Sorry I missed the show last night, I'll have to listen to it tonight.
This is my story;
In 2008 I finished a fund raising trip around Tampa Bay. (17 days, 129 miles) Shortly after that I was contacted by a friend of mine that has a kayak shop in St Pete. Malibu was looking for people to join their Pro Staff. I thought it over, submitted a package and they accepted me.
Now what does that entail? I have to meet certain requirements such as write reviews, tournaments, etc. The biggy though is demo days. All kayak companies want to sell kayaks, period. Bottom line, it doesn't matter how many tournaments you win, how many fish you catch, bla,bla,bla. Its all about selling kayaks. The best way to do that is to get people to test them out. Posting pics of me in a Malibu is all good, but thats not going to convince someone to buy one. You gotta get em in one.
Now, for all the other "Staff" I'm on, some you just write to, fill out a form letter and they accept you, others I was contacted. Mostly it entitles you to discounted goods, in exchange for your services.
In all honesty, I'll probably do this for one maybe two more years, then give it up to concentrate more on photography and writing.
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Re: How to get on a Pro Staff?
5 years 4 weeks ago #3
I took a slightly different route then Bill. Over the past couple of years I had become obsessed with kayak fishing. Yeah I know we all are, but I started cutting out other hobbies to free up more time and money to go fishing. At the the same I also had a job change that allowed me a lot more time to spend on the water.
So a year ago I asked YakSushi to help me start a blog (I had been a big fan of Rob Choi's and ABadBackcast's for a while) with the purpose of trying to share all the knowledge I had gained while getting into the sport. After writing some articles and going to tournaments, shows and get-togethers. I had made some contacts to the point that I was recognizable when I made contact with a company.
The next thing I did was put together a resume, that states who you are and what you do. For example the essence of mine is; I do fish tournaments but I am mainly a serious recreational angler that gets just as much enjoyment out of watching my kids catch fish as catching them myself. The other thing that I found that is a real plus when making contact is having my own website. There is only so much you can put into 1-2 pages in a resume but being able to have them checkout a website with pictures articles and everything is priceless.
So now that you have some contacts, a resume, and your ready to apply. Now there are two ways to look at this you can apply to everyone under the sun, I know guys who have, I didn't. Or you can find products you use, want to use, and products you want to try. Then I wrote a letter to the company and included my resume. The letter introduced me to the company and told them why and how I thought I could represent them in a professional way. Then you wait.
Now one thing I will mention is timing. Money is tight these days and there is competition for every dollar. These companies have budgets and once they are set they don't grow so be prepared to be told "not this year but contact me in August for next year". Sometimes it's a line but sometimes it's the truth.
The last thing I have to say is follow through. If you said you would write a review on something they gave you write it. If it didn't work for you and you don't want to endorse it, call them up and offer to return it. If they ask you to show up at a show or demo day you got to show up. Remember the stuff isn't free you have to work for it. And like Heywood said most deals are just good discounts on stuff.
First you may want to ask yourself if you're up for the job. Essentially, you are agreeing to market a product. It should be something you believe because you will be committed to use this product exclusively. Do you have a way to expose their products to a large audience? Do you blog? Do you enter a lot of tournaments and place fairly high? Do you have a guide service? You don't have to do all of these things but you need a way to get the word out or you will not be as attractive. Are you willing to travel to demo days and trade shows? A lot of things to think about.
One thing that I've experienced is it's usually better if the sponsor approaches you. I bet you are saying "Well, how are they going to know who I am?" That's up to you. If you are doing a good job of marketing yourself they will know who you are. Don't wait to get accepted to a pro staff position before you start marketing a product... pick one you use and spread the word! There are plenty of companies that accept applications... so I'm not saying you can't get on a pro staff this way it's just a lot easier when they come to you
Not everyone has experienced what I have and not every company does it the same way. Some are very picky and some are not. If you are interested in a particular company you may want to approach one of their current pro staffers. You may want to also approach a company that hasn't established itself in the market and is eager to pick up pro staffers. One thing to remember is you need to be patient.
I'd have to agree with most of whats been posted so far.It's a two way relationship.You've gotta have something to offer to your sponsors in return for there support.I was lucky enough to be approached by my sponsors as I had been posting on another forum quite a bit about products I believed in and they like what I had to say.I also direct a Kayak Fishing Tourney up here as well as a local blog which helped with exposure and contacts.The biggest thing in my mind is being fully committed if you get on board with a company be sure to do your best to gain them positive exposure.It's a business.
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