I’ve spent over a decade sponsoring athletes and putting together contracts ranging from “product only” to some of the most financially lucrative in our industry. I’ve worked with athletes of all levels and in almost every organization.
Fitness models, bodybuilders, competitors, physique, bikini, figure, athletes, and so on… What do we all have in common? We love free products.
Here are a few tips to help you stand out.
Ensure you are marketable. How active are you online? Do you have a following? Have you ever appeared in magazines? How often? Today we have access to all kinds of social media technology. I’ve seen many athletes with world-class physiques disappear because they relied solely on their onstage performances.
Making yourself a brand s the first thing you should do to establish yourself as a major player in this industry. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done just one show or 15 shows. Let it be known and create a following. Thousands of bodybuilding/fitness fans around the world are looking for inspiration, and that just might be you! These fans may very well be your biggest supporters. If a company sees that you have a following, you immediately become influential and, therefore, marketable.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve seen many Facebook postings regarding whether athletes should take “product-only” sponsorships and how much work they should do if this is the case. I was surprised by the number of responses saying, “No, I know my worth” or “I’m worth a lot more than that.” No offence to the athletes that replied with those comments, but I’ve never heard of you. And if we haven’t heard of you, none of my fellow sponsors have either.
One amateur bodybuilder told me about a product sponsorship that he was offered, saying he was going to wait for something better and comparing his situation to basketball legend Michael Jordan. He explained that Michael wouldn’t take a sponsorship that consisted of just shoes, so he shouldn’t take one that consisted of just protein. Having worked very closely with countless athletes over the last decade, I’m certain just about none of them have done Michael Jordan-like things, and this definitely isn’t the mentality to have unless you just finished in the top three at the Olympia or Arnold Classic or are appearing regularly on the covers of our most cherished magazines.
If you get the opportunity for a product-only sponsorship, grab it! And work closely with that company in building your brand and a name for yourself. Many companies have strong Facebook and Twitter followings, and to have your images seen by tens of thousands of their followers is a lot more effective in building your brand than having just your friends and family see your accomplishments.
HUSTLE AND MEET INDUSTRY INSIDERS
Know the right people in the industry and be a professional. When you’re at your next competition, always portray yourself in a positive light and socialize with the right people—judges, promoters, magazine editors, photographers, and supplement companies. We all talk to each other.
Be prepared with your portfolio and business cards that highlight everything about you and why you’re a marketable athlete. Include information such as your competitive history, your clients, your fans/followers, and what other publications you’ve appeared in or work that you’ve done.
DO PHOTO SHOOTS WITH THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHERS
Having a portfolio to present to companies is important, but does your portfolio contain the right images? Working with the right photographer—one knowledgeable in bodybuilding and fitness—will ensure that your physique is translated through images correctly and shows off your best body parts. If you’re a bodybuilder, take shots in the gym lifting heavy weights with the right lighting. If you’re a physique or fitness competitor, take shots with the right clothing so companies can see how great your body is. Photographs are an investment. If you don’t want to invest in yourself, it’s unlikely a supplement company will either.
COME TO A PHOTO SHOOT IN SHAPE
Often a photographer will get assigned by a magazine or a company to shoot an athlete. If you’re lucky enough to get that call, come into the photo shoot in shape! If you’re not ready to shoot, kindly let the photographer know. Showing up in off-season mode is a gigantic waste of the photographer’s time, and they’ll never print those images. My advice is to always stay two to three weeks out from photo shoot condition.
I cannot stress how fast your reputation will be sullied by not being in shape for a photo shoot, and being unprofessional will always make it into the ears of supplement company owners. Don’t squander opportunities.
“BEFORE AND AFTER” TRANSFORMATIONS
Many companies also look for athletes who are willing to document the use of their products through “before and after” transformations. This is a golden opportunity for athletes who happen to go off-season to make gains or make a competitive comeback after taking some time off. Seize it! This is a great way for any amateur athlete to get a foot in the door and start a relationship with a supplement company! Many of today’s biggest sponsored stars started their careers with me through “before and after” transformations.
WORK WITH A RECOGNIZED TRAINER
Invest your money in a champion trainer who’s respected in the industry. Doing this can increase your chances of taking your physique to another level and possibly win you a show. Working with a trainer who has a lot of influence in a company can also speed up the process of getting sponsored!
PUT IN THE WORK
With today’s technology and websites like this making my life easy… it’s far more likely you will get noticed than ever before.
Take the time, put in the hard work, create a solid athlete listing, and continue to grow as you wait, eventually you will find a sponsor like myself that takes notice.