with their fans.”
OnlyFans reported an influx of beauty influencers and professionals joining the platform in recent months in the wake of COVID-19. With many salons still closed or operating at decreased capacity, beauty professionals are struggling to get their income back to pre-pandemic levels.
“As the beauty industry adapts to new social distancing measures with public spaces reopening, there is great opportunity for beauty industry professionals to continue to utilize OnlyFans for at-home service tutorials as well as personalized expert tips on product applications where individuals may have previously relied on a makeup counter,” says a representative from OnlyFans.
One such influencer, Hadiyah Daché, AKA The Fairy Glow Mother, is an esthetician based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s one of many beauty industry professionals exploring creating content on OnlyFans, with the goal of recording educational videos showcasing full body waxing and sugaring services. This type of content, although not sexual in nature, would prominently feature genitalia, and as such, would violate YouTube’s terms of service. Not only does OnlyFans not censor a creator’s content, but the platform itself is extremely secure, making it a safe space for the models who can have their private waxing sessions filmed without the fear that the content will be stolen and redistributed.
“The content I have planned is a mix of tutorials for other estheticians and voyeuristic/ASMR content for intimate services like Brazilian waxing/sugaring,” Hadiyah says to Very Good Light.
She plans to use OnlyFans to market her services and hopefully get new clients to come into her studio. The subscription model on OnlyFans is a new form of advertising that we haven’t seen in the beauty industry, and has the potential to turn “fans” into loyal customers. It also allows creators to make money immediately, whereas other platforms require a large following before any brand or advertiser is willing to pay you to create content.
“OnlyFans as a marketing tool kind of flips things for me,” Hadiyah says. “I’m used to paying to market, not getting paid. So that was new.”
For Hadiyah, OnlyFans is a chance to educate new and existing clients on her services—and have a little fun with social media. “I plan to show waxing, sugaring, Vulvacials, and maybe some troll content titled ‘Hot Ebony Facial,’ but it’s really just a relaxing ASMR video of me giving a facial to a client.”
The beauty industry is always shifting and changing. Nowadays, being a Youtuber isn’t enough. From product lines to podcasts, influencers are constantly discovering new ways to generate income. The current economic crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every industry, including the beauty industry.
Subscription-based platforms like OnlyFans give creators more control, more creative freedom, and better profit margins than YouTube. Beauty consumers value authenticity, and the success of beauty creators on OnlyFans proves that people are willing to pay for it. It has the potential to be the future of beauty content, where creators can interact directly with their fans. Some beauty influencers have follower counts in the millions, and OnlyFans has the ability to turn some of those followers into paying superfans. It’s another level of exclusivity: think of it like a meet-and-greet at a concert. OnlyFans is another way for beauty creators to get ~real~ with their fans—and they don’t even have to take their clothes (or makeup) off.