Developing a personal brand has become crucial for athletes, especially collegiate athletes, in the new era of NIL regulations. Personal branding enables athletes to distinguish themselves from their competitors, gain more fans, attract sponsorships, and grow their brand value. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how you can develop your personal brand on various channels.

Identify Your Target Audience: The first and essential step is to identify your target audience. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who would be interested in my athletic story, team, and sport?
  • What are the interests, values, and motivations of my target audience?
  • Which demographics am I targeting?

Once you identify your audience, tailor your personal brand to resonate with their interests, values, and motivations.

Build A Strong Online Presence: Social media platforms are the most effective and easiest way to develop a strong online presence. Here are the best social media platforms for collegiate athletes to create their personal brand:

  • Instagram: Instagram’s visual-based platform is ideal for showcasing behind-the-scenes moments of training, games, and the athlete’s life. To develop a strong presence, athletes should focus on high-quality content and engage with their followers.
  • TikTok: TikTok’s short-form content is perfect for showcasing athletes’ creativity, humor, and personality. Collegiate athletes should consider using trending audios and recreate viral videos on this platform.
  • Facebook: The most popular social media platform with over 2.7 billion monthly active users. Athletes can use Facebook to showcase their real-time updates on their training, share their personal stories, and more. Plus, you can link with your instagram account and automatically post content onto your page.
  • YouTube: The most popular video-based platform with over 2.3 billion monthly active users. Athletes can use YouTube to document their athletic journey, share their workout routines, wellness guides, and motivational speeches.
  • Twitter: A platform for real-time information that allows athletes to share quick updates on their activities, motivational quotes, and engage in meaningful conversations with their followers.

The importance of being on multiple social media platforms cannot be overstated for athletes looking to grow their personal brand. Diversifying the platforms on which you share your content and interact with your audience can help you reach a wider audience, boost engagement, and build a more robust online presence.

In addition to the benefits of wider reach and engagement, different platforms offer different features and audience demographics that can help you tailor your content to different audiences. For example, TikTok is perfect for sharing short-form and visually engaging content, while Twitter might be better suited for real-time updates on training, games, and endorsements. Having a strong presence on multiple platforms can help you maintain engagement and rapport with your audience as their preferences for consuming content evolve.

Moreover, being on several social media platforms allows athletes to create diversified revenue streams. By leveraging various social media platforms, athletes can potentially grow their following across their social media handles and expand the number of brand deals and sponsorship opportunities they can pursue.

It’s essential to understand that each social media platform requires unique strategies to be successful in terms of building an audience, engaging followers and promoting a personal brand. Athletes should develop a comprehensive social media strategy to take advantage of the various benefits that multiple platforms offer.

Create Engaging Content: Engaging content is key to building a strong personal brand. Here are some strategies collegiate athletes should use to produce engaging content:

  • Behind-The-Scenes Training Footage: Share pre-and post-game routines, training regimens, and workout tips for fitness enthusiasts. They can use a mix of image collages, short videos, or long-form videos (IGTV) to showcase their routines.
  • Personal Story Series: Share a personal story that highlights your struggle, your journey, or your triumphs off the field.
  • Motivational Messages: Inspirational words, motivational quotes, and advice that can give followers insight into how to succeed in athletics and personal development.
  • Collaborations with Brands: Athletes can participate in brand partnerships or endorsements to increase their visibility while recommending products or services that align with their personal brand.
  • Life of an Athlete: Athletes can showcase their daily life by sharing images and videos that let followers see what they do outside of training and games. It creates authenticity in the personal brand.
  • Lifestyle Content: Follow your interests, whether it be your style, travel, food, or music. Share inspiring posts that showcase your passions to the world.
  • Go Live: Live streaming allows followers to catch a glimpse of the daily routine and lifestyle of the athlete in real-time. Athletes can engage with followers by answering questions and receiving feedback while building their brand.
  • Hashtag Challenges: Start a unique hashtag challenge that is associated with their brand or their athletic journey. Encourage followers to join in on the fun.
  • Success Stories: Share success stories of athletes or professionals who have overcome obstacles to achieve success.
  • Q&A Sessions: Athletes can encourage their audience to ask questions, stream a live Q&A session in their stories, and answer popular questions.
  • Interesting Facts: Share fun facts about yourself or your experiences. Include information about your favorite athlete or inspiration, or share a lesser-known story.
  • Trending & Popular Posts: Share trending posts, hashtags, songs, or dialogues on social media to gain more followers and stay relevant.

Using these social media ideas, athletes will be able to grow their brand, create a stronger personal connection with their followers, and increase engagement on their social media profiles.

Collaborate with Brands: Collaborations are a great way for athletes to broaden the audience reach and get sponsorship opportunities. Here are some ways to collaborate with brands:

  • Partner with Local Businesses: Local businesses offer a tremendous opportunity for athletes to expand their brand reach, especially in their college community. Athletes should leverage their connections and participate in events or sponsorships opportunities with local businesses that align with their personal brand.
  • Sponsorships: Sponsored collaborations with brands offer athletes excellent opportunities to expand their reach, gain brand recognition, and earn income. Athletes should focus on building the right relationships with brands that align with their personal values and interests.

Measure Your Personal Brand Success: It’s essential to keep track of the effectiveness of your personal brand and your online presence. Evaluate your statistics, engagement rates, and feedback by using social media analytics tools to identify what content is resonating with your audience.

Examples of Successful Collegiate Athletes Who Built Powerful Personal Brands:

  • Paige Bueckers – The University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball player uses her personal brand to advocate for social justice and equality, sharing her passion for basketball and lifestyle.
  • Johnny Manziel – The former Texas A&M Quarterback achieved a tremendous social media following before being drafted with creative content and engaging followers in a conversation on and off the field.
  • Zion Williamson – The former Duke University star, and now NBA player, uses his personal brand to showcase his skills on the court, philanthropy, and share behind-the-scenes of his daily life.
  • Dee from FaZe Clan – Dean DeLuca, widely known as “Dee”, is a former collegiate football athlete who pivoted to gaming with FaZe Clan. He leverages his platform to showcase his gaming skills, approachable personality, and daily routines. Dee’s brand inspires college athletes to navigate life after sports while pursuing their passions.

In conclusion, building a personal brand is crucial for athletes, specifically collegiate athletes, in the new age of NIL regulations. A strong personal brand creates a unique identity for athletes that differentiates them from their competitors, attracts fans, and sponsorship opportunities. To achieve success, athletes should identify their audience, leverage social media, create engaging content, collaborate with brands, and measure personal brand success. Dee from FaZe Clan is an excellent example of a collegiate athlete who has leveraged personal branding to gain success in the gaming industry with his authenticity and personality.

If you found this information insightful or would like to learn more about working with collegiate athletes in your marketing efforts, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


  1. Terry Greenwood on April 26, 2023 at 11:59 pm

    Well stated. Comprehensive. Should be very helpful for your athlete profile audience. AND, generally appropriate and helpful to anyone seeking to establish, then build their personal brand.

    • Jake O'Donnell on April 27, 2023 at 2:04 am

      Thanks for your continued support Terry!

    • Sammy Junco on April 27, 2023 at 3:04 pm

      Solid read! Great info for college athletes to capitalize on NIL.

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