First I found out from adventure travel and gear writer Kraig Becker that the longest he has gone without a shower is two weeks hiking Kilimanjaro. The time he most thought he might die was when he was face to face with an elephant (not in a vehicle) in South Africa. His longest flight was Dallas to Brisbane of 16.5 hours and then another 5 hours onward to Darwin. But he met his future wife on that stopover….
You’ve carved out a great niche being a go-to expert on outdoor adventure and gear. How did you get started down that path?
Back in 2006 blogs were still relatively new but “blog” was a big buzzword then. I figured if I started one it would be an excuse to start writing again after a gap of not doing it. But I wanted to write about what I was most interested in and passionate about: travel and outdoor adventure. A friend told me, “All the cool things have already been done.” I didn’t agree and still don’t. There are still a lot of new and interesting things to do out there in the world.
It was just outdoor exploration and travel at first. The gear part came later as I would buy something and share my thoughts on how well it worked. This was a natural element of my travels so eventually I started getting pitches from gear companies to cover their products. Now I’m bombarded. I get far more gear offers than I want to accept. I can be very picky about what I cover.
This despite The Adventure Blog still being on Blogspot…
When I started, I never thought it would be an issue. Now that I’ve waited so long to switch to my own domain, it’s going to be expensive. The current rate to purchase AdventureBlog.com is $15,000. Adventure.blog is $13,000. A few others are going for less, so I’m searching around for the right name that will work without being a huge disruption when I switch to WordPress.
The funny thing is, I’m actually on a Google-owned platform but banned from Adsense. I got a warning once over suspicious clicks on ads, something that I had nothing to do with. I appealed and said I hadn’t been doing anything wrong. Their response was to permanently ban me with no explanation. I still have no idea what happened.
You also do a good bit of freelance writing for others. How did you get started with that?
I started out writing for Gadling–remember them?–after they recruited me and that was my first real paid gig. I wrote for Huffington Post but that doesn’t count. Then eventually I joined up with OutdoorX4 and became the Outdoor and Adventure columnist for About.com. I was an outdoor editor at Answers.com for a while and I have done outdoor activity stories for HealthyWay.com. Then early last year there was an opening for an at Gear Institute and they hired me. I get an hourly fee there and it’s steady work, so that’s been good to have.
Now you write for a magazine that’s legendary—Popular Mechanics. How did that happen?
They got in touch with me actually, saying they were a fan of the blog. They asked me if I’d be interested in a weekly column for the online side and of course I said yes. Then I didn’t hear anything for a month and a half and figured it was dead. Turns out a different editor was coming on and that person re-established contact. I’ve turned in two stories so far and it should become weekly as planned eventually.
How often do you query editors?
I have never sent a query letter actually. It shows the power of being known as an expert in a certain area. I do feel like I’m getting away with something here, like it’s all going to fall apart! Some gigs go away after a while and that’s disappointing; I still haven’t learned well how to deal with the ups and downs. But something else always seems to come along.
I also eased into this by doing it part-time for a very long time before I quit my comfy IT tech job. That was three years ago. I basically cut the cord when I moved from Austin to Nashville to be with my eventual wife. I was already quitting the job so I also quit working for someone else.
Any new projects on the horizon?
I’m getting sample chapters together for a book about the Mt. Everest earthquake in 2015. I’m going to shop around the idea and see if I can get it published.
Kraig Becker is a freelance outdoor and adventure travel writer based in Nashville, TN. He is the founder and editor of The Adventure Blog and has contributed to a number of outlets including About.com, The Huffington Post, National Geographic Adventure, Popular Mechanics, OutdoorX4 magazine, and many others. An avid outdoorsman, he loves to trail run, mountain bike, climb, hike, camp and more. Some of his more memorable travel experiences include trekking to Everest Base Camp, climbing to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and traveling on horseback through the Altai Mountains of Mongolia. Connect with Kraig on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Interview conducted in September 2016 by Tim Leffel, posted by Terri Marshall.