Ep. 227: How this remote sales copywriter helps business owners live freely with Kristen Wiggins
In this episode, I speak with Kristen Noelle who is a curious, colorful, cozy copywriter and sales funnel strategist on the mission to make life feel like an oasis.
She spent 3 years as a digital nomad working, living, and playing in Thailand and Malaysia before moving back home to Maryland.
Listen on to find out how Kristen helps business owners live freely and authentically.
Ep. 226: How this affiliate marketer built a 6-figure business with Spencer Mecham
Ep. 225: How this Japanese Digital Nomad is changing the way we see life on the road with Akina Shu
Ep. 224: How to successfully move abroad with David McNeill
Hey everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I am really excited for my guest today. I’m here with Kristen.
Hey, Kristen, how are you?
I’m doing well. Hey, Debbie. Thank you so much for having me here.
Thank you for being here. Can you tell us about you and why you live an offbeat life?
Sure Yes. So, I am currently a copywriter and a digital marketing strategist. I really love focusing on: one is brand and one is experts and coaches. And I love helping them create their systems, their structure, and a strategy they need to grow their business.
And I also provide done-for-you services such as copyrighting their email funnels and creating new sales funnels for businesses. Such as my commercial summit funnel or a lead magnet funnel that then can help them grow their sales online.
Perfect. Well, that is a lot that you’re doing and a lot of it is in sales. How did you get started as a copywriter, Kristen? How did this journey start for you?
Yes. So I say my journey in online business and digital marketing started about 7 years ago. I was working in Washington DC for the government ads. Those are like my first job out of undergrad.
And I was so bored everyday. Like, I wanted to go crazy because I was working in this small office. Very gray and colorless. And I started a jewelry store with my mom, a jewelry shop online.
We started on Etsy and then we graduated. I started building my own website for the shop and then learning how to put it out there, how to get sales, how to do social media, copywriting, and working with influencers, and all of the above.
So the more and more I started to do that, the more I started learning about just this whole world of online marketing and online business and what you could really do. And I was just like, “That’s what I want to do. I want to do more of this and less of this, like, office, government, boring stuff.
So, I just started immersing myself in that whole world. Then people would start to reach out to me. Like, “Hey, can you help me with my website on my social media?” So I dipped my toes into the freelance life. Kind of just doing it on the side of my full-time jobs.
And then I moved to California, got a job out there. That was also a pretty boring job. It was better but still pretty boring. And I was still doing online marketing and online business. And I got this idea, like, “Oh, I’ll just move to Thailand where it’s cheaper and I can work online. I could freelance and I can get different digital marketing gigs.”
So that’s how it started. Moved to Thailand in 2015. And I just started kind of like getting down in the mud and figuring it out how to get clients, how to build their businesses. And from there, it was history.
I really love your journey, how you took that chance to do something outside of what you were doing and leave what you didn’t want. You were so bored.
I know that happens to a lot of us and that is usually our first step when it’s just not doing anything for us especially when you’re young, you don’t have a lot of responsibilities yet. That’s a really good thing to do.
Exactly. I was still like in my early twenties. So, the perfect time.
I think any time is the perfect time but it is easier when you’re younger.
Yeah. You don’t have the added responsibility of, like, having children yet.
Right. Like, owning property or anything. So less obstacles for sure.
So when you decided that you wanted to move to Thailand and leave the security, right? Because this is what most people think having a nine-to-five is, is that having that real secure job. How did you prepare to make that big change and go forward with the decision that you had?
Yeah. So I did a lot of research on my own. I hadn’t really know anybody who had done anything like this, though. I was kind of just, like, swimming through all of the material that was out there online.
Whether it was watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts and that was my main thing, listening to podcasts similar to this one, where people would share their stories. And I was reading blogs like crazy.
So I would just go to work and if it was a slow day, I would literally just be diving into the blogs, listening to the podcasts, and piecing together my own strategy based on other’s stories. So, luckily, seeing and hearing how many people were doing this type of lifestyle, traveling, it really opened my mind up to the possibilities.
So, I kind of just put together my own plan but it really wasn’t a plan so I’m saying plan in my quotation marks because it was just like, “They did it so I’m going to do it and I’m just going to figure it out.”
So it was a little bit kind of just, like, faith and a little bit of planning. I saved up a few thousand dollars. It really wasn’t much but I got like a bonus at work and I was using my extra income from my jewelry shop. And I used that to kind of like put little savings away.
And using the stuff I learned about in the blogs, like, “Okay, I can do this. There’s plenty of solo women travelers out there. I would just, like, read these blogs and figure out how to get clients so at least I can keep myself afloat income-wise. And then, from there, I’ll just figure it out.”
So, it was like a half plan and just like half moving on faith.
Yeah. That’s always the case. It’s like you either do it or you don’t so you just have to take the first step. Otherwise, like, the debilitating fear is going to go through you and then nothing happens.
Yeah. If you plan too much, it can be just like you just holding yourself up. I know. So I just wanted to do it before I could change my mind.
Yeah. It’s like you don’t need like $100,000 to go. You just need something and if you’re scrappy enough you can find more jobs on the way whether it’s on the road or online, whatever it is that you need to do if you really want it. So, I love that.
Now, we all have that “what now” moment, Kristen, when we’re about to leave or actually after we leave our 9-to-5, right? It’s kind of like, for me, that panic mode starts, and then you’re questioning yourself or sometimes it’s excitement.
But whatever it was, what was that “what now” moment like for you, Kristen, and how did you react? How did you handle that?
Yes. So, the first time I moved abroad, I moved to Thailand, it had been about eight months and then I had to come back home because my grandma, we were throwing a big party for her.
So it was her 90th birthday and I wasn’t really ready to move home for good but I was kind of just, like, stuck between a rock and a hard place because I hadn’t really figured out the freelancing thing.
I was getting a few clients here and there but just trying to figure out how to keep it consistent and really figure out what my niche was, was just really rough ‘cause I had started to take clients that I didn’t particularly enjoy working with. And really just kind of try to do it all like, “Oh, I can do social media for you and websites for you and copywriting for you,” and it was really boring me out.
Also just making me feel a bit stressed out about things like, “Okay, where’s my next client coming from?”
So when I came back to the States, it was just like, “Okay. I think I need to reset and figure out life. How do I make this sustainable?” And for me, it was just like, “I’m going to have to look for a job again.”
That was hard because I had just experienced 8 months of, like, freedom and traveling, just living my life and kind of waking up and doing what I wanted. And that’s exactly like, “Come back to the States.” And the news is just glaring like bad news after bad news and figuring out, “Okay, What job can I get?”
I was also kind of, like, in-between states because back home, like, my parents had moved from the DC area where I’m from. So, I didn’t even have, like, a “home” home to come back to. And I’m just like, “Where do I even start? Where do I start looking for a job? How do I make sure that I can still do what I love while just building that security and sustainability to make sure that I can get back to that.?
So it’s just like I was flying on top of the world and then I kind of crashed a little bit trying to figure out what was next. So that was rough. Like, that was a rough couple of years, just try to pick myself back up and figure out what to really do from here. Because I knew that I didn’t want to just do all that for nothing.
I didn’t want to live that lifestyle and experience all those things just to come back and live that normal life that I wasn’t really that fulfilled by.
Yeah. Committing to the old lifestyle that you have, after living that sort of freedom that you had and the new one is really, really tough. I’m sure that was a really hard process for you because there are so much changes, right? You were in a different country, coming back, everything is so much more different
And then you mentioned you were trying to do a lot of different things, especially for new freelancers. That’s what we all did. It’s like, “Okay, as long as I get money in I’ll try everything. I’ll try absolutely everything.” And then you realize you’re like, “Oh my God, how do I keep up with this,” or not liking the type of people you’re working with.
And that’s actually one of the things that I learned, one of my biggest lessons, is a lot of times we give a lot of power to our clients, right? Because you’re like, “Well, they’re choosing me but then you also have to realize that you also have the power to say no and to choose who you want to work with.
So it’s a pretty powerful thing to realize that. And sometimes or a lot of times when you’re not in a position where you can’t say no all the time yet to clients, you’re like, “Is this worth it?” And then sometimes it’s like, “Do I want all this headache for that type of money? Is it even worth it?”
Sometimes I’m just like, “Just say no. It’s not worth it. All that headache. You could find somebody else who’s a lot better suited for you.”
Yeah. But in the beginning, it’s hard. We don’t feel like we can’t say no, we feel like we just have to take what we can get. I know that’s how I felt and it was driving me crazy.
Yeah, same. That definitely happened to me and that happens to pretty much almost every single freelancer. And then once you start getting a more steady income, it’s a lot easier to say no to that.
But then you kind of put yourself in a place where it’s always yes, and that’s hard to do to start saying no ’cause there’s like a guilty factor to it. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I feel so guilty for saying no.”
I know. You have to unlearn that and I think sometimes when you’re kind of living in that scarcity mindset, it’s just like, “Oh, I can’t say no because what if I don’t get somebody else?” Or “What if XYZ happens?”
But yeah, unlearning that and kind of like reacclimating yourself to, “There’s abundance. I’m on the right path to attract the type of clients I want, do the type of work that I want to do.” Like, that takes a lot of mindset shifting for sure.
Absolutely. So you were in both worlds. You became a digital nomad for a little while and then you came back to the US. Now, you have a steady home base. Why did you decide to do that? Leave the digital nomad lifestyle to just stay at home and be an at-home worker.
So, after I came back from Thailand, I actually went back to Southeast Asia and I lived in Malaysia for a while, had a job out there. That was kind of like partly remote. And so I was traveling for another few years and then I left that job to move back to Thailand and do the freelance thing again.
So, after about three years of freelancing and being a digital nomad, I was starting to miss home. I was starting to miss just like my people, my family, and, honestly, dating is a huge thing for me – that wasn’t happening for me in the digital nomad world.
I just wasn’t really vibing and connecting with a lot of the people that I would meet or it would be like the travelers who were very transient, aren’t staying in one place too long. So for me, it was just kind of like I was starting to crave just being settled, not really like moving around every single month, and not really finding a new apartment to live in every few months. And I’m missing my people.
So that’s what brought me back to the States. And then, I kind of had another “what now” moment because then I was, like, kind of stuck between, like, “What type of work do I really wanted to do? Do I love this?” Like, “What kind of business do I want to run?” So then I had to get another job again.
That was also rough ’cause it was just like me trying to find myself after being a traveler, being this free person, and coming back to the States reclamation. But I did feel like it was time and once I kinda got on my feet again.
It took me, I want to say, about two years after the last time I moved back to the States but it feels good to know that I am living that lifestyle where when I do want to travel when I do want to do something, I’ll be able to.
Still working remotely, still knowing that I have that location independence. That means a lot. So it’s just like, “Yeah. If I choose to be a digital nomad again, I might go ahead and do that knowing that I can and knowing that I have before.”
Yeah. And I say this all the time: it’s really about the freedom for most of us when we do decide to get into this type of lifestyle. You have a ton of freedom that you never had before. And it becomes really addicting, it’s kind of something that you hoped for and prayed for, and then you get it. And then all of sudden, you’re like, “Oh my gosh!”
But then it’s also a double-edged sword, right? Because now you’re completely in charge of your own time and sometimes that’s a great thing and sometimes that’s not such a great thing. That’s why there are people who find that it’s really not the life that they want, right? Because they want a company to tell them when things are due and they’re more for that type of lifestyle.
So it does take a lot more responsibility when you do have more freedom. Because now you only have yourself to answer to. And if you don’t do the job, then there’s no money coming in.
So, it is. It’s a double-edged sword.
Yeah. It takes a lot and I feel like we’ve all been there too where we kinda learn the hard way about that responsibility. Like, “Oh, if I don’t have some type of structure, it means I’m not going to be able to sustain myself. So I need to buckle down and manage that free lifestyle. Just manage it with discipline so that you can continue to be free.”
So, talking about management of time, how did you do that? How are you able to manage your time as a remote worker so you can become productive?
Before, I was quite the workaholic where I would just kind of, like, be up all night working on my website, working on my clients’ projects. And sometimes I would just be like up working on the smallest detail that actually didn’t really matter that much. And I think that was just perfectionism.
And also just like where I would just think I would have to do all of this, make it perfect, and if I don’t grind, then I’m not going to get the payoffs. But now, a few years into that journey, I was just like, “That’s not sustainable.”
Staying up until 3 a.m. is not sustainable but also waking up and kind of not doing anything and then before you know it, it is the end of the day. That’s not sustainable either.
So for me, I really had to come to like a great middle-ground where I felt like I was putting in work on the right things. What helped me was establishing a morning routine that works for me and sometimes I fall off from that but it’s knowing that I can get back to my morning routine, put in a few solid hours of work, and making sure that I’m working on the right things.
And then logging off and kind of shutting down, turning off the computer – was a big thing for me. Knowing that like, “I don’t have to stay up until 3 a.m. just to get the job done.”
So I really balance my life a little bit more in my schedule. And now that I know that, like, I’m not spending 12 hours a day working is forcing me to work on the things that matter and really figure out what is important to what I want to do for my future, for my growth.
Being intentional about how I’m spending my day is really helping me just, like, manage my time a little bit better. But I will say one of the hardest things for me is kind of unlearning like the whole concept of the 40-hour workweek because I don’t want that.
I don’t necessarily want to have to work eight and nine-hour days, 5 days in a row. So it’s kind of like taking that discipline but also scaling back a little bit and knowing that like, “If I want to take Wednesday off, I have that ability to.” It is not going to stop anything. I’m not missing any bills or payments or anything if I decide to take Wednesday off or if I decide to only work 3 hours today.
So, it definitely took a while for me to figure out the right balance and I’m still figuring it out. I won’t even say it’s always perfect but yeah, it’s just realizing like, “I don’t have to work myself to the bone to make my dreams happen.”
That is definitely something that we are all a victim of is just working to work because that’s what we were told we have to be doing. And then when you’re not working, like when you take a day off in the middle of the week, you feel guilty. There’s no guilt there, right? Because then you’re like, “Am I just being lazy? This is not right.”
And it’s so interesting when you go to other countries and they take the middle of the afternoons off and they take like hours off. And then you go there and you’re like, “What is wrong with everybody?” And then they’re like, “This is siesta. You’re supposed to not work in the middle of the day.” And then you’re like, “No, you’re all lazy.”
And then, you start thinking about it after a while after you’ve been there and then you start asking yourself. You’re like, “Have I been doing life wrong? Maybe this is the right way to do it.” but I love that.
But the thing is I’m the same way. Like, it becomes really addicting. Work becomes really addicting, especially if you enjoy what you do. That’s why I’ve been in the mentality now, I think especially the last year-and-a-half since the pandemic happened where I’m just like, “There are so much more things that I want to enjoy with my life rather than work.”
And it’s supposed to help me have the lifestyle that I want. It’s not supposed to be the lifestyle and that’s it. Like, working is not supposed to be my lifestyle. It’s supposed to be outside of work that’s part of that, not the other way around.
Because you wanted a different lifestyle. That was the whole point of you doing this work, not for it to be the lifestyle.
Exactly. And I love what you said, Kristen, about really being outside of the small little details. Like, that takes up so much of your time, especially if you’re a perfectionist, you’re just like, “It needs to be this and needs to be that.” And then if you look at the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s still going to get things done.
And that was something I had to learn especially when I started building my team. When I had to take these tasks and give them to somebody else and be like, “Okay, I can’t control everything. It’s not going to be the way I am going to do it because they’re not the same people but it’s okay to have that.”
So that takes a lot of time to learn about yourself and to let go of that as well.
Yeah. Some stuff is just like, “Okay, that’s not going to matter. That’s not going to stop the business or anything. So you can relax a little bit, it’s okay. You have time to fix it.”
So let’s talk about when you’re on the road when you’re traveling. And even now that you do have a home base, what are your expenses like? Can you compare and contrast that between the two and how you’re able to make this lifestyle sustainable for yourself?
Yes. So for me, actually, I am living in Washington DC and it’s one of the more expensive cities in the US. I had an apartment that was probably a few hundred dollars a month in Thailand but then moving back to the States, I was like, “I want to live in DC. This is the area that I’m from. I love the city.”
And it was different. It was not that Southeast Asia lifestyle anymore. But during the pandemic, I actually decided to move back to my childhood home, save money and then figure out where I want to settle long-term.
So I’m actually staying here. I’m actually still in that childhood home, getting ready to move back to the city but just back out into my own place, my own apartment. So those expenses are definitely going to be pretty high in this area.
So for me, I had to make sure that I was going to be making enough once I quit my job. Making sure that I could sustain myself with my freelance clientele, my business clientele. And moving back home helped me tremendously.
And I know not everybody has that privilege of being able to do that but that was something that I wanted to take advantage of just for financial reasons and allow myself to kind of have that little bit of a safety net that made it a little easier for me to leave my job.
Yeah. Love that.
And it’s all about really understanding how you can make this more sustainable for yourself and doing what’s right for you because everyone’s lifestyle has so many differences between that. So, love it. Love that you’re thinking outside of the box and really making sure that this is a life that’s going to sustain you for a really long time. Amazing
Alright, Kristen. So, let’s fast forward to about 50 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?
That’s such a great question, Debbie, and I think about this kind of often but I don’t think I usually think 50 years in advance. I think I’m usually thinking like 10 years so, let’s go all the way.
I really want to be known as somebody who is not afraid of taking risks and somebody who is helping people like me, helping women of color, especially those who are from where I’m from.
So just taking a second to explain where I’m from in the Washington DC area. I’m from a suburb in Maryland. That’s just outside of DC. And it is a primarily black neighborhood where black people actually do pretty well. It’s one of the wealthiest counties, Prince George’s County, Maryland, for black people and people of color.
But the one thing that I’ll say is that it seems like we do a lot, we’re accomplished but not a lot of people kind of live outside of that 9-to-5 structure or that traditional get a job, get a house, get a car.
I really want to be known as somebody who’s helping the people here. Helping the people see that there is more, that there are more things that you can do with your life. You can really be successful and you can do things on your own and you can kind of create that lifestyle that is not defined by society’s idea, traditional success.
And I want to be somebody who is known for having fun and enjoying life and not just acquiring all these assets just to be stressed out. So I want to have that balance between having fun and going and getting it, seeing the world, adventuring, taking risks.
I love in-person experiences. I want to have something where I am bringing people together, really promoting wellness. That’s why I’m big on wellness. And I want to bring people together. I want us to enjoy the fine things in life. I want us to dance.
And also provide opportunities for people to learn about building that business, learn about partnering up and doing it together because solopreneurship, I always say, is great but it’s not where it’s at long-term. Because doing it alone is going to take you way longer and it’s going to be unnecessarily difficult than it is to do it together.
So I want to be known for being that person who’s bringing people together, who is sharing resources and making it possible for people to go in their own paths and create a life that they can look back and say, “Wow. That was fun. I had a great time. I had a great life. I have great people around me. And I’m living out my dreams.”
And hopefully, I can inspire some people to do that by living out my dream and kind of going after the things that are hard and difficult, and off the beaten path but still pushing through and still making it and still enjoying life.
Like, not being that stressed-out CEO but being somebody who is like, “I’m having fun, I’m content, I’m taking care of myself. And I also have this amazing lifestyle to show for.”
Love that. It’s so interesting and so amazing that you want that to be your legacy, right? Because for me the way you think about it is that what good is money, right? Accumulating all this money and I think about if it’s really worth it if you’re not even able to enjoy it. And all you’re doing is working and you’re stressed out.
So I think it’s good to have a little more than enough but not too much that’s all there is in your life. So, love that legacy, Kristen. I’m sure while you’re doing that right now, you’re starting out, you’re definitely walking the walk and not just talking the talk. I don’t know if that’s even how you say it but…
Yeah. I’ll take it. Thank you.
So, before we say goodbye, I have 5 rapid questions for you. Are you ready to get started?
Yes, let’s do it.
All right. So what has been the best money you’ve ever spent while abroad and why?
Good question. Okay. So the best money that I’ve ever spent abroad was probably when I went to… I actually won a cruise to Tahiti, in French Polynesia, Bora Bora. So the cruise itself was like a gift from one of my old jobs.
But the best money that I spent was on the excursions that I took my parents on. So I went with my parents and spent some money on a jet skiing excursion and, like, a luxury villa that we stayed at.
And it was just really amazing to kind of experience that lifestyle with my parents because we’ve never experienced anything to that level. So for us to be able to go somewhere that I don’t think we would have been able to go and kind of just treat ourselves, we still talk about that trip all the time.
That’s one of the best things is when you can finally do something for your parents ’cause they’ve been taking care of you for such a long time. Like, I think that’s one of the biggest accomplishments you can have as a child.
It’s like, “Now I can do this for you.” Awesome.
I know. I’m looking forward to being able to take my mom on 20 more trips too.
And I’m as parents, they’re like, “I’m so proud. We’ve done our job.”
So, describe what your ideal day would look like, Kristen.
Yeah. So my ideal day…
I’m waking up with a nice view somewhere beautiful. Like, Greece or Los Angeles, or something with a balcony. And I can kind of just open the door, sit on the balcony, eat like a really good breakfast, have a smoothie.
And then I’m planning on an adventure for the day. Like, “Where are we going next?” And with a couple of my friends or my boyfriend and we have the day just to explore. So, wherever we are, we are taking a tour of the city or we are going on an excursion, like, an ATV ride or jetskiing to something really fun. I’m big on that high-action type of adventure.
And after that, we may be winding down at a nice spa, getting a massage, having a really great dinner with some cocktails. And then laughing. I love to just laugh with my friends and jokes. So we’re sitting around the dinner table, we’re telling stories, we’re talking about our day, having an amazing time. And then ending the day back on the balcony.
Looking over the perfect view, being very grateful, and talking about things like, “Wow. We really did. This is our life.”
And I think, for me, that’s my perfect day.
Love that. Love that type of day. Sounds like a good one, too.
So, where would you say is the best location to live as a remote worker?
Yes. So I lived in Southeast Asia as a remote worker and Chiang Mai, Thailand was a great place. And I know a lot of people have been there and I’ve been based there for a little while. And I’ll just have to echo that sentiment for Chiang Mai, Thailand – it was beautiful, it was very inexpensive.
So for me, just starting out, it was like, “I could live there and live pretty well. And live around a ton of other people who were remote workers.
Yeah. I definitely have to go visit one day when things are starting to open up.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
My superpower, I think, would be to… I’ve always wanted to just pause time for a little bit. I think this is like me always feeling like, “Oh, I need more hours in a day.” So if I could just pause the day and sleep or something or just work on something that I really want to get done but didn’t have time for. I would like to pause time for a sec.
Love that. It’s so funny. I had this question for another guest and she said the same thing. Like. freeze time, I’m like, “That is amazing.” “Cause yeah, it’s like time just goes by so fast sometimes it’s nice to do that.
So what’s the one thing you wish you could have done sooner?
I always say that I wish that I learned about online business sooner. Like, if I would have learned about it early in college instead of after I got out of college because I had free time when I was an undergrad.
I was just, like, sitting around before the boom of YouTube. I could have been learning so much. I could have been starting my business back then. So that’s something I always say I wish I could have done back then.
Yeah, absolutely. But you know what’s good? It’s like now we all have the time to do it.
Thank goodness with everything that we have available now that you can actually start anything.
Right. I know.
You can start it now so you don’t regret it like 10 years from now.
You mentioned time goes by pretty fast, you never know.
Thank you so much, Kristen, for being here with us. If our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?
Thank you so much, Debbie. So I hang out the most on Instagram. My Instagram account is @getkrissed You can also find me on my website at KristenNoelle.com.
Perfect. Thank you so much for being here. Again, we really appreciate you for giving us all of your insights.
Yeah, I appreciate you having me, Debbie. I really love this podcast and it is a pleasure.