This article originally appeared on VICE France.
Marc is one of the people you’re talking to when you think you’re talking to someone on OnlyFans. A communications agency owner and part-time fashion photographer, he’s spent the past 18 months plying a new trade.
Marc, whose name has been changed because he has a confidentiality agreement in place with his clients, is an invisible cog in an industry that’s new, opaque, and booming. He’s the one sending you personalised messages along with photos taken three weeks earlier that he pulled from a hard drive while slumped over his laptop in bed at three in the morning. And it’s gotten so lucrative that it now makes up 60 to 70 percent of his company’s turnover.
While OnlyFans has been around for five years now – it was launched by Tim Stokely in November 2016 – it took off in a big way in Marc’s native France when the world entered into a series of lockdowns in early 2020. Nearly two years on, revenues from platforms like OnlyFans have soared and personalities from different backgrounds – including reality TV and the porn industry – have found huge success in this new economy.
But like every image-obsessed industry, there are still workers behind the scenes keeping the show on the road. We spoke to Marc about what it’s like to be one of them.
VICE: What does your job actually involve?
Marc: My day job is managing Instagram and Facebook pages for professionals, mainly doctors and dentists. I also look after OnlyFans and Patreon accounts for several influencers, running between four and seven at any one time. That involves publishing content – photos and videos – at a contractually agreed rate. Their level of fame determines how many times a day I’ll post for them. Some get one a day, others six. They all get lots of messages every single day, mainly from men, and I respond to them on behalf of the influencers. Over the course of the weekend, I might get 2,000 or so messages.
How did it all start for you?
For the last eight years I’ve also worked as a photographer, mainly in fashion. When OnlyFans launched, some of the girls I’d shot asked if they could use those photos on the platform. There was a clear link between what I was doing in my day job at the agency and OnlyFans, so I offered my services.
It started in earnest on the first day of lockdown, which was the 17th of March, 2020 here in France. I was at home with no idea what to do and an influencer got in touch to ask if I was up for launching an OnlyFans account for her. We challenged ourselves to get a certain number of subscribers by the end of the month – we actually got 12 times that amount.
What requires the most attention in this job?
A good 90 percent of my time on OnlyFans is spent replying to messages. A lot of the requests come in from men with really specific tastes. They’ve got fantasies that involve hair, nails, or feet. Some people even want photos where the model is wearing a face covering, or surgical gloves. I send these requests to the girls immediately and if it’s doable, they send the photos over within an hour.
It’s all about keeping customers happy and remembering that we are marketing and selling a product. The messages we exchange have to quickly move towards a commercial proposition. These men are used to it and they’re there to make a purchase.
How do you get your voice right?
I try to get to know the girls personally so I don’t start talking nonsense. I’m also constantly looking at their Instagram feeds, watching their Stories, making sure that what I’m saying on OnlyFans matches what they’re posting elsewhere.
I’ve always enjoyed studying people, trying to understand how they work. Everyone has limitations, so that’s one of the first things I ask them: What are you comfortable doing and showing on platforms like OnlyFans? Depending on what they say, I know whether I need to be shy or extroverted in the messages. From one girl to the next, I try to slightly change the conversation, but the basics always remain the same.
Are you ever scared of getting caught out by a fan?
I have to be careful. What I am doing is deceptive. I’ve actually got a trick that helps with not getting caught. As soon as a guy asks me if it’s definitely the girl in question who’s replying to him, I ask the girl to make a short personalised video where she says, “Thanks for your support, X.”
Are you making good money from it?
For every contract, for every girl, I have a fixed fee of 2,500 euros (around £2,100) per month. Then I take five percent commission of what they make for every 5,000 euros. So, for example, if they earn 15,000 euros in a month, I take 15 percent, 20 percent for over 20,000 euros and so on. For the most well-known influencers, we’re exceeding 50,000 euros (£41,000).
Could they even do this job themselves?
If they had to manage their messages themselves, they’d tell the guys to go to hell 99 percent of the time. I have that detachment, I respond to people while asking for respect and directing them to a commercial conversation. The influencers are very happy that I work for them and hardly look at the amount they spend on my services. I don’t think they’d want to read those messages, so it perfectly suits them to just see the money going into their accounts.