Updated: Jul 11
This question comes up all the time in longboarding...as a rider and owner of Faceplant Boardriders, I have the perspective from both sides and want to share them with you so we can all level up and progress the sport we love. This article is specifically targeted at longboarding but can be applied to any boardsport for initial sponsorship knowledge and how to keep your spot on the team.
How do I get sponsored?
The simple answer is... be really good and ride everyday. If you really are at the level of a sponsored professional rider then the companies will find you... eventually. Beyond talent, there is drive and motivation which can get you very far. Then there is being a cool person, if people don't want to hang out with you they are not going to want to sponsor you. But, if you're not blessed with amazing natural talent, or tired of waiting to be discovered there are plenty of ways to get sponsored right now.
Be a student of the sport, watch all the videos you can. Learn how to do tricks this way and see what styles you like and don't like. Watch the old videos, the history of your boardsport and work your way up to the present. By watching videos, you learn where the high level is at, what tricks are being thrown down so you know where you need to be.
Every boardsport has different niches, in longboarding there's downhill, freeride, dance, push and freestyle. In skateboarding, there's street and vert. In snowboarding, you have slopestyle, half pipe, street and big mountain. Find out what you're the best at and focus on that niche because that will help you stand out.
Top Left to right: CenMass blasting a stalefish, CenMass Boston Globe Newspaper Cover, Dirt Spray Judges at Skate for Peace
Bottom Left to right: Steezy Canadian Bacon at Slide Jam, $300 cash prize for 1st at Uncle Funky Style Session, Rosa Duarte TV segment for Bethlehem Slide Jam
Sponsor Me emails...
Be professional when sending your "Sponsor Me"emails. I get so many emails asking "Will you sponsor me" without any videos, pictures, competition results and basically no reasons why I should sponsor you. When you send an email to a potential sponsor, the first impression is everything. Don't waste their time, send an email that says exactly what you're looking for, why they should sponsor you and how you're going to help sell more products for them.
Understand that when a company gives you a product, they expect to earn it back and then some. Educate yourself on your sponsored brand. It drives me crazy when riders don't even know all the products they represent. Be able to talk about your favorite products and how you use them.
Start with a local boardshop or small company for sponsorship. Talk to every Rep that comes in the boardshop, nobody knows who you are yet so you have to market yourself. Small companies are looking for passionate and talented riders all the time. It's a great opportunity to prove yourself and work your way up the ranks.
Get some friends together and make a skate video or take good photos. If you don't know how to take pictures or videos then you better make a photographer your best friend. If you don't have a crew then get a tripod and practice reviewing products and explaining trick tips. Getting content is not easy, it takes practice just like learning new tricks. If you can make your own high quality content then you have a huge advantage. When making videos, show your personality, brands are going to be marketing you, if you're quiet, shy or lame no one will want to buy your pro model.
Jarrid Lopez and myself leading the pack into a wet Skate the Cape crash corner.
You need to Compete! Competitions and events are a great way to network and size you up against the local riders. Plus this is where a lot of the companies will be. It's a great way to get you in front of those sponsors' eyes and don't be afraid to introduce yourself, especially if you just crushed it. Boardsports are all about seizing the opportunity when it presents itself. That's why you need to practice to be physically and mentally prepared for these opportunities.
I love to compete and found that I have the most success at Slide Jams, so I focused on that. I have been competing in Slide Jams for longboarding since 2009. I would practice my runs over and over to make sure my tricks were dialed in so when it came time to compete and perform, I was ready to go. I wanted to show off my versatility of tricks from flatland at the top to fast big slides at the bottom and sick combos in between.
Freestyle and Slide Jams are judged events which can be very subjective. When you compete, you want to leave it all out there so there is no doubt in your mind that you tried your best and no doubt in the judges mind that you are killing it on all levels. You want to be having the most fun out there and skating so good that you inspire the judges to go out and skate after the comp. If you do that, you will be standing on the podium!
Nothing better than sharing the podium with your friends (Zach Longacre, Myself and Jarrid Lopez at Skate the Cape)
Be creative and think of new ways to help your sponsor, like organize and host events, make a cool video part and do a product review. The more you can think outside the box and stay ahead of the curve the more valuable you will be to your sponsor. Stay on the grind and keep progressing your riding. Expand your skills beyond just riding, like marketing, video editing and filming. Ask your sponsor where else you can help in the business. Most important...HAVE FUN and spread the stoke!
Interview with Jarrid Lopez...
I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite longboarders (not associated with Faceplant Boardriders) and who I think is one of the most professional riders in longboarding... Mr. Jarrid Lopez!
I first met Jarrid at 2012 Virginia Tech Surf the Streets (longboard competition). He was killing it of course and did the longest manual downhill I had ever seen... and he almost hit the Faceplant van doing it! Later that year he reached out to me for sponsorship on our new WheelRZ Wheels team. The rest is history and it has been so much fun watching this guy longboard, creating new tricks every year and just being a great ambassador for our sport.
R: Jarrid, who do you ride for right now?