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Travel bloggers, modern diarists

Sarah and Tim Puckett pose in Joshua Tree National Park at sunset.
Courtesy photo via Organized Adventurer
Sarah and Tim Puckett pose in Joshua Tree National Park at sunset.

Everyone has heard and seen examples of what crowds of people following a viral webpost can do to a field of wildflowers, or the damage caused by one person hoping to get the “perfect shot”. In rural areas with beautiful views, outdoor social media influencers have become a boogeyman for anyone that wants to preserve a certain atmosphere in their favorite spots. But what does the job really look like?

KDNK’s Hattison Rensberry interviews Sarah Puckett, a full-time content creator for the brand she shares with her husband called Organized Adventurer.

Here's an introduction to how Sarah Puckett got started in the career:

"I started blogging about our travels back in 2014. I was just really passionate about documenting the things that I was doing, our travels, our adventures. I've always been an avid diarist. I kept journals and diaries from the time I was like grade up to present day. So documenting my life obsessively has always been baked into my life.

How I live and how I like to memorialize and document my life and my story. We started posting on Instagram really consistently in 2018 when we did a 500 day trip around the world and we just started posting every single day. That's really where we started to grow in the Instagram space and my blog started to become something that I realized was more than just me documenting for personal pleasure, and it's also becoming a resource for other people. So I started to be much more intentional about the kind of information that I was putting out there and trying to make it really helpful for others who wanted to go to similar places or do something like what we were doing.

And then of course, In 2020, when our jobs went remote, that's when we decided to start doing a lot more local travel, and we were living in Wisconsin at this time. So we were doing a lot of like Midwest road trips and just things that we could get out into nature and be able to do so safely, being able to kind of still keep that spirit of travel and adventure, but in a way that didn't require us to be in contact with others.

That's when we started doing more stuff out in nature and the national and state parks and doing more road trips. And it was really in 2021 that we just fell in love with the West by virtue of living in Colorado and exploring our new backyard, we started documenting and posting about our travels in the mountain West.

I never in my craziest dreams imagined that this would now be my full time job. It's just such a far off idea for me. I could not see myself in it because at the time too, I also kind of had this idea that Everything on social media was so curated and perfect and precise, but then with the onset of Reels and kind of the TikTok format, that really changed the game because it made the storytelling aspect much more accessible to creators and consumers of content alike.

So now we're not just looking at a static image, but we can convey it. So much more information. And so anyway, that's when I really kind of started to think like, Oh, I can viably make this a business. We started getting some brand deals. And as of about a year ago, I've matched my first year income in my old careers.

Where it has been kind of a weird adjustment is that I used to make a lot more money before I was doing social media as my main job and making that adjustment from being an equal earner to my husband. To the one who's earning less has been tough because I think so much of how we're programmed to think about money is tied to how we also think about our self worth.

And so when you start to associate how worthy you are as a person with how much you're able to contribute to a household income, you know, when that decreases, it can play games with your mind. So that's been like the biggest thing I've had to learn and kind of reset and change my mindset around money and starting to just like embrace the the discomfort more and the fact that it wildly varies and it's very unpredictable and that's been the biggest adjustment."

When asked about her process, Puckett says that she often uses Instagram to find inspiration.

"I've connected with a lot of other content creators. on Instagram who all kind of have their regional specialties. And I love looking at their pages to see, okay, what are they recommending?

Like they're the experts in the Pacific Northwest or in Utah or wherever. What are they talking about and what do they love? Because I trust their recommendations. And that's what I hope to provide to others who are looking for recommendations in Colorado and Utah, especially."

Puckett pauses when asked about her favorite place to visit.

"I hate to say Utah because I feel like I always say Utah. But I grew up in Virginia and it's much more densely populated on the East coast. And I remember flying over the West for the first time and looking down out of the airplane and I saw just so much space, just like empty space. And I was just like instantly hungry to know what was there.

Like, there's gotta be stuff there. What is there? There are no people here, but there's something here and I want to see it. So that's just really what drew me to these big, expansive desert. landscapes and that's what Southern Utah especially is really renowned for. And so it's those otherworldly type places, the weird geology, the rocks that look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book. And you're like, how the heck does that exist? That's the stuff that gets me really excited. And Utah and Arizona as well have a lot of that.

Puckett didn't transition to this job seamlessly, she had plenty of new skills to learn.

"Oh my gosh, the crazy thing with being a content creator is that you wear all the hats in your business.

So, aside from just like, Honing my creative skills with learning photography and then also learning video editing and using all the apps that you use to edit videos and reels, and accounting, keeping track of business expenses and income, and pitching, getting clients. generating new business. All of that has been things that, you know, I've had to learn.

Actually, really exciting - this week, as of yesterday, I have ads on my blog for the first time since I started the blog many, many years ago. So now I've made, as of this morning, 45 cents, which is not a lot, but it's way more than the zero that I was making on my blog, you know, years up to this point. It's a long game.

It's not a get rich quick scheme. It's something that if you're going to do it, you have to do it because you love the process and you have to be detached from your outcomes for a very long time because it's going to be a while before you see any."

When asked about misconceptions about her career, Puckett had this to say:

"I think a misconception a lot of people have is that it's easy or that it's not real work. My previous career was as a project manager in healthcare informatics. Super cerebral, way easier than being a social media content creator, in my opinion, because I'm responsible for everything. And because so much of my business is derived from my personal life and the things that I do for fun, that line between work and play gets very blurry.

And so you kind of start to feel like you're just always on and you're working constantly. People think, oh, they're just going to snap a quick pic or whip together a quick reel. And I think people don't realize that each of these things takes hours to create every single reel that you see on our page is hours and hours of work behind each and every one of them."

"We love being part of the Colorado community. A lot of our audience is based in Colorado, and although we do post about the U. S. as a whole, we do have a very heavy Colorado and Southwest focus, and so I think that we have a lot of great information that can service the area and help them find things that they would want to do that maybe they didn't know about before that might be in their backyard and they've just never known.

The, the largest location percentage of our audience is based in Colorado. It's about 10 percent of our total audience. Colorado is really our densest geographical population among our audience. You know, there's a waterfall near Boulder, Colorado, not far at all from the city. I posted a photo about it.

And so many people who live in Boulder or have been to Boulder many times are like, how did I not know that this waterfall is there? And it's like off of like a highway. Like if you just read the signs. You'll see it, but if you don't read the signs, you'll completely miss it. Um, and when you live somewhere and some, and especially if it's a road, that's like part of your normal route, it's easy to just kind of become blind and think that like, you know, you've driven this road a million times, what could there be to see? But there really is a lot out there."

Copyright 2024 KDNK

Hattison Rensberry