Three creators on whether their #feetpics really foot the bill.
Foot fetishism is one of the oldest and most common sexual fetishes. The ancient Greek philosopher Philostratus wrote erotic poems titled To a Barefoot Woman and To a Barefoot Boy. More recently, in 2008, an Israeli computer programmer launched wikiFeet, a website dedicated to sharing and rating photos of celebrities’ famous soles. (Former High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale has a five-star, “gorgeous feet” rating.) But the latest spate of #feetpics content presents podiatric photography not simply as a popular fetish, but as a savvy financial investment.
On TikTok and YouTube, a growing number of videos with caps-heavy titles like “HOW TO make BIG $$$ selling FEET PICS” and “HOW MUCH MONEY I MAKE SELLING FEET PICS” promise to teach users how to make big bucks fast by selling pictures of their sweet little trotters. One woman in Suffolk, in the U.K., claimed a customer once paid her £15,250 for a single picture of one of her foot wrinkles. Another woman on TikTok declared that people were making $70,000 selling pictures of their insteps (though the time frame in which they were bringing in this cash was unclear). These videos have gained hundreds of thousands of views, and the comments beneath them read more like responses to a financial literacy course than to fetish-adjacent content.
“I am an attorney and a lot of the things that you’ve mentioned about staying firm with your price and being professional apply not just [to] content creation but to the white collar business world,” reads one comment. “I’m literally sitting here talking about how I MUST quit my job and suddenly you come across my timeline out of nowhere! I’m trying this for sure!” says another.
The premise has become something of a punchline on Instagram, where users will conceal their feet with emojis in photos. Whether they caption it or not, the joke is: no free feet pics. Are feet pics really an easy way to make money, though? Will posting close-ups of your wrinkly soles make you millions? Well, as with most big financial promises, the reality is more complicated.
Sativa Skies, 26, also known as Toe Daddy, launched the website OG Feet in 2018. She says that selling feet pics is like most other businesses: to make a lot of money, you have to put in a lot of work. “You can get into the world and maybe make $100 really quickly. But if you want this to be something that is going to buy you a house, or pay your bills, you’re going to have to put in a lot,” she tells Elite Daily. “If [you] want to make thousands of dollars, then treat it like a 9 to 5.”
Skies first started seriously posting feet pics to her social media accounts back in 2016, after a video she posted of her first pedicure got so much engagement that her phone crashed. In the comments, followers asked if she would sell pictures of her feet, or sell her socks. “I immediately jumped on it,” she says. “I’ve always been on that business grind.”
At first, she worked mostly out of her DMs. The first few requests she got were for custom videos — “They would tell me what they wanted. Mainly just ‘sit in front of the camera, show your feet.’ It’s pretty self-explanatory.” Making a unique video for each request was a lot of work, though, and she wanted to be more methodical about how she created content. So, she spent $500 on clothes, and turned a room of her house into a film room. She also researched what sort of foot content people wanted to see.
“I have a list of subcultures in the foot fetish community,” she says. “There’s a whole list that I have to hit. So if I’m in an outfit, I have to make sure that I get a sole video, and an oil video.” (An oil video is one where the feet are seductively drenched in oil.)
Eventually, Skies put together 20 premade feet videos — three to five minutes each — and compiled them into a list with their own numbers and brief descriptions. She would send the list to followers who DM’d her, they would make a selection, and then they would send her money on Venmo or Cash App in exchange for the video. As time-consuming as it was to go through all the DMs, Skies quickly found that she could make more money selling feet pics than she did at the retail job she was working at the time.
Today, Skies’ business is booming. She has a part-time employee who edits her videos and schedules her posts, so that she can focus more on marketing her business. She estimates that her day-to-day work is now about 20% content creation, and 80% marketing — mostly interviews and online networking. Some of her most lucrative networking efforts happen on Reddit. “If you go to where the men are, like an NFT Reddit or something like that, [that’s where] I’ve been getting more and more customers,” she says. Her videos on OG Feet now cost between $4 and $20, and she brings in roughly $10,000 a month.
These numbers are impressive, but Skies is quick to remind me that it wasn’t easy getting here. “When I was first building OG Feet, I took no days off. For three years, I didn’t do birthdays, I worked 15 to 20 hours a day. I made it happen. And it took a lot of effort.”
To know that there are people out there that look at someone’s foot and think, ‘Oh my God, you’re just the best thing ever’ — it’s kind of amazing.
Sarah Jalees, 34, has also made a business out of selling feet pics. Like Skies, she warned that it’s more work than most TikTok or YouTube videos will have you believe. “It’s not hard work, but it is work, and you have to do it in order to build a brand.”
Jalees started selling feet pics in 2017, on a lark. “It just started out of curiosity,” she says. “I think that my feet are cute, so I told my friends, maybe we should post our feet pics online and see what happens.” Her friends laughed her off, but she decided to go for it. She started an Instagram devoted to her feet pics, and before she knew it, she had people sliding into her DMs asking for pictures and videos.
Like Skies, Jalees started by responding to individual requests, but eventually developed her own website and her own library of content. Now, content creation is her full-time job. She charges $30 for a basic, five-minute video, and more for customizations, and each month, she estimates that she brings in about $2,000 from her videos. “I make sure to tell people, you need to put money into savings because you are going to have to pay taxes on these.”
As far as expenses go, Jalees gets pedicures twice a month. (She doesn’t recommend gel polish, because even though it lasts longer, “for your nails, it’s terrible.”) If a client wants to see a specific color in her videos, they have to cover the cost of the polish change.
Now, Jalees’ same friends who first laughed off her suggestion of posting feet pics are asking about how they can get into the game. They’re not alone. Lately, Jalees said she’s seen a huge increase in women trying to make big bucks off their paws.
“There are lots of girls who come in thinking they’re going to make money fast, which has caused the market to be saturated,” Jalees says. A saturated market means it takes more work to differentiate yourself, and to develop a strong client base that will keep paying you for content instead of potentially turning to newer, cheaper vendors.
Though the supply of feet pics may have increased in recent years, Jalees says the demand has stayed pretty much the same. “The demand is always going to be high,” she explains. “In the vanilla world, there are people that are like, ‘That’s crazy!’ But I’m like, y’all have no idea how many people — not just men, but also women — who are into this.”
Not everyone who sells feet pics needs or wants it to be their full-time job. Jocey Potts, a mother of four in Canada, started selling feet pics for the sake of a YouTube video in 2019. Then, she started getting messages from people on YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat asking for more. “I don’t even know that I would consider myself a foot pic seller, per se,” she says. “More like, in a funny way. But any selling that I have done is from repeat buyers. If you get a few people that like you, or like your feed, or like what you put out there in terms of your personality, they’ll come back every few weeks to purchase again.”
Potts hasn’t made that much off of feet pics — only about $500 in the first six months —- but she admits she hasn’t been trying that hard. “In July, I think I made $20, but it was just a few random people that popped up in my inbox.”
What she has gained from the experience of selling feet pics, she said, is a greater confidence in her own body. “My feet are not a part of me that I’ve ever considered sexual,” she says. “And to know that there are people out there that look at someone’s foot and think, ‘Oh my God, you’re just the best thing ever’ — it’s kind of amazing.”
Longtime creators like Jalees and Skies seem bemused by the recent mainstream interest in selling feet pics. Their advice to those interested in dipping their toes (sorry) in the trotter water? Put away money for taxes and savings, and keep a thick skin when it comes to reading comments from trolls. Above all: even with all the sanitized, financial language in a lot of these new videos online, don’t forget the nature of the work you’re doing.
“Understand that this is sex work,” Jalees says. “Understand that these are people’s actual kinks and fetishes that you’re dealing with, so they take it very seriously. And if you are going to be in it just for the money, that’s OK, but you still need to learn your target audience.”