Have you noticed lately the individuals writing to the magazines trying to get exposure? Some of the magazines are nice enough to give them a small clip but if you read the accompanying letters that these individuals write there is no wonder why I need to write this article. Why? Well, it seems that everyone who is embarking into a bodybuilding show thinks they should be given a contract with the latest supplement company. Makes me wonder what these people are thinking. Or do they just have no business sense. Let's go with the latter and assume that's the issue. So, you need some direction. Some help on how to be business savvy in the bodybuilding world.
If you assume, just because you are a bodybuilder, a "natural" bodybuilder, or a religiously loyal bodybuilding fanatic, you should get that coveted supplement contract or your picture in the magazines, then you are barking up the wrong tree. One reason is that the bodybuilding industry is very stingy with their money as well as giving exposure. Especially with whom they give the above things to. As a woman bodybuilder, any woman bodybuilder, natural or unrestricted - I don't care how much muscle you have or how much muscle you don't think you have there will always be someone who will not like it. So, you don't have any muscle, you're a fitness or swimsuit model. That's getting just as bad to pursue any possibilities. Because since the introduction of fitness and figure shows supplement companies and magazines are coming out of the woodwork with your normal girl from next door who doesn't lift weights but rather poses for Playboy. So, understand the road is very difficult for all unless you have no problem with stripping butt naked or doing soft porn; then you'll get all the "EXPOSURE" you want.
But, there are ways to establish yourself and make something out of all that muscle building process without stripping butt naked. First, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are you?
- What makes you unique?
- What gifts do you bring to the bodybuilding and fitness world?
Who Are You?
Knowing what you are all about in the eyes of other people will be a vital part in successfully marketing yourself and/or your services. Please don't think being natural or drug-free makes you unique either. The overwhelming majority of letters sent to these supplement and clothing companies are from natural bodybuilders. In these letters they constantly emphasize the fact that they are natural by putting the words "natural," "drug-free," or "drug-free for life" in CAPITALIZED, bold, italicized, underlined, or ALL FOUR different styles. It may matter to you but does it matter really?
So, what do you do? First, the best way to start on your path is that you compete, whether that is in competitive bodybuilding, powerlifting, strongman/woman or fitness contests you need to be in the soup and Campbell's Chunky Soup is what it's all about. You need to be knee deep in the system to get the just rewards.
What is Possible
To show you what is possible I have been fortunate to have-been featured in several bodybuilding & fitness magazines, and also three European publications. I said fortunate, because it is very hard for any female bodybuilder, pro or amateur, to get her pictures into the magazines now-a-days. Over the past dozen or so years I have been featured in the above publications in one way or another. Some of my accomplishments include sponsorships I was able to attain with persistence and hard work. Here are just a few: Musashi Sports Supplements, Team Labrada, Sportpharma, Boss O'Leary Sports (Eclipse 2000), and Champion Nutrition. In addition to negotiating those business relationships, I've arranged opportunities with House of Pain Iron Wear, Body Alive (workout clothing), and ASICS Tiger Corporation's Women's Fitness Alliance Team, from 1993 through 1996 (ASICS Tiger Corp., is a major high school and collegiate wrestling shoe and sneaker manufacturer). Oh yeah, and let's not forget Reebok. Yep! I was with Reebok too. Not to mention several University and College Sports Auctions to help scholarship funds.
Playing the Game
The later are major mainstream non-bodybuilding businesses. And to think I had a current bodybuilding clothing manufacturer owned by an industry Italian photographer tell me I was too big, and wouldn't be good in his clothes because, as he put it, "he wanted to sell his product to the mainstream." Well, like I told him, Asics and Reebok were not concerned with my muscles and they are bigger mainstream then he is or he is ever going to be. He was the only one effected by my muscles not his sales audience. Such is the bodybuilding industry. They, the bodybuilding industry, want women who will take it off and men who are huge and freaky. Now don't get me wrong there are a few out there that don't fit the above profile and who are making it. But, in all reality, if you don't understand how the sponsorship game is played, you will have very little chance of winning at it. Most bodybuilders simply don't understand how the game is played.
Find a Niche
Many place their hopes that one of the supplement or clothing companies will give them a paid contract and this is a huge mistake. Don't waste your time and energy. But, if you are good at what you do and can produce results and make a difference in people's lives, then people will pay to get the results you can offer them. You can generate regular income from everyone's favorite, personal training. On the other hand being a personal trainer is so common now it's getting pathetic, everyone's is a PT. And it has become so saturated that there is a "who cares" attitude going on. But, if you want to care then you have to be different, and just because you compete doesn't mean you're different. You have to be good at competing. You need to find a niche. Is your own contest prep and knowledge in dieting the best around? Whatever it is, find something special that sets yourself apart from other trainers. I do. I make my people learn and I don't talk about yesterday's events with them while they workout or have my hands all over the bars while they're lifting them.
Learn how to publish your own workout book. I am working on mine while you're reading this. Have you ever heard of E-Books? Training videos are a much-needed commodity. There are not enough out there, especially hard-core training videos. Here are a few other ways to capitalize on your knowledge and experience while gaining publicity for yourself and making some money too. How about sharing your knowledge buy writing for the many industry publications? I've had articles published in Musclemag International, Oxygen, Ironman and several online magazines. I'm currently a contributing Editor for Bodybuilding.com. But, this too is a hard niche to get into.
Have you thought about the Internet? Develop your own personal web site. Many have already jumped all over that idea. The Internet is the cheapest way to publicize what you can offer the world. You can offer almost anything else that can generate an income, and establish a market for yourself. Don't have website? Well, you need to have a computer first. Don't have one of those either? Then invest in a computer. The Internet road is currently the best way for marketing yourself. You should check it out! What do you do online? Well, for starters offer all the above, and see what happens.
Show promoters, local gyms and fitness clubs are always looking for something to offer their members. Sometimes special events like gym openings or local health food store and supplement outlets will use you for special appearances for their grand opening. But don't wait for them to come to you, go to them and tell them what you can do for them and in return ask if you can sell your photos at a table. Offering your pictures for sale is a major source of income. Even though you will have hundreds ask you for an 8x10 but not pay you too. If you have the extra funds, place an advertisement in one of the magazines. Check out the advertisement specials offered in most magazines. An ad, for what you ask? An advertisement to sell your pictures, offer personal training, your videos or what about the nutritional guidance we just talked about?
Business Cards, Flyers & Newsletters
These are special flyers designed to show off the best pictures of yourself that you offer for sale, and these same flyers can offer other possible job descriptions. A flyer is the marketing tool that you cannot do without. You can always ask the printer to be a sponsor, and offer them credit on your flyer, that could lower the price a little. Always ask. That's my motto. If you don't ask, you'll never know. Your photo flyer should have your name (nickname too if you have one), mailing address (get a P.O. Box), the cost of each 8X10, and add a discounted price for a picture package deal and other services you offer.
How about compiling a list of businesses? This list should consist of bodybuilding and NON-bodybuilding companies. Send each business a flyer, and a cover letter asking for sponsorship in return for your services. And remember to be sure to always send a "Thank You" card after you have received a reply.
Please note: Even if you never receive a reply from them, always conduct business like a professional, because you will get several companies who will not acknowledge you. And in the real world of business, that's not good business! But, it happens, and way too often.
Be professional, that's how you get your hard body in the magazines. How do you go about doing this? First of all, write to the publisher, or editors for each bodybuilding and fitness publication send a good color 8 x 10 picture, or two, a SASE (that's a self-addressed stamped envelope), and a profile/bio with a simple "hope" you find room for me in your fine publication. And pray it is that easy. If you're lucky, and your presentation was clear and not corny, they might give you a little acknowledgment. It often helps to compete and win a major state, regional, or national event.
Another asset is to make yourself known is by appearing at bodybuilding shows in your area. Also go to the national and big shows too. Schmooze! Something I didn't do very well during my career. If you can get yourself over to the Arnold Expo or for you Europeans you should be attending FIBO. The Arnold Expo is the best place to make contacts and show your face. I worked a booth at the 1999 Arnold Classic. I was very lucky that "House of Pain" clothing picked me instead of some big boobed fitness model to represent them. Germany also offers the biggest Fitness Expo in Europe called FIBO. Approximately 20,000 plus people each day for three day's attend this celebration of fitness and muscle. You can find every business imaginable under the sun at FIBO.
This is the bodybuilding and fitness industry and you should be prepared for everything and anything. Most importantly know who are the photographers and writers in this industry. And for you ladies, don't be careless and get overly excited if someone comes up and says they are with a "MAJOR Muscle" magazine wanting to take your pictures. Ask them whom they work for. Ask to see a business card. And for God's sake, do not sign anything that looks like a release. But, carry a simple non-release type of document for them to sign if you're not sure who they are. I do. It's a simple thing that say's you can't use my pictures without my written permission. Also, if you're at a show ask the promoter who the individual is.
There are a lot of people running around at shows saying they are with the top magazines taking pictures of un-expecting girls. I'm lucky to have my husband with me. Once at the Jr. USA, some guys where video taping us girls who where all being photographed by "REAL" photographers. My husband noticed them and before they got me in their lenses chased them off. Later we saw their stuff on the Internet bootlegging pictures and videos for money. We all could have been on a website with them making money off of us. Same thing happened when I was on the Beach in getting photographed by Rita Ross (the wife of the late Don "The Ripper" Ross) and a very old fat man started video taping me. That ended very quickly. It helps to have a 270 plus pound husband who will be your bodyguard getting rid of these people. If you are going to be part of this industry then you should know who takes pictures and writes for the magazines and who does not. My husband used to tell me, "Know your sport, inside and out!" He's right. Be careful, there are a lot of wolves in sheep's clothing watching you. Just be aware. So, for you girls out there be careful and don't be naive! Guys that goes for you too, you big muscle heads.
I am a female bodybuilder, and I have competed for over a dozen years. And like other female bodybuilders, I am muscular, very strong and exhibit an extremely hard body. In most cases this is viewed unacceptable even in an industry that I am part of. So, remember, just because you're in the "bodybuilding" industry doesn't mean you're going to be the next Arnold, get a contract because you won a show, or because you are "all natural." But, you can get noticed and make some financial gains if you are a bodybuilder who knows where to look, how to be patient, and most of all, very persistent. Go for it, never give up and good luck.
Anita is available for contest prep, Training consultation, gym seminars, and if you want a HOT autographed 8x10 of a blond with long shapely legs then she can be reached at www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ramsey.htm