I'm Kristen, I run the outdoor travel blog called Bearfoot Theory, from which I make my full time living.
My income comes from a few major revenue streams, including advertising, tourism board collaborations, brand collaborations, blog coaching, photography licensing, YouTube revenue, and group tours.
I started my blog in 2014 after leaving my Washington DC job in search of a more flexible career. I came across some articles online about travel bloggers making money from their blogs, and that really intrigued me.
On a previous two month trip to Indonesia, I wrote a travel blog for fun as a way to keep in touch with family and friends and enjoyed it. So, I decided to take a stab at creating a more professional travel blog aimed at a broader audience.
I didn’t grow up camping and hiking and was on a mission to get more experience in the outdoors. I wanted to use my blog as an avenue to show people that it’s never too late. I started by sharing my favorite destinations, gear, and tips for living a more adventurous life.
When I quit my Washington DC job, I moved to Las Vegas where I had a low cost of living. I lived off of my savings and got a part-time job at REI to help make ends meet.
That was great because I got a discount on the gear that I used for my first gear reviews, as well as the gear I needed to for my John Muir Trail hike – and coincidentally my John Muir Trail blog posts were the first ones I wrote that started to drive significant traffic to my site.
After a year of very hard work, I started to make a reliable income off of my blog, and now my blog is pulling in over six figures a year.
Every day as a blogger looks different. I’m fortunate to have three part-time employees who help pull my site together.
Some days I’m working with Linda, our Marketing Director, to work out brand collaborations. Other days, I’m working with Katherine, our dedicated writer, to conceptualize and edit blog posts. And some days, I work with Kim, our Community Manager, to run our Facebook Group and make sure we are responding to all of the reader emails that come in.
While some days I don’t work at all…which means I’m out adventuring and taking photos. It’s definitely a work hard, play hard scenario. I try to make the most of my daylight hours outside, while working on my website in the early mornings and evenings.
Working from the road is challenging, and recently I’ve found a really nice balance. I spend half the year living the van life in my Sprinter van – typically from May through November.
Then I spend ski season at my home base in Salt Lake City where I tackle bigger long-term projects that require a little more stability – like my full website redesign that I did in 2017.
The most challenging part of working while living the van life is finding balance. I’m not out here to work like a dog. I’m out here to live in the moment, but when you mix work and play, the lines get seriously blurred.
Sometimes I don’t feel like taking photos or posting something on social media, but then again, it’s my job that I love, so it’s hard to turn that part of me totally off.
My advice for someone who wants to pursue a nomadic lifestyle as a travel blogger is the first year is really tough. If you want to make it sustainable, you have to take it very seriously, just like any other job.
When I first started, I was probably at my computer 80 hours a week. I only made time for hiking, eating, sleeping, and blogging, and that was it.
If I tried to throw full-time travel into the mix that first year, I think it would have taken much longer for things to really take off.
I’m glad I prioritized my blog and new career path over anything else that first year, and because of that, I now have the freedom to be on the road full-time without being constantly stressed about my next paycheck.