Full time RV life. Generally when you hear this term, you think along the lines of the people doing this are probably retired, or rich, or on a very cool trip. Well, that is not us. We became entrepreneurs while traveling and searching for craft beer stories.
I know we used to think like that, and it never once crossed our minds to travel in an RV, let alone live in one full time, until we did.
Decide to Make a Change
One night after my 45 minute commute from my teaching job where I had just spent the last 12 hours, I not so quietly stormed through the door of our house – where we have lived quite comfortably for over 25 years with our two sons – landed on the couch without an ounce of grace – where I would remain for the next few hours – and changed the course of our lives forever.
Listening to the RV Entrepreneur podcast had a domino effect, resulting in other travel and entrepreneurial podcasts, books, brainstorming, conversations, many arguments, and ultimately the hunt for an RV and a business idea.
My husband, Ken, and I knew that we had to change it up. We loved what we had built with our family in our community, but it was time for a change. We were done mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, waiting for Saturdays, and dreading Mondays. We both worked too many hours for not enough compensation and felt like life was becoming mundane. Something had been brewing for a long time, and it was just about to boil over.
I had been teaching for six years, and Ken had been an online editor for over ten. We were both well established in our fields, had good jobs, a nice house, a loving family and community. But something was missing…our ability to control our time.
Before we completely boiled over and lost all flavor for life, we decided to make a change to give us back control. The only thing we knew for certain at that time was that we both wanted to travel.
Decide to be an Entrepreneur
We were committed to creating our RV life, so before hitting the road, we did a lot of brainstorming trying to find a brand that fit us. We wanted to create a business that would allow us to be independent. We knew we wanted to do something to inspire others, and we knew we liked craft beer. We both had experience in writing, and Ken’s job could sustain us for awhile on the road until we fully figured it all out. We didn’t want to wait until everything was perfectly lined up, because, well… that would never happen. A long story, short – Living A Stout Life was born.
We moved full time into RAIF, our RV, in June, with all the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning. We had plans to visit all the required well-known places, along with a few off-the- beaten-path locations, while chronicling our adventures along the way. We would write and film about what we learned from the RV lifestyle, along with personal adventures and beer stories. We became entrepreneurs through traveling and craft beer stories.
It only took a few weeks to figure out that this business thing was a lot harder than we thought. I knew all about social media and writing from a personal aspect, and Ken had built up a good knowledge base from his job, but trying to monetize a blog was not all fun and games. There are a million quirky, travel blogs out there, but many of them are like drinking a Budweiser or Coors, quick to drink, with no depth to the true flavor. Trying to create a business from a blog is an entirely different brew. Like a true craft beer, this takes planning, personal care, handcrafted love, and continued education to always become something better. And if you want to be successful in a saturated market, craft breweries or travel blogs, or whatever it is you are starting, you better find a niche. And that’s what we were missing.
Find a Niche
Knowing we had to find our niche, our flavor, to even have a chance at monetizing our blog, we sat down one cold evening, in the middle of nowhere Georgia, craft beer in hand, and followed what we knew, the recipe for brewing beer.
Granted, we had already gone through some of these steps before we moved into RAIF; however, we decided it was worth it to start from the beginning of the brewing process to see what we might have missed from the start.
Our Recipe for Becoming an Entrepreneur
This is what we came up with, our recipe for finding our niche in a world full of niches. This may or may not create the next best “beer” in a world full of best beers, but it created a map for us, where before, there was none.
The First Step: Brainstorming (Steeping)
The first step in brewing is to steep malted barley in water to extract the flavors locked within. Like brainstorming, when you let your brain steep, the ideas locked within will eventually pour out. Take those ideas, let them steep, ponder them, give them life by talking about them, getting the feel for the future, this sense of excitement for something new.
The Second Step: Ideas Arise (Boiling)
Second, the golden liquid you just extracted needs to boil with hops to balance out the malty sweetness with a little bittering and flavorful aromas to create your brew’s character. Just like in the bubbling, boiling action of the brew, the steeping process of ideas come to fruition and action begins. Ideas are turning into plans. This is the time to assess your skillset and character to determine if the ideas you came up with in the first step can turn into something real, something with robust flavor and action waiting to bubble over. But take it slow, be intentional with every thought, especially in this stage of the process. You need to be well aware of the time it will take to create something with great flavor, and you need to add each skillset into the mixture at just the right time, so as not to boil over. The goal here is timing and anticipation.
The Third Step: Action (Fermentation)
Third, the solution, now full of flavor, is cooled and yeast is added to begin fermentation, the process which turns your brew into beer. I call this part getting down to business because the excitement of something new that started this recipe is now slowing down enough for serious thought. Time to get down to business and make it real. Order business cards, start a website, post on social media. The idea has fermented into something tangible.
The Fourth Step: Real Work (Patience)
Fourth, the yeast ferments the sugars, releasing carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol. The real work now begins, and if you move too quickly during this stage, all of the work from the previous steps will have little meaning because the final product will not have the desired flavor or depth. So, create content, but do it with ingenuity and authenticity; attend meet-ups, but choose wisely so as not to lose focus; create partnerships and collaborations, but do so with precision and purpose.
The Fifth Step: The Final Product (Bottling)
Fifth, when fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled with a little bit of added sugar to provide the carbonation. The idea is complete, yet the work is never truly done, not if you want to continue what you are doing. The idea is bottled, but just like the added sugar, new ideas are constantly added to the original, new plans initiated, new content created.
The Sixth Step: Enjoy (Drink Up!)
Sixth, drink up! Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Give yourself time to relax and revel in the success of what you created. It was a challenge, yes. But isn’t that the life we chose?
In a world saturated with innovative and quirky ideas, we created a map to guide us toward a niche that fits us. Granted, this recipe is very broad, as it should be. Brewers, RVers, writers, etc. don’t want to be told exactly what to do or where to go. This recipe is meant to guide, but still leave plenty of freedom to wander and create as you see fit.
But, wait, there is one more step.
Seventh, don’t become complacent. Not only are we wanderers by nature, be we are also wonderers. Keep wondering, learning, creating, asking questions: stupid ones, little ones, big one, but especially THE big one. What can I do better?
In true brewer’s form, never stop crafting!