It’s a good question! How do you become an adventurer? While I don’t have the answer for everyone, I want to share the 7 steps I took to reach this status.
Within the space of a year, I went from a trainee secondary school teacher to a professional adventurer. My full-time job became going on adventures and finding ways to inspire others to do the same.
This is pretty rare. Most of the adventurers I know are doing it part-time while juggling other work. And for those that do end up doing it full time, there are lots that return to other work because the reality of being a professional adventurer is far from glamorous. The uncertainty, pressure from sponsors, repetition of talks….there are lots of reasons.
Before continuing, I’d suggest reading Tim Moss’s ‘Why I quit being an adventurer to become an accountant‘ as he lays down all the challenges pretty well.
Whether you are planning to become an adventurer as a full blow career or just at the weekends, it’s a pretty cool title to aim for. Getting the best gear at no charge, getting paid to go on exciting expeditions, inspiring thousands with your stories and hanging with people who think crossing a continent on a scrap bike is normal……these are just some of the benefits.
Make sure you also check out: 11 ways to make money as an adventurer
Before we start….
You’ll need to know who I am! If you are new to this blog, I’m Bex Band – a full-time UK adventurer and founder of the women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. I’m on a mission to make getting outdoors and going on adventures as easy as possible. You can read more about me here. You might also want to check out my messy career path to adventurer to have a bit more of an understanding of my career journey to this point.
If you have any questions, please do use the comments box below. And for ongoing tips and inspiration on camping and adventure, make sure you follow me on Facebook and Instagram.
A quick note on the word ‘adventurer’
I don’t call myself an adventurer outside of this blog (where it makes my content clearer) or unless I’m trying to impress someone enough to book me for a talk…it’s too cheesy and a little pretentious (sorry adventurers!). And in truth, it doesn’t really sum up what I do or what any adventurers or explorers do.
Adventure is just the industry we work in. It’s the platform we all use to create content and it’s that content that brings in the money.
We are actually public figures who are writers, photographers, marketing managers, website developers, public speakers, vloggers and bloggers. Most likely lots of those things rolled into one.
Now I’ve got that out the way, let’s start with the steps I took to become a professional adventurer.
#1 I got inspired
This came before everything else.
I don’t come from an outdoorsy family or school. My friends didn’t ‘do’ camping or hiking. I didn’t know that this huge outdoor world existed, let alone that you can make a career for yourself exploring it.
I started by being inspired and learning from others. Following adventurers like Pip Stewart, Sean Conway and Squash Falconer. Reading their blogs, attending talks and events and seeing how they made money. Looking at things like when did they launch their career, how long did it take them to become established, what things they’ve done on the way.
All the adventurers I found I felt were very different from me – their backgrounds, fitness levels, experiences seemed far superior. While it’s important to be inspired and there is a level of mimicking what they’ve done to reach success, it’s also important that you don’t copy or try to be like them.
One of the reasons I think my profile grew at a healthy rate initially was because I was honest and also different to what was already out there.
#2 I embraced an adventurer way of life before I even start
For me, adventures are all about minimalism. Learning to live with less. Before I even stepped foot on my first adventure I began to embrace minimalism at home. I sold loads of my stuff and stopped buying new things.
This enabled me to save a huge amount – £8,000 in a year to be precise. That chunk of savings is what allowed me to take a break from work to go on an adventurer and to have some time to start building a career for myself.
#3 I launched an adventure blog
Every adventurer has a website. A place that shows the world what you are about and what you have to offer.
And the way to start building a following and an audience through your site is to start blogging.
It took a lot of time to learn how to blog and build a website. Then how to use things like keywords and SEO so that people will find your content. There aren’t many good adventure bloggers who really understand the business and tricks of the trade that well so I looked elsewhere. I learnt from fashion bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, food bloggers.
My blog has been key to my success. At the point of writing this (early 2020), I peaked 60k page views a month. That’s a big audience that will help me tap into various ways of making a living from sponsorship to selling trips.
I’ve learnt about SEO from lots of different resources but the absolute best one was the book 3 Months to SEO!! It really does break down the process in simple steps. Nothing is left out. If you want to get more traffic to your site and you want to have a blog, go buy it now…it’s a no brainer!
You might also want to check out some of my other posts:
- Build a website in 10 minutes
- Guide to social media & how I got 20k followers in a year
- Everything I know about becoming a successful blogger
- How to write the perfect blog
#4 **VERY IMPORTANT STEP** I went on adventures
You don’t need to have an epic record-breaking expedition under your belt to become an adventurer. While it certainly helps your profile and will give you prestige in some areas – like giving talks – there are also adventurers who focus on smaller more accessible adventures.
While Alastair Humphreys did a 4 year round the world cycle, it was his ‘Microadventures’ concept that really launched his success. Challenge Sophie is another example of an adventurer who’s created a unique angle – focusing on short but tough challenges.
So find what you genuinely love doing and focus on that.
I started with a mini-adventure, kick-scooting a loop around London, and then took on my first big adventure, hiking the length of Israel. I didn’t do either of these fast – I’m not fit or athletic.
Really it was Israel when I started to get people following what I was doing, I was blogging on the road every few days. I think because it was an unusual place and because I shared quite honestly how hard I found it.
#5 I started chasing opportunities from all directions
Once I had finished hiking the length of Israel my blog had started to pick up – we’re not talking huge numbers here but enough to get me excited. That’s when I started chasing being a professional adventure with an absolute drive.
I put myself forward for opportunities in every area. Think collaboration, speaking opportunities, guest blogs, appearing on podcasts, applying for awards, even just sending an email out to someone of interest so they know you exist.
This is the part where you do a lot of stuff for free. But this is also the part where you put your name into the public space and start building your profile one step at a time.
This is also the part where I suspect most people eventually give up. It’s like swimming against the tide but eventually, probably about a year to 18months after launching, I felt the tide turn and the opportunities landing in my inbox without me needing to chase them.
#6 I became an expert in the different ways I could make money
In this YouTube video, I share the different ways adventurers make money:
These are the avenues that I see explorers using the most to make an income. There are other jobs for adventurers that you can tap into as well. This blog 11 Ways you can make money as an explorer lists all the ways I know how.
Most I know in there journey working out how to be an adventurer end up with having more than 1 income avenue. I have 6! I list them all and even share a breakdown of how much I earn in my income and spending reports:
- My income report: how much does an adventurer earn?
- My spending report: how much does it cost to be a nomadic adventurer?
These are 2 important blogs to read as they show that my earning initially was very low and it took time to build this up. But also because it highlights that my spending was just as important as focusing on my income.
When it came to making money I focused on the things that I enjoyed doing most. I tried lots of areas and then repeated what I saw was working. All while continuing to build my brand and following in the background.
The biggest tip I can give you here is to become an expert at whatever you are doing. Get books from the library, listen to Tim Ferris’s podcast and use all the resources online to make sure you are being the most effective you can be.
In addition to learning about the business side of being an adventurer, I also got some qualifications. I passed my Mountain Leader Award Assessment. This opened up a whole new world of possibilities as I could now lead people on adventures and organise my own expeditions. Although I didn’t know it at the time or have plans to do this, it meant the opportunity was there when I launched Love Her Wild and saw there was a demand for all-female adventures!
#7 I started pursuing sponsorship
Sponsorship played an important role in building my professional adventurer career. As soon as you create a brand for yourself and become a public figure, you have a platform to work with companies. You can offer exposure to a specific audience who follow what you do. That’s powerful advertising.
What this means for me is that I can get sponsorship for gear I need for adventures. When I travel I get invited to stay in hotels for free in exchange for blogging about them and their outdoor activities.
So the money that I would have been spending anyway is now removed from my monthly expenses. Of course, I do have to work for this – there are commitments involved with partnerships – but often these agreements benefit me twofold as it also provides content for my blog.
It also helped build my profile and I learnt a lot about the industry and building partnerships with the companies I was working with.
After a couple of years, my following had grown big enough that sponsorship moved from ‘in-kind’ (services and gear) to ‘financial sponsorship’ (getting money from companies).
For more on this, check out my blog: how to get sponsorship for your adventures
Still keen to be an adventurer?
Good! It’s an amazing career. Challenging and difficult but also amazing.
If you’ve got any questions around the topic of ‘how to be an adventurer’, please ask in the comments box below.
And if you found this post helpful, do follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel. I give all my advice out for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!
Any women reading this? I set up Love Her WIld – a women’s adventure community….we organise exciting adventures all over the world for you to join. Find out more – check out our private Facebook page.
Wow! Bex you truly are like a breath of fresh air! I’m loving following you xx
Thanks so much Carole!!!! ? xxx
Love the transparency, Bex. And you’re so right, I had absolutely been wondering how your new life actually works!
Thanks Lisa!! I’ve been learning loads from other peoples transparency so thought I should repay the favour.
It’s also great that friends can finally understand what I do….that’s the problem with doing things a bit differently. People just don’t get it, understandably. And a lot of people don’t want to ask directly. Money is such a out-of-bounds conversation!
Thank you so much for the openness. I am sure this will inspire people, who might otherwise not take the plunge. Congratulations.
Thanks so much Jordi! 🙂
Hi Bex, really interesting article, great to see the breakdown. Im loving blogging at the monent and have just started out. Would be amazing to run it as a full time job, but i have a long way to go before that. So just wondering what three things would you advise are the nost important when starting out?
Thanks Charles! It’s great that you are enjoying blogging – that’s really important!
When starting out, the 3 biggest tips I would give are:
– write quality content. Ultimately this is what it all comes down to! Write things that you would like to read and provide value for your readers. That way they will keep coming back.
– work out your niche early on. Be as specific as possible with what you are focusing on and what you are offering that other bloggers don’t.
– get your blog looking good from the start. Get it looking professional and attractive from day 1 so when people visit they know you are a serious blogger. How many ugly free sites do you visit regularly? Probably not many!
Hope that helps. Good luck with the blogging!
I found these insights into how adventurers making a living fascinating – it allows people to in imagine how doing this as a career might realistically work.
Although, I would say ‘making a living’ is not simply about the sources of money, but the process of converting these. Similar blog posts often neglect the role of your social network (or who you know) in gaining sponsorship or funding for example, or the possible role of spousal/family support in providing a cushion when shifting jobs. Adventurering undoubtedly requires a lot of confidence and networking in order to make it happen; but this is not something I really see much insight to in adventuring blogs – mostly either the logistical or financial tips.
I enjoy adventurers and expeditions, but also my day-job, so look for ways to combine the two. But It got me thinking about how much our social capital enables us to create an income from adventuring as much as simply where it comes from. Just wondered what your thoughts were on this…
Thanks for your comment. It got me thinking and I will definitley put some thought into sharing the ‘mental’ side of reaching adventuring as a career. Confidence is a huge thing. You’ve got to put yourself out there which isn’t an easy thing, especially starting out.
Circumstances definitley play a role. I do have the luxury that I know I have family to fall back on if anything goes wrong. Something which I will never take for granted. I don’t however have any contacts. Far from it! I have managed to build connections with brands and people in the adventure industry and all that has come from hard work and persistence, along with being friendly and offering value. Althoigh a foot in the door or pre existing network would have been nice, I personally don’t think it’s essential.
It’s great that you enjoy your day job and can fit in adventures as and when you want. It sounds like you’ve created your ideal!
Bex, I think you make some good points about circumstances. In my, fairly limited, experience of adventuring – there seems to be some denial of how much your background and circumstances play a part in becoming a successful ‘adventurer’, similar to being a travel writer. Most tend to be white, middle-class men – often from privately educated backgrounds. While, of course, people can’t help where they come – these advantages aren’t really acknowledged – instead a lot of blog posts about encouraging people do “Just do it” (I’m sure Randulph Fiennes, for all this achievements, found ‘just doing it’ a lot easier when you come from privilege).
Either way, I find your blog refreshing and, similar to Alastair Humphreys, I find the democratizing of adventuring to more of the masses a broadly positive thing. Keep up the good work!
Thanks Matthew!! I really do hope to open up adventure to more people.
That ‘denial of privilege’ is something I have picked up on as well in the industry. Private schools do seem to breed adventurers. Although there’s nothing wrong with that in itself, there is if there is no acceptance or openness about the privilege and luck that plays a part along the way. It’s so important to remain grateful and realistic about what we were born into in life. I hope I always do!!
Hi Bex. Having seen you talk at the Yestival last month, I’m now looking through your blog. I have to say it’s the most down to earth, inspiring and honest site I’ve found. It’s really helped me with a few ideas and give me the positivity I needed. Just wanted to say Thank you.
Thanks Bex. It’s so refreshing to see someone who is so honest and open about how they do what they do, rather than attempting to sell their advice as an online programme which you see a lot of on Facebook. Looking forward to reading more and potentially attending some Love Her Wild events!
10 step course – how to be an adventurer….just £100!!
Yep, I see those all the time and they make me very angry. I learnt everything I know for free from other people willing to share so I’m just repaying the favour. Do come to a LHW event soon, that’d be great! 🙂
Do you wholly rely on friends and family for accomodation at home, are you paying rent/Storage costs to them, assisting them with their costs? What would happen if you needed a course of medical treatment that meant you were unable to travel for a while. A break down of that expenditure would be useful.
Occasionally we stay with family if we are visiting but most of the time we rent out a room…we try to find friends who are happy to rent a room (at cost) if we are in our home towns. Otherwise we use Airbnb or internet to find short term let’s. We barely have any ‘stuff’. Just a couple of boxes for storage which we keep in my sisters loft for free.
A break down of expenditure is coming soon – it’s a blog that’s been sat in my drafts for a while!
We’ve got a safety net of savings – a few thousand which will cover us if we needed a couple of months to find work if. If everything went very wrong then we’d have loved ones who’d take us in. It’s a luxury I know I’m lucky to have!
Hope that answers your Qs 🙂
Hey Bex! Loved surfing your blog. It had my gears turning about a lifestyle change. Living in America however is probably slightly different in terms of finances, roadblocks etc.? I wouldn’t know for sure. I have an idea of starting a blog for individuals that battle mental health like myself and show them they can find the greener grass where they water it so to speak. Do you know any American adventure groups, sponsors, events, and all other categories to delve into I can look into and research?
Thanks so much!! This sounds like a brilliant idea for a blog. The blogging and adventure scene is even bigger in the US than in the U.K. so there must be lots. I don’t know any personally but the best place to search is for groups on Facebook.
Good luck with your venture…getting going with blogging is the hardest part but once you’ve got going it’s all worth it!
Thanks for sharing a nice experience, it is really inspiring. I love it.
Happy to hear it’s inspired you 🙂
Hello Bex. I have a question. How to work as an adventurer if you have 4 kids (15, 10, 7, 2 years old)? I’m really afraid to leave my wife and kids for a long time alone. Can I become an adventurer, travel with family & find sponsorship enough for all of us?
If you don’t want to leave your family then I’d suggest incorporating them into your work – ie focusing on family adventures. There are lots who have made a success of this from families focusing on camping or doing long-distance cycle rides sustaining themselves via a blog or youtube channel. So definitely doable! Do a google search to find a few examples for inspiration 🙂
Thanks for your answer 🙂