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From Reality TV to the Adult Industry: An Interview with Unfiltrd CEO Stephanie Matto

MelRose Michaels Interviews Stephanie Matto

Blog Post Written By: MelRose Michaels

 

In this exclusive interview from our July 18th Twitter Space, we delve into the life and journey of Stephanie Matto, CEO, and founder of Unfiltrd, a unique fan subscription platform for content creators in the adult industry. Stephanie's path took an intriguing turn from reality TV to the world of sex work, and she shares her experiences, challenges, and successes in this candid conversation with Melrose Michaels.



MelRose Michaels (MM): Hello, everyone! Welcome to Sex CEOs Twitter Space. I'm Melrose Michaels, an independent adult content creator with over a decade of experience in the industry. Today, we have a special guest, Stephanie Matto, CEO and founder of Unfiltrd and a content creator with seven years of experience in the adult industry. Stephanie, welcome to our space! Could you please introduce yourself and share a bit about your background with our audience?


Stephanie Matto (SM): Hi, Melrose. It's great to be here. I'm excited to join you in the Twitter space. A little background on me: I'm the CEO and founder of Unfiltrd, and I've been a content creator in the adult industry for about seven years. I've been on various platforms like YouTube, Patreon, and OnlyFans. This experience inspired me to create my own fair and safe platform for all creators. Some may also recognize me from 90 Day Fiancé and as the girl who sold her farts in a jar. That's a brief intro to who I am.

MM: I want to backtrack a little bit because I know the creators here will want to hear this. You came from a reality TV background, like 90 Day Fiancé, which I love, along with other marriage experiment shows. As an independent creator, we might think you had an advantage with mainstream marketing before entering the adult industry. Can you share your experience transitioning from reality TV to adult and perhaps enlighten us on any cons we may not be aware of?


SM: Before going on reality television, I was already involved in adult content for about five to six years. This almost prevented me from being on 90 Day Fiancé, as they were hesitant due to my adult industry background. During the casting process, they asked for examples of my content from Patreon, which was quite scary. I had a successful YouTube channel before this, which influenced my success in adult content creation. I always advise having a social media presence beyond adult content to attract people interested in your personality. My YouTube income supported me until I got demonetized, which led me to focus on adult content. Being on 90 Day Fiancé boosted my exposure and income significantly but also brought hate and criticism from various sources, including friends, producers, the network, and fans of the show.


MM: It's a bit of a misconception because you had an adult background before entering reality TV, and you've also faced struggles with demonetization on various platforms, which we all experience.


SM: It's frustrating because I relied on YouTube for income, but then they demonetized my videos. So I had to come up with a backup plan. I turned to Patreon, but then they changed their rules, making me feel unsafe. So I moved to OnlyFans, only to face similar issues. As a content creator, it's incredibly exhausting. It's like constantly uprooting and finding a new home, only to have it destroyed again. This isn't just my experience; it affects everyone in the adult industry, regardless of their niche. Eventually, I became fed up and decided to create my own fan subscription platform.


MM: It's great to have CEOs in our space who are creators themselves and prioritize creators. This is rare but important. In my own businesses, being a creator has helped me leverage and build companies with a creative focus. You have the advantage of firsthand experience, which is why I found it appealing when we connected as experts. Before diving into your platform, I want to highlight another aspect you've struggled with, which is your health issues. It's a significant factor that led you to engage in online sex work. It would be powerful if you could shed some light on this for those who may not be familiar with your story.


SM: During my season of 90 Day Fiancé, I was labeled as the "sick girl" due to my condition called aplastic anemia, which is a bone marrow failure condition. Contrary to the misconception, I didn't get into sex work because I'm naturally sexy. In reality, I'm quite awkward. However, on YouTube, people found my charm endearing, especially when I shared stories about my dating life. This led to some viewers wanting to see more of me, which sparked the idea of marketing and selling myself. After dealing with a serious illness, I couldn't hold a regular job, so sex work became a practical option to work from home and utilize my marketing and sales skills. Many people underestimate the effort involved in sex work, assuming it's easy to make money by selling naked photos and videos. In reality, it demands significant marketing, content preparation, customer relations, audience retention, and consistent efforts to build a following on social media platforms. My journey didn't happen overnight, and it took considerable time, commitment, and consistency. Despite the challenges, it was empowering to create a career from home, considering my health condition of aplastic anemia, which I'm in remission from now.


MM: This story is common among sex workers, as it provides flexibility and the opportunity to work when it suits them. Unlike traditional nine-to-five jobs, this level of freedom isn't usually available to the average person, regardless of gender identity. It opens up possibilities that are hard to find elsewhere. Regarding marketing, even before meeting you at XBIZ Miami in May, I had been following your TikTok for a while. I remember recognizing you from the whole "farts in a jar" thing, which I found hilarious. It showcases your marketing brilliance. I'd love for you to share more about that. Also, recently, I saw another genius marketing move from you that I'd like to hear about after you talk about the farts in a jar.


SM: Yes, the whole "farts in a jar" thing has been a bit of a double-edged sword for me. Many people know me as the "farts in a jar girl," and sometimes I wonder if that's all I'll ever be known for. However, it doesn't really bother me at the end of the day because I'm comfortable with who I am. It was a bold business move to sell my farts in a jar, and it gained a lot of attention, PR, and brought new fans to my profile. That was one of the purposes behind the whole fart jar thing – to attract traffic to my Unfiltrd page. Nowadays, the fan subscription industry is highly saturated, so you have to think creatively and push the envelope to stand out on platforms like TikTok or Instagram. I come up with these crazy stunts on my Unfiltrd page because it allows me to be more creative with less restrictive community guidelines. I did the fart jar thing about two years ago after getting requests from fans for fart content. It became quite popular, but I don't sell fart jars anymore due to logistical challenges and suspicions from local USPS workers. However, I still have a folder with four videos related to that on my Unfiltrd vault.


MM: I see some of the PR stunts that you pull and they are impressive. Not just the fart in a jar, but didn't you recently do something with a cemetery plot?


SM: Oh, the cemetery plot idea, it's a total PR stunt, to be honest. It came to me in a morbid way while shopping for headstones for my deceased father. I thought about buying a cemetery plot and selling one next to it for one of my diehard fans who might want to spend their afterlife with me. It was meant to be a playful and somewhat humorous stunt to attract attention. The beauty of PR stunts is that they often provoke judgment and criticism, but that's okay. It's not meant to be taken seriously. The main goal is to inspire people to visit my Unfiltrd page and see what it's all about.


MM: Absolutely, it's a brilliant way not just to generate press, PR, and clicks, but also to distinguish yourself from the average creator. Most of us are navigating the same space with similar tactics, like posting thirst traps and asking people to click the link in our bio. So, seeing your creative approach is truly inspiring and makes me think about what other unique strategies we could explore. Your mastery of marketing is something I greatly admire.


SM: Thank you. Storytelling has been a passion of mine since my YouTube days, particularly through storytime videos. I've honed my skills in sarcasm, dry humor, and deadpan delivery. I enjoy playing with people's perceptions a bit, and often, I say the most absurd things with a completely serious expression on my face. People used to comment all the time, questioning if I was being serious or not. One reaction I love getting from men online is when they express frustration like, "I don't want to live on this planet anymore." It's particularly satisfying to evoke that response from certain individuals on my Instagram.


MM: This is a perfect place to segue into Unfiltrd because I have personally signed up, I've joined your platform, and explored it. When it comes to platforms and services, I receive a lot of requests for sponsorships and access to our creator audience daily. However, I am selective about what I promote to creators. I only support platforms and services that I genuinely believe in, find valuable, and can compete with the giants in the industry like OnlyFans. Unfiltrd is one of those platforms that I truly believe in. What sets it apart is the unique features it offers, which differentiate it from other competitors. Could you please go into some of the features that make Unfiltrd stand out from the rest? This way, creators will have a better understanding of what I mean when I say it offers something different from other options.


SM: Certainly! Unfiltrd is a platform that stands up for sex workers and adult content creators, making it unique and in its own league. The entire platform is designed to be user-friendly, with features like a web app, notifications, and discovery pages to help creators get noticed by traffic on the platform. Unlike other platforms, Unfiltrd offers opportunities to be featured based on engagement and performance, so creators aren't solely reliant on their own promotion efforts.


Additionally, Unfiltrd recently launched "Rendezvous," a booking tool for paid voice and video calling. This feature eliminates the hassle of coordinating dates and times with fans by allowing creators to set available days and times on their calendars. Fans can then see the availability and book and prepay in advance, streamlining the process and making interactions smoother.


MM: I love that. These are the features that are really important because even on OnlyFans, it's a term of service violation if you're asking for mailing information. So these are super useful for our industry. It also combines a lot of the other platforms and creates one centralized space, which is really, really valuable. What I think is interesting is that Unfiltrd as a brand sounds pretty mainstream. You've had a lot of success in terms of social funneling of mainstream traffic clicks and cues onto your platform. And I don't think that's by accident because I think in this day and age, it is important for every adult creator to have a mainstream or like Safe For Work facing part of their brand, just so that they don't face the difficult de-platforming and shadowbanning. But if you have some kind of SFW funnel, you have a better shot at getting the traffic to where you want it to go. And I think that it's genius, and Unfiltrd is branded in a way that is kind of vague in terms of not being super explicit. Was that intentional?


SM: 100%. On our platform, we have an ambassador program for dedicated creators. We invite them to be the face of Unfiltrd and provide them with branded TikTok accounts. I collaborate with these ambassadors, leveraging my marketing expertise from growing YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram accounts. I show them how to utilize trending sounds and viral ideas on TikTok to build a social media presence outside of the adult industry. This strategy creates a funnel for them to redirect traffic to their Unfiltrd profile, fostering a productive and engaging community that boosts their revenue on the platform.

We offer this opportunity to every Unfiltrd ambassador, empowering them to make Unfiltrd their primary platform while still keeping other platforms if they choose. We emphasize the importance of growing a social media following, particularly on TikTok, as it's a great place to start due to its potential for easy growth. By focusing on building their presence on these social media platforms, creators can maximize their success and community engagement on Unfiltrd.


MM: That's a massive thing that sets you apart in terms of not only a CEO but also a company. Because one, the average creator doesn't have access to the CEOs of these platforms. And two, you are also providing through your ambassadorship program, a way for creators to leverage your own success, which I don't think has ever happened before.


SM: Definitely! I hope to continue my active involvement with creators on our platform. Despite the increasing number of creators and site visits, I never want to lose the connection I have with them. As a creator myself, I understand the industry's needs and can anticipate what features to launch and what improvements to make on the site. I don't want to be an out-of-touch tech startup executive; I want to stay connected to the industry and hear feedback from my creators. Their input is invaluable in shaping the platform and ensuring that we continue to meet their needs and provide the best possible experience. So, staying engaged with creators is something I am committed to doing for as long as possible.


MM: That makes perfect sense because when the moment you're out of touch, I think that you lose all of your edge. I find that that same approach with Sex Work CEO. Being actively involved on multiple platforms, testing their features, and personally navigating them gives me invaluable insights into the industry. This hands-on approach allows me to understand what works, and what doesn't, and identify any loopholes that make sense for creators. Without this first-hand experience, I wouldn't be able to speak confidently about the challenges and opportunities in the adult industry. My deep involvement ensures that I am well-informed and capable of addressing the needs and concerns of creators effectively and accurately. The other piece I want to ask about, and I'm sure a lot of people here listening are wondering this as well is when you're launching a platform, no matter who you are, payment processing is difficult. That's a massive challenge for any adult industry company or platform or service in our space. Can you speak a little bit about how your payment processing works and how confident creators should be on your platform because of the way you have navigated that?


SM: Absolutely, I completely understand the challenges associated with payment processing in the fan subscription industry. It's a significant obstacle for every platform out there. However, as a solution-oriented company, I can assure every creator listening that we are committed to finding solutions for them. Regardless of the challenges we face, we work tirelessly, 24 hours a day, to overcome obstacles and provide the best possible experience for creators.


One advantage we offer on our platform is the acceptance of crypto payments, including peer-to-peer Bitcoin transactions. While this is a great option for some, we understand that not everyone is familiar with cryptocurrencies. That's why we continue to explore alternative solutions to make payment processing as convenient as possible for all creators.


Unfortunately, restrictions are an ongoing concern in this industry, not just with payment processors but also with credit card companies. While we do our best to maintain an open-minded approach and minimize restrictions in our community guidelines, we sometimes have to make difficult decisions due to external pressures from payment processors and credit card companies. Despite these challenges, we remain dedicated to advocating for our creators and striving to provide the most inclusive and supportive platform possible.


MM: I've read your Terms of Service and a lot of stuff that is already banned and disallowed elsewhere is on your platform, which makes it a nice secondary or primary home for a creator. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about how your cashouts work and payments for the creators What does that look like?


SM: Our cash-out system is pretty similar to OnlyFans. We do have a holding period for when a payment or purchase is processing. So, let's say a fan of yours purchases an item or subscribes there is a seven-day holding period for that purchase. Then afterward you are able to deduct those funds. The one thing that is different however, because we are a slightly newer platform (we've been in business for two years), we do have a $50 payout request minimum, which is pretty reasonable. We are working to lower that down to $25 in the next six months or so. So it's a $50 payout request minimum and then the money generally arrives within three to five business days. And we do ACH bank transfers and that works internationally and domestically.


MM: Are you open to creators globally? Are you only accepting US-based creators right now?


SM: We are we are global, we welcome all creators.


MM: I love that. Some of the platforms right now in the space aren't exactly global yet. So that's kind of a relief to hear. Another thing I was curious about is the app. You mentioned that there's an application and that always makes my ears perk up because I know for a fact how nearly impossible it is anything adult related to get through the App Store. Can you speak to that? Is this more of an "add to bookmark" homepage app? Does it have push notifications?


SM: Yes! We developed something really special and unique with our team of developers. It is an "add to your home screen" home screen app. So you go into share and then add to your home screen. But what's really unique about it is it looks and feels just like an app and you do get notifications sent to your phone. So it works exactly like any regular app on your phone does, you get a notification if someone is calling you from the app, you get a notification if someone tips you, and if somebody messages you. And you know this felt really great in the beginning, I'm not gonna lie. And I'm not going to sugarcoat it...it was so great until I realized I was getting hundreds of messages from my fans sent to my phone every day. So it's a blessing and a curse.


MM: Now, that's perfect because that's something we all have challenges with. A lot of the platforms we're on don't have that functionality. And, of course, if you have a large volume of fans that can definitely get overwhelming. But if you're just getting started, time is of the essence when you want to be replying to people in under five minutes or less to close a sale and staying on top and really involved and engaged with your fans, that's going to be a game changer.


SM: Absolutely, I completely agree. Our recent launch has been a game-changer, and it's evident in the features we offer and the overall atmosphere of the Unfiltrd platform. What sets us apart is the focus on creating a more personal and intimate experience for both creators and fans.


Compared to other platforms like OnlyFans, Unfiltrd provides a sense of intimacy and connection that many users find refreshing. OnlyFans has undergone changes that some users perceive as making it feel less personal and more spammy. In contrast, our platform offers a more genuine and authentic experience.


The feedback we receive from both fans and creators reinforces this sentiment. Users often compare the feel of Unfiltrd to Snapchat, as it facilitates genuine connections and interactions. Some even liken it to a dating app due to the unique booking tool that allows for more intimate and personal engagements.


With the added benefit of notifications, Unfiltrd provides a convenient and efficient way for creators and fans to stay connected and engaged. It's an excellent tool for fostering meaningful relationships and experiences on the platform.


MM: I love that, Before I open it up for some of the creators to request and come up and speak with you, is there anything else about Unfiltrd that maybe we didn't touch on that you want to make sure the creators listening know about?


SM: One thing that's really important to mention is that about four months ago, we officially partnered with an investor. So I'm not sure if many of you are familiar with Deja Vu®. But Deja Vu® is one of the biggest adult entertainment club brands in the US. They operate under different names such as Hustler, Dejavu Show Girls, and more. One of the missions of Deja Vu® and Unfiltrd is to create a revolution in the adult entertainment industry and create a blend between in-person adult entertainment and online entertainment. So, one of the things that we are teaming up together to do is these collaborative, Unfiltrd and Deja Vu® events. What's really cool about being an Unfiltrd creator is being able to attend these live events at the Deja Vu® and Hustler clubs. One of the things that sometimes can be isolating about being an online digital creator, is not being able to meet your fellow creators or fans in a safe space. We're planning a lot of Unfiltrd takeover-type events at the clubs. And our first one is actually going to be at the Hustler Club in New York City. It'll be a networking event for Unfiltrd creators, and there will be photo opportunities so creators can come and get their photos taken. There will be a podcast studio, where we'll be doing the Unfiltrd podcast and creators can come and get interviewed and talk about various topics. And all Unfiltrd creators get free access to the event. We'll be holding one every single month at various different clubs nationwide. And it's just one of the many perks of being an Unfiltrd creator.


MM: That is amazing because you're right, it is super isolating to not be able to touch base with your community. We have the privilege of something like an XBIZ, AVN, or Exxxotica event for fan-facing stuff. But to be around other creators, and be able to come in contact with fans in a safe space is not something platforms or companies offer us, especially with the added bonus of what you're mentioning like getting interviewed for podcasts. I know, from a marketing standpoint, a podcast can be a great source of traffic, and a great source of publicity for marketing, and smaller creators specifically don't often have access to that. So that's really cool, too.


SM: Yeah, it's going to be a lot of fun. And, you know, a lot of dancers at these clubs may or may not be on a fan subscription platform but they don't have the support of a club where they have a space to like shoot content. Unfiltrd is also teaming up with the club in order to onboard its roster of dancers and entertainers to get onto the platform. So these events are really a great place for dancers and entertainers to meet with the digital creators and collaborate. It's a collaboration and networking event. It's really merging the digital ecosystem with a brick-and-mortar business.


MM: 100%. That's really unique and sets you apart from other platforms. Stephanie, I want to thank you for being open to speaking live with creators directly. That is not something that we ever have the opportunity to do. The fact that you're willing to do this is going to be laying the groundwork for other CEOs of platforms and services to want to come and do the same. So thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to speak with you live. The fact that you're willing to do that really says a lot about not just you as a person and as someone who runs a company, but it says a lot about the company and the community you're trying to build so I appreciate you more than you know.


SM: Absolutely. Thank you so much Melrose for giving me the opportunity to speak with your followers. And thank you to everyone who attended. I hope you all check out Unfiltrd. Give it a glance, give it a look over and if you ever have any questions about Unfiltrd, don't hesitate to reach out to me.


This Twitter Space was sponsored by Unfiltrd. Some parts of the above interview have been condensed or edited for clarity. To hear the full interview with Stephanie Matto, including audience questions, listen to the entire Twitter Space. To check out all our past Twitter Spaces, click here.


Follow Stephanie Matto on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Unfiltrd on Twitter and Instagram.


 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the blog post above are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SexWorkCEO or MelRose Michaels. Any content provided by our bloggers or guest speakers is their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, anyone, or anything.



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