My wife Linda and I competed in barbecue contests for five years in the early 2000’s. I started out as a “helper, dish washer, and box runner” with HomeBBQ.com and progressed to the point that I started my own team as chief navigator, bill payer, and cook of TheBBQGuy.com professional competition barbecue team.
We started with events sanctioned by Florida Barbeque Association (FBA) and did some Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) events in Florida. After being transferred to Michigan by my weekday employer, we competed in KCBS events in Tennessee, Michigan, and Indiana with some good results.
It’s been 6 seasons since Linda and I competed in a professional barbecue contest event, but I’ve continued to blog about barbecue on my blog and I’ve stayed in touch with the events via the BBQ Forum and television programs like TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters. On easy going weekend afternoons I found myself visiting pit builder websites like Jamie Geer’s JamboPits and Mike Wozniak’s pit of choice manufactured by Peoria Custom Cookers.
Although we did eventually purchase a 16 ft. tandem axle Doolittle Trailer that my dad customized for bbq competitions, we were a low budget team. Low budget is relative though because we regularly spent $600-$700 per weekend including meat, supplies, and gasoline. We spent close to $15,000 on items related to bbq competitions in the two period of 2005-2006.
We stepped away from competing in 2007 after a job transfer took us back to the Tampa, Florida. We made that decision even though we had dedicated 6 years of hard work to having a realistic chance to win reserve or grand champion at any FBA or KCBS event we entered. The payback for winning a typical bbq contest still isn't enough to offset expenses.
As we edge closer to spring, my spare time thoughts have started to include competing bbq contests once again, but first I need to find a way to offset expenses in the era of $4.00 / gallon gasoline.
I’ve looked at several ways to offset expenses in the past including developing my own BBQ Spice Rub products that I sold for several years. I added Google Adsense to my bbq blog and explored various direct sales opportunities. I could probably re-launch the spice rub business under Michigan's new cottage food law, but I'm not sure the upside is worth the red tape involved. In my mind, obtaining corporate sponsorship remains the most viable way to offset competition expenses, but securing sponsorship is difficult and a bit of the “chicken and the egg” syndrome. Winning Team of the Year, The American Royal, or Jack Daniels bbq events is difficult on a low budget and obtaining meaningful corporate sponsorship requires success at or near that level.
As an alternative to selling bbq rub, bbq sauce, or securing a lucrative multi-year sponsorship deal with Weber, Big Green Egg, BBQ Guru, or even 5-Hour Energy, there are other avenues to pursue including manufacturing a bbq related product, publishing a bbq magazine, selling advertising on a bbq website, or coupling competitive bbq efforts with an alternative out-of-the-box sales opportunity such as the network marketing industry.
Network marketing has been around for more than 100-years. The industry was invented by J.R. Watkins’ company in 1868 and has changed tremendously since the 1950’s when two friends formed Amway in a western Michigan community and started selling their flagship L.O.C. (Liquid Organic Cleaner) product door-to-door. Although network marketing is a low cost business opportunity with low barriers to entry (you can enroll as a distributor in most companies for $30-$40 or even less), you don’t earn any money until products are sold. Coupling the right network marketing opportunity with professional bbq competition efforts takes some foresight, marketing savvy, and finesse, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s a viable alternative.
I am an independent distributor with Jerky Direct. The company offers products that are a natural fit for bbq contests. It combines natural meat products, direct sales, and the power of leverage through network marketing to provide an income opportunity for those that choose to participate.
To become a distributor, it's simple -- enroll as a distributor on their website and place a $12 order for two bags of jerky to be shipped direct-your-doorstep each month. Each $12 Twin-pack autoshipment carries a $5 commission. The company pays a 20% commission on all retail sales made from your website and a 5% commission on all wholesale sales on your first level. It's as simple as that.
I can't promise results for everyone, but it's working for me. Any income projection above is just that, a projection only, and not a guarantee of income, individual results may vary.