Outdoor Content Creator Series: How to Become a TikTok Influencer
Outdoor content creation offers an opportunity to flex your creativity while exploring the wilderness. It’s a great way to help connect others to backcountry adventures too. Indeed, many outdoor adventurers are eager to find ways to leverage social media and other digital platforms to align their passions with their work. That’s why we started our outdoor content creator series!
In this series, we ask different types of outdoor content creators:
- How they got started in outdoor content creation
- What they enjoy about being outdoor content creators
- How they balance content creation with simply enjoying the outdoors
- Tips they have for others looking to get into the field
In part one, we chatted with our very own brand ambassador, Michelle Zhang, about what it’s like being a brand ambassador and her advice for getting started as one. In part two, we dove into all things gear with Liz Thomas, editor-in-chief at Treeline Review!
Now, in part three of our outdoor content creator series, we’re taking a hike into all things TikTok with Kacy Guajardo, also known as @kacystrails!
Interview With Kacy Guajardo on Being a TikTok Influencer in the Outdoor Industry
Kacy Guajardo is a Colorado-based hiker, skier, and type-2 fun-seeker. Her TikTok account focuses on educational and inspiring outdoor content. Today, she has more than 50,000 followers on the platform. We caught up with Kacy to learn more about what it’s like being a TikTok influencer and how others can get started too!
Gossamer Gear: Can you start by telling us a little about how you got started making outdoor content on TikTok?
Kacy: I’ve always loved sharing my adventures with friends and family on Instagram, so when TikTok came up in 2020, it was a natural progression for me. I worked in social media for a few professional sports teams in college and early in my career, so it’s been cool to use my professional skills for content that I’m really passionate about. My parents said that the video format makes it easier for them to stay connected to me and follow my life since I’m so bad at calling home. Sorry, mom and dad!
What about short-form video do you think helps inspire others?
It’s quick and to the point. When I’m looking for advice on gear or a quick review, I don’t want to read a super long article or sit through a 10-minute YouTube video. It’s an easy way to share information without getting bogged down in the details. I want my followers to be able to scroll through my page and get all the information they need to get into backpacking without spending hours researching themselves. I put a lot of time and research into my educational content so I can be a one-stop resource for new adventurers!
What’s the time commitment like for editing videos, sharing them, interacting with followers, and all that jazz?
It takes a lot more time than you’d think! I typically spend about 10 to 15 hours a week focusing on my social media. Interacting with my followers is my favorite part of it, so I spend a lot of time replying to comments and building my community. My goal for TikTok has always been to build an awesome community of rad adventurers that I consider friends rather than just followers, so that’s why I put engaging with my audience above all else.
How do you choose which brands to highlight or partner with? What kind of things do brands expect from you and what do you expect in return?
I try to partner with companies that I feel are a natural fit for me in my life. With Gossamer Gear, I used a GG pack on my thru-hike of the Colorado Trail in 2020 and have been a huge supporter of the company ever since. I found myself recommending their products to everyone I knew, so it just made sense for me to shoot my shot with them, and I’m so glad I did! I think my GG content did really well because I had the freedom to create what I felt would work best on my page and it translated nicely to the brand page too. Freedom to create is vital to a good partnership!
I also prefer to work with smaller companies with in-house marketing teams because I feel like I can connect on a deeper level with the brand. Typically, the employees of outdoor companies share similar interests in the outdoors, so they just get it. It’s important to me that each brand deal is collaborative, but I also have the freedom to create because there’s not a cookie-cutter template for a successful ad.
Is it hard to balance curating content on a screen with enjoying the moment in the outdoors? How do you find your balance?
I try to hold a strong boundary with myself when I’m in the outdoors so that I don’t start feeling like every hike is a content trip. I’ll set my intention before I head out—like, okay, this trip is for content, so I’ll bring my camera gear and not feel bad about taking longer on a hike. A lot of my trips, though, I set the intention of staying present and off my phone because hiking is my time. It’s really important to me to hold this boundary because I don’t want to lose my love for the outdoors by filming every second of my trip.
Do you have any advice for others who may be interested in sharing their outdoor content on TikTok?
Just start posting! Your first few (hundred, lol) videos will probably be crap, but don’t worry too much about that. You’ll find your content style and your workflow will become easier and more efficient. A big part of this for me was getting over the fear and embarrassment of filming in public. It’s always going to be low-key embarrassing, but for me, I know my content helps so many people navigate the outdoor lifestyle, so I just have to remind myself why I’m doing it! You can’t connect with people unless you put yourself out there, and trust me, it’s worth it!
Use Short Videos to Educate and Inspire Other Outdoor Enthusiasts on TikTok
Our main takeaway from chatting with Kacy is that short videos can be really impactful for educating people who are newer to backpacking or other outdoor activities. We also learned how this form can create meaningful community. Becoming a TikTok influencer is a time commitment, but with healthy boundaries around when you are and are not creating new content, you can still find plenty of time to simply enjoy the outdoors.
You can follow Kacy on TikTok at @kacystrails.Have another type of outdoor industry gig you’re curious about? Reach out and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see if we can round up another interview to learn all about it!