It was a cold winter day a year into the pandemic, and I was scrolling the news on the internet when an article caught my eye. In it, a pretty mom revealed she was making over six figures a month posting racy photos on OnlyFans, an online subscription-based site that features adult content creators.
I was 53 and single after the pandemic had thrown cold water on a promising long-distance relationship. I was raising my preteen son, taking care of my aging mother and working a remarkably boring office job that offered no benefits or chance for career advancement, but it was close to home and had day shift hours, which was best for my son.
I chose to become a solo mother at age 42 using fertility treatments after I was dumped by my fiancé for a woman 10 years younger than me. Becoming a mother was important to me, and I made choices that prioritized my son. My office job was a significant step down from the career I had in my 20s and 30s as a consumer product sales manager, but I had been required to travel frequently for that job, and that wouldn’t allow me to be the kind of parent I wanted to be. We make choices and then we live with them.
However, when I saw that article, I had what people refer to as an “aha” moment. I felt what I can only call electrical surges pulsing through me as I read. I kept thinking there had to be a catch — I could take racy photos from the safety and comfort of my own home, control my schedule and make more money than I was making from my 40-plus-hour-a-week job? How could that be possible?
I read several other articles about mom OnlyFans models, and the women were all attractive, but they weren’t supermodels. I wasn’t in great shape but felt I could clean up well enough that maybe, just maybe, this could be my chance to make some additional income. I will never forget thinking, If I can make one-tenth of what these women make, it will be life-changing.
For the next month, I worked during the day, did my “mom duties” when I got home and then went into full-on OnlyFans research mode once my son went to bed. Most nights, I fell asleep at 2 a.m. after hours of reading and strategizing.
My first hurdle was that social media wasn’t my thing ― at all. I had a small Instagram for my dog and a Facebook page for close friends and family. My identity was Mom ― that’s it. I didn’t know how to market myself or what kind of posts I should be sharing to get viewers, and I especially didn’t have any experience in adult content.
I had done some glamour modeling in my 20s, but the only reason in the past 30 years I’d ever dressed up was to go on a date or take photos for dating apps. My wardrobe was corporate casual, or what I refer to as “everyday mom.” I hadn’t even worn a two-piece swimsuit in 12 years!
I also wasn’t convinced that men would find me attractive. My mother had told me that “when a woman is past 45, she becomes invisible to men.” When I went on dating apps and saw that most men around my age were looking for women much younger than me, I accepted that she was right. I felt resigned to the fact that my days of being desirable were over.
I also believed that after stepping away from my career to raise my son, I would always be working low-paying jobs that fit my schedule, and my only hope was that I could stay healthy enough to keep working ― maybe even work multiple jobs if necessary ― so I would never be a burden on my son.
The more I scoured the internet for information and “spicy” content creators, the more and more “average”-looking, real women I saw ― and they were successful! They weren’t perfect, but men were loving their imperfections! For so many years, I had been told by the media that the ideal woman was 25 years old, fit, trim and “perky,” and that the further you got from that ideal, the less desirable you were. But I found women celebrating their unconventional curves, lumps, dimples ― you name it ― and all shapes and sizes were being shown and admired! I even saw some women my age and older. It was a revelation! I thought, Maybe I can do this. Maybe this is my chance to change everything.
After months of obsessively researching, planning and strategizing how to not only create a page that would please subscribers but also how to find them in the first place, I officially launched my OnlyFans page and a less-racy sister account on Instagram. However, I didn’t show my face. I will never know how I got views with just my “mom bod,” but I did, and after four days, I had my first two OnlyFans subscribers. One was 28 years old and the other was 29. I had assumed that the only subscribers I would get would be my age or older, but boy, was I wrong! The one thing all my research hadn’t uncovered became the key ingredient to my success: Many men in their 20s and 30s fantasize about being with an older woman!
Today, I have had fans from 19 to 79, but my core demographic fan is men 24 to 40. I was honestly shocked that men in their late 20s would find me attractive. I asked so many questions to those two first subscribers, and they were happy to give me the feedback that allowed me to grow and create my brand. After two weeks, I showed those two subscribers my face and asked if they thought it would help bring in new subscribers. They were enthusiastic that it definitely would. This gave me the confidence to show my face ― an incredible leap of faith and a huge risk, as I knew my conservative boss would fire me on the spot if she found out what I was doing.
My Instagram follower count exploded, and by the end of April 2021, I had 10,000 followers and 65 subscribers to my OnlyFans account. With the subscriptions and by fulfilling custom requests (subscribers can inquire about specific content they want from me for an additional fee), I made just under $2,000 in my first month. My no-benefits, full-time job paid me $2,700 a month before taxes. I was brand new on social media and OnlyFans, working constantly and learning all that I could, but I could do the math, and it was clear I was on to something. In May of 2021, I made $5,000 on OnlyFans, and I knew I was leaving money on the table because there weren’t enough hours in the day to create content and interact with my fans.
“The more I scoured the internet for information and 'spicy' content creators, the more and more 'average'-looking, real women I saw ― and they were successful! They weren’t perfect, but men were loving their imperfections!”
A few weeks later, my boss called me into her office to criticize me for something. I was suddenly faced with that glorious moment that so many poorly treated employees dream of: I watched her scowl and her mouth moving while thinking, I don’t need this. This job is holding me back from making more money. I resigned the next day. I started doing OnlyFans full-time in June 2021, and that month, I made over $10,000. It would have taken me more than three months to make that at my office job!
In three months, I had made the “one-tenth” I had dreamed of during my “aha” moment. I was able to control my day, be creative, be at home with my family, and I saw the very real possibility of making more ― all as a 50-plus mom! Not only was I not “invisible” to men; there were fans spending money on me! I quickly reached the lauded Top 1% of OnlyFans creators, which meant out of the 1.5 million creators on the platform at that time (it’s now 3 million), I was making more money than 99% of them.
I have grown my social media exponentially, been the subject of numerous domestic and international news articles, been a guest on numerous podcasts, and late last year, I was honored to have a two-page spread in the U.K.’s best-selling women’s magazine!
My friends and family know about my new career, and I have received a variety of responses ― from celebration and encouragement to resentment and avoidance. My son knows that I am an adult model, but that’s all he wants or needs to know. What’s more important is that he knows that he is loved beyond measure, and this career has afforded us vacations and financial stability we would not have without it. He also knows that his college is paid for and that I’m a much softer touch to buy a video game now than I was two years ago.
We have had frank conversations about my motivations, and I believe that my example will help him to understand and respect people who do the kind of work I do, instead of shaming them. I recently asked him if he would ever date a woman on OnlyFans, and he replied, “Why would that matter? That would just be her job.” I believe, if anything, this experience is helping him be more open and respectful toward women. Of course, he thinks my TikToks are “cringe,” but that’s what I expect from any teenager!
Is this career easy? No. I work around the clock answering messages, posting photos on my subscription sites and free social media accounts, and creating the photos and short-form videos that OnlyFans creators use as advertising. I’m always taking photos and managing my pages ― even when I’m on vacation.
If content is king in the online creator world, planning is queen. A lot goes into those flirty, entertaining video clips on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, from choosing the location, lighting, sounds, makeup and wardrobe to getting into the right mood to exude the happy, smiling, natural Midwest mom people have come to know and expect from me. As any performer knows, compartmentalizing is just part of the job. No matter what is going on in my personal life, I am online to entertain, to make someone smile or feel better than when they logged on. There are many times when the last thing in the world I want to do is put on something revealing and smile for the camera, but it’s part of the job, and I do it ― and that’s why I’m so successful and have such an incredible and loyal fanbase.
The past year has been particularly tough because my mom’s health has deteriorated to the point that she needed to move into an assisted living home. There have been times when I literally went from spending hours at urgent care, came home to be a mom ― including cooking, cleaning and helping with homework ― and then got myself into hair and makeup to create flirty Instagram reels before finally falling into bed for a good cry. However, I am always grateful for the money and control over my schedule that has allowed me to help my mom and to be the available mom I am to my son.
I am lucky to have so much flexibility in my life, but with demanding fans, online trolls, social media platforms that ban adult models’ accounts, as well as the pressure to consistently look good and produce entertaining content, this is hardly easy money. The constant state of hustle and lack of support can be precarious for the mental health of content creators. After all, we are still human, and the negativity we face from keyboard cowboys or the ever-present threat of content being declared too racy and losing a social media account (and the precious promotion it provides) can wear down anyone’s confidence.
Thankfully, I have been able to virtually meet and network with women all over the world who do what I do, and they understand what I’m going through much more than any “civilian” ever could. We frequently discuss our mental health and support one another, which is incredibly important, as this job can be unbelievably isolating. Despite all of these challenges, the rewards have been life-changing. I am finally building my retirement savings, I bought a new car, I’ve been able to show my son the world, and we’ve made memories that would not have been possible before I became an adult content creator.
I’m often asked how I feel about being objectified for a living. As a young woman working in offices and holding down other “normal” jobs in the ’80s and ’90s, I was often objectified or experienced what would now be considered sexual harassment when I was just trying to do my work. On countless occasions, my looks and body were commented on by men in charge, and I was powerless to do anything other than quit.
Now, I have the power to choose what I show, how I show it and when. If I don’t like a response, I can choose to ignore or block that person. I am much more empowered than I ever was as a 20-something office assistant. I have more control over my body and how it’s viewed than I did as a 22-year-old receptionist.
Some people say I’m too old to do adult modeling, but that just makes me smile. The market decides who’s hot and who’s not, and currently, there is a market for women like me — and it’s bigger than most people know. Part of my mission is spreading age positivity and giving women ― and men ― a better appreciation of aging. I want people to know that it’s never too late to start something new ― even if it’s scary or you think it might never happen for you.
My dating life is nonexistent, which is unfortunate because I do miss being in a romantic relationship and having a partner to discuss the day with. At this point, finding that kind of support seems as fantastical as the crazy role-play fantasies I weave on my OnlyFans page to delight my fans. It’s odd to know that you are desired by hundreds of thousands of men (and some women) around the world when you haven’t been on a date in years. As if dating wasn’t hard enough for people over 50, now I have to be faced with men who see me as a meal ticket, a “Sugar Mama,” or, alternatively, who judge me because of what I do for a living.
The one time I tried a dating app, two guys recognized me from Instagram and thought I must be catfishing them. That’s one of the strangest parts of being a little famous ― there are tons of scammers who steal my photos and videos to make fake social media accounts and dating profiles. They scam guys into believing I want gift cards or cash or that I’m willing to meet with them. With so much of that nonsense going on, I don’t know how I can date. So, I’ve put romance on the back burner while I focus on my son and making money. Will I ever fall in love again? I don’t know if that’s in the cards for this lifetime, and I am at peace with that. On the other hand, if this experience has taught me anything, it’s to never say never. Who knows what’s in store for me?
As I approach the two-year anniversary of the “aha” moment that changed my life, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on where I’m at and how I got here. The universe presented an opportunity, and I seized it, and because of it, I have learned several valuable lessons: taking calculated (not reckless) risks can bring about incredible changes; life rewards action; never give up the hope that tomorrow could spark an idea that could change your life for the better (and keep your eyes peeled for them); and most of all, you can begin again at any age ― women don’t become invisible at 50 (unless they want to be, and that’s OK too)!
Elaina St James, known as “THAT OnlyFans Mom,” is a social media influencer and the author of “How To Date Hot Older Women.” In 2021 Elaina skyrocketed in popularity as a 50+ model on social media platforms, where she showcases her natural curves and bubbly personality. Elaina is a single mom with millions of views across Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube, and the most
successful OnlyFans model over the age of 55. Visit ElainaStJames.com for more info.
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