As we launch into the new year, I thought it was an apt time to start setting some goals and to focus on what is it that I want to achieve with Adventure Geek? In all honesty, AG was never intended to be a business, but I suppose most businesses start with a hobby and it goes from there.
So before we set the goals for 2019, it is wise to take some time to reflect on what has already been achieved in the last 12 months.
Reflection on 2018
I feel a smile appear on my face when I recall the realisation that perhaps I should start a walking club. I was training for the Camino and friends would join me for local walks. I would post on Facebook “I am walking around Salcey Forest tonight, meet me at 6.30pm if you fancy joining me”. Before I knew it, there were people turning up for these walks that I didn't even know! Some of you may recall a particular walk from Stoke Bruerne where panic set in as we had 83 people click to say they were interested in attending the walk! Excitement grew, but my very sensible husband said: “Julia, you are organising these events and therefore you are responsible – you need to get yourself covered and look at insurance asap”. He had a point!
Insurance – um? Now that was easier said than done. No-one would insure Rachel and me for leading walks without having a full First Aid certificate, and we needed to have a system in place for things such as asking people to tick medical boxes, sign waivers, risk assess each walk (which needs to be recorded), have contingency exit points on each walk, checking footwear for the walkers, assessing weather conditions and so much more. It really was not worth the time or effort unless we monetised the club – so our Adventure Geek Walking Club was born.
We failed at a few things
- Some of you will remember the “buy us a coffee” pages – #EpicFail
- Some of you will remember the pink and green loyalty card system #TooMuchHassle
- Some of you will remember “PaySubsOnline” – which was a friggin nightmare!
After some persistence, we now have a process for the club that works well.
A few things achieved for the business:-
- We hit the target and had 32 paying members of the AG club by 31st December 2018.
- Launched a merchandise shop
- Secured 153 subscribers to the AG YouTube Channel
- Secured 370 likes on the AG Facebook Page.
- Secured 266 followers of the AG Instagram channel
- Enhanced the website with lots of changes.
- Launched The Camino Talk Show (including a weekly podcast)
What are the Adventure Geek Goals for 2019?
#1 – To have 220 members by December 2019
Twenty of these will be free members as they are under the age of 18.
Our unwritten strapline for the business is “Walking is not just for old people”. I rarely put this online as I don't want to offend anyone, but I am really keen to get people of all ages out walking. Adventure Geek's ideal target audience comes in four categories:
- Stressed out business people (like I was a few years ago)
- Parents that need a break
- Active retired or semi-retired people who enjoy walking with a range of age groups
- Youngsters who want to get more out of life. I am keen to take youngsters from 14 years old on walking holidays and weekends away and get them to become walk leaders and tail walkers.
#2 – Not to cancel one Adventure in 2019 (Epic or Micro)
As well as the general walking club, we have also organised some micro adventures (weekends away, such as climbing Snowdon, or trips to the Peak District, Lake District etc), and some epic adventures such as walking the Camino in May. I absolutely love leading walks and showing people the beautiful countryside that the UK and Spain offers. Even if we only have a couple of people booked onto these mini-adventures then I will still go ahead. Life is there for living!
#3 – To invest in more qualifications/education
In 2018, both Rachel and I qualified as Outdoor First Aiders. In 2019 I plan to learn loads and I hope Rachel will join me! I have already booked onto a Lowland Leader course in January, which will enhance my map and compass skills as well as learning more about leading a local walking club. In April I have booked onto a mountain leader weekend workshop which I can't wait to do. I am keen on learning more over the course of the next 12 months.
When it comes to education, I have also invested in enhancing my video production skills. I was lucky enough to have been given a DJI Spark drone for Christmas and also an Osmo Pocket Gimbal – which will make for smoother video production. During 2019, I will spend time on a self-education process to learn more about this area, so that I can bring my walks to life via live streaming (the drone live streaming is amazing!).
#4 – To speak at least ten events during 2019
For my day job (Green Umbrella Marketing), I am a seasoned public speaker. I have spoken at the NEC, Olympia and various other venues throughout the UK for many years on the topics of social media and recruitment. I have the confidence to hold an audience, and I am keen to have speaking events in 2019 with a different hat. My mission is to spread the word about life lessons learned on the Camino De Santiago, the joys that walking can bring to stressed-out business people and how walking can make you more productive and far more creative than you ever thought possible. There are already four speaking gigs lined up for 2019 (Rotary Clubs, a couple of networking events, and even a charity event), but if you know anyone that is looking for a speaker (no charge), then please email me or comment below.
#5 – To have a minimum of 2000 downloads of the Camino Talk Show Podcast
The Camino Talk Show was launched in October 2018 as a way of telling people about this magical place. Listening to and seeing the whites of “normal” people as they tell their story about their Camino adventure. I was not sure how well it would be received and it is still a learning curve for me, but we are getting there. The best stats have come from the podcast. It seems that people who like to walk, prefer to listen to an audio interview than watch two people talking on a video (and I don't blame them!). We currently have had 174 downloads of the podcast, but I am hopeful that we can hit 2000 downloads by 31st December 2019.
#6 – To introduce new and different ideas for the Walking Club
Lots of ideas have been floating around my head that will make our walking club a bit different to others. We walked on New Years Day and ended up taking a group of people down the side of a disused railway bank using a rope – which was just brilliant. Everyone was high fiving each other when they got to the bottom (even a 70+-year-old lady managed the descent) and I really want to do more adventures like this. I want people to feel alive when they come on our walks. So, my goals for 2019 are to introduce:-
- Silent disco walking (I need to invest in walking headsets, similar to tour guides) – join us for an 80's night, a 60's night!
- Ghost walks (using the same headsets, but at night as I tell stories about haunted areas). Not only will you get some exercise, but you will also be entertained on route! Be aware, that I may actually make up some of the stories!
- Micro Adventures – walking at midnight during the supermoon in August and having a picnic on top on a hill, drinking hot chocolate.
- Visiting obscure places, encompassed with a walk. Places where you can see 2500 skulls that are hidden in a church, or the prison in Oxfordshire that is shaped like a pyramid. (I have loads of these adventures planned for 2019!)
- Geocaching adventures – I have been a keen geocacher since 2007. These trips are also excellent for kids as they get to discover little toys. I will do lead these adventures during the holidays.
#7 – To develop an online revenue stream
All the above is great, but there are only so many hours in the day, and I still have a full-time job at Green Umbrella Marketing. So to fund things such as the silent disco equipment and to pay for the weekend courses that I want to attend, I need to think smarter and develop an online revenue stream.
One question that I am often asked is “how do you come up with all of these walks Julia?'. Or “Can you tell me the route?”. Not everyone is available in the evening to join me on an Adventure Geek walk and they may want to go out on their own during the day, or perhaps at the weekend. I am currently working on a PDF version of my walks, which will include not just a map, but clues (a bit like a treasure hunt), as well as some history “did you know”… The PDF of each walk will have a step by step photo of which way to go so that you don't get lost on route. The first one is nearly done, and these will be sold on the Adventure Geek Shop at £1.95 each. I currently have 29 walks that I need to map out properly, so it will take me a while to get everything together, but this is a goal for 2019.
#8 – To Develop My Camino Adventures
I am very passionate about the Camino. It has given me so much in the last few years that I am keen to tell the world about this magical place. So many people are not keen on walking on their own (I have seen this with my own walking club), so to take a group of people over the various sections of the Camino is an ultimate goal of mine.
- Increase awareness by writing more, producing more videos and continuing with the Camino Talk Show.
- To develop eBooks for the Camino
- If the trip in May is successful, then I will organise another trip (part 2) for October
#9 – To Increase the AG Social Media Channels
I am lucky enough to have worked in the social media world since the early days of the revolution, so I have the skillset to enhance the numbers, but I know that it needs time to dedicate to it every day. Time is a luxury that is a bit scarce for me, so the social channels will be a slow growth throughout 2019. I am going to focus on three channels only, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.
- Facebook – to increase the page to 1000 likes by December 31st 2019
- YouTube – to increase subscribers to 1000 by December 2019.
- Instagram – to increase to 600 followers by 31st December 2019.
They are not huge numbers, but I feel that these are achievable with the time and budget that I have available.
At the end of the day, Adventure Geek is still very much a hobby business, as I have a day job. I am unable to dedicate too much time to AG without it having a detrimental effect on my main marketing agency business (Green Umbrella). I love what I do, I just need to remember that burning the candle at both ends is not a good thing and that I need to make sure that my love for walking does not become a job – I need to spend time on my own, in nature as this is what got me here in the first place.