If you’re wondering how to make real money with your name, image, or likeness, then you need to spend time reading this article. Sure, you can put your face or name on a shirt like Barstool’s Spencer Lee excuses are for wusses tee; however, there are plenty of other ways college athletes can make money with NIL.
What is Name, Image, and Likeness?
In July 2021, the NCAA approved new NIL legislation, which allows for student athletes to profit off of their own name, image, and likeness.
Since that time wrestling websites have published two types of articles and videos about how student-athletes can make money. The first type were entertaining and made funny quips about money-making ideas, like Trent Hidlay partnering with Jimmy John’s because of his hoagie obsession. The second type attempted to give more “realistic” monetization ideas to student-athletes, but nearly all of them fell short. While well-intentioned, the information simply was not detailed enough.
As a Penn State grad who earned a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, I have worked in marketing and monetized my own brand, Fanco Wrestling. This is real advice from a marketer and entrepreneur, not some humorous ideas from a wrestling pundit. So let’s get into it. . .
Below are 6 completely non-BS ideas money-making ideas specifically for wrestlers.
1. Sell Stickers with Sticker Mule
Next time you’re on campus, in a bookstore, or at the library, look around you. Students are working on their laptops plastered with stickers. These are a hot commodity. College kids want stickers for their laptops, youth wrestlers want stickers for their headgear, high schoolers want stickers for their lockers.
You can create fun designs that build up your brand and make you a profit in the process. I highly recommend Sticker Mule because it is a wrestler-owned company, and I have been using them for years. Once you have your design, Sticker Mule will print out your beautiful sticker prints and you can resell them for a profit. Consider buying 50 stickers for $60 then selling each for $2-$5. This may not pay the bills, but it is good for a quick buck. You can even use my personal link for a $10 store credit.
2. Create Your Own Wrestling Camp
You don’t have to be an All-American or NCAA Champion to make money from wrestling camps. Sure, the wrestlers with higher accolades can ask for a larger chunk of change because they’re likely bringing in more wrestlers to camp. But even if you’re not an All-American, I can guarantee you that there are younger wrestlers who look up to you because you’re a collegiate wrestler. And their parents will be willing to pay for a small camp or technique session.
If you’re a college wrestler, then you’ve likely already worked plenty of camps in your lifetime. But have you ever thought about starting your own camp or offering technique services? The quickest way to earn a profit is by offering your services, so consider getting together a couple teammates and hosting your own camp. Just make sure to research other camps to find your best price point.
3. Send Cameo Videos to Loyal Fans
This idea is geared more towards athletes who have a large social media presence. Wrestlers with an extensive following can capitalize on their image with Cameo. If you’re unfamiliar, Cameo is a website that allows athletes, musicians, and other well-known celebrities to send quick, personalized videos directly to fans. Spencer Lee is already sending birthday messages and pep talks to his audience. You can set your own price and keep 75% of your earnings.
4. Become a Brand Ambassador on Campus
Before this year, college athletes could not be brand ambassadors. But everything has changed! You can now work with companies like Apple, Amazon, Red Bull, Mtn. Dew, Spikeball, etc. Each program varies, but you typically receive benefits, such as free product or payment, in exchange for you promoting the product to your college peers. An example of this is become a part of the “Barstool Athletes” program like Roman Bravo-Young. If you’re wondering how RBY grew his brand, you’ll want to read the full brand dissection here.
To find opportunities at your university, search “brand ambassador school name here” on Google, LinkedIn, or Indeed; or, simply pay attention to emails from your career services department.
5. Start a Rokfin Channel
Rokfin advertises itself as “the best way to monetize your content,” and that sounds good right off the bat. If you are accepted to become a creator, you can instantly start making money by creating content such as videos, articles, and podcasts. Wondering what type of content to create? Here are a few ideas: Start a podcast with a teammate discussing training updates, share a behind-the-scenes vlog of your workout, write articles on your personal meal-prepping plan, or put together a wrestling event like the Hidlay brothers.
Granted, you can always start a YouTube channel; however, you will need to achieve certain requirements before you can start earning a dime. Rokfin is great because there are already a slew of wrestling content creators on the platform, such as Willie Saylor, Ben Askren, Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, and myself. Trent and Hayden Hidlay are the first two student-athletes to start channels, and I expect to see that number grow.
6. Partner with a Brand
Nick Lee already shot a local Expressway Dodge ad in his hometown, but this option does not have to be for NCAA Champions alone. The key for getting brand deals is building up your personal brand and owning a significant social media presence. Brands want to work with people who will actually earn them their money back.
Don’t stress if you do not have 130K followers like Roman Bravo-Young. You can learn to build up your social media following with brand tactics that I’m teaching on my Fanco Media Rokfin channel. Once you can put in the time and prove that you can promote products via social media, then you can start reaching out to the brands you love.
If you enjoyed these 6 money-making ideas for wrestlers, I recommend that you subscribe to Fanco Media on Rokfin for tips on how to change levels with your wrestling brand.