How to Become a Pro Angler | Vacation or Vocation?
The rules to becoming a Pro Angler:
- Be willing to do the work- You may be required to travel, “work” long hours, be prepared, do some research and hone your various skills.
- Become the expert- devote tome to go with your talent. Casting, fishing, catching, and learning about a specific species, technique or area.
- Be relevant- be an integral part of the community. Volunteer to help locally, regionally, assist dealers (outdoor not drug) in your region. Head up or be part of clean up campaigns, work with youth organizations and look for ways to contribute. Be enthusiastic! Net work, network, network.
- Assess your appearance and presentation skills. Clean clothes, look the part, speak positively and have a clear message that leaves people feeling good.
- Volunteer until you’ve established yourself, then your time and talent are worth something. Your pay maybe in the form of dollars, discounts, product or something else you negotiate.
- Expand your playground- think outside the tackle box. For over two dozen seasons I was a fishing guide, after two decades of training and teaching karate I still teach self-defense classes, I still do radio, TV and personal appearances and each of these activities deliver a paycheck.
- CUSTOMER – know when you appear in person, on TV, in a video or anywhere on behalf of your sponsors, organization or yourself everyone (EVERYONE) but you is the customer.
- My opinion: NOBODY GETS RICH WORKING OFF SOMEBODY ELSE. Create your own brand, supplement your income in several ways.
My journey includes closing in on my 35th season of outdoor / boat show appearances, 38 years of magazine (printed and digital) magazine writing, radio for over 30 years, TV for over 25 seasons. The formula I offer you works.
Radio, TV, the printed word, personal appearances, video, social media, all of these and more are part of the media blitz to promote sponsors, products and yourself. Self-promotion is listed last for a reason, your sponsors, their services and products should be the main goal in your effort to spread the “outdoor gospel”, get it right and you are on for the long term, joy ride.
- The Power of the Printed Word- Seemingly the lost art of writing (on paper or the digitally) shouldn’t be ignored. The ability to communicate and reach a huge audience is extremely important. The world wide access to information is a true “game changer”. Write about things you are passionate about, track down and involve expert sources to add relevance to your work. Develop a personal style, keep everything positive, incorporate high energy themes and make sure you can pass the “I” test. Count in periodicals the number of times the author uses the word, I. Don’t overdo it. Proofread any submission for errors in grammar, punctuation and more, it says a lot about you. Be professional, not a plagiarist, do NOT just copy and paste the work of others. Seek out work for magazines, local, state and national in scope, newspapers of all sizes, both in print and on line versions.
- Photos tell a Story – A great picture tells and sells the story. (* Check out CHRIS FUNK) Tasteful shots of a catch or kill are important. See the light, no really see the light, natural light is tricky. Back lit shots, (sun behind the subject) create shadows. Front lit shots can hide the face (preferable in some instances), try a”fill flash” to avoid this. Low light outdoor pics can be dramatic, sunrise and sunset are very desirable as are kids with fish, family photos and technical displays. Be aware of background and details in the farming of the photo. No cigarettes, alcohol, dangerous stunts or shots that compromise children or demean anyone. On the water lifejackets are desirable and essential for mass publication, in some cases required for use by editors and media outlets. Take a moment in the excitement to think about what you see before clicking the button. Use the photos to match the topic and catch logos on baits, boats and clothing as a payback and promotion for sponsors.
- TV and Video – While footage can be edited, great TV is spontaneous and catches the excitement at the moment of truth. One rule of TV, “you can’t say it if they, the viewers, can’t see it”. Show and explain I n detail the bait, the rigging, the features of your kayak, little tricks and techniques you use to keep you safe and make you more effective in your pursuit to paddle whitewater, catch kayak bass or take a trophy buck. Be genuine, dress appropriately and think about your on camera message. Avoid risky behavior, foul language and any negative activity, these things could cause a great moment to have to be edited out of a show.
- Radio – While sometimes viewed as passé, radio can still be an effective form of communication. Again the advent of the World Wide Web sends your message across the air waves globally. In my own case, I do a radio spot each weekday on AM 650 WSM. Hmm, AM radio you might be thinking, well AM 650 is the flagship station for the legendary Grand Ole Opry, commonly referred to as the “mother ship” of country music and also a massive group of listeners that happen to also be outdoor enthusiasts. The station is 50,000 Watts, under the right circumstances hits 38 states at drive time, reaching a huge audience and again is broadcast worldwide on the internet, its one more way to reach and promote to a diverse audience.
- Personal Appearances – At a boat show, on the creek bank, dealer seminars, outdoor venues or in the aisles of your local retailer, you are in each case doing a personal appearance. Very few retailers will turn down an offer of a “professional courtesy” to do an on-site promotion. Part of the key to success is to measure your words and monitor the reaction of your audience, be sincere and understand everyone (except you) again is a potential customer. Being professional again in your dress, speech and conduct keeps you coming back for longevity in this segment of the industry season after season, I’m celebrating 35 years of seminars and appearances this year. Understand also you represent the sponsors whose clothes and patches you wear and the other groups you are affiliated with and hope to maintain the professional relationship with in the future.
- Communication – Being able to catch a fish, paddle class four water, stalk wildlife or explore nature just isn’t enough. Communication, verbal and non-verbal is extremely critical to finding your place the indoors and outdoors. Develop your own style that makes you memorable and suits you specifically. Make yourself marketable. Be part of the team.
How you conduct yourself, the stories and photos you supply, your language and people skills all add up to following the map to promotional success and transforming what is a normally a vacation into a vocation .
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