I still remember it like it was yesterday. Walking across that stage was an incredibly gratifying moment; partly because I successfully made it across without falling on my face while wearing 6” turquoise heels (literally the tallest I’ve ever tried on), but mainly because I had switched majors multiple times and still finished in 4.5 years. Many summer classes, all nighters, and full breakdowns later (picture lots of ugly crying), I was handed a diploma with a B.S. in Visualization from Texas A&M. That was a little over 6 years ago now.
Before I go any further, this isn’t a blog insinuating that only successful people go to college. I actually can’t stand the pressure put on every child when, simply put, college isn’t meant for everybody. However, it was meant for me and I strongly encourage everyone to at least take a few classes in something that interests you. Part of going to college was to help me find myself, to make lifelong friends, to learn to balance the many facets of life, and to learn how good I had it because shortly after graduation I learned that becoming an adult is HARD.
So is this blog to brag that I have a degree? Not at all. It’s to tell the general public that you don’t have to be the best at your craft to make it. Whatttt? How many times do you see a terrible product that seems to go viral and find success overnight? On the contrary, how many times do you see an incredible product or a person that is an absolute master of their trade, yet nobody knows about it? These things happen regularly!!! I see it all the time. Why? MARKETING. BRANDING. SHAKING HANDS. It would blow your mind if you saw the budget that big name brands have to advertise their product. This is why marketing directors typically do very well. Don’t believe me? Look up an average salary for a marketing director. Actually, I’ll do it for you. Click here.
I guess the point of this article is to encourage you to invest equal parts advertising and (insert passion). People assume I hunt all the time. Wrong again. I live on 800 acres and could hunt every day, but then I wouldn’t be taking care of business. If you own a business, you have to run it like a business. Work hard, play hard, right? I’ve been helping edit a film and write articles, in between answering emails, being present on numerous 1-2 hour conference calls, sending proposals, taking photos and designing new content. I am my own PR, HR and accounting department, graphic designer, event coordinator, and everything in between. My favorite title is boss, because it’s one of the greatest challenges of all. While I do intend to grow, I currently do most of it alone and let me tell you - it’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding. I have really big dreams for Followherarrow and I’m a long ways off from accomplishing them, so I take most tasks on myself to help with the budget.
PSA: I’m not a savage in the field. I hunt a lot more than the average person which is why I fill more tags than the average person, but in terms of percentage, I fail often and come home with unfilled tags regularly. Does that mean I’m the worst hunter ever? Heck no! I think what’s neat is being able to tell a story regardless of the outcome of your hunt. I don’t work with companies who expect me to kill all the time, and if I did I’d quit working with them because it’s just too much pressure. I’m just a girl that likes to hunt and travel and THAT’S what I spend my time advertising: the truth. That’s why I show mistakes and failures in the field. I am human and I can’t stand when others think people are perfect. It’s discouraging and makes you feel crappy about yourself when in reality we’re all flawed. Back to the point though: I can’t say “the truth always wins” because even a lie can win (see this example). Instead I’ll say: good marketing always wins.
You’ve got to tell the world what you believe in and what you stand for, and it takes a branded company with consistent marketing to do that. I wrote an article years ago on this exact subject, titled “Tips for Marketing Yourself,” and it’s still where I send every question that sounds something like “How do I get to where you are? How do I get to go on hunts and travel?” Of course social media has grown tremendously and there are even more ways to expand your platforms, but I feel that the article covers the basics. You’ve got to shake thousands of hands, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and not let the ones on the sidelines (AKA “haters”) slow you down. And they will try, I can assure you.
I never knew when I walked that stage 6+ years ago that I would feel so lost. I had no desire to work for a design firm and I had really awful, negative thoughts every day about my future. I look back now and I’m very grateful for the classes that taught me the entire Adobe Suite for all editing purposes because that’s what has saved me a ridiculous amount of money. I’ve now branded two businesses (in completely different industries) on my own with that degree. Again, invest equal parts advertising and (insert passion) - it will take you much further than simply being really good at something. Beauty and hunting are about as opposite as they get, but both businesses have been successful for one major reason: the power of marketing.
I’d like to end by saying that your story doesn’t have to be the same as my story, and most likely wouldn’t be even if you tried because that’s not how the world works. The fact is that the industry has a broad range of opportunity. There are a ton of positions for awesome jobs in the hunting community that don’t require you to be an incredible hunter or have a college degree. I didn’t start heavily investing time into design classes until my Junior year, and my saving grace was Lynda.com. My professor gave us her sign-in info and I took advantage of it every chance I could. Between that platform and the millions of free YouTube videos (which is what I utilize the most now), you don’t HAVE to get a degree to learn what I’ve learned. College was so much more for me than a degree and I’d do it a thousand times over, but don’t be discouraged if you’re not in a place to take that on. We live in a digital world now and you have so much wisdom at your fingertips. I read articles and watch how-to videos almost every day just to keep building my knowledge. The best advice I can give is to JUST START ALREADY!