The secret to spon-con success after being on reality TV

An excerpt from 'How to Win The Bachelor: The Secret to Finding Love and Fame on America's Favorite Reality Show'
January 25, 2022, 7:00 PM UTC
'How to Win the Bachelor: The Secret to Finding Love and Fame on America's Favorite Reality Show'
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

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“Passion Project” doesn’t begin to explain what How To Win The Bachelor is to us. It’s more of an “Obsession Project.”

Just for qualification, in order to gather the necessary statistics and understanding to write this book, which we believe is the most comprehensive analysis of The Bachelor on planet Earth, we engaged in an endeavor that we called The Hyperbinge. We watched every episode of The Bachelor from Season 1, Episode 1 through Season 25 episode 12 on double-time speed for around eight to 10 hours a day, everyday, for two and a half months while we meticulously recorded every play that’s ever been made. We are 100% certain we are the only people to have ever endured this test of will and survived.

What lies before you is the fruit of that labor—a precise collection of knowledge that will elevate your understanding of the fastest growing professional sport in the world: The Bachelor.

Authors Lizzy Pace and Chad Kultgen
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

When we started our descent into madness we followed a few of the leads and top players from recent seasons on Instagram. But we soon began to realize it was necessary to follow every player on every platform, because after the season ends they make some of their most important plays in the world of social media. We became so obsessed with who got spon-con deals, who posted pics of their baby bumps, who appeared in photo shoots with other players, and generally who had the highest follower numbers that we devoted a weekly segment of our podcast to examining everything players were doing after their season ended. We started to see that no matter when you were eliminated from the season, the postseason is when you really begin your career as an influencer if you’ve played a strong enough season to get yourself over 100,000 followers on a major platform. And we also saw that beyond making a living off spon-con, strong parasocial plays help you maintain relevance in the eyes of the Producers, so you’re more likely to get an invitation to Paradise if you didn’t walk away with the Ring or the Crown.

The Bachelor shoots from the end of September through the middle of November, but it doesn’t air until the first week of January. The month-ish-long period of time that starts at whatever point you’re eliminated from the game and ends the night the first episode of your season airs is called the Dead Zone. Producers force every player to agree to remain silent on social media until a predetermined date that coincides with the end of that season’s shooting. So unless you make it to the finals, you won’t be allowed to post anything or comment or like for a few weeks to avoid unintentionally giving Bachelor Nation spoiler-level information. But finally, after languishing in the Producer-enforced social media cone of silence, Night One airs and the next period of the postseason begins.

Once the first episode airs, things will change significantly. This will very likely be the first time you get to see yourself on television. It will also probably be the first time you have the strange experience of a team of Producers editing footage of you to create lines of dialogue you might have never said in an effort to make you seem like a type of person you never actually were. And it may well be the first time you start to see drastic increases in your follower count across the major social media platforms. In some cases, players have seen increases of well over 100,000 IG followers in the 24-hour period after an episode airs that featured them prominently.

It’s during the watch-back that talent managers and agents might reach out to you. If you have high enough numbers, plenty of people know how to turn that into money for a fee of their own. Do your research and ask who else they represent before agreeing to any contracts or terms. Get advice from previous players. Brands, too, might start reaching out directly during this period. This can be exciting, but you have to be careful and make sure any spon-con agreement doesn’t violate any clause in a potential Paradise contract unless, of course, you don’t plan on returning to the game at all.

If you had a great season and made a deep run, you’re obviously going to have big numbers by the end of your season airing. The screen time to follower count ratio isn’t exactly 1:1, but Top 4 finishers overall have many more followers than those who went home earlier. So if you did well enough to make it to the play-offs, you can bide your time during the watch-back. You can post with less frequency and comment with less enthusiasm on other players’ posts. Your quality of play will be enough to generate massive gains as the season unfolds. And once the season’s Finale airs and the ATFR has concluded you will enter the most important period of time in the postseason.

Once the Finale airs, Producers will release you from their controlling demands and you can post whatever you want across all platforms. And there are plenty of activities that generate fantastic social media opportunities. Collaborating weekly with all of the members from the team you chose during the regular season is essential. The more collabs you can do with anyone from your season the better. These help drive your audience to your friend’s account and theirs to yours. Many players from Season 25 all moved to New York City to jump-start their parasocial collabs last year.

Plan trips with players from your season, attend their birthday parties, and do IG lives and TikToks with them to maintain relevance. And for the bold among you, move in with one or more of your fellow players to turn a shared living situation into a twenty-four-hour-a-day content factory. It could turn out to be the best move you ever made. The Bachelor’s last episode airs in March and then the following season of Bachelorette is filmed from February to April and traditionally airs May to July. So you have to fill five months with highly engaging content to maintain relevance and have the best shot at an invitation to Paradise.

From How to Win The Bachelor: The Secret to Finding Love and Fame on America’s Favorite Reality Show by Chad Kultgen and Lizzy Pace. Copyright 2022 by Chad Kultgen and Lizzy Pace. Published by Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. This chapter has been edited for length.