We recently invited the Badfish co-founders, Marty and Dylan, to our office to talk about content and the outdoor industry. Marty and Dylan spoke from their experience on the freelance production side of things and our brand content manager, Jake, joined to speak about our in-house brand side of things. Read along to hear what these guys had to say.
Tell us about yourself, where are you from, where do you work, and what is your job title?
Dylan: From RI, moved to Charleston a few years ago for the palm trees. Marty and I tag team all productions from start to finish. He’s fallen more into the role of producing, where I tend to be more behind the lens. But we do stay flexible and I think that has served us well and has given us more of a run & gun reputation.
Marty: Also, from Rhode Island, I'm the other half of Badfish. It's hard to give us job titles. Generally for projects, I work on scheduling the talent, managing the logistics, and overseeing the brand relationships. I think one of the reasons why we've been successful at Badfish is that we balance each other in the business and support each other on different jobs to complete a project.
Jake: I'm from Chattanooga, based in Charleston. I work full time in-house at Free Fly as the brand content manager.
What was your path to where you are now?
Dylan: In 2012, Marty found instagram and used it as a channel for our fishing adventures, back then it was called @badfishangling. We quickly realized we were on to something when we started getting a ton of traction. It was a side gig for awhile, but we eventually dove in full time probably before we should have. It took us years to figure out what to do with the brand, we were first a blog, a video aggregating platform and community, and then landed on a production company. And we’ll probably keep evolving. Today we offer photo and video work for all sorts of companies, but mostly related to the outdoor space.
Marty: I have had a lot of side gigs in my life, but before Badfish, I got a roll with a craft beer distributor and did a lot of sales. I dealt with a ton of different bars, restaurants, and brands. I think that was a lot of great experience to what I do today, which is talking with and managing a ton of different brands and people.
Jake: I started working in the outdoor industry when I was like 12 by stocking Chacos in the backroom of a speciality outdoor retail store called Rock/Creek Outfitters. I then went to the University of Tennessee and studied graphic design with the intent to get a degree that would allow me to pursue creative marketing, design, and storytelling opportunities in the outdoor industry. After graduating, I quickly joined a start-up in the outdoor industry as their first employee. I worked there for almost six years on marketing, design, and sales. Along the way I have had the opportunity to forge relationships with some of the brightest minds, coolest brands, and conservation groups out there. Almost a year ago I decided to pursue new opportunities in the industry, which fortunately led me to Free Fly.
What exactly do you do?
Dylan: Lets see, as we mentioned, we do a lot of things; but the bulk of it is being on a shoot and traveling or being home, editing, and packing for the next one.
Marty: Much of time consists of working with our brand partners. I spend a lot of time retaining clients like YETI, SweetWater, Costa Sunglasses, and Free Fly -- while also looking for new opportunities.
Jake: I have a really really fun job, which allows me to focus on organic social media, blog content, photo/video shoots, ambassador programs, and keeping things on brand. Everyday is a balance of high-level strategy and real-time marketing.
What do you like most about your job?
Dylan: Meeting people new people on shoots has been a real pleasure that we didn’t anticipate when starting. It really is an amazing industry we are a part of. I will say traveling and new experiences are something I live for, however, I should mention it does take its tole. It's hard to get in a routine when you’re away more than you are home. I guess the routine is packing and unpacking suitcases.
Marty: Meeting people all over the world and the new experiences that we embark on for each project. It's really the people and the relationships that we form on each assignment that is the most fun. It backs into the outdoor industry, which is really awesome, because you're sharing passions/projects with people that you'd already be friends with.
Jake: Our awesome team, family-owned business, and community. I also really enjoy creating and marketing content that tells a meaningful story to support our product and seeing the conversations and community develop around that. It's especially fun to market a product that you can touch and has such a thoughtful and purposeful design.
What is the hardest thing about your job?
Dylan Hmmm... webinars and interviews. Just kidding. But the biggest challenge from being a production service business is not knowing what it's going to be like six months from now. We certainly have things on the calendar, but, we have to leave space to take on new projects. One of the biggest learning curves has been around the sales cycles of brands. We would pitch brands, and it wouldn't be the right time for them and then a year later it's not the right time for us.
Marty: There is no how-to manual on how to make your own production company. We've always had to evolve, from the first blog/website/Instagram to where we're headed in 2019. But that's also what's kept us alive.
Jake: To us, it often seems like we're living in a content arms race. Everyday people expect new and unique content. Social platforms are always changing. It's getting more expensive and difficult to advertise and the consumer's attention span is really really short.
What is your perspective on content in today's marketing world?
Dylan: There’s so much content out there that I think every brand needs to find their personality and develop it. There’s also so many ways and outlets to do that. For us, we take a visual approach and show the side of these outdoor activities that we see.
Marty: The content world is super saturated. And it can be a challenge to stand out.
Jake: Our perspective with creating and sharing content at Free Fly is to always start with two things first: the Why and the Who. We focus on content that provides value, builds trust, creates relationships, helps our customers answer problems, and gets them inspired to get outdoors with our products.
Where do you think the outdoor industry is heading?
Dylan: Thats a tough one, but I think the outdoor space will continue to embrace social and digital media for growth. It's a visual industry and it's important to take advantage of that. It's been crazy to follow the growth of some activities, personalities and brands due to instagram for example. There's a lot of upsides to the current state of the media game and the industry. It's enabled a lot of people to get into the sport as they're seeing different sides of it. It's also creating a younger user base, along the way, instead of the traditional fisherman that we all picture when we close our eyes: older, white, male, wearing a fishing vest, and holding a can of worms.
Marty: It's certainly evolved a lot. Today, people are able to share stories through social media that shows a whole different side to the sports. It's less about the grip and grin or how many ducks they shot, but rather, showing more authentic connectable moments, which is great for the sports and the industry overall.
Jake: I think the outdoor industry is really focused on diversifying their messaging and their audience. It's a priority for brands to speak to a wide-range of consumers with different backgrounds, skillsets, genders, and on. I also think the types of adventures that today's consumer are taking are way different than they were in the past. Instead of weeklong trips, we're seeing a lot more micro-adventures. So brands need to be aware of that and cater their marketing towards a diverse consumer and also that "weekend warrior" mindset.
If you could tell your college self one thing, what would you say?
Dylan: I would say finding a side passion outside of school. I wish I camped and explored much more out of class.
Marty: I would say take it easy on the credit card... don't do it. Just kidding, but seriously. But, it's easy to get caught up in college and school, but make sure that you're still discovering new passions. For 4 years in college, I was 45 minutes from the most incredible places to this date I've ever fished and, while it's easy to get caught up with college and school, you need to make sure you're still getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. End of story: try things that are out of your comfort zone and meet people that are doing those things.
Jake: Find a mentor and learn everything they know.
All Photos: via Badfish x Free Fly projects.