We love all you guys, seriously. You are the future of the sport. But we won't listen to your incessant pleas for free stuff. Sponsorship is a two way street that has to help both the company and the rider. Let's grow the sport together.
If you want to be sponsored, you have to be professional, different, and impressive. Kookiness and lack of experience shows immediately. Here are some suggestions on how not to be considered a kook and take your skating to the next level.
1) Great is only a starting point.
By considering great as a starting point, riders not only set the bar high, but they also push it higher. If you think you are great, shoot for better. If your media is great, shoot for better. Never settle for the status quo or "good enough". If you do, consider yourself already falling behind. Being an amazing skater means reaching out from the masses of the great skaters. To do this, you have to push yourself (safely of course) and think of new ways to do things. You have to differentiate.
The best skaters in the world know how to set themselves apart and do it every day. Think Liam Morgan and his attitude and style; Adam Colton for his personality and insane steeze; Kevin Reimer with Aera Trucks and These wheels; Kyle Chin for his videos and scene support. These are the kinds of guys that go down in longboarding history. How are you going to present yourself?
2) You are a brand.
Think of yourself, your YouTube channel, Facebook page, etc all as a brand. People are going to view that brand and make judgments. Make sure those judgments are positive. Look to the leading brands such as Loaded, Caliber, and Landyachtz for inspiration in pictures, videos, etc. Jump yourself apart from the norm.
3) Look for needs.
What do you think is the biggest problem in skateboarding? What can you do today, be it big or small, to contribute to a solution? Think about it and take action.
People love those that contribute and actively get out there. You could be that person in your community. It may take time for you to feel the dent being made, but slow and steady wins the race. Eventually you'll be known as a leader in the community. This will make it easier to get noticed by sponsors.
4) What do you do well?
Take time to think about what you are particularly good at and use that to your advantage. Are you funny? Do you offer exceptional photography skills? Do you have some kind of sweet new trick? Are you creative in your video story lines? Think about how you can use your strengths to set yourself apart from the masses.
5) Respect those who help you.
If sponsors, parents, friends, family, etc helped you in any some small way (or big way), show them respect. Don't quit a team without first discussing any problems over the phone or in person. Communication is key and can mean the difference between success and leaving people confused and angered.
No matter what happens, try to keep in touch and remain friends with any professional you have interacted with. You never know when someone can help you down the road. Remember, we are all in this together.
6) Contribute to the community.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. Or free set of wheels. In order to become sponsored, you have to help grow the community and the sport. Create awesome skate sessions in your area with your friends and encourage those new to the sport to come out. Make sure longboarding is known and respected in your community. Check out our articles on how to talk to cops so you stay out of trouble.
7) Present what you do in a concise and quick email.
Once you get what you do in order, you have to do a great job presenting it. Stoked gets LOTS of requests, so how is yours going to stand out? Have a catchy subject line and introduction. Keep it short and sweet, we don't need to know everything about you. Quick highlights work best. Think of your email as a resume. Hit on key points and give us the chance to ask you for more information. No one wants to read masses of text vomit, so write better!
Types of Sponsorship
There are several different levels of sponsorship, depending on how involved you want to be, your skill level, and the resources of the skate shop. Let's go through them here.
Flow is when you are part of the community and get some stuff for free or discounted. This is typically the easiest and "lowest" form of sponsorship. You probably won't have any kind of contract or other formal agreement. Shops of brands just give you free swag to represent and get others into the scene.
Flow could be done as an introduction to higher levels of sponsorship, so we recommend you take it seriously. You can almost think of it as a try out.
Skate Shop Sponsor
We consider this a tier 2 level of sponsorship. You may have a contract with the shop that outlines what they are expecting from you as a team rider. You may have to attend certain events, etc in exchange for gear.
Monetary compensation may or may not be involved. Typically skate shops just flow gear, but we have heard of cases when shop team riders were getting paid cash.
Social media posts, etc that the shop can use will be important here too, so make sure you have your Instagram/TikTok game on point.
Now you are moving up in the world. Amateur level usually means you are getting gear, cash, and part of the actual company. Some shops will sponsor amateurs, but typically this is done at a brand level. You become an official up and comer for the brand and their image. Be on your best behavior and perform well. You're on track for pro now, big shot.
The top of the top. You are a rider that the brand or shop has on their official payroll and a dedicated face of the brand image. You have the opportunities that few others in the industry will have, such as pro models.
Kids will come up and ask for your autograph. Your poster will be in skate shops. Your face will be in the new skate videos. Congrats, you've officially made it.
Steps to Getting Sponsored
Being a great skater is cool and all, but there is a lot more to the game than just shredding. Here are the things brands are going to demand for you to do in order to be on their payroll
- Be exceptional at skateboarding. This make sound kind of obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people are clueless of their abilities and want something for nothing. You have to be good, period.
- Know the people in the company. Networking is going to be key to getting a sponsorship deal. If you are buddies with everyone already on the team and at the company, it will greatly increase your chances of getting hired.
- Have exceptional media. You have to be good at social media and content creation. You are an investment. Shops and brands need to know the money that they give you is going to come back to them 10x more via the value you can provide.
- Don't give up. You are going to get rejected. Get used to it and don't cry about it. It happens to literally every single person at some point in their life. Keep getting better and keep looking at yourself objectively.
Downsides of Sponsorship
You may think getting sponsored is a dream come true, but there are some reasons why it might not be as fun as you'd expect.
When sponsored, you are basically doing a job. You will have aspects of the job that you do not like. Maybe the brand is going to make you go to an event that you don't want to go to. Or maybe you'll have to keep skating the same spot over and over to get a certain shot for an upcoming product release.
Whatever it is, know that you are getting paid to skate now. Part of your freedom has been sold. You have to be ok with that.
Keep up the stoke and stay safe. You all have more potential than you realize and all it takes is a little know how and elbow grease to take yourself from good to great. When you do send out that sponsor letter, for the love of skatan, don't spell sponsored wrong.
Special thanks to Loaded Boards and Orangatang Wheels for their awesome photos. See more of their photos on their Flickr.
Anything we missed? Any other important things to include? Let us know: contact page.Join the discussion on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.