Our guest today: Kerstin Martin
Kerstin Martin is a leading Squarespace Expert and Calm Business Educator who helps entrepreneurs simplify their business tech with the all-in-one Squarespace platform. Kerstin also publishes the popular Eule Planner®, an analog business planner specifically designed for digital entrepreneurs. As an HSP and empath Kerstin’s approach to teaching and running an online business is calm and gentle, with a focus on delivering high quality content, service and training. She advocates and practices kindness, integrity and inclusivity. Kerstin is originally from Germany and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her American husband and fluffy grey cat.
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Hi everyone. We are now live I’m here live with Kirsten Martin and I absolutely admire her work. If you haven’t checked it out, make sure you go to KirstenMartin.com. And today we have just a variety of topics. From running a calm business. Kirsten is Square Space expert. I’ve been using Squarespace since 2015 for myself, for Phaseroll.com and dozens of my clients. So I have consulted not directly in person with Kirsten, but I’ve followed her blog, Transition. So many of you guys have the question about how to move from 7.0 to 7.1. Kirsten has all of those answers. And before we jump in, I’m going to do a slightly more official intro and I’m just so excited to jump in as a conversation today. So Kirsten Martin is a leading Squarespace expert and calm business educator who helps entrepreneurs simplify their business tech with the all in one Squarespace platform. Kirsten also publishes the popular Uly Planner, an analog business planner specifically designed for digital entrepreneurs as an HSP and empath Curson’s approach to teaching and running an online business. Is calm and gentle with a focus on delivering high quality content services and training.
She advocates and practices kindness, integrity, inclusivity. Kirsten is originally from Germany and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her American husband and fluffy grey cat. And so with that said, welcome Kirsten. I’m so grateful you’re here.
Thank you, Faye. Thank you for having me. And as everyone knows, can tell now I have an accent. I never lost my German accent.
Is this something that you’re embracing now, Kristin? In terms of having a creator with an accent, I always have, actually.
I’ve lived abroad. I moved abroad in my twentys I lived in England, actually for 16 years. So you can still detect a little bit of British sometimes on top of the German. It was funny because sometimes people who follow me online and they only see my written content and then they see me live or hear me on a podcast and it’s like, oh, this woman has an accent. So they’re a little bit surprised sometimes. But yeah, I have no problem with that at all. I mean, it is what it is, right?
Yeah, I mean, as you’re talking, I realize I actually have a long history with my German friends. When I came to the States in 2000, my roommate is Francisca, I believe she’s from Berlin. And having her as a roommate resulted in all the German. Kids will basically kind of move around my dorm room. And as a result, I remember going to, you know, wasn’t dating anybody, but here comes prom in America. I was like, what is that even? Let’s go. And my roommate is like, you’re not going alone. Pick any German guy you want. So one was chosen for me and it was a great time. And over the years, my mom often asked me, like, they used to have a lot of German and british friends. So there we are.
I love that. I don’t know. We’re all connected. I mean, I’ve always traveled a lot, and I’ve lived abroad, and I just kind of love it. I think this is really it’s kind of the way to peace, to be honest. People need to travel. They need to experience different cultures and see how other people live and connect. I’ve connected with so many different people over the last few decades, just through much rebels. It’s amazing. People I wouldn’t have normally met otherwise. Of course, now with the internet, we meet people, too. And that’s really one of the good things about the internet. I love that you have that german connection.
Absolutely. And a lot of people wouldn’t know this about your origin stories. So, I mean, given right now probably isn’t the easiest time to travel, but for people out there when you can definitely travel safely and consider as part of your life journey. But, kirsten, you worked as a flight attendant at one point. That enable you to travel to many parts of the world. Tell us about that.
Yeah, well, when I was younger, I mean, I actually always wanted to travel. I actually wanted to leave germany. And I mean, I love Germany. It’s my home country. But I don’t know, in those days, they were always too german for me. That’s the only way I can explain it. So I wanted to get out into the world. So I actually started out just by being an au pair abroad. I moved to Canada, lived there for three years, moved around, lived in Toronto, vancouver, Miami, working as an a pair. Then I worked for worldfare for an expo in canada. And then I thought, you know, I want to keep traveling. And so I thought, well, the best way to do that is to join an airline. So that’s how I did that. I joined Lufthansa and flew for a few years, and it was great. I loved it because on the flight, which can be a bit boring, I was working, and then when I arrived somewhere, I was off. I’m like the business traveler who then had to go to work. I was off, and I could experience and explore. So it was a pretty exciting time.
And then, of course, it was like before 911 and all the real stressful times that sometimes people experience those travel started. So I flew for a few years, and then I continued working for the airlines in the town office. I got into technology there. Actually, that’s where that happened. I worked at Heathrow airport for a few years as well, so I was always able to continue traveling because I had the concessions. I still missed that. I always had few tickets in my purse. I could just go somewhere if I wanted to, and I missed the spontaneity of it, but it now I have to book way in advance and all.
That when does that technology pivot happen? Because I think a lot of the people here consider people making career transitions as this impossible thing. I mean, everybody’s going through the great resignation period right now. So could you maybe talk about like, when you realize that whether it’s square space or maybe something before that, you’re able to move away from being a flight attendant into something like online digital business? What was that like?
Well, when I started working, obviously, like a few decades ago, so when I worked at the airport, we obviously had computers there, but with the old screens, the green on the black background, you can literally learn your commands and all of that. There was no user interface like we have now, but I was always interested in that. I always loved it. When we first started using computers, I fully embraced that. So when I was still at Lufthansa, I kind of became the reservation systems expert. So I learned that and became an expert at It. And then an It company actually headhunted me. They were also working in travel technology. And so I became a project manager there, actually, for the world’s first online reservation system for an airline, which was KLM in those days. So that’s how I started to get into technology, because I had an interest in It, though I’ve always loved technology because I’m someone I like to improve processes. I like to make things more efficient, more easy. Maybe that’s the German in me, I don’t know. But I’ve always been that way, so I was always learning. Now I’m completely self taught.
I’m actually a university dropout, so I never know that degree. I’m just not an academic learner. I learn by doing, and that’s basically what I did in all my jobs. I have an interest, I learned, and I always learned enough to do what I want to do, but I didn’t go beyond that. But over the years, I had a lot of different jobs. I think I’ve always been entrepreneur at heart, actually. I think that’s why I changed career or jobs so much, because I like to start things to make them better, and then when they’re really good, I leave and I look for the next project. If you want, I can relate to.
That so much, actually. Lately, Kristen, I’ve been thinking about the fact that I think people like us are more builders than maybe scalers, and I never really thought about that kind of distinction. And I find it just an enormous amount of joy fulfillment in starting something new, watching it grow, and then until it reaches a certain point, now that I’ve lost interest, it’s like, now I want to move on to the next thing. So I wonder how we can maybe relate that to your business, because it’s something again, I dropped in anybody who’s watching this, it’s in the description, it’s in the comments. I look at your website and it’s certainly not one day, one month, one year worth of work. I know, I can tell there’s a lot of iteration there. Clean up their updates to it constantly. What was it like at the beginning for you when you first started your cursormarten.com and published the first few articles? Could you talk about the transformation, perhaps even before it became a business?
So I started actually blogging in 2005, when blogging kind of became a thing. I thought, oh, this is neat. And I started with a weight loss blog because I’m forever trying to lose weight. So that was how I got into blogging. And then that evolved into a blog just about my life, my travels, my moves and all of that. And I used WordPress initially, and then I discovered Squarespace in 2008, and I really liked it. So I was always redesigning my blogs. That was like my creative outlet. At the end of 2014, we moved from the UK to the US. And a friend of mine asked me to redesign her business website. And I was like, okay, I can do that. I’ll do it in Square space. I did, and it was a huge success. It actually changed her business overnight. I went through the roof and it really had such an impact. So when we landed here in the Pacific Northwest, originally the idea was that I would find a new job. I thought, well, why don’t I become a Square designer? See, this is the thing, I didn’t plan this. I didn’t plan to start a business, let alone in my early fifty s.
I just have ideas and then sometimes I act on them. Because of how this happened, I thought this would be the coolest thing ever to become a web designer, using Squarespace, which I love, and being creative and actually making that business my livelihood. And so that is kind of how it happened. So I certainly didn’t know everything at the time. But I think I benefited from my professional career, from all the different things I’ve done. Having worked in sales and marketing and management and all of that. I think that enabled me to start up my business fairly quickly and to get the information I needed. I formed an LLC pretty quickly. Then people kept coming to me. Word of mouth is how I started out, and I did that for a few years, design websites. I became kind of a local web designer, or Square based web designer, for instance. And then I started offering online courses because I actually took someone else’s course about online courses. And I thought, oh, that’s neat. And people always ask me, how do you do this? How do you do that in Square? So I thought, well, hey, again, why not create course and see where it goes?
That was around 2017 when you created the first course.
I assume 2016, actually 2016. And then I did both for two years. For two years I did both one on one web design and the courses, because of course, the courses didn’t immediately replace my web design income. And then at the end of 2018, I realized, okay, this is too much now. It was getting too much. At that point, I think I had three courses and I still had my one on one clients, and it was too much for one person to handle. So I thought, okay, I’ll experiment. So for one year, I’m just going to focus on my courses, not do any one on one design and see how it goes. This is what I always do, I experiment. I always say, Well, I think this is a good idea, let me try it. And if it doesn’t work, I can always go back to web design, or I can always figure something else out. So it’s really a succession of experiments. That’s how I built my business.
A quick question here. This is like, we’re getting into like some really juicy stuff, which is a lot of people I know, myself included, we really struggle to make that decision of moving our business completely different into like to me, working with clients 101 versus purely from digital products courses and other digital products I run, and giving up a portion of the income is a pretty hard decision. And what was it like for you? At what point did you wait until your course was replaced? 50% of your income, or 25% or 120%? I mean, when did you make that decision?
So when I looked at my numbers so this was the end of 2018. When I look at my numbers, I thought, well, it’s just enough. I think it was about 50% maybe, of what my web design income was. So I thought, well, this is enough. And I also like to talk to my husband because we’re kind of a team. And I said this might impact my income. He always supports anything I do, to be honest. But I thought, well, we’re still a team, so I just want him to be aware of this. So I just thought, I just got to try it. It felt a little scary, but also, to be honest, it felt a little exciting. Part of me was actually really excited too, because one on one clients, I mean, I love my clients, but it can be energetically, quite draining, I think, for me, because I’m an HSP highly sensitive person, which makes me very good at what I do. But it also means that energy wise, it can be really difficult sometimes. I just wanted to try something that would give me a bit more flexibility from having a schedule where other people depend on what I do.
I would say I was probably at about 50%, and then I gave myself twelve months. So I said, I’ll try it now for twelve months, for 2019, and just see how it goes. And it was actually amazing because the time that I freed up by not doing one on one projects, I could fully then invest into my courses. I launched a new course, and actually 2019 was the best year I had.
Yes, that was actually I think my first six figure was actually 2018. But 2019 was even better. Actually, every year, successively has always been better than the previous year. Wow. You have to break that stream. So it actually worked out. And I feel, yes, it was a risk. And I understand people. It’s hard sometimes to take a risk, especially if you’re self employed and you’re the only person that is responsible for everything. But it’s definitely, I think, if your heart is in it. And I love teaching too, and that’s something I used to do in my corporate career as well. I used to give a lot of workshops, so I knew something I would enjoy. So for me, and because I freed up the time, you know the saying where you put your attention, that’s where things grow. That’s really what happened. I’ve always worked fulltime, too, so I’m not one of those people who launch a course and then sit on the beach and enjoy their passive income. That is not how it’s ever worked for me. I work full time, flexible. I do take time off during the week. Sometimes I work weekends.
But I think it’s important to say that this has always been a full time job for me.
Yeah, nothing is truly nothing is 100% passive and it’s all relative. Requires a lot of active work before you get there. But Kristen, I want to break it down. Like, on course content creation is something a lot of people are thinking about doing. A couple of my clients right now are actively hiring me to develop their first course and time their second. And so I have a couple of kind of verticals or ideas I want to get into. First is, how did you test out the course? There’s sort of like a formula and the theory to it. How did you test out your first couple of courses to make sure people actually want to buy them and actually gain value from them? And second, another follow up to that is how did you expose your courses to enough people to make those purchases? Because it’s not trivial to replace a fulltime income working oneonone with clients.
Those are really, really good questions. And to be honest, at the time, I didn’t even really think about it that much. I didn’t even have a newsletter when I started. That when I started my first course. I’ve always been blogging, so my SEO was quite good. And I don’t know, at the time everything was so new. But I mean, remember I took that course called Inside Story by Susannah Conway, who is one of the pioneers of online courses. So I took her course where she explains a lot of what she did, you know, and so I thought, okay, I can do that. But I didn’t have a huge audience. But also, remember, I did this for two years in parallel. So I still had my web design income while I built up my courses. I launched it because people kept asking me how do I do this in squarespace? So I launched a web design course, how to build a website in squarespace. And a lot of the people who bought it came actually from that course that I was taking. So a lot of the older story students, because we talked about what we were doing.
So probably 90% of my first students were from that other course and then word of mouth, and then I also just shared it on Facebook. And I didn’t even use Instagram for business back then. I mean, I still don’t really. And Facebook, and then I started a newsletter and I’ve always networked a lot, so some people then were sharing it, to be honest. I know there’s a formula for courses, kind of build your audience first, engage their interest, find out what they want, what they need, and then create something for that. I have actually never really done that. I’m very close to the market. I kind of watch what’s going on and I listen to things. I’m in a lot of groups, space related groups, and then questions that people ask me all the time and people how they respond to blog posts. So that’s how I kind of knew where people would be interested in something. That is how I created my other courses, you know, like an advanced design course, a course on now, I’ve always hosted my courses on square space, which even before we had the membership option and I had to tweak the system to do that.
Interesting. Yeah, it was not trivial before the.
And they do come there’s more to.
That, I think, Kirsten. What I’m hearing is like, it’s one of the smartest things. You go study a course, and there’s a community, and you listen to the community. They have not just 1520 people, however many, but they knew you from that community. This is not a random 10,000 person Facebook group. So there’s already built and trust I live through exactly the same with, you know, Dorie Clarke’s community, who is an entrepreneur based in New York. At least she’s in Florida now. Seth Godin, and who’s based in Hastings on Hudson in New York. One of the biggest marketers in the world. After graduating or not even after, but being in that l ten BA environment with staff and the students, everybody trusts you. Even though the tuition at the time was $3,000 for four weeks, you make so many friends, they trust you. And I got hired by two people straight away, even before I graduated. So that’s one area. The other one I want to call out for people who are listening is the fact that, Kirsten, you have been blogging for a long, long time. So the trust has been there since 2005.
Who knows, maybe one of your weight loss readers could be your future client. But even if not, that’s not the case. From 2014, blogging, following the trends, addressing the market’s pain point until you fully launch your course in 2016 and nurture until 2018. That is a very strategic approach. That’s something I feel like we don’t talk about it enough, is once you’re a content creator and actually paying attention, there’s so many insights that you gain on a daily basis. It is very different and opposite from someone who has never written anything. We never recorded the video out there, and all of a sudden you wake up one day, I want to be a course creator. That is actually much harder. You have to then go to answer the public, Google trends, to seek advice, but you haven’t really done it yet. I just feel like, in a way, reading your blog post curses, for instance, every blog post is a course, right? Every blog post is about again, there’s so many examples, but you talk about what it is, long story short, what it is and bullet points. So it’s all very, very clear to.
Me yeah, how to do something. And you’re absolutely right. The blogging has definitely made a big difference. I enjoy blogging. I enjoy sharing knowledge. I enjoy putting those posts together. And really, my number one driver for traffic and sales is SEO. And that’s where blogging and also things like YouTube, which I know is what you specialize in. I just recently started a YouTube channel, and I’m still very at the beginning of it, still figuring it out. But I can already see traction from that too, because then people come to my website. And so this all helps your SEO, but if you’re starting out, I don’t know, I don’t think it will be easy for people who think, oh, I have an idea for a course, but they’ve not really done much online, maybe come from a corporate or employment environment. And then they say, well, now I can go and do this. Now just follow this formula, work like that. So I feel actually the best course of action that I’ve also witnessed amongst my students is really coming from a service environment. So you have a service that you provide and you do that for a few years, actually, and then you learn something out of that, and then you can transition, you know, into maybe into online courses.
That makes it possible to do that with a small audience. I still have a fairly small audience, but because of where I come from and because of this background also with the blogging and the SEO, that is how I can still have a six figure business, only a few thousand people on my mailing list and maybe two and a half thousand followers on Instagram. And so small.
You talk about SEO, and a lot of people know generally what it means. Obviously, we probably follow like, Neil Patel, like the king of SEO and all these people. But could you maybe talk a little bit about how SEO has worked for you? What do you tend to want to rank for? Like, obviously squarespace expert is a very general term for those of you. This here’s like a 32nd crash course for SEO. You can rank for short tail. Short tail is basically very competitive. There’s something called knit tail. So short tail will be squarespace, squarespace experts, square space design, very general terms. And then longer tails could be things like how to migrate squarespace from 70 to 7.1, which Kirsten’s article is like one of the top ones. And it’s such a pain point for a lot of us still running on 7.0 with thousands of blog posts. Oh my God. Like, I just want to curl up in my closet somewhere and just cry thinking about it. So could you talk about SEO, what your strategy is, or what did you like, stumble? What did you learn over the years? Like, trying to rank for something didn’t work, and what did you end up ranking for that actually worked?
Something like that.
Again, I actually never really had a much of a strategy when I started, but I realized one day because I always looked at how did people find me? You know, so, like, when customers reached out, I always said, I have that question, how did you hear about me? You know, that’s something if you have a contact form, make that a mandatory field in there. How did you hear about it? I’ve always done that so I eventually realized a lot of people were saying Google. I’m like, oh, really? So I googled myself. I’m on page one. How did that happen? So I kind of wrote it back and I looked at everything I did. So obviously you want to optimize your website, so do all of the SEO settings that are in your website. So if you have WordPress, you use Yoast. And in square space, it’s all built in. So there’s an SEO section. Every blog post, every page has an SEO section. So there are a lot of things you can do on your website to optimize. But when it comes to keywords, to be honest, I don’t overthink it. I think it’s good if you have clarity on what you offer, like if you’re clear on what you do.
So in my case, I used to be a squarespace designer. Square designer. So I use those words a lot in my copy on my website, because that’s what I did. So I have clarity about it. Like your elevator pitch. Can you explain what you do in a couple of sentences and then build out from that? But I don’t know. I always say to people, don’t overthink it. So when you write blog posts yeah, how to blog posts do really well. How to or find to do that. Ten tips to do that. That is always very helpful. But you have to build up your content and your body of work. And it takes time. I think people often get a bit impatient with SEO. SEO does take time. But I think the three most important things are really optimize your website. So make sure that’s all tight, then content. Make sure you have good content, helpful content. Update your content regularly. Google loves that. Don’t worry too much about keywords and stuff. They don’t do keyword stuffing. Google is very smart these days. They pick up naturally written copy, and they love naturally written copy.
Yes, contextually. They understand what it’s about before you try to trick Google into thinking it’s something different.
Exactly. So I feel if you just keep it natural and maybe have a bit of a formula for your blog post, as in how to do this in your title or ten steps and that. And then the third one is getting high quality inbound links so that other websites link to your website. So this could be professional bodies. For instance, therapists have a listing on Psychology Today and see if there are industry organizations like that. And can you get listed there? For instance, do guest posts on other people’s blogs. That’s what I’ve done as well. Or podcasts and things that kind of link back to your website. And in my case, also, I’m linked to from Squarespace’s website, for instance, right, leaders. And also my courses are actually hosted on a page on Squarespace. Amazing. So kind of think about that too. This is all part of I call. It mingling. Mingle with people and get these backlinks. But there should be quality backlinks. And between those three things, your website, your content, and your mingling, you will build up, you know, good authority, and that will be very helpful for your SEO, but it’s also quite organic in my case.
Like I say, I don’t actually stress too much about it. I just keep creating my content and being helpful. Being helpful is probably the best thing you can do on your website online. And then it will happen.
It will grow. You’re planting a tree. It’s not going to happen next month and next week. So there’s so much for people who are on. Now we’re going to get into a little bit of the calm business. I also want to talk about child free, which is a very sensitive topic, especially for women. Probably want to take that segment out and publish a clip or something on YouTube. But before we wrap up the blogging and SEO functions and topics, a quick question. Kirsten, what are your frequency of publishing and how do you define quality? Do you still publish at least two, three blogs a week, a month? And what is the quality like? Good enough, doesn’t need to be perfect. How do you measure that?
Okay, and again, I don’t actually have a publishing schedule for blogging. I’m sorry, to be honest. I think if it works for you, if it works for you to be that organized, I think posting one or two blog posts a week is probably a good frequency. I tend to be more as two or three a month, but that’s also because my blog posts tend to be a little longer and more thorough, and so I don’t usually just like, write them. I mean, I do have a whole list of topics you want to write, but I also am someone I often write spontaneously. So if I see okay, this is a question I get a lot or this is something that I’ve been dealing with myself, like the 70 to 7.1. I had gone through all of that and I thought this would be really helpful to share with people. But that was a pretty thorough post. It has a checklist, so it’s not something that does knock out. It can take me two or three days to write a good blog post like that. I think people need to be realistic about that. If you want to write something really good, make sure you set that time aside.
I try. Now, Wednesdays is my content creation day. That’s usually when I try to write a blog post or newsletter or update my courses. But I also will sometimes write at the weekends. I write when I’m inspired, and those are usually the blog posts that also do best. So this is what I love, though, because I work to my own schedule, I can be that flexible. So I often write when I feel inspired to write. Also repurposing purpose, a lot of blog posts, you know, once you have a few years worth, you know, then go back and say, well, is this still relevant? Can it be updated? Can it be refreshed? And then publish it again? That’s a lot less work than writing a post from scratch. As far as good enough is concerned, I’m fairly thorough. Sometimes I have posts that are fairly quick where I know, okay, I’m just going to show how to do something. Especially now that I’m doing YouTube, I just do a little video, which is faster than writing it all out.
So much better for repurposing.
Yeah, absolutely love that. So that’s actually changed a little bit too. But I feel alone. A lot of people can have a mental block when it comes to blogging. I would also say if you absolutely hate blogging, if it’s just not your thing, don’t do it. Then you need to focus on other things that can drive traffic to your website or maybe hire someone who can block for you, like a Boost writer.
Where you can become like a video creator on YouTube. Or maybe you can record podcasts, which is audio format that can be transcribed, stuff like that.
Exactly. So I would say if it’s just something you don’t enjoy, then don’t force it. But if you do, if you do enjoy writing and you enjoy sharing things, then just kind of get started and maybe start with a schedule. You know, do one or two posts a week and certainly make that time and then you start building it up. And then the thing is, I know many people stress about this. I mean, I see that with newsletters too. Oh, I didn’t send my newsletter on Friday like I normally do. And you know what, nobody sits there waiting for our newsletters or blog posts.
Yeah, nobody cares.
Really cares when you published. So you can take that stress straight away off yourself.
Exactly. It’s so true. A lot of people don’t want to start podcasting. Me, I’m all for sure get eight to ten episodes in the bag, get on the schedule. But so many people thinking that they will not be able to achieve that right away and as a result, don’t start their show, don’t start their blog. It is so silly. Like, why do we put that pressure on ourselves? It’s completely unnecessary. There are necessary stress things that are hard to avoid, but there are also so many unnecessary stress we put on ourselves. We got to absolutely let go.
Absolutely. But yeah, definitely if you have kind of a weekly schedule, definitely make some time for content creation in there. That’s always a good idea, I think.
So I know to respect your time, Kristen, there are two areas that I think kind of goes hand in hand, maybe when it comes to calm business and being child free. I know there is a bit of an overlap in there, I would admit that. My friend Jorge just now told me how he spent Tuesday driving 200 miles for his three kids to go to different soccer practices. And they’re all different ages, and the games are all in different locations. So I think about all the time, that time that I have, you have together. We’ll create content together. A lot of parents just don’t have that privilege. So I would love to kind of probe your idea, your thoughts on con business and maybe a little bit also we should kind of get into child free. What should we do?
Yeah, well, we can start with that because you kind of mentioned that and your friend who has the kids I’m 59, and again, I think there tends to be, like, the two camps, the women who want children and the women who really want children, and then sometimes they can’t have them, fertility and whatever. And I’m in the middle between the two, actually. I never consciously actually said I don’t want children. I actually always thought I would have children sometime one day. I love kids. I come from a big family, but it just never happened for me. I met my husband when I was 42, so before that, in the relationships that I had before that, it didn’t happen. But it was also not something that I actively ever pursued. So I never actually said to a partner, hey, I want to have kids now, because I always felt if it’s meant to happen, it will happen. And it didn’t. And I think my life I had always a lot of things going on. I was always moving, always traveling, and to me, it was also always actually more important to have a partner. That was always more important than having a kid.
When I met my husband, he has a son from his first marriage, and it was basically too late. I think if we’d met ten years earlier, we probably would have tried to have kids, but I was already 42 at that point, and I wasn’t really that interested in being an older mother again. My husband and I, we traveled and moved a lot for the first ten years of our marriage. We moved every single year. I don’t know, because it’s a topic of interest to you. So are you childless by choice or for you? Yes.
So for me, I’m child free. And for people who are watching live and I don’t mind admitting this, I do have fertility issues myself, but something I’ve known for awhile. So this is not like, breaking news for me. So I found out about it. I’m friends with a lot of very, very supportive women who, you know, it was really interesting. This came up about five years ago. Several of my friends, all within the same six month period, all of us were kind of very entrepreneurial, a lot of travelers, and realized that we might not have kids right away. And several of them chose to freeze their eggs. I had some question about how advanced that technology is. Would it be what is the aftermath, the outcome? I wasn’t so sure, so I wasn’t actively pursuing that. But I was going through examinations and things I wanted to know about myself. And there’s one issue that came up which will make it hard for me to get pregnant. And then I thought, and there are different options, or thinking about, like, oh, these are the options you have, and you’re at a high risk area because of these things.
And since then got us, like, Kristen, I kind of just said, okay, what do I want to make my how do I define myself? How do I live my life? Is this something I want to pursue for four or five years? Taking all kinds of hormones, putting a part of me on the sideline and just really focus on this? And I have to admit that I wasn’t willing really I wasn’t comfortable we’re willing to do that. So instead, for people who are watching and we’re all being very vulnerable right now, is that I realized, looking back, especially during the pandemic, how many small businesses I was able to help, how many creators, like, creative entrepreneurs I got in touch with sometimes middle of the night, sometimes first thing in the morning worldwide and the beautiful thing. So I kind of asked myself that. There’s that notion ever since I was born, coming from an Asian background, to say, I must have kids. Two will be optimal. Maybe one wouldn’t be enough because then they need a friend. There’s, like, all these construct that this has to be the case till I’m sitting here today, realize that you reading your blog.
Women like us, we can define our own journey. You are incredibly happy and successful. And to me, that is really inspiring and that I’m happy with my choice.
Absolutely. And I’m really, really glad to hear that because I feel, you know, kids are wonderful, but, you know, they don’t define you, though. And I feel you can still have a very full life and a very great life and just kind of be your own person. And I think it’s hard because you have women out there who say once they have children, oh, my gosh, now my life has purpose. Right? Yeah. That was always a little hard sometimes for me to see because I thought, well, great. So now you’re saying my life doesn’t have purses because I don’t have children. For whatever reason, I don’t have children. So that always felt a little, I don’t know, insensitive almost. Because even though I’m happy with the way things went, I think I would have equally been happy to have kids, to be honest. But I know where I am now, you know where you are now. And I think ultimately, life is so rich people matter. I think people and relationships and all of that, that’s what’s always been very important to me. So I still have very strong relationships and friendships and I’m a godmother to two of my friends daughters and we’re very close.
In a way I actually kind of love it because it’s really enabled me to have a very kind of rich life because it has enabled me to travel a lot, to do things on a whim. So when I make a decision, hey, I’m going to start a business now I can because I don’t have that responsibility for little ones. So I think it used to be like you say, coming from the Asian culture and certainly also previous generations in our western culture, that’s always been the thing as a woman, you get married, you have kids, you become a housemaker, and that is not the case anymore and it really doesn’t have to be. And I think we have so many layers in our society now and so many ways in which we can enrich each other’s lives and lead really full life that, yeah, I’ve certainly come to terms with it. I’m very at peace with it. I enjoy the kids in my life, be it my nephews or my goddaughters, and one day we might have a grandkids from my stepson. And the same for actually for relationships, this whole pressure to find the one, to win the big love.
When I actually met my husband, I was actually sad to just pick up this space. I was actually I remember I went to the seminar on how to find love. It was really cheap, but tony Robins yeah, something like that. There was an exercise and they asked us, well, write down your dream day and your dream life with your dream partner. And I started writing and I didn’t write about partner at all, I started writing. I want to have a little cottage in the cops wells. I was still living in England at the time and I’m going to have a cottage with a cottage garden. I’m going to have seven caps. I’m going to be that woman with the caps. And that was a really happy image to me. I was actually at a point where I was very happy being single. And that of course is then when I met my husband.
How did you guys meet then?
Online. I was doing online dating. I used to run an online dating site. I used to have one and although I didn’t meet him on my site, I was a few years, I was actually in the very beginning of the online dating date and this was like in the early two thousand s. I did it for like four or five years and actually I met him and this was actually my last week that I was going to be online. I got this trial invitation, I said, okay, one more time, I’m so done with this in my profile. I said, I don’t really want to be here anymore, to be honest. Free trial, let’s try. And then he found me and he wrote to me, he said, Well, I’m glad you’re here. So we met online. I flew from London to San Francisco for our first date. Wow. Better be worth it back then. So I could, you know, and yeah, so we just we’ve been married 17 years now.
Wow, look at that. It’s something really you can’t force. And I’m so glad we get to talk about this like a woman’s life somehow without meaning, if it’s if she’s child free or she’s not in a committed, love loving relationship. I think these are a lot of constructs that we need to push through, break down. And I think the pandemic is very, you know, it’s such a test for people to test their patience and their ability to thrive under such uncertainty. And there’s a lot of loneliness that we have to manage around, including, frankly, Kris and I hear a lot of people who are alone, you are in a relationship and with children that they feel really alone. And that was such a new thing to me that I never thought that would be possible. But there certainly are also people who are single and trying to find themselves in relationships. You’re independent, and it’s very hard because people are very hesitant to be even thinking about being intimate with each other, going out in public places, and a lot of those situations are inaccessible. So, wow.
Very liberating to talk about this, but I think it’s a really, you know, I think it’s important for women to first of all, don’t feel shame or whatever it is that you feel about going a different path, going down a different path. And also look at all the things you can do to still create a full, rich life. And so you will still have friendships and relationships, make those meaningful, bring people into your life that bring you joy, that fill you up. And also do things like creativity, find creativity, like, you know, be that artistic things or, you know, web design in my case, or reading, writing, I mean, anything like that. There are so many things that we can do just for ourselves, to fill ourselves up, that I think we actually live in amazing times where we can do that. So I think once you accept the notion that, okay, maybe my path is going to be different, that’s okay, so what can I now do to really still create this life that I want? And yeah, there’s so many possibilities and I feel like having my own business. I never thought I would have my own business in my 50s or starting my 50s.
But I really feel it’s funny, like, I’m in my 8th year now, and a lot of things feel like they’re kind of coming together now and the whole, for instance, also come business. So that’s something I feel very passionate about. So my passion is certainly there’s a creative side with the design and all of that, but there’s also a and that is an overall living philosophy. It’s the calm life that is partly about yes, accepting where you are accepting. In my case, I’m child free. I like how you call it child free, you know, always say childless, but child free, you know. But the whole calm philosophy is really something that it started emerging at the end of last year. For me, this is actually something that we really need. And the whole hustle, the hustle culture really despise the hustle culture, right? And it’s so damaging. It reminds me of the diet culture and all of those things. So damaging, especially for women. So calm business. There is a tactical, practical side to it being well organized. And that’s why I love Squarespace because it’s my all in one platform. It makes technology very easy and manageable for me.
But it’s more than that. It’s a philosophy that is being authentic and working in alignment with your values. Like my question that I always ask myself now is does this feel calm? When I make business decisions, I ask myself, does this feel calm? It doesn’t mean that you always will feel calm. Sometimes you have to go through phases that are very stressful to get to become chilled out, get your joints out and hey man, that’s not what this is. And as an example, bookkeeping used to really stress me. Oh my God. For two years I was so stressed over bookkeeping. I tried Bookkeeping, it didn’t work out and I finally decided I’m going to learn QuickBooks online, you know, I’m going to learn this, I’m going to find a way to do this with an extension. With Squarespace, it was a really hard transition because the learning curve was steep and I was really stressed for like a month. But now I know how to do it. Then I learned it and now my bookkeeping only takes me minutes and stressful hours. So there was this period of stress but now all I feel is calm.
Now I have my calm for my bookkeeping. And so look at areas in your life that do stress you, areas that feel overwhelming and then think about what can I do if you don’t mind. That’s why I created this business review, which is more of an endoftheyear thing. It’s available all year round. Wow, I didn’t know that you did that. This basically is a workbook. You can also download it as a PDF and it’s a workbook where you look at your marketing, your finance, your energy drainers.
I’ll be sure to include a link afterwards. I don’t think I included in a resource when we first started. That’s brilliant.
And there’s a tracker. So every month I track things. What went well this month? Where were my finances this month and what am I important to do for next month? And so it’s really looking at your technology set up and your finances. A lot of people have put on their blinders for finances or they put their head in the sand. So this will help you and it’s entirely free. And this will help you through that just to kind of because it’s also about knowing where you are, knowledge and control to a degree.
I can’t wait to experiment with that. That’s fantastic. I’m so glad we ended not only on the comm business, but also like a workbook people can grab and explore. It’s all under. I’m going to hide this stuff. No worries. Kirstenmarttin.com. So we’re just about to run over time and I want to thank Kirsten for joining me today. Such a special conversation and I’m sure we’ll be in touch. If you or anybody watching now have questions about YouTube strategies, please feel free to reach out. If you’re a woman going through a child free or want to find ways to kind of fulfill your lives. I feel like there’s some blog post opportunities that kind of get in there and can’t believe I didn’t think about writing them before, but this is fantastic. Kirsten, anything? Any minute thoughts before we wrap up today? Before we end the livestream?
No, I think we’re all good. This was a great conversation. Thank you so much. You know, this was wonderful. I really enjoyed this.
Thank you so much for joining me. I’m going to take us offline now.
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