A couple whose income was badly-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic are counting the cash – after earning £7,000 by posting raunchy pictures and videos of their sizzling romance on an influencer site.
With gigs banned, self-employed dancer James Thompson, 29, had no work, while his boyfriend of a year Ethan James, 24, a gym manager, was furloughed on 80 per cent of his salary – meaning their usual combined income of around £3,000 a month after tax plummeted.
But their panic passed when James – who has rented a flat with Ethan in Hampstead, London, since March – was told about the influencer site SoSpoilt by a friend and had a money-making brainwave to produce home grown adult content.
James said: “Ethan and I never had a problem with adult work, but it’s not something we saw ourselves doing either. Now, though, I can see why people make a career out of it. It’s very lucrative.
“We’re in a happy, monogamous relationship and want to get married and one day have that house with a white-picket fence. This is just how we’ve survived during a very uncertain time.”
Although James and Ethan have lots of friends in common, they only met last year when they ended up on the same night out, after which they chatted on Instagram.
“We knew from early on that things were going well and that the relationship had a future. We figured we might as well move in together – but this was all back in March, when talk of a nationwide lockdown first began, so we faced quite a panicked rush to find somewhere,” James explained.
With theatre shows and gigs cancelled, James saw his work fizzling out and feared he would soon earn nothing at all. And when Ethan was furloughed from his job in March, reducing his salary by 20 per cent, the couple became increasingly anxious.
Then, in April, the pair got chatting to a friend who had done some marketing work for SoSpoilt, a platform for influencers to earn money by creating exclusive content for their fans through subscriptions, live-streams and pay-per-minute one-to-one chats.
Creators have full control over what and when they post and how much they charge, and can use the site to monetise anything from workout routines to makeup tutorials.
But James had a more X-rated idea in mind, saying: “I know a few people who’ve done adult webcam work and so on. It can be competitive, but there is money to be made.
“Neither of us said yes right away. We thought it was wise to wait and see what would happen and when we’d be likely to start earning money from our day jobs again. But when it became clear we’d be in lockdown for the long haul, we went for it.”
At the end of April, the couple set up their own page and began posting pictures and videos of what they were getting up to between the sheets.
Within just six weeks, James and Ethan had already earned almost £2,000. Now, they continue to upload photos and short five-to-seven-minute video clips every week and say they will carry on until they are in a more financially stable situation.
And the couple are not alone, according to James, who discovered that SoSpoilt has seen a surge of sign-ups during lockdown.
He said: “We’re not millionaires by any stretch, but we’ve been able to cover our rent and all our bills, with some left over, which we’ve saved.
“It’s probably the easiest money I’ve ever earned and so many people do this kind of thing these days that the stigma has been removed slightly. Even some celebrities like the singer Kerry Katona, and Megan Barton-Hanson from Love Island have OnlyFans accounts.”
Now, Ethan has returned to his day job at the gym in but has no regrets about his flirtation with the world of adult entertainment.
He said: “This has saved us during lockdown. Our relationship is strong enough that this hasn’t affected things. It’s been something to do together to help us survive, I’m really thankful we did this.”