Elaina St James is a 55-year-old OnlyFans model. She quit her job to create content full-time.
She's made around $630,000 in less than two years through the subscription website.
St James says she's happier and can give her son a better life.
Just two months after creating her OnlyFans account, Elaina St James quit her day job and became a full-time content creator.
And less than two years later, the 55-year-old mom has already earned around $630,000 in less than two years through the subscription website. Insider has viewed documentation verifying her earnings.
St James says she's happier since ditching her day job and can give her son a better life. (Elaina St James is a stage name she uses. Insider agreed to use this name to protect her privacy.)
In her 30s, St James worked in consumer-goods sales. After having a baby at the age of 42, she decided to step away from her career, instead working in car sales and then in an office job.
Prior to starting on OnlyFans, "I was not social-media savvy," she said.
But during the pandemic, she read an article about another mom making OnlyFans content. St James said she was immediately interested.
After a month of research, she decided to bite the bullet. St James created her Instagram and OnlyFans accounts on April 1, 2021.
For the first two weeks she posted photos and videos without her face, but as soon as she showed her face her accounts started "exploding," she said.
By the end of April she had 10,000 Instagram followers and close to $2,000 in OnlyFans earnings. In her second month she earned about $5,400, and in her third this rose to nearly $11,000. In her fourth month - July 2021 - she made around $22,000. Her earnings rocketed towards the end of 2022, when she earned nearly $100,000 across November and December. Insider viewed screenshots verifying her earnings.
Her subscribers pay $9.99 a month, with OnlyFans taking 20% of her earnings. From the creation of her account to January 2023, St James' two accounts have made nearly $800,000 through subscriptions, or around $630,000 after OnlyFans' fee. She also makes some money through Fansly, a platform similar to only fans.
St James said she quit her day job two months after starting OnlyFans when she realized that she could earn more money by dedicating those hours to modeling.
St James said she usually posts one or two X-rated pictures on her OnlyFans each day, though she uploaded more at the start. In total, she has more than 1,300 photos on her account. On Fridays she posts pre-recorded 10-minute "chat and flash" sessions, where she talks while taking her shirt off.
St James said that she thought her niche would be as a "mature dominatrix" and tried to create an online persona that was "powerful, elegant, classy." But she realized that this wasn't what her subscribers came to her for. Instead, they preferred her simply being herself: A "wholesome, funny, positive, smiling, a little quirky Midwest mom," she said.
"I don't have the perfect body. I have a mom tummy. I have cellulite," she told Insider.
Some younger creators have told her she's an "inspiration," St James said. "It makes me feel so much better about myself," she told Insider.
St James said her main subscribers are younger men in their 20s and 30s who have an "older woman fantasy" they can only live out online. But not all her subscribers are young - one of her biggest supporters is a 79-year-old widower, she said.
St James - who has five Instagram accounts - posted a Reel in which she wore a pink floral satin slip that she said cost $8 from Amazon. The Reel blew up. It's had 26 million views so far.
Despite the success of her posts, St James derives very little of her income from Instagram. Instead, she said she uses the platform - as well as Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Reddit - as marketing platforms to drive people to her OnlyFans.
As of February 2023, she had 3,400 OnlyFans subscribers. She said her peak was around 5,500.
St James said she had a "very close relationship" with her teenage son. "He knows that I'm a nude model," she said, adding that he had "definitely" seen her Instagram and TikTok posts. He rolls his eyes and calls it cringy, she said.
St James' OnlyFans career has made her happy and allowed her to pay for a car, life insurance, and holidays, as well as start a college fund for her son and save for retirement. "I wouldn't have been able to afford it" without OnlyFans, she said.
But it has made her dating life much harder, she said. "I try to keep on the down low."
"I can't do this forever," St James said of her OnlyFans career. She said she'd been contacted by porn companies but wasn't interested in that career path.
"I would like to stop by age 65," she told Insider. "I'm not sure what the future holds though I would like to pivot to motivational speaking as I have many chapters to my life."