Many college students start a business through e-commerce platforms. In the NIL era, student-athletes will have the same opportunity as their peers in the classroom.
Athletes can make a name for themselves off the field by pairing their hobbies and interests with their passion for athletics. Platforms like Shopify and Etsy make it easy for athletes to put more money in their pockets without having to jump through hoops to set up a storefront. E-commerce sites support a variety of different revenue opportunities all in one place, proving that everyone is qualified to generate revenue.
Just like any business, establishing a brand is the first step. Lucky for athletes, any e-commerce brand can (and should be) an extension of their personal brand. Gaining a web domain that is a reflection of the athlete’s actual name will be important in the new era of athlete-driven revenue opportunities.
With the abundance of revenue opportunities in the NIL era, student-athletes can establish an e-commerce site that supports a variety of revenue potential like merchandise, private lessons, or selling a personally made product. The site should also provide a blurb and opportunities for the athlete to share their personal story to better connect with fans and consumers.
On July 1, 500,000 student-athletes will be entering the market at the same time. Because of that immediate competition, it’s important that goods and services are uniquely yours and can stand out. Being prepared now and establishing a brand quickly after the gates of the NIL era are open will provide forward-thinking athletes an advantage over the crowd. Be creative and let your personality shine through in your brand.
Another important piece of building a brand is having a visual identity that is consistent and easily identifiable by supporters. Investing in creating a logo and general brand guidelines will help establish consistency in branding and marketing, leading to more revenue in the long term. There are many outstanding creatives who would be happy to help athletes with a logo or personal brand elements, whether it’s a talented design student or a local agency.
To bring awareness to your e-commerce site, tap into personal, pre-existing channels to educate your supporters on a new way they can engage with you. Encourage those close to you to promote your channels to increase awareness.
Platforms like Shopify make marketing integration simple by having partnerships with Instagram, Facebook, Walmart, eBay, and Amazon to directly reach channels when fans and consumers are already shopping.
Once a consumer base is established, many e-commerce sites have built-in tools for email marketing. Having access to the email addresses of those who have transacted with you in the past is a huge benefit, so be sure to utilize email marketing to keep them coming back. Athletes who pursue email marketing can share their stories directly to supporters’ inboxes while including a call to action and incentives to support them.
If you’re selling physical products through your e-commerce site, add personalization to your packaging. Include a note or another personal touch to create a fan or customer for life. Get creative and even encourage them to share it on their social channels to raise more brand awareness.
Identifying Growth Opportunities
Keep the momentum going and listen to your supporters. Stay in touch with reviews they’re leaving and what they are talking about on other channels. Knowing your audience will help continue to elevate your connection with them and what revenue streams you can improve.
Most e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Etsy also include back-end data you should evaluate frequently to set goals and benchmarks. Various sites also help you achieve those goals and increase sales by integrating with Google ads to obtain new customers to keep growth going.
Be sure to disclose all payment activities to your institution or governing body to remain compliant and eligible in your sport.