Cam girls or webcam models emerged as part of the online pornography explosion.
While free, pre-recorded videos are readily available to anyone with internet access, cam girls offer a more personal experience for those who are willing to pay.
Webcam models broadcast videos of themselves live online and interact with users or clients who pay to chat to them.
While a conversation with a cam girl may start in a group chat, those who want to speak to a model privately can pay more for an individual session or "show".
Webcam models are mostly paid by the minute with rates which can earn them up to £100 an hour.
Many of them work from home and operate via agencies who take a cut of their earnings.
They are often, but not always, asked to perform sexual or erotic acts by clients with cam girls who offer niche experiences from financial domination to the "girlfriend experience" being the highest earners.
The world of a cam girl is not something many people know about.
So when getwestlondon got the chance to speak to a full-time webcam model working in west London we asked her a series of questions we thought people would be most interested to know the answers to.
The 34-year-old Hammersmith resident, who asked to stay anonymous, says she quit her job as a secretary to become a full-time cam girl nearly half a decade ago and hasn't looked back since.
On average she earns £300 a day but works from just 7am to 10am.
How would you describe your job to someone who doesn't know what a cam girl is?
I would say a webcam model is the best description, and I would say it’s paid-per-minute modelling and online performing live in what we would call "shows" or "calls".
What does a typical call or show involve?
It really depends on the person, how long I have been talking to them for, and if I have a connection with them. With some of them, of course, I will "play" in some way or another.
Some girls base their whole career on "playing" because that’s what they offer. For me I offer a girlfriend experience so it is much more than just performing sexual acts as is classically thought about webcam [models].
When it comes to seeing clients it’s called camera to camera and as most people like to be anonymous only a few request you open their camera to see them. It’s quiet rare for me to open the camera to see who they are or what they are doing on the other side.
They can see me, but I can only see them if they ask for me to open their camera. I couldn’t open it without their authorisation first.
I only do things that I enjoy and feel comfortable with. I would have sexual conversations, tease, stripping. I wouldn’t feel comfortable performing sexual acts on screen... it’s just not my thing.
Most of my clients come to me for someone to talk to, to tell me their sexual desires, the things they can’t tell people about in their real life.
A lot of the guys who I talk to are bisexual and have nowhere else to go. I’ve built my business around the things I enjoy so I make money based on not having to perform sexual acts and building online relationships.
How did you get into working as a cam girl?
It was a friend who did it, and she kept pestering me about it saying "you should come and do it - the money's really good". And after about six months of back and forth I finally gave in and gave it a go.
As soon as I gave it go, literally within the first day I'd made my monthly salary in one day.
I worked as a secretary at that time and kept up the normal job begrudgingly for about six months before I quit and became a cam girl full time.
Do you have an "office"?
It's all from home - you don't have to leave your house or go to a studio or anything like that which is really the beauty of it. No one would really know what you're doing - and it's really private.
What's the pay like?
We're all self-employed and get paid either weekly or daily which is really helpful - it means you don't have to wait for a monthly salary which is amazing and the money gets transferred straight to your account.
I try and work a minimum of about four hours a day. August is a quiet time because people are on holiday but on a normal week you could be looking at around £300 a day and you really don't have to do much for it.
Are your interactions with clients always sexual?
I'd say 100% of the people I talk to would love it to be sexual but because I offer a less sexual "girlfriend experience", I can turn that into about 20%.
Sometimes we just end up having a conversation about Netflix. I'm more there for people to speak to and a lot of the time people come to speak to you about their life or to ask your opinion on something.
A lot of the time they'll end up speaking to me about their relationship and how they have no sexual interaction with the person they are seeing.
What's an average day at work like?
I wake up, go to the gym and then try and get online for 7am. I like to finish work by 10am and won't clock off until I've earned at least £300 which I normally can in that time.
I chose what rate I want to go on depending on how my customers are online. Right now it's quiet so I'll drop my rate down. At the moment I have it on £1.69 per minute for a group chat and then £2.99 for a private chat.
So a normal day normally finishes at 10am but depending on how long someone wants to chat it can go on until 3pm.
Some girls work at night time but there are more girls working then so it's more competitive. So I prefer early morning, get it done and then I have the rest of the day free.
What are the best and worst bits of the job?
My favourite bit is obviously the really easy money - that's without a doubt the best bit.
And the other girls, I really love the other girls who I work with and who are in this big WhatsApp group - it feels like we're a little family although none of us have met each other - you just build a friendship and relationship with people that's just lovely.
You always feel like there's someone there you can talk to. The bad aspect is that sometimes you're just going to get idiots and haters, and even though we can shut them down they still play on your mind.
And then there are obviously the people who are having affairs and knowing that they're chatting to you behind their partners back.
That's difficult because you're trying to listen to it from their point of view but it does really put you off men - put it that way.
How are you protected from difficult or abusive users?
I have to say I've never come across anyone who's been abusive. That happens on the free chat rooms but I don't ever enter them - if someone wants to talk to me they can pay for it.
We're in control of each chat room so we're the ones who decide if someone can enter.
It's entirely up to us how far we take something, if you don't like the way a conversation is going you literally just shut it down.
You kick the guy out and he's blocked for a minimum of an hour or you can permanently block him so he can't enter your room again and even if you block someone you'll still get paid for the time they were in there.
Our agency supports us by posting us in a location different to where we live, so while I live in west London I'm not placed there on cam - I'm actually placed in Scotland. It means there's no chance of me bumping into the people I talk to online around where I live.
What's the role of agencies?
I'm signed up to an agency called Off the Record. The websites we use are really quite complicated - when you're a new girl it's quite hard to get your head around - even though I'm pretty computer savvy.
So when you start and sign-up to an agency they talk you through and support you with all the technical stuff.
They make sure you've got IT help and you've got someone to talk to and help you and direct you so you're not alone.
We don't have a contract and we're all self-employed. Agencies also take a cut of what we earn - my agency takes 3% of my earnings.
How much your agency takes really depends how new the person is - the more experienced you are the less they take.
Agencies train you, support you and pay you. We've also got a WhatsApp group of all the 60 girls who work for them which is great because it's really just like a little club.
Does your job make dating difficult?
I have a boyfriend and he's probably the only person I was up front and honest with about what I do.
He's OK with it but it can create problems, but no one can argue with the money and that's the big selling point.
If I wasn't making the money I was and was still on there - then that would be a huge issue because it would mean I'm doing it for a whole other reason. But because the money is so good it is setting us up for life. That's the crucial thing.
Do you plan to quit one day?
I don't have a plan to stop - the thing is it's really addictive. From the moment you start and you see those numbers clock up, it's so so addictive - it's like a game.
It just becomes an addiction to see the money you're earning clock up and you know it's going to give you a buzz like no other job you'll ever do in your life.
There's no age limit to doing it - there are women who do this into their seventies and eighties so although I think I'll be the other side of the camera by then I still imagine myself working in the industry. Maybe as a mentor to younger girls.
Do your parents know what you do for a living?
No they don't and they definitely wouldn't want to - that's not a conversation I'd want to have.
I'd like to be open and honest around my family but it's just not something that's possible.
There's a lot of people I don't tell the full story. When I meet new people I still tell them I'm a secretary. There's so many judgemental people out there.
When I have to fill in official forms I just say online model - and no one asks any questions, my accountant knows what I do and there's no issue. No one's ever really said anything because I don't tell them the full story.
What do you think makes a successful cam girl?
You've got to find your niche - mine is the "girlfriend experience". I'm like an online relationship if you like, a relationship councillor - that's what I feel like.
But there are girls who offer findom (financial domination), humiliation and gosh the list goes on - I mean it’s a never ending list of offers.
Would you recommend it as a job to people?
I'd 100% recommend it to people as a job, as long as they knew what they were getting themselves into - it's difficult to go back to another job afterwards - it's almost impossible, if your money's good. Earning that much is addictive.
If you had a daughter one day, would you let her be a cam girl?
That's a really tough one - I have thought about this a lot. I think if it was something that I could monitor I would be OK with it as long as it was only just webcam. But God - ask me in another few years' time.