How Do Reality Stars Make Their Money?

It’s not until a reality show really takes off that its stars can start making cash from simply appearing on screen. But until that happens, there are many ways in which reality stars can start coining it in ahead of leveraging their celebrity to negotiate bigger wages for being on the telly. Endorsements, advertising deals, product plugging on social media, personal appearances… for the hard-working reality star, there are ways and means of getting rich, and surprisingly quickly too.

Product plugging on social media

Plugging a product on social media is a numbers game, all dependent on how many followers you have. For example, an Instagram post from Stephanie Pratt from ‘The Hills’ to her 684,000 followers would cost in the region of $7000, according to Jezebel. Meanwhile, upping the ante, 'TV personality, model and businessman’ Scott Disick, Kourtney Kardashian’s boyfriend on 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians’, with his sturdy over 14,000,000 followers on Instagram, can command fees up to $20,000 for a product plug. Kylie Jenner, meanwhile, can reportedly haul in anything from $100,000 to $300,000 for a sponsored Instagram post to her towering 53.7 million followers.

Personal Appearances

This too varies wildly depending on your stature. Kim Kardashian was reportedly paid a staggering £210,000 for spending her New Year’s Eve at the 1Oak club, situated inside the Mirage casino in Las Vegas. Even that was chicken feed compared to the £330,000 she was paid by Austrian businessman Richard Lugner to accompany him to the annual Vienna Opera Ball in 2014. At the other end of the scale is Geordie Shore’s Gaz Beadle, who turns up for between four and six personal appearances (or PAs) every week, depending whether the show is airing or not, earning £2000-a-time. It might not be KK-level cash, but he said last year that he can earn £40-£45,000 a month 'easily’, while The Sun set his wealth at over £1 million. 'Made In Chelsea’ lothario Spencer Matthews earns up to £5000 per appearance.

Book Deals

Even if you lack a lifetime of anecdotes like, say, Michael Caine, you can still land big money for a book deal. 'Made In Chelsea’s Spencer Matthews coined in a staggering £150,000 for his autobiography, despite being only 26 at the time. His fellow cast-member Lucy Watson earned £75,000 for her book 'The Dating Game’, while Millie Mackintosh landed a £125,000 publishing deal for her book 'Made’. TOWIE’s Lucy Mecklenburgh earned £75,000 in her deal for the book 'Be Body Beautiful: My Guide To A Healthy, Happy New You’. Most impressive, however, is former 'Pop Idol’ winner Will Young, who scored £500,000 for his, 'Funny Peculiar’ in 2012. In some cases, you don’t even need any words. Kim Kardashian’s book 'Selfish’, a collection of her selfies, sold around 125,000 copies, at $10 each. Mind you, those figures are put in the shade when compared to 'KUWTK’ Kris Jenner’s £3 million publishing deal.


Endorsing a product is one thing. Making your own is another. 'Dragons’ Den’ investee Levi Roots now makes at staggering £8 million a year from his Reggae Reggae Sauce and its spin-off products. Nicer smelling – arguably – Kim Kardashian’s fragrances have made her more than £5 million. It’s her clothing line, however, which has really cleaned up, with sales reaching around £190 million, with the Dash boutiques, co-owned with her sisters, are said to make £30,000 a day.


Putting your face to a product can make you staggering sums. TOWIE’s Sam Faiers has earned £700,000 endorsing brands like Ann Summers, Fake Bake fake tan and hair extension brand Additional Lengths. She also has a clothing deal with Very, worth £275,000. Cast-mate Joey Essex, meanwhile, gets £110,000 from his deals with Volvic, Crazy Angel Fake Tan, and recently, £250,000 for being the face of a bingo app. But it’s the Kardashians who are the undisputed queens of the endorsement deal. The youngest Kardashian/Jenner, Kylie, gets £1.2 million for endorsing beauty brand Nip+Fab, and around £5 million for her clothing brand PacSun and YA books 'Rebels: City of Indra’, with sister Kendall. Her make-up and style tutorial app, which costs £2.29 a month could be worth as much as £20 million a year. Kim, obviously, does pretty well too. She gets £1.5 million from QuickTrim and Skechers, and £600,000 for endorsing green booze Midori. Meanwhile, mum Kris bags £1 million for being the face of RejuviCare beauty products.

Pop Career

Much like book deals, it seems there’s also a 'no experience necessary’ type deal with reality stars and pop music too. For example, Geordie Shore’s Holly Hagan butchered Kelis’s Milkshake, EDM-style, in 2014, and while it might not be winning an Ivor Novello award, it still reached number six in the charts and scored 100,000 views on YouTube in just 24 hours. Joey Essex from TOWIE, meanwhile, has made £40,000 from compiling Joey Essex Presents Essex Anthems.

Sex Tape

Careers have been built on sex tapes. Paris Hilton, of course, made the practice famous, back in 2004, after her boyfriend Rick Salomon leaked their boudoir antics. Though she says she 'didn’t receive a dime’ from the video’s sale, it gave an unmistakable bump to the viewing figures of her reality show 'The Simple Life’, and pretty much launched her career, at which point the money began rolling in. Kendra Wilson, from Playboy Mansion reality series 'The Girls Next Door’, was paid $680,000 (£475,000) by Vivid Entertainment, the authority in such matters, in a settlement once it acquired a tape of her and then boyfriend Justin Frye. She also received half the profits. ‘Teen Mom’ star Farrah Abrahams’ deal with Vivid for her tape is said to have been less lucrative, at $10,000 (£7000). Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian’s famed video with singer Ray J was also picked up by Vivid. They eventually paid her a settlement of $5 million (£3.5 million).

On The Show

Depending on the viewership, the amount reality stars get paid per episode can vary (perhaps something of an understatement) too. It emerged in 2013 that the cast of 'The Only Way Is Essex’ were earning just £120 per episode. And even that had followed negotiations raising the figure from £60. By some stark contrast, come the sixth series of 'Jersey Shore’, Snooki, The Situation and Pauly were earning around £100,000 for the season. Meanwhile, Kendall Jenner makes £3000 per episode of 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians’, while half-sister Kim Kardashian, with her executive producer credit now firmly in place, makes a staggering £50,000 per show. But it’s her 'momager’ Kris who is seriously coining it in from 'KUWTK’, having reportedly recently signed a deal with E! for £65 million for another four years of the series. She also gets 10 percent of every deal she makes for the family, as well as a rumoured £2.5 million for her talk show.

Image credits: Rex Features/Marie Claire/Rhino

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