Amber Hinds: Digital Marketing Expert - Business Owner - Full-Time RVer - Living and working on the road (with 3 kids!), building brands online for food companies & social good organizations. Ask Me Anything!

Amber Hinds
Jul 27, 2018

Amber is the Creative Director & Co-Owner of Road Warrior Creative, a traveling agency specializing in digital marketing for food brands and social good organizations internationally. In two years, she grew the business from a one-person freelancing shop to a team of 6. She is the mother of 3 girls, ages 8-1, and is currently traveling the country and living full-time in an RV. Amber frequently speaks on topics related to branding, SEO, digital marketing, and business ownership. She has been interviewed by Forbes, CNBC, and was featured on an episode of Going RV.

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Is it difficult to maintain or fix an RV? Do you get any help?
Aug 3, 7:34AM EDT0
What places are you looking forward to visit during the rest of the year in your RV?
Aug 3, 6:09AM EDT0

What has motivated you the most along your journey? 

Aug 1, 6:02AM EDT0

I think that I am most motivated by the joy I see in our daughters getting to experience the country.  During past summers, we stayed at home and worked while they were with a babysitter or at day camps.  This year, we're all together as a family.  Yes, we still have to work, but we're working less during the days and outside of work hours, we're getting to explore new places and have amazing state parks as our backyard. 

I believe that, as a parent, one of the greatest things I can do is expose my children to the world around us - new cultures and communities - so they can grow up to be empathic and worldly adults.  Being able to spend quality time with my children in a way that will positively contribute to their growth is highly motivating.

Aug 2, 4:49PM EDT0
What are some of the challenges you face having a toddler on the road with you constantly? Does having a young child interfere with your schedule sometimes?
Aug 1, 12:48AM EDT0

Toddlers and babies have typical challenges.  As far as driving I don't really think that our 1 year old really interferes with our schedule that much.  She's pretty content to sit in her car seat and either sleep or play with toys her sisters hand her, even on longer drive days.  We actually have to stop more frequently for her older sisters because they need bathroom breaks.  I'm sure the first summer when she's newly potty trained there will be a lot more of that.

As far as work, it can be challenging to have a baby around because they don't understand volume and being quiet during conference calls.  For this reason, aside from our weekly team meeting, my husband and I never schedule calls concurrently.  That way, one of us is always available to be on baby duty while the other is busy with clients.

Aug 2, 5:00PM EDT0
How have you incorporated social good organizations in your business plans? What percentage of the business you get actually comes from such organizations?
Jul 31, 10:51PM EDT0

We get about 60% of our revenues from nonprofits and social good organizations.  I'm not sure off the top of my head what the breakdown is between social good and nonprofits within that 60%.

Social good organizations were never part of our original business plan.  Working in the social good space came around somewhat organically because of my background in higher education marketing and serving on the board of nonprofits.  With this background, I organically started attracting nonprofit/social good clients and being referred to them, because I understand their goals and challenges.

It also helps that both my partner and I have a strong desire to give back to our communities and the world.  As such, our business has several initiatives in place that are likely attractive to social good organizations:

  • We offer a 20% discount to 501c3 nonprofits on all products and services.
  • We build a free website every year for a 501c3 nonprofit.
  • Our employees get two paid days off each year specifically for volunteering.

In the past year we have slightly adjusted our marketing plan to attract more social good organizations - mostly because I have a soft spot for them - but nothing major, aside from accepting more speaking engagements at conferences geared towrd these organizations.

Aug 2, 5:34PM EDT0

How did you create the income and wealth to be able to travel with your kids in an RV? This is one of my dreams, to do it at least for a little while before my kids grow up!

Jul 31, 3:08PM EDT0

There's an answer further down that addresses this question in greater detail, but the short answer is that we don't have a lot of "wealth" making travel possible, more that we have a consistent income and the freedom to work location-independently. 

We own our own business and work on the web with a distributed (remote) team, so as long as we have an internet connection, we can work from anywhere.  For this reason, we call our summer travels "work-cations."

If you're interested in knowing how we grew our business to support our whole family, Chris actually gave a talk a couple of years ago on the steps it took for him to be able to quit his job.  You can watch that talk on WordPress.tv. You can read more about that below.

We also generally live within our means.  We sold our house when we bought our RV.  We only have one car.  We pay our credit cards off each month and paid off all our student loans about 5 years ago.

Aug 2, 5:48PM EDT1

How do you servive the winter with all those kids? I have 3 very energetic kids and would love to go tiny, but the one thing that holds me back is the thought of being stuck inside for 3 whole months! EEK!!!

Jul 31, 12:35PM EDT0

Our two oldest kids went to school so there were very large periods of time when they were out of the house.  During the school year last year we were parked on my father-in-law's land which was about 20 minutes out of town and they didn't get out of school until 4:15, so on weekdays they actually spent very little time in the trailer.  

On weekends, we were usually busy enough that we frequently got out of the trailer - either to run errands, do laundry, or visit family.  Also, we live in Texas during the school year so they could get outside and play year-round.  We were rarely trapped inside due to weather.  If they were inside, I never really even noticed it.  Their room has two slideouts, so it has a lot of floor space and they can close the door if they want.  They also had lots of craft supplies and books, as well as a few toys to keep themsleves entertained.

Aug 2, 5:56PM EDT1
What are some of the most memorable moments you have had with your kids on the road?
Jul 30, 7:08PM EDT0

Filming our Going RV episode last February was pretty memorable - both because it was a really unique and interesting experience, and also because it was freezing cold and rainy and way more intense than we thought it would be.

Also, we can look back on it and laugh now, but our first trip last December with the RV was to Michigan for Christmas with my family and it was so bad: lots of things broke, it was freezing cold and super snowy, we got a flat tire, etc.

I polled the kids and here are some of the things they said were most memorable for them:

  • Going to state capitol buildings (this summer so far we have gone to Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, North & South Dakota, and Montana)
  • Seeing some friends in Montana that we hadn't seen for more than a year.
  • Playing "would you rather" in the car made them laugh really hard.

I've enjoyed getting to work during the day and then go swimming in lakes/rivers in the evenings after work.  We discovered this summer how much our littlest one LOVES water and she gets so excited when we even start walking toward water because she thinks we're going to go swimming.  Generally I think it's magical to get to watch them experience anything for the first time.

Aug 2, 6:14PM EDT0
Can the strategies you use be used on others sectors of the economy or are they simply designed for food and social good companies?
Jul 30, 6:24PM EDT0

Generally, the strategies that we develop could be applied to different sectors and businesses.  A lot of the over-arching concepts are universally applicable, though when it comes to social media marketing, there are certainly different platforms that work better for different types of businesses.  A food brand, for example, is likely to do a lot better on Instagram or Pinterest than a law firm might.

We do have clients outside of these two sectors, but we do our best work for food brands and social good, so that's what we typically include in our portfolio.

Aug 2, 6:20PM EDT0
Do you handle the photography of the food? Has your living and working in an RV made your work easier?
Jul 30, 4:05PM EDT0

My partner Chris has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and ran restaurants as an Executive Chef for 10 years.  He does recipe development for clients, food prep and styling, and all our food photography and videography.  We have a studio set up in our Texas office and also have a mobile photography setup so he can do food photography on the road.

No, living and working in an RV has not made our work easier.  It would 100% be easier to work from a standard office desk with a high speed internet connection and a desk phone.  It is definitely harder to work on the road, but the lifestyle is worth it.  

Aug 2, 6:32PM EDT0
Do you have a team that works with you remotely or do you do all the work on your own?
Jul 30, 2:36PM EDT0

We have a team, which currently includes a developer, a designer, a social media marketing strategist, and a digital content specialist.  You can see our team members here.  We're 100% remote, so we have employees in Texas (2 different cities), Ohio, and Colorado (we're also a registered business in all those states).

Also, we're currently hiring a client success specialist.  Client Success Specialists at Road Warrior Creative bridge the gap between a junior web developer and customer support role. If you know of anyone who might be a fit for this position, please send them to our website for more details or to apply at: https://roadwarriorcreative.com/about/join-our-team.

Aug 3, 2:56AM EDT0

How do you manage to have a good interet connection whetever you go?

Jul 30, 10:05AM EDT1

We don't always, but mostly we do have good internet connections.  Here's an answer I posted below:

We currently have unlimited plans with Verizon with 3 devices, two phones, and a mobile hotspot.  It works pretty well - we pretty much always have signal, no matter where we are.  Today we were driving through western North Dakota and maybe lost signal for about an hour.  For the most part, we stick to somewhat major roads and that keeps us near enough to cell towers.  My biggest complaint is that "unlimited" is not really unlimited.  We get throttled after 15 GB, which usually happens halfway through the month - with our work we're often uploading and downloading a lot of large files.  So we often have internet access, but at times it can be agonizingly slow.

Aug 3, 3:33AM EDT0

Hi Amber !!!

I loved the way you introduced yourself. We are an offshore digital marketing service provider. We provide SEO and social media marketing services.

We have a website narolainfotechdotcom and 4 subdirectory websites narolainfotech/web,  narolainfotech/mobile, narolainfotech/digital marketing and narolainfotech.com/mobile. 

Each of this is for website, mobile and game application development services and digital marketing that we offer. 

How can we rank the web pages?

What strategy to implement since we are facing keyword cannibalization

We have a home page and a 'hire developer'  and app development pages separately for each subdomain. 

Last edited @ Jul 30, 8:57AM EDT.
Jul 30, 8:53AM EDT0
How do you choose the right RV? Also, what do you do for health insurance?
Jul 29, 10:02PM EDT0

When it comes to choosing an RV, I think it's a pretty personal decision.  What works for one family or person is not necessarily going to work for someone else.  I'd recommend thinking about your purpose for choosing the RV and then creating two lists - one of "must have" features and one of "nice to have" features.  Then, you do your research. 

We probably went to RV dealers 4-5 times before we identified the exact brand, make and model that we wanted.  We also spent countless hours online flipping through RV floorplans and images trying to narrow it down.  Once you have an idea of what you want, it's always a good idea to read reviews and/or talk to other RV owners.  Some brands are worse than others when it comes to quality and if this is your first time buying or using an RV, there will likely be things you don't even think to ask or take into consideration.  Don't take the salesperson at their word or expect them to provide you with detailed information on every unit on the lot.

For health insurance, we are currently part of a medical cost-sharing program.  Our business provides funds to help support employees purchasing insurance, but unfortunately because we have employees in multiple states and there are only 6 of us, it is challenging to have a full business-covered health insurance plan.  Someday!

Aug 3, 3:44AM EDT0
What services of special hardware do you set up in order to have a fully functional internet connection in the RV?
Jul 29, 9:26PM EDT0

None!  I've read about people using signal boosters and things like that, but honestly, we just alternate between our phones and a mobile hotspot, and we do fine.

Aug 3, 3:46AM EDT0
How do you accommodate 3 kids in a single RV?
Jul 29, 11:11AM EDT0

We have a 38 foot travel trailer with a large bunk room that has two slideouts and 3 beds.  Here's our floor plan:

They don't have a ton of toys, but they have plenty of space for their clothing and each have their own private space.  This trailer works incredibly well for our whole family actually.

Aug 3, 3:10AM EDT0
How would you describe your competitive advantage over other similar agencies?
Jul 29, 8:11AM EDT0

Road Warrior Creative has several competitive advantages over similar agencies.  Here's a quick snapshot of some of the things we're proud of:

  • We have a strong team with a great skillset.  Our team is our greatest asset and provides expertise that other agencies don't have.
  • Everything we do is driven by our core values.  We have 6 values that are central to our business and are incredibly transparent about how they factor into our work and partnerships.  We have found that these values make us stronger as a team and company.
  • When it comes to food marketing, my partner Chris has experience many marketing professionals cannot claim: a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and 10 years experience running restaurants.  We "get" food in a way that many other agencies don't.
  • Finally, we think strategically and we act quickly.  In all of our services, we provide a boutique agency experience and big agency results.
Aug 3, 3:59AM EDT0
What are the differences between branding food companies and branding other services?
Jul 29, 4:53AM EDT0
What are your thoughts on email marketing as part of a digital marketing strategy for a B2C business?
Jul 28, 7:44PM EDT0

Email marketing is a great way to connect with B2C customers, if done effectively. 

Consumers today are bombarded with unprecedented quantities of content, and that doesn't stop in their email box. Many email programs now actively recognize and file away emails deemed promotional in nature, so if you want to create an email marketing campaign, your emails need to:

  1. Successfully navigate the maze of filters, user preferences and algorithms to reach its intended audience.
  2. , Engage and excite that audience and compel them to take meaningful action, first by opening the email, then by clicking on links in your email to go to your website or get entered into your sales funnel.

Sending regular email communications to your customers is a great way to stay front of mind and drive sales growth, especially for product-based businesses.  We typically recommend email marketing for most of our clients.

Aug 3, 4:11AM EDT0
What state do you use for your residency? How do you get internet on the road?
Jul 28, 4:10PM EDT0

We're residents of Texas.

We currently have unlimited plans with Verizon with 3 devices, two phones, and a mobile hotspot.  It works pretty well - we pretty much always have signal, no matter where we are.  Today we were driving through western North Dakota and maybe lost signal for about an hour.  For the most part, we stick to somewhat major roads and that keeps us near enough to cell towers.  My biggest complaint is that "unlimited" is not really unlimited.  We get throttled after 15 GB, which usually happens halfway through the month - with our work we're often uploading and downloading a lot of large files.  So we often have internet access, but at times it can be agonizingly slow.

Jul 29, 1:09AM EDT0
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