One step that some would prefer to skip tends to be the most effective when trying to land sponsorship deals. You really need to set up a blog/website. It’s cheap and won’t require that much work to maintain – really! You don’t have to be a journalist pumping out articles every other day for this to work for you. Think of it more as a central location to store your photos, videos, build updates, event write-ups, sponsor plugs, etc. It essentially acts as a portfolio for you.
Before you ask – yes, we also talked about the importance of participating in forum sites to share your photos and write-ups about your build and your events. But sponsors still want to see a website. It shows them you’re committed and have your own “brand”. Think about it for a second, how much trust do you have in a business that doesn’t have a website these days? A website is almost as critical as a business card. You’ll still want to post about your efforts in relevant (popular) forums to promote your efforts, but you’ll also want to sneak in some links to your blog in those forums (use the Homepage link in your profile on forum sites if you’re worried about spamming). Read more tips and advice on how to best use forums to promote your racing efforts.
What If I’m Not a Good Writer?
Some will be turned off by the idea of creating a blogging website because they don’t consider themselves to be good writers. The good news is, you don’t have to be a best selling author for your blog to be effective. The key is to take some notes from the event and showcase your experience. Use a browser like Firefox that has a built-in spell checking feature, or use a word processing program for spell checking. Try tools like Instant Article Factory, which will take the pain and suffering out of writing quality articles. It’s not free, but it might be worth the investment if it helps you land some free parts. Test it out for $7 for the first month and see if it’s something you will benefit from. You can also look into some writing courses. Like with most things, it just takes practice. And for those of you with nieces and nephews, or someone else you can pay a few dollars to and have them write your articles for you.
Choose Your Domain
Now it’s time to register a domain and set up the hosting account for your blog website. What should your domain be? The most common approach is to come up with something that represents your car and your racing efforts. Do you have a nickname for your car or yourself? Try combining that with a term like “racing” or “motorsports”. It’s tough to find simple domains these days, all the simple ones are taken. Just try out a bunch of different combos until you find one you like. You can check to see if the domain is available on Bluehost, which is an all in one solution where you can register the domain and also host the blog. You can register a domain anywhere these days, but it tends to be easier to manage things when it’s all in one spot.
Set Up Hosting for the Blog
You will find that you have a ridiculous number of options to choose from when it comes to hosting. We suggest choosing a host (like Bluehost or Liquidweb, which I recommend highly) that offers a “WordPress Hosting” option, or advertises WordPress as an add-on you can easily plug into your site when setting up your hosting account. Wordress originally started out as just a blogging script but has evolved into a content management system that most of the world uses for blogs, corporate websites, e-commerce websites, etc. You’ll be using it to organize your photos and event articles in the form of a portfolio-like site with a blog.
You can set up your blog in 5 minutes for less than $7 per month (to cover the hosting fees) right now at Bluehost. What is hosting? Think of it as renting space on the web to store your website – almost like renting a storage unit. You’re paying for space on a server in a data center that has an extremely fast and reliable internet connection. You can spend a little more for some of the larger, more well known hosts like Liquidweb (which I personally have had great success with over the years), but they’re a little more expensive than the economy hosts like Bluehost, and the offerings from both companies are pretty similar. For most people looking to set up a blog to attract sponsors, the cheaper option will be more than adequate.
How easy is it to set up a hosting account and a blog? Watch this video:
How to Use WordPress
Once you get your hosting account set up and have installed WordPress it’s time to start building your site. You will log into the WordPress Dashboard, which will be your administration panel, or “command center”, where you’ll be managing all of the content of your new website. You’ll upload photos, write and publish the articles, and manage the look and feel of the site all within that admin area. Here’s a good video tutorial on how to become familiar with WordPress and the WordPress admin panel:
Important Elements of Your Blog
Now that the blog website is set up let’s talk about what your blog should have. Here’s a list of pages I suggest you start with:
- About Us – give a brief write up about yourself and your racing efforts (goals, etc)
- Calendar – upcoming events that you plan to attend/compete in
- Portfolio page – where you talk about your achievements and accomplishments
- Gallery – organized albums with photos from all your events and your build
- Blog Posts – obviously… write-ups from your build and your events
- My Sponsors – a page displaying your sponsors’ logos with links to their sites, maybe with some text describing what they specialize in. I’d also include their logos on your homepage
- Become a Sponsor – a page dedicated to describing how a sponsor can benefit from sponsoring you and your car
Start planning your posting categories for your blog posts – these will be the regular updates you will post from time to time. A good starting point would be to set up a category for Build Articles and another one for Event Coverage. That way you can give the site visitors a way to browse articles and follow along with each topic separately. Now start posting your write-ups. One great thing about WordPress is that it allows you to store drafts, which makes it easy to keep your thoughts organized. You can get started on an article and get all of your initial thoughts typed out and save it as a draft to finish it at a later date if need be. When you save it as a draft it isn’t published live on your site for the world to see.
Set up your Gallery
By default, WordPress allows you to upload photos via the Media library. It works fine for storing your photos, but it’s not ideal for what you’ll be doing with your photos. We suggest adding a plugin called NextGEN Gallery. It will allow you to set up album categories to keep your photos organized, which will make it easy for you to manage and site visitors to browse. To install this plugin, just go to the Plugins section in your WordPress control panel, it’s in the left sidebar. Click the Add New link and do a search for the plugin name as we spelled it above. Click install. You’ll need to know your FTP login info, which you can get from your host. For more details on how to manage and install plugins, read the WordPress Codex.
Here’s a quick video on how to get started with the NextGEN Gallery plugin:
We discuss a few useful plugins that you’ll want to consider adding, but the Gallery plugin will be enough to get you started for now. This will allow you to start uploading and organizing your photos. The goal for the early stages of your website should be to get content added. You will be able to polish the look of the site with a nice looking theme and add more features via plugins once you’re ready to make the site live. It’s very easy to change the look of the site by adding a different theme. You can jump over to the Appearance option in the left hand column and click Themes. Similar to Plugins, you simply browse through different themes and click Install.
Play with different settings, get to know the inner workings, and get your content added. This is going to be your best tool for attracting sponsors. It will be the central location for all of your efforts. Let your personality and passion for cars and racing show through. Make yourself stand out from the crowd when you write your articles. Embed your videos in your posts to make the articles more captivating. Have fun with it. The better you are at conveying your passion, the more people will enjoy following what you’re doing and will come back for more. And that is the ultimate goal. You’re building a brand (yourself).
Is it all worth the time and effort? Well, could it help land you a set of free coilovers for the race car, or maybe a pricey radiator, or even a set of wheels and tires? A little bit of money spent up front on your blog can result in big savings from sponsorship deals. You’ll have to determine what your time is worth, but if you can invest a few hours of time and a little bit of money, and the results are several hundreds of dollars (or thousands) worth of parts from sponsors, I would imagine it would be worth it for you.