How to Get Sponsored As a Mountain Biker
So You Want to Be a Sponsored Mountain Bike Rider? Here's Some Advice.
As a company that is hit up pretty regularly for sponsorship, it seems appropriate to try and give a little guidance to all you aspiring sponsored riders. As a former sponsored rider, I've spent a lot of time working on my pitch, trying to understand what my role is for the sponsoring company and how best to communicate that value to a brand. As a company, I've seen a lot of requests that range from unbelievably lazy to world-class. Here are some tips on getting sponsored as a mountain bike rider.
First, sponsorship can be a great way to get involved in the sport of mountain biking. It can provide you with financial support for gear, travel, and race fees. It can also provide access to new equipment.
However, getting sponsored can be tough, as you have to distinguish yourself from the competition. Consider it a job interview. In this case, there are very few open positions and a line longer than your average Saturday age group race lineup.
Ultimately, your job is not to hit up a brand for a bro-deal. It's to provide a valuable presence in the community and represent the brand that has agreed to invest in you. This requires an actual commitment beyond asking for and taking the sponsor's parts/money/etc. This might include race appearances, canvassing local shops, social media content, and posts and product feedback.
Beginning with this as the most important thing in mind, here are some additional tips for improving your chances of gaining a sponsor.
1. Get involved with the mountain biking community. There are many different ways to do this. Join and be active in a local mountain biking club. Regularly participate in online forums. This will help you meet other mountain bikers, establish your reputation and learn about sponsorship opportunities.
2. Create a strong social media presence. When considering a sponsorship, at Dispatch, the first piece of data we look at is an athlete’s social media following. Make sure to post regularly and interact with your followers. Video content is much more valuable these days, so YouTube, Instagram Reels, Facebook Stories and TikTok videos are big bonuses.
3. Participate in competitions. This is a great way to show sponsors your skills and dedication to mountain biking. There are many different competitions you can participate in, such as races, slopestyle events, and freeride contests. At Dispatch, for our most elite sponsored athletes in company kit, we have paid podium bonuses, so go fast, make cash.
4. Film yourself riding. Sponsors often like to see video footage of an athlete’s riding style. You can film yourself riding at local trails or at competition events. This is material that can be reused by sponsors. The content monster is always hungry these days and while your sponsors are making the parts you need to ride and have fun, the bonus of athlete-provided content is a huge plus. If you can film it and it promotes more people getting involved in the sport (as spectators or participants) it's probably a great idea to share it with your sponsors.
5. Be a good ambassador. It should be obvious, but nobody likes a sponsored athlete that acts like a petulant child or a jerk to fellow or prospective athletes. This goes on and off the bike. Especially so if you have sponsor gear on. Your job is to help promote inclusion and participation in the sport and throwing a tantrum over a subpar race result, or cheating your way to a podium just isn't good for anyone. Most agreements will have a termination clause for precisely this type of behavior--so don't forget to be a good ambassador or you'll be replaced with an athlete that can be one.
6. Promoting means making contact. Throwing a part on your bicycle or sporting a piece of kit is only the beginning of your job. Working at events, stopping in at shops local to you and the events you participate in, posting on social media and joining video or podcast interviews are all part of the expectation we have of our athletes. The most organized athletes have contact reports they share with their sponsors in order to kick off a follow-up campaign from your sponsors with the shops and individuals you make contact with. You should be able to articulate a plan to help with this activity to any sponsor you approach.
By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to getting sponsored as a mountain biker. Remember to stay dedicated to your sport and always strive to improve your skills. With hard work and determination, you can achieve your goals.
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