Get Sponsored In Snowboarding

If you find yourself reading this I’m guessing you are at the exact same spot I was in 2008. Scouring the Internet for any information or a guidebook of sort on how to become a professional snowboarder and how to get sponsored in snowboarding. Well grab a cold one and kick your feet up cause I’m about to fill you in on everything I’ve done to get sponsored in snowboarding. It’s a long but good read and hopefully it gives you some guidance and fuels your appetite for making snowboarding cheaper by becoming sponsored.

First of all I want to say that I don’t know if what I did and am doing is the right or wrong way. There’s no manual for how to become sponsored and I had to try and approach it a different way than most people. It took over 100 companies saying “No” before I got one “Yes.” Don’t get discouraged and look at it like a challenging new trick you want to bag. One thing I can say is it HAS worked and IS working so far.

There are three areas that I see as ways to get sponsored in snowboarding. Competing, Networking, and selling your soul. These next three sections will go over the basics and what I’ve seen from each of them and how you can focus on one if not all three to become a professional snowboarder. Before you dive in I would recommend reading the article and advise I give on creating a professional sports portfolio.

Competing – Find Your Correct Passion

Winning or doing well in competitions can speak words for you as a rider. Winning gets sponsors. If you’re involved in snowboarding in even the smallest bit you most likely know a big name competitor. Point and case, Shaun White. Competitions are a great way to showcase your skills, turn heads and network with other riders and company reps. If you’re evenly mildly good at snowboarding take a look at some upcoming competitions at your local resorts and make it a goal to compete in one or two of them.

Competitions have a whole different feel then riding with your friends so it’s good to get a few under your belt to see what they’re like and what you need to work on. Before Stevie Bell become a living legend he traveled to as many competitions as he could in a season to help get his name out there and gain exposure. I’m sure Stevie didn’t win every comp he entered (I should check my facts on that…) but he did showcase his talent and started to get noticed. So, get out the calendar and start planning. Spend a few days before the comps and practice, practice, practice. Get your tricks on lock and dialed. If you can make it to the Hot Dawgz and Handrails competition at Bear Mountain in the early fall that’s a good way to get yourself out there in a big competition with lots of media coverage.

For the longest time when I started competing I hated it. I would enter as many rail or jib competitions that I could in a season that work would allow for. Although I was good at rails and jibbing I was not good at dealing with the pressure or fellow competitors at these events. The vibe was always very cut throat and not very friendly. Too many dudes all in one packed patch of snow snaking each other. It wasn’t snowboarding to me. It wasn’t until I found my type of competing that I actually enjoyed it. For me it was and still is big mountain riding and competing at events such as The North Face Masters. The vibe was completely different and allowed me to be more creative with a whole mountain face as opposed to a set rail or box line. Once I applied my true passion of big mountain riding to competing I exceeded my goals and placed in the top ten at The North Face Masters Snowbird, UT stop with pro riders Aaron Robinson, Ryland Bell and Ross Baker. This accomplishment was huge in my advances for picking up sponsorship. A week later I had a contract with S4 Optics, a goggle company out of southern California.

Competitions are a great way to get your name out there and get noticed. If you can budget the entry fee and the travel, I highly recommend scheduling 2-3 major competitions into your season.

Networking – It’s Still About Who You Know

As much as it sucks, it’s true. A large part about picking up sponsors is about who you’re rubbing elbows with. Working on your networking skills and getting to know local reps will help you get introduced to the right people.
The best way I’ve seen up and coming riders get to know local reps is by working in a skate and snowboard shop. If you can dedicate some time to work in a shop for a while this may be your best bet at getting on some grass root teams at first and then building your way up. Have your portfolio ready and wait for the right time to drop it in a reps hands for review.

If you can’t get a job in the shops you can go the route I went and just try to get to know everyone that seems important or involved in the industry. You never know where a simple introduction may lead. On the lifts, at competitions, at movie premieres, basically anywhere you are shredding be friendly and get to know people. Stand out by being that friendly, outgoing dude. It goes a long way. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met on the lift that have led to great things later on.

If you’re lucky enough to pick up some of your first sponsors, get to know the people that run the company and eventually reach out to them for any contacts they may have in other companies that you could approach. With this method you usually can have your existing sponsors back you and give the good word. This method is how I went from only having Haven Empire as my sole sponsor to picking up my second sponsor, Riktopeeps Sunglasses.

Harness the power of your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo accounts. Use them as an outlet to promote yourself and connect with other up and coming riders in your area as well as any reps, companies or pros you get introduced to along the way. You never know who may see one of your viral videos or your dedication on promoting other companies with your tagging. If other brands see you working hard for your current sponsors they’re going to notice.

Selling Your Soul To Snowboarding - Do It

While there is an inner part of me that says that it’s completely wrong to sell your soul to snowboarding by turning your name into a brand, there is also a part of me that realizes that it can pay off. Look at Marc Frank Montoya for example. MFM has turned his name into an internationally know “brand”. The OG of marketing yourself.

One thing I learned to do when I began the search for sponsors was turn my name and image into something I could sell to people. I looked at it that if my name was more of a “household item” that it would be more valuable. By creating my own website, videos, and blogging about my travels I would hopefully be able to turn my name into a brand that everyone would want to follow. So far this tactic has worked and actually made me seem that much more creditable.

As soon as I got my first sponsorship with Haven Empire I began plugging them in everything I could. Blog posts, Facebook status updates, videos, etc. were all tools for me to talk about Haven Empire and promote their clothing as much as I could. In doing so it helped me prove to other potential sponsors what I was willing to do for them. It even led to an interview with Bonk BLVD where I spoke about how to use social media and other tools to promote myself and the brands I ride for.

After you have started to build your name as a brand start reaching out to companies. “Cold calling” potential sponsors to see if you can pick up anything. One method I took was going through the Buyers Guide from Transworld and Snowboarder Magazine that come out every year and looking for brands that were new or didn’t have a big team yet. I would then Google those brands and find their contact information. Once I found an email of someone in their marketing department or a general “info@” email I would send them a professionally written email with links to my website as well as attaching my athletic resume. In the very beginning I learned that poorly written emails would receive no replies even if the answer was “No”. An example of a poorly written email would go something like this:

First off I want to say I love what you guys are putting out. COMPANY always has that crisp, sick, styled look.
Right now I am on a mad search for the good core companies out there that represent something true. You guys offer some awesome sleek PRODUCT and I'd love to be a part of what you guys represent. I'm looking for product sponsorship. Hear me out.
I'm an avid and highly motivated snowboarder straight out of SLC, UT. I'm 23 and gaining some attention. Been riding for over 10 years and have started to compete in the last year. This upcoming season will have many more comps with banger results, a handful of back country trips, urban attacks and much more. I have 2-3 photographers I use on a regular basis and when filming do a lot of it with my crew.
With just getting picked up by Haven Empire (clothing company) they are stoked to start filming my video part and ad space for them this year. They even went as far to dub me Team Manager to help pave the way and make sure things get done on the snowboard side of their marketing.
All I'm asking is you take 5 minutes and check out my site with all my photos and videos. Hopefully you'll see that considering me for product sponsorship could be a really good thing. I mean hell, I already talk you guys up so much anyway why not make me a part of the family and let me promote you guys in my uprising?
Shoot me an email back. Even if it's "Dude. Work harder on those bangers and maybe we'll talk." Feedback and criticism is key. Either way I'll still be out there sponsored or not killin' it one day at a time.

There were so many things wrong with the first email templates I was sending out to brands. And looking back at it now, if I owned a company and read this email, I would fall off my chair laughing... Learn from my mistakes and don’t compose your “approach” emails like this by any means. I’m not going to demonstrate the email template I use now cause I still use it and having hundreds of people using the same template to the same brands I’m reaching out to may look a bit...odd to say the least.

Sit down and take some time to compose a well written email with some highlights of things you have accomplished that will catch their attention. Include links to only your true banger videos and attach maybe one or two of your best pictures. Wait a few weeks and if you hear nothing back follow up on the email you sent. You have to be persistent. I took me a long time to learn this. Remember, you will probably get 100 “No” replies before you get one “Yes”.

Best of luck and hopefully the things I’ve learned will help you pickup a couple of sponsors to at least make snowboarding a little less heavy on your wallet.

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