I am by no means an authority on “getting sponsored” but over the years I have learned a thing or two from being in the stunt industry and I constantly get asked this question by up-and-coming riders:
How do you get sponsored as a motorcycle stunt rider?
This answer should be of interest to anyone involved in the stunt riding industry. Where and how the money comes into our sport greatly dictates the future of stunt riding’s style, personalities, geography and target demographics. It’s a fascinating time for stunt riding, the future is ours and by looking at the big picture we can work to turn stunt riding into something relatable, understandable and able to be enjoyed by a huge and diverse group of people.
To begin, you need to think approach getting sponsored as pursuing a new job. A company pays you to get them impressions (eyeballs!), test their merchandise and spread the good word about their products or services. Getting sponsored doesn’t mean simply “getting paid to ride.” There is a whole host of responsibilities that come along with being a sponsored rider, so if you just want to ride your motorcycle – getting sponsored probably isn’t a goal you should chase.
One of the most important parts of your job as a sponsored rider is communication. Whether it’s in person, in front of an audience, online or in pictures and videos; how well you communicate in these situations is crucial. Communication is important in both quality and quantity. You want to grow your reach as wide as you can while staying true to your personal message and core values. This means shows, events, interviews, blogs and social media platforms. Each conversation, comment, like and dislike is important – and you should treat every exchange with professionalism and respect. Task one: make yourself into a brand and get your brand out into the world.
Now I’m sorry to say, but killer riding skills and some social media handles are something pretty much anyone can cobble together. To get to the top of the stunt game you need something that sets you apart.
Be honest, why would a company pick you?
If you can’t answer that clearly and concisely, don’t fret, but do go back to the drawing board. There are an infinite amount of ways to set yourself apart, you just need to creatively think about how to apply your personal skills towards building something of worth.
To make yourself valuable you need to examine the stunt scene and figure out what is missing. For example, how can companies better communicate with riders and audiences? How could a company alter its image towards a certain demographic? Stunt riding as a whole is missing a lot of things including, events, ways for people to get together and learn how to stunt, methods to perform for big audiences, TV shows and competitions, just to name a few. Finding a solution for some of the industry’s problems makes you a smart choice for any company to work with.
There is certainly no formula to finding a way to ride professionally, but as more and more riders move up the ranks and become full-time riders, the playing field intensifies. You need the personal brand, the online and in-person network, you need to do the footwork to get yourself out in front of these companies and most importantly you need a unique reason to make them pay attention to you. The last is the most important, you can do everything else right, but if there is nothing setting you apart from the crowd, well, no one will notice you in the crowd.
My last piece of advice is, don’t only be unique in your self-branding, also think outside the box when it comes to sponsors. Maybe the typical “stunt company” is not right for you. Getting our sport in front of broader audiences and working with new products and services is crucial to stunt riding’s growth and if you have success in alternative markets, the core “stunt” companies will start to get interested.
Work hard to make yourself unique, valuable and worthy of sponsorship, then the sponsorships will come naturally.