If your dream job involves making a living from the sport you love, then getting a sponsorship is going to play a crucial role as you embark on your journey to a career in sports.
While my own road to sponsorship centres around kitesurfing, these tips are not just for kitesurfers, and can be applied to virtually any sport.
I should also mention that I am not claiming to be an expert in the field of getting sponsored. Instead, this is an account of my own experience in finding sponsorships, and of what worked and didn’t work for me.
My first encounter with sports sponsorship was when I was in high school. My best friend and I were one of the first girl snowboarders on the mountain (yes I’m that old) and she wanted to be in the Olympics when they decided to recognize snowboarding as a sport. She went down to the only snowboard shop in town and they worked on hooking her up. The sponsors got her the exposure she needed to start competing on a global scale and although she didn’t get into
the Olympics she did capture 2nd in the world for women’s boardercross.
Sponsorship is an important part of gaining exposure and progressing your career in a sport. When I first decided I wanted to start entering competitions and making a name for myself as a kitesurfer I started emailing companies like Red Bull, Monster and Roxy. Red Bull told me I needed to compete and place in order to be considered but Monster told me to register for a site called Hookit. They would only sponsor athletes who have profiles set up on this site.
Hookit is a free service focused mainly on individual lifestyle sports, although anyone from any sport can sign up. The site is user friendly and full of potential sponsors. Athletes have the opportunity to showcase their talents via photo, video and competition results. It also allows you to register your riding spots and sessions. Once I had set up a full profile I began applying for sponsorships. The application process is simple and there are so many companies to choose from. I ended up getting 7 out of the 8 sponsorships I applied for which honestly really surprised me. The one company who denied my application allowed me to try again 6 months later to which I’m currently waiting a reply on my reapplication.
You can also set up a profile on SME. They recently redesigned their website to make it easier to use. They don’t have a section for kitesurfing yet but neither did Hookit 4 months ago. On SME you upload your best riding videos and you can win a sponsorship and $25K. Another website you can try is SponsorSpace. There are free basic level profiles you can set up to apply for sponsors. I like the site but out of 100 or so people, I’ve only seen 1 person who received a sponsorship so I’m not sure how effective it is. The other sure fire method is to ride hard and compete, sponsors will then approach you!
Having sponsors really gave me the confidence to write articles, find photographers to film me and to promote myself as an influential kiteboarder. One of the hardest things when you go from casual riding to starting a career in sports is confidence in yourself. I’ve struggled with feeling like I’m not good enough to be sponsored and not wanting to embarrass myself when people expect too much from me. These feeling are normal, but what I’ve learned is that for me it is not about being the best rider or competing, but rather being able to encourage and influence others to achieve their goals with hard work and dedication. Competing in kitesurfing to be well known is no longer my goal. Instead I want to use my support from my sponsors to encourage other athletes to give it a try, and to show other girls that you don’t have to be the best to be admired.
Get Started Today
Taking the first step and creating my profile changed my life because it gave me the confidence to pursue my passion and believe in myself. If you are looking to pursue a similar path, try setting up your own profile on one or all of the above mentioned websites, or nominate yourself on inMotion Kitesurfing’s upcoming “Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer” competition. The top ten girls will be profiled on inMotion Kitesurfing and the winner will receive great sponsorship’s (see competition page for details).
It’s not easy to get recognition for all your hard work in the sports world, so take advantage of the opportunity to be profiled as a real athlete, not a bikini model. Leave a comment below if you want to be notified when the contest begins. Good luck ladies!
Feel free to share your own experiences finding sponsors in the comments, and if you have any questions please ask!
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