Sports collectibles, memorabilia, and autographs are highly sought-after items. Similar to people owning art in their homes, collectibles spark conversations while keeping fans connected to their favorite moments in sports. Instead of waiting until after graduation to connect with fans and monetize these moments, student-athletes will be able to capitalize immediately.
Collectibles and Memorabilia
The sports collectibles and memorabilia market is currently valued at $15 billion per year, according to Forbes. Collectibles and memorabilia can be sold in many different ways, either in person or on marketplace platforms. There are many different platforms on the market, live and online, and it’s important to do your research before selling through a third party. As a college athlete, the majority of fans who are invested in you will be following you via social media, so no matter what method you decided to sell, promote and market on your personal social channels. By quickly entering the market and capitalizing on the emotions of the moment, the item’s value will increase. To take collectibles and memorabilia further, game-worn gear can become increasingly more valuable and memorable with an autograph.
Before selling anything, ensure you are in compliance with your institution’s NIL Policy. Many college and university programs will require you to purchase the item from the school before selling it on your own if it was originally provided by the university athletic program.
Similar to memorabilia, autographs can be monetized in multiple ways.
A brand or business can compensate an athlete by hosting an autograph session. Businesses will often tap into athletes to draw a crowd for a big event or moment their business wants to celebrate. An athlete’s earning potential for autograph sessions can range anywhere from a couple of hundred to dollars to a couple of thousand depending on the event, time range, and status of the athlete. The timing of these sessions can range anywhere from 30 minutes to multiple hours. It’s important to read through a contract before agreeing to participate in an in-person autograph event, and double-check your calendar to ensure it won’t overlap or interfere with your practice schedule. Overall, in-person autograph sessions are a great way for athletes to get involved with their local community and give time to the fans who support them.
An autograph and positive athlete interaction can create a fan and supporter for life. These in-person sessions aren’t just great for the business, they’re an excellent opportunity for athletes to connect with supporters.
The second way an athlete can monetize autographs are one-off situations such as signing a piece of merchandise for someone, selling their own personalized merchandise and signing it, or selling autographs online. Again, there are several third-party organizations that can help you fulfill these requests, but it’s important to do your research.
Giving away autographs is a great way to encourage fan interaction on social channels or promote and build on new platforms. For example, if you just recently started a YouTube channel, you could promote it on your Instagram and announce that you’ll randomly select five new subscribers to send an autograph. A simple call to action, combined with an incentive, can be a powerful marketing tool.
Be sure to disclose all payment activities to your institution or governing body to remain compliant and eligible in your sport.