Hopefully by now, you’ve been following this blog for some time and you know what we are about. Either way, I thought I’d put together a post that covers why we run 4WDing Australia, and a bit of history about how it all came together.
We’ll start right at the beginning, and work through to today. I’ve never expressed this to anyone except some close friends, and hope you’ll get some value from it.
This blog started way back in 2009. It was originally called aaronschubert.com, and then I moved it to triggertravel.com and finally it became 4WDing Australia.
I started it with the intention of sharing some of the things that we’d been doing, and building a resource for those who wanted to travel, 4WD and camp in Australia as the information out there was severely lacking. Also if I’m completely honest, I hoped to make some money from it down the line, but wasn’t really sure how.
13 years later, and thousands of hours gone writing posts, taking photos and doing everything that goes on behind the scenes and you have the blog today. We’ve got more than 1000 posts on anything and everything to do with travel, camping and 4WDing in Australia, and its growing now at a faster rate than ever before.
A few months back, I resigned from my full time role of 13 years, and Sarah and I decided to pack the house up, rent it out and hit the road with our kids on a Big Lap of Australia.
So, why do we run 4WDing Australia?
We love this amazing country
I often sit back and just feel a huge amount of gratitude for the country that I was born into, and what it means. Australia is one of the best places in the world you could live, and that’s without taking into account the amazing places we are able to travel to and see, so freely.
We love to see what the small towns struggling to get tourists in have to offer. We love the pristine beaches where you wont see a soul for kilometres. We love the private properties that have been opened up to the public to camp, along with our national parks and so much more. We’re grateful for the history, and support of those who have gone before.
Australia is a ripper of a country, and you’ve done yourself a disservice if you haven’t been out and explored much of it. The strange thing is though, so many people haven’t been more than an hour from their home town!
We love camping and 4WDing
My first vehicle was a 4WD, and I’ve owned a number since. Despite not going camping hugely growing up (we did it, but not nearly as much as we do now), I fell in love with it not long before I got my license, and Sarah was much the same. We’d spend as much time out in the bush exploring amazing places, looking for hidden gems and just soaking up the great country we have.
We started off with cheap, junky swags, and moved to an Oztent, then a soft floor camper, and finally our Reconn R2 Hybrid that we travel in now. We’ve got two kids, and they also love camping and 4WDing, and lets be honest, they never really had a chance.
The idea of finding a track in the middle of the bush that takes you to a hidden oasis is insanely tempting for me, and whilst Sarah is a little less fond of the 4WDing side of things since a family we know very well rolled their vehicle on a gravel road, she’s happy enough to trust my judgement (most of the time) and knows the destination is almost always worth it.
I was tired of advertorials and biased reviews
I’ve seen the online world change in ways that I could have never dreamt of, and something that started to really annoy me a few years ago has grown into a full blown passion of mine. So many people online are raving about gear that they’ve been given for free, or promoting gear before they’ve finished unpacking it, or blatantly mentioning brand names instead of what the product is, and its not something I’ve taken too well to.
Yes, I understand marketing, but there’s a limit to what is acceptable that some people just don’t seem to understand, or have vastly different levels of what’s acceptable.
So much so, that we almost never take items for free anymore, and prefer to purchase them with our own money. That’s not to say we don’t get offers (every single day by email), but I turn almost all of them down, and we only buy what we need, and then do an honest review on it.
If it’s a rubbish product, we state that, with no strings attached. We exist to provide useful, honest information to our readers, and if we were being paid under the table then what good does that do to anyone but ourselves, and even then its short term as your lack of authenticity and honesty soon gets noticed.
I love understanding and sharing difficult concepts in a simple way
If I want to learn something, I want to know every single detail about it, and I need to learn it in a way that means I can explain it to anyone, using whatever analogies and strategies I can come up with.
When it comes to towing weights, you don’t just want to know about GVM and GCM as that’s a tiny part of the equation. You need to know about everything from axle weights, to leverage, tow ball weights, manufacturer limitations and so on and so forth.
I love to dive into technical concepts, to understand them and then write posts explaining them in a way that is nice and simple. I love making complicated concepts easy to understand for anyone, and everyone.
I also like to break down common myths, and things that people have learnt about, the wrong way.
We love to help people, regions and locations
Meaningful work is hugely important to us, and if we are just writing for the sake of it I’d have quit a long time ago. As mentioned above, we love to take technical concepts and break them down into small, bite sized and easy to understand guides.
I’m a total miser by nature, and that means I hate seeing people waste their money based on poor advice, or technical knowledge. We want to make your life as easy, simple and enjoyable as possible, and that means we love sharing accurate product reviews (so you can buy what works, and not what doesn’t). We want to get you doing the right things to your 4WD so you don’t do damage, and your vehicle lasts you as long as possible.
We want to share the best camp sites, so you don’t spend nights in dust bowls regretting you’d chosen that camp site.
Beyond this we love helping regions that are struggling, and various locations. I’ve lost count of the number of individual properties that we’ve stayed at and written about that have exploded over the last few years. Yes, I’m sure we can’t take all the credit for it, but there are a number of them that we can, and that’s pretty awesome.
When you have amazing regions that get overlooked every day of the week for the larger, more popular ones being able to spread the love around is a privilege, and one that we thoroughly enjoy. There are so many under-rated locations in Australia, and I take great pleasure in finding them and sharing them around.
Unfortunately this always comes with a downside; the locals and those who don’t like ‘their’ spots being shared often get upset, but we can’t please everyone. Whilst I understand their perspective, everything is going online and information is far more easily accessible today than it was 15 years ago.
I love writing
If you haven’t realised by now, I love writing. I’ll get the urge, and can sometimes sit there for 2 or 3 hours, typing away madly. If it’s a topic I’m passionate about, the words flow freely and I can type 5000 – 10,000 words in one sitting, and then go back for more. Coffee certainly helps, too, but I find I can articulate my thoughts much better when writing than I can speaking!
On the flip side, I don’t really like writing about things that bore me, or that I don’t want to write about, and there’s always a mundane part of running a blog like this, so it’s a fine line to tread!
Why not YouTube?
With so many travelling families, couples and individuals doing YouTube, you might wonder why we haven’t pushed hard with this too. The truth is we have a channel, and we do post videos, but with two young kids creating the level of videos that consumers want is really difficult on multiple fronts.
Firstly, the time needed to edit these videos and share them week after week is nothing short of insane, but the larger reason is making the videos at a high level comes at a huge cost to family life when travelling. Instead of having an amazing time, you end up trying to record having an amazing time, and that is a very different thing.
I think that the market is saturated, and it takes a certain level of character, or personality to do well on Youtube. We aren’t crazy, or bouncy, social or funny in that way, and I’m sure our videos come across that way too.
We have a channel, and we’ve just started our Big Lap of Australia series, and will see how it goes over the next few months.
Our blog suits us so much better; we take amazing photos when we can, we write when we can, and we upload when we can. I can schedule things months in advance, I can work for weeks without an internet connection, I can stop working at a moments notice, I don’t care about what the weather is doing so much and I can still enjoy full on family time without having to film everything going on.
I’ve heard first hand from those doing this full time, and its not something I’m prepared to do at the moment. Ever wondered why there’s hardly any full time travelling families doing YouTube with young kids? Its insanely difficult to balance, and far too overbearing for us. We’ll do our best, but our travels and this blog come before YouTube.
We saw the ability to combine our passion and make a living from it
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when we started to make some real money that I sat back and went you know what, we might be able to do this full time. Not only did I love doing it, but after 13 years in a job that had become fairly high stress, it made for the perfect opportunity.
Combining this thought with the fact that we wanted to travel full time around Australia spurred us on to working even harder on the blog, and getting it to a stage where it could support us while we travelled.
We are at a stage now where the blog can support our travels, and I have a passion project to work on. When we eventually settle again, I’ll probably have to go back to a normal, full time job again, but we’ll see how it all balances out.
For now, I want to grow 4WDing Australia to a much bigger audience, to find more technical information to break down and to continue sharing our perspectives and learnings so they can help others travel and 4WD around Australia.
I need something to work on
You might laugh at this, but I can’t sit still. Seriously, I can be anywhere, and after about 10 minutes of doing nothing, I’m up and I have to be doing something. I’ll grab a camera, flick the drone up, or take the kids for a walk, or go for a swim, clean the car, or these days I’ll grab the laptop and start writing, or uploading photos, editing them and resizing them ready for the blog.
I honestly don’t know that I’d enjoy myself travelling around Australia if I didn’t have something to do. I have to be busy, and while I’ve learnt to slow down and relax a lot more over the last few months if I didn’t have a passion project to bury my head in (particularly when the kids head to bed), life would be very difficult for me.
I get bored of staying in a place for more than a few days at a time, unless I’ve got something to keep me occupied and busy!
How long does a post take to write?
I’ve thought about this many times, and the reality is it takes as long as it takes, and I often don’t count the hours. I can knock out a quick post that uses photos already uploaded and ready to go in under an hour.
The average post probably takes about 3 – 4 hours including time editing and uploading photos, with some that take 8 – 10 hours, and the occasional giant guide taking 40 – 60 hours. I recall spending weeks writing our Ultimate Guide to the Kimberley, and was so pleased to see it go out and be hugely loved by thousands of people.
None of this factors in the other work that goes on behind the scenes, along with the photography, photo management and so on and so forth.
I nearly gave up, many times
Words cannot explain the amount of time, effort and my soul (more than a third of my life so far!) that have been poured into this blog. Back in the early days, it was monetized with a product called Google Adsense, which many people jokingly refer to as Google Ad cents, because you got paid ‘cents’ for using it.
For the first 8 – 10 years, anything up to $10 a day was a fairly average income, and if I made $20 a day it was absolutely incredible. Whilst that might seem like a decent chunk of coin, when you consider I was working on average 2-3 hours a day on the blog, I probably had the lowest hourly rate in Australia.
I can’t explain the number of times that I nearly threw the towel in, because I was so over the amount of time and effort I had put in and was not seeing the results that the effort deserved. Sarah was always supportive, although it would have been very easy not to be, especially when it took up so much of my time.
One day, I stumbled across a new advertising company that I’ve been with ever since, and things changed hugely from that day on. My earnings went up significantly, and its amazing what a bit of reward for your work can do. I started writing far more content, taking far better photos and running our little site as a real business, instead of the hobby that it had been run like in the past.
Things snowballed, and surprise surprise the harder I worked the better the results were, and we kept it rolling at a stead pace. These days, I’m publishing around 7 – 10 articles a week, which requires a pretty serious amount of effort and dedication. As I write this, I’m normally in the camper at 7PM when the kids go to bed, and I can be working every single night until somewhere between 10:30PM and midnight.
Some days I’m really motivated and struggle to wind down, and other days its a battle to keep my eyes open!
How can we help you?
In running this blog, we have spent hundreds of hours trying to think of ways that we can help you. What questions do people want to have answered, what perspectives can we share that might help people wanting to travel, 4WD or camp know? What’s missing from the site? How can I make the navigation easier?
We are quite happy being blunt, and open, and might be happy to share our experiences on things you can’t find, or hear talked about elsewhere.
I am always trawling social media and trying to think of new articles, or ways we can provide usefulness, and if you know of anything, we’d love to hear from you.
What would you like to see?
I hope this post has provided some clarity into what we do, and why we do it, and we’d love to chat below in the comments. Let us know what you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy, how we can help and what you think we should be doing, please!
See you out there!