Besides “what bike should I buy?” and “can I have some free stuff,” our inboxes and Facebook gets this question more than anything: “how do I get sponsored?” Or in some cases, “how can I get my kid sponsored?” Truth is, there’s really no magic answer, but here’s a few ideas to think about…
The BMX industry is ever evolving these days–especially sponsorship. And although it’s been a long tradition in BMX racing, the “freestyle” portion of BMX is finally really experiencing the hook up from companies through bike shops (at least on a higher level publicly, thanks to the Internet). Whether it’s international riders riding for American companies through their local shop through a distributor or a kid in the States being even closer through his local shop, the ramp, street, and dirt hook ups appear to be stronger than ever, and for many, the first step to making it up the ladder of BMX sponsorship.
These days, there are plenty of kids pushing themselves through two very difficult channels of BMX sponsorship–web videos and contest riding. And while web videos are essential to practically every rider involved in the sponsorship game these days, really making a splash through web videos alone is becoming an increasingly difficult task these days. The overflow of web videos on the internet is staggering these days and unless you have the perfect combination of talent, originality, and a quality local filmer, hovering above the rest of the crowd is a difficult task and sure to become much more difficult in the future. In the same vein, contest riding is, every single day, becoming more and more aggressively competitive and difficult to work to the top of. Natural talent, the drive to harness it, dedication, and time are crucial to the contest scene these days–factors that are very rare in coming together to turn some heads and make yourself known above the rest..
However, getting a start through a bike shop seems to be often overlooked, and naturally, rarely sought after. The kids getting their first hookups through their local shop seem to rarely seek that–it’s more so something that falls in their lap. The BMX industry at times seems larger than ever, but in reality, is still small enough where word gets about, and gets about quickly. Good, friendly relationships exist between shops and their distributors and when a brand is looking to put someone on their parts in an effort to get some hype and exposure in a certain area, who is going to be the most trusted source? The local bike shop. Critics might say this is taking advantage of locals, or try and put some faceless, demonic spin on this type of hook up–but more often times than not, it’s a great channel and opportunity for a kid to get his name and riding out there to the BMX world in a way they never would have had before.
So, how does one go about this? Like any sort of sponsorship, a combination of luck and skill still seem to be the best way to go about this. But, there are some things that you can do that won’t hurt. First (and most obvious), spend some time at your local shop. Don’t order from mail orders–get in there, talk to the employees, ask some questions, and get yourself known. If you hear of local events, offer to lend a hand or do what you can to support. Showing up is one thing (and some riders can’t even do that), but dedicating time to make local events happen is another. Travel around–it’s not about sticking to your local area 100% of the time. One of the greatest things about BMX is pushing past your normal surroundings and seeing what else the world has to offer–get out there and see who else and what else is out there past your normal boundaries. Be cool to the younger kids in the scene and show them the best way though BMX as possible. The older ones are who the younger ones learn from and good role models are always noticed by a strong local shop. And finally, although it’s not the only thing, being a good rider always has a lot to do with it. Be original, be creative, and be yourself–it almost seems like if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be, but there’s no reason to not push yourself as hard as you can riding wise if you’re feeling it.
There’s no perfect formula to getting sponsored, and this is just one way of going about it. These are just some observations and tips on what I’ve seen throughout the years. Sponsorship isn’t the end all, be all that some make it out to be, but for those that feel the drive to just ride their bike as much as they want to, can be a fulfilling channel in their lives. It’s an industry where everybody talks, and a lot of the times, your local shop is involved at a much deeper level than you’d think. Don’t necessarily chase it, but know that putting in positive effort into your local shop and local scene can one can lead you to some hook ups if everything lines up right and you’re in it for the right reasons.