I think I’ll start with a super basic 101. There are a million ways to go about getting a sponsor. However, if you’re a new singer or artist with a small budget; finding these sponsors is cumbersome. I’ve merely found a way to eliminate a great amount of disappointment, anxiety, and frustration.
What Do I Need?
WHAT DO I NEED?If you’re at the stage where you’re thinking of sponsors this is the time to think about your “mise en place”. This is a fun little culinary phrase that means that everything is in place- your ingredients, bowls….you’re prepped and ready to go.
So what does your mise en place look like? Have you created any content? Is your image solid? Are you set up on multiple social media platforms? If you’re a singer, you should have some music. Photographer? Have a portfolio and website. Choreographer? Have a reel and be teaching regularly.
Just like anything in this world, nothing comes for free. You can not expect any business whether big or small, corporate or mom and pop shop to sponsor or endorse you if you’re not bringing anything to the table.
So what do you bring to the table? Do you have a large fan base and regularly book shows? Do you always dress in 50’s style clothes and make organic lip tints that sell out every week? Have your social media stats seen regular growth and you just debuted an album?
You need to know who you are, what your image is, what events you want to take part in, and have a solid social media following. You don’t need to have thousands of followers, but more than 500 on at least one platform wouldn’t hurt.
Now that you’ve got yourself together, who’s your match?
Match Made In Heaven
One of the biggest fails you can have is matching yourself with the completely wrong company for your brand. Just like with relationships…the wrong guy is always the wrong guy honey. He never becomes the right guy. Choosing the wrong company to link up with can have adverse effects on your brand and hurt your growth.
What does the wrong match look like? An organic produce store sponsored by a liquor brand. A rapper sponsored by a life insurance company. An unhealthy snack business sponsored by a healthy snack, alternative business.
Do you see where I’m going with this? All these examples are either polar opposites or too much alike. You want a sponsor that’s going to compliment what you bring to the table and vice versa.
Now what does that look like? A country pop singer sponsored by a company that makes western style boots. A dancer who is sponsored by a performing arts studio. A model that is sponsored by a natural skincare company.
These are great (and very general) examples. It goes a lot deeper than this. For instance a painter may choose one “art supplies” sponsor over another because it donates every year to build water wells in Africa, and the artist is an advocate for social issues.
Another in-depth example would be a plus size blogger that chooses to work with one clothing company over another because the latter had a long history of body shaming before they the new CEO took over.
It can get even more complex from there! Just trust and believe the matchmaking doesn’t cease the bigger you get, it becomes WAY more convoluted. By this time you’ll have a magnificent team to receive offers on your behalf and do all the nitty gritty research for you.
Until then, it’s all about your balance. What would compliment you and your art.
Ying and Yang
When you’re an independent artist, intimidation floods your mind as you consider reaching out to these companies and begging them for freebies…but we can eliminate much of this with the ying and yang approach (that’s how I like to refer of them).
The best way to have success in getting a sponsor is to be equally yoked. So if you’re fresh on the scene with great content and 500 active followers…look for a company with the same.
Lola is new to modeling and has a sweet, teeny bopper look. She has a lot of raw talent, done some TFT (trade for trade) shoots, posts relevant content regularly on social media and has 750 followers on instagram. She also is regularly invited to industry events. Who should she reach out to?
A. hat company with 500,000 followers that endorses athletes.
B. handmade accessories startup with 1000 followers, that sells on Etsy.
C. custom headband company with 100 followers and no store.
Option B would make the most sense as far as getting success on both ends. They both have a solid social following to cross market to. Lola could ask for free accessories to pull for events she attends and upcoming shoots; while in return, offering to tag her social media sites every time she wears a piece. It’s a win, win for both.
What Do You Need A Sponsor For?
ow you either stumbled upon this article because you’re a struggling artist who just wants free stuff, or you’re trying to facilitate a certain need. Are you a dance troupe struggling with being able to afford dance space? A singer? Running out of slay-worthy outfits with a budding event calendar?
Knowing what your needs are increases the chance of getting brands to work with you. If you know you’re in need of a rehearsal space, reach out to studios. It’s always great to reach out to companies just adjacent of your artform to work with.
Who knows, they may even be in desperate need of getting some new faces and potential clients to their venue.
So what do you do once you’ve chosen a few companies?
Having your “mis en place” is truly half the battle. Sending an email or a direct message via social media is a great way to break the ice…granted you’ve contacted them in a professional tone and have links to your work attached.
I would honestly suggest having an email with your company (artist) name, a signature at the bottom with your website, maybe even a logo if you really want to wow them.
Showing that you’ve taken the initiative to have your ducks in a row already puts you ahead of the “hey, can I get freebies?” people. AND for extra brownie points you can even describe what you like about the company’s products and that you’ve been paying attention to their journey as well.
Don’t be afraid to compliment. After all, you should have SOMETHING nice to say if you’re interested in them sponsoring or partnering with you. Really pay attention to them and let your words be genuine. Let them know that you’d love to represent their brand and you have something to offer.
These emails may turn into a long and beneficial romance…
So, what happens once the company offers to sponsor you? Sometimes it’s super informal and other times there are contracts involved. Make sure to read and decipher every fragment of that contract before you sign it. If it’s more informal, make sure your conversations are documented via email so you have something to reference back to.
Also, this sponsor is putting its product on the line for you, and you’re putting your brand on the line for them. Make sure that you’re happy with what they’ve offered you and that they’re happy with how you’re representing their brand. Even if they “technically” seem like a great pairing with your brand; if the company is difficult to work with, it’s not even worth your effort.
But a great pairing can boost your fan base, sales and solidify the brand you’ve created. Have you had a terrible or great experience with a sponsor? What worked and what didn’t?