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Artists and athletes work in competitive fields, so if you're looking to make a name for yourself as one, you have to stand out. One way to distinguish yourself in the world of art or athletics is to score a clothing sponsorship. Sponsors can help beef up your credibility and provide you with gear and professional support.
Clothing sponsorships usually come in one of four tiers:
- Donation or contribution: The company provides you with financial support, and you respond with a thank you note or something similar.
- Shop sponsorship: The company gives you free or discounted gear.
- Amateur sponsorship: The company gives you free or discounted gear on top of some financial support for travel fees or equipment expenses.
- Professional sponsorship: The company covers your expenses and also gives you a paycheck.
If you want to make clothing sponsorship a reality, remember to start small, probably with a contribution or shop sponsorship, especially if you've never been sponsored before. You also have to approach the brands you're interested in professionally and convincingly.
Find a Realistic Brand Choice
If you're still trying to put yourself on the map, consider the clothing brands you'll have the best luck with: probably those that are still trying to put themselves on the map too. There are a lot of quality indie clothing brands out there, so pick a few that speak to you.
Make sure your genre matches up with that of your brand of choice. If you're seeking sponsorship for your hardcore band, find a brand with a similar aesthetic. If your athletic career might bring some attention to your little-known hometown, look for local brands that might want to propel your career for that reason. Find a brand that fits your career trajectory.
Prove You Enjoy the Brand
Follow them on Instagram and Twitter. Like their Facebook page. Actually make a purchase.
Tag them in any of your social media posts in which you're wearing their products – especially photos or videos of you performing. Before requesting sponsorship, show that you genuinely like the brand you're after and you support how they do business. You want to be able to tell your contacts from that brand that you actually bought and wear their clothes, and you love them.
Sell Them on Your Value
When you email a brand ambassador, focus on convincing them that you'll be effective in advertising their clothing. Send them links to photos and videos of you performing (if you're an artist) or competing (if you're an athlete) to show that you're good at what you do and you'd be a good choice for sponsorship.
Make your pitch personal, especially if you're sending it to an indie brand. Write a meaningful email showing that you did your research and genuinely enjoy their clothes. This can go a long way, especially with independent companies.
Stick With It
Be persistent and resilient. If contacts from one of your preferred brands are responding sporadically or noncommittally, keep sending them new material and updates on your career accomplishments. Stay in their periphery as a potential candidate for sponsorship. If you get shut down, don't sweat it. Shake off the rejection and start contacting other brands, and perhaps polishing up your pitches, photos and performance videos.
Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.
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