Power Players

Kevin O’Leary: I make 'a lot’ of money each month from my Cameo side hustle

Kevin O'Leary: Cameo is my side hustle — and I charge $1,200 per video
Kevin O'Leary: Cameo is my side hustle — and I charge $1,200 per video

For "Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary, making videos on Cameo is a lucrative side hustle.

"People ask me all the time about Cameo. It's my side hustle," O'Leary, chairman of O'Shares ETFs, tells CNBC Make It.

On Cameo, customers can pay for personalized video shout-outs from thousands of celebrities, from Carole Baskin from Netflix's "Tiger King," who charges $299 per video, to rapper and actor Ice T, who charges $450 per video. The cost of Cameo videos can range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the Cameo user's rate.

O'Leary charges $1,200 per video on Cameo, and "I make a lot [of money] each month. I do a ton."

"Let's say you're getting married and you want Mr. Wonderful to sing at your wedding. Well, I can do that for you on Cameo," O'Leary says.

For example, "I just did one [for] a couple getting married next month. The wife says they watch 'Shark Tank' every night and they wanted me to sing at their wedding. So, I sang on a Cameo for her and she's keeping it until their wedding."

In addition to singing videos, O'Leary does "all kinds."

Most of his Cameo videos, "99% of them are for entrepreneurs that are starting businesses that are trying to use social media to acquire customers," he says. "[T]hey take my Cameo and they post it and hopefully, it helps them get customers. I'll help any entrepreneur. I'm willing to do that."

Every once in a while, O'Leary gets a Cameo request for birthday, but mostly, he works with businesses, he says.

"My Cameos cost $1,200 and that really makes them more for businesses than people at birthdays."

Indeed, at his rate of $1,200 per video, O'Leary was among the celebrities charging the most on Cameo in 2020.

"Hey, it's 12 hundred bucks, but it's Mr. Wonderful. [It's] worth it," he says. "In fact, it's a discount. It's a great deal."

Cameo has profited too. In 2020, Cameo brought in $100 million in revenue, with 75% of it paid to talent, Variety reported. In the past year, there was a surge in the use of Cameo by celebrities to bring in money as they may have struggled to work, or were without work entirely, due to the pandemic, Cameo CEO Steven Galanis told Variety.

"[W]hat's cool about Cameo [is] it's for everybody. It's democratization," O'Leary says.

But there is a limit to what he would do, O'Leary admits. "Cameo has rules. They're not going to do really bad content, and I wouldn't do that either."

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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