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Unlocking Profit: The Science of Pricing Adult Content

Blog Post Written By: Melrose Michaels

 

Recently a member of the #CEOsquad asked “How to price things? PPV seems really popular among other creators and I switched to that bc it's what fans expect, but I can't help but feel I'm missing out on income.”


Pricing is something I get asked a lot on SexWorkCEO, whether in DMs, on our YouTube videos, or in tweets. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to dive into pricing as a whole. Below I'll outline what’s worked for me in terms of how I price things, share useful pricing psychology strategies, and discuss how to evaluate your pricing against the marketplace.


Defining Pricing

"Pricing" refers to the process of determining the monetary value at which a product or service will be sold in the market. It is a complex strategy that considers various factors including production costs, market demand, competition, target audience, and perceived value, among others. Proper pricing is crucial in business as it not only impacts the profitability of a company but also shapes the consumers' perception of the brand or product's value and quality. It's a critical element in marketing as well as serving as a key driver in purchase decisions and influencing the overall success of a product or service in the marketplace.


In other words, pricing is complicated, so I want to dissect it thoroughly with you. As creators, our production cost of making content may play a factor in some aspects of what we’re pricing things at. If you’re pricing collab content for example, and have to travel to the other performer, rent studio space, or hire someone to film it, you might actually have a high cost to that content and need to price it higher. But for most independent creators, our production cost is the price we paid for our cell phone, and whatever app we use to edit it. That cost typically gets spread out over the hundreds of videos we film, making it next to nothing.


First, I will outline what has worked for me in my content pricing. Feel free to copy and apply to your own business if you choose to. The things I want to cover in this aspect are:


  1. Fansite pricing

  2. PPV pricing

  3. Sexting pricing

  4. Custom video pricing



Fansite Pricing

As far as my fansite pricing goes, mine is unusual. Because I run my Onlyfans like a premium Snapchat, (meaning I post full explicit clips to my feed daily) I charge a high subscription price of $24.99/month. That’s a super unusual business model compared to other creators on Onlyfans.


I’m the only one I know doing this honestly, so I also don’t have other creators in my same market to compare myself against - which is a disadvantage for me. There are a lot of reasons I wouldn’t suggest this business model to other creators. One, because it’s a ton of content to produce. Two, you still have to monetize your DMs on Onlyfans on top of it. It’s a lot of work. It’s something I’ve been personally testing since July of last year so I can get some data together to drive other decisions I’m making as well as quickly build a massive content library. It likely won’t apply to you if you're reading this.


However, what will apply is looking at the market for fansites in general. Most creators run the model of a $3.99 subscription price for the first 30 days and have it rebill for the next 30 days at the regular subscription price of $9.99. The reason for this is that most people are comfortable parting ways with $3, but will hesitate to part ways with $10. If you can get them on your page for those initial 30 days at the $3, you only have to upsell them in DMs on Onlyfans $6 worth of something to get them to have spent what your full subscription price would’ve been anyway. The fan feels like they’re getting a deal to join the page for $3, but when asked to unlock content in DM for $6 or tip $6 for something else like a custom audio msg or whatever it is, they will likely do so if they like you and your content.


This entry-level pricing model of a low upfront cost that gets monetized on the back end is really successful and has a high conversion rate. I suggest doing free trials because the upfront risk is low on a free trial, just like it’s low on a $3 subscription. But if the fans like you and your page, they will spend to stick around and continue the experience. This is something I learned when I was running my premium Snapchat as well. By giving fans a 24-hour free trial to my premium Snapchat and allowing them to see my content, they’d see that I did legitimately post daily, (so I’d prove my offer of what I’m selling is legitimate) and they’d get a taste of my content and want more.


The reality is most creators are inconsistent, and most fans are tired of paying subscriptions to not see pages or platforms updated consistently. So, starting your fansite with a low price for the first 30 days is going to prove your page is consistently updated to the fan, and give them a taste of your content at a discounted price. This helps them overcome that fear and create goodwill with that fan, which will hopefully foster the beginning of a positive and fruitful relationship.


The other thing I’ll mention on this is that again, I speak with a lot of people running Onlyfans agencies, and this is the pricing model the majority of them use as well. $3.99 for the first 30 days, and then rebill at $9.99. The reason they are all aligned on that generally is because they know it works, and have tracked the data to support it. So if you’re an independent creator, who doesn’t have an unusually high cost for the type of content you create, this will likely be the fansite price point that serves you and provides you with the best results.


PPV Pricing

For PPVs, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there is a strategy, so let’s talk about that specifically. As soon as you get a new subscriber or fan on your page and have them engaged in DMs, you’re only goal should be to get them to purchase their first thing. Ideally, that thing is a locked message, and for the lowest price point you can offer it. On Onlyfans, that is $3.99. The reason for this is you want to just achieve the goal of getting them to spend in general. The price point is inconsequential. So as soon as that new user starts chatting you up, sending them something that they’ve already hinted at or explicitly told you they like content-wise should do the trick. Another great way to do this is with a locked audio message for $3.99 because this also helps confirm to them you are who you say you are because they can hear your voice saying their name in response to whatever the conversation is. This will gain their trust - which is fundamental to building a strong audience in general.


So again, as soon as you can get your new fans engaged in DMs, you want to get them to spend the smallest amount possible, as soon as possible. After that, you’ll start slowly and incrementally raising the price of whatever you send them to unlock. This is where the rest of the pricing strategy comes into play. What I do personally is price photo content between $4.99-$9.99 depending on how explicit the photos are. For video content getting sent in PPV DMs, I typically will price $1 per minute of content I’m sending, + 0.99 cents. So If the video is 5 minutes long, I’d send it locked at $5.99. This is how I priced content at the beginning of running my page until I had more data to go off of. This is what I’m suggesting for creators who don’t know where to start with their pricing.


However, now that I’ve run my page for some time, and I have more data on my fans, I can price a lot more strategically. As you start seeing what fans are spending over time, you can do the same. In Onlyfans itself, you can keep notes, where you note what the past PPV they unlocked was price-wise. If their last unlocked PPV was a 5-minute video for $5.99, send the next 5-minute video at 7.99 instead and see if they unlock or not. If they don’t, you know to keep their baseline at $5.99. If they come up to $7.99, now you have a new benchmark for that fan. The next time you send them a 5-minute video, test sending it at $9.99 and see if they open it. Repeat the process until they refuse an unlock so you know where their spending habits lie. Make a note of it and repeat this tactic on the next user.


Sexting Set/Content Drips

I also want to take a second to discuss the sexting sets or content drips I recently discussed on one of our Instagram Reels because I had a creator direct message me asking how I price those specifically. When a fan wants to sext with me in DMs on Onlyfans, I give them two options: a set price for the written sexting session, and I’ll send them content to unlock during it, OR a larger price on the sexting session as a whole, and I’ll send the content for free during it. Here are the price points I personally use:


  • A sexting session is $49.99 for 15 minutes of my undivided time and attention. I’ll sprinkle in content for you to unlock throughout - unlocking & paying to view that content is up to you.

  • OR you can tip $120 for the sexting session, and I’ll include the content entirely for free.


When a fan chooses option 1 of only paying the $49.99 for the sexting session, I base what I send the locked PPV sexting sets during the session in accordance to what that fan usually unlocks for referencing the notes I have on that fan. Basically, I resort to what I originally described of testing what prices they unlock things for, tracking it in their notes, and using that data to price this sexting set content I send during their sexting sessions. So the same idea, just applied to the sexting set content, or campaign drips I spoke about in our Instagram Reel. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to when I say sexting set or content drips, it’s essentially sexting style content that you use during sexting sessions.


Here's the full outline of what my sexting set content is made of:

  1. 🤳A safe-for-work selfie (I send this for free at the beginning of a conversation)

  2. 🎥 A sfw but flirty or teasing video clip

  3. 🔞 A not-safe-for-work topless photo.

  4. 😉 A nsfw topless teasing video clip

  5. 🥵 A nsfw nude teasing video clip with touching

  6. 🤯 A nsfw nude video clip showing explicit play

  7. 🤤 A nsfw nude video clip showing explicit play plus close-ups

  8. 💦 A nsfw nude video clip, showing explicit play and climax

  9. 😘 A second topless selfie usually with a kissy face or an after-glow pic (I send this for free as a kind gesture if they’ve unlocked all previous content)

All of my video clips are less than one minute long and all clips are filmed using one of my favorite filters and saved directly to my phone for ease of shooting and not needing to edit anything.


Custom Video Pricing

Pricing custom videos is very creator-specific. For example, I have started to price my customs high because I simply don’t want a lot of custom requests, since I don’t have a ton of time anymore to create them. Especially considering how much content I film just to post on my page since I'm running that premium Snapchat model of posting content daily.


When you’re considering pricing your custom content, consider the following questions:


  • Is there any cost associated with the custom?

  • Do you have to purchase a specific lingerie set or costume?

  • Or a special type of toy?


If so, pass these costs to the fan plus any associated shipping. The fan should cover that cost for their custom. If the fan wants you to ship them said lingerie or costume after filming for them to keep, make sure you charge a cost for shipping them that as well to cover your cost.


Those aspects aside, you will need to adjust your custom pricing on how vanilla or extreme the request of what act you’re performing as well. Consider how hard this act is on your body, and consider that your physical labor cost. If you’re in a fetish or domme niche, this gets even more complicated because, under some fetishes like Findom, the cost of the custom being extremely high is a part of the kink itself. This is why custom video pricing is so complex.


While you want to standardize custom pricing to some degree, it's important to limit things within the custom. One position for the sex act is one fee, two positions are more, etc. You can also choose to standardize the cost per minute of the custom itself. 1 minute is X amount, so then a 10-minute custom is 10x that cost per minute. This can both you and the fan come to terms with the custom price more easily because there is some type of framework in place.


In the early days of my career, I was doing 10-minute custom videos for about $350. Since I now have limited time to film customs, I charge $100 per minute with a 2-minute minimum. Even with this pricing, I still get 5-10 custom requests per month, for whatever that’s worth.


Now that I’ve talked about my own personal pricing, I also want to share some pricing psychology tips that may help you when you’re trying to price things as a creator in general.



Charm Pricing

Charm pricing is when you use price points ending in 9 or 99 which make a product seem like a better deal - for instance, pricing an item at $29.99 instead of $30. It's believed that consumers tend to focus more on the first number they see in the price, $29, rather than rounding the price up to $30. This gives the impression that it is a deal. This is also called the "left-digit effect". I use charm pricing on every PPV I send, and I encourage you to do the same.


Price Anchoring

I mainly use price anchoring when selling custom videos. Price anchoring is presenting a higher initial price (known as the anchor) which can make the actual selling price seem like a better deal. It creates a reference point in the mind of the fan or customer. For example, telling the fan that your custom costs $1,000 (which sounds outrageous). Then offering the actual price for the 10-minute custom of $699 (which is the actual price) because that $699 price in comparison seems so much more reasonable against the anchor price of $1000. Whereas if I outright said the 10-minute custom video was $699, the fan’s reaction to that would be outrage at how high it was, because they didn’t have anything to compare it against.


Decoy Pricing

Another tactic you can use is decoy pricing, which is offering a third option that is clearly less attractive. This can often help in nudging customers to choose the more expensive option. For example, offer three options in your welcome message on Onlyfans. An example: "Tip $3.99 for one explicit video, tip $8.99 for 3 explicit videos, or tip $9.99 for 10 explicit videos". All the offers are valid, and I’ll deliver on whichever they choose. But pricing 3 videos at $8.99 is silly to do when for $1 more you can get 10 explicit videos, which is clearly better value for money. That $8.99 offer is my decoy. It only exists to highlight the value of the $9.99 offer, which persuades most people who read my welcome message to immediately tip $9.99.


All of the pricing psychology tactics I outlined above are the actual tactics I use on my Onlyfans and the price points I gave you are my actual price points. While you may need to adjust the price to the audience you have and the content you create, the sales psychology behind them works the same. Try implementing some of these on your page today, and tweet us about your results. These are the same pricing techniques major companies and corporations use as well, so they are proven. I look forward to hearing about your results using them!


Market Comparison

Lastly, I want to briefly discuss how your price compares to the market. We’ve already discussed that the fansite market sits around $3.99 for the first 30 days and rebills at $9.99. That's an example of understanding what the market established as good pricing and working aligned with that.


Now let’s talk about how you can apply that logic to your content in a clip store. For example, you can easily research a clip store like Manyvids or Clips4Sale to see what content similar to yours is getting priced at. You can easily see which stores on these sites rank higher, and make more sales than others which is a good indicator that their pricing is better than most.


Find content or creators that align with you and your content, and price similarly to them. If they are already succeeding in general, they’ve likely nailed the price point. You simply have to research and match it.


A similar approach can be taken with something like SextPanther as well. When I was picking my price points on how much I wanted to charge per message, audio message, photo, and video on SextPanther, the first thing I did was look up SextPanther’s leaderboard and see what the top creators in each of those categories was pricing at. I copied their price per minute on phone calls, and price per message on audio, photo, and video content. You can absolutely do the same to make sure your pricing is competitive in that space just like in the clip or fansite space.


Conclusion

All in all, pricing is complex. You can use pricing in a lot more ways than I covered in this blog to strengthen brand value and so much more. But, for the average independent creator tuning in today, these are the most important aspects of pricing to understand. And as with pretty much everything I say here or on social, it will always come down to testing. Make sure you’re testing price points, tracking sales or lack thereof, and adjusting accordingly. Ultimately, your data and dollars are what should dictate all your business decisions. Nothing else.

 

If you enjoyed this blog, you'll really love the Twitter Space we did focusing on pricing. We received some really great audience questions so make sure to listen until the end!


Have a question about pricing your adult content? DM or tag @sexworkceo on Twitter and Instagram or send us an email. We're always here to help, it's what we love to do! Want to be part of the conversation? Join us on Tuesdays at 1 pm CST on Twitter where we discuss new topics weekly to help take your adult content creator business to the next level. Unable to make it live? No problem! You can listen to all our past Twitter Spaces here.

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