What 6 Years of Struggle and Relentless Fighting Look Like

A Different Type of Introspection

There’s no denying the fact you guys love when I spill my guts in moments of uncertainty and self-doubt. I tend to call these moments of introspection. I even subconsciously started associating the word introspection with confusion, doubt, and unknowing. But last night I had a different type of introspection. A moment of clarity. It passed, and I didn’t act on it before I went to bed, but then it came back with the caffeine buzz of my morning coffee.

As you can see, it went over pretty well with my Twitter followers.

Full Transparency of Success

First we have to define success for ourselves. Everyone’s is different. No one’s is more right than any another’s. It’s just what matters to us. For me, my level of success is based on:

    • The number of people I can reach with my writing

 

  • The number of people I can help through any of my channels

 

 

  • The number of people I can connect with others when I’m not able to help

 

 

  • The number of opportunities I can create for myself through my writing

 

 

VanLife Lifestyle CategoryIn full transparency, because only 5 of you read this (that’s up from 2 six years ago), I do not reach a lot of people through this blog. I have one post that generates 90% of my traffic. If you get rid of that one outlier, only a couple thousand of you come back every month as repeat readers. Thailand Travel CategoryBecause I write about such broad topics: climbing, travel, vanlife, snowboarding, life, food, gardening, training, nutrition, anything else outdoors…. I don’t have a niche. Because I don’t have a niche, I’m not viewed as an “expert” in any one thing. Because I’m not an expert, people aren’t banging down my door for advice. Rock Climbing Category I’m pretty good at connecting people, but that usually comes by me butting into other people’s conversations. And all of that parallels my social media networks too. Granted, I’m very stingy in monitoring whom I follow and who Thailand Street Food Categoryfollows me; I’d rather have real people than big numbers. Even still, some people are like, “lol I don’t even know how to use a smartphone, and I have 5,000 followers on Twitter lol.” Meanwhile, Twitter is my biggest platform with only 1,700 followers. I really don’t follow any best-practices. That’s why I write monstrously long blog posts instead of “SEO optimizing them and making sure they’re only 500-700 words long.”

Success Despite Lack of Success

You noticed I left the last one off my list of failures —

    • The number of opportunities I can create for myself through my writing

 

A more selfish person may put this one at the top of their list, but that’s not why I got into this. And if this were the main driving force behind why I write and try to reach as many people as possible, I’d have quit long ago. There’s no way I could keep this level of effort up for 6 years, only to now start seeing some success in this area.

6 Years Ago

AthleteCreator Logo 6 years ago is when I started my first blog, AthleteCreator.com. (Don’t try go there, some spammy search engine thingy bought the domain after I let it expire.) That’s when I truly started my journey of trying to get out from engineering.

Dave the Trainer
Yup, that was me in 2009. 185 lb. of douchey muscle.

At the time, I wanted to open my own sports performance gym. I started blogging about training and nutrition (which is why it still surfaces here from time to time) and even got the top rated certification in the U.S. for training athletes. I trained a few people. I consulted a lot of people. I got them pretty great results. Sometimes not always in physical appearances, but a much healthier lifestyle and relationship with food that will last the rest of their lives. I’m a pretty damn good trainer, actually. I wrote, I wrote, I trained, I paid for certifications. I even bought $3,000+ worth of gym equipment with my own money when I had two partners that looked serious about opening a gym together. But that fell through. Yes, my goal was to help as many people as possible, but I was very much in it for the end goal of starting my own gym. Once that didn’t pan out, I was kind of lost. I knew I still didn’t want to be an engineer; I knew I wasn’t going to be a gym owner or that I could financially afford to be a trainer for someone else; and I knew I still really enjoyed writing and helping people. Now what?

4 Years Ago

I started this site but under another name — DudesWithTents.com (don’t go there either) Dudes with TentsIt was still outdoor and lifestyle related but looked much differently than it does today. My YouTube channel still has the misfortune of carrying that name in the address bar — YouTube.com/DudesWithTents <— safe and encouraged to click In the 3 years I was AthleteCreator I had built up an even more ‘successful’ website than this one after 4 years. If I posted nothing new for an entire month, I’d still have 15,000 visitors a month on AthleteCreator. If I posted regularly, it was actually close to double that. (Still not mind-blowing, but pretty good.) And now I was starting back at zero. Zero traffic. Zero followers on any social media. Just me writing for the sake of writing. For a very long time.

The Struggle is Real

There is a common misconception that anyone that is consistent for this long will be one of the major players in the digital world. Either they’re wrong, or I’m horrendously behind the curve. There’s the possibility I’m just not very good at what I do, too. (Numbers don’t lie. — that’s why I became an engineer originally) Either way, the last 6 years have been a struggle. A labor of love. A lot of time spent wondering why the hell I keep doing this while not seeing any payoff in the way I value it.

Today

Wadi Rum Bedouin HostsBut finally. Finally I’ve considered that last bullet point:

    • The number of opportunities I can create for myself through my writing

 

It’s just so far down on the list of why I write that I forget about it. But let’s take a look at what this 6 year struggle has actually done for me.

    1. Brand ambassador and loosely affiliated partnerships (past and current)
        • Arc’Teryx

       

    2. Evolv
    3. Columbia Sportswear
    4. Pret helmets
    5. Discrete clothing
    6. Teton Sports
    7. Zeal Optics

 

  • All-expenses paid trips:
      • Park City, UT

     

  • Kingdom of Jordan
  • Portland, OR
  • All from the ever-generous Columbia Sportswear

 

 

  • Motivation of networking with wicked awesome people like you guys every. single. fucking. day. Inspiring ME to bite off more than I can chew. To make sure my adventures are bigger and better and never stagnant.
      • #VanLife

     

  • Living in Thailand

 

 

  • Quitting my job to pursue writing, marketing, and adventuring full-time!!

     

 

 

Huffington Post logoDid you read that?! I set out 6 years ago to accomplish my dream of leaving engineering, being my own boss, living life and working however the hell I feel like it. Business Insider LogoI’ve been doing it for 8 months without even taking the time to realize that! GrindTV Logo This realization came to me after being approached by another writing outlet within the outdoor and action sports industry. liftopia logoBy no means am I living a lavish life, but I am doing what so many people want and are trying to do.  

Stay the Course

That’s not a slap in their face. That should be encouragement. And for you. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish in this life. Keep doing you. Keep struggling. Keep growing. Keep experimenting. Keep doing things “the right way” while adding your own personal flare. – I clearly don’t do the right things, but I do them in the right way. Get it? And keep doing all of those things as long as it takes to get what you want. You may not find success in the way YOU’RE searching for it but success is there. It’s yours for the taking. So you can walk your own life, on your own terms. Ko Samet Ville beach




Don’t Miss Your Chance

I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.

Then I took control.

You can too, and it starts right here.

6 responses to “What 6 Years of Struggle and Relentless Fighting Look Like

  1. Your journey is an inspiration for those of us wanting to follow your footsteps. Thank you so much for letting us in not only on your success stories, but also and especially, on your struggles.
    People like you make our planned escapes from this corporate world that much more tangible.
    I know this comes from a total stranger, but best of luck in your next adventures!

  2. Wow. What an amazing journey! In the past years, I’ve been building websites and writing like crazy even if I have few readers. And though most of them have ‘failed’, I’m still happy to have taken this path as I get to work on my own hours + get to help people. One thing I realized is that every failed venture or something that have not worked out (this sounds better) allows us to learn something.

    Congratulations to you! I guess all the hard work paid off 🙂

    P.S. Got the link to your blog from Ramit Sethi’s newsletter.

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