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Sex work is much more complicated, demanding and expensive than it may seem.

In the middle of a global pandemic, money is tight for everyone. Many people who find themselves suddenly unemployed need cash quickly, and some might be considering a side gig in online sex work. Starting an OnlyFans page or dabbling in any form of online sex work might seem like a viable option, especially when it seems like everyone is doing it anyway.


However, whether it’s selling nude clips or performing live cam shows, online sex work is much more complicated, demanding and expensive than it may seem.


Even for experienced, full-time sex workers, “just making an OnlyFans” doesn’t always pay the bills. Online sex work requires an entirely different skill set than in-person work like escorting and stripping, and it can pose greater risks to privacy and anonymity that many might not be willing to take.


I started dabbling in sex work about five years ago, when I was a broke freelance writer recovering from a severe depressive episode. I needed cash to support the work I wanted to be doing, so I started sugar dating. I decided to try exploring online sex work a couple of years after that, hoping for a side gig that was just as flexible and didn’t require me to leave the house.


It’s not impossible to make money as an online sex worker, but the likelihood of getting rich overnight selling grainy foot pics is incredibly low. Most sex workers aren’t rich, and some barely make enough to survive. The money won’t be quick or easy, and it won’t be tax-free. I pay thousands of dollars in federal self-employment taxes every year, and because I’m a sex worker, I’ll probably be self-employed for the rest of my working life.