All reality television stars are not created equal. Some reality TV cast members are hauling in millions through their contracts, while others aren't making much at all. The cast of the iconic MTV reality TV show, "The Real World," for example, did not make much per week. However, their rent was paid. The cast of "Vanderpump Rules," meanwhile, collected a mere $5,000 for the entire first season of the show, Reality Tea reported. Despite the fact that these reality TV stars didn't make much money per episode, they weren't exactly stuck in dead-end jobs either.

The Trade-off

What reality TV might not pay per episode it makes up for in plenty through publicity. Cast members on a reality TV show who only make a few hundred dollars per episode can leverage their publicity to get an endorsement deal worth many times that.

If shows are breakout hits, of course, stars may be able to negotiate better-paying contracts, but that depends on the sort of show. While the stars of "Vanderpump Rules" eventually were able to increase their pay grade, their television show was based on their lives. They were in a position to negotiate. "The Real World" lives on with new casts. For this reason, MTV can keep salaries relatively low.

Endorsement deals

In cases where the television show isn't dependent on a single personality to continue, it would be wise for cast members to explore endorsement deals. All sorts of reality TV celebrities have endorsement deals, including the Kardashian clan. Khloe Kardashian recently began working with Kybella, which offers a non-surgical procedure to remove double-chins, according to plastic surgeon Glenn Vallecillos.

These agreements are the source of revenue for reality TV stars who are on shows that don't pay well. The publicity, in many cases, can be as good as money, because it can easily lead to large contracts to endorse products or appear at events.

For more on what your reality TV contract should look like, and how you can leverage your publicity for an endorsement deal, talk to an experienced entertainment law attorney.

Otherwise, for more articles dealing with reality tv, check out:

  • Are Networks and Producers Liable When Reality TV Gets Dangerous?
  • Reality Stars Not 'Employees'
  • Entertainment Lawsuit By Man Claiming to Be Mastermind Behind Several Popular Reality Shows Dismissed