A friend of mine asked me today about how I obtained multiple sponsorships. I have received this question a lot, and I also see many people bitching and moaning online about who does and who doesn't get signed.

The most common misconception in regards to this issue is that in order to get a sponsorship or "help" of any kind, you need to be a genetic freak. You need to be the king of the hill, the top dawg, the world record holder, etc. You need to bring more to the table than numbers. I hear people bitch constantly about how they have bigger numbers than "so and so," or Insert Name hasn't done anything in a meet in years... yada yada yada. In order to represent a company, especially a company at the top of the game, you need to be more than a number. It's about what you can bring to the company and to the people invested in the company as a whole. If you aren't working with world record numbers, it doesn't mean you're hopeless. What you lack in numbers you may make up for in personality, amiability, sportsmanship, knowledge, a willingness to help others, energy, and perhaps a unique look. You need to be a very versatile person to catch a company's eye. On the other hand, you may be a world record holder, but if you are a complete d-bag, you're never going to get picked up. You are an extension of that company both in the public eye and online. For instance, I am willing to bet that Dave Tate would rather have an athlete who is willing to give back to others over a world record holding, self-centered moron representing the baby he's raised from inception. There is definitely more to being "world class" than big numbers.

So what can you do?

  • Be honest and real
  • Deny immediate self-gratification
  • Put in the years of work
  • Carry yourself well in public and online
  • Work your ass off
  • Use the internet and social media to get in the eye of the company you wish to represent
  • Be willing to help others
  • Know your shit (possess knowledge)
  • If you have personality, run with it
  • Most Important: Never Give Up Hope! Whether it takes one year or 10, never ever give up.

Since I wanted to make sure this topic was covered thoroughly, I asked my friend Steve Colescott to add some pointers. For those of you who don't know him, Steve's job at elitefts™ is Senior Content Manager.  A big part of this job involves handling all of the sponsored lifters on the site here. In addition, he has worked in the past as a consultant for a half-dozen different sports supplement companies and dealt with the selection and marketing of athletes. Here are some pointers that Stevie tossed out:

  • You should value your own reputation enough so that you ONLY want to be associated with a company whose ideals and message align with the things in which you deeply believe. If they treat you and others with respect, have great customer service, and are not solely out for a quick buck, then it may be a match—one in which you can both help one another become more than you were on your own.
  • Keep in mind that there is an investment of time to market a new sponsored athlete. Do everything you can to show up on time and prepared. In turn, try to have as much material ready in advance as possible (a variety of photos, some short articles, a testimonial or two of some of your favorite products offered by that company, etc.).
  • You need to develop a following, and social media is the best way to do this. For instance, have a very active Facebook account. You need to make regular posts that people find helpful, positive, and either funny or informative. This needs to be a daily investment (maybe an hour a day split over two different time periods). Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are also things with which you need to become familiar.
  • Think about how you present yourself. We had a very good lifter that was courting us for sponsorship while making social media posts about his recreational drug use. No one wants to make someone "the face of their company" when there is a strong possibility their local papers will have photos of him wearing one of your t-shirts while being put in a squad car.
  • Posting informative videos on YouTube that share what you know (and promoted through the above listed social media outlets) will create a very personal interactive experience with potential followers. A great example of this are the videos Clint Darden, one of our athletes, does regularly (nine hundred videos up on YouTube so far). Check this out and you will see a great example.
  • Write articles sharing some of the stories that will inspire and inform others. As you get better at this, you will develop a following as a writer. Social media fades, but articles come up in searches years after you have written them. I would welcome any article you write for the elitefts™ site, as they will reach a large readership.


  • I once read in response to a question on how someone should find love: "Be more loving and love will find you." To apply that to a sponsorship situation and how you get a sponsorship... Do the things that reach out to other lifters and help them. Do that often enough, and get good enough at it, and you will develop a following. Use what is special about you and apply it to those who will benefit from your life lessons. People often approach us wanting sponsorship and tell us all of the things that they are willing to contribute. However, when we are looking to add someone to the team, these people are often passed over for lifters that have been out there already doing those things. They just want to do those in collaboration with us because they believe in the ideals we stand for and know they can help more people by being on team elitefts™. We know what they can do because we have seen them doing it over the past year or two.
  • If you are looking for supplement company sponsorship, learn the supplement industry. Find products that you like and become as familiar with them as the sales reps and R&D guys at that company. Test them on yourself, use them over time and, if they are good, begin promoting them through Facebook posts, YouTube video reviews, or testimonials to the company. I see many athletes endorsing products that they have put little thought into and may not truly believe in. If your product commentary is insightful, it will be found and your video may be shown at the company's next management meeting with the topic, "How can we make use of this guy?"
  • Read as many books as possible on social media to help you target your efforts. For starters, I would suggest The Social Media Marketing book (Zarrella), Social Boom! (Gitomer), No One Cares What You Had For Lunch (Mason), and Likeable Social Media (Kerpen).
  • Give! And then give more! To quote Zig Ziglar, "You can get anything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want." Zig is a smart guy and has done pretty well for himself following this advice.

I hope this helps some realize that it isn't about numbers. Even if 100 people say I'm a moron, if I can get through to just one person, then my point was a success. Just remember that any vision, any future you can imagine, can be a reality. Surround yourself with like-minded people and never ever quit.

Dare to Dream,

Marshall Johnson