UPCOMING EVENT: ABU GARCIA COLLEGE FISHING - 2020 - Harris Chain of Lakes

How Do You Value Yourself?

How Do You Value Yourself?
Matt Stefan

(The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.)


The most common questions I get from aspiring fishermen are about how to obtain sponsors and the industry norms when it comes to negotiating deals with them. All are great questions, but there are no simple answers. That’s because there is no right or wrong approach. Every professional goes about it differently. I’d like to give you my thoughts on the subject.

In terms of obtaining sponsors, I can best compare the process to trying to get a job in just about any other industry. When I worked in the corporate world, we would literally get hundreds of applications for an open position. I’d spend hours quickly going through each one to try and identify one or two key points in a resume that I thought might make a person an ideal candidate for that job. From the hundreds of applications we might select five to interview in person. The rest got thrown in the garbage. Along with the five candidates that we selected to interview from resumes, we usually interviewed an equal number of applicants that were referred by other employees. In the majority of the situations, the job opening was filled with one of the referrals. Most managers would rather take the referral of a trusted employee than an unknown candidate. It’s unfortunate that a lot of good people got turned down, but that’s just how the corporate world works.

The fishing industry is the same way. Each company has a limited number of sponsorships available, and more times than not, they will fill the positions with people they know or that have been referred to them. I can’t imagine how many resumes a pro-staff manager gets on a weekly basis. It’s not a position I would like to be in. That person knows that the individuals he or she selects to be on the pro-staff will reflect on the company, and a poor choice could cost them the job. That’s why it’s so much easier to choose individuals they have met along the way or that have been referred by other fishing contacts. They know what they are getting versus selecting someone from a pile of resumes.

Having said all of that, my approach to obtaining sponsors is simple. I want to align myself with companies whose products I whole-heartedly believe in and feel like give me an advantage over the competition. I’ll reach out to them directly and let them know how much I love their product. Sometimes we work out a deal quickly. Other times it takes years to build a relationship before it evolves into something more. Companies want to know that you use their products, and most importantly, can help sell their products.

There are a lot of people out there fishing for sponsorships. They send resumes to every rod, reel and lure company on the market, hoping to get a deal from somebody, but might have never used a product made by most of those companies. In my opinion, that’s not good for anybody. Align yourself with the companies you want to work with. In the end, the results for everyone will be much better.

When it comes time to negotiate, there really isn’t an industry norm. Not all anglers get the same deals. There is differentiation between angler skill level, marketability, social media presence and individual valuation. Obviously, top-tier fishermen should be able to negotiate better deals than local anglers. They have significantly more impact on sales than the majority of other fisherman and deserve to be recognized for that.

The biggest challenge for anglers is deciding how to value themselves. Some anglers are willing to do a lot for nothing, and other anglers are willing to do almost nothing for a lot. Why is this? The way they value themselves differs. You need to consider how much time, money and effort will go into satisfying your sponsor.

For example, what do you do if a company offers you free product, but in return wants you to work several days behind their booth at trade shows, make multiple social media posts and write quarterly product review articles. All of that would total up to roughly 40 hours of your time. If you only use $200 worth of their product a year, is it worth 40 hours of your time? That’s an hourly wage of $5 per hour, which is less than minimum wage. What if you have to pay your own travel expenses for the trade shows? Then you might actually be losing money. However, in that same scenario, if you use $3,000 worth of product you might think it’s a better deal.

Ultimately, we all value ourselves differently, and it is up to you to figure out what you’re worth. There might be times you are willing to devalue yourself to get your foot in the door with a company, or there might be times you raise your value if you feel like you are being asked to do more than you are comfortable with. This is how I go about building my sponsor portfolio and believe that if more fishermen started doing this they would be as happy and proud to represent the companies they are aligned with as I am.

Tags: matt-stefan  blog 

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Despite the solid start to the year, and the confidence that comes with overcoming adversity, Miles Burghoff knows very well how a good start to a season can either create positive momentum, or open the door to complacency, which often can result in a loss of motivation and focus. With the Harris Chain event kicking off this week, he's determined to keep that focus and motivation. READ MORE »

New Year, Same Feel

New Year, Same Feel

Ending 2019 on a bad note wasn’t how I pictured last season going. I was in contention to qualify for the FLW Cup going into the last FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain, but after coming in 97th at the finale I finished the season 51st in the Angler of the Year points and missed my chance for the Cup. Not going to lie, it stung a little bit and made for a LONG drive home, but it also made me hungry for 2020. READ MORE »

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Josh Douglas and his wife, Bri, created this baller recap video from Sam Rayburn and the first Pro Circuit event of 2020. In the video, which includes footage from practice and the tournament, Josh dishes on how he used his practice time to eventually uncover a productive trap pattern that helped him earn a 42nd-place finish, which is a big improvement on the 114th he posted at Rayburn in the 2019 FLW Tour event. READ MORE »

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

Following a great season in 2019, I just signed up for the FLW Pro Circuit for 2020. Foremost, I’m excited about the opportunities that are being provided by MLF and FLW. I see overall growth in the platform as we strive to be a bigger and better industry. READ MORE »

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

For the past several years, the FLW Foundation has been working diligently on a mission to introduce young people to their local natural resources. One strategy employed by the Foundation is to host free youth fishing derbies across the country. READ MORE »

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

One of the easiest and most controllable ways to save time and be efficient on the water is to keep tackle organized and accessible. Hard baits are easy to organize in Plano boxes, but soft plastics can sometimes cause a bit of a headache. Here are some tips for doing it based on how I go about tackling the issue.  READ MORE »

How to Land More Bass

How to Land More Bass

My technique for fighting a bass depends significantly on the equipment – my Dobyns rod, Ardent reel, Seaguar line and Cornerstone Baits – that I’m using at the time. READ MORE »

God, Grace, Grit

God, Grace, Grit

Life isn’t always easy, and we all find ourselves in situations that seem impossible to overcome. But with God, grace and grit we have not only persevered, we have risen. And we are continuing to rise together, and can commit to uplifting one another along the way. No matter what you are going through on or off the water, know that with God, grace and grit, but most of all God, anything is possible. READ MORE »

How to Prepare for Big Water 

How to Prepare for Big Water 

As many of you know, fishing big water for giant smallmouths is my favorite type of fishing. Competing on the Great Lakes, 1000 Islands, St. Clair, Champlain and other big Northern fisheries is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it gets rough, which is why it’s critical that you have the correct equipment and understand how to use it. READ MORE »

How to be a Pro Angler 

How to be a Pro Angler 

I get a lot of questions from young and old anglers alike about the steps to becoming a pro. I guess maybe sometimes I take it for granted. The process seems somewhat obvious to me. How to execute on it might not be simple, but the steps you need to take really are. There are only a couple of ways to get into this sport, and they all start at the grassroots level, in $200 and $300 tournaments.  READ MORE »

Introducing Myself

Introducing Myself

I want to start off by telling you a little bit about myself. I grew up in Pennsylvania about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up fishing for whatever would bite with my grandfather and in middle school I had a friend who started taking me with his dad down to the Chesapeake Bay. That was my first time ever on a bass boat, and I was immediately hooked! READ MORE »

Riding the Roller Coaster

Riding the Roller Coaster

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, although it seems like the last one was just yesterday. This season has flown by, and I finally have some down time before the last stop on the FLW Tour at Lake Champlain. This Tour season has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot. READ MORE »

The History of the Drop-Shot

The History of the Drop-Shot

FLW Tour pro James Niggemeyer recalls his first introduction to the drop-shot, as well as what came before it and how he developed his tackle to have better success with this capable finesse bass bait. READ MORE »

From Dead Last to Making Money

From Dead Last to Making Money

If you were hanging out with me at the FLW Tour event on Seminole recently, you would have thought I won the tournament. I was congratulated by every pro I saw, and they were being genuine. READ MORE »

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Watching giant bags of bass caught down in Texas and Florida on FLW Live during FLW Tour events has many anglers dying to get on the water. The only problem is that a lot of people are still facing some of the toughest conditions for catching a bass – cold, muddy, moving water.   READ MORE »