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.
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!
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!
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