The details of BJJ sponsorship is something that isn’t talked about much. You may have seen lots of Jiu Jitsu athletes promoting different brands on Instagram or competing covered in patches but how exactly do athletes attract these sponsors and what are they being paid?
How To Get A BJJ Sponsor?
To get a BJJ sponsor you can approach a brand and ask for a sponsorship, you can wait to be contacted by a company or you can form a relationship with a company and work out a deal. Whether you get sponsored depends on how popular you are and whether your image matches well with a company’s brand.
The most common way BJJ athletes attract sponsors is through contacting brands directly. This is typically done through email. A Jiu Jitsu athlete will email a brand and explain to them why they would be an asset to the company. Then if the company sees value they will schedule further discussions and come up with an offer.
The offer will involve what the BJJ athlete must do, rules they must follow, the length of the deal and the amount of compensation. The athlete and the company will then negotiate and attempt to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Another popular way Jiu Jitsu athletes secure sponsorship is by having a public profile on social media and waiting until a brand contacts them with a sponsorship offer. This method is great because you don’t have to worry about rejection but is not the most effective because you are relying on brands to discover you.
The final way to win a sponsorship deal is basically through forming a friendship with people who own or work at BJJ brands. For example you are a young hungry competitor who trains with a founder of a big time BJJ brand. You form a bond and they want to help you become a champion so they offer you a sponsorship deal.
These deals are typically the most valuable for the athlete as they are less about business and more about charity. As a company may be willing to pay you way more than you are worth to help you achieve your dream of becoming a world champion. However, they are the hardest to come by and rely much more on luck.
What Are BJJ Brands Looking For When Sponsoring Athletes?
BJJ brands are looking for athletes who can help them sell their products. They typically want a BJJ athlete to be popular, have a dedicated fan base, follow instructions and be a great spokesperson for the company. They also want your persona to align with their company branding.
The most important thing when it comes to getting BJJ sponsors is your popularity. If you have a 1 million followers on Instagram BJJ brands are going to be hitting you up constantly as they realise getting in front of that big of an audience is worth a lot of money.
The next biggest factor is what your audience consists of. If your audience is made up of mostly BJJ practitioners in the company’s age demographic then they are going to be even more pumped to sign you to a juicy contract.
When messaging BJJ companies looking for sponsorship you should include stats on your social media followings (number of followers, likes, views and demographics on your audience, growth trajectory).
BJJ brands are also looking for athletes who can represent the brand well. They want athletes who can speak about the brand and convince other people to purchase the gear. They want athletes that are professional and meet their obligations.
A great way to lose a BJJ sponsor is not competing in the required amount of tournaments, not going to specified events and not posting the required content on social media.
Finally BJJ brands are looking for Jiu Jitsu athletes that align with the company’s ethos and messaging. A Christian brand is not going to want to sponsor an atheist. Or a California/Hawaii surfing lifestyle BJJ brand is less likely to sponsor someone who doesn’t represent that image.
When contacting potential BJJ sponsors you should articulate the company’s brand to show them you understand what they are trying to promote and then explain how you espouse those same values.
How Much Do BJJ Sponsors Pay?
The major companies are paying $2000 to $4000 per month to big time athletes. Gordon Ryan and Keenan Cornelius both receive around $4000 per month. The majority of BJJ sponsorship deals are very small with athletes only receiving free gear or having training expenses and tournament fees covered.
Only the most famous BJJ athletes who have big online followings can command lucrative BJJ sponsorship deals. Gordon Ryan was allegedly being paid $4500 monthly by Hypnotik while Keenan Cornelius was pulling in over $4000 a month from Hyperfly. Unless you have at least 100k followers on instagram and a loyal BJJ centric following you will not be able to earn a high monthly salary.
The only exception would be if BJJ companies think you are the next big thing and don’t want to wait until you blow up and lose you to a rival. They may just sign you early and pay the big bucks.
If you are a solid competitor but you only have a modest following on social media then your BJJ sponsorships deals will also be modest. You will most likely be able to score free deals on gear, get a high paying affiliate link and if you are lucky have some of your training expenses covered.
Quite a few sponsors will pay for your tournament fees and help out with travelling expenses. The amount of financial support they give you definitely won’t be close to a full time income.
If you want to earn a full time income from your BJJ sponsors you really need to build a strong social media following and a persona that brands want to partner with. Your skills on the mat are actually secondary.
A world champion who only has 10,000 followers on Instagram is not worth as much as a blue belt competitor with 100,000 followers. The company uses athletes to sell its products and if the blue belt can get their products out to a much larger audience than the black belt world champion then he is worth more in terms of sponsorship dollars.
Once you have built a solid following on social media (the goal should be at least 40k to 50k) it is then time to start contacting brands. You need to come up with an enticing pitch on why they should sponsor you and what value you can bring to their company. If you can show them you can bring awareness to their products that result in sales you can win yourself a juicy contract allowing you to be a full time BJJ athlete.
It is also helpful to bring some emotion to your pitch and explain how their sponsorship could make your dream of being a professional Jiu Jitsu competitor true and with their help you could become a world champion.