How Affiliate Deals Can Drive NIL Value — Without The Work

Kent State's Jake Ferri learned first-hand the challenges of launching your own merch line.

Some student-athletes build a personal brand on social. Jake Ferri tattooed B-A-N-G on his index finger.

The sixth-year Kent State wrestler’s post-pin, finger-gun salute to fans was fine. It became iconic one Thanksgiving break when a friend completing their tattoo apprenticeship visited Ferri’s hometown. Creativity was flowing and precisely lettered ink followed.

“Alright, let’s throw a 'bang' on there … it's funny, I enjoy it,” Ferri said with his trademark laugh. “My family didn't like it that much at first. But they warmed up to it and people like it.”

When Ferri decided to launch a store on Bonfire – a company who partners with MarketPryce athletes to launch hands-off clothing lines – his logo was a no-brainer.

Ferri's hand with smoke billowing from the tattooed index finger. 


What are affiliate programs?

These popular marketing arrangements commonly use one of two models:

  1. Online retailers provide a partner with a unique link or code to share – in their social bios or with family and friends. The athlete gets a percentage of sales they generate.
  2. An athlete shares a percentage of profits in exchange for logistical support – the kind of help Ferri looked forward to when launching his Bonfire merch line.

Are affiliate NIL deals a good value?

Ferri launched a separate merch line earlier in his career. He owned every part of that process from tracking orders to hand-written notes thanking customers. He wanted people to know how much he appreciated their business. 

He sold hundreds of shirts, but grew tired of the leg work and constant stress of shipping 24 shirts at a time – always struggling to keep up with his wait list.

That’s why, despite sacrificing some profit, Ferri jumped at the opportunity to use Bonfire's affiliate program.

“It's essentially running your own business at that point,” he said. “But (Bonfire) made my life very easy and I really appreciated all the help and enjoyed the whole process.”

Ferri already pocketed nearly $800 from his Bonfire store and plans to sell another round of shirts ahead of wrestling season. 

How student-athletes can get the most out of social media

Ferri quickly sold more than 100 shirts this offseason, in large part, because he had fun on social media. He didn’t want to annoy his followers, so he used Instagram stories to share memes so bad they were good.

Kevin Durant rocking a JF25 shirt. Napoleon Bonaparte in a JF25 shirt. Mt. Rushmore heads rocking JF25 shirts. You get the idea. Ferri leaned into his boisterous personality when digitally marketing his shop, just like he would if he was sitting down in a room with a supporter.

As Ferri mentors freshmen on his team, he reminds them not to stress over NIL deals.

“Just having fun on the whole social media thing,” he said. “And have fun with all the deals you get … that’s the most important thing in all of this is. In the end, it's just a fun, easy way to try to make some money.”

MarketPryce empowers athletes and brands to grow through the power of partnerships. Want to work together? Hit us up.

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