There are two kinds of people in the world: those who started an OnlyFans this year, and those who started a Substack. Naturally, I first tried to do the former (image not safe for working-from-home). Then I learned that the percentage of straight men among OnlyFans creators is much lower than their prevailing ratio in the population, clear proof of the rampant sexism in the industry. Until the high-earning women of OnlyFans dismantle the structures of oppression and privilege they benefit from there is no room for me to join them.
What about stacking my subs like Benjamins? It’s a tempting idea — I’m writing regularly(ish) anyway, I could start charging for it. I may even benefit from the discipline imposed by a paying subscriber base.
But the truth is that I hate discipline, and I’m not desperate for money either. Writing about my struggle to produce at my day job worked well enough as self-therapy; I am now churning out financial software product management, whatever that is, at a sufficient rate to keep the rent paid and the guinea pigs fed. I’ve also been getting enough donations to cover the WordPress Pro subscription and bottles of microdose LSD that fuel Putanumonit, which is sweet of y’all.
I suspect that both Substack and OnlyFans may become a Girardian bubble. Everyone joins after hearing from the few people who succeed; the thousands who slink away after months of effort netted them a mere 17 subscribers usually do so quietly. There are many people whose writing and tweets I enjoy and many beautiful women I’d like to see naked, but very few I’d pay for. It’s not even just that there’s a lot of free content out there. The stuff I already pay for, including several podcasts, magazines, and The Browser, takes up most of the time I have to consume online content anyway.
I write Putanumonit to help make sense of things in my own head, and to connect with people. The number of people I meet in person is always going to be a fraction of my total readership, but even in purely financial terms the majority of the value I could get is in that small fraction.
Several readers were impressed enough by my writing, analytical skills, and domain knowledge to offer me interviews and jobs at hedge funds, startups, and one exciting Effective Altruism project. I did an internship at Jane Street on the advice of two separate blog readers before ultimately going back to my previous employer.
I will be looking for cool career opportunities again in the medium if not the short term. The few readers who will selfishly want me to join their team and help it make tons of money may be worth more to me than those who will selflessly pay me $4.99 a month for the pleasure of Putanumonit. So I don’t have any plans to paywall the blog, let alone subscribe to a fixed schedule of posting 😛
There’s a broader point here about presenting yourself online. Putanumonit is my resume because LinkedIn sucks, and LinkedIn sucks as a job-matching platform for three main reasons:
- LinkedIn profiles are homogenized, reducing the dimensionality of ways in which job seekers can compete and thus increasing the intensity of competition on the few dimensions that remain (fancy schools, certifications).
- No one browses LinkedIn for fun.
- Ultimately, people who find a great job and stay in it long-term drop out, while the “lemons” of the job market make up the bulk of LinkedIn’s content and revenue.
Putanumonit is also my dating profile because dating apps suck, and dating apps suck for the same three reasons:
- Dating profiles are even more homogenized, and even the one app that used to allow you free expression now degraded their product to the point where all competition is strictly about looks and politics and nothing else.
- No one browses Hinge for fun.
- Ultimately, people who end up in happy relationships drop out of dating sites. Unless an app can achieve such massive popularity that new high quality users join faster than they drop out, the bulk of profiles is going to be made up of frustrated people who are not good at dating.
I think it’s better for talented people to pick the platform that best suits their talents and let it be their job resume, dating profile, and friend-attractor, rather than squeezing themselves into a Tinder or LinkedIn box. For some it will be a blog of personal website, for some Twitter or Instagram.
And for some, it can even be OnlyFans.
My friend Talia used OnlyFans to create a full blown choose-your-adventure visual novel. I also chatted with her about the work that goes into having a profitable account, work that involves creative challenges like writing daily promotional headlines for Reddit and difficult business decisions like pricing and hiring help. Talia’s OnlyFans doesn’t just show off her tits, it also shows her artistic and entrepreneurial skills. If you’re looking to hire a marketer, social media manager, or copywriter, you could do worse than starting with the top girls on OnlyFans.
And of course, while a bunch of people are telling Aella that no one wants to date sex workers, I have no doubt that women like her could turn their OnlyFans into a great dating profile for whatever their relationship goals may be. It would be different from an OnlyFans optimized for profit, but it can work better than one more Tinder photo at the mercy of the algorithm. And I bet she could write a great husband-finding Substack as well.
People talk about how the 90s promise of the internet as a medium of unconstrained individual expression turned into a reality of social media monopolies forcing people into homogenous boxes for data harvesting. But if you have something to express and show the world you don’t have to stay boxed up. Let the internet be your canvas.