If you love hiking and you want to make this your way of living and to generate sustainable sources of income from this activity, this text is for you. Keep reading.
Observe that I say sources and not source, so there are multiple options to use combined. But first thing first, it would be necessary to understand what we are talking about here. So what is hiking?
It turns out that the answer is not so simple because various sources give various definitions of this term. I discussed this in detail in my separate text about trekking and hiking differences. You can have a look to see what I am talking about.
In any case, the term hiking that I have in mind here implies outdoor activities like walking in the countryside, climbing hills, and light mountaineering tours without special equipment, hut to hut tours, etc.
All these activities are such that any person in normal physical situation can do them. If you are over 50 and think that this is not for you, think twice. I am 63 and I climb mountains. But see more in my separate text.
So, how do people make a living hiking? How do I turn my hiking into a career?
Here are a few things you can do to start earning from hiking, they are given in arbitrary order, and they will be explained in detail farther in the text:
- Start a site or blog and earn from it.
- Get in touch with outdoor brands and have them as sponsors.
- Make quality photos and sell them.
- Start a YouTube channel and earn from there.
- Write books related to hiking.
Of course these are not the only ways. If you go to the site The Packable Life, you will see also that the author mentions that you can become a park ranger, you can lead hiking tours, become a wildland firefighter, write for hiking journals, etc.
I shall now say a few words about each of the five options listed above.
How do I start a hiking blog?
I can tell you my steps so you can get the idea. I started as a complete beginner 8 years ago. Of course I was familiar with computers, I am a theoretical physicist. I was also familiar with mountaineering because I have been active in this most of my life.
But I had no idea about making sites and blogging. It was hard also because of the terminology used in this niche, and above all English is not my native.
If you think that you need to know about programming and writing codes, no worry. When you register somewhere, you will see that they have site builders ready for you, so you can have your site’s basic structure in minutes (literally), and you can start writing.
Typing on the keyboard you do know, don’t you? After so many years, I still type with two fingers only, I mean with one finger from one hand. Yes you are write, this does not sound good, but I have written thousands of texts with these two fingers.
But let’s be practical. Here are the practical steps.
• You can follow this link and register. You will be asked for your email so that they can communicate with you. This is the same platform where I started. There is nothing to pay to register.
• They even give 10 lessons to follow for free, and no, there is nothing hidden here. Try and you will see, so I would warmly advise that you go through these free lessons to get some idea and see if you can follow and understand them. I am sure you will, they are designed so that anybody can follow.
• You do not even have to buy your own domain for the site. You can use a temporary free domain that they provide and build your free site just to get an idea how this all works. If you like the site created that way, you can later transfer it to your own paid domain.
• Why they give this all for free? The reason is simple. If you really want to make a business from this, you will have to follow their 5 sets of lessons (each containing 10 lessons). You will have to buy your own domain. Finally, you will have to host this site somewhere. They can offer all this in one place.
I host my 7 sites at the same place. You will find me here (yes, it is annoying, they will ask that you register, but this is free).
If you follow the mentioned steps, very soon you can have your own site built. Note that for your own domain registration you pay only around $14 per year. This is a typical price for a com-type domain, more or less the same everywhere. But if you already have your domain registered somewhere, you can use it.
Site hosting and the mentioned courses are for premium members and you pay this in one package.
As mentioned, they have a site builder so you will have the site created in a couple of clicks. But let’s be serious, this will be just a beginning of a long process where success is not guaranteed. Do not be fooled by those who claim it is easy. It is not.
However, it is doable, I know because I have been through all this. Do let me know if you need more details, use the comment box below.
How you are going to earn from such a hiking site?
- You can do hiking tours and describe them in the site. You can think that writing is not your thing, the same was with me, imagine that you have to write in a language that is not your native. So it may be hard in the beginning but practice makes wonders. Besides, you can invest in a ghost writer, there are many services of this type online.
- Take photos during hikes and use them in the blogs. The top photo above is my own, from my recent climb of Sasso Piatto in the Dolomites. For such photos you do not need any special camera, your smartphone will be fine.
- When you have traffic, you can earn from ads. This can be through Google Adsense as a start, and through some other platforms when you have much more traffic. So you do not sell anything, you just write about things you love to do.
- However, you will probably be using some equipment like hiking shoes, hiking boots boots, backpacks, glasses, water filters, trekking poles, rain jackets, waterproof pants, a binocular, a photo camera, a video camera, a drone, and many other things.
- So you can write product reviews, make links to various brands (the easiest to start is Amazon) and earn from sales. You earn a small commission whenever somebody follows the link from your post and goes to Amazon and buy something. This means anything, it does not have to be your reviewed product.
- You can promote camping sites and other accommodation options in some popular hiking areas. For this you can register at Booking.com and promote such places by using your affiliate link. So when your readers follow the link and make reservation, you will get 25% of the commission that Booking.com normally takes. The link that I just added is my affiliate link, so do me a favor, go and earn me some money by making a booking through it at no additional cost for you.
How do you get sponsored as a hiker?
I mentioned outdoor brands as sponsors. When you have built a site, you can get in touch with brands and ask them to send you products for reviews. You may get them for free, or even get paid.
Most of big brands are US-based so if this is your area, it will be far easier for you. If you are in EU, they are very reluctant to send anything because of shipping costs. You can accept to pay for this, but it may be over your budget as a beginner.
This alone is far from enough to create a sustainable income itself. But you review such products on the site and this is how you earn indirectly through the sales as described above.
On the other hand, in time you can have a lot of outdoor stuff accumulated that way. So you can sell it, or you can occasionally give them for free to your readers. I have seen some clever sites owners organizing some sort of lottery. This creates engagement and this is good for the site.
Earning from photos
I already mentioned that you can take photos and document your hiking trips. For a site, you will have to make small formats and compressed photos, otherwise your site will be slow.
But you can also make very large photos and sell. This can be done in various ways:
- You can start your own site and sell your photos yourself. It is easier than what you may think. This all can be done with the help of an extra plugin like WooCommerce.
- You can sell your photos on various online platforms that are specialized for this (FineArtAmerica, Shutterstock, Dreamstime, iStock, Getty Images, etc.).
Start your YouTube channel to generate income
It is very easy to start your own YouTube channel. Here is how you can use such a channel to generate income:
- Drive traffic to your site.
- Earn directly from the channel through ads.
- Drive traffic directly to sellers.
- All ways combined.
So, after you make a video, add a link to your site in the description box. Check later in your Google Search Console and Google Analytics. You will see visitors from YouTube. Do not expect them many in the beginning, this is a slow developing process.
Earning directly from the YouTube channel requires that you have enough subscribers and watching hours. If you create attractive hiking reports, or you make high quality products reviews, you will get there.
As for driving traffic to Amazon and other sellers, this is simply by adding links in the description box. As an example, you presented a hiking tour where you had used some shoes and a pack. If you are happy with them, you mention this in the description box together with the link to the seller.
So what do you do in your videos?
- If you have the product, make a video review and record it.
- You can present your own review from the site by showing it on the screen.
- You can also make informational videos on any topic.
- You can record your hiking tours. See one great example, this is about a family making tours, it is in Italian but this does not matter, just to get some idea:
If you are shy, here is one example which shows that you can do this in a rather impersonal way, without showing yourself. This video has received more than half a million views as of the moment of writing this text:
Write books related to hiking
What, you do not know how to write books?
No worry, this can be done. Imagine you have done a series of hiking tours in a popular area like the Dolomites in Italy. So you have a number of posts published in your site.
You can now collect them all, add extra photos and a bit of extra text. There are tools available online that you can use to insert the texts directly by simply adding the URLs of posts, and you will have your book ready.
Now go to Amazon and see many of them, you can buy some to get inspiration and ideas.
But to be even more practical, register there in their book publishing department. They have all ready for making a great cover. You will be surprised how quickly you can have a book published. They will take care about publishing and everything else.
So these are essential steps you need to do if you want to turn your hiking into a career and to make a living by hiking. I have been through all this, so do not tell me you do not know how to write a post, and you do not know how to make a YouTube video.
You will learn it, one step at a time. Here are three final facts.
- The most important part of the process is that it is based on the activity that you love, and this is hiking. This is already a big plus, the rest will come by itself.
- The most difficult step will be your very first blog post. Try and you will see. Yet, when you see it published, you will say to yourself “oh my God, I did it, it is there alive, so I managed it, I really can do this.” Of course you can. I have done it thousands of times.
- There is no such thing as a perfect blog post or a perfect video. It can always be better, so do not overthink things. Otherwise, this will lead you to what some describe as ‘analysis paralysis’. So go and do it, and bear in mind you can always improve it after it is published, then do another one, and another one…
Share your passion with others, people will realize it and appreciate what you are doing. All mentioned above holds also for backpacking.
Much more about these outdoor activities you can find in the category Hiking here in the site. Thank you for reading. Let me know if you have questions, there is a comment box below.