How did I become a professional adventurer?

by Mar 18, 2022 | First published in 2017Advice

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:

Blogging over a beer

#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:

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.