Regardless of what you do in the hunting industry, getting sponsored might not be as easy as it seems.
OK, so you and your buddies love to hunt. You spend a lot of time checking trail cameras, you study different deer management methods and you have a successful social media page. Ultimately, you spend a lot of money on hunting and you think it's time to reach out to companies as potential sponsors and maybe get some free hunting gear.
You wait a few days and don't hear anything. A week goes by and this potential sponsor goes back to just being a regular hunting company. Your dream of getting a hunting sponsorship and an outdoor TV show slowly fades.
Maybe you met them and had a chat at a trade show and thought things were going well, but now you can't even get an email. Have you ever wondered what they were looking for that you didn't bring to the table?
Lets find out.
I sat down with Rubline Marketing Owner Chase Rohlfsen, who personally handles media strategies for the companies he represents. Because of my position here at Wide Open Spaces, I have a different relationship with him than the average hunter. He often requests product reviews from us and takes us on hunts to show us new, exciting gear.
So when my team, Top Pin Outdoors, first started looking for sponsors, Rohlfsen was one of the first people I spoke with.
He often told me no. Even with all the hard work I had put into building this company, I thought we had something special and something different. He knew better, as he was in the business for quite some time, but it never deterred me from trying.
No means yes, but only after you've built a foundation.
Last year was our first year sponsored by one of Rohlfsen's companies, Scent Crusher. It had no financial backing, but we were able to get some free gear and our guys became pro-staffers. The free product was nice, and of course we love Scent Crusher. But we knew we had to start small and work our way up.
When we learned more about the outdoor industry, we learned that we needed to be a business. It's much more than just having a successful Facebook page. No hunting company is going to invest in a group of guys just because they kill big bucks, which we don't. We hunt mostly public land and are just as happy with a 100-inch, 2-1/2-year-old mountain, woodland buck as people in Kansas would be with a 200-inch whitetail.
Here's what you should take away from this interview.
Great sportsman exist everywhere, so you have to find your niche. Find what you love and what makes you different. Hard work will pay off, too. I had zero connections when I came into this industry, and although I read magazine articles, I never suspected I'd end up writing them. You may think it comes easy, but I can assure you it doesn't.
There are already a bunch of people out there trying to be the next Waddell from Bone Collector. The guys who'll emerge are the ones who are building their YouTube Channel, creating content that's completely different than what people have already seen.
Remember that we all have to start somewhere. Go out there review gear for outdoor brands, even if you have to spend your own money. Eventually, someone will take notice. And, as long as you work hard and stay true to yourself, everything will come together in the long run.