Thursday, July 4, 2013

What is Armbar Nation and How It Came About

Very few good things begin with the reaction
Who the fuck are you?

That's what I thought every time I got an email, tweet, Facebook message from someone asking me to respond from an account with the name rondajrousey, teamronda or whatever. Sometimes they were selling some "autographed item on ebay. One even offered to contact Ronda for me (for a fee).

I had never heard of any of these people.

My niece, Jessica Bueler, inherited a store from her father when she was in her early twenties. She increased profits dramatically, making it a major success in the downtown business district on the west side of St. Louis. She topped that off by being elected president of The Loop business district about the time she turned 30. She also founded a social media company along the way. Since she has a pretty strong sense of integrity (and an ebay account that goes back almost to their founding), she tracked down a number of these phonies and had them excommunicated from ebay, but it was like Whack-A-Mole. They kept popping up.

To cut a long story very short, I had the url that used to host Ronda's blog and Jessica turned it into an official fan site that got a lot of traffic.

So here is where Ronda came in - she really did not have time to do one more thing and she didn't need the money nearly as much as fighters who are up and coming. They put up an apparel store to sell stuff and used her as a test case.

You can see the example here. They did make some samples.

Now ... Jessica is setting up a store that will sell everything from t-shirts to autographed photos to mouse pads to you name it. The fighter gets a percentage of the profits. There is no money up front and they don't have to DO anything other than agree to allow their name and image to be used.  Probably if you have a UFC contract there is some clause saying you can't do that (I don't know) but if you have a UFC contract you probably have a sponsor paying your bills. They can create products for you or you can come up with your own ideas or both. I *think* the profits are split 50-50 with the fighter but it may be more depending on volume, like 50% for the first $500 a month and more after that. Check with Jessica on the details.

Here's why I think it is a good idea -- I know plenty of people who need money to train but they have no time to do much but train. They don't have the technical skills to set up a store, negotiate with clothing manufacturers, take orders, mail orders, get a credit card account etc etc. Also, individually, they are "small potatoes" - sorry but it's true. However, you add up 50 of those people and they suddenly become more interesting to vendors.

I do something like that with the ads on my blog. I was writing this blog anyway. Now BlogHer sends me a monthly check. Armbar Nation is similar to Blogher in that you have to be of interest to the people who come to their site (no ballet schools or llama breeders or knitting clubs) and they have to be convinced that people are interested in you. On the other hand, they'll help see that they are by writing articles about you on their site, tweeting about you and promoting you in other ways.

I think very few people will make thousands of dollars a month from the site - though you might when you have a fight coming up. My guess is most people will see $100 - $300 a month. So, it's basically like picking up another sponsor to have your name on their shirts, coffee cups, etc. for people who aren't at the level to have a lot of sponsors right now.

Anyway, I thought it was a brilliant idea and a million points for Jessica for coming up with it. It is really set up with helping fighters in mind, seriously, talk to her. Her email is

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