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SPI 450: Entrepreneur Growth, Self-Discovery, and Pivoting in Tough Times

Can you imagine being in the travel influencer industry when COVID-19 hit? Well, that’s exactly what today’s guest lived through.

Kristin Addis is the creator at BeMyTravelMuse.com—a site specifically dedicated to helping people get out there and travel, especially solo female backpackers. Kristin works with brands and organizes special trips for adventurers. And then . . . the pandemic.

But Kristin’s no stranger to adversity. Her whole travel adventure started when she was four years deep in a top-notch corporate job that she just knew from day one wasn’t going to stick. The moment she finally changed paths is a pretty amazing story, so I won’t spoil it before you listen, but the point is: nothing was going to hold Kristin back. And it’s been no different this time around.

So how is Kristin navigating the pandemic? How is she innovating and keeping her business thriving? Kristin’s going to take us through it all today, from her business’s origin story and the decisive moments when she knew to stay with it, to adapting to a mid-COVID world, to getting vulnerable and creating new offerings for her audience. A lot of great inspiration in this one—let’s go!

Today’s Guest

Kristin Addis

Kristin Addis is the creator of Be My Travel Muse, a brand that millions of women use each year to plan adventurous solo trips around the world. She has hitchhiked, camped, and solo traveled on 6 out of 7 continents sharing it all on her blog, Instagram, and YouTube. She recently launched an ethical clothing line, Wanderbabe Clothing, and blogger coaching program.

BeMyTravelMuse.com
Travel Blog Accelerator
@BeMyTravelMuse on Instagram
@BeMyTravelMuse on YouTube

You’ll Learn

SPI 450: Entrepreneur Growth, Self-Discovery, and Pivoting in Tough Times

Pat Flynn:
I want you to imagine getting a brand new job, a job that you’ve worked for your entire life, and within two weeks after getting that job, you just know . . . you just know that this is not for you.

That’s exactly what happened to our special guest today, Kristin Addis, who had worked so hard to get a really amazing corporate job and just knew right away that this was not going to be what was meant for her for the rest of her life. But here’s the thing, she stayed with that job, not just for another few months or even just another year . . . but years. And then finally, she was able to break out of that and to create something amazing. And on a whim, traveled somewhere, did some really amazing things, discovered herself, her niche, and brought a lot of people along on the ride.

And today, she’s going to bring us on her ride with exactly how this all went down, what was going through her mind, and how she was able to build a business online to help others follow her journey. She helps women travel solo, and it’ll be really interesting to have you find out exactly how this happened. And with her brand, at BeMyTravelMuse.com, again, that’s BeMyTravelMuse.com, she’s built this incredible brand with literally hundreds of thousands of people coming to her website every single month. And then COVID happened, the pandemic hit. And of course, what happens during the pandemic? Well, not travel. And so her website, her brand took a hit. Her brand deals: gone.

Now, she’s not one who is new at fighting adversity, so she was able to pivot, create something new, and I imagine that things are going to go even better. So that’s the story in a nutshell, but we’re here to unpack all that and more today with Kristin Addis from BeMyTravelMuse.com. Welcome in, stick around. This will be an amazing one. Here we go.

Announcer:
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host — if he could have only one type of coffee for the rest of his life, it would be from Australia — Pat Flynn!

Pat
Wow. Are we really halfway to 500 now? Well, that would be 250. We’re halfway between 400 and 500. But still, 450 episodes later. Welcome to Session 450. My name is Pat Flynn, here to help you make more money, save more time and help more people too, and inspire you with today’s story and advice coming from Kristin Addis from BeMyTravelMuse.com.

We’ll have all the links and all the things mentioned on our show notes page. I’ll mention the link to that at the end. But let’s not wait any longer. Here she is, Kristin Addis.

Kristin, welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thank you so much for being here today.

Kristin Addis:
I am so excited to be here.

Pat:
I’m thrilled that you’re here because you’ve had some amazing things happen over the past year, despite the pandemic and having been hit very hard because of that. And I want to definitely go into that more and what the plans are in the future, because you, more than many other people I’ve met, have pivoted really, really well. But let’s go back to how you first got started online. I’d love to learn more about Kristin and how you got to become an online personality, and Be My Travel Muse and all the things that started it.

Kristin:
Sure. Well, backpacking for me was something I’d always wanted to do long term, but having a full-time job in the States, I got about 10 days off per year, I’m sure that sounds familiar to a lot of people. And it was just impossible to really go anywhere all that far, but I always wanted to travel so much. I come from the mergers and acquisitions industry, which meant a lot of long hours and just questioning generally if what I was doing was good for the world and not feeling very connected to the job. Despite that, I did it for four years, and I was so burnt out I just decided, “Okay, I need a sabbatical. I need to stop doing this.”

I am a very all-or-nothing type of person, and so I decided I would quit my job and my lease, buy a one-way ticket to Bangkok, pack just to carry-on bag and see what happens. And eight years later, I’m still on that journey, I guess you could say.

Pat:
That’s incredible. Let’s go back to when you were at your job still — because I’ve heard this story before from you — what was wrong with it? What was giving you those signs that it just wasn’t really going to be the right thing for you?

Kristin:
Well, to be totally honest with you, about my second week in, I started to sense that it really wasn’t for me and I stayed anyway, because this was in 2008, I was thrilled to even have a job, a full-time job. So just having that alone was putting me far and away ahead of most of my peers. And so I knew not to throw it away for that reason. Then I sort of had the golden handcuffs on, because once you get a deal teed up in this industry, it can take almost a year to close. sSo it just never was the right time for me to leave, even though it didn’t seem like I was really doing much to help anything other than rich people get richer.

And believe it or not, it’s a lot of cold calling, this job, it’s a lot of prospecting. So on the very positive side, I was talking to incredibly successful CEOs as a 22 to 26-year-old. But on the downside, all you’re really doing in and out every single day of your life, getting tiny fractions of the money that you’re bringing into the company, and it just didn’t seem to me like a long-term prospect if I was going to have any kind of happiness or freedom.

Pat:
So two weeks in, you already knew, but you still stayed for about four years. What was it finally that made you go, “You know what? I’m over this. I need to do what I need to do.”

Kristin:
It was actually injuring my shoulder, needing a surgery, and how disagreeable management was with me actually taking the time off that I needed to heal. And then actually, being just in the recliner chair for a month, unable to really move or do anything for myself, and yet feeling somewhat happier in that position than being in my cubicle. And that was a pretty clear sign that things were not good and that they needed to change.

Pat:
So you had a shoulder injury, went in for surgery, and your boss was like, “You got to come in soon.” And you’re like, “I can’t.” And he’s like, “No, you have to come in.” That’s how it went down?

Kristin:
It was more like, “I need this much time off.” And I actually shaved two weeks off of what the doctor recommended, and my boss just being like, “Oh, maybe we part ways and revisit in six weeks.” And I was just like, “What?”

Pat:
Yeah, that’s not healthy.

Kristin:
No.

Pat:
It’s interesting, the juxtaposition of sitting on that recliner doing nothing and still being happier than when you’re at work. So that’s a good sign. And I’m curious, when you chose to leave and go to Bangkok, why Bangkok? And what was going through your mind? I mean, literally, a one-way ticket . . . that must be nerve wracking, scary, but also exciting, all in one.

Kristin:
Yeah, you said it. I definitely spent a lot of time trying to come to this decision. It was not an easy decision. I agonized over it for almost a year before finally actually going. And I think that’s such a common thing when you’re making such a big life change, “Am I going to make it through? Are things going to be okay? What if things go wrong?” But I just realized, “Hey, nothing’s a forever decision. I’m not going to let myself live in a cardboard box. I got this. And if I don’t give it a try and see what happens, I’ll always be living in that land of what-ifs.”

Pat:
What happened when you landed in Bangkok?

Kristin:
I had the best trip ever, I mean, even better than I imagined it could be. I actually bought a ticket onward to Cambodia almost immediately. I took the 55 cent train, I did it local style. And I remember cycling around Angkor Wat with the group of new friends that I had met at the dorms that day, and just thinking, “How beautiful is life right now? I’m spending $10 a day.” And that was the main motivation, by the way, of just going to Southeast Asia. I had lived in Taiwan when I was 21, and so I already loved this part of the world. But knowing that my money could just take me farther there . . . and that’s what I recommend to a lot of people who are wanting to invest more in their businesses actually, in a pre-COVID world, living abroad in countries where your value is higher can be such a smart move.

Pat:
Did you know how to speak the language, the local language?

Kristin:
I don’t speak Thai. I don’t think most tourists there do. Of course, I always learn hello and thank you in the local language everywhere I go. But language is not such a big barrier when it comes down to it. When you have context and charades, you can really get by all right.

Pat:
What did you do to make money? I mean, you had quit your job and had left, and I’m sure you had perhaps some savings, but eventually there comes a point where you got to do something to generate some income. What was going through your head around that?

Kristin:
Absolutely. When I quit that old job, I had a two-month window where all I did was study other travel blogs. And that’s what I decided I was going to do to try to make my income, was start a travel blog. Back then, influencers did not exist, I mean, this was all of eight years ago. So the industry is just constantly changing, it’s really crazy. And all I wanted was to maybe get some freelance writing gigs. I could use my blog as a resume, maybe I could get a book deal. This was what was going through my head back then. And I look back on it and I sometimes wonder how I was so driven when I knew I was going into an industry that wasn’t going to be all that well paid, but I just believed that it would work out.

And that’s always what I keep going back to, is having to believe in the process and letting my only option be to work for myself.

Pat:
When you say you studied other blogs, what was that exactly? Any other blogs you’d love to shout out to that maybe inspired you in the beginning?

Kristin:
Definitely Nomadic Matt. I know you know Matt Kepnes, he has always been inspiring to me in terms of showing me that it could be affordable, that it’s possible to actually go live abroad and not have a trust fund. And that was super motivating for me. A lot of the other ones aren’t actually around anymore, but I would just stalk them basically on all of their social media, Twitter was the biggest thing back then. I would look at the comments that they were leaving on other blogs. I would really get down to the nitty-gritty because a lot of people like to talk about what they’re doing and they’ll give you the keys to the kingdom if you just go deep into the archives and really follow the story. I still do that sometimes.

Pat:
And I know you teach others how to do this too. You also now have a coaching program helping other bloggers too, which you’ve done and have inserted into your schedule this year, because of COVID, to help others, which is really commendable. And that’s awesome. I still want to learn more about the beginning stages of your online journey. So when did the website start and what was your thought process behind what you were going to post on there?

Kristin:
It was September 2012. It really started out as a diary, so I posted all of the experiences that I was having. And over time, I realized that I liked to do things that were a little bit different from other people. I wanted to find the way to do it that a local might do it. I wanted to have the most authentic experience possible. And so that led me on a lot of cargo ferries, that led me to start hitchhiking, partially because I was running out of money, but partially for the adventure and to just keep going more remote and more rural in the places I was searching through.

And that helped me get an audience that was passionate, not only because I was a woman traveling alone, but because I was doing things that, from the outside, I think looked like they require a lot of bravery, yet I’m just a normal girl doing it. And I would tell people exactly how to replicate it and do the same exact thing. And as it became more helpful, more people subscribed, the base grew. A lot of word of mouth as well, helping to bring other people in. Ads became a possibility, so I’ve been monetizing my website with that. All of a sudden, Instagram became such a thing and I was getting hired by tourism boards and brands to start promoting them on my channels for money.

And so all of these things really added up. I released a couple of books. I started doing in-person tours, and everything was just growing, growing, growing, until COVID.

Pat:
Until COVID. Yeah, we’ll get there for sure. But this is incredible. So over a number of years, monetizing, starting with ads and then a number of other things, which you’ve just mentioned. I’m curious, when you started your blog and you started sharing these things and building this audience, oftentimes, I hear vloggers especially have one or two moments that are significant in that growth journey. Were there any standout moments after you started the blog quite early on or when you started to gain momentum that were like, “Man, that just put you on the map,” or was it slow and steady growth along the way?

Kristin:
Absolutely. I can think of two big moments. One was when I was sitting in China in a very rural area hoping that my internet would be strong enough to take a call with someone who was about to hire me for a freelance writing contract that was good for $600 per month guaranteed for a whole year. Now, I’m pretty good at traveling frugally and I was really good at it at that point. I’d been doing it for two years, only sleeping in shared dorm rooms. I’d been hitchhiking all through China at that point. And so I thought, “$600 is all I need to know that I can keep going here.” I was really close to taking an interview for a job and that was the ticket that I needed to say, “No, I’m not going to do that, I’m going truly all in on this entrepreneurial journey.”

Now, prior to that, I’d pretty much gone through all of my savings. I went home and I sold my car. I had really done all I could to survive this long, and it was a breaking point, and that was just a huge step up for me.

And then the second was when I came out with Conquering Mountains: How To Solo Travel The World Fearlessly. It’s an ebook that is still for sale, and it put me on the map as a solo female travel expert. This is my whole brand, this is my niche. And instead of just being another person talking about this, it made me the person who talked about this topic. And I got so many media mentions as a result of that. My story went viral. I got so many more followers basically overnight on my Instagram, got a lot more blog subscribers. And that was a big turning point too. And that happened the following year.

Pat:
At what point in your journey did you own that term? This is something that I think so many . . . I know you’ve coached others too. Finding your thing, the thing that you could become known for is such a huge moment. And I’m curious, did you always know when you started the blog that you were like, “I’m going to be the solo traveler helping other females do this?” Or was it something you discovered along the way?

Kristin:
I absolutely did not know that this was going to become my niche, didn’t know that I would become so passionate about it either. It all started with me trying to become an off-the-beaten-path travel blogger, but then realizing over time, “I’m a woman who travels alone and this is what people really connect with.” And so I made that my brand and started to write a lot more specifically for women, come out with products and services for women around year two and a half.

Pat:
That’s cool. I love that. This is something that I remember I specifically went through also, and it was about a year and a half to two years until I figured this out, but a lot of people started to gravitate toward me because I was just a regular guy making it work and sharing my income reports. And of course I had a family, and that’s what was important to me. It wasn’t like everybody else who was doing business for the laptop lifestyle on the beach or mansions and Ferraris and whatever. And when I eventually was like, “Oh, that’s what people like about me? Okay, let’s like inject this everywhere now.”

And so I love how you figured this out and you began to own it, and then things start to happen from there, which was really cool. When it comes to monetization, you had said ads, and you still continued to run ads. Do you have any tips for anybody out there who may be at that point or they’re close to the point at which they’re starting to get some traffic and they’re excited about monetization, but they’re not quite ready to create products or anything like that? What has worked for you in terms of ads? Are these ads like Google AdSense, or what exactly are you using to generate ad revenue? I’m curious.

Kristin:
I am partnered with Mediavine, and there’s a few different companies out there. Mediavine has a somewhat higher threshold that I think they recently doubled, and it would require that you have pretty decent traffic to get to that point, but it’s not probably worth monetizing with ads really until you’re there anyway, because it just has to do with the quantity of people reading your website. One big thing that I’ve noticed this year, though, that is a big revelation for me is that the US traffic is worth more than any other country’s traffic, more than double, and that is something I could have only known with everyone being stuck at home in the US due to COVID.

And I’m actually really thrilled to know this because now I have a very clear idea that most of my audience is indeed American. I always suspected it was American people who were in Thailand or South Africa or wherever, reading about my advice, and now I know for sure that that’s mostly who it is. Even though my traffic has gone down, because obviously people aren’t researching international travel at the same rate that they used to, my income is the same as this time last year.

Pat:
Wow. That’s great. That’s super cool. And you’ve also been hit a little bit from COVID because you used to go travel because a company would pay you to go there. What does that deal look like and how did that even get started? Did somebody reach out to you or did you reach out to somebody? And when you make a deal like that, I’m just curious to know, what is that like exactly? What do you have to do for them? And what to expect?

Kristin:
There are a lot of different ways that it can be structured. Sometimes they will bring a whole group of people out, which I learned a long time ago I don’t like, so what I do is—

Pat:
Other bloggers, other influencers?

Kristin:
Exactly. Other bloggers, influencers, sometimes traditional media as well. It’s called a fam trip. I definitely prefer to do it on my own because then I can really customize everything to be my brand, exactly what I want to do. I work in as much freedom as I can and I work with destinations and brands that are really going to trust me on that. The way that the opportunities work is nowadays, it comes to me just directly into my email inbox, or maybe I meet them at a conference. And obviously, those have in a large part drived up in 2020, but in 2019, I was honestly running myself ragged taking all of these opportunities on because it was my dream job getting to do my dream trip.

I worked with Idaho, Montana, Tokyo, let’s see, tourism board in Germany called Baden-Württemberg, it’s a region that I love. So these were all projects that I was dying to do anyway, and now I’m getting paid for it. So I did I think a dozen within the span of one year, and I ran for Be My Travel Muse adventure trips. So I was constantly on the move. Sometimes I would have fewer than 24 hours at home between trips, and my circadian rhythm was so off. It was too much of a good thing,

Pat:
But it’s interesting. That was your dream and now here you are and it’s become work for you. What would you tell yourself from before you started this journey, if you could, now that you know what you know, to help yourself? Would you perhaps say no to more or what do you think you would do differently?

Kristin:
It’s so hard to even go there because I can’t go back and change anything. But I am glad that I had the financial cushion because I do have employees, and so when my ad income went down to zero in March and April, to be able to have those cash reserves was super important. However, it was also in a way golden handcuffs because I had all of these other ideas and things that I wanted to try, but because I was constantly on the move, I had no time to do that. And in a way, that trapped me because it was comfortable, it was fun, but it gets to a breaking point.

Pat:
Yeah. Especially, when other companies are controlling. I would imagine, and correct me if I’m wrong, but these deals require a certain amount of articles, a certain amount of pictures and things that, again, you lose and give up a little bit of control, similar to how I’ve understood traditional publishing of books versus self-publishing. You lose a little bit of freedom and it doesn’t become as fun anymore. Were you feeling in that kind of way?

Kristin:
Yeah, that’s totally accurate. As well as losing a lot of sleep, the trips would be short. What if you don’t have good weather for a couple of the days? My photography, for better or worse, I just am really a perfectionist with it, so I would sometimes get very stressed that I didn’t have all the shots that I wanted or the weather didn’t cooperate. And what are you going to do then?

Pat:
Right. And we’re not done yet, but I want to have you share where people can go and learn more about your website and also what’s your Instagram so we can see these beautiful photos.

Kristin:
BeMyTravelMuse.com, and I’m @BeMyTravelMuse on all the things. On Instagram and YouTube, I’m @BeMyTravelMuse as well.

Pat:
Perfect. Thank you. You’ve mentioned the keyword adventure several times, and even having run your own adventure trips. And as somebody who completely understands the importance of community, I can only imagine that this has done so much for the community itself and for you as the leader of this community. Tell me more about these adventure trips, what was the first one, and what was that like to in fact meet people in your community and even travel with them?

Kristin:
Incredibly rewarding. I didn’t actually anticipate how much it would mean to people to be able to go on these trips together. The first one we did was the Inca Trail in Peru, I had no idea really how it was going to go. You have ideas in your head, of course, so I guess “no idea” is not quite accurate. I had desires, but for it to take on such a beautiful life of its own was wonderful. A lot of women have told me it’s the first time that they’ve truly bonded with a group of other women.

For a lot of them, it’s their first time backpacking and they’ve come to me to learn. And I get to teach them so much, and they teach me a lot in return.

Pat:
That’s so amazing. And this is something that you, obviously, with COVID happening and pandemic, travel’s been hit very hard. There’s been less opportunity for you to do these sponsorship-type deals, which actually now that we talked about it, is like a blessing in disguise. It’s almost forced you to go, “You know what? I know that this stuff is burning you out, let’s actually cut that off. Let’s not have you go down that road and try to figure out something new and something different.”

And you’ve run another trip recently, I know that you literally just got back. Where did you guys go? And what was that like traveling with your community during the pandemic? I’m curious.

Kristin:
First of all, incredibly stressful to decide whether to run it or not. Never in a million years, did I expect it to become such a crazy moral dilemma. Because not only are you up against a pandemic, but you have the people in the country that you’re visiting who this is the one time of year that they make all their income. So this was just swim with humpback whales and French Polynesia, and otherwise, on the tiny Island that we go to, there’s no other income. Now, they mostly live off the land, they’ll survive, they’ll be okay, but they had tears in their eyes when we were all saying goodbye, just so thankful that we had come despite everything.

And you can’t hope for a more magical experience than swimming with a humpback whale. So I’m so glad that it worked out. We had a lot of hoops to jump through, a very specific type of test people had to get, but at the end of the day, those who made it had such a beautiful experience.

Pat:
That’s really amazing. And to do that and live that dream, connect with your community as well as get paid for that, is really cool. I know you and I have had chats together about just whether or not this trip should continue to move forward because there’s responsibility for health and sickness reasons, but also like you said, financially for the tourism companies that you’re going to be working with, so way to take charge and make that work. And I’m sure there’s going to be many more adventures. As the pandemic hit you, I know that definitely had a big . . . That was a big eye opener for you in terms of, “Well, what are we going to do? What might happen?”

And you’ve had to almost do some soul searching to learn more about where you want to go and what are you going to do? What happens if the travel industry doesn’t come back and you’re not able to do these trips and you can’t go on these board of tourism deals anymore? Tell me a little bit about internally what’s been going through your head during the pandemic to soul search and just almost, not rediscover, but discover perhaps another side of you.

Kristin:
Sure. So leading up to everything that happened, my business was better than it’s ever been, it was on a great growth trajectory. My website was getting over half a million unique visitors per month. I was turning away opportunities because I had so many coming to me and I was not even that happy though. That was the problem. I was finding myself dissatisfied, lost in the treadmill of, “I’m not ever going to be good enough, I can’t get to the level that I want. I’m making six figures, I want seven.” And it was probably the hit over the head that I needed. I’m committed to working for myself, there is no plan B as far as that’s concerned.

So, how am I going to survive this if I’m not giving myself an out in terms of keeping the business going? I need to find a way to make it work in the COVID era. And as a travel blog, how am I going to do that? So I started to think about ways that I could still be of service because that’s the key, being of service to people in the world that we’re now in.

I started free meditation so people could join me every day for meditation. I had a free Facebook group for women who wanted to start travel blogs. And so I gave a lot away for free at first, a lot of free coaching, a lot of free time that you could spend with me, just getting to know that side of me, the more spiritual side.

And then I turned it into, “Okay, let’s take the BMTM adventures virtual, and let’s add a spiritual component to that.” Because I wanted to do anyway. Let’s start an online coaching program, which I don’t think I would have done it that way without COVID. But now that I’m doing the month-to-month coaching, I’m realizing it’s the perfect format, and I’m learning so much from it, and it’s making me a much better entrepreneur as a result. So it’s just been more along the lines of, “How can I still be of service right now when people don’t need me for travel advice?”

Pat:
I’ve noticed that your spirituality has come across in your brand more. Has that always been there and this has been an opportunity to bring it out, or is this like pivot for you? I almost feel like you’ve found more of yourself during this time as a result of the slowdown and thinking about what’s important.

Kristin:
Yeah. In a way, that’s true. And it’s not a total pivot, I’ve definitely been putting more of the spirituality into my work. And anyone who’s read me from day one, knows that I’ve become more spiritual as I’ve traveled, spending all this time in Buddhist countries and really connecting with those beliefs. My first year that I was traveling, I decided to go do a 10-day silent meditation at a Buddhist monastery and I wrote about that. And so I think as I’ve gone along in my journey, my blog has become more spiritual as a result.

And a lot of the readers who I was worried I would alienate with that, have actually shown me that they really like it. And I get way more personal messages now from people saying that they are so happy I’m talking about this topic.

Pat:
Wait, why were you worried about injecting more of that into your brand? What were you afraid of?

Kristin:
Oh, judgment, always judgment. It’s more vulnerable, and vulnerability as I’ve been shown time and time again is always the right direction to go in, but it’s scary first, every single time. I could just keep doing what’s working and let that be, or I could keep trying to expand. And so, I always choose the expansion. But it’s not without its risk, right?

Pat:
Right. Of course, especially having built a very large brand online. I can imagine worry about reputation, worry about losing subscribers or those kinds of things. And typically, the results that you’ve had are typical when you lean into who it is that you are and bringing more of that to the surface. And it’s just been really neat to see the progression of what has happened since you and I first started working together. I know another thing that we were challenged together to do is focus more on community.

For while, it may have just seemed like Kristin posting her journey, and now it seems like there’s a lot of togetherness within the audience with these communities that you’ve built, the adventures that you’ve been going on. How have you leaned more into community during this time? And what has that done for you?

Kristin:
For me, it’s been more about just trying to be a light in all of this uncertainty and fear. So I was doing very silly Instagram stories during quarantine just to keep things light and help people have something to look at that wasn’t going to be a downer or remind them of the situation at hand, just doing a lot more online in terms of offering the meditation and then doing the online retreat format. And trying that and seeing if that might be something that people want and need right now, just trying to make more impact. And then as a result, having new income streams come out of that.

Pat:
What is something specific that has come outof more focused on the community, anything specific?

Kristin:
Well, very selfishly, it’s been very rewarding actually, especially doing the virtual retreat. So we based it on the chakras, and every day was a different chakra and practice to go with it. And this is a pretty big departure, honestly, from my travel blog. Yes, I talked about spirituality, but this was almost entirely spirituality-based. And it was so hard for me when I was marketing it, as I talked to you about. At first, I didn’t feel like enough people were interested or signing up, and then I wasn’t focusing actually on those who did sign up though.

And at the end of it, I couldn’t help but feel just so much more powerful, like I had really made an impact for people. And I’ve been to a lot of retreats as a participant and it’s always super powerful for me, but to actually lead one was a whole another beast altogether and it felt amazing. So I just want to do more of those and to hopefully reach more people who just need that right now, who need the connection.

Pat:
I love how you mentioned shifting your focus from those who didn’t buy in to those who did. And even though it may be a smaller number of people, because it’s new for people to hear about that side of you, as you said, it’s probably one of the most rewarding things that you’ve done. And now you can take this into your brand even further or create something separate or take these onto your adventures. There’s just so many great things that have happened. And it just seems to be, this pattern of growth for you always seems to happen when things are maybe a little bit uncomfortable or there’s fear there.

And what would you say about fear? I think a lot of people listening to this would be afraid to travel solo. They’d be afraid to start a blog, they be afraid to pivot from their brand. What’s your relationship with fear now?

Kristin:
Yeah. That’s an interesting pattern that you uncovered there. How can I stop having it be something that has to spark it, some fearful thing that happens—but that is my pattern. So interesting that you found that as well. But I do think that some fear is healthy, and like I mentioned, those golden handcuffs earlier, I know a lot of people are dealing with that and the fear of putting yourself out there. And I don’t think the scariest part is, “What will people think?” I think the scariest part is, “What if no one looks? What if no one cares? What if no one reads it?”

And so there’s not only the volatility of the world right now, but there’s the vulnerability that you’re putting out there and personal brands are raw and vulnerable if they’re going to really make an impact. So whenever fear comes up, I know I have to do it anyway, I have to conquer it. And that’s just been true every step of the way. And it feels so good to be on the other side of it. And it never goes away.

Pat:
No, I can attest to that as well. And this is probably the part of the conversation where most people listening are like, “Yep, that’s me too.” Is it the reward on the other end? Is it that good feeling that keeps you going despite the fear?

Kristin:
It’s that. It’s knowing that my business employees multiple women who I want to keep invested and part of it too. It’s also knowing that every single time it’s a learning experience. So I just know now that you can’t fail because you learn every single time. And a lot of things that I thought weren’t a smashing success, I look at it now years later and I realize what groundwork I laid from that. Like my first course, of course I wanted it to have like a $100,000 launch, and when it didn’t, I was crestfallen. But I look back on it now and it has made good money over the years.

I learned how to talk to the camera better, I did all of the editing myself. I got so much better at all of those skills. I learned how to market a course. And so now, when I went back and I decided to do the coaching, and more of a membership format, I had already laid all the groundwork, I knew exactly what to do.

Pat:
Yeah. And you have this beautiful YouTube channel as well, you’d mentioned these videos, so I’d recommend people check that out too. Of course, we’ll have all the links in the show notes and whatnot, including a link to what I would love to talk about here as we close up, which is another thing that you came out with during the pandemic to explore something new, to bring more fear into the equation, but hopefully something amazing, again, coming out of this if not already, having something like that happen. Tell us a little bit about this new project of yours, a side project, and what inspired it.

Kristin:
Yes. WanderBabe Clothing.

Pat:
WanderBabe.

Kristin:
Yes. It’s my first physical product. Before, I was doing everything pretty much in-person, getting run ragged from it, deciding that I needed to move things more online. Post-COVID it’s been coaching. This is a really good way to fill the time and help other people. Online retreats. I’ve been laser focusing on my USA content, again because of the ads being so much more valuable for that. And then the physical product, the clothing line, I launched it in April, which felt like both the worst and the best possible time to be doing such a thing.

I do most of the designs myself, it’s all very celestial. I’ve got Jupiter Rising leggings, for example, I have some that are a photo of Misty Mountains. And so it’s all outdoorsy stuff you can wear, but with a huge personality. And we work on making it as green as possible, making sure people who sew it are treated right, making sure it’s better for the environment and donating a portion of it. So it’s all about empowering women, which I feel like the fashion industry quite often does the opposite, and I wanted to do something different.

Pat:
That’s so cool. And I know having launched my own physical product as well with my partner, Caleb, the SwitchPod, of course, this is no small task, this is a big thing. And it requires investment, it requires learning new things. And what is been the best resource for you or what has helped you get to where you’re at now with a launched product? In fact, my wife and I purchased one of your leggings. I haven’t personally tried it myself, but I hear it’s very comfortable. And again, is it WanderBabe.com? [Editor’s note: This site is no longer active, and the URL may be unsafe to visit.]

Kristin: WanderBabeClothing.com.

Pat: WanderBabeClothing.com. Cool. What helped you learn how to do all this? This is, again, I had just done it myself—it’s hard. What helped you on the way?

Kristin:
Oh man, this is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. As you know, physical products have nowhere near the margin that anything else I had launched does, even tours—yes, there’s very high investment involved in that, but you already know what the end result is going to be because you have an amount of people who have signed up. But with the clothing, I’ve had to learn a whole new side of marketing, but I like doing this. It’s exciting. Definitely lots of imposter syndrome. The best resource for me has been YouTube though, learning all I can from a lot of different people, doing everything from how to use Adobe Illustrator because I have all these designs in my head, how can I make them come to life, to learning from dropshippers, how they’re doing things and how they’re marketing. And it’s definitely been an uphill climb, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve done better than break even over the last three months. So I feel great about that.

Pat:
That’s so cool. What’s been the hardest part for you to get the word out there and market it?

Kristin:
I am starting a new social media account with this one. So I would say the first 1,000 followers are by far the hardest and I’ve forgotten what that’s like now. So the first $1,000 are the hardest to get as well. It’s just getting up to that point where people have any trust in you and are actually going to want to buy from you. Having the word of mouth opportunity, it’s a little bit stunted when people aren’t hanging out as much. And so it definitely is just the beginning stage that can be hard to get through.

So, revisiting that now, starting something totally new. I’m reminded of how hard the first thousand followers or the first thousand dollars, the first step of the way. And I do think it gets easier.

Pat:
That’s cool. and congrats on getting break-even. Many companies don’t even get there for a number of years, if not ever, so congrats on that. How are you manufacturing these? Can you give us some insight on how you’ve been able to manage that part of the process? Because for SwitchPod, that was the hardest part of the process. There were several hard parts of the process, but having to work with factories and all that stuff and quality control, etc, what’s your secret?

Kristin:
Absolutely. Right now I am actually looking for a factory to work with directly because I would love to offer recycled plastic bottle leggings and things like that. Right now we’re doing print on demand. So that is helpful in that I don’t have to buy an inventory first. However, my margins are lower as a result of that, so it’s pick and choose, give and take. I do order all of the samples first to make sure that things look good. When it’s clothing, it’s a whole bunch of things you’re ordering, so it’s a big upfront investment in that regard.

And then I’m also doing influencer marketing, so I’m sending out things to people. And I have to say, it’s really interesting being on this side because normally, I’m on the other side. So now, I’m on both sides.

Pat:
Well, it gives you a leg up because now you know what would work when somebody is reaching out to you—you can do the same thing to somebody else. Might you give us, from your social media expert experience, what does work to reach out to somebody to hopefully have them promote your brand?

Kristin:
Just as much networking as you can possibly do. The people who have agreed to help me are travel blogger friends I’ve made over the years, and that’s been huge. And another really interesting part of it is that it’s absolutely not the person with the most followers that has inspired the most sales, it’s actually far from it. It’s really about the dedication of that audience. And I always knew that, but it is very interesting seeing that from a brand perspective now.

Pat:
Nice. That’s super helpful. Thank you. Kristin, this has been amazing to hear the details of your journey and where you’re at now. What advice would you give, to finish off here, the person who has just started a blog or a podcast or a YouTube channel and they’re slow to grow. they’re feeling a little bit disheartened because things are taking longer than expected. What words of encouragement would you offer them at this time?

Kristin:
I would say what you actually, some advice that you gave me previously, which is to celebrate those who are showing up, to not focus on the lack, but to focus on the positive part. It’s got to be more of an abundance mindset than a scarcity one. And when you are living from that place, you just have so much more opportunity to bring more people in. It really does work that way, that if you have the kind of vibe that is attracting the right people, they’re going to tell the right people and over time you are going to grow. But it takes patience in the beginning, a lot of staying power. I think the number one way that people become successful is they don’t quit.

Pat:
Amen to that. And Kristin, we’re glad you didn’t quit. And we’re thankful for you to be here today, and looking forward to seeing what else you have to come up with. Where should people go to learn more and follow your journey?

Kristin: BeMyTravelMuse.com is my blog. You can reach out to me on there, you can find my coaching program if you’re interested in that. And then if you want to follow along on the travel journey, that is also @BeMyTravelMuse on Instagram and YouTube.

Pat:
Amazing. Kristin, thank you so much for coming today. I appreciate you.

Kristin:
Thank you.

Pat:
All right. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Kristin Addis. Again, you can check her out at BeMyTravelMuse.com, or also WanderBabeClothing.com. [Editor’s note: This site is no longer active, and the URL may be unsafe to visit.] And I know, again, as I said during the interview, I know what it’s like to create a physical product now. It is not easy. And to have this be done on top of and to invest in it in the midst of this pandemic—this is when people are creating new opportunities for themselves. And when I got laid off in 2008, I could have, and I was very close to just doing nothing and waiting, but then I took action just like Kristin did, and she’s building something great and amazing and taking things even further.

So Kristin, congratulations, keep up the great work. Thank you so much for inspiring us. And again, you can find her at BeMyTravelMuse.com. And we’ll have all the links on the show notes page here on the website at SmartPassiveIncome.com/session450. One more time, SmartPassiveIncome.com/session450.

And then again, think about it, when travel comes back, when we all start traveling again, your site’s going to skyrocket and she’ll be that much more ahead of the game. So congrats, Kristin, thank you so much for listening, all of you, all the way through, I appreciate you. You could reach out to Kristin on social and on Instagram, of course, and through her website if you want to reach her. She has been an amazing student in my Accelerator program, which was over this past year. We just finished up this next round and she was a graduate of it just recently. And I have to say, Kristin, well done, way to handle all the obstacles coming your way and let’s keep it up. You’re doing amazing.

To you listening, thank you so much. Please hit subscribe if you haven’t already. We got a lot of great episodes as we close in the year here and another one coming at you next Wednesday. So make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss that.

Thank you so much in advance for all the amazing reviews on Apple Podcasts. If you have yet to leave a review, please go ahead and leave one. And hopefully, I can see you on the YouTube because as we close in on the end of the year, I know that we are approaching 365 days straight every morning on YouTube. If you haven’t seen my morning show, The Income Stream, yet, check it out, YouTube.com/patflynn. Every morning, anywhere between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Pacific, even on the weekends. I hope to see you there.

Say hello to the community, we’re all having fun there, wish you can have fun with us too, YouTube.com/patflynn. Anyway, thanks so much. I appreciate you. Take care. And I’ll see you in the next one. As always, Team Flynn for the win, peace out.

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Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at www.SmartPassiveIncome.com.


Smart Passive Income Podcast

with Pat Flynn

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