Beginners guide to Mountain Bike sponsorship

When I first started racing, I was completely clueless as to how the whole sponsorship process worked. I figured I that if I won enough races, some company would be contacting me asking me to represent them. That wasn’t the case, and there weren’t any online resources that explained the process either. In this post, I hope to help you get a basic idea of how to get sponsored. 

Getting sponsored is a bit like applying for a job. Sometimes sponsorship opportunities materialize through talking to the right people, but in a lot of cases, you have to apply for the sponsorship. This blog post is focusing on how to apply for a sponsorship assuming you’ve never done this before. 

The Four Basic Parts

  • Resume

  • Finding companies to apply to

  • Writing a cover letter

  • Contacting

Disclaimer: This is the method I used when applying for a sponsorship, and I’ve had success with it. There isn’t one correct way. I’m sure some readers will disagree with some of the things I’m saying. If so, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks. 

Resume

The first step to getting a sponsorship is creating a resume. It’s very similar to what a job resume would look like, but instead of job experience, you put race results, and other bike related experience. Your resume should include some of the following

  • Your name

  • Contact info

  • Age

  • Race category

  • Race disciplines

  • Recent results

  • Career highlights

  • Related skills: Mechanical skills, marketing, photography etc...

  • Community service/outreach: Trail building, Instructing, volunteering, etc.

  •  Goals: Short and long term

  • Photos: On and off bike, and remember to smile

  • Social Media Pages: If you don't have a social media presence you need to.   

  • References: People who can vouch for you

  • Links of interest : Have you been featured on pinkbike? Include that.

Keep your riding resume short and concise. Trimming the fat can be difficult, but it goes a long way; nobody wants to read a novel. Another aspect to consider is that an organized and tidy resume will have a better success rate that a sloppy mess resume. After all, this is a reflection of you. 

My general resume format is three pages long.

  • First page is a photo collage, this gives them a visual reference of who I am.

  • Second page is the bulk of the information

  • Last page is the links and references

If you used images, in photoshop, or GIMP (free open source both mac/PC), or whatever software you can, save the images as a .jpg (very small image file) rather than a .png (large image file) at the smallest resolution you can without losing quality. Pictures taking up a whole page should be around 300KB (NOT MB aka megabytes. 1MB = 1000KB) 

Protip: Save the file as a PDF, and name the file something like “FirstNameLastNameResume” So for me it would be PhilKmetzResume.pdf or PK-Resume.pdf

 

Finding Companies

Now that you have the resume written. Let’s discuss finding companies you should apply to, and what you can realistically expect out of it. What you can expect depends on a few things. Your riding, your personality, and your reach. I personally recommend finding a company that you like, and a company that you’ve supported with your own money. 

 If you don’t have a contact with a company, you will need to do a little investigation. In many instances, if you go to “insert brands website here” you can find a “contact us” link at the bottom of the page that’ll take  you to another page with a list of each person, and their position. Occasionally the company will even have an email dedicated to sponsorship. Otherwise, find the closest related email, and inquire to whom you should contact. The bigger the company, the harder it can be to find a contact. 

ProTip: a personal reference is always worth more than a cold contact. Avoid burning bridges, you never know who will be able to get in touch with the right person. 

 

Cover Letter/Email Body

This is the hardest part, at least for me (persuasive writing wasn’t my best subject). Time to write a 3-5 paragraph** “essay” explaining

  • Who you are

  • What you want

  • How sponsoring you will benefit the company (hint good results mean nothing)

  • What you currently do

  • What you are going to do.

**keep this as short as possible, avoid rambling, and wall of texts.

This is your chance to show your personality while, highlighting all the important information on your resume. You may need to tailor each cover letter specifically for each brand. For example, a bike frame company and a pads/uniform sponsorship require two completely different cover letters. 

Proofread anything you send out, and then have another set of eyes read through it. Often times my rough drafts are littered with errors, typos, and left out words that I wasn’t able to catch with my own eyes.

 

Contacting

Be sure you already found the contact information for the company you’re applying to. That may save you from writing a cover letter to a company you can’t contact.

The email should say:

Subject: Sponsorship Opportunities
Hello/Hi
My name is xxxx, I’m a friend of XXX and I’m seeking sponsorship for the upcoming year….. 

Or

Hello/Hi
My name is xxxx, I’m seeking sponsorship for the upcoming year…. 

If you are being referred to a company from somebody, use their name in the email this adds a personal touch. If not, you can either paste your cover letter into the email body or attach as a download. 

 

Summary

I hope you found this information useful, if you have any questions feel free to send me an email (see contact page) and I will do my best to help out. I will continue to edit and revise this post when I have new information that I think should be included, so be sure to check back periodically.

– Phil Kmetz

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