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Many regular gym goers and amateur bodybuilders would like to become a sponsored athlete, to be paid to do what they love. To work out and maintain their bodies.
Some are looking for a company to fund their fitness lifestyle, while others will simply be happy to put “Sponsored Athlete” on their social media accounts.
Companies are also realising the importance of sponsored athletes, in particular, those with a big online following. These influencers can bring new eyes to their products and ultimately result in more sales.
So, what do you have to do to become a sponsored athlete? Here are some tips for success.
What Are Companies Looking For?
There are a few basics that every company will be looking from their sponsored athletes.
For a start, it is incredibly important that you are fit and have at least a basic knowledge of supplements and the company that they are representing.
Being outgoing is also important, not only for online influence but also during trade shows, where stamina and positivity for the product range are a must.
Your personality, attitude and how you represent yourself are also big selling points that companies will be looking at before they offer sponsorship.
A little tip before even attempting to gain sponsorship is to practice speaking to large groups of people. If you are no good at public speaking then it is unlikely that you will be chosen to represent a company.
Do You Have to Win a Competition to Gain Sponsorship?
It is not necessary to have won a competition to gain sponsorship from a company.
There are many sponsored athletes who may not even compete. Similarly, there are some athletes who have not been sponsored despite winning competitions.
It is less important for an athlete to win a competition. Most companies are going to be looking more closely at the persona of an athlete. And whether that particular person is a good representation of what their company offers.
How Much Does Sponsorship Pay?
Unfortunately, most sponsorships do not even involve any money being exchanged.
Quite often your only payment will be in form of free supplements, but if you are passionate about fitness than this may be a good deal.
Some sponsored athletes will be paid, and modelling work is always an option, but you will find that it is unlikely that you will be paid AND be provided free supplements. It usually one or the other.
Tips to Become a Sponsored Athlete
Here are 7 tips to help you to gain sponsorship from a company:
#1: You Look Great
Unsurprisingly, if you are attractive then you have a better chance of becoming a sponsored athlete than one that is less attractive.
If you are serious about your fitness, then having a six pack is a must if you are male, it won't harm if you are female either.
You must be photogenic, and if the camera loves you then you have a better chance of being sponsored.
Of course, there are sponsored athletes who you may not call traditionally attractive, so what is their secret? As we have mentioned, a great attitude and persona can go a long way.
#2: You Represent the Brand Ethos
Most brands like to think that they are different from their competitors. They are therefore marketed differently.
You will find that a well-established brand will be more careful about who they sponsor.
They will be unlikely to choose an athlete who does not meet the brand ethos.
This means that when looking at potential sponsorship opportunities you should look at companies that have a similar outlook as yourself. You will have a better chance of success.
#3: Have a Following
Nowadays it is important that you have a strong social media following if you are looking at gaining sponsorship.
It is not enough to just have a large following, your followers must also be engaged too. And are listening to what you say.
Rather than paying for fake followers, a common ploy used by social media gurus, focus on being consistent with your posts and offer real quality, with important information and an enthusiasm for what you have posted.
#4: Be Human
This tip is a follow up to the previous tip.
To gain a loyal social media following you will need to be human and be willing to offer help to others.
If you take the time to respond to any fan questions, you will soon see your followers grow as it will be shown that you truly care about your fans. Those companies who are looking for potential sponsored athletes will be impressed too.
#5: Take Great Photos and Videos
It is important that you take pride in any content you produce for your social media accounts.
This does not necessarily mean you have to be the next Steven Spielberg, but if you use professional equipment and techniques you will give a better impression than something amateur.
Always look to spend any money earn on better equipment, and to learn what it takes to take a great photo or video.
#6: Avoid Controversy
Companies are not looking for controversy, so will avoid sponsoring athletes who are controversial.
Try to avoid arguments online, do not swear, slander or fight with any of your followers or trolls.
Also, if you want to become a sponsored athlete it is preferred that you are as clean-cut as possible. So the use of steroids or other illegal practices are best avoided.
#7: Be Patient
It won't come as a surprise to learn that there are likely millions of people with the same dream to become a sponsored athlete.
Many won't achieve this goal, however, if you are determined, and remain focused on this goal then you may just achieve your dream.
Giving up at the first sign of trouble will certainly result in failure.
Where to Find These Sponsorship Opportunities?
It may come as a surprise (or maybe not) to learn that bigger companies sponsor fewer athletes.
The reason for this is not due to a lack of money, but rather to ensure that the athlete they choose to sponsor is the best option, they can be selective so will choose the best in their field.
Large companies like Nike or Adidas are not going to risk their reputation by sponsoring every athlete they come across. They don’t want controversy, so will only choose the best.
The reality is that the bigger brands will not be looking to sponsor you, not unless you are one of the best.
There is no need to despair though, there are still plenty of companies out there looking to sponsor.
Here is a list of companies that you may want to approach:
- Local companies that specialise in your sport
- Highly specialised companies in your sport
- Local companies
- Companies you feel would fit your personality
- Those companies that you like, even if they are not in your specific field
- Companies who can help with your own goals; for example supplement companies
While looking at companies it is probably a good idea to make a list of their names, contact details etc.
Your next step once you have compiled a list of potential sponsorship opportunities is to research the company.
Read through their website, subscribe to their newsletter and follow their social media accounts. This should give a good indication of what the company is about, and their values.
By following their social media you will make yourself known to the company, and if you continue sharing their content in time maybe your name will become attractive to the potential company.
If possible you should try and be able to answer the following questions after researching:
- Their location
- How does this company stand out among its competitors
- What are their values?
- Do they even offer sponsorship?
- Does your personality match their values?
- How can you contact them?
By learning about what the company currently wants and creates you will get a good idea whether you can offer anything to them.
You can think of sponsorship as a partnership. If you can't offer them anything then why would they sponsor you?
With a bit of luck, if you have followed our steps above you have gained yourself a nice sponsorship opportunity. But now is not the time to relax, you still have plenty of work left to do if you want to keep being a sponsored athlete.
It's not just about how you look that will enable you to keep being sponsored. Although it will certainly help to stay in shape, even during your off-season.
You will also need to be involved with your fans and the customers of the company that sponsors you.
Do whatever it is that is outlined in your contract, learn about the products and always give off the best impression possible.
Hopefully, you will not only have gained the sponsorship but will be able to maintain the relationship for many years after. Good luck!