Australian athlete, Alanah Yukich, has been competing professionally since she was just 14. Alanah is currently training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics whilst also using social media to develop her profile and secure secondary sources of income.
We spoke with Alanah about how athletes can use social media to build their personal brands and the importance of generating multiple sources of income throughout a professional athletics career.
What’s the most important tool an athlete has?
Mindset. The human body is so amazing and we’re here to test it and push it to see what we can achieve. Instead of putting a limit on your training, see yourself in it for the long run and keep going. If you make mistakes, don’t worry, just learn from them, and that no one is holding you back except you.
It’s also important look after yourself, last year I was injured and I had to focus on my studies, so I relaxed and came back happy as can be this year.
Why is it so important for athletes to have a second source of income?
Being a professional athlete is an unpredictable career. All it takes is one injury and everything you have been working toward goes on hold. For that reason, it’s advisable to have multiple sources of income.
Many of the best athletes are also PT’s or nutritionists. The expertise and credibility they gain through competing professionally help set them apart and generate clients, which provides peace of mind and financial security in those quieter periods of their athletics career.
Another route is to become an ambassador for brands. Personally, I don’t wish to be a big celebrity, but I do want to be a positive role model and inspire kids to get off the sofa and enjoy sport. When I was injured I used modelling to create content for my social channels, so that I was able to promote a healthy and active lifestyle to kids and adults alike.
How can athletes use social media to build their profile?
In Australia, athletes don’t often get funding, so social media channels like Instagram offer an amazing opportunity to build awareness for your personal brand and help you secure funding and sponsorship deals. It’s particularly helpful in enabling you to generate deals with small brands, which will ensure the larger brands start to take you more seriously. Increasingly brands want to collaborate with fitness fanatics who have a strong social media image because they are real people rather than models, and can represent an entire lifestyle.
Again, the fact that you’re a professional athlete gives you a great advantage. You can use photos and videos from training for Instagram and share your nutritional programmes via your blog, and use your relationships with other athletes to extend your reach. Above all, you have an extra level of credibility that means both people and brands will always attach real value to everything you have to say. This places professional athletes in a fantastic position to develop their status online and generate additional sources of revenue that give stability to an otherwise unpredictable career path.
How can a young aspiring athlete get involved competitively?
Ask someone like a teacher or a sports coach how they can get involved with competitions and make sure that they know that you’d like to push yourself to a competitive standard.
Join in – I often tell my friends to just go to the gym, you don’t have to workout, just go there and see what happens. Too often people are put off by not being good enough or not knowing anyone, and you should ignore those insecurities because once you’ve joined in or gone to the gym, you won’t turn back.
Make it fun – Fitness is not just about sport or winning, it’s a lot to do with communication and friends. Nowadays lots of kids text, and stay online all day, and they forget how to actually communicate and have fun. Sport can change that, and it’s just a matter of surrounding yourself with friends or making friends with the people you trying with. If you want to join a new club, maybe ask your parents to find out what kind of people will be training with you so that you can breathe and know that it’s just fun.
Know your strengths – It’s much easier to know what your weaknesses are, but if you find what your strength is early on you can work with that, whilst you improve on your weaknesses. For me I was a lanky kid to I was better at running and hurdling, whereas someone much shorter was better at strengthening work. The human body can always improve.
Mindset – Positivity is key. focus on yourself, see what your body can do and don’t worry about the limitations you may fear.
If you would like to collaborate with Alanah on social media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.