3 Business Models for Adventurers

Emily Woodhouse Adventure Careers, Business and Marketing, Practical Advice

Adventurers are entrepreneurs. People often seem to forget this. If you happen across a vacancy for a full-time adventurer or professional treasure hunter, let me know! So, if you are an adventurer you are running a personal business – and behind each successful business there is a business model.

Here are the 3 most common models that the modern day adventurer can use. Of course, it is possible to use all 3 of them at once, but it’s good practice to focus on one first. Easier said than done, of course…

1. The Artist or Creator

This is the straightforward “influencer” lifestyle that everyone seems to glorify. In this instance, you create an audience first and then try to monetize or leverage this following. Put simply, you collect people’s attention and then use that to get paid.

There are 2 main ways people do this. The first is by asking your audience to support the thing you’re already making and their already enjoying. For example through platforms like Patreon, or the recent YouTube “Join” button. Income tends to come in the form of a small monthly subscription. Typically people offer exclusive¬†extra content for donors, on top of what they produce free. Else you’re basically betting on people’s altruism and, well….

The second way is by leveraging your audience for marketing purposes. One of the hardest problems in business is how to get your product/service in front of the people who will want to buy it. If you have an audience in a niche demographic with good engagement, you’re going to be worth something to companies trying to sell to that demographic. So, you’re creating content to amass an audience who trust you and gaining income via by brand deals or sponsorship. Basically you are trading eyeballs for money.

Why don’t I call this section The Influencer?

Hang on a minute Emily, isn’t this an influencer – not an artist? Well, yes, kind of – but that word is so glamourised that I think people are missing the truth…

Why do I call this the Artist? Consider Shakespearean England. In those days, for a person to create “art” (i.e. something purely for its own sake), they needed to find a patron or sponsor. To do this, they created their art and put themselves under the noses of as many people as they could, hoping for a break. Some would be lucky and find a rich patron to support them. Others would starve.

The point is, in this business model adventure is your art and you must create and create up-front. You are struggling to get noticed without necessarily being able to afford what you’re creating. You have to put in time and money up front in the hope that something good will come later.

This is, in my opinion, a risky business. Unless you have some unrelated form of steady income, you are risking a lot up front until you get “enough” followers/subscribers/viewers to cover your costs. Never mind be able to afford to live. If you’re going down this route, definitely have a safety net before you commit! Or build it as a side project to another source of income.

2. The Seller or Vendor

Okay, so now I’d just debunked what half the world thinks we should be doing online… what alternatives are there? Well, an adventurer has only one other choice: to sell. Create something of value and exchange it for money. Anyone with a product falls into this category.

You might be thinking, “How can I make a product out of my adventures?” But actually, the solutions are more familiar than you think. It’s just a case of shifting your mindset. Some examples are:

  • Books
    This is a classic. Go on your adventure, write a book about it, sell to your followers (or anyone who will buy!). Never mind waiting for a publishing deal nowadays.
  • T-shirts
    Have you noticed that every influencer nowadays has their own fashion label or set of t-shirts? You are putting your “brand” or ethos on an item of clothing and people will buy into it. For more about branding see Why Adventurers Need a Brand and How to Make One.
  • Photographs
    People tend to take pictures on trips. There are lots of ways to sell your photographs, for example as art, limited edition, things for your biggest fans to treasure… but also as stock or for magazines…
  • Film
    A modern take on the book. Make a movie of your adventure (or full length documentary) and sell it to your followers.
  • Travel guides
    A nifty combination of ebook and video library. You are turning your adventure into a “How To” guide for another traveller to follow.

There are lots more examples of products you can create from adventures – the limit is only your creativity. For the best results, these will all be things that you own full rights to and make only once, then distribute. There is a direct exchange of item for money.

3. The Freelancer

If you don’t fancy making a product, the other thing that you can sell is services. As in, someone is hiring you for a certain event or length of time because you have unique skills. Think you don’t have any skills? You’d be amazed. Often they’re the things that you take for granted.

Some examples of service based business models are:

  • Speakers
    Going to adventure festivals, schools, clubs, corporate events and talking about your adventures. The more well known you become (and well spoken) the more you can charge.
  • Guides
    Taking people on adventures. You are the expert, or the leader, and manage the bits of the adventure that your clients don’t want to. This can be on any scale from taking people round the 3 Peaks challenge to being a tour leader on an international cycling expedition.
  • Instructors
    Similar to being a guide, but instead you are passing on your skills. Often with guiding, the clients just want to be safe. As an instructor, people come specifically to learn skills from you – for example navigation, climbing, kayaking…
  • Photographers
    You could be hired out as an adventure photographer. Maybe it’ll get you a place on someone else’s expedition.
  • Film makers
    Similarly, you could team up with an adventurer who doesn’t have the skills to make an adventure film. You get to go on the expedition and get paid for taking footage and making the film.
  • Presenters
    Are you good at talking to the camera? You could sell the idea of your adventure as a documentary and be the presenter. Take a look at Ness Knight’s documentary with Red Bull¬†as an example.

Again, there are many more ways to do this. Take a look at where your skills lie and see how creatively you can apply them to adventure. It can be anything that involves a service or trading time directly for money.

Hope that was helpful and you’ve got lots of ideas for how to turn your adventure dreams into a sustainable business model!