Ep: 172: How this remote creative director helps women plan, launch and scale their business with Kristin Marquet
In this episode, I speak with Kristin who serves as the Creative Director of the branding and design studio, Marquet-Media.com. She oversees the day-to-day operations as well as directs all client accounts and projects.
In 2017, she launched the emerging spinoff media company, FemFounder.co that helps creative female entrepreneurs plan, launch, and scale their businesses.
She is also the author of the upcoming book, From Nameless to Notable: How to Gain Influence, Establish Authority, and Reach Expert Status in Your Niche or Industry The Ultimate Guide to Generating Media Coverage for Your Startup and Leveraging It to Increase Website Traffic, Email Subscribers, and Sales.
Listen on to find out how Kristen has helped women plan and grow their businesses.
Hey everyone! Thank you so much for being here. I am super excited to be with Kristin. Hey Kristin, how are you?
Hey, I’m fine. Thank you.
Thank you so much for having me on today. I’m really excited to be here.
Can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life?
Sure. I’ve always been one of those quirky people that have never followed convention ever since I was a kid. So, about 10 or 11 years ago, I had started my first business which was a full-service PR firm and I actually had started that business out of necessity.
I had worked in consulting for four years before that and during the financial crisis, I had lost my job. Go figure, we’re experiencing something very similar now and at that point, after I got laid off, I had to make the decision of whether to look for another corporate job or start my business.
And I decided to take that leap of faith, just go on and pursue being a full-service agency. It was tough in the beginning months. Took about four months to start making a decent profit, but the problem was right out of the gate, I try to be everything to everybody. And when that happens you really spread yourself too thin and can’t service your clients as best as you possibly can.
So, about another three to four months after that, I pivoted and really started to niche down and focus on three or four industries and become an expert within those Industries and kind of become, like, the goat to a PR agency, did that for 8 years.
And then, in 2018, I have the opportunity to offload that. And in 2017, I had created FemFounder which is an online magazine and the rest is history. I’m happy to get into those granular details but those are the broad strokes.
We were talking before doing the interview and you said that you had hit a really huge milestone with FemFounder. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Yeah. So, this month, April 2020, just hit a million page views.
We have 160,000 email subscribers. The way I’ve built that readership in that email list is primarily through doing three things: one, interviewing an expert of the day, two, really focusing on search engine optimization at a really deep level, and three, Pinterest marketing.
I know it sounds crazy and I get this all the time from people like, “I don’t understand how to use Pinterest.” But after studying the ins and outs and the nuances of the platform, I became proficient in it and that was a huge part of building the readership, building our email list, creating online courses, and really just being able to give our readers what they want in terms of content.
It’s really interesting that you say that because it is. It’s kind of, like, a secret right? Everybody knows about Pinterest, SEO, and all of these different things but no one really seems to understand how they work. And I’m sure you felt that way when you first started.
What were the steps that you took in order to familiarize yourself and turn yourself into an expert with all of these different marketing strategies that you had implemented to get to this point?
Well, the first thing is I learned that I can’t be everywhere on every single platform and actually become proficient and build the brand.
So, for instance, since you can’t be doing digital PR, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, doing ads, focusing on SEO and SEM, and all these different subdisciplines of marketing, you have to pick one or two areas and become proficient in those areas of specialty.
And because I have even at that point, I had been running a PR agency, I had become proficient in the way that the PR World works and what editors are looking for. So, in terms of that side of building a brand, I already had that down.
In terms of working Pinterest and figuring out how search engine algorithms work, Google ends up changing its algorithm more frequently than the weather changes here in New York. I really hunkered down and studied from the best.
So, I had gotten Melissa Griffin’s Pinfinite Growth course, I had learned from summer Tannhauser. I really just figured out how to create a brand that sticks out and how to create pins that people actually want to click on. There was a lot of trial-and-error; it probably took about a year for me to figure that out.
But once I did it was a lot easier to have pins go viral and get opt-ins from various lead magnets. Now, in terms of SEO, I think I probably studied everybody from Neil Patel, Pat Flynn, to everybody in between. And I got a really firm grasp on how it works and exactly who my reader is so, I can deliver the content that they want.
The thing is when we see the results that you have. Like Kristin, people often think, “Well, three years is not a long time to do this,” but they also don’t realize that you have been experimenting for a year or even more so.
And I think a lot of people give up after the first try doesn’t work and then they think, “Okay. Well, Pinterest didn’t work even though I only did it for, like, 2 months. Now I should try Facebook ads or Instagram growth.”
As Kristen has been telling you it’s, like, it didn’t come easy. She had to be an expert in this and you really studied this. It’s, like, going back to school, getting your college degree but in, like, SEO and Pinterest because it’s a whole lot to learn.
It really is and I think that’s so many people just get so disillusioned with trying to market, like you said. They try creating. strategy and executing it for a couple of weeks or a couple of months and the results are lackluster.
The results come when you have a fundamental understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and exactly who your market is. I know that you’ve heard it time and again: you have to niche down, you have to create your ideal client.
It’s so true. You can’t try to create a Pinterest profile and try to Market to 10 different audiences. It’s just not going to work. You have to pick one or two, focus, become notable in that niche, and then you can move on to others.
I’ve been talking about this a lot, Kristin, about shiny object syndrome.
Everybody has it.
Definitely. I think also, especially since the coronavirus happened, you feel like you have so much more time and then you see all of these people doing all of these different things and you’re like, “Yeah, that looks good. That looks good, too. Oh my goodness.”
And then, I have to stop myself and just tell myself, “Is this really gonna help me, or is this just going to distract me from my actual goal?” And then I’m like, “You need to stop Debbie. You’re going crazy.”
It’s so true. It’s so easy to get caught up in new technology or you end up reading something. And you have this mindset of you’re going to become an expert and you’re going to end up selling a million products or million books or rolling a million students in your courses. It doesn’t work like that, unfortunately.
Building a business takes time. I don’t care what type of business it is. I don’t care if it’s an online business, if it’s an agency, a restaurant, a bar, retail store, even if its a law firm – my husband’s an attorney.
And I see a lot of the same parallels that I used for business development, that other professional service-based business as well.
One of the things that really stops me from really keeping my motivation, Kristin, I don’t know if this happens to you, is when I try something new. Like, talking back to marketing or even any new strategy that you’re using with your business and something doesn’t work, right?
For example: taking a course, doing what they tell you to do, and then you experiment with your business. And then, for some reason, it doesn’t work or maybe you just didn’t do it the right way.
How do you strategize after one thing doesn’t work? How do you move forward, pivot, and actually start testing? How do you know what to do next?
Well, you need to evaluate what went wrong. And once you have a firm understanding of what went wrong, then, you could create a completely new approach and try to tackle or achieve whatever objective you have set with that new approach.
I know that it takes a lot of mental stamina and resilience to do it. But that’s what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the failures.
Yeah. And I think that’s the key is really being persistent because so many different obstacles are going to be placed in front of us. I mean, everyday as an entrepreneur, there’s going to be something and it’s always either a really high or really low.
And it’s very rarely in the middle you’re like, “Oh my God. Oh, no. Yes, I did it.” And then, it’s like, “Oh my gosh. I feel like I have a bipolar syndrome. It’s like everyday is so different.” And I see this all the time too.
It’s not for everybody, going off and being an entrepreneur – it’s not for everyone. And I think that’s a really huge misconception because so many people really glamorize it and then, you go into it and you realize how much harder it actually is and it’s not just pretty.
It’s true. I mean, so many television shows and so many movies really romanticize the notion of being an entrepreneur, making all this money, hanging out with these influential people, and jet-setting here and there. But that can’t be further from the truth, it takes a lot of grit and it takes a lot of perseverance and it’s a lot of failure and disappointment to become a success.
And if somebody could have that resiliency and that focus, the more likely they’re going to persevere. It may not be on their first or second venture, but it may be their third or they’re fifth. For me, when I started my first business, it was something that was very low-cost, very low-risk. So, I don’t really have that much to lose and that’s for one thing.
But I always encourage other aspiring entrepreneurs to pick something where you don’t have to raise capital, pick something that isn’t going to drain your savings or your retirement. and give it a whirl. Put together something that’s very basic, very bare-bones.
Test it out, see how it does and if you can sell it – great. You may be onto something. If not, it’s time to look at, kind of, pivoting and trying to come up with a new idea.
Yeah. It’s such a huge thing to be able to make that idea or to turn that idea into an actual money-making business.
‘Cause you have so many ideas in your head, but it’s another thing to actually turn that into profit. It’s great if it’s just a hobby but, again, until you start earning income from it, then it’s always going to be a hobby.
And there’re so many failures right in the middle or actually from the beginning and wherever you are, there are so many of them, so embrace it, guys. Embrace the failure.
Yeah. I mean, I know that it sucks and it could be a blow to your ego and into your pride and even to your pocket. But at the end of the day, if you don’t end up failing, you’re never going to learn.
And I know that it sounds so much of a cliche but it’s so true. You’re never going to grow and get better unless you do fail. It’s just like failing in school, you look at it and you say, “Alright. What am I gonna do? I have all these careless mistakes, I got a 64 and I would have actually just run the question and did the work, probably I could have got a 90.” The same principles apply.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s going to be the same thing.
And for somebody like yourself that has created this online persona and you have a very successful blog and a very successful podcast, I think that that’s kind of the dream for so many aspiring entrepreneurs.
So, I’m being kudos to you for being able to take this digital nomad brand and really turn it into something that resonates with people.
Yeah. And also to tell you, I failed three businesses before I started it.
So, just to give Kristin’s words more of a reality check over there – she’s so right. It doesn’t happen and the thing is we often see people that it just seems, like, it just happened overnight and you don’t see how many businesses they actually tried and failed before they finally realize, “Okay, all of that didn’t work. I need to change, like, this is what I learned from all of those things.”
Absolutely. It’s crazy. People think Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban became millionaires, billionaires overnight. It’s, like, 30 years of failures and grit.
And I think that’s the misconception that a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs have. They only think about the overnight sensations or think about billionaires and they don’t really think about all the legwork that goes behind trying to build a brand.
So, Kristin, I know a lot of people talk about failures throughout their journey as entrepreneurs but what about right now? Like, currently, what is your biggest setback that you’re encountering and how are you trying to solve that issue?
Well, because so many people are out of work right now, I think that a lot of people are actually migrating online, they transfer businesses or blogs, or some type of service-based business. So, the internet within the last month, month-and-a-half has become really, really saturated.
And my biggest frustration is seeing these people, these so-called experts, popping up saying that they’re an expert PR person or they’re a list building specialist and they have no credibility behind them. That’s my biggest frustration and even though it’s not directly impacting my business, I am hearing a lot from other entrepreneurs that I coach and that I work with.
And yeah, it’s really annoying.
I laugh at this all the time when people or coaches, like, specifically. business coaches, and then I asked them, “How many businesses have you started and made successful, or even how many businesses have you failed?”
Because that’s the thing, if you failed enough you’re going to learn from it, hopefully, and now you have a successful business. And most of the time it’s like, “Oh, I haven’t started one. This is my first one.” So, your first business is how to coach other people to start a successful business.
So, I’m like, “That’s kind of weird. How would you know what to tell them if you’ve never done this before.” It’s so interesting.
Yes. And it’s just really disingenuous and I think that people that kind of position themselves to be experts in a certain area and they really aren’t, their true colors really do come out. And it’s going to bite them in the ass at some point.I’m just seeing a huge surge in that happening.
Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of them. And I think it’s a shame but hopefully, people will be smarter about it and really research before they actually hand over their hard-earned money. Google being a detective, a personal detective yourself really helps.
It’s kind of, like, interviewing somebody for a job ‘cause that’s technically what you’re doing. It’s like they’re going to teach you something. You don’t want your teacher to have no knowledge of the topic that is going to you and teaching you for.
You don’t want to go to college and get a professor who has no idea and has never even done anything about it. So, it’s pretty crazy. You’re definitely right, Kristin, there so many people out there that are trying to put themselves out as experts and they’re really not.
Right. Agree. 100%. It’s really unfair to the people that are completely authentic and have the knowledge, the skills, and expertise to help these entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs get from point A to point B.
For your business, Kristin, because obviously you have this freedom, you created this business that has been able to allow you to work remotely. And it hasn’t really impacted you even though COVID is happening, how did you place yourself in that situation and how did you decide to make your business remote and to be able to really work from anywhere?
Well, I had, before I started my business, a corporate consulting job and I was on the road probably 3 weeks out of every month. And when I wasn’t on the road, I had to be in the office. My office was in New York City and I had lived in New Jersey at the time.
So, I was commuting 2 hours each way and I had decided, at that point, I never want to work in another office, I wanted to work from home whether I was going to get a job or start a business. I wanted to be able to work from wherever.
That’s how I had designed my agency, even though I had an office just in case I had to meet clients or we had projects with the team or whatever. Fundamentally, I wanted to be able to work from home.
And another thing is when you have a family, it makes it a lot easier for you to be there for your kids. I’m working from home from wherever and that’s the conscious decision that I made. And it was a very good decision.
My husband and I were just talking about last night, he said to me, “You would have hated working in an office and having to be chained to your desk from 8 to 6 or 9 to 7.” It’s just not my personality.
Working remotely, even with team members, just as long as everybody knows what they have to do, have their tasks lined up and they meet all deadlines, and the results are good – there’s no reason why you can’t work from home.
And I think after this COVID thing, we’re going to see a huge paradigm shift and a lot of companies are going to be able or going to start letting employees work remotely. Maybe not full-time but at least a couple days a week.
Yeah. I think that you’re right. There’s definitely going to be a huge shift for a lot of companies to do that. And also I want to touch up on people thinking that working remotely is being digital nomads or just about traveling as you can tell with Kristin.
She’s not necessarily traveling all the time. Obviously, you guys aren’t moving to different places every month and neither am I – we have a base. So, for me, and I think for a lot of people doing this type of lifestyle, is about having the freedom and also having more time with our family and the people we love.
Can you imagine how much time we spend just commuting and taking that away from times where we could spend quality time with the people that we love? My fiance, he travels, he commutes a lot for work because he’s a therapist and he goes to people’s homes.
And he saved so many hours every week by working from home now because his company is allowing him to do that. And it’s crazy how much more you can do and how much time that you actually get to spend with your family when you take out all of those things – working in an office was taking from you.
You’re absolutely right. I mean, when you have those extra two or three hours a day where you’re not commuting, you’re able to wake up a little bit later or cover your, I don’t know, 8 to 5 or 8 to 6, take a lunch break, hang out with your family. And then, be done by 5 or 6 when you don’t have to get on the train or you don’t have to drive to your job.
And I think that the benefits working at home, for both the company and the employee, outweigh having to be in the office every day except for those occasions where if you have to meet a client we have a team project and you need to meet certain deadlines.
So, I absolutely agree with you.
Don’t get us wrong. There’s definitely the downsides to them too. I think a lot of people are definitely seeing those but for us, who really love to do this, I think it overtakes the downside, right?
I absolutely agree and I think that a lot of people that are working from home for the first time, they have kids that are school-age, schools being closed, it’s really tough because you have to work, have to clean the house, take care of yourself, you have to homeschool your kids.
So, I think working from home is a struggle for a lot of people but I think that once they get settled and they come up with a routine, they’ll probably not want to go back to their office.
Well, yeah. I mean, honestly, for companies, it’s going to save you a lot of money too. You don’t have to rent office space like, “Hey, that sounds good.”
Yeah, exactly. You don’t need to have a full-time receptionist. I mean, there’s a lot of benefits to working from home.
Now, Kristin, let’s fast-forward to 30 years from now and you’re looking back at your life, what legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?
Okay, 30 years from now. I want to know I did everything I possibly could to raise the best child that I possibly could and I want that child to be a good person and be happy. I know that it sounds kind of sappy but it’s true.
At this point in my life, family is more important than work. And I just want to make sure that my child is a good person and happy.
I feel like your children are your legacy, right?
They’re a reflection of you and what you have shown and taught them. So, for all of us, like, that’s really a huge, huge accomplishment. If you can raise a human being to be able to give back to other people as well.
So, that’s an awesome legacy that you want to leave and I’m sure you’re doing that right now.
Well, you know what I mean. That’s a whole other situation in itself but, yeah.
Parenting is hard.
So, what are you working on currently that is really exciting for you?
I always have, like, 10 irons in the fire just because I’m a crazy person. So, yeah, I have a number of things but my most immediate that I’m working on, and I’m going to start launching and marketing, is my newest which is a handbook of everything I know about PR, cuts through all the fluff.
It’s a very direct guide for any entrepreneur looking to dip their toes into the vast PR ocean and it’s called From Nameless to Notable: How to Gain Influence, Establish, Authority and Reach Expert Status in Your Niche or Industry. We had initially scheduled it for launch on April 13th, but with COVID, we decided to push it to mid-June.
And then, from there, I have a mini-course that’s a little bit more in-depth from the book. And it’s a video tutorial and a bunch of templates from real work that we’ve used to pitch our clients in agency and actually secure national and even international media coverage: LinkedIn, Forbes, Entrepreneur and all these different pubs.
So, yes, I’m really excited about that and I have to send you a copy soon as I get the copy.
Yes. Absolutely. I love that.
So, that’s the most immediate that I have on the horizon.
And were also going to be talking about how to get national media coverage for your business on our extended interview with Kristin. So, make sure you look out for that and go to our website to get that interview.
This is such a great topic, specifically, for people who want to become an authority and to start a business or whatever it is that they want to do because that’s the ultimate. That’s how people see you as; if you are able to get coverages in these huge publications and national media. That’s amazing.
So, Kristin is going to be giving us all of her tips and tricks for that.
So, Kristin, if our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?
One of two ways. They can go to FemFounder.co or my branding consultancy which is Marquet-Media.com.
Perfect. Thank you so much for sharing with us your story and your incredible journey. We really appreciate it.
Thank you so much for having me. This was a lot of fun.
Audio Engineer: Ben Smith