Updated: Nov 19, 2020
You've likely asked the question, "how do I get sponsored?" at least once on your kendama journey.
That’s a question a lot of kendama players ask companies.
It's different for each company, and I am not the guy to tell you, but I do have some insight into attracting the attention of Sweets Kendamas and receiving a free kendama!
Let me tell you a story.
The end of January is upon me, and 28 Tricks Later is about to begin and I can’t decide which dama to use for an entire month. So I posted a question on my IG story and let the homies make the decision for me. The squad chose my Sweets Boost V22 Firestorm Fade Redux--a good choice.
For background, I have worked professionally as a cinematographer and editor for over 15 years and happened to have done some product shots in the back room of my office the previous day. I still had the lights and camera set up so I decided to plunk down the Sweets Boost and film some beauty shots.
I was having a lot of fun playing with colour chases and swinging the lights around when I had the thought, “this footage could bookend all of my clips for 28 Tricks Later.”
To shoot and chop a miniature edit each day for an entire month is a lot of work but I decided it was a worthwhile commitment.
I created a little teaser trailer to hint at what my upcoming 28 TL content may look like and posted it to IG. I was shocked by the incredibly positive feedback from the community.
Then. It. Happened!
Sweets Kendamas followed me on Instagram, @baustinw.
It felt like getting knighted.
Fueled by that fire, I continued making miniature 1 trick edits for a week.
On February 7 I received a DM from Cody Griz on the Sweets Kendamas account.
“We’d love to send you something fresh and unreleased if you don’t mind making one of those sick sexy vids for us…” - Cody Griz
You had me at “we’d”.
I was deeply honoured and, of course, excited to collaborate with one of the biggest brands in kendama. However, I’m also a working professional that owns a production company that does exactly what they were asking me to provide. I saw an opportunity to not only work on this project but to potentially make one of my favourite brands an actual client.
Cody graciously set up a call for later that week and sent out the kendama. Cody and Matt "Sweets" joined me and my business partners on a conference call.
I, of course, lavished praise on Cooper Eddy and all of the amazing content that Sweets puts out. Cody and Matt were very forthcoming and transparent about how they go about marketing.
What I learned was basically what I expected. Sweets Kendamas, though being the largest kendama brand, have a limited marketing budget. In fact, I believe Sweets is the only company that has a staff filmmaker that creates the majority of its content.
The reality is almost every small company in the world now relies on unpaid social media influencers for a large majority of their content. It makes perfect sense from a business standpoint and in the case of Sweets I believe it is well deserved. They created a brand that players worldwide are inspired to support and set a standard of quality that they uphold with who they showcase.
I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to have a nice chat with some wonderful people that I really admire and I am humbled that they consider me to be a worthy influencer.
Story cut short, I got a free Boost Radar and made a 20-second commercial.
Sweets later reposted the commercial I produced to promote the 2nd drop of Boost Radars and they continue to leave wonderful comments on my posts that encourage me to keep producing the type of content I want to see in the kendama community.
Now you're probably thinking, “okay, okay, but like, how do I get free stuff?”
Here are four principles I leaned on when making my 28 Tricks Later posts.
(1) Be Bold and Colourful
As Parker Johnson of Sweets Kendamas says, "find your colour!"
Parker goes into depth on how you can find your colour and stand out on Ep. 8 of the Brewview
I used the kendama beauty shots as the cover with the Sweets logo overlaid as big as possible (brands love seeing their logo). In addition, the kendama was a very bright and poppy colour and I lit the backgrounds to emphasize complementary colours.
When setting up your shots, think about colour, framing, and message. Then click record.
(2) Have Variety
Not only is colour important, but so is variety. We as humans have a short attention span. Change things up regularly and keep it unique. I really tried to vary the tricks and camera angles I used from day to day. Try different ways of filming: POV, Selfie, Front Facing, Side Facing, Silhouettes, and toss in some steezy edits and a track that hits!
Along with Parker's motto, find your personality and let it bleed into your content--it creates a deeper and longer-lasting connection.
I don’t speak much on my IG, so I try to get my personality across in other ways. Primarily, I do this with the music I choose. I love a wide variety of music so I had a deep well to mine. How you edit to the music can create little moments of humour as well.
Find a few ways to input your personality, whether it's that Missu smile, the music you use, or the dama slam, find you and share it!
(4) Use Appropriate Tags and Hashtags.
Companies generally love when you tag them and share your love for their dama (but please, don't ask for a sponsorship--it's taboo). Typically putting "#CompanyName", and the occasional tag of the company or pro whose mod you're using is a good way to get noticed. Tag them especially in the content you are extremely proud of. Spamming companies could lead to them ignoring your tags, so be careful with the super spams.
I tagged Sweets and used their hashtags on each of those 28 Tricks Later posts. I had also been participating in Sweets’ challenges on my stories and would tag them from time to time in grid posts. Be consistent, be impactful, but most importantly have fun! Kendama isn't about chasing clout, so make sure you enjoy creating your content.
I'm so grateful to be able to contribute to Kendama in more ways than just tricks. If you got a product, let’s collab! DM me at @baustinw on Instagram.