Monday, November 26, 2007

Being a Team Rider

Photograph by Bill Mattos

Lots of people want to know how to get sponsored and think they should be because they are better than their mates and can do this weeks new trick clean, huge and backwards all at the same time twice. I can't be bothered to explain how to get sponsored, if you don't know you probably won't get sponsored. However to help you out I am going to explain what I do as a Nookie Team Rider.

Photograph by James Weir

I represent Nookie as a professional paddler, it is my job to do many things that basically fall into three categories. First and foremost it is my job to represent the Nookie in a positive light to all, from people who have never heard of kayaking or Nookie before, to mates or customers in the eddy on the river, to people who work in kayaking shops. I do this by just being a nice, approachable, honest person who people respect, easy. If somebody asks me a question about an item of kit I answer as honestly as possible, maybe let the person try the item if appropriate and point them in the direction of a local kayak shop where they can purchase said item if they are keen.

Photograph by James Weir

Secondly most successful sponsored paddlers are either competent photographers, videographers or both. By providing high quality photographs or videos to your sponsor to use in advertising will score you good points, focus on supplying material with good logo placement that is ready to use. The more aspirant paddlers will film, edit and produce their own films or write magazine articles or books, and use these media opportunities to promote their sponsors products. Many people use websites and blogs to promote themselves and their sponsors, be sure that you promote yourself in a good light to all. Keep your self promotion simple and high quality that everybody from your fans to the general public can understand, learn from and appreciate.

Photograph by Bill Mattos

Thirdly I am involved with the design, testing and development of products, this is something that different team riders will be involved in on different levels. At Nookie all team riders receive product feedback forms with their kit which they are expected to fill in and return. How many hours have you worn your cag for, what sort of use and any signs of early wear etc. I personally do lots of testing, chiefly because I go on the river lots, this summer I tested new dry pants amongst other things, I recorded over 350hours testing in four months, recording wear and tear every week and noting down potential for improvement. Feedback is just as important for production items as prototypes, the more we know the better the product will be. To give really good feedback learn about the products, how is it made and from what materials, how are they sewn together and if you don't like something, "it's crap" just is not good enough, why doesn't it work and how can it be made better.

Photograph by James Weir

This is just the start, if you feel you manage all these things then maybe, just maybe you've got what it takes to get a sponsorship deal. And remember getting sponsored doesn't mean you get sent free stuff and get to shout your head off, it is a work commitment that you must put the hours into, promoting the brand, testing products and being a good example to the world.

Photograph by Steffi Blochwitz

Oh I nearly forgot you also have to go boating loads and loads making everyday on the river worthwhile. Kayaking isn't a hobby any more, if you're sponsored it's a job.
So my young Jedis keep strong and be good, the force is with you.
James
Nookie Team Rider