Oh the glamorous life of an adventurer! It’s been an interesting journey and I’ve learnt that the amount you earn really comes down to how well known you are, how relevant your brand is and how resourceful you are. Most adventurers I know live modestly, more interested in just earning enough than earning loads. Although I also found out this year that some adventurers get paid tens of thousands of pounds to deliver one talk. Can’t quite get my head around the excessiveness of that! So there is definitely money there to be had.
For me, the goal from day one was simply to be sustainable. I want to earn enough to cover my living expenses (preferably with a bit left over to pay into a pension) so that I can keep working doing what I love.
This is my second year working in the world of blogging and adventure. The same principle has applied in that I have kept my spending low and relied heavily on sponsorship in kind. This means that I don’t need to earn as much each month to keep myself going. You can do a comparison of last years earnings here.
The messy road to success
Although I set out to make a living in a certain way (my initial plan was to make a living from blogging focusing just on affiliate marketing and advertising), the road to success has been far from linear. For me, it has been a case of trying lots of different things and then sticking with what works. Laura Try gives some great advice in this interview when she says ‘throw everything at the wall, see what sticks and do more of that’.
This has actually been true for my career path since day 1 which I demonstrate in this blog.
This definitely takes a lot of hard work and it can be tiring juggling lots of projects. But in terms of making a success and a sustainable living, this approach is more risk-free….it means I’ve got lots of areas to fall back on should one of my incomes fall through.
Let’s get on with it…..here are the different sources of income I’ve had in the last year:
Love Her Wild Expeditions
While my initial focus was all on my blog, when Love Her Wild boomed in popularity I began to give it all my attention. It was really exciting being part of such a fast-moving and amazing community of women!
In the early days, I began organising a few expeditions. Although some didn’t work, I found that most of them were selling out and I saw real potential here to provide unique opportunities to get women out adventuring while also making money as either an expedition leader and/or organiser. There are 2 ways I do this:
Collaborations: This is where I work with another company who I know and trust to deliver a great expedition. They do the expedition leading and logistics. I then market the expedition, take the bookings and help with some of the logistics. I take a cut for the work I put into getting the people booked on.
Leading my own expeditions: Occasionally I also organise my own expeditions. The Whale Shark retreat for example. As well as managing the bookings I also do all the logistics and will be on the expedition leading it myself. I earn more (as I am taking on both roles) but it also takes a LOT of my time so I think it’s only realistic that I can do 3 or 4 trips like this a year maxiumum.
Last year I earnt a bit of money doing expedition leading for a school group overseas. The advantage of doing it for yourself is that you cut out the middle man so can earn more, although you have to weigh this up with the fact there is much more responsibility on your shoulders (to give you an idea I think I was paid about £75 a day for my last Expedition Leading job which considering it is 24/7 isn’t a huge amount!). Generally, I prefer doing my own trips as it gives me far more creativity and I can ensure they are too a good standard.
It’s important for me to note that in keeping with the Love Her Wild ethos I also use some of the money made on trips to support the Deserving Women’s Scheme so that women who otherwise couldn’t afford it or who deserve a break can access Love Her Wild expeditions and events. Outside of paying myself a wage as an event organiser or expedition leader, anything left over goes into this scheme.
Events and workshops
While I love organising and leading expeditions and adventures, I also saw that there was an opportunity to expand into events and also workshop delivery. It’s a great way to promote the outdoors, inspire others and to bring women together.
I organised the first Love Her Wild Weekend which was a huge success (I’ll be running another 2 next year as it went so well, one in the South and one in the North). I pay myself as an event organiser, the same as I pay those who delivered workshops at the weekend.
Next year I’m looking forward to working on a writers retreat with Emma Rosen and also on a ‘Build your Brand’ workshop with Sarah Williams. While I love adventure I also love to write and share what I’ve learnt so it’s nice to be working on events that incorporate my other interests.
I recognised that I was spending most of my time working on aspects of the Love Her Wild community that was all about supporting women in adventure but that didn’t make money. Things like moderating the group, keeping on top of the mentoring program and local meet ups and organising free expeditions. For some time I’d toyed with the idea of setting up a membership but I just didn’t want Love Her Wild to become exclusive or to exclude those who couldn’t afford it.
With the encouragement of Sarah Williams from Tough Girls Tribe, I set up a Patreon page. It is sort of like a membership only people choose whether or not they want to support you. I honestly didn’t think this would work but in the space of a year I have reached nearly 100 Patreons. This has slowly grown and now gives me an income of around $500 a month. It’s a huge breather to have this regular income!
Sponsorship from Brands
For the first time this year, I have been paid sponsorship from brands. I’ve had plenty of sponsorship in kind previously (i.e. gear or free nights stay or tours in exchange for exposure on my blog or social media platforms) but this year I worked on 2 projects that involved financial sponsorship.
The first was on the Hiking Jordan expedition (sponsored by Tiso and Merrel) and the second was Kicking the States ( sponsored by VivoLife). In both cases, the sponsorship covered the costs involved in making these happen including all accommodation, travel and food. So while I didn’t earn anything as such, it meant for those time frames (a total of 3 and a half months) I also wasn’t spending a penny.
Talks, Panels and Appearances
I haven’t given a huge amount of talks this year and almost all of them were for Kicking the States which I did for free or by donating my fee as we were fundraising for a school in Tanzania. I was also awarded the San Miguel Rich List and they paid me for my time answering questions and organising a photoshoot.
Most of the links on my website for products that I recommend are affiliate. That means that if you click on the link and decide to buy the item I get a small percentage because I essentially recommended you. This has barely brought me anything this year and averages about £50 a month. It’s not much but as my gran would’ve said…..it’s better than a kick in the teeth.
My hope is that over the next year I can really start to grow this area of income more.
Total Breakdown for 2018
Expeditions (Collaborations) – £3,900
Expeditions (Leading and organising myself) – £2,000
Events and workshops – £1,400
Patreon – £3,300
Sponsorship – £3,700
Talks, Panels and Appearances – £1,800
Affiliate – £600
Overall Total – £16,700
2 important things to note…..like any honest self-employed individual I do have to pay tax on this. I’m not sure what the total will be yet as the tax year is April-April. It won’t be lots as I’m not a high earner (obvs) but it is something 🙂
Also, this figure does not account for business expenses. Some of these are very direct (such as hosting fees paying for website domains) however a lot of my ‘work expenses’ are uncertain as a digital nomad. I don’t pay for an office but pay a fair amount for cups of tea so I can work in coffee shops – do these count as expenses?!
At the moment I’m just interested in being sustainable (earning as much as I spend) so I can keep working doing what I love. This year I achieved that so I’m happy!
Compared to 2017
This is a great increase compared to last year where my income was just £6,300. My spending this year has also been higher though. While I haven’t kept track of my exact spending I think it’s probably in the region of £18,000 as I’ve had to dip into my savings a bit. Last year I was living on just £500 a month. My expenses are much higher this year as I did bigger and more expensive expeditions (although I wouldn’t have done without the sponsorship in place). I also travelled more comfortable – staying in hotels when giving talks or delivering events rather than hostels. This was more expensive but juggling everything is tiring and I recognised this as an important step to being able to maintain this level of work.
I try to keep my lifestyle and adventuring as honest as possible in the hope that it will help others wanting the same. Please do take a minute to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as it helps me on my journey. Or you can support me on Patreon. And if you have any questions just ask in the comments box below and I’ll get back to you.