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How to make a living as an adventurer?

So you are not satisfied with going on great adventures in your vacation and would like to turn your hobby into a profession?
I'm very lucky that by now I can live from adventuring and do what I like to do most in life. I absolutely love my job with everything that comes with it but it is probably quiet different from most people's perception. So, here a few thoughts about my learnings:

First and most importantly, almost no one gets a lot of sponsorship and media attention during the first trip. You have to start with the apprenticeship, get yourself a portfolio and attention before monetarizing your adventures. You basically do a very big thing, look that it gets a lot of attention and then you might be able to make some money with the next big thing and repeat.
There are of course exceptions to that but if you are not a celebrity or a supermodel you are very unlikely to be an exception.

You have done your first big adventure and got an established media presence? Congrats, now it is time to plan an even bigger adventure and try to transform it into a business. There are several ways to earn money with your adventures and you will likely combine some of them.

1) Brand Ambassadorships and Sponsorships: That's a main source of income for me and one that takes time to develop. It is quiet easy to get free stuff (possibly already on your first adventure) but for raising money you need a strong background and do something that gets media attention. Sponsorships often come from my network and it takes time to develop relationships. Sending a proposal and asking for money is unlikely to work.

2) Motivational talks and public speaking: That's my second big source of income and takes even longer to develop. I gave my first talks for free to schools, clubs and just anyone who wanted to hear it. With every talk I got better and started to charge for it. I know people who live from talks at schools and festivals but the most prestigious and lucrative area is Motivational speaking at private companies. Apart from direct income talks also provide you new followers and possibly a recommendation that leads to another speaking engagement.

3) Guiding: you don't need to have done any big adventure to become a guide and this could be an option for anyone who wants to be paid for going on adventures. However, having a big audience and adventure background will probably help you to get a better wage and guiding position.

4) Writing a book or producing a movie: that's an option that will probably not provide a big income and has terrible time effort/income ratio. However, both also helps to improve your portfolio and reputation which I consider the main benefit. By the way, my book and movie will be coming out in spring, so make sure to buy them.

5) Crowdfunding: An option that won't bring you a big income but can possibly be used to cover some of the costs of your adventure or movie. Most contributions will likely come from your network and by asking people for their money you will be using some of the Goodwill that you created by posting awesome content and establishing relationships. So, if you do this for every adventure you do without giving back, you will be unlikely to fund your future campaigns.
I will be using Crowdfunding to finance a documentary movie about Panamerica Solo this autumn, so make sure to check it out :)

6) Other income sources: These are a few things how you can leverage your adventures. Of course there are further options such as writing a blog or writing for magazines, promoting merchandise or offering training plans. It's trial and error to find out what works for you.

So there are different options how to make a living as an adventurer. You are unlikely to become rich but in the end, life is not about wealth but happiness and what could be better than doing every day what you like most.
Life is also very cheap. I don't have a flat, always camp wild and spend a large part of the year in cheap countries. You would be surprised how little you need to be happy.

 

Finally, I want to stress the importance of a network, social media and media presence. Don't be afraid for asking people for a favor but also return favors when you can. Most of my income comes from within my network and is build on long term relationships. So, if you have any contacts that could be helpful to me, I would be very thankful if you get in touch.