People often email me to ask advice on earning a living from adventures. Sometimes they come from young people contemplating adventure instead of higher education, or perhaps dropping out of uni to focus on expeditions. I’mll address that first.
Many successful adventurers did not go to college, university or earn any qualifications. Many successful people in life did not, either. So it’s clearly not essential. From my own point of view though, I had the opportunity to go to university. I didn’t particularly enjoy it: I was just itching to get out and explore the world. But, looking back, I am very glad that I persevered and got my qualifications first. I know that a year feels like an eternity when you are young [that sentence makes me feel old!], but for me it was worth the wait. Make the most of the time: earn money, learn relevant skills, squeeze in microadventures. But bear in mind that not everyone who sets out to make their living from adventure will succeed. If you do not succeed at it (or you decide that you’d prefer to keep it as a hobby), what will you do then?
How to Make a Living from your Adventures
A few questions to ask which may help direct you towards your answer. Because the really important question is not “How will I make a living?”, it is “Do I really want to attempt this?”
- Why don’t you get a “proper job”? You’ll probably earn more money and then can spend your holidays doing exciting adventures. Do not forget that most (not all) career adventurers spend vast amounts of time sitting at a desk to make their adventures and lifestyle happen.
- What adventures / travels / expeditions are you going to do? They may be important to you, but how will you make them interesting to anyone else?
- Here are some ways you can earn money from adventure: guiding clients, managing expeditions, writing, speaking, filming, photographing, developing a product you can sell, being a brand ambassador, being famous on the telly. Which will you do?
- You will not instantly earn enough money for this to be a viable career. You’ll either need to live on savings, work part time, or live somewhere that is insanely cheap. What are your plans?
- Are you prepared to do all the hard stuff about being self-employed: 7-days-a-week work, worry about where your next cash is coming from, fill in tax forms?
- Is it a good idea to make yourself the golden goose? If your next cheque comes solely because of your next adventure, then you are setting yourself up for being in this for the long haul.
Some Cold Water to Pour [as kindly as I can] on Your Dreams
- It was easier 100 years ago: nobody had climbed Everest then. It’s now been climbed by a 13-year old and an 80-year old. What journeys can you do that will be interesting enough for people to pay to hear about them?
- To guide clients or manage expeditions you need to get a lot of experience under your belt.
- There is not much money in writing magazines or books, or selling photos or films (I have published 7 books, 1 film, 1 t-shirt, and 1 mappazine and I am a long, long, long way from being able to live solely from those). Magazines pay a few hundred quid an article. Blogs don’t pay you (usually).
- Most brand sponsorships involve free kit, not cash. Very few brand ambassadors can live off the money they receive. And they have done something special to earn that.
- Very few people are famous on the telly. Please don’t go into adventure (or anything in life) because this is what you aspire to!
If, after all that, you are still keen then go for it! I will help you as much as I can!
Any other advice for people? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you to the many people who have kindly “bought me a coffee” for just £2.50 as encouragement to keep this blog going.
“Yes, I too would like to donate a couple of pounds to this site..!”