Tattoo Advertising - How to Make A Surprising Amount of Money with Bodily Ad Space

Your body is a temple. But to advertisers, it’s also prime advertising real-estate. I’m currently an apprentice in a tattoo shop, and just last week I discovered that there are companies that will pay you to have their ad or logo tattooed on your body. And more surprising, there are people who are more than willing to take that money and get inked!

I struck up a conversation with a dude who walked into the shop last week. The guy had the logo of a local car dealership tattooed on his wrist. Now, I’ve seen a lot of people have logos of popular or classic brands tattooed on their bodies. Usually, they’re fans of those companies and what they represented. But this guy had a logo of Carl’s Used Cars (name changed for my safety). I kind of doubt the guy had an affinity for the brand. And he didn’t; he found an add in the local classifieds about a company that was willing to pay someone for the tattoo.

He offered his arm and got paid good money. Not enough to convince me, but the amount was big enough to make me curious. So I did some Googling and accumulated quite a bit of intel on the topic. Since I don’t want all this info to go to waste, I’m writing this guide on getting tattooed in exchange for cash.

If you don’t mine have the logo of your local laundromat or pet shop tattooed on your body, read on!

Think Before You Ink!

I always encourage my clients to think long and hard before getting themselves inked. That tattoo will be a lasting reminder of who you were at the time you got it. If that is true for regular tattoos, it’s doubly so for tattoos that companies pay you to get.

If you get a personal tattoo that you grow out off, you can at least still look at it with fondness. But that might not be the case when you get that laundromat tattoo. Ten, fifteen years from now, the only significance of that tattoo is that you got it for money.

But that’s me thinking. The guy who had the car dealership tattoo has a pretty good sense of humor. He told me he’ll probably be laughing about it a few decades from now. Hell, he laughs about it now!

Also, try to get as much money as you can for the tattoo. The advertiser will literally be getting a lifetime’s worth of exposure. So try to take as much money as you can.

And on that note…

How Much Can You Earn?

Once you’ve decided to go for it, that should be your next important question. And the answer is… it depends. Mostly it depends on the company putting the ad on your body. Car Dealership Tattoo Guy didn’t get paid a whole lot.

On the high end of the spectrum, I read about this lady from Utah who sold her forehead as advertising space. A casino bought the space for, wait for it, $10,000. It’s a huge amount, and I think the casino bought it mainly for the media coverage it got them.

Then there’s Red Sun Cigarette, which paid people $1,500 to have the company’s logo tattooed. That amount was bumped up to $3,000 for truly unique designs!

So the limit is basically what the advertiser is willing to pay.

Where to Sell Tattoo Ad Space

Tattoos as advertising has been going on for quite some time already. But that said, it’s definitely not mainstream. I don’t think any of the larger media-buying agencies are looking into tattoos for their next big ad campaigns.

All this means you’re going to have to look hard for opportunities. Here are some ways to get it done:


A few people have successfully auctioned off their bodies as ad space on eBay . Chances are, so can you. Since eBay is a popular auction platform, it’s easy to promote. Plus media outlets love the whole selling-your-body-to-the-highest-bidder angle, meaning you have a big chance of bagging coverage on mainstream news. The attention your auction attracts could snowball, and attract more bidders in the process.

Since tattoo removal (painful and unreliable as it is) and cover-up is a thing, you’ll have to mention in your auction that you’re willing to keep the tattoo for a specific amount of time. You can’t just have a soda logo tattooed on your hand, collect the money, then have it covered-up later on. You gotta be in this for keeps. Otherwise, you’ll have to disclose that you’re only willing to keep the tattoo for a limited period of time. This might limit potential bidders, but at least you’re not scamming anyone.


Good ol’ Craigslist. You’ll probably get more local (read: lower-paying) businesses through Craigslist. But the upside is that local businesses tend to be more open to oddball marketing efforts like tattooing their logo on someone.

Most of the people I’ve met with branded tattoos got them from answering local classifieds. This led me to believe Craigslist is perhaps the best option to get one on you.

Contact the Companies Directly

Since sponsored tattoos aren’t quite mainstream, chances are certain companies haven’t thought about that option yet. But who knows? If you float the idea to them, they might be into it. In that regard, it couldn’t hurt to be a little proactive.

Take note, though. There’s a fine line between being proactive and being spammy. You can try calling the marketing department, you can even start your own Facebook page promoting your efforts, but no when to give it a rest.

A “Temporary” Solution

Want something less permanent? You could go the temporary solution. There are companies that would pay to have temporary tattoos placed on people. The pay won’t be as big as getting a permanent one, but more companies are open to this option. In fact, there’s a board dedicated to this sort of thing: Lease Your Body. It’s the premier site for what it calls “body advertising.”

I suggest you check out that site if you can’t find companies that will pay you to get a permanent tattoo.

The Verdict

Selling tattoo ad space on your body is a strange, but legit, way to make money. If you do this, make sure you make it worth your while (and flesh) by making the advertiser pay top dollar!

Your Turn

This article is based on my experiences in the tattoo shop talking to people who have done this. Now it’s your turn to share! Have you gotten a tattoo advertising? What brand was it for, and how much did they pay you?

Let’s hear your stories!

I have a few tattoos but I don’t think I could do this. All of my tattoos mean something to me - I’m not too sure that I could be a walking billboard.

Sure. If it’s a brand I really like and have been using for years, why not?

I guess it just comes down to personal preference. I don’t even wear branded clothes so branded tattoos is just something I don’t think I could do. And most of the brands that I would say that I love are probably not the ones paying for ad space. Like, I don’t think anyone is going to pay me to get a Batman tattoo… Or a Dr Who tattoo. I could maybe do a Dr Pepper tattoo… MAYBE. After all, it’s the most educated soda - the only one with a degree.

Yup. Tattoos are very personal… and some people make the personal choice to have branded tattoos, lol.

Personally, I’m not into the idea, but hey, they’re consenting adults. You be you

I’m actually down with selling tattoo ad space on my body, hah! I have a few select tats done back in college, but none that advertises any product or service.

But since my wife is hemming and hawing about getting brand logos and ads inked on me, I’m seriously considering instead. I wasn’t too keen on what they are offering until I visited their site. They have a recent announcement on their website about renting your forehead space for $5000! And since yours truly admittedly has some male pattern baldness going on in that area, I figured it would be some serious prime real estate for advertisers.

I have to say that the website didn’t earn my confidence - it wasn’t as sleek and uncluttered as I would like it to be, in fact. It looks like one of those early 2000s-template sites with garish colors and flashing icons, but the fact remains that they do have legit people signing up for their services - complete with profile pictures and names. So…I dunno. On one hand, it is a temporary tattoo which can be removed once the ad contract is over. On the other, it will mean I have to disfigure certain parts of my body to make extra money (even though it’s a decent amount money). Decisions, decisions.

Also, I don’t think I will be hearing the end of it from my wife and kids, har har. At any rate, I will be letting you guys know once I decide if this is something I will take on!

Nice list of ways to make money getting tattooed, Amos. But I think most of the money-making methods you listed are pretty fringe and gimmicky. Putting ad space on your body up for auction might get media mileage… but they aren’t mainstream methods for promoting brands (and for you to earn). I don’t think there are a lot of reputable brands willing to get their logos tattooed on someone. The risk isn’t just for you. The brand also faces a pretty big risk. What if the person tattooed does something harmful or illegal? Their logo will be forever associated with that person.

But Amos did mention non-permanent tattoos. I think that’s the way to make real money off this. Paying people to get temporary tattoos is actually quite common. I live near the beach, and I always see people walking around with announcements for clubs or shows inked on their backs.

That said… I think you’ll make more money as a sort of temporary tattoo ad agency, instead of being the one getting inked. You can try to get local companies to pay you to have your pool of talents (models would work well for this purpose) walk around with their ads on their bodies. This could be especially lucrative if you live near the beach like I do… come to think of it, maybe I should give this a shot!

I have an empty back. I sail all over and if it was the right sailing product, I would have no problem. Since I dont have a shirt on in the heat it would be prime real estate.

Last Christmas, I met a cousin of mine who did tattoos. A few years back, he was what you would charitably call a kitchen table tattoo artist. Which meant he didn’t have a shop or studio, and would tattoo clients in his kitchen. Not the most hygienic place to get or do tattoos, but there you go. Most of his clients weren’t very particular either. These were mostly the type of clients who go on Craigslist to find tattoo artists, since they couldn’t afford to get a tattoo done in a reputable tattoo shop.

So my cousin had that reputation for the longest time, but last Christmas I learned he already had his shop. I know rental rates in his neighborhood are pretty high, so I asked him how he managed to “go legit.”

He mentioned that a local car dealership hired him to do temporary tattoos on people promoting the business. Since the car dealer didn’t want to spend on legit artists (these were only temporary tattoos, so why get “real” artists?) they got my cousin.

Well, in the end it turned out great. My cousin earned big money, since the car dealership kept repeating the promo. He earned enough money for actual lessons, and eventually earned enough to open his own shop!