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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of making money from billboards.
Whether it’s from owning the land underneath a billboard and earning lease revenue from a billboard company (the passive approach) or constructing the billboards myself and renting out ad space to advertisers (the active approach), it always struck me as a profitable opportunity, but also one that’s rather mysterious.
It’s hard to find good information about how the billboard business works.
There aren’t many books, courses, blogs, videos, or podcasts out there that really, truly explain how to do it.
Aside from the random scraps of information I’ve been able to pick up when talking with professionals in the outdoor advertising industry, I haven’t been able to find one authoritative source of information that actually explains everything from start-to-finish.
Introducing Frank Rolfe
Not long ago, Jaren Barnes and I decided we needed to learn more.
After a bit of digging, we discovered a guy named Frank Rolfe who has spent many years in the billboard business AND put together a course about it, called The Ultimate Outdoor Billboard Boot Camp.
We reached out to Frank’s people and asked if we could take a closer look at his course and put together a review for the REtipster audience.
That’s exactly what I did, that that’s what I’m about to show you in this video…
Note: If you sign up for the course through this affiliate link, I have some exclusive bonus content to give you as well, but you can only get it if you use this affiliate link! All you need to do is forward a copy of your invoice to email@example.com and I’ll respond to you with a download link for this pdf.
As you can see, the course really is jam-packed with LOTS of information. By far, the most and best information I’ve found on the subject.
Here’s a quick overview of everything it comes with:
Video Modules (15 videos): I prefer to learn by video, so this was what I chose to focus on as I went through the course. Each video ranges in length from 30 – 90 minutes, and there are 15 modules in total. (Note: I found it very easy to get through all the videos playing at 2x speed, so the videos can fly by pretty quickly).
Billboard Boot Camp Manual (157 pages): This pdf contains a lot of the exhibits, pictures, templates, and other examples that Frank reviews in the video modules. You’ll want to follow along in this pdf as Frank goes through each video.
Outdoor Billboard Home Study Course (309 pages): This is like a written version of all the video modules with a lot of additional information, visual aids, and supplemental examples included. I thought it was pretty well put together.
Audio Files: These are basically a series of teleseminars where Frank covers a lot of the stuff he talks about in the videos. There are also a few “bonus” audio files that supplement Frank’s book You’ll probably pick up a few new insights from this, but I think you’ll get most of what you need from the video modules.
What I liked about it
In my opinion, it was a fascinating course. I was hungry for this information, and the material didn’t disappoint.
There’s nothing fancy about the production quality of the videos (he’s just standing in front of a whiteboard and drawing the occasional doodles to illustrate his points), but the content is all there.
Within the first 3 videos, Frank clarified, explained and demystified an insane amount of information about how this business actually works, what kinds of properties and locations do and don’t work well for billboards, what it takes to find locations, how to negotiate with property owners and put deals together, and a lot more.
The course also comes with a couple of GIANT pdf files… one of which has several of Frank’s contract templates and marketing material, the other of which is a written version of all the content he covers in the video modules.
I appreciated the emphasis he put on the documentation, including his actual leases and templates that he spent years refining perfecting. In Module 3 alone, he goes line-by-line through his standard lease and explains why every word is important. He crafted this document with his attorney and from what I can see, it really does seem like a masterpiece.
As I learned from this course, there are a lot of things about the billboard business that 99% of people don’t understand. Everything from state and federal government compliance to zoning laws to sign types, sizes, height limitations, sign placement, and a lot more – there is A TON to know about running this kind of business, and a course like this can save a person years of trial and error.
When I got to the end of this course, I legitimately felt empowered to pursue this kind of business.
What I didn’t like about it
As I mentioned in the video above, my initial hope was that this course would teach me how to do a passive version of this business (finding and buying properties that were ideal for billboards, and simply leasing them out to a billboard company like Lamar or Clear Channel to generate passive income).
However, I realized pretty quickly that’s not what the course is teaching. It’s explaining the ACTIVE part of the business (finding properties and leasing the ground from the owner, building and owning the sign, finding advertisers, etc). In other words, it’s pretty much the opposite of what I actually wanted to do.
That being said… it also taught me that what I wanted to do probably isn’t nearly as feasible as I thought. Mainly because the property owner typically earns either a flat monthly lease about, a small percentage of ad revenue or a mix of both – and in each scenario, the revenue is a nice icing on the cake, but it’s not that much money (i.e. – not enough to justify owning an entire property solely for the purpose of holding a billboard). There might be a unique situation where this can work, but it would be a pretty rare scenario.
So, it’s not so much a problem with the course as it is a problem with reality. If anything, the course did me a favor by helping me realize this “passive” approach probably isn’t something I should be spending my time on.
It also seemed a little rudimentary, how the content was delivered through a Google Drive folder. Maybe it’s because I’ve created courses myself and I’m a perfectionist… but I would’ve used some kind of content delivery platform for this, so it felt more official and easy to navigate.
Who Is This Course For?
I think this course is for someone who has the following characteristics:
- Isn’t afraid of sales, shaking hands and talking to people on the phone.
- Is okay with spending plenty of time in their car, scouting out locations within a 3 – 5 hour radius from where they live.
- Has the mental capacity to research and organize information to determine state and city compliance.
- Is good at communicating with contractors, advertisers, property owners, and zoning and planning officials.
- Has the risk tolerance to deal with the minimal liability that comes with owning billboard structures.
I don’t think this course is for someone who has these characteristics:
- Hates talking on the phone and working in a sales role.
- Only has a few hours a week to put toward a billboard business.
- Doesn’t enjoy negotiating deals with property owners and advertisers.
- Prefers passive income and doesn’t want to create another job in their life.
- Wants to run a “virtual” business that can be done remotely, and entirely from a computer.
Make no mistake, the business model discussed in this course does require salesmanship, a fair amount of time (potentially a lot of time, especially when getting started), and good ongoing communication between a lot of different parties. If you’re looking for some new streams of passive income to build with a few hours per week, I don’t think this is the business for you.
Remember, the idea here isn’t to simply own the land that the billboard is located on, the idea is to own the billboards themselves, find the property owners who are willing to lease their land to you, and keep advertisers lined up for each billboard (in Module 10, Frank even gets into the details of how to design billboards, which is WAY more in-depth than I thought this business would be). All in all, there’s a lot of money-making potential AND a lot of work to keep this kind of business running.
This could be the perfect opportunity for some folks, but it’s important to know what kind of work you enjoy, what you have time for, and what you excel at. Not everybody excels at the things required in this kind of billboard business, so it’s not the first thing I’d suggest to everyone.
As I mentioned in the video above, if you decide to pursue this course and sign up through our affiliate link (yes, we earn a small commission from this, at no additional cost to you), I put together an extra, FREE bonus for you.
This is only available to those who sign up for the course through our link.
This is a 3-page pdf with a detailed checklist of what should be investigated if you’re looking for a property for the purpose of housing a billboard.
I actually made this for myself, because my goal was to find and buy properties alongside high-traffic roads, specifically for the purpose of housing billboards. I needed a quick reference guide so I could make sure I wasn’t wasting time talking to the wrong property owners or investing in the wrong properties.
Disclaimer: This guide is not an iron-clad guarantee that you’ll always find the right properties, it’s just meant to point you in the right direction. You’ll still have to do some homework and find out what is allowed in your area. This just points out what homework you need to do.
If you think this would be helpful, it’s yours for the taking.
After you’ve bought the course through this link, just forward a copy of your invoice to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll respond to you with a download link for the checklist.