It's all about the angles…
Isn’t it what we’ve all dreamed about? Having our bank accounts inflated every month because we surf good and our image moves trunks or headphones or whatever trinket is delivering profit that season?
Most of us, at least those who have the talent to take a serious shot at turning pro, stumble on two hurdles: contest results and being lost amid the tens of thousands of other surfers with the same desire and roughly the same ability.
Very few surfers understand that being a professional means making yourself marketable. And marketable means you being a figure of influence. The surfer others want to emulate. But, how?
1. Become a ruthless networker
As anyone in the sales game knows, relationships are everything. Make yourself known to print and online editors. Introduce yourself at industry parties. Be witty. Charm. I know a pro surfer who can make you feel like you’re the only editor on earth. BFFs! Even when you see the same schtick aimed at someone else, this surfer’ll throw you a little glance or a text. Like a cheating girl who’ll keep reeling you back in. But whenever a trip or a story comes around, he’s always there at the front of my brain.
2. Attach yourself to a filmer and a photographer
If you’re Jordy or Mick, this is easy. You hire ’em. But for a kid on the make you’re going to need to get tight with someone who has already made a name for themselves. You might start off just as pals, maybe you live close, but work tightly together, you as the performer, he as the auteur. Once you start getting him spreads in mags or vision on websites, the relationship is set. He works for you, you work for him. Like Julian (Wilson) and Jimmy (Lees) below…
3. Be available for everything
Push your sponsor on Instagram, on Facebook. There’s a trip going but it’s your buddy’s birthday? Too bad, you have to go. Go to in-store promos. Never miss a company party (but don’t turn into boozy the clown unless that’s your schtick). I knew a surfer, dull as London in winter, who squeezed out a five-year career purely because he was the dream team rider. If a company is paying you money, it’s your job to pay ’em back in kind.
4. Develop a style with personality
Pretty much anyone with two legs and an online connection has worked out how to throw fins. Air reverses? You can buy ’em at discount stores. It’s how you link those turns, with what panache, that determines your value. Craig Anderson. Jordy Smith. Dane Reynolds. Their styles… sing.
5. Get an opinion
Surf mag editors have heard it all. You’d be surprised how many journalists do their banking or work on other stories while doing phone interviewers with the latest teen sensation. But a surfer with something to say? That’s rare.