Hi. Thank you for accepting our offer to be our Featured Site. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure: Iím a freelance writer, photographer, and editor and I specialize in outdoor adventure. Sounds a little bland in black and white, but itís led to some amazingly fun stuff: I was the editor of PowderóThe Skierís Magazine for a decade, was the founding editor of Bike Magazine, and am currently working with National Geographic Adventure as their West Coast Editor and ďgear guruĒ. I also shoot commercially and am represented by Getty Images. In addition to The Adventure Life, I have sites at www.stevecasimiro.com (photography) and www.thepowderintros.com (ski writing).
You must have some interesting experiences while preparing for a story. Would you mind sharing a couple stories with other SiteMeter users?
Sometimes I can't quite believe all the places my work has taken me. Just this past weekend, I was backcountry skiing in Idaho with Ed Viesturs, the first American to climb all 14 of the world's mountains over 8,000 meters, and Dave Hahn, who's been on the summit of Mt. Everest 10 times, more than any non-Sherpa. At the end of the week, I leave for Vietnam. And I just got off the phone with some friends from Norway--we're working on the logistics of a May surfing and kayaking trip to the western fjords.
I've skied in places as diverse as Mexico and Greenland. In Costa Rica, I was at the epicenter of a 7.4 Richter scale earthquake and got by for three days before getting a lift out on a C-130 transport plane. In December in South Africa, I had the incredible luck to find a leopard, which we followed for an hour as she hunted antelope. During Mexico's Dia de los Muertos festival, I rode a mountain bike from Oaxaca to the Pacific Coast across the Sierra Madres.
If you had told me, back when I graduated college and had only taken one airplane trip in my life, that I'd be having these adventures, I would have said you were crazy. I wasn't born into an adventurous life. I was with Peter Whittaker this past weekend, too, and Peter is the son of mountaineer Lou Whittaker and nephew of Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Everest. Pete's leading the team with Viesturs and Hahn and a few others back to Everest in a couple of weeks. Now, Peter was born into it--skiing and climbing already by age two. Me? I grew up in middle-class suburbia and our only travel was in the wood-paneled station wagon. But through goals and dreams and motivation and hard work and some luck, I'm having experiences that continue to astonish me. And I think that's the underlying message of The Adventure Life--adventure is in reach for all of us. You just have to envision it and then find your way there.
When did you start your website?
I started blogging for National Geographic Adventure about a year ago and within a few months realized I wanted to build my own site. As a photographer, writer, and editor, I wanted to create the whole package. So, I started piecing it together in fall 2008 and launched it in January 2009.
Where do you come up with the content?
Thatís the cool thing about outdoor adventure! The possibilities are endless. Iím covering sports, news, environment, art, health, photography, travelÖitís ridiculous what a rich field it is.
Iíve been working in the outdoor world for 25 years, so I have tons of contacts and friendsÖa lot of what I cover comes from tips from them. And course I spend a lot of time online looking for ideas.
The thing is, there are thousands of blogs, many simply regurgitating what others have written. Thatís not as interesting to me as being a reporter and finding my own angle or coverage. The Adventure Life is designed to have original content in writing and photos on every post. Thatís impossible at this point, but thatís the goal. And if the site resonates with people, I think thatís partially why.
How much time do you spend working on your site each day?
It depends on how much work I have for other clients. If Iím on deadline, I might spend an hour in the morning and an hour or two in the evening. If the deckís clear, Iíll work on it all day.
Why did you choose SiteMeter?
Free stats are a good start, you canít beat the depth, breadth, and real-time reporting of SiteMeter.
Which reports do you use often?
You mean, other than the highly addictive Site Summary? Well, Iím a newbie at this and am still learning my way around stats. But the key for me are referrers, entry and exit, time on page, and search words. I need to know whatís bringing people in and whatís keeping them.
Are there other blog/site tools that you currently use that you are especially impressed with? If so why?
Facebook, Twitter, Google Alerts, New Times email alerts. Itís about information coming in, information going out. Breaking through the clutter. Anything that helps discern whatís important to me is valuable. And same for marketing the siteÖI have to break through everyone elseís clutter.
Also, Iím on a WordPress platform, which is powerful but, man, Iíve spent so much time sorting through plugin and coding issues. Itís a very powerful platform and easy to get started, but once you start customizingÖyikes!
Which strategies do you employ to drive traffic to your site?
Facebook, Twitter, blogroll, crosslinks. Iím also strategic about selecting stories I think will attract attention and I let people know when Iíve posted something that might interest them. But itís all very grass roots at this point.
What are the biggest challenges you face running your website?
Time and balance. Iím sure Iím not aloneóhow do you balance passion with paying the bills? Iím lucky in that Iím covering the same world for all my clients. The research Iím doing for The Adventure Life is already reaping dividends for my work in National Geographic Adventure. But as everyone doing their own website knows, online work can be 24/7 and all-consuming. Keeping it realistic is importantóbut dang tough.
What are your future goals for the site?
First, that I can sustain it over the long haul. It takes a lot of energy, you know? Second (or maybe first), that it resonates with peopleóthat they dig it and come back and that readership grows. Third, that it becomes a platform for telling the stories I think are important. These are challenging times for consumer magazines and many arenít willing to deviate from the tried and true. I can name a half-dozen environmental stories that are compelling and interesting, but that magazines arenít willing to risk their pages on.
Please visit Steve's site at www.theadventurelife.org