Thursday, August 30, 2012

Non-Interview Thursday: $ So You Want to Make Money in BJJ/Grappling? $

"Do what everyone else does.
Get what everyone else gets."

"If you build it, they will come" is the worst possible mentality to have if you desire success.

I previously posted HERE about sponsorships in BJJ.

And it branches out over to this general topic: making money from grappling (what you love).

This general model applies to blogging, writing, art, Yoga, whatever it is that you wish to monetize and derive profit from other than by mere chance.

To often we glamorize and romanticize the IDEA of making money doing what we love.
The cold reality is that working and making money making more than others, in particular requries the willingness to grind and put in far more hours of work and endure more setback(s) than others will push through.

How many hours do you think Lloyd Irvin has spent brainstorming and looking for the next cash cow?
How much time do you think he has spent looking at effective modes of marketing and models of advertising?
The next marketing appeal, the mentality in his players that has ALL OF US that follow grappling know who his players much time and energy did it require to produce/mentor/facilitate those guys?

I'm willing to bet it is thousands of hours if not more.
And rightfully so he now reaps those rewards.

Before I went to college I had spent most of my childhood studying art. I put together my portfolio and was accepted to a number of art schools for college. However, the process of doing so showed me that the grind of art beyond doing art for its own sake made me hate that process of deadlines, restrictions, and true "work".
I was not cut out to be a commercially successful artist.
No amount of hard work, desire, "wants" or "coulds" mattered beyond that one inescapable fact. 

If you wish to make money doing something, it must be a job.
J. O. B.  
You must treat it like a job.Every day. Not sometimes. Not every other day. Not when it's sunny outside. Not when it's raining and you have nothing else to do.

If you want to work 90 minutes a day teaching BJJ to 10 people, expect to get paid for 90 minutes worth of work a day teaching BJJ to 10 people.

We all had teachers in high school who didn't give a &^%$ phoned it in.
They handed out bull*&^% worksheets. They showed up unprepared or at worst did not know the material very well.
They showed videos, taught easy material, and had little to no expectations.

Teaching in the public school system, unfortunately, in many states is longevity-based pay. You teach each year, and regardless of merit, you receive incremental raises.

Teaching and coaching in martial arts, however, is completely different not quite the same paradigm.

Over time, the effort, and skill which you show will likely reflect in your students and success will then follow in a monetary fashion.

For example:
- My goal is to make money from sponsors.
What do I offer that should warrant a sponsor giving ME (among others) their money?
 How many potential sponsors have I even bothered to approach?
 Did I wear a pair of khakis and a tie and dress shirt? Did I comb my hair?
Or did I swing by GNC after I got done rolling for 90 min's and wore my board shorts and flip flops?

- My goal is to have 300 students whilst I currently have 45.
What am I doing on a daily basis to make those who are unaware that I have something to offer them?
What am I doing to incentivize my students to bring me new students or appeal to potential students that might consider another school that is closer or more convenient?
What am I doing to reach my community and offer a service that they are lacking or perhaps do not even know they are lacking (self-defense, bully prevention, after school care). 

Being the best requires total sacrifice
Due to narcissism we assume that others know we are "the best in the area".
And this may in fact be true.
But that is not enough to convince a white belt to sign on the dotted line with contract when Joe Schmoe is 20 min's closer to his house and does not require rush hour commuting.

What am I offering that others do not?
What am I willing to provide to "sweeten" the deal?

We (in particular as Americans) believe we are entitled to opportunity. That opportunity is mandated by our laws.
We are often unwilling to CREATE opportunities.
When others disparage Lloyd Irvin's marketing, they themselves are unwilling to market or advertise.
They want students to walk in the door and come to them.

We hold it to be self-evident that we are the best or that we have something better to offer than another school.
But the person walking in off the street has no earthly concept of what makes a good BJJ or whatever school.
The truth is not self-evident to them. In fact, they wouldn't know the truth if they saw it.

If you will not arrange your whole life in pursuit of that goal,
it is not your ultimate goal
Why are most Judo programs in non-profit facilities?
How many Judo clubs spend money on advertising?
How many Judo tournaments offer merchandise/make the event a true EVENT in terms of something (shirts, food other than hot dogs, flyers for upcoming clinics, seminars, et cetera) other than people contesting Judo matches.

And then we wonder why no one in America cares about Judo.
Through lack of effort, laziness, or outright apathy, we have watched while Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and (most recently) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu have out marketed, out witted, and out hustled their way into a market that shows by the sheer number of these schools I see in the Yellow Pages that there is serious money to be made in this enterprise.

We scoffed at marketing and the connection to MMA b/c Judo is an Olympic Sport.
We often scoffed at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because we know it was new and came from Judo and we thought it was a fad.
And perhaps, it is. But to shut our eyes to why it has been successful is exactly the mentality that has Judo in the US an afterthought amongst so many sporting avenues for children and adults.

And we have watched as people routinely pay $60-85 to compete in one division at a grappling tournament.
And those same tournaments have hundreds of competitors in them.
While a local Judo tournament charges $35 for two divisions and at best has a hundred competitor.

The market was there.
We failed to capitalize.

If you wish to be the best, at whatever it is, you must be willing to grind longer, harder, and more consistently than everyone else, to truly be the best. 


  1. I really enjoyed this article. Great work.

  2. DaeX20 - much appreciated. more to come.