- OnlyFans creators often make non-adult content to promote on mainstream social-media platforms.
- Influencer MelRose Michaels provides educational-marketing resources for adult-content creators.
Adult-content creators who were working before the rise of OnlyFans will tell you promoting safe-for-work content on social media has long been key to building a following.
OnlyFans creator MelRose Michaels, as she's known online, has spent over a decade in the adult-entertainment industry, starting as a webcam model at 20 years old. She began in 2021 her own business, Sex Work CEO, which provides educational resources to sex workers looking to optimize their businesses. She's also taught courses for sex workers.
To grow her income and audience, Michaels creates safe-for-work content like ASMR videos on YouTube or livestreams on Twitch to promote her OnlyFans on mainstream platforms — and she advises other adult-content creators on how to do the same.
Michaels currently has 945,000 followers combined across her social accounts, some of which include TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. Her OnlyFans audience is around 34,000 fans and followers across pages, including one free and one VIP. The VIP tier costs $24.99 per month and has 1,100 paying fans.
OnlyFans is one of Michaels' biggest moneymakers. She earns a net income of around $30,000 a month from the VIP page, which generates the bulk of her revenue on the platform. She said a large portion of her OnlyFans earnings comes from upselling private messages and locked content on the VIP page. Insider confirmed her income and audience with screenshots of her OnlyFans earning statements for the last four months and fan and follower counts.
"Things are very sustainable and they're very predictable because I've had 10 years to build an audience to support that infrastructure," Michaels said. "I feel stable and I feel a lot more safe and at peace with my career."
Michaels considers herself a student of the industry, which helps her stay ahead of trends and platforms she sees her audience leaning into.
"Sex workers are faced with so many things that they get good at adaptation," Michaels said. She cited her shift from a webcam model, or "camgirl," to creating content for platforms like TikTok as people's attention shifted from computers to their cellphones, for example.
Making and distributing content that's "not safe for work," NSFW for short, while also maintaining profiles on more mainstream platforms can be challenging because each has different rules around adult content. Twitter and Reddit are two of the more accepting platforms for adult-content creators, several have told Insider.
Michaels shared her top advice with Insider on how OnlyFans creators can use safe-for-work content to expand their reach without overextending themselves:
1. Start your social-media expansion on Twitter
Michaels said Twitter is the safest mainstream social-media platform to post on as a sex worker, based on her experience.
"We have the best chance of survival there, they still allow adult posts and explicit images," she said.
Twitter is also a big driver to OnlyFans. In the last year, Twitter made up 75% of social-media traffic to OnlyFans, according to data from SimilarWeb.
Michaels said adult-content creators should run their Twitter accounts as any mainstream influencer would to grow their platforms quickly and avoid getting "shadowbanned" for their content, which can make a user's profile and posts harder to find.
Creators should engage in trending conversations on Twitter and participate in discussions with genuine commentary. Michaels said replying to tweets is important, because creators can get a lot of visibility this way.
2. Venture into audio through ASMR on YouTube
As more digital creators expand into podcasting, Michaels encouraged those who create adult content to also consider audio-only content.
One option is ASMR — short for autonomous sensory meridian response — which plays with sounds such as crunching or scratching to stimulate listeners. Since everyone interprets sounds differently, Michaels said ASMR gives adult-content creators more freedom.
"ASMR tactically is a really great middle ground because it can be erotic if someone hears it that way, but it can also just be whispers," Michaels said.
She suggested experimenting with the format on YouTube, which has a huge ASMR community. In 2021, there were more than 65 billion views of ASMR-related videos, according to Google Insights. Michaels also said YouTube, which offers creators several ways to make money, is a great place to "park your audience and monetize later."
3. Make SFW content for your niche
Whether you're playing a character or making content tied to interests like fitness and cooking, creators can repurpose almost anything for mainstream platforms, Michaels said.
If fitness is a part of a creator's platform, for example, workout videos can be turned into both video and audio content. Creators can also blog or write newsletters about their health and wellness journeys.
Michaels said subscribers want to know who adult-content creators are outside of OnlyFans, and will follow them to other types of content that reflect their interests or values.
"Our fans are always trying to discover more of us, and that's not just from a visual aspect," Michaels said. "They're forming friendships with us as creators and really the entire thing we're selling comes down to access."
4. Adult and mainstream content trends mirror each other
Like ASMR, many trends that impact mainstream creators also affect those who create adult content.
Michaels said oftentimes those trends show up in the adult-creator space first, like how custom videos were a staple in the adult industry before platforms like Cameo gained popularity. Virtual-reality porn has also been ahead of mainstream uses of VR, she said.
Michaels is seeing a resurgence of livestreaming among adult creators, now, as platforms like TikTok and YouTube test live shopping with more mainstream creators. She said camgirls were the "original livestreamers," using platforms like MyFreeCams and Streamate to perform and earn money.
"If you can keep your pulse on a trend in either industry, mainstream or adult, you're going to be ahead of the game," Michaels said. "It really comes down to that observation factor."
This post has been edited for clarity.