Do Surfers Make Money?

Surfing’s rise in popularity as both a recreational activity and competitive sport has created monetary opportunities for standout athletes. But can the average, everyday surfer actually make money riding waves? Let’s take a look at the realistic ways surfers can profit from their passion.

Professional Competition

The top professional surfers in the world make a healthy living competing on the World Surf League Championship Tour:

  • Prize money at CT events ranges from $10,000 up to $100,000 per contest win
  • Top ranked CT surfers can earn over $1 million annually from contest earnings
  • Lucrative sponsor contracts with major brands provide stable income
  • Only 36 men and 18 women qualify annually to surf the CT

For pro competitive surfers, ample money flows in. But spots are extremely limited.

Lower Level Contests

The qualifying series offers modest winnings for up-and-coming pros:

  • Events range from 1,000 to 10,000 points, higher points equal bigger purse
  • Typical prizes range from $1,000 to $20,000 for QS contest winners
  • Regional contests and local events offer smaller prizes from $100 to $2,000
  • QS rankings determine spots on the Championship Tour

You won’t get rich surfing the QS, but cash helps fund the dream.

Product Sponsorships

Beyond competition, sponsored surfers can earn income:

  • Sponsor stickers on board and free product
  • Paid to represent brands in marketing
  • Travel expenses covered for photo shoots
  • Video parts in commercials and films
  • Income varies greatly based on follower reach

Sponsor deals provide valuable exposure at minimum.

Surf Coaching

Exceptional surfers can work as coaches and guides:

  • Freelance or employed by surf camps and resorts
  • Hourly or day rates generally range from $50 – $100+
  • Regional differences affect rates
  • Must obtain certification in first aid, CPR and lifesaving

Coaching lets you make money sharing your expertise.

Surf Photography/Videography

Surf media professionals are paid for compelling imagery:

  • Published photo rates around $100 per image
  • Videographers earn $300 – $500 daily plus editing fees
  • Social shares and follower counts drive rates
  • Must have portfolio, equipment, and ability to be in the barrel

Capturing epic moments pays.

Brand Ambassadors

Some surfers earn income promoting brands on social media:

  • Paid per sponsored post based on follower count
  • Minimum 10k+ followers required
  • Ambassadors rep brands in and out of the water
  • Relies heavily on attractive lifestyle portrayal

A sizable social following monetizes through promotions.

Surf Blogging/Vlogging

Media-savvy surfers are building followings blogging and vlogging about their adventures:

  • YouTube pays based on views and subscribers
  • Blog income from Google Adsense, affiliate links, etc
  • Requires consistent, high-quality content to gain traffic
  • Must promote tirelessly across social media

Digital content creation can yield profits over time.

Surf Retreats/Camps

Some surfers derive income by hosting trips and experiences:

  • Leading guided retreats and surf camps
  • Location scouting and administration
  • Commissions from booked trips and packages
  • Requires exceptional hosting/teaching skills

Building a surf travel business lets you get paid to surf dream spots.

While competitive fortunes are limited, everyday surfers have more opportunities than ever to profit from their passion through instruction, media production, brand partnerships and more. With creativity and dedication, a business riding waves is possible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Making Money Surfing

Surfing’s evolution into a mainstream sport has created monetary opportunities alongside the lifestyle. Here are answers to common questions about profiting from riding waves.

How much money do professional surfers make?

The top CT surfers earn $500k to $3 million yearly. QS surfers may earn $20k to $100k through contest winnings and sponsor deals. Amounts vary greatly by rank and endorsement reach.

Do pro surfers have to pay to enter contests?

Yes. Entry fees for QS events range from $200 to $500 per contest. Invitation-only CT events have no entry fee but require massive points to qualify.

Can I make money from surfing without competing?

Absolutely. Coaching, photography/videography, brand sponsorships, retreats, and blogging/vlogging can all generate income without competing at a pro level.

How many followers do I need to get sponsorships?

Most brands require a minimum of 10k engaged followers to consider a sponsorship deal. Over 100k followers with high engagement opens more lucrative opportunities.

Does photographing surfing pay well?

An experienced published surf photographer can earn $300-$1000 for a great shot. But only established photogs with vast portfolios command top dollar for images.

What kind of certification do I need to teach surfing?

Most surf coaching jobs require current CPR and first aid certification at minimum. More advanced certs like water safety, lifeguarding, and instructor creds make you more employable.

Can I turn my surf blog into a business?

Definitely. With tons of traffic, bloggers leverage income through ads, affiliates, ebooks, merchandise, and coaching. But gaining an audience takes immense work.

Patiently honing your niche and making smart partnerships can realistically turn surfing passion into profit. With dedication, riding waves can translate to riding the cash flow.

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