Making money the easy way
Updated: Sep 4
Asking your partner to hold the camera as you undress for paying men is not the customary way to take a nude, but for Meadhbh O’Brien, 22, it’s the new normal.
Between her dark sense of humour, being a self-confessed slut for Italian food and debating the existence of pee fetishes, Meadhbh is full of personality and has a story to tell about how a quick fix for cash became her primary source of income.
So, how exactly did this happen?
Welcome to the world of OnlyFans, an online website where users subscribe to creators for a fee to get access to their explicit content. It’s not exactly camming (think sexy Skype with strangers), but it’s not exactly Instagram either, instead, it’s somewhat more of a digital no-man’s land. With registered users in the millions, it can be a great source of income for those who utilise it well.
But what happens behind the scenes? Is it all sexy lingerie and jet-setting around the world? Are the partners truly comfortable with this line of work?
It is a complicated situation, but it is far from bleak. Meadhbh now doesn’t need to work full-time any more thanks to her online venture.
“I said I was going to do it for ages, then my boss cut my hours badly. I had two weeks before my rent was due, so I just started it then. I got all the money for my rent in the first three days. It’s just unreal. Then I decided I wasn’t giving this up.”
She laughs as she admits she is no longer the skint one in a relationship. Her highest earning in a month has been around 1900€, and her lowest at 1000€ which she is more than happy with.
On top of this income, she gets a steady amount from a part-time job. However, in order to get all this money from OnlyFans, she has to deal with uninvited ‘dick pics’ and many creepy messages. One time a guy messaged her saying he wished his girlfriend’s tits were more like hers, which disgusted her.
Most people in Meadhbh’s life know about her main job and accept it.
“In my last job, everyone I worked with knew. My younger brother knows because we’re quite close. I’m sure my older brother knows but we don’t talk about it and I don’t think my mam knows. I will eventually [tell her] but I think she’d get freaked out by it. It would take her a while to come around.”
Another person she had to reassure was her boyfriend at the time, Cian, 24, who was worried it would change their relationship. During their first break up, Meadhbh had started her OnlyFans and she wasn’t ready to give it up to reconcile with him. Luckily for her, his worries subsided over time.
“OnlyFans kind of got us back together. Before, he was just worried guys would look at me differently but after he was super cool about it. When I sold a blowjob video, I would get him coffee or breakfast or something and that would be his cut.”
Meadhbh has always been independent since she moved out of the family home at 19, and this is something which Cian admired about her.
“I think if a partner does feel intimidated by your independence that’s definitely a huge red flag. I wouldn’t like to think of someone wanting me to depend on them.”
She thinks a relationship can easily co-exist with online sex work.
“It’s not as if I have any emotional attachment to sending nudes to these people. I’m posting pictures to a website, not to people. So, unless you’re madly in love with the people on the other end of it or if the person in your relationship is controlling about it, it’s fine.”
During their relationship, Meadhbh’s OnlyFans brought up some interesting questions for the couple.
“I think the weirdest request I’ve had so far is a video of me peeing, which I haven’t done. I feel that’s just not what I’m about.”
For those wondering, what Meadhbh is doing is entirely legal. By just being a sex worker isn’t illegal in many countries, although there are lots of laws surrounding it. Doing it online means both seller and buyer are less likely to accidentally break the law.
In 2016, the House of Commons released a report estimating there were just under 73,000 sex workers in the UK alone. Although difficult to find accurate figures due to the nature of the work, that number has no doubt increased with the boom of the online industry.
More and more sex workers are using social media and apps, like OnlyFans, to sell their content in a safer way than meeting up in hotel rooms or stripping in nightclubs. Meadhbh shudders at the idea of getting paid to even dance near a pole.
“That's what I like about OnlyFans, there's no-one looking at me in person because I think if I were face to face with someone, I'd be so freaked out by them.”
Even though the couple have amicably split for unrelated reasons, Meadhbh is proof that a relationship and working in the sex industry is possible and can even be fun for both partners. Through her experience, she has realised a relationship is about so much more than just a label.