(Pocket-lint) - Can't think of a gift for your dad? Here's an idea: Just ask his favourite football coach to send him a happy birthday video. All you need to do is use the Cameo app - it lets average people hire athletes, actors, and all kinds of celebrities to create personal video messages for any occasion or holiday.

For example, you can hire Florida Gators coach Steve Spurrier to congratulate your kid for winning their game, or you can hire Nick Lachey from 98 degrees to sing your partner a love song, or you can get Snoop Dogg to rap for your friend. Heck, even Carole Baskin from Netflix's Tiger King is on Cameo. Thousands of stars and influencers are available, but their videos come at a cost. Some are as cheap as $1, but we've seen others priced at $299. 

Cameo gives celebrities a way to earn extra income, and it puts fans directly in touch with stars they love. Here's how it works.

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What is Cameo?

Cameo is a US-based platform for celebrities and everyday people. It's available as a website and a mobile app for Android and iOS users. It's free to join - either as talent or as a user - but if you want to use the app to direct message a star or request a video from them, you have to pay up. Talent on Cameo can be athletes, musicians, actors, YouTubers, TikTokers, directors, anyone famous basically. And they set their own prices within the app. 

When you find someone on Cameo, there are usually two options available: DM (message) or send a request. Everyone has different pricing, and some celebrities only offer requests. For instance, Lindsay Lohan charges $219.99 for requests and $19.99 for a DM. But Brian Baumgartner from the show The Office only offers requests - no DMs - for $199.99. Their profiles usually have example Cameo video requests you can view, too.

Talent profiles have a brief bio you can check out, as well as tags they're associated with (like actors, comedians, etc), their best Cameos, their average response time, and a review score out of 5 stars (plus you can read reviews). You can also join a celebrity's fan club for free from their profile to skip the line and get your Cameo video prioritised, access all their previous Cameos, and be the first to know about deals and price drops. 

Some Cameo celebrities also offer live Zoom calls if you request that, though those are more expensive than a standard Cameo video. If you're on a budget, chatting is by far the cheapest option if you just want to ask a celebrity a question or send a quick message. 

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How does Cameo work?

Sign up

If you want to use Cameo, the first thing you need to do is join. You can do this from the Cameo website or the mobile app. As a user, there are a variety of login options, from Facebook to Apple ID or your email. It is free to join and use Cameo - the only thing that costs money is requests and DMs from talent. Speaking of talent, if you want to join Cameo as a celebrity, you have to apply here. Cameo will get back to you within 72 hours.

Edit your profile

Don't forget you can spice up your Cameo profile. You can add a profile picture, birthdate, Twitter handle, and make videos public for others to see (or private, if you wish). You can do all this from the Cameo website dashboard or the Profile page (Cameo icon in the navigation bar) in the Cameo mobile app. You can also view your account activity in the Cameo mobile app - just look for the bell icon in the navigation bar. 

Find talent

On the Cameo website, the homepage shows you featured talent as well as a search bar you can use to enter celebrity names and find talent. In the Cameo mobile app, the Search page (magnifying glass icon in the navigation bar) also shows you featured talent and talent by categories as well as a search bar. There's also a Browse page (telescope icon in the navigation bar) that lets you swipe through featured Cameos from talent. 

Request a Cameo

So, let's say you've found a celebrity you wish to contact, such as Denise Richards. On her profile, you will see a button that says Request with a price. Currently, the actress charges $179.99 for a request. Once you hit the request button, you have to choose whether it's for yourself or a friend. You'll then be asked questions about the occasion, pronouns, instructions, etc. You can also add a short video with your request. 

Cameo accepts direct payment via credit card. US residents using iOS can also purchase "Cameo credits" to store in their account to use on videos later. Once the request has been submitted, the Cameo talent has seven days to accept or deny the project. If accepted, the celebrity will record the video and Cameo will send a link to the video to the phone numbers and email addresses listed with the request. The video can be downloaded and shared.

If the talent doesn't fulfill the request within a week, Cameo said all charges will be restored to your wallet (USD only).

Send a DM

If you want to save some money, perhaps message a celebrity instead of requesting a video. For instance, comedian Jon Lovitz from Saturday Night Live will let you DM him for just $2.99. All you need to do is tap the DM button on his profile and then you have 250 characters to ask a question or get advice. You can also send a photo. Unfortunately, with DMs, Cameo said a response is not guaranteed, and no refunds are given in this situation.

Because DMs are not guaranteed, this is where reviews on a celebrity's profile really come in handy. It's worth checking out their rating and scanning the review comments to see what other users had to say about their experience. If you see that the talent tends to respond to chats, then it might be a risk worth taking.

In the Cameo mobile app, you can go to the Messages page (chat icon in the navigation bar) to view your existing DMs with talent. 

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Join a Fan Club

You can join a celebrity's fan club for free from their profile. Just tap the Fan Club button and then you'll be able to skip the line to get your Cameo video prioritised, access all their previous Cameos, and be the first to know about deals and price drops. Cameo said more perks are coming to fan clubs, too. 

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How much does it cost for a Cameo video?

The price (USD) will vary, as it is set individually by each celebrity. You can view how much requests and a DM costs on their profile. If they are available, you will see pink request and DM buttons to start a transaction with them. If they are not available, their profile will say "temp unavailable" and the buttons will be clear. You might also see the option to request a Zoom call with talent. These are usually the most expensive option and they aren't very common to find.

How do you make purchases?

When you are ready to hire talent, login to your account, click the request or DM button, fill out the request form, and click the book button when done. Cameo accepts AMEX, Mastercard, VISA, PayPal on the web. The Cameo mobile app also accepts your digital wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay. Cameo also accepts Affirm financing. If approved after a quick credit check, Affirm will let you pay for Cameo on a monthly payment plan with interest. 

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Which celebrities are on Cameo?

The list of talent on Cameo is constantly growing, but here are a few standouts we noticed as of January 2021:

Want to know more?

Check out Cameo's Help hub if you have more questions.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.