How do a bunch of ratbags make We Are Explorers their full-time gig? What’s it take to keep a small digital adventure publication going and what are we up to away from the desk?
‘Woah, I thought it was much bigger!’
Hard to tell how many times I’ve heard that one.
But behind the pixels, We Are Explorers is run by a small team of frothers who live and breathe the outdoors. Only last week we hopped onto a Zoom call and half of us had wet hair from morning ocean swims (the other half were given a performance review).
So How’s It All Work?
Until pretty recently We Are Explorers was a work from home, cafe or wifi-hotspot-on-a-bench affair. About a year ago we moved into coworking spaces so we didn’t go stir crazy home alone, but when COVID-19 hit us with a wrong’un we switched straight back into remote work.
Every morning we jump on Zoom for a 15-minute video chat to catch up, then tuck in for the day. Or in the words of our Founder Henry…
‘Let’s crack on!’
From my end, that means choosing, writing, editing and uploading articles. I’m looking for inspiring stories from people who go against the grain, awesome locations that you won’t find on other lists, rad new gear from innovative makers and answers to the questions that stop people walking out that door.
Our Assistant Editor Amy sniffs out fresh scoops in Australia and New Zealand, highlights environmental issues that you really need to know about, and works with me to wrangle the tenacious Explorer Project crew who write and shoot it all.
Our Gear Editor Mattie’s just jumped back on board too, after having cute lil’ bundle of joy Lumi. He’ll be hunting down fresh kit to put to the test and cutting through the bullshit.
While Tim and Jono are in Sydney, and Amy’s down the road in Wollongong (where she has a beach view and still pays less rent), the ‘commercial’ team lives up near Byron Bay.
Henry, who founded We Are Explorers after riding his bike here from England, runs the show. He’s the ideas machine behind wild concepts like buying a plot of Daintree Rainforest and short films about tetraplegic paragliders, but he’s also responsible for keeping We Are Explorers in the green. He lives with his wife Susi, a turbo-toddler named Jet and a small hippy-in-training named Luna.
Bee Stephens is our Digital Campaign Producer, but more accurately, she’s our nerve centre and a bit of a power house. Bee’s the link between social media, editorial and the paid work we do through Explorer Studios and she keeps us all on track with dates, briefs and swell reports.
Why Work At We Are Explorers?
Although what I just said might make We Are Explorers sound like a regular company, we’re anything but. Even if we have to dive into a spreadsheet from time-to-time, the core goals; to make the outdoors accessible and inclusive, inspire love and protection of the environment and promote wellbeing through time in nature, fire us through each day. This is what the crew have to say.
‘Although WAE’s main focus is adventure, I love that we have strong ethics surrounding the environment and sustainability.’
– Amy, Assistant Editor
When she’s not typing at her desk (it’s the third one in the series above) Amy keeps a healthy balance between splashing in the sea, tearing up the d-floor, and speed-reading the current month’s book club selection.
‘It’s all about the people I get to live with every day – people who’ve found a passion and decided to go all in. Passion’s incredibly contagious and it’s spread with gusto through the We Are Explorers community.’
– Henry, WAE Founder
Henry and Susi now have two offspring and are living in sun-drenched Mullumbimby. When he’s not working you’ll find him somewhere hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and more recently, figuring out how to get a flathead off a fish hook.
‘I’ve always had a list of adventures tucked away in my cerebrum. But the longer I work for WAE, the more I realise that I’d be lucky to even scratch the surface of all the spectacular stuff out there.’
– Jono, Social Media Manager
Jono’s a hard man to pin down, but you can bet whatever he’s planning involves water, brewskies and some juicy tunes on the stereo.
‘If a week’s work means we get just one extra human out there, who begins to see how precious earth is, and from this experience changes their habits to better protect it, that’s a huge win.’
– Bee, Digital Campaign Manager
Bee gets her daily dose up in Byron
Tim on yet-another trip to the Blue Mountains
Ok, You’re Frothers. But How Does We Are Explorers Make Money?
It’s a funny old world we’ve landed in; most content and services are free, print media is an uphill battle and most of the internet is viewed on the screens in our back pocket.
We Are Explorers started as a small blog, then began taking contributions as part of what became the Explorer Project. Henry made a strong call early on to avoid the ‘funding round’ route that most startups take, preferring to own the business and its decisions.
‘I love the experimental nature of this business. How a lofty idea voiced excitedly with coffee on Monday morning can snowball into reality by Thursday. We make cool shit happen and no one can tell us otherwise. We rarely balls it up and often nail it.’
Henry also loves this quote from William Blake. ‘I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.’ Jamie, whom Henry rode to Australia with, has it tattooed on his arm (unsurprisingly, Jamie went over to Portugal to start a commune).
Henry steers our ship and spends his days talking to tourism boards and brands that share our vision, so we can create awesome content partnerships for you guys to dig into. Yeah, it’s advertising, but ‘cause we’re not tied to ‘profit targets’, investors or the huge overheads of a regular company, we get to choose who we work with and how we go about it. Through our in-house content studio we also produce video content, short films, still photography and activations for clients across the country.
The best bit? You get it all for free.
How You Can Help Us Grow
The first half of this year has been tough. When the fires hit advertisers got shaky and our reader count dipped, then COVID-19 swept through and the advertisers packed up shop and moved to the mountains to craft mugs.
We’ve managed to weather the storm so far, but we’re working less hours and our Explorer Project isn’t able to commission many paid articles at the moment. In light of what’s happened we reckon our message is more important than ever – here’s how you can help us get it out there:
Subscribe to our Emails
Not getting an adventure-injection yet? Subscribe to our mailing list!
Share Our Articles
Tell ya mates! If you’re loving We Are Explorers then there’s a pretty big chance your mates will too. Share your favourite articles and show them how to use the map.
Post In Our Community Groups
We Are Explorers isn’t just a company, it’s a community of adventurous legends. Head over to the full list of Facebook Groups, join the ones that apply to you (they’re state-based) and get posting!
Tell Us What You Want
What do you want to see, read and dream about? Email me directly, we’re always looking for ways to make this the ultimate adventure website in Australia and New Zealand.
Make Us Your Homepage
Kidding. Does anyone do that anymore? Maybe bookmark us. Then send us a fax.
This article’s only a snippet of our story. Danielle, Ellie, Rachel, Heather and Liv are all (or have been) cherished team members, along with countless freelancers, creatives, contributors and of course, you. Thanks for reading and being a part of the We Are Explorers journey. This is just the beginning.