If you are planning an expedition for nothing but soul food and have no care about sharing on social media, fundraising for a charity or offering some realtime return for any sponsors you might have, there’s no need to read this!
We live in a wonderful age where communication possibilities are instant, and story sharing from an adventure can happen in so many forms. Video, images, text and/ or a combination of all three can enable the painting of a vivid picture across the globe.
There are no definitive ways to properly promote and share an expedition, so instead below are some ideas for you to pick and choose from.
- Website: your website is an online brochure for your project, the first go-to for anyone interested in your project
- Facebook: whether you’re using interactive capabilities with external apps or adding content straight onto Facebook, the spread of potential followers is undeniable. Note: if you have a personal Facebook page and another expedition/ adventure/ event page try not to double-up on content
- Twitter: it’s great practice tightening up your story telling into 140 characters or less. A quick, easy way to spread the word and develop a follow. If you still can’t get your mind around Twitter, try using a social media desktop like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
- Blog: If writing is more your thing you might want to take a more bloggy approach. Wordpress is a popular option (and can also double up as your full website). Tumblr is a less complicated option for the casual blogger.
- Instagram: a lovely way to make your photos look better than a simple press of the button can.
- Punkt: a new, interactive social media mapping app designed with adventures in mind. Share video, images and text and have a GPS-marked content button display your position as well as what happened where. If you’re travelling in an area with good data connectivity then Punkt can replace the location aspects of other GPS trackers, like SPOT.
eg. Here’s the Punkt for my upcoming adventure with Squash Falconer.
eg2. And here’s one from a full expedition, where Leon McCarron and Rob Lilwall walked across Asia.
As effective as social media is nothing is quite as good as meeting people face to face. Ensure that your meeting plants some roots and carry something to give to everyone you meet, so they can follow up on your internet links, go to your charity donation page, and get in touch with you.
If you’re trying to keep things light, I recommend Moo Minicards. Half the size of normal business cards they allow a different image on every single card, giving a great first impression. Get 10% off your first order with Moo by clicking here
If you are able to construct a sweet PR machine around your expedition, the results could be unbeatable. This isn’t easy. A well-timed and well-written tweet could reach more people than a feature in the Times, but if you work on a trickle-up effect media coverage could boost your following.
Start on locals. Newspapers, radio and TV. As soon as you start appearing in ‘little’ publications, bigger ones might take notice especially if you have a good, positive message alongside a unique venture.
Specialist media is worth focusing on. For example, on my upcoming ElliptiGO trek magazines like Outdoor Fitness and Runners World are perfect fits for the story. Remember though, these publications often compile content up to 8 months ahead of release. Make sure you get in early.
Media releases: a short, concise press release with a well-taken illustrative image attached can make the difference. Make a good first impression, edge out waffle, add contact details.
Find a contact: Writing to a real life person rather than the generic news gathering address on a website will get you brownie points. Show you care about being featured and you’ll be given more time.
This largely depends on the location of your expedition. If remote, you may need a Sat Phone unit with a laptop link-up and perhaps a SPOT tracker to show your progress and position, both for sharing and emergency purposes.
If you’ll have cell signal regularly and deem this to be sufficient for your communication needs, then a smartphone for mobile updates should be enough. A small laptop will give you more scope for content creation and video editing. (I use an Apple MacBook Pro 13”, a good balance of light weight and function.)
Ultimately, your first port of call should be to understand your strengths and how you want to use them to promote your expedition. If you’re lacking a vital skillset like copywriting or video editing consider seeking help from someone who can do what you can’t.
Always do what you feel is right and works works for you, rather than just doing what others do because you think that’s the norm. There is NO norm!
Apologies for the unexpected two-day delay for this post, the fourth in this ‘making an expedition happen’ series. It’s been a busy week, my next journey begins in just three days so last-minute tweaks and admin naturally fills the time. Then throw in the launch of my 3rd book and it adds to the to do list!
It’s all part of the process, though. When you’re planning an expedition you have to be prepared to be flexible. Delays are okay, as long as you know your priorities. The key is to make sure everything is done well, then you can’t ask for much more.
Expeditions are just like icebergs; it might seem like the hard work is done on the move but in actual fact about 80% of the work is below the surface and happens before the official start line.
Planning an expedition requires patience, dedication, the ability to deal with rejection and disappointment and the grit to carry right on through until it’s done. Sounds like an expedition already, doesn’t it?!
However hard the planning phase is, let’s try to make it as easy as possible and break it down into manageable chunks. Here’s a step by step process:
1) The idea: this is the golden nugget, the eureka moment. You usually know that you have the right idea because your heart starts beating very fast and suddenly you become filled with passion and a certainty that you’ve discovered a purpose. And you want to tell everyone.
2) Make a list: it sounds simple, but I’ve seen some brilliant projects fall apart because the protagonists don’t plan sensibly. You have your idea already, adding to it by making a list of everything you a) need & b) need to do gives the concept some tangibility. Then, start ticking off items from the list - once you’ve done them all you’re ready to go!
3) Pad out your project and build a website or blog: personally, as soon as I’ve had the original idea for an expedition I’ll grow that seed by slowly building a mini website. Suddenly you see the project coming together before you, it’s a marvellous way to clarify everything (with the extra added incentive of being able to add extra content to your pretty idea as soon as the journey starts.) If you’re devoid of web skills never fear - try www.moonfruit.com, a drag and drop website creator that my 4 year-old nephew could master with his eyes shut.
4) Manage your time: you’re not going to get anywhere special without focus. Commit to your project, don’t waste time faffing about on Facebook or Twitter unless it’s related to your project aims. Use your time wisely and do do do.
5) Be realistic with timescale and budget: don’t rush this, it’s important. You need time to get the money together. To prepare, develop skills and promote. Don’t be a cheapskate but don’t go overboard with your budget, either. Look at the list you made after No. 2) and research how much each item/ service will cost as accurately as possible.
6) Be creative: this bit is exciting. You have your own project and you can make it unique. Sure, take into account what other people have done but make your work your own. Be original.
7) Talk about your project: vocalising your aims is a surefire way to get constructive feedback, to find people who can help you out and, of course, as soon as you start telling people what you’re up to it’s extra incentive to make sure you actually do it!
8) Work hard and take responsibility: this is your moment to shine. Work hard and you’ll increase your chances of success. You’re the one responsible at all times because this is your project. Sometimes people will let you down but you’re the one who brought them onboard (in whatever capacity) in the first place. If you have to take a step backwards, step forwards quickly, stronger than before.
Finally, get the balance right between planning effectively and over-planning. It’s possible to prepare TOO much, leaving no life for your expedition to breathe. Remember, adventures are supposed to be uncertain times. Allow yourself to wake up not knowing where you’re going to sleep the next night. Allow yourself some freedom, but plan to ensure you meet your objectives and, importantly,so you can avoid danger as much as possible.
This is the fourth part of a series of blogs about making expeditions happen. Here are the previous ones.
Tomorrow’s blog will discuss how to successfully promote your expedition.
Unless you’re thinking about heading to the South Pole or rowing across an ocean there’s a good chance that your expedition isn’t going to cost as much as you originally think. This understood, whatever you choose to do it’s still going to cost something. So how do you pay for it?
1. Do your research, and get real
I earn a fraction of what I once earned when I had a ‘proper’ job, but in all other aspects I’m deemed to be a successful adventurer. You can spot a person who still assumes success occupies the same space as money a mile off, and you wouldn’t believe how many times strangers ask me for financial assistance so they can fund their expedition. I admire the pluck of someone not afraid to ask, but the lack of research and naivete is a sure fire way to separate adults from children (a non-gender specific way of saying ‘men from boys’.)
First of all, let’s work out what you want from this expedition. If you are hoping to build a career in adventure you’ll probably play things differently from someone who is organising a one-off expedition, so for the purposes of this guide I’m going to try and provide answers for both scenarios.
You can spot a person who still assumes success
occupies the same space as money a mile off
2: Avoid debt
Adventure is appealing because of the benefits it offers. It provides a combination of physical endurance and constant endorphins, with challenges you wouldn’t dream of facing at home, with the eventual competition of a project you had to work damn hard at creating, organising and executing.
However wonderful it feels to reach the finish line of your expedition, if you’ve put yourself in a position where you have to go and pay off your debts it will leave a slightly sour taste and that grizzly - back to work I go - feeling’.
Earn your experience - In addition, you will get the greatest benefit and reward from your adventure if you’ve earned your experience ahead of time. Hard as your venture might still be, anyone can take out a loan or borrow money from a friend then cycle, climb or paddle a long way - eating the cream without considering the cake isn’t quite as good for you as it feels at the time.
anyone can take out a loan or borrow money from
a friend then cycle, climb or paddle a long way
3. Budget sensibly, give yourself a chance
Several expeditions fail each year because they were too expensive from the offset. Whether this is because the project was chosen ambitiously or the budget was eagerly overcooked, as soon as an adventure becomes too expensive the pressure of covering costs can put off potential sponsors and override the excitement of pursuing a dream - especially if you can’t reach your budget and then have to pull the plug.
4. Take time to save
There are plenty of ways to cover expedition costs but the obvious one is with your own money. Do a bit of wax-on, wax-off; the plod of working hard and saving a pot of money teaches discipline, value and simplicity (you need to save money, you don’t buy unnecessary stuff), all lessons that will prove vital for your mindset once your adventure begins for real.
5. Don’t expect a charity to pay for your expedition
If you’ve chosen to support a charity through your endeavours it might be a little counter productive for you to expect them to commit time, resources and money towards your venture, when they clearly have better things to be doing.
Draw a thick line between the costs of your expedition and the funds you’re raising for charity, and do not cross that line. This will maintain the purity of both your charitable work and your expedition.
(In rare cases, a charity might offer support in return for you pledging that you’ll raise a certain amount for them - similar to a marathon agreement. But let the charity make this offer, rather than you pushing for it)
There can be an assumption that expeditions are all paid for by sponsors, but this is rarely the case. Unless you get lucky or already work for a company who can financially assist you it’s best to set your sights on getting your expedition set up via a mixture of guile, research, determination and passion.
If you see sponsorship as something to be earned rather than expected, your life will become a whole lot easier. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the ins and outs of sponsorship, what to expect and how to go about finding support for your mission.
On April 30th myself & Squash Falconer set off from Liverpool on our ElliptiGO elliptical trainers with 3000 miles of road and 5 European countries ahead of us.
We’re encouraging people to come and join us on the road, spread the word, set up events to get people on our ElliptiGOs at the same time as helping us raise thousands for CoppaFeel!’s efforts towards breast cancer awareness and pre-detection.
If you know anyone on the route who might be willing to host us, have Squash and I deliver an entertaining and motivating talk, get friends out to ride with us for a brief while, or just to simply spread the word, please let us know.
The days/ nights in bold capitals below are the ones where we’re looking for someone to set up an event in the evening. And of course, if you’d like to join us for a day or just a few hours, this’ll give you an idea of where we will be.
Tue 30 April - Liverpool to Nantwich
Wed 1 May - Nantwich to Derby
Thu 2 May - SOMEWHERE BETWEEN LEICESTER & NORTHAMPTON
Fri 3 May - Milton Keynes (event @ 7pm)
Sat 4 May - WE’D LIKE TO HOLD A LONDON EVENT
Sun 5 May - Hyde Park, 3pm
6 May - Brighton
7 May - SOMEWHERE IN KENT
8 May - Gravesend, 5pm
9 May - BETWEEN CHELMSFORD & IPSWICH
10 May - Harwich to Rotterdam ferry
For the past two months I’ve been hiding away in the southern Spanish city of Malaga. With its peaceful, laid back nature, a tad more sun than the UK and a predominant language that I can’t wrap my tongue around, it was the perfect place to go and write a book.
And it served its purpose. Last week, after a dedicated 8 week routine involving Ludovico Einaudi in my ears, the familiar surrounds of my favourite cafe El Ultimo Mono and a retracing of my steps between September 2011 and June 2012, I finished my third book, Life in the Slow Lane (more details here). It’s not the book that I started out writing, but I’m happy with it, it’s the best thing I’ve written so far and am naturally excited for its release.
At the same time, I’ve made good tracks towards the completion of three other books, although these won’t be ready for a few months, yet.
Also underway are the early stages of Say Yes More, an adventurous lifestyle brand designed to encourage our innate adventurous nature. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I live out of a bag and tend to be on expedition for four or five months a year, so it’s a huge and potentially rewarding challenge building a brand and adopting that amount of consistency. It is welcomed with open arms.
This is the last day I’ll write from Malaga, for now at least. Tomorrow morning I fly back to the UK to prepare for my next journey, a 3000 mile, 9 week route around Western Europe on an ElliptiGO elliptical bicycle. October 6th saw the conclusion of my last journey, Swim1000, and the months since have been tumultuous, inconsistent and formative. I’m very much ready to get back on the move again, encouraging people to join myself and my GoTrek partner Squash Falconer for a day on the road, then camping in fields, woods and wherever I can sling my hammock. Freedom!
For now, a big thanks to all of my new friends in Malaga. I won’t pretend that I’ve learned any Spanish, I came here to focus on my books and my small brain could deal with little more, but for the most part I’ve felt at home here. Hasta luego, mi amigos
If you’ve ever done anything even close to out of the ordinary you’ll be familiar with this question. And of course it’s almost always impossible to answer concisely, which is exactly how your interviewer wants it.
Because if they really cared about the real answer, they wouldn’t just ask, ‘why?’
Depending on my mood or how tired or cheeky or pissed off or fresh for discussion I’m feeling, my answers vary on a scale between a curt ‘Why not?’ and something along the lines of ‘I like to test myself.’
But actually there should only be one dominant reason for doing something that you don’t need to do.
‘Because I want to.’
If you say ‘Why not?’ they’ll give you 100 reasons.
If you say ‘I like to test myself’ they’ll give other examples of how you could do that.
But ‘Because I want to’ is unequivocal. It’s how you feel. And nobody can argue with that.
So, next time you’re faced with an opportunity or a dream or an idea and in the midst of it all you realise you have some doubts, ask yourself whether the doubts are based on common sense, or the expectation of others, or money. Or you and that twitching in your gut.
Because more important than anything, more important than impressing someone or proving something or liking the idea of bragging rights, is that you’d have an irrepressible urge to do it regardless of whether other people know about it.
Nerves are okay. Irrational is okay. Fear, okay. Doubt, natural.
But any reason stronger than ‘Because I want to’ is going to hang a big old question mark over this adventure of yours.
And whether you go on to do it or not, you’re never going to have a good enough answer when people sidle up, look at you sideways as though you’ve been cooked on a crazy fire, and ask, ‘Why?’