I have 2 brands I have built over the last year. Although there is some overlap as one helps the other grow. The first is me, ‘Bex Band’ as an adventurer and blogger via this website, the Ordinary Adventurer. The second brand I have built is a female adventure community, Love Her Wild.
Both the Ordinary Adventurer and Love Her Wild are a product of a lot of hard work. Growing a business or a brand is all about building a following. That doesn’t happen overnight. It took me a year of non-stop blogging, learning and experimenting to get where I am today. And there’s still a really long way to go!
But I’ve got myself to a position now where I can start to earn money through these 2 avenues. Not a lot but enough to maintain my nomadic lifestyle. That was always my aim.
Throughout this journey, there have been lots of things I tried to little effect but there were also some things I did that I considered ‘smart moves’. Things that increased my traffic and engaged a loyal audience
#1 Get your readers emails…from the start!
I learnt this too late so am playing catch up now. Having a subscription list is the single most valuable asset your brand will own. The second you set up your website, have a way that you can start collecting readers email addresses via a subscription plug in.
You might wonder why you need this if you can achieve a successful social media following. Quite simply, social media is fickle and selective whereas email subscriptions are loyal and direct.
#2 Treat it like a business
If you are serious about growing your brand, whether that be as an adventurer, a blogger or a service you are offering, then you need to start treating it for what it is – a business. That means being disciplined and determined.
Set yourself up officially from the start either as a sole trader or company. Get yourself some business cards and a work email so you look serious. And network any way you can by going to relevant events and conferences.
There are lots of business and marketing skills you will need to learn that will help you grow. For more on that go to Loads of free resources to help you become an uber famous adventurer.
#3 You can’t be for everyone
It took me some time to find my direction and my voice, which was basically a waste of time. I was trying to target a too wide an audience. Find your niche early on. The more specific the better. If you are an adventurer, what is it that makes you special? Will you focus on family adventure, UK based adventure, record-breaking adventures, endurance adventures, etc?
That doesn’t mean that you can’t grow and expand your brand down the line. But for the early stages when you are trying to stand out in a busy market, find your unique selling point.
#4 Provide an opportunity that your audience will value
As my blog and Love Her Wild grew, I kept getting emails from women asking if there was an adventure they could join me on. It made me realise that there was a need in the adventure world that wasn’t been met. And that I could fill it.
I came up with the Everest Adventure idea and invited women to apply to join me on this expedition. Basically, I had created an opportunity for other people, the kind of thing I would have jumped at myself. My readers valued that so I advertised this opportunity on adventure and women’s groups and forums.
There were over 100 applications for the adventure, my Love Her Wild members increased by over 700, my blog traffic spiked and my subscribers went up about 25%. ‘Smart move’ (while also having an awesome adventure to go on!)
#5 Get speaking as soon as you can
When I came back from hiking the length of Israel I gave a free talk at a casual event called YesStories. At the event, I was asked to return to speak at their festival, Yestival. Someone had seen that I had given the talk on my social media and invited to speak at a women’s event. My bookings continued like this!
At each of these events, I gain a handful of new followers who liked my talk and wanted to know more. They are also great for networking. Meeting face to face with adventure event organisiers, adventurers, brands, etc. I’ve yet to do a talk that hasn’t opened a new opportunity for me.
#6 Sign up to Travel Blog Success
I admit that the price made me hesitate for a while, but for growing my blog, Travel Blog Success has been invaluable! I have no doubt it has earned me my money back. The courses and webinars have loads of resources that break down everything to do with blogging – building a website, the best host to use, social media, growing your audience, making money from advertising, etc – all taught by full-time bloggers.
Probably the most useful tool though has been the private group you get access to. I use it all the time to ask blogging related questions and to ask advice. It’s been a massive support group and I have picked up loads of tips from others.
Although it is travel focused, there was nothing in the course or on the forum that I couldn’t transfer to blogging about adventure. The concept remains the same and actually, they aren’t too dissimilar – mostly just story telling!
If you do decide to sign up, please do use the link here. It’s an affiliate link which means I get a small percentage for recommending you, with no difference in the cost to you.
#7 Find like-minded brands to work with
I started to connect with like-minded brands, mostly female adventurers. Once a relationship had been built, I then looked at collaborating on events and adventures.
Working with someone else doesn’t only half the work that you have to do but also provides exposure to their followers.
I’ve also really valued having people to speak to who understand my life and what I am trying to achieve. We share business tips, moan about related frustrations and also sometimes meet up and have fun.
#8 People love getting free stuff
I contacted a handful of adventure companies and asked if they could provide some items that I could use in a giveaway. In exchange, I offered a review on Love Her Wild of the item or a post on my social media platforms. Companies jumped at this as it was an advertising opportunity for them.
Once I had some items, I ran a giveaway, selecting at random who had signed up to my newsletter. Every time I have done a giveaway I see a boost in sign up/follows and I also like that I can ‘reward’ my readers for their loyalty and amazingness.
#9 Engage, engage, engage
Social media is just something I have started to get on top of in the last couple of months. It was a mistake neglecting it as I realise now my social media pages are a gateway to my blog and everything else I am doing. Better late than never!
If you want to grow your social media pages, you are going to have to start engaging and interacting. Engagement is not just about getting new followers though, it’s also about keeping and valuing your existing ones.
The same principle applies to blog comments and emails.
#10 Get to know who you hope will become your colleagues
My bookmark bar is full of the sites of all the companies and adventurers that I’d like to be on par with one day. I read their blogs, comment on their posts, attend their events. The best learning comes from other people and being familiar with my industry and what is successful now gives me an ongoing stream of good ideas.
I also have a few people I follow that I don’t like. I find it just as valuable understanding what it is that I don’t want my brand to be!
#11 Get rid of the fear of putting yourself out there
How have I got to where I am today? I faked it! This actually takes a lot of guts. I built a website that made me look better than I felt. Went on an adventure that was tougher than I thought I could handle. When I see opportunities or meet people I admire, I give myself a nudge to put myself forward even though I feel like a nobody.
You feel stupid/small/scared but it works. Eventually, you will loose these horrible feelings and start to believe you really are who you are pretending to be. You’ve got to get rid of the fear of rejection and stop worrying what people will think. Fake it ’till you make it!
Learn more about my brand on How do I earn a living as an adventurer.