Interview with James Hills of ManTripping
Location: San Diego, CA
I was happy to kick-off this new interview series with my longtime colleague and friend, James Hills (ManTripping). He’s a fellow men’s lifestyle content creator and an all-around awesome dude that I’ve had the pleasure of adventuring with on various press trips. Here are James’ answers to our ‘How Content Creators Are Surviving the Pandemic‘:
How are you keeping busy during the pandemic?
Without travel, I assumed that my life would have tons of time but after a couple weeks “recovering” from the shock of not being able to travel or even do car reviews I pivoted a bit and focused on building up my experience with live streaming and building our new MenWhoBlog.com site into a multi-author destination to showcase voices from male influencers. It’s a work in progress but it is consuming way more time than I expected and paying back way more dividends than I expected … though not money yet!
Other than that I’m catching up on video games and shows on TV like everyone else out there :)
How are you making money?
I’m still getting some money from ads and sponsored posts though that has mostly dried up. PUA was a godsend and has given me the flexibility to focus on building my sites including ManTripping.com and CruiseWestCoast.com as well as MenWhoBlog.com without needing to focus on promoting products that didn’t fit the audience. Things seem to be getting better right now as we head into Father’s Day and Men’s Health month but for our live streams we’re being paid in booze and energy bars from different brands so that’s not so bad!
How has your routine changed?
I’m not traveling every week so I’m getting way more sleep, I’m eating better, I’m connecting with more friends and family. It’s actually sorta nice in a way. Sad that it took a pandemic and human tragedy to bring about a glimpse into a world where going here and doing that wasn’t the most important thing. I hope this sentiment of looking for the positives in life and communities coming together to help each other with a cup of sugar here and a roll of toilet paper there continues.
Since Heather has asthma and has had phenomena in the past, we’ve been extra sensitive about avoiding stores and other situations where there are people so that’s been a big adjustment as well. However, I’m absolutely thankful to friends who see something we need and are able to help snag it for us. For instance, a neighbor got me a roll of quarters from the bank the other day so we could do laundry. That was super awesome of her and I’m trying to re-pay that kindness by sharing products that we are sent for review. It helps kindness go around and that’s something we were all missing before.
Are you diversifying your content?
Yes, MenWhoBlog.com is all about branching out into new areas and focusing on aspects of Men’s Lifestyle that weren’t a good fit on ManTripping.com and likewise for other people. For instance, I find there are dad bloggers who like spirits but can’t cover alcohol on a “dad blog” and there are auto writers who enjoy fashion, foodie bloggers who like fishing etc. So we’re focusing on building that out. Likewise, on ManTripping.com we’re looking at building out new ways to travel such as promoting “regional food favorites” such as being able to order “Lobster from Maine” or “Italian Beef from Chicago” so that people can travel virtually and experience new cultures while keeping them happy and satisfied even if they are stuck at home.
Will you continue being a content creator or go back to a traditional job?
I hope I don’t have to get a “real job” again :) I’m too invested in this and I’ve prepared myself over the past several years to both have a low overhead as well as a diverse set of opportunities to work with brands. Some are completely DOA such as CruiseWestCoast.com, which was tied to selling cruise vacations where we’ve had more cancelations and lost commissions this year than actual clients who have sailed. However, next year … who knows. The cruise industry will be back, leads are strong for 2021 and so with the investments, I’m making into the other properties we should hopefully come out of this stronger than we were going into it.
One thing I am also 110% focused on right now ii being positive. I don’t want to make stuff up and pretend the world isn’t shitty right now. However, my hope is that as an “Influencer” that collectively we can lead, lend our support to organizations such as the ICF that are helping folks in Mexico recover as well as brands that are raising money to help the USBG such as Diageo / Johnnie Walker’s “Tips From Home” program. I might not be making money right now but this is a GREAT opportunity to support brands that I enjoy, build relationships, and maybe offer someone a brief moment of happiness instead of worrying about what’s going on outside. That goes for folks like you and I working to promote each other’s content or even simply reaching out for spontaneous conversations on Twitter that aren’t brand related. That means popping into a live stream and saying “dude that rocks!” … this is an opportunity for all of us to take a step back, catch our breath and imagine a world that we want to live in once things open back up again.
Keep an eye out for other content creator interviews as they go live by bookmarking the following link: ‘How Content Creators Are Surviving the Pandemic‘.