How to Find A Job as a Brand Ambassador: Get More Than Just FREE Gear
SO you want to be a brand ambassador? And a good one. First ask yourself why. While you’re working on that, here’s my thoughts as to why we would want to represent a brand:
We ‘need’ free or deeply discounted gear as we’re spending more on the latest sports equipment than what’s currently in our paycheck
We want to be part of the club and meet a tribe of awesome people that share the same passion
Adding ‘Patagonia Brand Ambassador’ to our resume might make us look more attractive to companies we may be interviewing with
We want to get paid to do what we love
Before we dive right in, if you are searching for ambassadors or influencers for your brand, check out our last blog post on Finding the Right Brand Ambassadors.
5 Things to Consider When Wanting to Become a Brand Ambassador
You may think your first step should be to start searching for companies with an ambassador or influencer program. Well here’s a few things to think about before you scour the web:
Are you an expert? To be a brand ambassador, you need knowledge, presentation skills, personal experience and the capability to deliver. It doesn’t mean you have to be as good as Kelly Slater when you paddle out to surf, but you should know enough about the industry you’re targeting to be an informed consumer. The more expertise and experience you have, the better ambassador you’ll be (and the more you’ll get paid!).
Are you active on social media? You don’t have to be active on every channel, but you should have a strong presence on at least one (bonus if you’re active on a few). Channels could include: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or a personal blog. Numbers of followers and views are extremely important metrics, but they quake at the sight of the almighty engagement. Be sure to create content that encourages your followers to like, share, and comment.
Are you good at creating content? At its root, a brand ambassador or influencer is a content creator. Yes, there’s more to it than just creating content, but if you’re not creating content, you’re not being a great ambassador.
Can you stick to a schedule? One of the perks of being a brand ambassador full-time is freedom from the cubicle. But even though you’ll have a lot more flexibility than a typical 9-5 gig, you still have to be responsible and post accordingly. Failing to follow through can not only get your contract canceled, but it can give you a bad rap in the ambassador world. If you need some help with your organizational skills, send up a smoke signal and we can help you put a system in place!
Do you have the right attitude? Most brands (especially ones in the outdoor and adventure space) have positive vibes as a cornerstone to their brand identity. But don’t fret if you’re not a naturally cheerful, bubbly, and overall friendly person. It just means you may have to work a little harder.
Past the Trailhead: The Journey to Becoming a Brand Ambassador
So you’ve found the trailhead to the brand ambassador wilderness and want to take your first steps. Consider this your trail guide. If you need extra help and want a sherpa on this trek, flash me some morse code.
Find Your Passion
We should all know what we’re passionate about, and try to set up our careers and lifestyles to allow us to do the things we love the most. But when considering becoming an ambassador for your favorite brand, make sure there’s PASSION behind it.
If you’re not passionate about the brands you work with and what they represent, it will be extremely tough to fake it. Plus, brands want expertise and experience, and if you’re passionate you’re more likely to put in the work to get expertise and experience.
Learn Best Digital Marketing Practices
If you’re really good at creating content, being active on social media and supporting brands you love, you should make some time to learn everything you can about 2019’s digital marketing best practices. Do this by spending some time reading blog posts, listening to podcasts, however you best consume information to pick up useful tips and tricks.
If you’ve got this down, and demonstrate it in your YouTube videos, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live broadcasts or in your blog posts, you will come across as much more knowledgeable than your competitors.
This piggybacks off the first step, but has some majorly important distinctions. This is where you take your knowledge and experience and translate it into a certain aspect of an industry. We often try to cast a large net to catch the most fish, but a more targeted approach brings the tastier catch.
To use the camping industry as an example, niching down may mean focusing on glamping (glamour camping), cold weather camping, or just good old-fashioned backpacking. By choosing one of these and becoming an expert, you’ll be a more trusted specialist, rather than a ‘jack-of-all-trades’.
Based on the 2018 North American Camping Report, spending in this sector is growing strong, with 6 out of 10 millennial households going camping. You can bet these families are doing some online research before making a purchase, and often turn to Google, Pinterest or Instagram to check out the latest gear.
Niching down doesn't mean you can’t broaden your scope or go outside your niche from time to time. But by having a clear market and proving your worth in that market, you make yourself a great target for brands that want you. Plus, by niching down, you’re much more likely to get a paying gig rather than just free gear.
To start developing more contacts at brands within your niche, you should be following them on social media, and not just passively following, but liking, commenting and engaging with them. Read more about how social media might be the first place a brand looks to find ambassadors!
Another one of our favorite activities is going to hang with our favorite brands and their amazing employees at local events, or actually joining them in the sport you’re interested in.
For example, last week at the CABDA West Show (all things bike related) there was an Industry Ride. This is a pretty common occurrence in the cycling world, but it was cold, rainy and gloomy all week, which is rare for Southern California. Instead of saying, forget it, I’ll sleep in, stay warm, and visit more booths later on… I set my alarm for 5:30am, drove in rush hour traffic and pedaled out of the parking lot in Del Mar with a great group of cycling industry peeps and a surprise guest appearance by pro cyclist Mark Cavendish!
Documenting these events from your perspective allows your followers to walk a mile in your boots (and shows brands you know what you’re doing). Need more reason to be at these events? Read our top 5 reasons why you should attend adventure sports festivals!
Develop Impactful Content and Offer Your Services
With your niche chosen, and some connections in your industry, we recommend you get a portfolio of high-quality content. In other words, start by creating impactful content today and leverage that into a paying gig tomorrow.
High-quality content might be taking a unique point of view and communicating it to the world (like why we should all go minimalist and live in a tiny home, and better yet what storage hacks work best for small spaces).
In addition, you might be creating how-to videos for how to build and outfit a tiny home, or stunning photos with your favorite gear in that tiny space. Here’s a tip, choosing or creating unique and “out-there” locations for your photos and videos will give you a competitive edge and cement your personal brand identity.
Remember to serve as a resource for those in the industry. Give vital feedback. Get to know existing ambassadors at your favorite brands, but remember not to be the guy or girl who’s always asking for handouts. Reach out and see how you can benefit them. What comes around, truly goes around.
Stay True to Yourself
Think of brand ambassadorship like dating, and as your mom always told you, “Just be yourself.” Altering your interests and core values may pay off in the short term; but if you want a long-term gig representing the brands, industries, and values you really care about, make sure to stay true to what you believe in.
If you are that bubbly, energetic person… let your personality shine through! Yes, Black Diamond pays Alex Honnold to be a brand ambassador because he is constantly pushing the limits of rock climbing, but they also hire him because he’s a goofy, laidback, and fun-loving human. In other words, he represents what they’re looking for in a customer.
So stay true to yourself, but see how that matches up with the needs of the industry and the brands you want to work with.
How to Kickstart Your Brand Ambassador Career
With all your provisions in place and a map in your pocket, you’re ready to howl to the wide wilderness that you’re open for business. How do you do it? Below are just a few of the ways to send smoke signals:
Express yourself with a website: Having a website will benefit you in many ways. A good website will add credibility, save you time explaining who you are, and showcase exactly what you do. Need help building a website to sell you while you sleep? Let’s talk!
Use a service to help brands find you: Platforms like BrandSnob, Palm, Brand Ambassador, StuckForStaff and HookIt make it quick and easy for brands to find you. These platforms definitely have limitations and can be pricey, but they’re a great way to get your feet wet or to increase visibility as a more established ambassador.
Create a media or press kit. We help athletes build out a media kit to take with them to events and to better pitch to the companies they’d like to work with. Here’s more from our Shopify partners about how to create a great press kit! Need help with yours? Send up a smoke signal today and we can help you get started!
Learn how to take great photographs and create engaging videos: One of the best ways to share your content is through photos and videos and there are so many tools and apps that can help! Here’s Hub Spot’s top tips for taking better photos with your phone. YouTube is also great resource for how-to videos. Our new fav? The Adventure Photography MasterClass with pro climber and photographer Jimmy Chin!
Target the brands you love: Ok, this should really be the first thing you do, but I left it for last so it would be at the top of your mind. One of the perks of being a brand ambassador is working with brands you already love and whose products you already use. So when you’re googling and searching hashtags, make sure to have a list of your favorite brands to add to the search terms.
Summary: Finding a Job As A Brand Ambassador Takes Time, Knowledge and a Bit of Skill
Here’s a quick review of what we’ve outlined above:
Pick your passion and niche (or get one)
Learn best digital marketing practices
Start creating useful content
Network, network, network
Be true to yourself
Open shop by creating a website
Take a class or brush up on your photography and videography skills
Bonus Step: Hire a pro! It’s not easy to navigate the brand ambassador wilderness, so sometimes you need a sherpa to carry your gear and show you the best spots to camp. At Top Rope Media, we have over two decades of experience developing and managing marketing programs for a variety of outdoor, adventure, and lifestyle brands. If you want to take your ambassadorship to the next level, we’d love to chat.
Whatever your reasons, truth is, becoming a good brand ambassador takes time, knowledge, and a bit of skill. Sure, it seems easy. You see an abundance of ambassadors on Instagram with thousands of followers, and all out there sending perfect jumps on a mountain bike, cruising through fresh pow on a snowboard, or sitting on their longboard, waiting to catch that perfect wave.
What you don’t see is the time and effort they’ve put into the sport, nor the time and takes it took to get that perfect shot, or how much time it took them to use their GoPro properly!
Well with a little homework and dedication, there’s no reason why you can’t find yourself representing your favorite brands too (and hopefully getting paid to do it).
Now get outside and wave when you pass me,
- Meredith McConvill