Entrepreneur: Ali Carr

Biz: Basecamp Outdoor (w/ partner Jenna Celmer)

Tilt: Jobs for outdoor brands

Channels: Facebook (23.7K); newsletter (9.5K)

Rev Streams: Premium newsletter subscriptions, paid job listings, brand partnerships

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Cultivate a community: Unlike job boards, Basecamp Outdoor facilitates conversations so people can put faces with names in front of hiring managers.
  • Take a dollar: Never underestimate the power of a dollar. A person who paid $1 for a listing eventually facilitated a conversation between Basecamp and his brand. 
  • Track to tell the story: Tracking engagement in the newsletter lets Basecamp tell a better story to brands about why they could get or stay involved.

The Story:

Ali Carr had been working for 10 years in media for outdoor brands when she found herself between jobs. She was in several Facebook job board groups, but none filled the niche she was looking for: media jobs for outdoor companies. So she decided to start her own. 

She asked 200 of her contacts to join a Facebook group she created, Basecamp: Outdoor Jobs & More. “Initially, it was outdoor industry creatives, PR, communications, writing, and editing jobs because that’s where I had contacts. I modeled that after some of the other Facebook groups such as Dreamers and Doers and Sloane’s list,” she says.

@ChasingAliCarr created an @Facebook group, Basecamp: Outdoor Jobs & More to fill a niche. Click To Tweet

At first, the group grew organically. “I invited the people in the group to invite 10 people that they each knew who they thought would be interested in this type of group for the outdoor industry,” she shares. “I just liked that there was a regular cadence of jobs, popping up all the time.” 

The Facebook group has grown steadily, almost entirely from word of mouth. In three years, the private group has over 23K members. Brands can post their job offerings and find top talent; job hunters can interact directly with brands. Engagement is high. “Unlike a job board where you’re sending your resume off into the ether, you could have a conversation and really put your face or your name in front of the hiring manager,” Ali says. 

Sell what you’ve got

With the group’s success, Ali and her business partner Jenna Celmer branched out to monetize their work. “I launched a subsidiary group called Basecamp Gear Exchange where people can post outdoor gear. It’s been much less successful than Basecamp Outdoor Jobs. We were charging $1 for listings in there, just testing the waters and someone did pay $1,” she says. But that was it. 

They explored other options. In May 2020, they launched a newsletter, Basecamp Weekly. They curate jobs in the outdoor industry, a member spotlight, and gear giveaways. The free version includes between 10 and 15 jobs, while the premium version ($3 a month) covers 45 to 90 jobs. 

The newsletter now has over 9.5K subscribers and adds about 500 new subscribers a month. Ali says new subscribers primarily come from the Facebook group.

“We were very focused on the members from a business model perspective and thinking like, ‘Oh, what do the members need and how do we sell that to them?’ But then we realized that we should be more focused on sponsorship dollars. As our audience has grown, brands have been reaching out to us saying, ‘How can we get in front of your audience?” 

As Basecamp Outdoor's audience has grown, brands have been asking to get in front of their audience, says @ChasingAliCarr Click To Tweet

While premium memberships are still offered, brands now can pay for job listings, sponsorships, and gear giveaways at prices ranging from $30 to $1K or more. Giveaways in the newsletter are booked for the next three months. In fact, Ali is having a hard time keeping up. And the member who paid $1 to list his gear on the marketplace? She recently had a meeting with his brand about sponsorship.  

Track, track, track

Most sponsorships have come from within the Basecamp Outdoor community. A strong base of PR, marketing, and advertising professionals in her audience, Ali has found a lot of success reaching out to her members for potential partners. They understand the value both as job seekers and employers. 

Still, she has to make the sale. To communicate the value to sponsors, Ali has been fanatical about tracking member engagement. “Make sure you have clickable elements everywhere within your newsletter so that you can track if people are clicking on things. If you just have text and nothing to click on you can’t tell if anyone’s reading it,” she says. 

Make sure to have clickable elements in your newsletter. Otherwise, you can't tell if anyone's reading it, says @ChasingAliCarr. Click To Tweet

“I’ve also done some data collecting from our newsletter from last year, and looked at what the top 20 jobs that people were clicking on out of all the jobs that we’ve posted,” she notes. “Then I’m approaching those brands to say, ‘Hey, our audience loves you. Out of like 1,000 of jobs that we posted last year, you were number one or number two. Here are ways you can get involved with us …” 

At the end of the day, have fun

While managing a huge Facebook group, pursuing sponsorships, and publishing a newsletter is a lot of work, first and foremost, Ali believes it has to be fun. “I don’t want to put pressure on us to say we’re going to achieve this in one year because that just adds pressure we don’t need to give ourselves,” Ali says. 

“We don’t have a goal of making a shiny thing to try to sell an acquisition. Our goal is just to keep having fun with this and keep growing it and keep our members engaged and excited about it and kind of go from there.”

About the author

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was 6 and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 26 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. Currently, she is based on Maui and, when not writing or parenting, she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.