Solving content marketing problems can be costly and tedious. And, what if you could get an unfair advantage by learning how to use content that leads to conversions?
In this episode, my guest, Lacy Boggs, talks about how to create content that converts and delivers. As a content strategist, she gives advice on thinking of the bigger picture before getting started.
Lacy is the director of The Content Direction Agency and has helped create personality-driven and tailor-made strategies for customers to achieve their goals. Lacy is also the author of the bestselling Kindle eBook, Make a Killing With Content.
Discover how to create content that converts!
Listen to the podcast here:
Creating Content for Conversion with Lacy Boggs [Podcast 225]
Have you been in a place where you’re like, “I feel stuck around this idea of content. Should I put out content? Should I not put out content? What content should I put out? Should I get someone to write it for me? I don’t have time to write. I wake up with the idea of writing a new article, a new blog, a new video, or a new whatever. It makes my stomach turn that I need to be looking at doing all of these things to be successful?” What if all of those things could be solved? What if you could push an easy button to a degree and have a blueprint, have a playbook, and have an implementation happening around your content marketing? It’s more than just content. It’s mostly about content leading to conversions. If that’s not what you want, you’re going to have to check out of this show because this is not going to be for you. If you’re looking for content that converts, you’re definitely going to want to read.
Thanks for making us part of your day. Our guest expert is a definitive expert in helping us create content that converts and delivers. She’s a content strategist. She’s the author of the bestselling book, Make a Killing with Content. She’s the Director of The Content Direction Agency. She helps personality-driven brands, and maybe even some that are non-personalities, become personalities, create and implement a content strategy that’s tailor-made to support your customers and your clients to reach their goals. Welcome, Lacy Boggs. How are you?
I’m great. Thank you. That was an awesome intro.
It’s my pleasure. I want to dive right into it because content is king. We can also say context is king of how that content is delivered. It’s confusing with content. Before we get into your story, what are some of the biggest mistakes you see as people look to get their content out in the marketplace?
A lot of times, it’s something people don’t think about. We’ve been told over and over again that we have to have certain types of content to run our businesses online. Whether that’s, “You have to have a blog, podcast, video, Facebook,” whatever it is. People dive right in. They want to produce content, but they haven’t given a thought to the bigger picture. How is this content going to serve your customers and lead them down the path to a sale? The biggest mistake I often see is that people are producing tons of content without a big picture strategy about how it’s going to impact their business.People are producing tons of content without a big picture strategy about how it's going to impact their business. – Lacy Boggs Click To Tweet
You have this prolific background. You’re a journalist. You have a very inspirational story. You’re a work-at-home mom raising an eight-year-old daughter. You built your business to be able to spend time with her and raise her. You have often been quoted as saying, “I’ve spent no more than twenty hours a week building a full-time income, doing part-time work building this business.” Speak to why you’re doing what you’re doing. What’s your mission? What’s your purpose behind this?
My big why has always been about freedom. It’s always been about the lifestyle more than just like, “I need to make tons of money,” or whatever it is. My work from wherever my lifestyle choice has been to stay home and be a mom. That has always been my driving force. How do I balance the needs of wanting to work, wanting to have my brain engaged, wanting to do all these kinds of things, but also wanting to be at home, run a house, raise my kid, and do those things the way I want to do as well? Finding that balance has always been my big why.
A lot of people have the vision to build this big business. They go into an industry or a niche. They get bogged down in being commoditized. They’re like everybody else. They don’t stand out from the crowd. What is something somebody can do with their content so it sounds like you’ve got to have a bigger picture strategy to connect to how it delivers a client? How do you stand out in this theoretical maybe or even reality driven that is very crowded and very noisy? How do you stand out in the crowd?
It’s super crowded and super noisy. We can’t just stand in the crowded room and try to scream over everybody else. Trying to reach more ears by being louder somehow is not the right approach in my opinion. We need to shift it. Look at your personality. Look at what you bring to the brand and to your space that’s very different and reach those people who are most interested in that thing that makes you different. I do believe we don’t have to fight over a bigger slice of the pie. We bake a bigger pie. There are enough people out there for all of us to find great clients and have raving fans, but you have to get specific. They have to come to you because they like you. They trust you. That’s what we convey through content. That’s one of the main ways that businesses can grow. That know, like and trust factor is through content, and getting to know the person behind the brand.
Your website is chock-full of examples of where people were before, where they’re at now as a result of waving your magic wand and doing what it is that you do. Is there a story or is there an example of somebody you worked with that stands out, that maybe everybody could relate to of how you’ve helped bring out the personality behind the brand, and give them this unique positioning?
I’ve been working for a number of years or so with a men’s clothing company called Bluffworks. They’re online only. They make travel and performance gear for guys that don’t look like travel clothes. It looks like normal, awesome and handsome clothes, but has all the performance abilities of travel clothes. They had gone through these tens of thousands of dollars of rebrand. They internally joked it was the sad model rebrand because it was all super fashion house with the models that never smile and it was very moody. They saw a dip in sales and it was no good. They rebranded again to bring Stefan, the CEO, back, front and center because what they realized is he started the company on Kickstarter. A lot of the guys got to know him through those videos and they liked him.
We did the rebrand. I was brought in to help work on the website and do some of that stuff during the rebrand. They kept me on to help with the blogging and the emails. We were writing all the blogs and all the emails from Stefan, with his personality, his travel stories. He’s an amazing guy. He’s been all over the world, hitchhiked on boats across the ocean and all kinds of crazy stuff. What we realized was that we were creating that trust when he decided to go for some Angel investing for the company, they were going beyond the Kickstarter model looking for some Angel investors. We wrote a blog post about his decisions and how they were funding the company. When we wrote the email, we wanted to say, “If you’re interested, you can work with us.”
There are very specific rules around how to solicit Angel investors. We put a PS at the bottom of this email that was like, “If you are an accredited investor, you can reply to this and Stefan will get back to you.” This went out to about 10,000 guys that buy pants. These are not investment bankers on his list necessarily or anything like that. Just about 10,000 guys who like pants. Within less than a week, he had sixteen responses and of that, three of those turned into $300,000 in Angel investing for the company. In essence, we earned $300,000 in investment through one email. I don’t like to say that because people would come to me and be like, “Write me a $300,000 email.” It was the two years before that we had spent building up that trust factor so that all those guys knew stuff and when he said, “I’m looking for investors,” they could say, “Yes, I want to be a part of that.”
There are many layers of examples that I hear. One, build your following. I hear build a list because without an email list, people will not subscribe. You’re not putting that message on Facebook and Instagram. You’re not doing that as a YouTube video. It’s a personal message so you need a list. There’s a lesson there. There’s the ongoing factor of trust that you’re building over time and even pivoting. You pivoted two times and rebranding. As you’re reading this, if you’re stuck like, “I’m ready to cash in the chips on this program, this product or maybe even your business.” What if a shift in your message, a shift in the way that you’re positioned and packaged in the market could make all the difference?
You’ve got trust with people even though it’s not perfect yet or maybe you’ve already gotten to a place, maybe you’ve hit a plateau or maybe you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed with content. What could you do with a smart and effective ROI driven content strategy? That’s what it comes down to. I want to dive in because there are a lot of people who put out content and what does it do? It gets crickets. It’s just out there and although it looks nice, it seemed like there’s no real drive towards an ROI, a conversion, a sale or what have you. Talk about your approach to helping people develop an ROI content-rich strategy.We don't have to fight over a bigger slice of the pie. We just have to bake a bigger pie. – Lacy Boggs Click To Tweet
I believe that blogging in particular but all content marketing is like your sales letter dripped out over time. Think about those old school sales letters that we all learned our copywriting skills from. We rarely send a letter like that in the mail anymore. We can use those same principles and drip that information out over time through the content we’re sharing on any channel. When I say blogging, that’s because that’s my jam. It could be podcasting. It could be videos. It could be anything. To do that, you have to think backwards from, “What is the result that I want to get from this content? How do I create that result by leading people down this path?” Our customers are coming to us at all different points of readiness.
Some people are just finding out about us. Some people are comparing and contrasting different solutions for their problems. Some people don’t even know what the problem is. We have to meet them where they are and create a path to a sale. One of my favorite metaphors for this is to think of it like rocks in a river. Your customers are on one side of the river. The sale is on the other side of the river. All of our content pieces are rocks. If you scatter them in there, chances are most of your clients are going to fall off and get washed down the river, never to be heard from again. If you put them deliberately in the right order, in the right spacing, and close enough together, you make it a lot easier for people to get across the river and make a sale. That’s how I think about it as a big picture. All of our pieces of content, whether it’s a blog post, an email, a Facebook post, whatever, is another little rock in the river leading to the sale.
That is a simple metaphor and a simple example for us to be able to look at. I’m either not getting the results I want from my content pieces or maybe it’s scattershot. Let’s face it, the typical personality of a reasonable-sized personality driven brand is highly creative, highly innovative, highly focused on shiny objects, and impulsiveness. That’s the DNA. To sit down and architect an entire nine, twelve or twenty content pieces model versus, “Here’s how I’m feeling now, let me write this out,” but also that means if I don’t spend the time to sit down and write it out, I miss a lot of those things in between. What would you recommend for somebody that’s a personality-driven brand to get started and also be able to outsource it to create this consistency to deliver that outcome, ROI plus conversion?
Most people who are running a company, the content is not your jam. That’s not your zone of genius. You may be a great writer but thinking out that marketing plan may or may not be where your brain is at. Your brain is on the thing you deliver and the thing you produce. That’s why outsourcing that marketing plan and strategy can be a great idea because you don’t have to sit down and think about the nine, twelve, fourteen, however many pieces of content that are all going to lead towards one sale and how that web all works. That’s how my brain works, which is what makes me a good strategist for this thing. That’s not how everybody’s brain works.
The thing I always say to people is it’s awesome to write when inspiration strikes. What do you do if inspiration doesn’t strike? Is it just crickets? Do you not blog that week? Are you giving up that opportunity to communicate with your readers because you’re not feeling it that day? If we have a plan though, you have a backup, you know what to write about or you know how to give it to an assistant or a writer and say, “Do this for me.” If the plan is in place, you don’t have to wait for or depend on the inspiration. In another sense, inspiration isn’t always strategic. It’s great to have those bursts of inspiration. It’s awesome to write amazing blog posts that get people thinking. If they’re not part of the strategic marketing plan to move people toward that sale, you have to ask yourself, “Is now the right time to publish that piece of content or should I write it while the inspiration is hot and then save it for later?”
Someone might say, “Video is hot.” Should I do a blog post? Should I do a video? Where should I post this? Should I be posting on my blog? Should I go to Medium or wherever? Where does somebody get started? If you were starting looking at a personality-driven brand business? We’re not going to tie an anchor because there’s a dependence to this. There’s a bigger strategy that somebody needs to have. If you were to give someone some advice on what they should be considering and looking at, where they should start? Especially considering the popularity of video and where to post it, you mentioned meet them where they are. Most people’s websites are like a barren desert. You can go post that same thing in another area, that same article or slightly twisted delivery video versus a content piece or a text piece and you can get all kinds of results. Speak to that elephant in the room.
I’m very much a fan of, “Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Let’s not make things harder than they have to be.” I like to think of it as the hub and spoke model of content. Your hub is whatever your major piece of content is. That might be your blog posts, your podcasts, your videos. The spokes are all the other different channels you might drive traffic back to that hub. You might tweak it slightly and do a video on Facebook, share a quote graphic on Instagram or record yourself reading it on a podcast or vice versa. Maybe the podcast is the hub and you have it transcribed so that you can put quotes of it at other places.
The idea though is to get traffic where it is, meet them where they are, but drive that back to where you want them to be. For example, if your people are hanging out on Facebook, that’s great, but are they going to buy on Facebook? Probably not. We need to drive them back to wherever that may be, getting on your email list from your website, sending them to a webinar registration or sending them to a sales page. Whatever that funnel looks like for you, we’ve got to drive them back from wherever they are to where you want them to be. That’s what content can help you do.
You’ve worked with many clients over the last several months. What would you consider to be one to three huge breakthroughs that you’re using or you’ve got your clients using that are needle movers? What are one to three that our readers can put in place?
The biggest one for me is to make sure the type of content you’re producing is aligned with the type of people you want to connect with. Something I see a lot is that people start saying, “I’m going to produce X content because it’s popular,” but it may or may not be aligned with the exact ideal customer for the business. Let me give you an example. For years and years, I was writing how to blog posts on my blog, how to create an editorial calendar, how to write a better blog, how to whatever. It is great when you want to attract people who want to DIY. When they want to learn how to do something, how-to posts make a lot of sense. What I realized was that I was attracting all these people who wanted to learn to do it themselves.
The people who want to hire us to do it don’t give a fig on how to write better blog posts. They want to hire somebody to write a better blog post. I was attracting an audience that wasn’t that interested in what I had to sell. There was a major mismatch. We need to make sure that the type of content we’re producing matches the type of client we’re attracting. That would be a big needle mover for me because how-to content is some of the easiest to produce because it’s very easy to say, “You do this and you do this.” Thought leader content that reaches a different type of audience is much more challenging. A lot of times we fall back on what’s easy even if it’s not totally aligned with the audience we’re trying to attract.It's awesome to write when inspiration strikes. – Lacy Boggs Click To Tweet
What would be an action step that someone can take to be able to get in their voice? There are a lot of people who don’t understand the voice of a brand or the voice of a business. You alluded to it in the earlier example that you gave, but speak to the voice and getting the voice right. How do you outsource? That probably can be a concern of someone. “Can I have someone that I outsource to get my voice right?” Speak to that.
Voice is one of the most challenging things in branding because it’s very subjective. It’s very hard to define. It’s hard to look at a business and say, “What’s their voice?” Any brand you can think of, Apple or IBM or anything like what’s their brand voice? It’s very intangible. It’s difficult to define. An action step somebody could take, MailChimp has a writing style guide for their internal people that you can find online. One of the ways they did it is say something like, “MailChimp is cheeky but never rude,” or “MailChimp is funny but never crass,” things like that. That I felt was a solid way to help people think about, “How do we want to communicate from our brand?”
I’m often sarcastic and snarky, but I very rarely swear on my blog. I don’t go over that comedy or whatever you want to say, that hurdle from being sarcastic and snarky to being a little more crass. It doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. That’s just how my brand is personally. When we’re looking at brands of clients we’re going to work with, we will often do this, “It’s this but not this. It’s sexy but not sexual. It’s funny but not crass,” whatever it might be. That’s a good place to start. As for outsourcing, this is one of my personal soapboxes. Any writer you hire for your business should be able to sound like the business. Not all copywriters will agree with me on that. There are some copywriters that have made their business and their living sounding like themselves. People hire them because they want to sound like that copywriter.
There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want. I personally believe that a brand should have consistency. If you hire a copywriter to write a piece like a sales page or a piece of your website, it should sound like everything else to me. That’s my opinion. When you are hiring somebody or outsourcing this to somebody, you need to make sure they can emulate your brand voice. The way to do that is to ask them for some tests. How would you write this Facebook update? How would you write this blog post? How would you write this part of the website? You can see, are they close? They may not hit it out of the park on the first try, but if they’re getting close and you can see, “This is good. There are just a few words I would change,” that’s a good indicator for me. If it’s way off, that would be a red flag.
As you’re reading this, what would happen for you, your business if you could get your voice right and get clarity around your voice? Do you even have a voice? What would it be worth to have that clarity and certainty alone? Let alone be able to outsource. You find yourself overwhelmed, burdened and bogged down by this idea of creating all this content to keep up with the Joneses, keep up with everybody that’s prolific. It’s not as hard as you’ve been led to believe.
We are just scratching the surface. We’ve got things like how to stand out from the crowd, how to look at content, not as just content, but as an ROI-driven activity and results for productivity sake. We talked about the idea of creating more conversions from content. We talked about the $300,000 email that took two years to build. We talked about the value of trust. What’s your voice? How do you create your voice? How do you outsource your voice? There’s a lot we’ve covered in a short period of time here.
Where can people go to go deeper with some of your resources and some of your wisdom? I looked at your website, you have so much powerful content available there in studying your website and its architecture. It reminded me of Gary Halbert. It’s edgy, fresh, valuable and impactful. Is that what you want, as you’re reading this? You might want to go deeper with Lacy and what she makes available to. Where can people go to go deeper with this stuff that you’ve got?
LacyBoggs.com is where you can find all of my great information. I do have quite the back catalog of blog posts and how-to articles. There’s a lot there if you dig deeper. I have created a resource for you if you go to LacyBoggs.com/freedom. I’m giving away for you my editorial calendar template. This is the same template I use with all of my clients, six and seven figure businesses that we plan out their editorial calendar. I’m giving you that for free. There’s a little video that goes along with it to show you how to use it.
If you’ve ever been stuck at what you should create and when or even why to create it, I want to encourage you to go get this calendar blueprint, this calendar playbook, this editorial playbook and blueprint that will save you time. It will cut down on the overwhelm and the burden of, “What do I do? When do I do it? How do I do it?” It’s there for you for free, but don’t treat it as something free. Most people treat free stuff and it ends up tucked back in a drawer somewhere. Don’t do that. Treat this like you wrote a check for $10,000 for it so it would have some value. If you put it in place, it will probably be worth six, seven or eight figures to you. It will also give you greater freedom, peace, certainty, confidence, clarity and a whole lot more. You can go to LacyBoggs.com/freedom to get that resource. You won’t be disappointed. Lacy, what is something I should have asked you that I didn’t?
We scratched the surface just a little bit at the beginning. We didn’t talk about how I ran a full-time business and an agency in twenty hours a week. That has been a major goal for me over a number of years doing this is never to work. I’m lazy. I’m not going to lie. I don’t like to work that hard. Working twenty hours a week has always been a goal for me. I’ve loved that I can spend my time on the things that matter. I have built a team that helps me outsource things. Not that they don’t matter but the things that don’t need my personal attention.Make sure that the type of content you're producing is aligned with the type of people you want to connect with. – Lacy Boggs Click To Tweet
As you’re reading, are you inspired by the ability to create a business model as a full-time paying type business, but doing it for twenty hours a week? Have you may be heard some other experts say, “You’ve got to work 24/7, you’ve got to be on call, you’ve got to hustle, you’ve got to grind?” What if that way of thinking was total malarkey? What if it was total BS? What if there was a better and smarter way? Wouldn’t you want to learn from somebody who’s actually living it? Lacy also has about nine people that work on her team. They are mostly stay-at-home women with the same vision and drive. Some of you have a podcast and I’d encourage you to bring her on your show to interview her.
Thanks. I’d be thrilled.
What are some of the keys that you think have helped you build a business where you’re able to only work twenty hours a week?
At the very beginning, I met with a coach. It was one of these deals where I was at a meetup like a networking event and I won a free conversation with this coach which ended up being a long sales call. When I told him that my vision was to only work half-time while I was raising my daughter, he flat out told me I couldn’t do it. He flat out told me that it wasn’t possible and that I would never make a living, let alone a profitable business working that little. I got angry and that was probably one of the main catalysts that I was like, “Now that you told me I can’t, I’m going to do this.” It was about holding those boundaries and holding that vision for myself about what freedom looked like to me. Freedom to me looks like going out to lunch whenever I feel like it and stopping work around 3:00 when I pick up my kid and things like that.
Being able to volunteer for schools, that’s huge for me. It became part of the vision. Most of the decisions along the way were in service of that vision. For example, when I got more popular at the beginning and I was getting more clients that I could handle in twenty hours a week, I had a decision to make. I could expand my work hours or I could bring in somebody to help me. The choice I made was to bring in somebody to help me. That’s how the agency has grown organically from there. We are all women. We’re all moms. I employed all work-from-home moms. We have babies all the way from four months old up to sixteen years old among us. I’m proud that I’m able to help these other women create that freedom in their lives too.
Here’s something to know. There are a lot of experts who are total BS. What you see front stage and backstage is a dysfunctional mess. They don’t do what they teach. It’s sad. It can almost be disheartening. Don’t lose the message or the inspiration through the messenger. I’m not perfect. I made a boatload of mistakes. I’ve built eleven companies, several seven and eight-figure companies. I bought companies. I’ve tank three companies. I’ve been through BK. I’ve been through a divorce. I’ve made a lot of the mistakes that most people don’t want to make, which I believe we bring you a context so that we can help you avoid making those mistakes. Who’s to say what success is for you or what freedom is for you?
There are a lot of ways to get it right. Realize that as you’re reading this and I hope that you’re going to take that message and learn from Lacy’s examples. There are a lot of ways to get it right, but it starts with you making the choice. What do you want? What is freedom to you? What is the ideal business for you? That’s the key. You can re-engineer it backward. Lacy, this has been an awesome conversation. You have an eight-year-old daughter. What are some of the values that you hope you will instill in your eight-year-old daughter as she grows up for business, entrepreneurship, and having a high-quality life along with a great career? What are some of those things you’d love for her to pick up?
First and foremost, I want her to see that she’s important in my life. That’s partly why I’ve built it this way. I need her to know that she’s important. Mommy’s not tied to the laptop 24/7. More than that, I want her to see that you can do anything you want. Women can own businesses. As a woman, as she grows up, she can do whatever she feels like. Being a business owner, working from home, doing what I want to do, having built my life by design instead of by default. That’s a powerful role model for her. Whether she goes to the entrepreneurial route or not, I just want her to choose to design and not live her life by default. How we make the most of this life is to design how we want to live it.
Your husband has been supportive of what you’re doing and probably is giving you high fives along the way with this great business model that you’ve organically built over time. If your husband was sitting next to you, what would you thank him for in his way of showing up to allow you to be you and do what you do?
I would thank him for having the trust to support me in this because he’s very conservative financially. He’s very conservative about the decisions we make that way. When I came to him and said, “I want to quit my job when I have this baby,” and tried to this freelance thing and do my own deal, he was very supportive. I know that can’t have been easy for him. The other thing I want to thank him for is after that first year where I had an infant at home and I was trying to freelance write and all this stuff, I’m sure I made about $5,000. I always joke that I had a four figure year that year. He came to me and he said, “If we’re going to keep this up, I need you to triple your income next year.” It was a supportive challenge. I don’t know how much I would have grown if he hadn’t made that challenge to me at that time. I did triple my income the next year and then I’ve doubled pretty much every year since then. To have him be supportive but also pushed me to do my best has been incredibly helpful. Also, I’ve always told him he can’t leave his job because we need his insurance. That’s part of the deal.It is ideal to meet people where they are and create a path to a sale. – Lacy Boggs Click To Tweet
What are one to three action steps you hope our readers will take from our time here?
The first action step would be to define what the goal is for your content marketing. What do you want to get out of it? Is it more leads and sales? Do you want to be known as a thought leader? Do you want to get more speaking engagements? Whatever it is, define that goal. Think about the big picture strategy. Number two would be to come up with the strategy working backwards from the goal. How can you use content to achieve that? You may need to figure out, “What are the metrics I need to watch to make sure I’m making those goals and making that step?” Go to LacyBoggs.com/freedom and download that editorial calendar and put it in like get granular. Say, “Here are the pieces of content I’m going to create to reach that big goal.” You test and see what happens and if it doesn’t quite work, that’s okay. You try again, but at least you had a plan. You followed it, you looked at the numbers, and you can say, “This worked or this didn’t.”
I would encourage you to go to LacyBoggs.com/freedom to get the resources, the tools, the editorial playbook, the marketing calendar blueprint that you can put in place and stop overwhelm, stop feeling burdened, stop feeling weighed down, stop feeling like you’re in distress like, “What do I got to put out? How do I put it out? Where do I put it out?” You’ve got a playbook and a blueprint you can follow. I wish we could spend a few more hours together because you have a lot of wisdom to be able to share. Thank you for being with us.
Thank you. This was a lot of fun.
I want to encourage you to take action with what Lacy has been sharing. We’ve covered a lot. If you never want to miss an episode, you can go to GrowthToFreedom.com/subscribe. Seize the day and take action with what Lacy has shared with you. We’ll see you next time on GrowthToFreedom.com.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Make a Killing with Content
- The Content Direction Agency
About Lacy Boggs
Lacy Boggs is a content strategist, author of the bestselling Kindle ebook, “Make a Killing With Content,” and the director of The Content Direction Agency.
She helps personality-driven brands create and implement content marketing strategies tailor-made to support their customers and reach their goals.