But it has also led to an increase in the number of young people posting sexual content for money on sites like OnlyFans alongside their day jobs.
That’s what an English prostitutes’ collective has said, telling Radio 1 Newsbeat it has received many calls about young women joining the site because of the rising cost of living.
The campaign group has warned people who post sexually explicit content online that they can open up long hours, putting them at risk of abuse and even stalking.
Alexia * is 20. She said she recently joined four different sites, including OnlyFans. “Even if it’s a few hundred extra a month, it’s a lot for me. It will help pay an unexpected bill, like last month I had a bill from the council for £400, so I probably couldn’t do it without it.”
.pay for it.” He said he started posting videos and photos of himself during the first national lockdown after losing his restaurant job.
Alexia currently works in an office 9 to 5, sometimes six days a week, and also publishes content online. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is.
If you look at the time I spend on my phones, it’s ridiculous. It can be 17 hours a day,” he said. “I want to keep my normal job as a security blanket. Because even if things don’t go well with my OnlyFans, I know I’ll get paid every month.”
But that 9-5 salary is now dwarfed by the earnings she makes from her online presence.
Since she started, she has managed to gain thousands of followers and says posting on the site earns her more than £3,000 a month.
Without the extra income, she says she’d still be living at home with her mum.
The English Collective of Prostitutes say calls to their helpline from people telling them they are doing sex work to pay for increases in the cost of living went up by a third in June.
Laura Watson, from the group, says they have been contacted by women of all ages asking for help on how to set themselves up on sites like OnlyFans.
“They need to make extra money to make ends meet with the price of everything going up,” she says.
Laura says these women are also “working in everyday jobs”.
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OnlyFans makes its money by taking 20% of all payments made to people like Alexia.
The content subscription service told Newsbeat it’s paid out $8bn (£6.5bn) to more than two million creators since 2016.
But Laura says becoming a “top earner” takes a lot of work.
She also says people are being pushed toward making content which shows their face, voice or an identifying feature – something which makes them “more vulnerable to stalking, abuse and threats”.
“We’ve had calls from women who are in this situation and are under threat of being outed, some women have even been tracked down and face violence as a result,” she says.
“It’s directly linked to women’s need for money because the more desperate you are, the more ready you are going to be to take these risks.”
OnlyFans told Newsbeat “creator and fan safety are a top priority” and that it had been “repeatedly praised by creators for creating a safe space for them to share digital content with their fans”.
Blake* started posting content on OnlyFans when he was first banned while not working. He has since moved to a different website that allows him to post more concise content.
“The cost of living has really affected me,” the 23-year-old said. “I didn’t indulge in luxury products, I stopped eating meat because the prices were too expensive. I struggled with it for a long time.”
Blake says he earns around £1,000 a month publishing content online – the same as he earns from his main job. But despite that, he says, “it’s a struggle.” “Without it, I’d probably be a bit depressed, a bit depressed and living with just mum and dad working at my local corner shop.”