In early 2020, 28-year-old project manager Grace saw an advert on Instagram for a company who were looking to recruit ‘webcam models’. Despite having heard stories of women earning huge sums of money from similar endeavours, Grace was sceptical at first.
But she decided that there wouldn’t be any harm in signing up and in her first live show, earned almost R4 000 in just two hours by talking dirty to men on the phone and stripping on camera. Grace decided not to tell any of her family about her new side-hustle but did excitedly confide in a friend from work instead.
“You suddenly go from being ‘Grace the office worker’ to being the most interesting person to talk to and people are fascinated by every aspect of it.”
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This decision proved to be a mistake and news quickly spread to her boss about her work on the side. A few weeks later, when the company she was working for decided to retrench 10 members of staff, Grace was not surprised to learn that her name was amongst those being cut.
“In March 2020, when I was working from home, my company FaceTimed me and said, ‘We’re retrenching you as of today.’ I remember sitting at home in a complete state of shock and just thinking, what do I do now?”
I lost my job & needed to make money
Grace panicked about what she would do for money. Having rent and monthly car payments to make, she was terrified about losing everything she had worked so hard for. She immediately contacted recruiters in search of an alternative job but with the pandemic raging on, Grace was told that her chances of getting a new job were slim.
“I wasn’t at all sure about doing the webcam stuff long term but as soon as I was retrenched, I called them up and asked them for every single shift available,” says Grace.
She also started a page on OnlyFans – a content subscription service, on which she posts nude pictures of herself for her hundreds of subscribers who each pay a subscription of R150 per month.
“I could have dwelled on what happened and crawled into a hole, but my flight or fight response was to be driven and to make it work. I really took it in my stride and some days, I log on and can clear a couple thousand Rand in a session no problem.”
From her webcam modelling work and her OnlyFans page, Grace now earns over R60 000 per month, compared to the R280 000 per year she was making from her previous job.
“After this experience, I would never go back to working for a corporate company again,” she says. With this money, Grace has splashed out on a new car and has spent over R130 000 on cosmetic procedures, including breast implants, numerous fillers, Botox and teeth veneers. The 28 year old is into a fetish called ‘dollification’ and wants to look like a real-life Barbie doll – something her online fans are only too keen to support.
How OnlyFans has transformed my life for the better
According to Grace, the change in her work has transformed her life for the better. Previously chronically depressed at her corporate job, Grace is now happier than she has been in years, has more money than she has ever seen in her life, and has the freedom to work as much or as little as she likes.
“The strange thing was that during lockdown, the online work actually helped me mentally as I was busy talking to people on the phone every day and kept busy,” she explains.
The biggest challenge Grace faced was telling her family about her work, yet despite her mom being a bit taken aback, Grace says that almost all of her family now accept what she does for a living.
“In the beginning, I lied to my mom as I was worried about how she would react. When I finally was honest with her about what I was doing, she looked a little shocked and confused, but she was very inquisitive and asked me loads of questions. Because I was new to it, we were really learning all about it together, although I didn’t want to go into too much detail. Ultimately, she was incredibly supportive and totally understood where I was coming from.
“Unfortunately, I fell out with my sister over this. She didn’t understand why I was doing it but once I explained and told her all about it, she has become a bit more accepting. I was really worried how my friends would react, but they are actually really interested and think what I’m doing is awesome.”
What it’s like to have an OnlyFans account
However, the 28 year old certainly has to be adaptable on the job, with those phoning in asking for a variety of kinks to be fulfilled. “It’s fascinating from a psychological point of view, the type of kinks people have and trying to understand the reasons for them. I do get unusual calls too though and there’s a particular caller who asks me to hold up my arm and then pretend to slam a dagger into his chest but it’s quite therapeutic to stab the bed and get a bit of stress out,” she laughs.
While Grace admits that she would ultimately like to be making six figures doing something that helps others, she is proud of the entrepreneurial spirit she has shown in the face of adversity. “It has empowered me to know that I’m not helpless or weak, but am an intelligent woman who is able to make decisions for herself,” said Grace.
For Grace, the freedom, sociability, and money her job provides her with makes it all worthwhile. While she knows that some people will look down on her career choice, labelling it as ‘sex work’, Grace is keen to emphasise that ultimately she is an entrepreneur, choosing a better quality of life for her and her family.
Working towards a better life
“We tend to look at women as pretty things and think, ‘She’ll get a husband one day who will pay for everything.’ Men by nature seem to put women who do this kind of work down, but who wouldn’t want a woman who earns five figures per month?
I could have chosen to get a normal job and continued to be chronically depressed and possibly lost my home and car, but had an acceptable job. But I wanted more from my life. It’s a difficult job as no ones going to give me a pat on the back and say well done. I just want to have a better life, secure my future and maybe one day my family’s if I’m able to.”