If you need tips on breaking into the industry, click here.
Bodybuilding is one of the most expensive sports. The cost of supplements, nutrition and food needed to grow your body is no joke. Once you start getting serious, simply going to the gym and eating whatever, whenever you want is not going to cut it. A proper diet that ensures the best growth is costly. Unfortunately we live in a world where the healthiest and most nutritious food is also the most expensive. People in this sport can generally spend up to a third of their salary on gym memberships, supplements and food.
Even while paying the high price for your passion, can you make enough money through bodybuilding to support your aspirations and make a living out of it?
Short answer: No. You need to get a job to support your dreams. You need some sort of income to buy and use the supplements and food you need to get you to your desired physique.
Long answer: Yes. There are many bodybuilders who make enough to live off the sport. Some even score good coin from it as well. Working in the industry as a full-time career option is highly coveted, yet definitely possible. Bodybuilders earn in a combination of ways listed below.
How can bodybuilding make me a decent income?
To earn a proper salary, you are going to need to do a variety of the things listed below.
Winning cash prizes at bodybuilding competitions
This is not how bodybuilders make a living, but his is the first thing that comes to mind when people consider the incomes of body builders. This is like an occasional bonus to the best of the best in the industry. The competitors at the top of their category do not count on getting this money and you can't either. Planning to live off prize money solely is going to get you in a financial mess, and a whole lot of disappointment. Congratulations to those who win money at shows, but don't count on it. Even the top guys don't live off prize money. They still have to do the things that follow to stay in the industry full time. Check out these tips to win more bodybuilding shows.
Being sponsored by companies
If you perform well enough at bodybuilding shows, there will be companies who will be interested in sponsoring you. These companies are most often supplement companies who want to use your image to sell their products to their target market. Their market would be the people who want to look like and be like you. These companies are not limited to supplement companies only, and can be energy drink, gym, clothing or other corporate companies. As stated in our 'make a career as a bodybuilder' article, getting a sponsorship is not as easy as stepping on stage and hoping that companies are going to chase you down with cash in their hands. Most of the time, you are going to have to work for it. The competition for sponsorships is super tight. Therefore, building a great relationship with your sponsor/s is essential.
Some bodybuilders make a living with this kind of money. However, the numbers of bodybuilders who can live off their sponsorships are below 10% among the pros. A sponsorship could be as small as a year's supply of their brand of supplements. They usually aren't enough to cover your nutrition costs, never mind everything else that comes with staying alive.
Modelling and guest posing gigs can provide for good additional income. This is also usually not a lot of money until you become well known and have established a strong brand that people recognize and want to pay for. This is also very competitive so it will be hard work for you to establish yourself from the crowd to get noticed by those who pay for models. The amount of bodybuilders who make a living from modelling is quite low, but higher than the amount who live off sponsorships. As I have already said, most combine a variety of these income streams.
Many bodybuilders become personal trainers as a way of doing what they love and working in the same industry to pay the bills. The sport and this career often complement each other. The better they perform in bodybuilding competitions, the more clients with the same goals will want to be trained by them and therefore the more they can make from training others by charging more per session. Working at a gym always has great benefits for the bodybuilder. He gets to network and has a bigger chance of possibly meeting someone who could help him get further in his career. Although you need to get qualified first, you can make a living from personal training. It is not going to make you rich, but staying within the industry can bring in more opportunities. A large amount of people who regularly compete in bodybuilding shows are personal trainers. If you want to be a personal trainer but are put off by the amount of other people going after the same job, specialize. Focus on training children and teens, pregnant woman or people who are recovering from injury.
Being a contest coach
Being a contest coach, just like personal training, can provide a steady stream of income that you can depend on but won't make you rich. In order to become a contest coach, you need to know how the contests work. You need to have the skills to transform a newbie into the best performer he or she can be onstage. You need a reason for people to believe that you can really help them to do the best they can at these shows. The better you do at your own shows, the more sought after you will be to others wanting to be as successful as you.
Monetizing and expanding on your personal brand
If you want to make money out of bodybuilding, you need to develop your personal brand. You should become a well-known brand that people admire. You can grow your brand by competing and placing in shows, gaining a big following on social media like Facebook and Twitter, trying to get as much publicity in the media as possible, and even offering to write guest posts for websites and blogs that your industry pays attention to. You should aim to reach as many people as possible. They should see your name repeatedly and start respecting your authority in the sport. Once you have developed a brand within the industry, you can start capitalizing on it by selling you own merchandise, partnering with another company to use your brand to reach their target market, or becoming a product ambassador for larger companies. The bigger your personal brand gets, the more opportunities will make themselves available to you. Once you are well known, magazines and other media might offer you good cash for interviews, appearances, etc.
Entrepreneurship is an often over looked and possibly lucrative way to make money out of bodybuilding. If there is a product or service that you can provide that people are willing to pay for within the industry, you have a business opportunity. Starting a business in bodybuilding has many possibilities and there are many ways of going about it. Although you can make endless amounts of money this way, it will require sharp business skills. The chances are also very high that you will make nothing (or even lose money) when trying to start a business.
Extra tips and advice to earn from bodybuilding
Decide: are you in this for the cash or just for fun?
Unfortunately, bodybuilding is not like other sports because you can't try to qualify for a team and then get a salary depending on the club you belong to. If you want to make a living from it, you need to be clever about it. If you want to take up bodybuilding seriously, you need to decide whether you are going to do it for the sport of it or if you are going to need to make an income from it as well. If you don't need an income from it and have another way of making a living for yourself and can afford expenses like nutrition, then feel free to pursue it the best way you choose. Many of the greats have other forms of income and do bodybuilding professionally, even though they don't earn enough via the sport to live off it. On the other hand, if you want to make your earnings from bodybuilding alone, you will need to be smart about it and plan well. You cannot plan on cash prizes for contests, so you will need to decide what other areas listed above you are going to pursue to make a steady income.
Think long term
If you are planning to live off bodybuilding, you will need to make a short-term, mid-term and long-term plan regarding finances. Perhaps you should get a normal job while you study to become a personal trainer, and once you are a personal trainer, work on starting a business that works well with your passion for bodybuilding. If you don't plan right, ending your next plateau is going to be the least of your worries.
Multiple revenue streams
The key to making a lot of money is through multiple revenue streams, instead of relying on only one way of making money. You first goal should be to establish a steady income, then your second should be to somehow get a secondary income, and with the extra money from the secondary income you can figure out the best way to turn the additional income into more money.
Think apart from everybody else
As with any industry, the better you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd and be superior to the rest, the more successful you will be. If you stand ahead of the rest on stage as a personal trainer or business, you can make a lot of good money. Originality wins.
Be money smart
Save and use your money wisely. Make sure you always have enough for 'rainy days' and keep your expenses as low as possible. The worst thing you want is to cut supplements in the middle of the month because you thought you would get more money but didn't. Don't let your bulking diet drill your wallet into the ground and halt your progress.
We hope this info was useful. Please let us know in the comments below. STAY STRONG!