Timothy Moss, founder of The Next Challenge, doesn’t shy away from adventure. In facts, he seeks it out everyday if he can and encourages others to do the same.
Living a life of adventure – from walking across the Wahiba Desert or swimming the Thames – has helped taught him that even when the prospect might be scary to him – getting up in front of a crowd to speak, confronting someone about a difficult situation – he’ll always step up.
“It’s a bit like my outdoor swimming: I’m skinny and have terrible tolerance for the cold, so I can rarely stay in the water for long, but I will always get in, no matter how cold (so far!),” Tim adds.
We checked in with Tim recently to get advice on how we can all live more adventurously as well as learn his strategies for growing his site.
When did you know you wanted to live a life of adventure?
I was working in a job organizing expeditions and found myself spending my lunch breaks and evenings planning my own adventures and helping other people with theirs. I guess you might call that a sign! It wasn’t long after this realization that I quit my job to dedicate my time to living adventurously and encouraging others to do the same.
Tell us about The Next Challenge…when and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in April 2009. I had just given up my job to work freelance and full time in “adventure,” whatever that may have meant. The aim back then was broadly the same as it is now: to encourage people to live a little more adventurously and to help them do so.
To begin with, though, it was also a way of expressing myself and finding out what I was really trying to say and do. By writing out my thoughts and ideas in different ways over time I was better able to identify what I actually wanted to achieve. I’m more confident about what that is now, so the blog is more focused.
Why do you challenge people to live adventurously? What are the benefits in both your personal life and in business?
For most of us, everyday living is not a matter of life and death and, in particular, we rarely have any need to undertake much physical activity or spend time in nature. In most respects that’s a good thing – our lives have gotten easier – but at the same time, we lose something.
I view adventure as artificially re-creating those elements that we miss in our everyday lives: the challenge, the hardship, the nature, the novelty.
In the simplest terms, I think regular exposure to a bit of challenge and adventure makes you a better rounded person. I don’t think it’s anything magical, but seeing your way through difficult situations may give you more confidence; meeting people from around the world as you travel might give you a better appreciation of different perspectives; your morning swim could give you the energy you need to face the day; and the prospect of your next adventure might give you a little more enthusiasm for life.
How can we all live more adventurously day to day?
When I was at university, I used to deliberately slow down a couple of hundred yards before I reached a bus stop in the hope that a bus would steam past and I’d have an excuse to run for it. The thrill of the chase and challenge don’t appear in most people’s daily routines, so we have to find ways to contrive them.
I tried to distill this idea in 2010 by running a campaign of “Everyday Adventures,” which encouraged people to squeeze a little bit of adventure into their daily lives. Sometimes it was as simple as seeing how far you could get on your lunch break; other times it would be cycling to work when you’d normally drive or walking when you’d normally cycle, or getting up early once a month to do something exciting before work.
What have been your favorite methods or strategies for marketing your site and growing your brand?
I was initially really reluctant to engage in anything to promote or market my website. I just thought that if it was good, then people would appreciate it. But I’ve slowly come to realize that good content and marketing are not mutually exclusive.
I’ve obviously embraced several forms of social media to spread my content through different platforms and reach users in the formats they prefer. The adventure community is also a nice size and has allowed me to do lots of guest blog exchanges with my peers, mutually promote each other’s books and generally engage in mutual support and back scratching.
My personal favorite method of getting interest, however, has been attracting people through search engines. I am a big nerd when it comes to outdoor equipment and have far too much knowledge about the weights of different camping mats and the efficacy of various materials for outdoor wear. It turns out that this information, when presented properly, can be useful to other people and very successful on search engines. People are always searching for “the best camping mat” or “what’s the best base layer material,” and my articles provide the answers.
I love using Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics to find search terms related to topics on which I’m knowledgeable and writing articles that will be useful to the people making those searches and hit all the key words. Such articles are by far the greatest source of traffic on my site.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about maintaining a blog and website?
To start with, I think it’s all about building an audience and finding a voice. However, once that’s done, I think getting organized is a big help. Planning the sorts of things you’re going to write about, having a system of where and how you promote your work, and scheduling your articles in advance.
Also, spending a little bit of time researching good blogging practice and technique can pay dividends. Understanding a little about how Google searches for key words, knowing what URL structure to use, working out how to link your blog with social media and your Google profile, finding what time of day or day of the week is best for publishing and so forth. It’s very easy to get carried away with this sort of thing – and none of it is worth a dime if you’re not writing good content – but just knowing the basics can really help.
What are some good habits you think every blogger should develop to ensure their success?
I think the best advice is to get into the habit of scheduling your articles in advance. If you publish your articles immediately and want to have your blog updated regularly, then you’re tied to constantly coming up with new ideas and updating your site. I find it much easier to dedicate a little time when I’m feeling creative and write a batch of articles in one go, then schedule them to automatically publish over the coming weeks and months.
I’d stress, however, that this is just good advice for time management and sanity, and is probably best done after you’ve established yourself a little. When you’re starting out, being “present” when you publish new articles and actively promoting them is probably more important.
What’s your strategy for developing content ideas for your site?
The simplest strategy I have is just to write down my ideas whenever I get them. Then, when I have the time to sit down and write, I’ll just open my list and pick the ones I fancy at the time.
Beyond that, it’s often trial and error. Some articles you’re really proud of make no splash, and others you hadn’t given much thought to really take off.
Follow Tim on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.