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How To Make Money on TV

One of the most asked questions I get is “How do I get on TV?” and it’s almost always immediately followed by “and how do I make money from it?”

As someone who worked many decades in TV and never felt like my salary was high enough, I’ve had to dig deep to find honest answers to this question.

First, release expectations of making money directly from the TV show. News doesn’t pay for experts. And even if you do get an appearance fee as a regular contributor, the fee might just cover makeup and wardrobe.

To draw the connection between a TV appearance and your bottom line, you need to think in terms of audience behavior and the value of that exposure.

1. Increased exposure

The biggest advantage to appearing on TV is access to a broader audience. Not just in volume, but in the variety of people watching. There’s no algorithm involved. You don’t have to figure out how to game a platform or pay money to have your message reach people beyond your usual audience. 

When you’re dealing with a broad audience, you’re reaching your target market (future customers), your referral network (people who don’t need your product or service, but know someone who does). And everyone else. Here’s why you should still reach out to everyone else: people’s needs change, which means at any given time someone in the “everyone else” camp could easily slip into a “referral” or “target”. Consistent exposure to a broader audience increases your chances of moving people from “everyone else” closer to where it means business for you.

What moves people toward your funnel? Content. Strong, rich, useful, and actionable content. Marketing talking points about the product or service will fall on deaf ears. You won’t be able to establish enough value in what you’re selling in a three-minute segment. But if you can offer a great piece of advice, insight, or “tips and tricks” - anything that helps them with a problem they’re dealing with - they will remember you and seek you out.

2. Increased credibility

Many people think they don’t need TV or other forms of traditional media because they have a healthy social media following. And they’re right. If having a large audience is all you need, mission accomplished.

But if you need this audience to trust you. If you’re asking them to invest large amounts of money to work with you, then you need TV.

TV is to social media what publishing is to self-publishing. The content might be great, but there’s a certain level of credibility you gain when your message has to go through someone. If it’s vetted, worked on by a professional, it carries a stamp of approval that self-published content simply doesn’t have.

There’s also the credibility of the show itself. A legacy show with an established audience has an existing relationship with their audience. This trust is now passed on to you as a guest in this space. People will trust you more if you appear on a show they also trust.

3. Personal brand value

Frequency is key to building trust in your brand. This is why we work with our clients on building a monthly pitch strategy. If you become a go-to source in your field, your name and recommendation start to gain value. This can lend itself to working with brands.

You see this a lot with HGTV stars: Mike Holmes, Chip and Joanna Gaines, The Scott Brothers, Scott McGillivray, just to name a few. All have built up value in their knowledge, expertise, and literal stamp of approval. 

They built this with a combination of both hosting their own shows, and appearing on morning news shows (because not everyone watches HGTV), and sharing useful information on their social media. The more audiences you can reach with credible information, the more influence you can have over a target demo. 

This is what we mean by becoming a “person of influence”: you’re able to influence an audience based on the credibility of what you know, not just how much you share on social media. It’s the OG influencer marketing model and it’s based on knowledge over lifestyle (although often the two collide).

The line between appearing on TV and making money isn’t always direct. It’s about understanding audience behavior and how to direct this attention to where it will do the most good.


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