Before November 2019, Renee Gracie had barely heard of OnlyFans.
But within 24 hours of her debut on the adult content subscription service, she had pulled in tens of thousands of dollars – and today, she's one of Australia's biggest stars on the site.
Since then, her fanbase and bank balance have exploded, and the 26-year-old former V8 Supercars driver said her drastic career switch had been "life-changing".
The Queenslander, who already had a large social media following thanks to her racing career, said she was initially encouraged to join the platform at the urging of her fans.
"I had a lot of people messaging me saying I should get on OnlyFans because they wanted to see more, but I didn't even know what it was," she told news.com.au.
"But coincidentally I asked a girlfriend if she knew anything about OnlyFans and she said she had been on it for two years and I realised it could be a good opportunity."
For Gracie, the time was right for a change after she moved from Melbourne back to her native Queensland, and found herself in a job she "hated" at a car dealership.
"I wanted a fresh start and I was ready for something different," she said.
"I thought, 'What's the worst that can happen?' I thought making a bit of extra income, maybe an extra $1000 here or there, would change my life."
Today, she's making "more than $27,000 a week" from the platform, from a mix of custom content to sex videos with a partner to solo videos, nude videos and topless photos, as well as regular competitions and videos and monthly live shows.
She's now one of Australia's top creators, having been in the top 0.01 per cent on the site since June 2020, when she claims to have made a whopping $540,000.
"There's pretty much nothing I don't do," she said.
"It has changed my life dramatically. When I was working other jobs, my salary in a whole year wasn't what I'm making in a month now."
Gracie said her friends and family had all been supportive of her OnlyFans foray – especially after it proved to be so lucrative.
"All of my friends said, 'Good for you, you do what you've got to do' and a lot said they wished they could do it," she said.
"My parents have always been relatively supportive so long as I was mentally OK.
"When I started making so much money, I thought my dad would figure it out anyway so I sat him down and told him I made US$20,000 ($27,300) in 24 hours with OnlyFans and that I would not be getting off any time soon. He could see how much I was making so he wasn't going to complain."
While some told Gracie her decision to join OnlyFans was "brave" and "courageous", she said it was actually far less confronting than previous jobs.
"I have been in such toxic workplaces – being a female in motorsports, I got sexually harassed and got mean comments," she said.
"Racing is not a great environment for females in general, but at the time I didn't know any different. But the second I switched to OnlyFans there has been nothing but support all around."
Gracie said women were attracted to OnlyFans for many reasons, from single mums wanting to support their family through the pandemic to the recently-single who were after a confidence boost.
She said that normality was helping to break down the stigma.
"I don't know one person who hasn't watched porn, so why is it so taboo? It's one of the biggest industries in the world but it's still so secretive," Gracie said.
"There's the whole spectrum on OnlyFans – some girls just post photos of their feet or eating food so just because they're on OnlyFans, it doesn't mean they are naked.
"They are providing men and women with certain fetishes a safe place to go and explore those requirements."
'The only downside'
Unlike Gracie, Gold Coaster Rob Bampton was already established in the industry before making the leap to OnlyFans last July.
The 36-year-old had been working in sex coaching for several years, mainly via YouTube, and joined OnlyFans after YouTube started to crack down on sex-related content.
He has since carved out a niche through his mix of entertainment and education, which covers everything from sex techniques to information on how to slow things down in the bedroom.
"I had no idea of the potential of OnlyFans but it has completely blown my mind about what's possible," Bampton told news.com.au.
"In the month of January, I made A$63,000 and every month is getting better.
"I do shoots about two to three times a week and they are always totally different," he said, adding shoots can include everything from "PG photos right up to group sex".
Bampton has always been open about his sexuality and said he had run a swingers party at the age of 20, which meant his family and friends had long been accepting of his lifestyle and career.
But he said the only downside to the industry was the impact it could have on romantic relationships.
"It is difficult having relationships, and they pretty much have to be with someone else in the industry who gets it, so I'm currently single," he said.
"That's the only downside, because I do want a family one day, but I just try enjoy where I am now."
Bampton said in his experience, around 70 per cent of OnlyFans subscribers were male, while around 70 per cent of creators were female, and those who had the right approach could make a fortune.
"I know a lot of girls who are making A$10,000 a month who were making A$20 an hour waitressing at a bar before, so they think it's the best job ever," he said.
"But a lot make the mistake of not having a niche, whether it's feet or whatever, because just being hot isn't going to cut it."
He said the number of celebrities embracing the platform, such as Bella Thorne, had helped break down barriers and boost the platform's popularity – although ultimately, people were drawn to it because creators are "real people".
OnlyFans goes mainstream
Meanwhile, Kevin Mack, the CEO of Australian Exhibition Group, which runs the annual Sexpo adult exhibition, told news.com.au OnlyFans was booming largely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
With face-to-face venues such as strip clubs closing during the public health crisis, many workers took to online platforms like OnlyFans to generate income, while countless everyday Aussies turned to the site during lockdown boredom.
For many creators, what might have started as a side hustle is now their main source of income as the platform continues to boom.
"So many people have been utilising the OnlyFans platform that it has started to become widespread – it's seeping into wider Australia," he said.
"I had one contractor who was on OnlyFans with his wife and it was their sole income to pay the rent and buy food for their kids.
"These were two people who were not involved in the sex industry and that conversation really struck me, because I started to realise it was really common for stay-at-home mums or people with white collar jobs to utilise the platform for extra income."
Mack said the popularity of the site helped to "lift a bit of stigma" and also highlighted how those in the industry were often discriminated against and censored by other social media platforms.
He said OnlyFans was so successful that local creators would feature heavily at Sexpo in 2021, allowing Australians to meet their favourite stars in person.