Hey! Hey you casual climber! Are you ready to take the next step, to turn climbing from just a hobby to a way to make a living? Well step off the couch and into the spotlight! Just follow these 11 steps and you'll be the next Sierra Blair-Coyle (minus the whole sending V10 thing.) Cuz we all know it's not about how hard you climb ... but how good you look doing it.
Step 1: Quit your day job
If you're not all in, you're not in at all. You need more free time to dedicate to hawking yourself to potential sponsors. Quit your day job so you don't have to trifle with such things like email, expense reports, and provided health benefits. Make yourself famous enough and you might even get a hospital to sponsor you, so healthcare, shmealthcare.
Step 2: Hashtags
Wanna get noticed? Better up your hashtag game. If every single one of your Instagram posts does not have at least 35 hashtags, then you're just another fish in the social media sea. Try to start with hashtags that are pertinent to the industry you are trying to break into — when you run out of these, literally just go crazy. Hashtag everything. Doesn't matter if it has anything to do with your photo. Post a picture of you bouldering at Bishop? #dogsofinstagram. Publish a shot of you enjoying a beer with the bros on a Tuesday? #tbt that shizz anyways. Make sure you always promise a #follow4follow and #like4like but never deliver on any of these. Ever.
Step 3: Crowdfund from your family
Create a GoFundMe, to fund your dream of "becoming a professional athlete." Share it on Facebook, and watch the donations from Nana roll in. It'll be $12 at a time in the form of a check in the mail, but you'll be $12 closer to your goal!
Step 4: Spend your final paycheck on nice brands
You won't have any steady, not-Nana-provided income coming in for awhile, so you better make the best of your the final paycheck from the job you just quit. So - spend every last cent on clothing and equipment from the brands you're trying to attract. If they can literally SEE you in their gear, then it will be easier for them to metaphorically *see* you in their gear, ya dig? Bonus points if you quit your job at the climbing gym, and no longer have a pro deal on these brands and must now purchase at retail price.
Step 5: *NEVER* post pictures of yourself climbing inside
Even if 99.9% of your climbing sessions take place inside, ONLY post photos of yourself climbing outside. Milk those photos you took at Roger's Park 3 months ago for as long as you can! Make people think you spend your life as a climbing vagabond who only knows the touch of real rock.
Step 6: Photoshop yourself into photos with famous climbers
Pretty self-explanatory. Make people think you're well-connected and you'll become well-connected, right? Just be sure not to directly tag the famous athlete in your post, or you might get a "what the hell" comment or two from them as they desperately rack their brain to remember that one time they did that one thing with that one person who is just now posting about it?
Step 7: Make a fake 8a.nu and trick it out
Posting 4 photos of yourself a week on that same V7 at Rogers will not do in convincing folks that you go hard. Make an 8a.nu profile for yourself and fabricate some pretty epic sends for yourself. Of course, there is no photo evidence of these sends. Only photo evidence of that V7 at Rogers. Your fans will understand.
Step 8: Photos of you on the crux moves of something you will, in fact, never do
Ok, you're getting low on photos to post. Make another trip out to the local chosspile and photograph yourself on the crux moves of something you'll never send. Doesn't matter if you can't make any of the moves - as long as you can pull on and stay still long enough to make it look like you're makin' moves on the thing, then people assume it's your legit project and that you actually have intentions of sending it. Make sure to use the hashtag #vhard so people know it's hard.
Step 9: Yell a lot when you climb
Gone are the days of you being another face in the crowd. Even if you have to climb inside, make sure people know you're there, and that you're SERIOUS. Pull onto all the hardest problems, and yell excessively when making ANY of the moves, so people know how hard you're trying. Scowl at the problem after every attempt, as if it's the wall's fault that you're not sending.
Step 10: Approach EVERYONE for sponsorship
When you're a budding professional athlete, you gotta take what you can get. Did your mom's friend introduce you to her third cousin who owns a zipper manufacturing business? See if they need a model to rep their zippers in the field. Checking out in the grocery store? Ask the cashier if they want someone to be the face of their Instagram. EVERYONE is a potential sponsor, so make sure you're always on the market.
Step 11: Refer to yourself as a professional climber as soon as you get your first sponsorship
Successful completion of all the previous steps should definitely get you a sponsor. Rejoice! Remember: as soon as you land that first sponsorship, this is your life now. You're not just a climber - you're a PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE. Make sure all social accounts / email signatures / LinkedIn profiles are updated to reflect this.