In the United States alone, there’s about 342,000 billboards across the country. And while this form of marketing has been around since the late 1800’s, a new form has taken rise: human billboards.
So you might be wondering, “Can you make real money as a human billboard?”
Yes, you can make from $8 per hour (on average) to $2,000 per weekend as a human billboard. It all depends on who you work for and how good you are at your job.
But before we jump to any conclusions, let’s take a look at the details and really break down what it means to become a human billboard.
What Is a Human Billboard?
A human billboard can be a lot of things, but at its core, it is someone who advertises on themselves, whether it be by holding a sign or by wearing an actual light up advertisement.
Some examples of this street marketing strategy include:
- Wearing an actual large rectangular billboard on your back
- Wearing an ad on a tablet on your back
- Painting a brand on yourself
- Wearing a branded T-shirt
- Sign spinning
Either way, the goal is to promote a business and try and get customers to buy the brand you’re marketing.
And although it might seem a bit outdated, it’s not uncommon for companies to see a 30-50% sale boost when using a form of street marketing like this.
How To Become a Human Billboard
How you become a human billboard depends on the way you want to make money. In general, there are three main ways to approach this:
- Go through an advertising company
- Start your own company
- Look for local companies that are hiring
So, let’s take a closer look at each so you can get a better idea of what to expect.
1. Go through an advertising company
When we say to go through an advertising company, what we’re really talking about is finding a general third party company that hires people to act as a billboard, and then applying to it.
To understand how the process works, let’s take a look at the company Alt Terrain.
Alt Terrain offers three types of advertisements:
- Above-the-Head billboards
- Rectangle Light Up billboards
- Custom billboards
Basically, different companies that want to use this marketing strategy contact Alt Terrain and choose which form of billboard they want, what they want it to say, where they want their billboard people to be placed, etc.
You, as the person wearing the ad, would be hired to fill any of the various companies’ requirements, which Alt Terrain would relay to you. You would get paid by Alt Terrain in accordance with whatever agreement you make with them.
So, in essence, you’re essentially becoming an employee or independent contractor when you go through a company like that.
Here’s a few companies that you might try working for:
- Alt Terrain
- Grassroots Advertising
Now, if you go to Alt Terrain’s website, you’ll probably notice there’s no “apply now” button. And that’s the case for nearly all companies like this.
What you’ll have to do is reach out to them yourself. In the case of Alt Terrain, you’d email firstname.lastname@example.org (found on their contact page).
2. Start your own company
You don’t have to have a boss, though, to be successful at being a human billboard. If you have a unique, eye-catching attribute that you could slap a logo onto, you might be able to get paid for it!
Take, for example, Gasmy Joseph – better known as Mohawk Gaz. He lives in south Florida and makes anywhere from $500-$2,000 per weekend by acting as a human billboard.
How does he do that? By painting his 10-inch mohawk with an advertisement on it.
It might seem crazy that someone earns money that way, but it’s exactly that kind of untraditional, unique appeal that makes him so successful.
As interesting as that example is, you don’t have to do something that extreme. More simply, you could reach out to various companies around you and offer to do some street advertising. This would probably work best in large cities and with local stores. But you could offer to wear a T-shirt with their logo and walk around downtown for a few hours.
It might take awhile to get started building up your clientele, but street marketing (and human billboards in particular) have a proven track record of increasing sales. So, you’ll probably see a lot of repeat clients after a few weeks of successful advertising.
3. Look for local companies that are hiring
Another way you could become a human billboard is by looking around for local companies that are hiring.
For example, if you have a Little Caesar’s Pizza near you, chances are you’ve seen a person dressed as a pizza dancing around holding a sign. Technically, that counts as a human billboard.
Sign spinners are fairly common in bigger cities, and chances are that there’s a company near you who’s willing to hire one!
You can look online for job listings, look for ads in their windows, or just walk in to your favorite local diner or shop and ask the manager or owner if they’d be willing to give you a chance at it. You might be surprised how many people would jump on the opportunity!
How Much Can You Make?
How much you can make depends on the way you go about it.
If you go through an advertising company, your pay might be based on how many customers you direct into the store. If that’s the case, you can expect to earn only $2-$10 per hour on average. You are, however, generally paid in cash, which some people prefer.
If you start your own business, you can set your own rates. As you gain more experience and drive more sales (and especially if you can prove that with hard numbers), you’ll be able to charge more money per hour.
If you have a unique attribute that you can advertise with – like Mohawk Gaz – you can start earning even more money. He earns up to $2,000 per weekend with his advertisements.
And if you become a sign spinner for your local pizza shop or boutique, you can probably expect to earn around $8-$10 per hour, with the possibility of bonuses if you drive lots of customers to the store.
Honestly, becoming a sign spinner is probably the safest bet if you’re looking for a steady source of income on the side.
However, if you’re a good sales person whose great at communicating, you could easily find success starting up your own business as well.
What Are The Startup Costs?
It’s easy to have zero startup costs when becoming a human billboard. Most companies will give you the form of advertising they want you to wear, so you won’t have to buy anything.
The only time you might have startup costs is if you started your own business and were successful with it. In that case, you’d probably have to get a business license (always check with your local county offices to make sure you’re operating legally).
Generally, state or local business licenses cost between $75-$100 on average.
Pros and Cons
Before you decide you’d like to give this a try (or pass on it entirely), let’s look at the good and bad aspects of it so you can make a better informed decision.
- Lots of different avenues you could take and still be successful
- You can potentially earn a decent amount of money on the side
- It doesn’t require a lot of skill or expertise
- Little to no startup costs
- Physically demanding because you’re standing for long periods of time
- Generally limited to part-time work
- Takes a bit of effort to get started
Overall, becoming a human billboard is a legitimate way to earn some extra cash on the side. It requires little to no startup costs, and can earn you a decent amount of money on the side.
It does, however, require a bit of physical effort, because you’ll be standing and walking around frequently. But more than that, you’re more likely to be successful if you’re a more social, extroverted person.
That’s because getting started building up clientele or getting hired by companies requires you to take the first step and reach out, which might be hard for some people to do.
If you don’t feel like this would be a good fit for you, you could always try something along the same lines, like advertising on your car. Or you could even try boosting your income with a fitness app that rewards you for walking around.
Either way, hopefully this article helps you decide whether or not you want to try becoming a human billboard.