Category Archives: Blogging

My Not-So-Digital Nomad Experiment.

Well here I am a few weeks into seriously beginning to apply the ultralight backpacking philosophy to my life in the front country. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

I have this strange affinity for neat and organized austere spaces. It’s super contradictory though because my car, workshop, and often many parts of my life are super disorganized and not particularly clean.

Maybe this will be an opportunity for me to bring physical organization and attention to cleanliness to other parts of my life?

I shoved about 90% of my already super minimal selection of clothing into a box in my closet. So far I haven’t needed any of it. This will take some balance, however, because as seasons change and as I spend time backpacking and doing various outdoor pursuits, I will need different arrays of attire. Not to mention I practically live in my ski instructor uniform right now.

I like reading people’s minimalism blogs.

I don’t like that almost every minimalist blog (and every blog in general) is highly based around making income. It’s starting to get annoying. Even the ones who (on the surface) aren’t making an income, really are. By selling eBooks or consultations these bloggers are using their blog to make money.

It’s really just me being irritated with the fact that everything revolves around money. These successful bloggers have earned it and they should enjoy it.

The more I think about getting rid of my car, the happier I am about the prospect.

A huge part of my has been wondering how I’m going to settle into the adult routine of paying bills. Phone bills, health insurance, car insurance, vehicle maintenance, etc.

My solution has been a great big middle finger to consumerism. Sell the smart phone, sell the car, and stay healthy.

Without a bunch of stuff I can live in a smaller space. Rent is cheaper.

With cheaper rent, fewer and very small monthly bills, no debt, and carefully monitored personal expenditure I really feel very little pressure to worry about how I’ll pay my next bill. There are few of them and they’re small.

Once I’ve paid rent, most of the month’s income goes straight to savings! It’s quite relaxing.

Selling the car has been a hard logistical obstacle. I keep coming up with reasons I need it (and to be honest I really do for the time being). I see an opportunity on the horizon to get rid of it, however, and intend to do just that when the chance comes up.

Deactivating my FaceBook account has created some cool new contacts. People I occasionally brushed past in the digital world actually reached out to stay in touch. It’s pretty cool. I’m very near to ready to deactivate Facebook and it’s exciting and scary at the same time!

I’ll probably keep elaborating on my discoveries and experimentation as it happens.

I’m hoping this new lifestyle will make it even easier for me to get to new and cool job opportunities as they come up seasonally in my field!

I’ll be sure to let you all know if it helps me in the long run and if it’s a viable option for other outdoor educators and adventure educators.

Sorry for the rambling!

Oh, P.S. using the WordPress app for putting pictures into posts is still a pain in the ass. Maybe I’ll leave that in a review on the App Store.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Advertisements

My Ultralight Computer Geared to Travel

Well, I just got all set up with my fancy new travel computer. The goal was to remove the need for a laptop and desktop computer while still meeting these needs:

•Lightweight
•Compact
•Compatible with a broad range of apps and services
•Able to video message and send photos
•Able to use wordprocessing apps

So this is my first attempt at managing my website using only an iPad Mini 2 and an Anker Ultra Compact Bluetooth Keyboard.

So far I’ve been able to do everything from this little keyboard and it has full functionality. I can hit the home key without touching the iPad, I can adjust volume and brightness, show and hide on screen keyboard, play and pause music… just about everything without touching the iPad.

The keys are snappy and responsive too. No double inputs when typing.

It’s really quite a joy!

I have my WordPress app to manage this site where you currently are reading.

My next biggest concern was being able to read and respond to business and professional emails. Job applications are a huge part of my seasonal work and having the ability to edit, type, and send my resume and cover letters in nice looking formats is important!

Fortunately Google saved my skin with “Docs” the Google Drive app (and web service) that is a fully featured word processing program.

I can edit and attach my resume and cover letter using Google Docs. I can type up and edit the occasional document for any other purpose using the same service. And I like to use Google Sheets, a fully featured version of Excel.

Now to test the ability to format and upload pictures within the WordPress app…

Edit: After some testing, image adding using the WP App is less than desirable. Currently working on figuring it out!

How to Become a Backpacking Guide

Not too long ago I posted a step by step process on how to become a backpacking guide in 12 months or less. That article focused heavily on hard skills development.

Today I’d like to talk about soft skills development.

Hard skills are things like balancing a back and setting climbing protection.

Soft skills include communication, conflict resolution, and interpersonal relations.

You’ll need both hard skills and soft skills to be an effective outdoor leader, so if you haven’t already read the previous article, go ahead and skim it now to get up to speed.

Okay, let’s get started!

Informal Education

A lot of interpersonal skill is cultivated through informal education.

Image

Leading a group hike on South Manitou Island

It can often be experiential (learning by trial and error, or learning by doing) much the same as our basis for adventure education its self. Simply by interacting with others, we will eventually develop an understanding of the best interpersonal skills.

This can be (by its very nature) a hit and miss way to learn, clearly not always ideal in a professional setting where every interaction can be critical. To get the jump on learning the keys of interpersonal skill I’ll suggest the following:

Choose to cultivate interpersonal skill through informal sources such as books, blogs, or magazines.

This blog aims to fill that need, in fact this very article is just what we’re speaking to here.

Here are some books I would suggest for the aspiring outdoor guide, or experienced adventure educator looking to step up the interpersonal game.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a time tested list of ways to interact with others to gain their good will.

The Charisma Myth focuses on developing a conscious control over our influence on others.

Check out Leo Babauta’s blog Zen Habits for some great tips on keeping up your “mental hygiene” and interacting positively with those around you.

Formal Education

Get a huge jump on interpersonal development (and your own professional development) by attending some classes on the subject!

Interpersonal Communication (meaning between two or more people) was a required course for my Outdoor Education and Leadership degree. It shed light on many dark corners of people skills and, had I not taken such a course, I’m afraid I’d be much the worse outdoor professional for it.

In fact, communication is such a clutch skill as an outdoor guide, I’d gladly take all the courses I could on the subject.

Check out your local community college and enroll in an interpersonal communications course, audit the course if you don’t want credit. But do yourself a favor, and get that education!

Image

Pigeon River group campsite.

Interpersonal communication will help you land that next guiding job by nailing the interview, it will improve the way you handle participants and clients so they’ll be talking you up, and it will help smooth over the course you’re guiding as you deftly navigate interpersonal challenges.

While you’re considering post-secondary education, give thought to a degree in recreation, outdoor education, or even adventure education. Such a degree is, obviously,  of great benefit to the aspiring backpacking guide.

Attend an Industry Conference

While also, technically, formal education I am giving this one its own heading.

Attending an AEE (Association of Experiential Education), AORE (Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education), or similar outdoor industry conference can help you network, provide key professional development, and put you at the forefront of adventure industry movements.

These venues almost always have key speakers addressing many points on communication and soft skills as well as the ever critical hard skills.

What do you think are the most critical pieces of the soft skills puzzle? Let us know below.

How to Blog Successfully

The following is a question and answer type interview with successful fellow blogger, Constantin Gabor.

I first met Constantin Gabor when exploring other blogs in an adventure-type niche where I blogged a while back. Exceptionally friendly and insightful, I turned to Constantin when I decided I wanted to conduct an interview with someone who has an established and successful web presence in the outdoor industry.

Here, Constantin shares with us how and why he began blogging, and provides insight as to how we might all start a sucessful blogging career.

Fellow blogger, Contantin Gabor.

Fellow blogger, Contantin Gabor.

Q: How did you get involved with blogging and maintaining your own website(s)?
It all began in 2009 when the financial crisis found me working in real estate until… I was no longer working. Coz the real estate market just melted.

So with a lot of time on my plate, I started a blog.

Q: What were your initial motivations and goals for creating web content? Have you achieved those?
Ego was my first motivation. I used to be a serious rock climber and mountaineer and I journaled some of my outdoor adventure on the blog.

Have I achieved the ego enhancing motivation?

I guess I did for a while. At some point it didn’t matter anymore. I realized I don’t actually like to brag and my spare time is MY spare time – there’s no need to blog about my climbing accomplishments.

Q: Have your goals and expectations changed from the beginning? What is your new direction compared to when you began?
Yes, they certainly have.

Since I was jobless (living off savings) I started to notice this blogging as a business thing. So I gradually transitioned to solving problems with content (and less personal journal).

Q: What is the best part of being a webmaster and blogger?
Being a sovereign on your own ideas, your own work and your own time.

Q: From your experience, does blogging constitute a viable means of profit and income for the amateur?
Yes. The space is crowded now but if you have solid content and focus on serving a niche better than most players, you can definitely make money blogging.

Q: In your experience what is the key to generating a large and loyal reader base? What brings viewers in? What drives them away?
An answer to their problem is what draws readers in. Once they’re there, your writing style and personality helps as well.

If you want to send your readers away, focus on yourself: write about yourself, list your merits, etc. Nobody cares, so they go away.

Q: If you could give a new webmaster/blogger a recipe for “zero-to-hero” success, what would you suggest?
I won’t talk about tactics (SEO, plugins, email marketing) – you can Google those.

You need two things to make money blogging (let’s define making enough money as “hero” and making no money as “zero”):

1. Market
2. Passion

Notice that market is first, not passion.

What does market mean?

Well, think about this: you can be the greatest miniature-rice-seed-painter in the world and have the best blog on the topic with solid articles about how to make miniature paintings on rice seeds. All you got is passion.

If there’s no market, you cannot make money. In other words, if there isn’t a critical number of people who are interested in that subject, it means if you have no audience. And with no audience, you can’t do much in terms of business.

Now, about passion, you need lots of it. So you have to be lucky enough to be passioned about something that constitutes a market (example: outdoor gear, video editing, weight loss, marketing, etc.).

The passion is what fuels you in the long run. And that will make all the difference between you and the rest. Most new bloggers wanna run a sprint (and expect to win) but this game is a marathon. So you need to build a site to be proud of – that takes time and passion.

Now, let’s get back to market coz this is very important.

If there is an irrational passion for a subject then that might be good sign there’s a market. One example would be the iPhone/iPad craze. Any good blog about new apps, tricks and hacks for iPones and so on will be able to make money (affiliate sales on iPhones or on paid apps, direct advertising, related gear and accessories sponsored reviews, etc.).

The classic example of a market (and better to follow) is the pain/problem. Examples: I can’t loose weight (embarrassing problem), my editing software won’t import MP4 files (frustrating problem), my teeth are yellow – how can I make them whiter (embarrassing problem).

And a market implies a product which means some of your readers will want to spend money.

Once you master this aspect – who is your target market and how can you help them – you’ll start seeing results. Basically, blog to teach (and teaching sells).

And stay away from personal journal land. Blog about you only if it’s relevant to the topic you’re teaching – that makes sense and it’sallowed.

Start rocking now!

Bio: Constantin Gabor is an outdoorsy guy who loves video editing, marketing and entrepreneurship. Check out his personal blog at ConstantinGabor.com.