How does Sponsorship Work?
So how do you get sponsored? Let's talk about that. A lot of photographers want to get sponsored. Again, they have this notion that they think they're going to get paid a lot. Generally, again, it's not direct. Most companies are not going to sit there and say, "Here's thousands of dollars just because you want to use our gear." Again, some do pay, depending on if you built your brand up. I mentioned that I have a handful of paying sponsorships but not all of my sponsorships are paid. A lot of the benefits become indirect. So, what to expect. Few sponsorships pay directly, as I mentioned. They're just not going to... They don't have the budgets, they don't want to pay it, maybe their ambassador program or their sponsorship program is just too large, I get it. A lot of the time it's going to be a gear exchange, or marketing or exposure offering, the idea that they'll sit there and say, "Okay, we can't pay you, but we'll give you this." In turn, we'll also potentially market stuff. Or if...
you don't ask, they're probably not going to offer much. I always ask. And, of course, exposure, which is... I have a whole section on exposure, so we won't dive into that. Most companies want social influence. That says want, not what. Want. They want social influence, that's why they want to have an ambassador program. They want an extra arm in marketing. This is a social media class. If you built up a social following, even if it's small to growing, and you have good engagement, you have something to offer. So yes, again, you have the ability, or you have more hands in your deck. You have more value if you have a large social influence, you have a large social following or a lot of engagement. But there's a lot of, like I said, mid-range companies that don't have the budgets to work with people at a certain level, and so its worth reaching out to and trying to figure out a way to find value or benefit out of. Looking for marketing or social media managers. These are generally the people you want to talk to when it comes to sponsorship programs. A lot of the times they're run under these programs, or at least under their budgets, which means they're in control of it even if someone else is running it. We'll talk about how to find those when we talk about LinkedIn. But PR departments are also great sources for companies that you're not having success at reaching out to them. Now, when you reach out to them again, I'm not talking about the idea of, obviously, calling up their customer support. I'm not talking about the idea of pinging them on Twitter. The people that are working in the social spaces for those are not the individuals that have the ability to make choices or decisions, at least in terms of financial. So you want to find the right person to talk to when it comes to this stuff. So if you are interested in sponsorships, you want to try to find marketing or social media managers, or if you're not finding success, PR departments are great. A lot of companies, I've started working with in PR, and to be honest, it was actually easier working with the company and I got paid more, or I had more revenue generated out of the work I did through the PR, and then when I jumped into a sponsorship or ambassador program, there was less red tape. But if you truly want to be sponsored, and you want your pretty name on a website and you want to be affiliated with a company, which does add brand value, then you got to go through the official channels, and the official channels means you got to figure out who to talk to. It means doing your research. Biggest value is typically indirect. Again, this is the idea that the company's not going to pay outright, or if they do it's not going to be a ton, but a lot of times, you can build in the idea of image licensing, working on larger marketing campaigns, and I do that all the time. A lot of the companies I work with that don't pay, I sit there and say, "Okay. Well, every year, I'm going to send them a bunch of images. You guys can license this, I'm going to charge this much, and then in addition, let's put together this big, nice marketing campaign. I'm going to charge you 25 grand for this, but it's going to be quite awesome." Now, not everyone's going to be able to get those numbers, but you can take that relationship and say, "Hey, this is great." And you can let them know off the bat. You can say, "Hey, normally, I do charge companies," even if you don't. But you can say, "Let's work on something. I'd love to develop a relationship with you." So really, what you're doing, you want to build that trust so that you can ultimately get to what you want. Finding partnerships that have long term value. That's super important when it comes to finding sponsorships. That's what I'm looking for. A lot of people are just out there and will take whatever comes their way. I probably get 20 or 30 in a given month reaching out and saying, "Hey, I have this product." "Will you check this out?" "Hey, will we do this?" I don't want to associate my brand with any other company that doesn't increase my brand value. That in itself has value, because then I can take that value and sit there and pitch that idea, saying, "I work with X number of companies," or, "this company and that company," when I'm pitching other clients. So, work with the brands you are proud to be connected with, don't work with everyone that reaches out and says they're going to throw you a wristband.