"Are you Sponsored?"
Author: Tim at LUXBMX Date Posted:16 June 2020
What, and what not to do.
Alex Hiam 270 Tabletop in ALD, Photo by Mikey Moore.
From when you start riding into the early years especially, the one dream in many minds that is similar is the idea of being “sponsored”. BMX companies are approached every day from riders all over the world asking for them to “help them out” or “sponsor them”. The days of “sponsor me tapes” are over and this has been replaced by social media platforms. What does all of that mean though? Firstly, being sponsored shouldn’t be the ultimate goal for any rider however, setting goals is a great way to progress at anything you’re doing. Getting sponsored by a bike shop or bmx company could seem like the be-all and end-all for many young riders and the thought of cheaper/free bike parts, travel budgets, (and if you’re really lucky) a wage.
The reality of this though is that a small percentage of BMX riders will ever get sponsored, that’s not to put you off, but the reality is that a very small number of BMX riders will go pro. For the other 99% of us, BMX is and always will be a hobby, obsession, and lifestyle. This isn’t a “how to get sponsored” but could give some advice on ways of going about it. At the end of the day, the friendships, the good times, and endless memories should be what every BMX rider should chase on their little bike.
The boys having a good time on a trip while filming for Aeterna.
Ride, Ride all the time
Firstly, ride, ride a lot. If you think about improving at anything, the main catalyst is time. Putting in lots of time and effort mastering your craft. No professional BMX rider turned pro from not riding. However, spending time at the skatepark and riding are two different things. The time you spend on your pedals will be the ultimate way to gain bike control and build confidence to learn tricks and progress. Progression happens naturally, and the best way to encourage progression is a healthy competitiveness between you and your BMX friends or you and yourself. Keep on having fun and put the effort in and you will see your riding start to improve. Skateparks can be great places to find friendships, meet people, and network your way through the BMX space.
Talk to BMX riders
Not everyone gets along, but the cool thing about bmx is the connection you share with every other rider across the world. BMX is a great way to meet life long friends, and these friends are the people that will help you progress. BMX has a small community (compared to other more conventional sports) and if you don’t socialise that number will become less. The more BMX riders you know the more opportunities will open up to ride with new people and so on. So talk to people, be friendly, and don’t think you’re "cooler" than anyone. As you find yourself emersed in the BMX community, you’ll start to develop cliques and your riding will skew toward the company you keep. This is why it’s so important to have a good group of riding friends. Not just for the social aspects but because subconsciously you will progress together. The more fun you have on your bike the easier progressing will become. The more friends you make in the scene the more opportunities will arise to ride jams, competitions, road trips, and many more good times!
The local BMX shop should be the first place you went to get your first BMX bike. However, the bike shop will also act as a place to meet people within the industry around you. Getting to know the people within the industry is a great place to start building those relationships. This doesn’t just mean the people who run the shops, but the filmers, photographers, other team riders, and everyone else that associates with the scene. The impression you make within the scene is everlasting so be nice and treat others as you would like to be treated because at the end of the day your still just riding a kid’s bike, so keep it fun. The local bike shop has helped your scene around you, so supporting them will in-turn help them to continue to put on jams, have video premieres and help their team out.
Don’t be annoying
Sponsor me tapes, emails, DMs, and flat out asking isn’t the way to go about it. One common misconception is that people get sponsored for sheer talent. Would you want to work with someone that was good at their job but impossible to be around? Probably not, so why would a BMX company want to work with a person that can shred but has the wrong attitude, or simply doesn’t align with the companies vision and values. Sponsored riders represent the company and in return, the company will help with all sorts of things. Before you go in guns-a-blazing, think about if the company is the right one for you, and would you want to promote what they stand for? Remember that people own these companies so that communication you have been practicing over the years is ever important. Technology has made it easier for younger riders to communicate with industry people, companies, and BMX Pros. Although making this easier is a great thing for the younger riders, it means companies get flooded with videos and photos of young BMX riders trying to get sponsored. Sending in your video might not get a watch, if it does it’s probably going to be unlikely that a random video from a random person the company has never met is going to seal the deal. So get to know the people that run the companies and don't be a weirdo!
Boyd Hilder ripping the box at Simple Session earlier this year.
“Good things come to those who wait”. Be patient, nothing comes quickly and hard work pays off. Getting sponsored shouldn’t be your only goal however if you are determined and set yourself small goals that will hopefully eventuate into what you’re chasing. BMX is fun and that aspect shouldn’t ever be lost. If you’re putting (unnecessary) pressure on yourself and losing the fun aspect then it’s time to remember why you started riding in the first place. The most important part to remember is that companies want to work with riders that they can get on with on a personal level first and then promote the company second. Turning up with a big bag of tricks isn’t going to be enough to cut it. Being humble and respectful to the people around you is more important than how many barspins you can do.
Getting sponsored shouldn’t be the motivation for riding but if it helps you send that little bit harder or land that trick you have been scared of trying for months then it can be a great motivator. If you keep riding and treat others how you like to be treated then be patient and you’ll never know what might happen!