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Tips for College Athletes to Make Money of their Name, Image & Likeness (NIL)

The main difference between NOW and last year from a money-making standpoint is one rule change. As a collegiate athlete, you can now use your Name, Image & Likeness to make money! It's about attention. This is the element to focus on. You may not make millions, but there is a rare market opportunity available to you now that never has been able to be explored before. It's the wild wild west, so take advantage and be ahead of the game in this rare area in history- it will pay off!

I believe every college athlete can find a way to make money from the new laws regarding Name, Image & Likeness for amateur athletes. Some will say there are far too many college athletes (500K+ across the USA) for each individual to make the big bucks, the numbers just don't calculate. They may be right about the big bucks, but there are opportunities to make a few thousand dollars

for even a D3 swimmer! Although the market & strategies will vary for each individual, this advice applies to all levels of college athletes.

Local, Local, Local

Who loves you more than anyone? Who supports you the most? Most will say it's their friends and family. Your 'close-knit' circle should always be your biggest fans. For most of the 450K plus college athletes out there- you won't be on national television, ESPN, etc. The eyeballs, "fans," and people who care about the success of your team will be from your local community... The 'Friends & family of the school, team & program. If you're playing for a national powerhouse with fans across the country, that's one thing. However, even in that case, most of the density of the fans will be those who live around the college.

Obviously, the bigger the community supporting the team, the bigger potential audience there is- but the principle stays the same. Think Local.

Notre Dame football is a nationally known program. They have Irish catholic fans across the country who can watch them on national television every single week. It's the starting spot for hundreds of NFL players who go on to make the big professional contracts. The Offensive Line for the Fightin' Irish signed a deal before the season with Mission BBQ, a restaurant chain. The perfect endorsement fit for a group of 300+ pound young men!

All 17 Offensive linemen were part of the deal and money-making opportunity. The amount has not been disclosed, but the players certainly looked happy in the pictures they took to announce the deal. This deal was publicized everywhere as an early headline example of this new NIL era for college athletes.

You may be thinking, "So players from a top-tier college football program signed a deal with a national restaurant chain...What does that have to do with 'Local, Local, Local'?" Well, guess where Mission BBQ JUST opened a new location only 2 months before this deal? Notre Dame, Indiana...Only 10 minutes away from Notre Dame Stadium and its 70K hungry fans leaving every home looking for a place to pig out.

Business is all about serving markets. Mission BBQ wants to sell food to the local area & the people from the local area LOVE the ND Football players. If the players support this BBQ joint, it makes their fans more likely to come to spend money! That's why their Name, Image & Likeness is valuable! Even though ND is a nationally known program, their immediate opportunity to cash in on their NIL came from a BBQ place moving a location to the local town.

Steve Trax, the head of the sports and entertainment group at the financial adviser MAI Capital commented, "In a college town like Gainesville, some of those premier athletes in a sport like that will have some unique opportunities with a pizzeria or a sporting goods store."

Tip: Here are some business ideas to start looking into for deals in any college town: Youth sports summer camps, resturants, car dealerships, apparel brands.

Team Up

Most likely for the average college athlete, your own personal NIL on its own won't carry much power. There are far too many college athletes (500K+ across the USA) for every person to make the big bucks, the numbers just don't calculate.

However, your NIL value does not have to come from you personally, it can come from the collective. Those Notre Dame Offensive Lineman...Notice how the promotion didn't use any of the 17 players' names? The sponsorship was with "The Irish Line."

This means you can grab just a handful of teammates, and use your collective title for the sponsorship! (i.e, "We are the Florida State Hockey Team", "We're Duke Water Polo", etc)

This is allowed under the new laws! Although athletes could not use the school's logo in a paid sponsorship, they are allowed to state that they are associated with the team. As long as you don't use the logo, you can say your school name, sport, position, and anything else.

For a local business, the ring of the school name is more credible than just your individual name. So grab a teammate, find a local restaurant or business, and get paid for your NIL as a group. This is a powerful piece of advice for any college athlete to make money.

Tip: The fewer people you include, the more money each person can make!

Be Marketable

I didn't lead with this piece of advice because it's the most obvious, discussed, and self-explanatory. The best thing an athlete can do to increase their NIL value is to be Great at their sport, build a massive social media following, and be loved & admired by as many people as possible.

Do something that stands out! Anthony Davis is known as "The Brow" because of his giant unibrow. Johnny Manziel made those "Money Fingers" after scoring a TD. Maybe Quinn Ewers, the Ohio State QB who skipped his senior year of high school, will market his brand as "The Mullet?"

Tip: If you think there's any potential in creating your own brand, Register a domain name on Make a website and keep it simple. Start making a simple website for yourself.

Hire Help, think like a business owner!

It will take business skills to sell yourself. For most college athletes, there will be zero sponsors sliding into their DM's looking for a deal. This article is about helping even the lesser-known college athletes across America on how to take advantage quickly of this brand new money-making opportunity! If you hustle and make these tactics work, or you're already a well-known name- your NIL will be worth money. You may get offered deals left & right, that's great!

In this fortunate situation when things are going well, they're going to need to be smart about accepting the best deals, looking over contracts, and scheduling. It's not going to be easy. Especially when most of your time, especially during the season, should be focused on the craft of your sport! The smartest thing to do is find somebody to help take on the workload. This could be a parent, but it could also be a professional relationship. This is the beginning of building an entourage! Some fear is that these young athletes will NOT be business savvy, so remember...Think like a business person!

Tip: Set up a separate email address for sponsorship opportunities. Promote this email when looking for deals. In the future, you could hand over this email account to a manager for a smooth transition.


Don't Ruin it

People always say they love college sports because its for the love of the game. Kids stay in college longer.

It becomes “all about the money” people always say they love college sports because it's for the love of the game. Will it still be?


This article tried to predict how much money NIL will bring college athletes using a calculation to estimate the worth of an athlete. $0.80 per instagram follower. This is much to simple to be accurate, but hey they are trying!

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