July 1st 2021 saw a massive shift in college sport in the US with the NCAA announcement that student athletes can now monetise their name, image and likeness. Now, we knew this was coming so it’s no surprise, but what does surprise me is how unprepared SAs are to capitalise on this culture shift. Monetising your NIL is going to take some work, but get it right and you could profit greatly, and the more you put into your branding, the more you’re going to get back.
Here are 4 top tips on how to do it:
1) Find your story. This is a fundamental starting place to build your brand and your social media activity. If you get this bit right, every subsequent decision about your branding will be easy and stay on message. The questions you should be asking yourself are: What is the thing that separates you from others? What is your passion and the thing you care most about? What have you overcome to get to where you are now? What is unique only to you? Remember, for a SA to max on NIL opportunities, you need to figure out what your ‘hook’ is. Examples might be overcoming a physical or mental disability to get to where you are now. You may have been affected by something in your childhood that shaped you as a person. Perhaps you are highly skilled in an area that isn’t your sport or what people might expect. Keep in mind that the more genuine you are, the more it will shine through, so be true to yourself even if that makes you feel vulnerable.
2) Think what you can give, rather than what can you get. This is where I see most athletes make the biggest mistake. Once you’ve figured out your story it’ll be much easier to demonstrate your value to a company. Your value is the thing that companies are buying and the more you can produce, the more you can monetize. You need to come up with 3 or 4 different ways you can offer yourself to a brand that go beyond posting an instapost.
3) Show your story. For example, if you claim to be passionate about animals and animal welfare then your content should be around plant-based products. You shouldn’t be posting pictures of you tucking into a juicy burger or wearing a Canada Goose Jacket. Instead, you should be posting a picture of you using hemp protein powder, or cooking a meal with Quorn. Make sure you live and breath the story you are selling every day.
4) This is for ALL athletes, not just football and basketball. Now more so than ever, the world needs diversity. Diversity across race, gender, sexuality, different sports. Yes, the initial NIL headlines have been basketball and football but if you can differentiate yourself well enough and demonstrate desirable qualities, it doesn’t matter your sport. Companies want to be aligned to success, winning and powerful stories which can come from the most unlikely events. We only need to look at Simone Biles to know that this is true.