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Katya Allison

Director of Marketing
Content at GRIN

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About GRIN Gets Real

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Understanding NIL Student-Athlete Endorsements From a Creator’s Perspective with Mitchell Pehlke

In this episode:

Mitchell Pehlke

Student Athlete at The Ohio State University and a Social Media Influencer

Mitchell had to dramatically limit his approach to content management when he started playing lacrosse at OSU. Rules about how student athletes were able to earn an income handicapped the kind of content he was allowed to create.

Understanding NIL Athlete Endorsements from a Creator's Perspective featured image with Mitchell Pehlke

Full episode details

In today’s conversation, host Katya Allison is joined by Mitchell Pehlke, Social Media Influencer and Student Athlete at The Ohio State University, to hear about how the recent NIL ruling affects student athletes like Mitchell.

A unique perspective from Mitchell Pehlke

Mitchell had to dramatically limit his approach to content management when he started playing lacrosse at OSU. Rules about how student athletes were able to earn an income handicapped the kind of content he was allowed to create.

Now, in a post-NIL world and with his options once again open, Mitchell approaches his content creation according to several important principles:

  • As a student, time management is an essential discipline.
  • Know your worth and don’t settle for less than your own value.
  • Be committed to your values and don’t compromise them for a bigger paycheck.

Content creation is an immense amount of work, and Mitchell’s story is an excellent lesson in the value of a work-life balance.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please leave a review and subscribe so you never miss an episode. For more information and links to all of the resources mentioned in today’s episode, visit Grin.co.

Quotes from the episode

Mitchell Pehlke quote and headshot



“There are so many days when I don’t want to work, but I know the end goal is what I want, so I’m going to continue to work.”

-Mitchell Pehlke

“At the end of the day, the brands are going to come, so I have to stay committed to my content.”

-Mitchell Pehlke

“There are so many Division I athletes that are killing it on TikTok, but I think for long-form and longevity, you have to be on YouTube. That’s where you gain a community and fans.” 

-Mitchell Pehlke

Katya Allison (Host) (00:02):

Welcome to the GRIN Gets Real podcast, a show for marketers by marketers to talk shop, and share insights on the ever changing landscape of the digital world. My name is Katya and I am your host on this exciting journey as we talk to our experts who join us. GRIN is the number one creator management platform designed for the next generation of brands who recognize that in the creator economy, authenticity is everything. To get insight on how GRIN can help you manage your creator strategy, visit grin.co. That’s G-R-I-N.co. Now, my guest today is Mitchell Pehlke, a collegiate men’s lacrosse athlete at Ohio State University. He is a content creator and social media influencer. As a creator, Mitchell’s platforms are really based on his life and honestly making people laugh. At his core, he’s a passionate visionary and entrepreneur who also loves lacrosse. Put your AirPods in, turn up that volume and get ready for my guest today, Mitchell Pehlke. All right. Mitchell, welcome to the GRIN Gets Real podcast. I’m super excited to have you on here to give us a little bit more information on NIL and collegiate athletes to begin with.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (01:20):

Thank you. Yeah. Absolutely. I’m fired up to be here. I just want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity.

Katya Allison (Host) (01:24):

Absolutely. Well, let’s dive into it. I want to hear a little bit about your just kind of athletic story to begin with. What’s your sport? How long have you been in it? All of that good stuff and where do you go to school?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (01:36):

Yeah. We can dive into that. I was born in Timonium, Maryland, like the hotbed for lacrosse. That’s where lacrosse is biggest in the United States. My dad was a legend. He played at UVA. My brother played Division 1 lacrosse as well. Always grew up having the stick in my hand. That was my number one sport. Tried to play football and basketball, they just never worked out for a five-nine Italian, but grew up playing lacrosse and my dad was my hero, my coach growing up. Played it throughout high school, ended up committing to play at Ohio State my freshman year, actually, which is still nuts to think about.

(02:08):

I’m a senior here at Ohio State now, but committed October of my freshman year, play lacrosse out through high school and in college, and going into my fourth year here at Ohio State and started my content journey in March of, 2016, so spring of my freshman year of high school by actually giving my buddy, Evan Buckley a terrible haircut, which is surprising. I always wanted to get in the social realm, grew up watching people like Roman Atwood Vlogs or Casey Neistat or BFvsGF, and always loved that atmosphere of them thinking of an idea, filming it, editing it, and posting it. I always wanted to get into that and was honestly afraid of what people would say. That’s really what held me back in the first place.

Katya Allison (Host) (02:45):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (02:45):

Then just took my Italian mom to really bust my chops and get me going, and eventually made that first haircut video and just been creating content and changing my niche every couple years. Now I think it’s primarily student athlete, Ohio State student body and lacrosse related. But now we’re here. NIL has definitely changed this game 180 degrees, but I’m fired up to talk to you about it today.

Katya Allison (Host) (03:07):

Yeah. I love it. Well, so did you start off on YouTube then?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (03:12):

Yeah. Started off on YouTube and then that just gradually grew to Instagram and TikTok.

Katya Allison (Host) (03:18):

Now, obviously the NIL ruling just happened, so it’s not like it’s been around since 2016, 2018.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (03:26):

Yeah.

Katya Allison (Host) (03:26):

I’d love to hear your high level before and after that ruling for you. Before the ruling, where were you at in your social game? Let’s start there. You were definitely on YouTube. Were you on other channels as well? Had you scratched the itch of TikTok, as the way that I will describe it?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (03:45):

Yeah. Go back to 2016, that first video, I’m a freshman year. I’m a freshman in high school. From freshman year to senior year, it was all YouTube and everything was allowed. I was making money through the platform of YouTube monetization. I was also creating my merchandise. I was gaining money there, everything was totally fine. But I knew as soon as I got to Ohio State, August 5th, 2019, I would have to stop selling merchandise and stop gaining monetization from YouTube because NIL wasn’t a thing. That was really heartbreaking. I think a lot of athletes can attest to this, but it just was tough since I was playing a sport, I couldn’t make content. It just didn’t make sense. I think people would think about the money and that aspect of, “Oh, you couldn’t make money producing these videos.” But I think the hardest part was just, I was put in this creative box where I play lacrosse at Ohio State and I filmed videos about my life, but in the videos I couldn’t talk about playing lacrosse at Ohio State.

(04:39):

That was super tough. It had me always scrambling for the first two years of my college career of just like, who am I and what am I going to talk about? Because my videos are truly based on my personality and the things I do in my life. The fact that I’m a Division 1 college athlete, people know how much time that takes. The fact that I can’t put 80% of what my actual life is in my videos, that was the hardest part. I think a lot of people on the outside don’t really realize that, because they just think it’s like, “Oh, you’re allowed to make this and that money.” But in the beginning it was all like, okay, you go to Ohio State, play lacrosse, but you can’t talk about Ohio State and lacrosse.

Katya Allison (Host) (05:16):

It’s very limiting. Then the ruling happens. What’s the impact?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (05:23):

The ruling happened, I’ll never forget June 30th, 2021. I got no sleep, because I knew this would be a huge day for many around the world and I got no sleep. I remember waking up July 1st, 2021 at 4:00 AM and already had a couple people [inaudible 00:05:40] my DMs being like, “Hey, we’d love to do something with you.” Or, “hey, we want to give you some free products or this and that.”

Katya Allison (Host) (05:45):

That’s crazy.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (05:45):

Ever since then I just never looked back. I started being really strict with myself, “Okay, I’m going to post once a week on YouTube. Okay. I’m going to get this TikTok game rolling, because I think there’s huge gain there.”

Katya Allison (Host) (05:55):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (05:56):

I just really buckled down because in the back of my mind I always knew I always wanted to be a person on social media. I hate the term influencer. I’m just a person that creates content.

Katya Allison (Host) (06:06):

You’re a creator.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (06:06):

Creator.

Katya Allison (Host) (06:07):

You are a creator.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (06:08):

I like that.

Katya Allison (Host) (06:09):

That happens to use social media as a distribution channel.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (06:13):

Yeah. I love that. I always knew in the back of my mind, I always wanted to be a content creator, knew that NIL has opened up so many doors that I took a step back and be like, “All right, Mitchell, if I want this to be my thing I do for the rest of my life, I got to buckle down.”

Katya Allison (Host) (06:28):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (06:29):

On July 1st, I just made a posting schedule and really just stuck to who I am and started creating more videos and more content. I really took it serious. Now we are here almost a year and a month later.

Katya Allison (Host) (06:41):

How did it affect the type of content that you’ve decided to buckle down and start creating? Was it just so much heavier on your college experience and being the collegiate athlete? What aspects of your content really changed?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (06:58):

Yeah. I think a lot of it did. I think I always tell my friends, my family and my fans this, 50% of the content I create is all for the memories. I’m a big memories guy. Even back in high school, I would film the homecomings and the proms and all my lacrosse games because I wanted to remember and watch those memories when I have kids, when I have a family, they can [inaudible 00:07:18]. Now the content is a lot of what do I want watch back when I grow up. I think that has been a key aspect. But like I said, July 1st, 2021 happens. NIL opens the doors and now I’m taken out of this creative box and can truly do whatever I want as far as content goes. I can film inside the facility, I can go around and talk about how I play lacrosse and that was probably the biggest thing, take the money out of it.

(07:42):

Just being able to film really whatever was truly huge for me. I think really attacking what it’s like to be a student and a student athlete at a great university, the Ohio State University, that was my first and foremost thing. I want to show the fans why this school was so amazing and why I truly love going here because at the end of the day that’s why I picked this school and that’s why I continue to go here. Then I think secondly, there’s no Division 1 lacrosse YouTuber out there. I’m the only one I think to bring that aspect to the fans of, “I’m going to give you guys behind the scenes access to what it’s really like.” Can bring you guys through the trenches, the ups and downs of what it’s like to be an athlete here. I’ve just continued to up the ante on that. Okay.

Katya Allison (Host) (08:20):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (08:21):

I know I’m at the top of the pyramid for Division 1 sports, especially Division 1 lacrosse. How can I stay at the top? I think continuing to work, and I heard this quote the other day, it’s “Successful people grind all the time and the hardest part is when they don’t want to work, they have to work.” That’s something I’ve truly stuck to because there’s been so many days where I don’t want to work, but I know the end goal is what I want, so I’m going to continue to work. I know that was a long-winded answer, but-

Katya Allison (Host) (08:48):

I loved it. I’m here for it. No, I mean and it’s exactly what I asked for because I think it’s important to know the NIL ruling affected your creativity and to hear and have a better understanding of what that meant for your content, I think is really pivotal because I would imagine that it affected other athletes in the same way as well too. I am interested in just hearing about the DM approach, once that ruling happens, right. You said you woke up and there were already a couple of people in your DMs. Tell me a little bit about the outreach from those brands and what helps you make the decision of this is what I’m going to go with and this is not what I’m going to go with. I’m going to assume it’s not just, “As long as they pay me, I’ll post this.”

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (09:36):

That’s actually a big question I get from young creators coming up. I think another thing too is athletes don’t really know their value, especially if you’re not playing football or basketball. If you’re an Olympic sport athlete, it’s hard to really show brands how much am I worth. But it was cool, like I said, July 1st, that first day getting DMs and it was just so amazing. I knew in the back of my mind, this isn’t just a hobby for me, I’m a content creator/student athlete. I’m not a student athlete that makes casual TikToks. This is my thing. I knew if I wanted to do this and continue to do this for the rest of my life, I would have to take it slow. These brands aren’t going to rush college athletes.

Katya Allison (Host) (10:15):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (10:15):

My biggest thing has always been taking a couple days and really aligning myself with the company. First, if I like the company’s message, that is the biggest thing for me and if I align myself with what they’re trying to bring to the public. Secondly, is if I like the product, I got to use the product and fully endorse it. Then I think three is what are they asking from the social media and the price side and if all those align, then I’m totally happy with working with the company. I think the biggest thing and something the fans don’t really realize is the amount of nos to yeses myself and other content creators say to. Because I mean my email, and my DM and they’re getting blown up daily, but at the end of the day you got to say no for the bigger yes. It’s tough sometimes when the money’s there but the company doesn’t really align with my goals or the price. But at the end of the day, the brands are going to come. I have to stay continued and committed to my content.

Katya Allison (Host) (11:10):

I love that you said that because I think it is true. I can’t imagine they only get one or two brands reaching out, it’s got to be multiple.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (11:19):

Yeah.

Katya Allison (Host) (11:19):

I love that advice that you’re giving is really just, well, I don’t know if you would categorize it as advice, but I am for sure, is really knowing what your worth is and also understanding what your story is as well too. Because I think that, that’s especially in just this council culture that we live in, I think one of the things that any content creator has the potential to be is the potential to be canceled and inauthenticity is one of those, it’s the roadmap to get there a little bit faster on top of other things. That’s another podcast.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (11:55):

Yeah.

Katya Allison (Host) (11:55):

I love that as a college athlete and then also as the fact that you are getting income from this, what do you look out for from a brand when they’re reaching out to you? You mentioned that your second one was, “Is this a product that I would use?” Do brands typically gift you the product before even the partnership conversation happens? What your honest thoughts are on the product?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (12:23):

I think it just depends. I’ve done deals with Degree deodorant. I’ve used that in the past. I know a bunch about the product. For me, that was more of what’s the price, what’s a deliverable, what’s the company like? Because I already love the product and beforehand I didn’t really know the background about what Degree really is like as a company. Another brand I’ve worked with is IHOP. I went there almost every weekend in high school. I already know what the food tastes like. I love it. What’s the company like? Is the price there? Okay, I’m in. It’s really not about them sending me a product, me trying it out, this and that. If it is something I haven’t tried out, I’m going to do extensive research. That’s why a couple of months ago I recently worked with JC’s shampoo and they gave me a whole PDF about their company and their product and I really loved it and that aligned for us and it was a great partnership.

Katya Allison (Host) (13:09):

How much negotiation happens for each of your partnerships? The reason that I ask this question is because I think oftentimes brands do an outreach and then they either get a yes or no, and sometimes it stops there. One of the things that we’re always trying to continue to educate other brands on is it’s a conversation, it’s a negotiation. Where is that meet in the middle? For you, typically, how long does it take to just land on a, “Okay, this is a brand partnership, where do I sign?”

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (13:39):

Yeah. I think the biggest thing, and that’s something I didn’t really realize too, of how long it really takes while I’m doing a brand on social media that the public sees. In the background, I’m probably working on two or three just so by the time this one ends I can do another one. It all depends on the timing of the year, but the timeline is usually they reach out through DM or email or I reach out vice versa. We usually hop on some sort of Zoom just to talk about what this would look like, this and that. Then it comes back with just a couple emails back and forth and really sorting out what we look for and then it just goes from there. But I would say, I think this is just a Gen Z thing, but I hate working through email. I know it’s super professional, but I’m just much more of a text guy. But working through email definitely takes longer, right. It usually takes about a month, month and a half to get these deals done.

Katya Allison (Host) (14:31):

Month, a month and a half. That is quite a long time. Even if it is over email versus text. Well, text is a lot faster. I think it’s great that you said that. I don’t know that brands really realize how long that back and forth could potentially take for grabbing that athlete that you want. What would you say are the biggest challenges for you as a content creator, but also an athlete and a student?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (14:56):

Yeah. That’s a great question. I think it just goes back to time for me, especially going into my senior year where I’m trying to graduate in four years and trying to finish out my college career and obviously get a diploma. I think now it’s taking all the necessary classes I need to graduate. With Covid and taking online classes, I didn’t take as many. Now, I’m in this pivot where I need to take this certain amount to graduate and it might take up more time than I want to allocate.

Katya Allison (Host) (15:22):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (15:22):

Obviously, school, lacrosse, social. But I think the biggest thing, and look, there’s three different types of NIL athletes in this genre. There’s the athletes, the football and basketball players that are going to make their money off being athletes. Then there’s content creators in athletes and then there’s athletes that dabble with TikTok and are content creators. I think I’m right there in the middle, I think I’m a student athlete that is a content creator.

Katya Allison (Host) (15:48):

What does a brand need to know that you’re coming up against?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (15:52):

Yeah.

Katya Allison (Host) (15:53):

It does sound a little bit like it’s a matter of classes and you’re an athlete, you’ve got a complete schedule for that. Is that all a brand should know as well?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (16:02):

Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s why they’re so patient with us. We’re not professional athletes [inaudible 00:16:07] hold [inaudible 00:16:08] with the school and social aspect. It’s definitely the time and I tell everybody my Bible is my Google calendar, I’m on it 24/7. I have it. I checked in by the time I wake up to the time I go to bed and it just comes back to self-discipline. I truly want to do this for the rest of my life and I know this is exactly what it takes. I’m so strict on it. It’s the time thing for us. We have practice and I get out of there around noon and then I got class and then I only have a certain amount of hours to get this content game continue to go and it just about how am I going to fit it in?

(16:40):

We talked off air, but I recently hired two editors and two people to make thumbnails for my channel. That takes the big weight off YouTube and now me dialing into TikTok so they can both come up together. I just think it just depends on what type of athlete you are and I think that question is different for everyone, but the fact that the brands know that we’re 50% athlete, 50% school and the fact that they take time with us and they know, he has so much on his plate, I think that really helps as well.

Katya Allison (Host) (17:09):

Well, let’s talk a little bit about the content creation process because as you mentioned, we did talk about this offline, but also you just mentioned it here that you hired two editors. Give a description of what a typical week as a content creator, the content aspect of it, what does that look like? What kind of schedule does that mean? Where are you shooting? How many shots do you take of shooting and script out what you’re going to say? Take me into the nitty gritty as if you were trying to teach me how to do it.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (17:42):

I think first and foremost, every week is just so different. Right now obviously, lacrosse is in the spring, so right now it’s our off season. I have a lot more time to allocate towards school and towards social media. But for a week like now, this is going to be my second week on campus, is a lot more school and social-driven. I’m going to go to practice and I’m going to get out of there at 11:00, 12:00. I’m going to go to one or two classes and get out of there around 2:00. Then it’s strictly social media time. Whatever’s happening that day, if I’m going out and filming a video around campus interviewing students, I’m going to go film that. Or if I’m doing a day in the life, I’m doing that. This next video that’s coming up is reacting to the next number one through 10 lacrosse players in high school. I know I don’t have to really plan too much on my part as far as doing background information about these kids, but I have to film it and then I always send my editor the video for the week on Sunday night.

(18:34):

He edits it on Monday. Tuesday, gets it back to me on a midday. Wednesday, we chop it up. It’s done. It’s ready to go on a Friday. He’s the weekend off, and then that repeats. As far as the editing process goes, that’s locked and loaded on YouTube. Then as far as TikTok, it just comes up on the fly for me. If it’s I’m following a trend or I’ve planned out a video where I’m filming on my DSLR, or I’m out down there with the roommates doing something there. It’s always changing and I think that the biggest key is social media and especially YouTube, it’s like you’re always planning ahead. I’m always thinking about, okay, what’s the next video, what’s the next video? I upload tomorrow, Tuesday at 5:00 and that’s already done. I’m going to post and then immediately start thinking about the next one. That’s the blessing and curse of it all. But I think the true part of being a creator is you just always have to be planning for the future and I really couldn’t give you a certain week of my life because it’s just always changing so much.

Katya Allison (Host) (19:28):

I do really like to hear that you’re planning ahead. It’s funny because we did a virtual event called Authentic and there was a creator panel on there. It was a top creator interviewing, I believe four other creators as well. One of the questions was, at what point are you thinking about content? Their comment across the board was, “I’m never not thinking about it. I’m never not thinking, what else is that thing that I’m going to post?” It sounds like it’s very similar for you. Would you say that’s accurate?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (19:58):

Yeah. Without a doubt. If you know who Emma Chamberlain is, she’s a legendary content creator, especially on YouTube. Now she has a whole brand called Chamberlain Coffee. She said a quote one time, it’s always stuck with me. She said, “I quit my nine-to-five to start my 24/7. It’s so true.

Katya Allison (Host) (20:15):

That’s gotta be so exhausting though, especially for you as a student and an athlete. I’ve got kids, they’re very busy with school and then they’re working on top of it. They’re not even athletes to think, hey, you also have to be basically a production company, especially with YouTube. I feel like YouTube is probably the most labor intensive social media platform out there because it’s long-form and its video.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (20:40):

Yeah. That’s why I think I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, that’s why I’m the only one doing it. I’m the only [inaudible 00:20:45]-

Katya Allison (Host) (20:44):

It takes a lot of time.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (20:46):

Yeah. Consistent content. During the school year, I’m doing once a week and during the summer I was doing two. I think it’s because I want it so bad. I think there’s so many student athletes and Division 1 athletes out there that are killing it on TikTok. But I think long-form and longevity wise, you have to be on YouTube because that’s where you gain a community and kind of a cult.

Katya Allison (Host) (21:04):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (21:05):

A fan can’t get invested with you through a seven to 15 second TikTok. It just doesn’t work.

Katya Allison (Host) (21:12):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (21:12):

I think if you want to build up a strong community, they have to sit down and watch your videos for a while and that happened on YouTube.

Katya Allison (Host) (21:17):

I also really appreciate that you just talked about your fans as your community and building that up on your social channels. If you’re building your community on YouTube, what’s the play on TikTok then? Is that more eyeballs on you as a creator?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (21:36):

I think the biggest thing is, YouTube’s I always call it the golden baby. Everything that I post not on YouTube is wanting me for you to funnel to YouTube.

Katya Allison (Host) (21:45):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (21:46):

Everything on TikTok it’s, okay, I just posted a 15 minute YouTube video, let’s cut down 10 TikToks and put that on TikTok.

Katya Allison (Host) (21:52):

[inaudible 00:21:53].

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (21:53):

Or just getting my face as much out there as possible. I’ve been on campus for a week and the amount of people I’ve met that have known me through TikTok has been awesome. It’s at the end of the day, you’re going to have different age ranges on different apps. I think if you can be on all of them then more people are going to know you.

Katya Allison (Host) (22:08):

Yeah. Absolutely. Now with your brand partnerships, I know we talked about just how long it takes to come to a partnership agreement. That sounds like what you would do for payments. Does anybody ever just pay you in product or you just exclusively, “No, you need to pay me?”

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (22:27):

Yeah. That’s actually one thing I told myself from the beginning and I tell brands I don’t do any post for products because at the end of the day, I truly think my value is more than their product. I think that’s big. That’s why I tell a lot of athletes too, it’s like, if you’re serious about this and you’re not just trying to get a free lunch or a free T-shirt, you got to say that. Some people are suckers to free clothes from the brands they love, but at the end of the day what matters more?

Katya Allison (Host) (22:52):

Yeah. Well, and I think it speaks to those three groups that you had mentioned, right?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (22:57):

Yep.

Katya Allison (Host) (22:57):

That’s the athlete that is just almost like a part-time creator where they’re in it for, I was going to say the free swag, but essentially that, right?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (23:06):

Yeah. [inaudible 00:23:07].

Katya Allison (Host) (23:07):

“Hey, I just want all of the stuff.” Which is good.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (23:09):

Yeah.

Katya Allison (Host) (23:10):

I mean, there’s a place for every single person, but it does sound like you’re thinking of it much more long-term. I’m really curious, have you thought of what that pivot is once you graduate?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (23:22):

Yeah. I have. I think it’s something I’m still trying to figure out. I can take that route and I can be this guy that played college lacrosse and has this lacrosse niche on YouTube and continue to ride with that. But I truly don’t think that’s me. I still have to figure out, I was talking to somebody last night, once I graduate and veer off lacrosse, especially in my content, my numbers are definitely going to drop because it’s an adjustment. My fans are used to seeing me in the lacrosse world. I’m doing something different. I think that only comes with me trying different things.

(23:55):

That’s why this summer I’m out here making videos with other creators and other athletes and just trying to figure out, okay, I want to try something new. These fans liked it. Did I really like doing it? Because at the end of the day, that’s going to be something I’m doing for a lot of years of my life. I think that’s big and I’ve talked about it a lot, but I’m not going to veer off lacrosse totally while I’m playing with it. Because I want to maximize the opportunity I have with this year left.

Katya Allison (Host) (24:18):

It’s also part of your life story, honestly. It’s never going to leave you. It is forever going to be this part of your life. I am curious because you’ve talked about really articulating to the brands what your value is and knowing your value as well too. I’m interested to learn what either tools or how do you show that value to a brand? Is it numbers that you’re showing? If it is numbers, were you getting the numbers? Do you use any other softwares to help support showing the value?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (24:55):

That’s a good question. That’s what a lot of creators ask as well. I think in the beginning it’s definitely tough. I think honestly, a lot of companies use athletes because the athletes don’t really know.

Katya Allison (Host) (25:04):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (25:05):

I think for me, the biggest thing was like, okay, I’m just going to continue to one up that first sponsorship. My first deal was actually Degree and the first payment was for $4,000. At the time I’m like, “What? $4,000 for a post.”

Katya Allison (Host) (25:20):

That’s amazing.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (25:21):

This is awesome. Now that gave me a benchmark. I’m like, okay, I’m not going to do anything under 4,000. As the number continues to grow, and now obviously 13 months into this thing, I have a great sense of who I am and what my values for each different deliverable. But I think from the start to answer your question, you just got to continue to create and talk to brands and see what their number is on you.

Katya Allison (Host) (25:44):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (25:44):

Because I think the moment you put out your number, it’s going to stamp who you are. For the brand it might be too much, it might be too less. But I think you got to let them decide to really give you that value because then again, they know more than you do in this partnership game because that’s the department they’re in. We’re just athletes now getting the opportunity to do it. Anything is just going to take time. I think that’s the biggest thing and just figuring out from your followers and subscribers and views, where do you compare to other athlete creators in the world?

Katya Allison (Host) (26:16):

I like that. I’m really curious what advice would you give for any aspiring content creator that is a collegiate athlete?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (26:26):

I would say figure out what type of content you want to make. I truly think this, and I don’t think this is a good thing too, but people see my content and they want to be exactly my content. They want to put the numbers out that I’m putting out. But I’m like, they don’t know the four years beforehand, the six years beforehand where I was doing this. I think they think it’s easy to come on here and create YouTube videos that are averaging 20,000 views a week or 40,000 if I’m posting two a week. But I think the biggest thing is just start. That’s what I tell people. Just start creating content. The best thing you can do is get reps.

(27:01):

If I’m out there and I film a video and it does terrible, I know in the back of my mind I got 1% better because I just got a rep at doing this or that video. I was actually at dinner with an athlete here at Ohio State last night. We went to a nice dining hall here on campus. I was just telling him, “Look man, you just gotta start. I think TikTok is a great platform for any early creator because it’s easy and you just get your iPhone going and think of an idea and create.” That’s always been my biggest thing. Don’t worry about the quality of the camera or the iPhone. Just go out and have fun with it and think of an idea, film it and post it.

Katya Allison (Host) (27:36):

That is so huge. I feel like that’s such an athletic term too. You got to get the reps in, but it’s so true. It is so true. It’s all about, there’s that Malcolm Gladwell book I believe, and it’s all about the 10,000 hours, right?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (27:52):

Yep.

Katya Allison (Host) (27:53):

It’s not always this innate talent. It is about repetition and getting it in there. Because the sooner you start, the sooner you can tweak like, oh, this didn’t work, this didn’t work. May as well start to tweak while not everybody’s watching.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (28:08):

Yeah. That’s why it’s so interesting. There’s a great YouTube duo out there called Colin and Samir who actually were in the lacrosse industry beforehand and now have a YouTube channel called Colin and Samir where they really talk about, they call it the creator economy, like what’s happening. [inaudible 00:28:22] with creators, they’re interviewing top creators. They just had Cody Ko on the other day and just different people. They’re two guys that I always take information from, because like you said, they were in the industry for 10 years before they reached any success. They’re in their 11th year now, and that’s what it takes. Going back to my point before, I don’t know if people realize that, it takes time.

Katya Allison (Host) (28:44):

Oh yeah. All of that stuff takes time.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (28:46):

Yes.

Katya Allison (Host) (28:47):

But you content creators make it just look so darn easy is really what it is.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (28:52):

Yeah.

Katya Allison (Host) (28:53):

But I always like to give this example. I’m like, you guys think that content creators have it really easy. They’re just going to press the button, take the picture, press the button, record something. But then I’m always like, I want you to think of the last group picture you tried to take. How many shots did you take and nobody loved them all, right?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (29:13):

Yeah.

Katya Allison (Host) (29:13):

If you think about it from that and what you’re doing as a content creator is you’re scaling that. You’re trying to engage people, entertain, educate, you’re trying to hit all of those check marks when it comes to those things that you’re putting out. Because like you said, you’re providing that for your community that are following you, that are invested in you.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (29:34):

I think that’s big. It all comes back and that’s what Colin and Samir say too is that community is everything.

Katya Allison (Host) (29:41):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (29:41):

That’s what’s going to follow you. I think at the end of the day when I graduate and I veer off into a different path, which I don’t know what that is yet, I know I’ve built this community and a good portion of them are going to follow me. They’re going to come on maybe liking lacrosse, but then adapt to, I really love Mitchell Pehlke and I want to see him do this or that thing.

Katya Allison (Host) (29:58):

Yeah.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (29:59):

That’s the ultimate goal.

Katya Allison (Host) (30:00):

Yeah. I love it. I’ve taken up so much of your time. I have one final question and that’s my prediction time question.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (30:06):

Okay.

Katya Allison (Host) (30:06):

What do you think is in store for collegiate athletes over the next year?

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (30:13):

I definitely think there’s going to be some type of rules being applied and I think it’s still a little bit of the Wild, Wild West. I think there’s going to be some sort of cap to different sports or different companies or different positions within college athletes. I just think from an Olympic sport perspective, I think everything is fine. I think there’s no problems over here. I think maybe women’s volleyball I think is the number one earning sport right now. But I do think-

Katya Allison (Host) (30:41):

How interesting.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (30:42):

I think the hardest part is how are you going to put in rules for football and basketball that apply to Olympic sports? I think that’s what everyone’s trying to figure out right now. But I definitely think that side of things, that football and basketball, they need to figure something out because if they don’t, the culture of the sport’s definitely going to fall. I think the NCAA also doesn’t like not getting a cut of all the deals, which I definitely think is true. But at the end of the day, it comes down to money and the NCAA is going to do whatever they can to get their share. But I definitely think there’s going to be some rules to come and I’ll be here to follow them.

Katya Allison (Host) (31:18):

Well, I can’t wait to continue to watch your story unfold on YouTube. As one of your community members, I absolutely appreciate you just stopping by and sharing your insights.

Mitchell Pehlke (Guest) (31:31):

No, thank you. I just want to say thank you for the opportunity. I mean, it was awesome to get down and chop it up with you.

Katya Allison (Host) (31:37):

Love it. I love that Mitchell has always viewed what he’s doing on social as a business, and I’m so impressed that he’s truly turned it into one for him. Listening and learning how he has pivoted his content so that he’s always relevant to his audience was so interesting. The thing that really stuck out for me was how he is always thinking about content. The always-on mentality is what I’m sure contributes to his success, not only as a creator, but also as an athlete. You need that drive.

(32:13):

Now, the benefits he’s getting from the NIL ruling can really make an impact for these collegiate athletes who are pouring their blood, sweat, and tears out there on the fields. I can’t wait to see the evolution and impact it has on athlete marketing as a whole. Want to hear more? Be sure to subscribe to the GRIN Gets Real podcast to get the latest episodes. Give us some stars or share your favorite episode in a review. Connect with me on social. I want to hear from you. You can find me on LinkedIn, it’s Katya Allison, and if you are interested in learning more about GRIN, visit our website at grin.co. Until next time, keep grinning.

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