How to Start a Billboard Business: $30k a Month Part-Time

Side Hustle Nation is dedicated to improving your personal profitability. To do this, we often partner with companies that share that mission. If you sign up or make a purchase through one of our partners’ links, we may receive compensation—at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Chris Brown

Billboards are timeless.

And they remain a successful advertising strategy even with the rise of digital technology.

With that said, you probably never imagined that a solopreneur could rake in $30,000 a month from it (part-time!).

But that’s exactly what Chris Brown from Signs of Good and has done for the past decade.

Chris retired early at the age of 42 and now owns approximately 30 billboards around Bentonville, Arkansas.

Tune in to Ep 608 of The Side Hustle Show to learn:

  • how to find billboards for sale
  • find places where you could put one
  • how to fill that ad space
  • how passive it is once you’re up and running

Download Your Free Bonus: 25 Other Unconventional Rental Ideas

25 Other Unconventional Rental Ideas

What else could you rent out for a profit? Here are some ideas!

Enter your email to download the full list now:

You'll also receive my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter. Opt-out anytime.


  • The Next Wave Your personal Chief AI Officer for implementing AI to drive business growth.

Next Wave Podcast Image

  • Indeed – Start hiring NOW with a $75 sponsored job credit to upgrade your job post!


Stumbling Upon a Billboard Side Hustle

Billboard Sample

Chris, broke after college and struggling with debt, has also just gotten married.

While only earning $8 per hour in an unstable pharmaceutical job that could lay him off anytime, Chris realized something wasn’t working with his finances and started how to build wealth and get out of debt.

After driving past the same rundown billboard every day, he sensed an opportunity.

He looked for the property owner, made an offer, and bought the neglected billboard (plus the land) for $75,000.

Maybe he got lucky because the owner was near bankruptcy, but they both benefited from it anyway.

With a prime location among neighborhoods and schools, he priced each ad face at $600, totaling $2,400 per month.

It became profitable and a true passive income stream as some advertisers stayed for over a decade.

Scaling Up: More Billboards, More Upfront Costs

With the success of the first billboard, Chris had the itch to keep growing his inventory.

Chris’ next project involved the construction of two double-stacked billboard structures on a 3-acre commercial lot he acquired.

Between the land purchase price and construction costs, the total upfront price tag was around $200,000.

However, Chris can generate over $8,000 per month in billboard rental income from the 8 ad faces available.

“That math works pretty well all day long,” Chris said about the sweet potential gains, even after considering the hefty upfront investment needed.

Why Billboards Are a Limited Commodity

Highway Beautification Act

While the initial costs of building or acquiring billboards can be steep, billboard owners enjoy a major advantage—there’s an extremely limited supply of these advertising assets available.

This scarcity is thanks to the Highway Beautification Act passed by Congress in 1965. The act severely restricted where new billboards could be installed along federal highway systems.

“About a hundred years ago, billboards were not banned anywhere,” Chris explained. “You could put them up anywhere you wanted, which made them worth not very much at all.”

So when you have a lot of supply, the demand goes down because there’s not much price to be discovered on that.

Of course, that same legislation made it much harder to get approved for new billboard builds nowadays. The permitting process requires clearing multiple regulatory hurdles at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels.

Attracting Advertisers and Maximizing Billboard Revenue

One of the simplest methods is simply plastering your phone number or website across any vacant billboard faces with something like a “Your Ad Here!” call-to-action.

“People will drive by those signs, see them. And by default, they’re going to call or be interested in if they have a business or they want to run it.” Chris said.

Posting temporary banners or vinyl wraps makes it easy for any interested businesses to inquire about the available inventory.

Pricing Models: Terms, Traffic, And What’s Available

For pricing, the typical billboard lease is at least 12 months to offset the upfront costs of printed vinyl wraps and installation. “Some get shorter in the 1 to 6 months just depending on the location,” Chris noted.

The most significant factors influencing monthly rates are the traffic counts and the number of ad faces already active in a particular area.

You can get higher rates on a billboard that’s the only one for miles on a highway stretch, even if the raw traffic counts are lower than in more congested areas. It’s a classic supply-and-demand game.

State highway traffic counts are publicly available data points used to estimate the potential number of impressions. Still, factors like commercial density and competing inventory affect the pricing.

Also, the industry standard is for advertisers to cover the printing and installation costs separately.

Static vs. Digital Billboards: Pros and Cons

There are also key differences between traditional static billboards and newer digital/LED screens.

Static billboards are basically large printed vinyl wraps displaying the same advertisement 24/7 until a lease expires or an advertiser makes a change. They have low ongoing maintenance costs but require reprinting expenses with any new creative ad updates.

Digital billboards rotate a rotation of different advertisements on a recurring cycle, usually every 6-8 seconds.

This allows for more ad inventory per digital face compared to static boards.

However, the upfront and operating costs for digital boards are much higher with large LED screens to power and maintain. Advertisers may be able to get away with shorter rental terms on digital displays instead of annual commitments.

“Personally, I actually like the old-fashioned static science the best. No maintenance; always up unless they get knocked down by wind,” Chris said about choosing between static or digital billboards.

The Equity Upside in Billboard Ownership

While the monthly cash flow from renting billboard advertising is attractive, the real wealth-building potential lies in the equity growth of these income producing assets.

Major national operators like Lamar Advertising and Outfront Media routinely acquire independent billboards at valuations ranging from 7-12 times the annual revenue stream.

These big players are always on the hunt to grow their networks through through mergers/acquisitions. So any time an individual or group decides to sell their billboard asset, they can demand high prices from potential purchasers.

Let’s say you own some billboards that bring in $100k per year after expenses and everything is paid off. That means your billboard business would be worth $700k to $1.2M!


You might be surprised, but Chris keeps his operations remarkably low-tech and streamlined.

No fancy proprietary software or complex systems are required.

For the most part, they use basic spreadsheets to track everything—advertiser contacts, contract dates, income statements, and all the fundamentals.


One notable tool Chris uses is LandGlide, which he uses for real estate and scouting possible new spots for billboards. This app shows you “who owns what, where it is, lot of lines, all that kind of stuff.”

It essentially maps out county parcel data and ownership records in an easily accessible mobile interface.

The location-scouting process is key since ideal billboard spots require careful evaluation of neighboring properties, road visibility, and more.

A (Mostly) Passive Day in Chris’ Life

With so much complexity in zoning, permitting, and new construction logistics, you’d think running a portfolio of billboards is a full-time operation.

According to Chris, nowadays, it’s actually relatively passive aside from some basic administrative work.

“It’s been a little boring,” Chris shared.

Most weeks, he’s only spending around 5 hours or so on basic billboard business management tasks. Answering inquiries from potential new advertisers, handling contract renewals, those sorts of things.

Mistakes or Surprises Along the Way

Chris expressed surprise that more people don’t value consistency and long-term investment approaches and instead prefer quick money-making schemes.

Everyone wants the overnight success story, but those are the extreme exceptions, not the rule.

In fact, shortcuts may lead to even further delays in your financial freedom.

Real wealth-building takes time and consistent effort, with small actions causing big difference over a decade.

What’s Next for Chris?

Chris’ goal for this year is to double the number of billboard faces in his portfolio within the next two years and launch a new coaching course called The Billboard Academy.

This will be a chance for him to pull back the curtain and give people a proven blueprint they can follow.

“I want to help others build wealth, get out of the rat race, and achieve that financial freedom.”

So stay tuned for that because it’s going to come in the next couple of months.

The Billboard Academy

Interested students can get a free preview at Chris’s website. There, visitors can download a free guide introducing the passive income potential of billboard ownership.

Chris also hopes his entrepreneurial story can inspire others to take control of their lives and financial futures, just as he did coming from modest beginnings.

His non-profit organization Signs of Good ties together principles of entrepreneurship and giving back.

Chris’ #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation

“It’s about who you’re becoming, not who you’ve been.”

Episode Links

Download Your Free Bonus: 25 Other Unconventional Rental Ideas

25 Other Unconventional Rental Ideas

What else could you rent out for a profit? Here are some ideas!

Enter your email to download the full list now:

You'll also receive my best side hustle tips and weekly-ish newsletter. Opt-out anytime.

Serious About Making Extra Money?

side hustle show cover art

The award-winning Side Hustle Show is a
Top 10 Entrepreneurship podcast
with over 1,200 5-star ratings!

5-star rating

Listen in your favorite podcast app or directly in your browser.

listen on spotify
listen on overcast listen on podbean

Like That? There's More!

Join the 100,000 Who Get My Best Stuff via Email

I'll also send you my free guide: The 5 Fastest Ways to Make More Money.

Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

Usually Hustling, Occasionally Social

plutus winner

The Company

4580 Klahanie Dr SE #155
Sammamish, WA 98029

The Fine Print
Terms of Use
How We Make Money
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.