FREE shipping for orders over $100 - Click to read more

Hopkin Skate Blog — Skateboard

Blog Menu

Rule number 69: How do I improve?

Rule number 69: How do I improve?

Last year I wrote the ultimate cheat sheet to getting sponsored. The post was loved and hated, skaters were inspired and offended. There was a bit of Aussie humour in there (or is that sarcasm), a lot of life lessons, and a chunk of truth that I hoped made people think. The point of the blog was to make you think. You don't need to be the best skater to be on the best team (look at some of the original Bones Brigade members). You don't need to make a lot of money to be happy. Why do you need to be sponsored is a better question than how do I get sponsored. Sometimes that answer shows you a different path. Some of the points I made in the original blog, were vague on purpose, and the plan was to follow up every rule with another blog post to expand out the idea. A bit late, here is the first blog post! Rule 69. How do I improve? Longboarders should watch skateboard videos and get inspired. Skateboarders should watch longboard videos. Both should watch surf videos. The problem with longboard videos is they are too cinematic. That has changed in the last 12 months, brands like Comet are making gnarlier, sketchier videos. Landyachtz always seem to have the right mix. Even Loaded has stepped up their mongrel with the latest Kegel video. It is not about being controversial, it is about pushing the sport in new directions. I think longboarders think about mainstream too much, can I make a video that will appeal to everyone. Skateboarders do the opposite, this video is for skaters and everyone else will hate it. Skateboarders will make a video that only has amazing skating, but do we really need to see 20 variations of grinding a stair rail? I know videos are about the brand and advertising, but they do give the sport direction because skaters will watch, replicate and build upon. One of my favourite skate video series is the Almost Cheese and Crackers. Everything in this video should have a longboard version. I'm not talking about longboards on mini ramps. I'm saying many of the tricks they do, skaters years earlier would have said was impossible.  Longboarders need to watch skateboard videos and get ideas for film techniques, tricks and style. That is how you will improve. The late Steve Jobs was often quoted saying "good artists copy, great artists steal". This applies to skating. Want to be a great skater? Steal from the previous generation. What inspired me to write this blog is the following video, I just thought that here are some skaters who get, it is like a longboard video, there is a journey, story and purpose. There is a love of life as well as a love of skating. It is one of the best skateboard videos I have watched this year. It goes for 30 minutes, so make yourself comfortable, maybe get out some cheese and crackers ... and enjoy. 

One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest. T. S. Eliot “The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism”
(rule 96. rule 97.)

The ultimate cheat sheet to getting sponsored

The ultimate cheat sheet to getting sponsored

These are the rules according to Hop. To break with my tradition of long explanations, this is just the rules and not much else. Love them, hate them, disagree with them, don't care, these are my rules. Don\t like 'em, then write your own. I encourage discussion and suggestions so I can continue to add to my list.

1. You need to skate more and skate every day.

2. Will you sponsor me? No, asking is not enough, you need to be worthy.

3. How do I get sponsored? Follow the rules.

4. I got my first sponsor, should I sign the contract? Never sign a contract unless it is for an amount of money that will change your life.

4a. Why do they want me to sign a contract? To lock you in and give you nothing - rookie mistake.

4b. What if my sponsor insists I sign a contract? Stall and start delivering fast. Tell them to talk to your mum or your dad. Dog ate it. You lost it. I mailed it back. If it is an issue, tell them the truth, Hop says never sign (rule 3) and then write a letter stating that you will honor what is in the contract. Even better, make it public and put it in a blog post.

5. Do I need to start a blog? Yes

5a. How do I start a blog? That is the subject of another blog post.

6. How do I get noticed? Do something extraordinary.

7. I want to be a pro skater and make lots of money, how do I do that? There is no money in being a pro (there can be only one Tony Hawk), if you want to be wealthy, get a job.

7a. If you organised skaters into an hierarchical chart it would look like a pyramid. Pro skaters at the top, skaters getting into the sport at the bottom. The whole system depends on a new flow of skaters on that bottom level. They are sold the dream of the pro skaters at the top. In fact, there can only be a few skaters at the top. The reality is most skaters at the bottom, never make it to the top. Not because of their talent, but because of the way the system is designed. Much the same way as most crack dealers in America still live with their mum.

8. I sent in a sponsorship proposal and they said no, what should I do? Be nice, and keep in contact every 3 months.

9. Do I need a manager? No you need to skate more.

10. My mate/friend/uncle/brother said he can get me a deal, what do you think? Something is worth as much as you paid for it.

11. I want to be sponsored so I never have to pay for gear again. You should get a job and earn some money so you can buy the gear you really want.

12. What is the secret to getting sponsored? Successful pro skaters or sponsored skaters would do what they are doing even if they were not getting paid. And most are not. (skateboarding's dirty little secret)

13. Who should be my first sponsor? Your local skateshop. If they are not interested, then go back to school, go to university/college or get a job but skate for life.

13a. Why wont my local skateshop sponsor me? They hate you, get over it. It shouldn't effect your love for skating.

13b. My local skateshop doesn't do sponsorship, what should I do? You should fake it until you make it. Promote that skateshop like they sponsor you.

14. I buy all my skate gear from overseas shops not local, should I ask them to sponsor me? You are killing the industry you want to support you. You're a dick, you should stop skating.

15. My girlfriend/boyfriend wants me to stop skating? You should get a new girlfriend/boyfriend.

16. My family think I should quit and get a real job. Agree with them and then do what you want to do.

17. My sponsor wont pay for [fill in this area]. You should get more sponsors.

18. I can not get money only flow, what should I do? Take it and get a job to pay for the rest.

19. Do you think being a sponsored skater is right for me? I think sponsorship is a legal form of slavery, but it's a frickin good lifestyle.

20. Should I be pro skater all my life? Yes if you want to be poor all your life, if not, do it for the lifestyle until your 29, then get a real job.

21. If I have partied the night before a race and I'm hungover, should I puke or fight to keep it in? You should go home and puke and get a real job. You should only puke from too much skating not too much drinking.

22. Should I party the night before an event?  Lets not but say we did. 23.What is the difference between flow, sponsored and pro? Flow is free gear and you need a job. Sponsored is flow and cash but you still need a job. Pro is making enough money so you can buy a house.

24. I'm making lots of money, what should I buy? A house.

25. Should I skate on Sunday or go to church? What am I a priest.

26. The wheels I love wont sponsor me but I can get cash from the other wheel company, what should I do? Take the money unless it breaks rule number 33.

26a. Why can't I get sponsored by the brands I want? Sponsorship is not about you, it about promoting someone else so they can make lots of money.

27. Why aint the best skaters sponsored? Because they don't sell out. They would rather get a job, be free and skate what they want.

28. I'm overseas, sleeping on a couch, in a stranger skater house, what do you think will happen? I think you will wake up with a new haircut.

29. What is better: sponsored rider or ambassador? I think you need to skate more and think less.

30. How do I get good photos of myself skating? Pay a photographer.

31. How do I get in skate magazines? Send them photos, write them articles.

32. James Kelly accepted by friend request on Facebook, do you think I can crash on his couch? Yes. 33. The internet has changed everything. Old business models are dying. You are not a skater you are a brand. You are a business. Your decisions should always reflect this truth.

33a. Sometimes the right path is taking the money but every decision should not be about more money. Sometimes, more money hurts your brand. Associating your brand with an arsehole, just makes you an arsehole. A short term gain in money can mean you take a bigger loss in the long term.

34. Who makes the most money in skate, who are the biggest sponsors? Soft drink and shoe companies...and Google.

35. Why wont Landyachtz sponsor me? If they sponsored everyone, who would buy their boards.

36. Do I need a nickname? Yes it is goose.

37. Can I push mongo and still be sponsored? No, there is a reason it is called shit foot. Stop polluting the sport I love.

38. If I can survive a 2 hour phone call with Chaput, do you think he'll sponsor me? Yes, that is how it works.

39. I'm on Facebook 24/7 will that help? No you should skate more.

40. How do I get people to remember me? Keep telling them your name and wear the same clothes every day (hat tip to Talking Heads).

41. My mum says I'm the best skater she's ever seen. She lied.

42. What is more important friendship or podiums? Podiums are no fun if you have no friends to share it with.

43. I won a race/event I'm rich. You should act like your poor. One win does not make you a winner. One pay cheque does not make you a bank.

44. My sponsors wont talk to me, what should I do? You're doing a crap job as a sponsored skater. Fix that.

45. I dont enjoy skating anymore, its like a job, what should I do? It is a job and also think about rule 7.

46. How do I get sponsors to watch my sponsor me video? Make a video worth watching. If it doesn't go viral, you are not worth sponsoring. Still want to make that sponsor me video?

47. What is the best thing you can do for a new sponsor? Over deliver in the first 3 months.

48. How do I do a sponsorship proposal? Ask your English teacher. Find some who can write good copy. You provide them with the raw data.

49. What do sponsors look for in a skater? Eyeballs. How many eyeballs look at you each year?

50. How do I become a better skater? Skate with winners.

51. Why am I so unlucky at races and events? Winners make their own luck. You are not professional in your approach to this sport.

52. I just won my first World Cup race, will it change my life, what should I expect? You should expect to get a bucket of water poured over you.

53. If there is no money, why should I want to be sponsored by a well known brand? Exposure. Your local video get hundreds of views, a major brand video gets hundreds of thousands of views.

54. Should I get angry when I don't win? No. See rule 1, and get even.

55. Do I need to be fit? You have read rule number one right? Athletes that take their job seriously...see rule 73.

56. Clean bearings or new bearings? Skateboarding is not all about skill. A large part of success is equipment. Did Brock ever turn up at Mt Panorama in a beat up racing car? Does P-Rod start a competition on a thrashed skateboard? Clean your bearings, maintain your gear, and you'll find yourself improving.

57. I can do 50ft standies, will you sponsor me? No. That is like saying I can ollie, sponsor me...and I get those emails as well. A sponsored skater can skate everything, they may choose to specialise in one area, but they can do everything. If you can not skate everything: see rule 1.

58. Everyone passes me going downhill, do I need faster bearings? No, you need a better tuck.

59. Why do I have to skate everyday? Skateboarding is about progression. If you are not progressing, you are not skateboarding

60. Do I have to take drugs? No.

61. What is the most important thing being a professional skater? Staying in control. Anything you do that breaks this rule should be questioned. Take drugs and lose control = wrong. Bomb a hill and lose control = wrong. Roll into mega ramp and lose control = wrong. Get the idea?

62. Why does everyone say no to my sponsorship requests? You're a loser. Seriously, sponsors say no because you make it easy for them to say no. A sponsorship proposal is NOT you asking...will you sponsor me?

63. Question why you need to be sponsored.

64. If you quit the sport because you can not be sponsored, that confirms all the industries reasons why they said no. Pro skaters skate no matter what.

65. I dont like skating in the rain. Move to Vegas.

66. How do I pay for my first overseas trip? Get a job

67. Why should I travel overseas? Cultural exchange. Learning about other communities, and bring the best of what you have experienced and making your local scene better.

68. Does history really matter? Knowing where you came from, and who's shoulders you are standing on is important...especially if they are the people you are asking to sponsor you (think about it) 69. How do I improve? Longboarders should watch skateboard videos and get inspired. Skateboarders should watch longboard videos. Both should watch surf videos.

70. Should I bad mouth another skater? Never. See rule 99. Always be straight with a fellow skaters.

71. Sign of an amateur: - spends more time getting sponsors than skating - never skates by himself - always scamming for the next free deal - blames his sponsors, his gear and never himself - always has an excuse - can drink/smoke faster than they can skate - tells everyone how good they are

73. Sign of a professional - they are an athlete - maintain their gear to get maximum performance - keep fit to get maximum performance from their body - practice when they are not skating - put the interest of the sport first - helping the next generation - humble

74. Why does skating have a future? Because we'll never run out of places that have never been skated

75. Does it matter that I never get sponsored? No, what matters is that you skate for life.

76. All my crew and friends are give up skating, what should I do? Get new friends and crew.

77. Why have my friends given up skating? They have discovered parties, cars, motorbikes, girls and alcohol/drugs. Sad thing is when they get older the thing they will regret is giving up skating.

78. Having a passion does not guarantee success, loving what you do does.

79. Acknowledge that the next generation will have it better, in every way, than you. If that doesn't happen, you failed.

80. Stop worrying about what people think of you.

81. What is the best skill I need to have at an event/race? Being able to be by yourself, motivated and not feel lonely.

82. Companies (big sponsors) set budgets up to 18 months in advance. If you want to be part of their budget, you need to think about your future.

83. You have two main tools: your body and your brain. Develop in equal portions.

84. The most successful professional skaters have two outstanding skills that are not related but are used in conjunction. Skating + film making, skating + writing, skating + photography (understand?)

85. Everything you need to be a pro is found at school/college/university/library. In the age of the internet: reading, writing and creativity is as important as skating.

86. It takes five years to build a business to be successful and it takes five years to become a pro skater.

87. I don't have five years, I need money now! Get a job.

88. Don't look to or predict what will happen in year five when you are at year 1.

88a. I'm past year five and why am I not there yet? Reinvent yourself. That means taking it back to nothing.

89. Skateboarding and longboarding is art. Artists don't have sponsors they have benefactors. Who makes the best benefactors? Friends, family and fools.

90. Sponsorship is marketing. So learn about marketing. Start here.

91. My sponsor wants me to do it his way? Learn his way, do it your way but with respect.

92. Everything has been done, nothing is new, what can I do? Being original is not inventing. It is taking small pieces of what has been invented and creating your own version.

93. What if I just want to party? Come back in 12 months and read this post again.

94. I hate the industry, my last sponsor screwed me. If you want to be a professional skater then you have to forget everything about a bad deal, and never think about it again. You may not believe it, but you were at least half of the problem.

95. Can I be sponsored if I'm shy? Sure, they make some of the best pros. It is not a weakness but a strength. You are more focused, better at listening, make better networks (see rule 98).

96. Education should never stop. We never stop learning skate. We never stop improving our brain. The smartest people I know, failed at school. An exam is not a judge of intelligence, just as a competition is not a judge of a skater's skill. If you don't understand, you need to read more books.

97. Read more books.

98. Successful skaters network. A network is a series of circles - you are in the middle. First circle is friends and family. Second circle is local community. Third circle is online community. Fourth circle is events, competitions and races. Fifth circle is local industry - distributors, sales, shops. Sixth circle is brands. Seventh circle is leaders and mentors.

99. First rule of skate club: membership is not based on how well you skate, but only if you are holding a skateboard or longboard. There are so many haters, we need all the club members we can get!

100.  No one is going to pick you, pick yourself Credit to James Altucher for the original idea and the inspiration to write this list. I will be writing a blog soon: Why you dont need to be sponsored.