Going Professional - how our alphas made the jump

Going amateur to pro
May 1, 2014

As a reader of this blog, presumably you're genuinely excited by the great outdoors, exploration and adventure. Well that enthusiasm is the first step towards getting sponsored, as you'll see.

All our Alphas started with just a passion for the outdoors and pushing themselves to the limits. Here we find out exactly how they went from enthusiastic amateurs to professional adventurers:

Tobias Mews

alphas_tobias_mews"Turning a passion into a career that pays the bills is likely to be high on many people's wish lists. But knowing where to start is the key.

The biggest barrier people have is themselves. In order to sell yourself and persuade someone to sponsor you, the first person you need to convince how amazing you are is yourself.  Self-confidence is extremely important. As is enthusiasm - it's infectious in the right quantities. 

Self-confidence is extremely important. As is enthusiasm - it's infectious in the right quantities.

But do ask yourself what going professional will bring you. Perhaps you're looking for credibility - having a big name behind you can open doors. But credibility and making a living don’t always go hand in hand.

The easiest way to find companies to partner with or magazines/newspapers to write for (if you're like me) is to think of it like dating. If you're a good fit for each other, i.e. you complement each other, then both sides will see the benefits of partnering together.

Eric Larsen

alphas_eric-larsson_"First thing to remember is that most outdoor companies get HUNDREDS of sponsorship inquiries every day. Not that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply, but it is important to be mindful of that fact. Ultimately, it comes down to your story: make it yours, be honest. Don't try to make things harder or more severe than what they are. Everybody has a unique perspective - share your thoughts and insights as you see them. After that, take pictures. Write a lot. Share the stoke!

Ultimately, it comes down to your story: make it yours, be honest.

I've been a Merrell man for a long, long time.  As someone who has been involved all kinds of outdoor pursuits for most of my life, Merrell has always been one of those brands that has stood the test of time. Quality. Durability. Therefore, when I randomly stumbling across a Merrell Facebook feed, I immediately sent a follow up email. I was really excited about the Pack program and felt that I could help in getting people excited about the outdoors as well as add my expertise to a variety of conversations."

Dustin Hinton

alphas_dustin-hinton"This is the question I get asked at least 10 times per week via email, Facebook, Twitter, or in person. I want to list some things first before I answer the question:

No, I am not fast.
No, I am not an elite athlete.
No, I did not race in college.
No, I do not have inside connections.
No, I do not work for these companies.

Okay, So how? How does a normal, slow, beginner, average Joe/Jane get sponsored?

I will answer that question with three words: Honesty, Hustle, Loyalty.

Be Honest and find companies that TRULY make things you love. Take inventory of what you have TRULY been using, write down all of the brands that ACTUALLY help you achieve success.

No, I am not fast. No, I am not an elite athlete. No, I did not race in college... Three words: Honesty, Hustle, Loyalty.

Hustle! Bust your butt, get involved in their conversations, follow their social channels, become visible, go to expos and meet employees, learn about the company, learn about their mission statements. I get so angry when people approach sponsors and when asked, "Why should we sponsor you,” they reply, “Erm, because I am fast and, erm, I want to race some cool races and, erm, I need shoes and, erm, I don't have money and, erm, can I have some money.” Please don't be that person. 

Be loyal. Remember what I said earlier: be honest, and if you champion those brands and stay loyal your chances skyrocket for sponsorship. Show them that you are willing to stick with them just because they make the best products EVER and maybe they will consider sticking with you."

Annie Bertuchio

alphas_annie_bertucio_2"In the age of free websites, anyone with an idea can post an article online. Writing is one of my first loves and I would encourage anyone interested to give it a try.

Pro Tip #1: Do it because you love it. Sponsorship may never come. Write about what you want to share with the world regardless of the romanticized rewards.

Pro Tip #2: Write well. Remember how you wrote, then rewrote, and then rewrote your papers in high school? A blog post should be no different. Take it seriously. Read On Writing Well by William Zinsser. And then read it again. Learn about writing well.

I started my first blog, “Feministic Fitness,” when my workout partner was tired of hearing my soapbox speeches about women’s health and fitness (my blog went on to become “SheVolution Fitness” and now my personal website). A year later I connected with Merrell. They were looking for new bloggers and by a stroke of luck someone in that office was a loyal reader.

Pro Tip #3: Be authentic. I unapologetically post real world, often crass commentaries. If you met me in a coffee shop, my voice and perspective would match. That is the joy of personal blogging. Your authentic self can seep through, you can let some of the classical rules of writing slide, and you can share who you truly are.

Do it because you love it. Write about what you want to share with the world regardless of the romanticized rewards

Pro Tip #4: Accessibility is inspirational. You can Photoshop. You can lie. You can stroke your ego with attention. Or you can be accessible. Pro runner Lauren Fleshmen is my favorite example. Sure, she runs around Oregon’s most beautiful desert town for a living, but she also slouches like I do, feels self-conscious about her belly, and her sweat stinks. And she shares it all. This is more inspiring than any yoga pose I will never get into or any expedition I will never go on. Accessibility is inspirational.

Pro Tip #5: Not so serious. We’re a bunch of gangly looking creatures twisting our legs behind our heads, running as fast as we can but there’s nothing chasing us, then pulling out a Glow Glow Screen and forever cementing our moment in an intangible electronic cloud. Keep it in perspective; this is hilarious."


The Pack Team

Trail Running, Hiking, Mountain Biking
Favorite Gear
All Out Rush, Mix Master Move, Proterra
Social Media
Sign Up