Building a Quarter-Million Dollar Agency in 20 Hrs/Wk + Content Marketing Strategy with Lacy Boggs (Transcript)

Lacy Bogg runs The Content Direction Agency, a multi-six-figure content market agency. If you and I think we have a “content creation as opposed to time available” ratio problem… let me tell you… Lacy has it way worse. That’s because a whole roster of clients depends on her small team to create their content.

Naturally, Lacy’s figured out a few tricks to maximize content-creation-efficiency so they can keep man-hours down and productivity up.

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 39. Listen to the episode here.

Lacy Boggs:

I want to make sure that I know when I need to start building my list so I have enough people to sell this to to reach my goals. Maybe I need to do that 12 weeks out so I have time to nurture them before I’m asking them for a big sale. We can work backwards once we know where the destination is. It’s like running a race. If you don’t know where the finish line is, you’re just running. You have to know what’s my finish line? What’s my goal so that I can plot my strategy and my race and get there more efficiently?

Gillian Perkins:

We became entrepreneurs because, more than anything, we want freedom. We want to be in control of our own schedule, income, and life. But unfortunately, that isn’t always the reality of being a business owner. I’m Gillian Perkins and I’m on a mission to take back entrepreneurship for what it’s supposed to be. In every episode, I’ll share with you how to get the most out of every hour you work so that you can work less and earn more. Let’s get to it.

Gillian Perkins:

Hey there, everyone, and welcome back to the show. Today I have a case study for you of an entrepreneur who is killing it online and who has built her business working less than 20 hours per week. Lacy Boggs is a content strategist and the founder of The Content Direction Agency where she helps small business owners fill their programs and practices by generating organic demand through content marketing. She’s also the bestselling author of Make a Killing With Content. Hey there, Lacy, and welcome to the show.

Lacy Boggs:

Thanks so much for having me.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I can’t wait to dive into your story and learn how you have managed to build the business that you have today working a minimal amount of time. Could you just start out by telling us a little bit about your business, specifically how you help your clients and what types of services or products you offer to them?

A bit about Lacy & her business

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. I run a content marketing agency and what we do is we help small business owners create content that builds organic demand for their product, which means organic demand just means not paid advertising. We help them move the needle with their business through content. The products and services we offer all revolve around that. I do the strategy. We do like a 30,000-foot strategy of what content are you creating and why and how is that actually driving people to more sales in your business?

Lacy Boggs:

And then from there, I have a team of awesome women who can actually write the content for you. We can do SEO. We can do client interviews, things like that, whatever needs to happen to make the strategy happen, my team can make that happen. Wait, I said, “Make that happen,” way too many times, but you get what I mean.

Gillian Perkins:

You make a lot of stuff happen.

Lacy Boggs:

Make a lot of things happen.

Gillian Perkins:

When you first started your agency, was it just you and you were doing the services for clients and now you’ve built up your team?

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. I started pretty much as a freelancer. I called myself a ghost blogger back then and it was just me. And then the agency has grown organically from there. As I got too busy, I brought in other people to help me.

Gillian Perkins:

Can you tell me a little bit about what that journey has looked like, where along in the process you decided to start bringing on help, and how you’ve made that decision that it was time to start hiring?

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. I mean it’s been a long and winding road, that’s for sure. Because I have always worked about 20 hours a week or less, the growth of my business has been slower than what you might see on Facebook or on Instagram or whatever when people are like, “Make six figures in six days,” all that crap. I grew very gradually. It was about, I want to say, four or five years into the business where I was finally hitting a point where I realized there was a ceiling. As a writer, I’m trading dollars for hours in one way or another.

Lacy Boggs:

There was a ceiling to how much I could earn based on how many hours I was willing to put in. When I got to the point where I was writing as many blog posts as I could handle in 20 hours a week, I decided to, instead of saying no to people who still wanted to work with us, I decided to bring in a friend as a subcontractor. She’s actually still with me five years on. We’ve just grown from there. It was like once I hit capacity in a certain place or as we grew, I needed to bring in other kinds of expertise.

Lacy Boggs:

I’m not an SEO expert, but sometimes that’s what my clients need. So we brought in someone who is an SEO expert so that we could provide those services.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. That makes sense. I like how you have built it organically. Sometimes I think that people feel like they have to have this initial vision for what their business will look like and then be incredibly strategic about the execution of that. I know that can be great. I think it also holds a lot of people back from even getting started because they don’t know what that end vision will look like. But I like that you just got started as a freelancer, just serving your clients. And then as you needed help, as your vision for the business expanded, then you started bringing on that help that you needed.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. I was actually really afraid of growing a business, growing an agency, because I liked being a freelancer because I was only responsible for myself. The idea of having somebody else whose family and mortgage and whatever were relying on me to go out and sell things was very horrible to me at the beginning. So I had to get a lot of coaching and support around that to say, “No, that’s okay, and there’s other things you can put into place to make that less scary, et cetera, et cetera.”

Lacy Boggs:

But yeah, that wasn’t what I wanted at all when I got started and it just happened organically. As you said, I was growing and I needed help. That was when it was time.

Gillian Perkins:

And you did it at the time that it really made sense for you and for your business. Yeah. I love that. I want to get more into how you actually built the business and especially maybe how you have used content to build your business as well. But before we do that, could you just share what is motivating your decision to work only 20 hours a week?

How to build your business working only 20 hours a week

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. This goes back to when I started the business. I was working for a magazine before this. I was a food editor at a local magazine. That’s a great job. Getting paid to eat is awesome, but it was a teeny-tiny magazine, so I was there 60 hours a week or more. When we had a deadline to get the publication to the printer, we were sometimes there till 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. I got pregnant and I thought, “Man, I don’t think I can do that with a baby.” We did the math and here in Colorado, at least, putting an infant in childcare would have been more than half of my salary.

Lacy Boggs:

I was like, “I’m going to get paid less than half and not see my kid. This sounds terrible.” So that was what motivated me to go off on my own. In the beginning, it was a necessity. When you’re a full-time caregiver for a baby, you’re lucky if you can find 20 hours a week. I was working nap times, nights, weekends, et cetera. But then as she grew and there was more leeway, it was basically like, yeah, I don’t want to work that hard. I liked the freedom. I liked having the space in my life to do other things and not feel stressed out. So that’s really been it.

Lacy Boggs:

As she’s gotten older, she’s nine now and in the third grade, I like being the mom who can show up with cupcakes for the party or I volunteer in the library every week at school. I like being able to say, “I take her to school and I pick her up and I work in between.” That’s really what motivated me.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. For me, I just find that one of the things I appreciate the most about my choice to work less is that it keeps my options open. Just like you were saying, you can be the mom who brings the cupcakes.

Lacy Boggs:

Totally.

Gillian Perkins:

It’s not about the cupcakes. It’s about being able to do that if you want to do that.

Lacy Boggs:

Right. Right. It’s about having that white space in my life to be able to say, “My friends want to go out for lunch on Thursday. Cool. I can move other stuff around because I’m not booked solid.”

Gillian Perkins:

I’ve always appreciated being, since I have been that person, I’ve appreciated being that person who was able to just say yes to things that I wanted to say yes to. I think especially as a mom who is also a business owner, you want to have flexibility but you also just need the space because it would be so stressful to be working 40-plus hours and also trying to take care of your kids.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. I don’t know how people who have full-time jobs do it, honestly.

Gillian Perkins:

I don’t know.

Lacy Boggs:

I think I’m unemployable at this point because I could never go back.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I feel like even if you can cram that much in and kudos to the amazing women who do that, who do manage to cram that in. But personally, I feel like it would be quite stressful to try to work 40-plus hours a week and be a mom and really show up the way I want to.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. For context, could you share with us some numbers in your business? You could either share how your business has grown over time, especially as your team has grown or just a general revenue or profit number for this past year? But I would just love to have the context because there’s all sorts of people out there who work five hours a week or 20 hours a week, but they don’t make very much at all. So I’d love to get the listeners some context.

Let’s talk numbers

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. It’s funny because in my first year of doing this business “full-time”, 20 hours a week, I think I made around $15,000 that first year. The first four or five years I consistently doubled. So when I say I was slow, I was definitely slow. We went 15 to 30 to 60 to-

Gillian Perkins:

But as far as business growth goes-

Lacy Boggs:

That’s pretty good, right?

Gillian Perkins:

… doubling every year is not slow. Most brick-and-mortar businesses are very happy with a 5% gain per year, so doubling every year, it’s slow when we compare ourselves to Instagram entrepreneurs, but it’s not actually slow.

Lacy Boggs:

It’s not actually slow. We did very well those first five years and then I did some pivoting in my business. I got sucked in by the idea of set it and forget it. I tried doing a course. I tried doing paid products to try to scale my business that way. Also, because I was trying to avoid the agency because, like I said, I was afraid of it and launching really burned me out. It wasn’t what I enjoyed, so I went back to one-on-one work and that was around 2017, I think. We’ve been steadily growing the agency since then.

Lacy Boggs:

We’re just under 250,000 revenue. I have eight women on my team who also happen to be moms, but they are all also business owners and subcontractors. We’ve built the agency through subcontractors and it’s worked very well for us. They all consider themselves part of my team and I consider them part of my team. But they’re also doing their own thing, which is cool in a lot of ways. I don’t have any full-time employees on a W-2 basis. But like I said, there’s eight of us now, three writers, and then a bunch of other people who help us and support us with other stuff.

Lacy Boggs:

We’re doing fine. I mean I’ve kind of hit a ceiling in terms of my sales skills, I think I would say. My sales skills have probably tapped out. If I get better at selling, we might continue to grow. But I’m pretty happy with where we’re at right now because there’s very low stress. We serve our clients. Everybody’s happy. So it feels good right now.

Gillian Perkins:

Since it is an agency business and you do have those contractors you’re paying, could you give me a ballpark idea of profits on that 250K?

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. It depends on the month or it depends on the year but, in general, our retainers are our bread and butter. When somebody comes on and says, “We’re going to blog for them once a week every week for six months or more, that’s our main place.” It’s generally about 60/40 there. 40% profit, 60% expenses on those. That’s kind of a ballpark. I like to pay my team really well, especially because there is a false belief out there that anybody can write content.

Gillian Perkins:

Not true.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. I mean you can go on Fiverr and find somebody who can write you a blog post for five bucks. You can hire somebody in the Philippines or somewhere like that. I’ve got nothing against outsourcing things to the Philippines or overseas, but they may or may not be native English speakers. They may or may not put any research in and they’re probably definitely not trained content writers. We’re definitely not the cheapest option out there, but that’s because I like to pay my gals in accordance with their skills.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I mean even if you’re working with native English speakers, finding people who can actually write well is so difficult.

Lacy Boggs:

It is.

Gillian Perkins:

As someone who runs a content-based business and a very marketing-centric business, we create a lot of content and that is my biggest bottleneck in my business is that I still create a large part of the content. One of the main reasons for that, of course, part of it is I’m running a personal brand. But the other part of it is, it is so stinking hard to find people who can actually create good quality content.

Lacy Boggs:

Right. That’s the gap we hope to fill is for people who have a strong personal brand or a strong thought leadership and have struggled to find the right kind of copywriter, which is why it’s important for me to retain those gals. When I find people who can do that, I want to keep them happy and I want to pay them well so that they are happy to keep writing for us and for our clients.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. That’s so important. Honestly, having a 40% profit margin on agency work is still really, really good.

Lacy Boggs:

That’s not bad. That’s not true of all of our products, but that’s kind of our main deal. So that’s not too shabby.

All about products and packages

Gillian Perkins:

What are some of your most popular products?

Lacy Boggs:

That’s a biggie. We also offer a strategy session standalone. That’s just me and the client and we go through what are their goals, how is content going to help them reach those goals, and then get down into the nitty-gritty of actually planning out their content calendar week by week so that they can then walk away with a plan and implement. Some of the clients that I do that for already have a content team and so they just need somebody to help them figure out the big picture strategy.

Lacy Boggs:

Sometimes they’re still doing it themselves, like you are. Sometimes they come back to us and they’re like, “Oh my God. We need help.” They hire us to write. But that’s a really popular one. And then something we’ve just added is I will do full launch support for people now. That is all the copy they could possibly need for their launch.

Gillian Perkins:

A lot.

Lacy Boggs:

From beginning to end, which is a lot. That’s a big package. I only take one of those a quarter. We only started doing that last year at the end of the year. I can’t say that’s “popular,” because we don’t offer as many. But that is the new thing.

Gillian Perkins:

As the owner of your business, I really mean everything you do for your business, what are some of your primary responsibilities, some of the things you spend the most of your time on in your business?

Lacy Boggs:

My primary responsibilities are sales, marketing, and some client work. Those are the three things I spend the most time on. Of course, there’s always little admin tasks and stuff that happens, but I would say those are my most important roles. If and when I can outsource sales, maybe we’ll keep going.

Gillian Perkins:

Another thing that’s hard to hire for.

Lacy Boggs:

Right. Right. Obviously, I’m sort of chief marketer also because I feel like I need to walk my talk, which isn’t a bad thing. And then I still do some client-facing work. I do the strategy sessions, but I also do some writing for certain clients.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. It sounds like that’s the work you really enjoy.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. I’m happy to do that.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. Because obviously, you were doing that as a freelancer for a long time and you were even resistant to building that agency out. I’m sure you must like that work.

Lacy Boggs:

Well, there’s something to be said for keeping your hand in as well, as a writer or as a practitioner of anything. I feel like if I was totally removed from it, I wouldn’t be as good of a strategist because I wouldn’t have my boots on the ground, so to speak.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I find that in my business, the more I do have my hands in the work it can be so tempting to try to save time by outsourcing various parts of the process, anything from writing a blog article to scheduling social media posts to your inbox. All those things can really help you to scale your business. But I find that it is very difficult for me personally to continue to be strategic in my leadership really and strategic in my content marketing strategy and things like that when I don’t have my hands in those things.

Gillian Perkins:

I have outsourced some of those things, but I just find that the more I’m actually doing the work myself, the more I’m creating the content, the more I’m having that one-to-one contact with people even in the comments on social media or in the inbox, that that really helps me to have a better pulse on the business and be able to be a better leader.

Lacy Boggs:

I think that’s very true and I think there’s sometimes a place in certain businesses where it becomes impossible to do certain parts of it. If you’re putting out dozens of emails or whatever, there comes a time when the owner’s time is more valuable than the time spent on those things. It’s a fine balance, isn’t it?

Gillian Perkins:

Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean that’s the problem I run into all the time because when I look at how much my time is worth, if I just literally do the math of, okay, I’m earning this much per year, I’m working this many hours, therefore apparently my time is worth X number of hundreds of dollars or whatever per hour. And then it’s like, well, I could hire someone to do this for $30 an hour or less possibly or more, but somewhere around in that range. You just have to kind of look at the math and realize, okay, I have to figure out a way to more strategically outsource or more strategically build my team if I want to grow.

Find how YOU want to run your business

Gillian Perkins:

Now, of course, we all have different goals for our businesses and it’s not just about working less. It’s not just about earning more. We also have to be building businesses that we actually really enjoy which is why I appreciate that you took your time building your agency to be an agency even, because it sounds like you were doing that because you were leaning into the work that you like. You talked about how you tried doing courses and it didn’t work for you very well because, largely, it sounds like, because of the launch process wasn’t really what motivated you or what you enjoyed.

Gillian Perkins:

I found similar things in my business where I also can get quite burdened out by the launch process, which is why we’ve gone evergreen with a lot of our courses. But I also realized that for myself, I don’t do very well with client work. I love running group programs, but one-to-one client work, as much as I love talking to a person one-to-one, that long-term client relationship isn’t something that I really enjoy. So that was why we moved more toward the group, I’ll say the group coaching model but I use that term loosely.

Gillian Perkins:

I like to run my courses more like group coaching programs so we can provide a lot of one-to-one support for the students inside the program. It’s not just like, “Here’s your content. Bye.” I want to make sure that they actually get the results. Anyway, I just appreciate you sharing the journey there with how you did freelance work, then you tried courses. Now you’re in an agency model that looks a little different than maybe how you feared it could look.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. Totally. We still have courses and products. But I don’t market them very often. They just live on my website and if someone finds them, yay, whatever. Because I already built them, they might as well live there. Yeah. I found it was very draining. I also don’t have the personality that’s excited about reaching the masses, if that makes sense. I would rather have a small group or a personal relationship than worry about reaching 10,000 people with whatever.

Lacy Boggs:

Having courses is so much of a mass marketing model. It’s a numbers game. You have to have a certain number of people see the offer in order to sell a certain number of courses. I find myself just energetically I’d much rather have a 50% close rate on sales calls than a one or two percent close rate on a sales page.

Gillian Perkins:

Yep, yep. I think the key takeaway here for everyone who’s listening really is just make sure you’re building the business you want to run. But it’s okay to try different things. You tried launching and you learned, right, because you don’t really know a lot of the time until you try. But then you really have to do that work, especially when you’re building a small business, I think. You are personally so tied to your business. Even if you’re not building a personal brand, if you’re the person who is running the business, your energy and your excitement and your level of motivation is going to have such an impact on your ability to really invest yourself in your business and show up the way you need to.

Gillian Perkins:

For years I ran a local business and that business had so much opportunity, so much potential there. I loved some aspects of the business. I loved the entrepreneurial journey and all that. I actually enjoyed the work I was even doing in the business, but I wasn’t that passionate about where the business was heading. It was just a constant drain on me. It just always felt like hard work to show up. Regardless of how much I was working, it always just felt hard. I finally ended up selling the business to someone who had so much more passion for that particular business model than I did.

Gillian Perkins:

I started my online business and world of difference. Now I have to work to keep myself out of the office because I like the work I’m doing so much.

Lacy Boggs:

It makes such a difference. There are so many different ways. My mother has a contractor that helps her around her house and his favorite phrase is, “There’s more than one way to win.” I love that because it’s so true, especially in online business too. It’s like there’s more than one way to structure your business. There’s more than one business model. I think that was a big learning point for me was that I didn’t have to follow the crowd. I didn’t have to do what worked for somebody else, my good friend, or my competitor, or anybody else.

Lacy Boggs:

I had to find what worked for me and that’s been a huge aha moment and turning point where it was like it’s okay for me not to be shooting for making a million dollars a year right now because that’s just not where I’m at in my life or my business. I don’t have to have that goal. I can stay where I’m at for a little while or whatever it is. I don’t have to sell courses. I don’t have to work from wherever. I don’t want to move to Bali and work from the beach. So that’s okay.

Gillian Perkins:

I love that. There’s more than one way to win. We’re going to put that on a quote graphic on Instagram and we’ll attribute it to Lacy Boggs’ mom’s contractor.

Lacy Boggs:

His name’s Brian. So yeah.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay, Brian. Okay, great.

Lacy Boggs:

That’s so funny.

Startup Society

Gillian Perkins:

We will make sure that that happens. This episode is brought to you by Startup Society. If you run an online business or you’re thinking about starting one, then Startup Society is the place for you. It’s a boot camp training program for entrepreneurs, plus an incredibly supportive membership community. If you’re looking for a framework to make building an online business as simple and straightforward as possible, then that’s exactly what you’ll find inside Startup Society.

Gillian Perkins:

Every month we create a step-by-step action plan for our members to follow to create a specific result in their business so that they can keep moving forward and growing. Past action plans have helped our members write their websites, launch online courses, and hire their first employees. When you become a member, not only will you get access to our future action plans, but you’ll also get access to our entire library of past action plans, including the ones that I just mentioned.

Gillian Perkins:

You’ll also get business coaching directly from me during our live monthly coaching sessions. During these sessions, you can ask any business questions that you have so that you can make sure that you get the answers you need in order to be able to keep moving forward and not get stuck. As a member, you’ll also be invited into our membership community where you can connect with other online entrepreneurs who are crushing it so that you can be inspired and make some lasting connections.

Gillian Perkins:

If you’re interested in becoming a member of Startup Society, then there’s no time like the present to make that happen. To sign up, just head to gillianperkins.com/startupsociety. Again, that’s gillianperkins.com/startupsociety. As a listener of this podcast, I have a special offer for you. You can become a member of Startup Society for $10 off every single month. Just use code EARNMORE when you’re signing up. Again, that code is EARNMORE, all one word, and it will give you $10 off your monthly membership cost.

Gillian Perkins:

If you want to turn your online business into a success as quickly and as strategically as possible, then I would love to work with you to make that happen. And now, let’s get back to the episode.

How to use content marketing for your business

Gillian Perkins:

Let’s get into talking about content marketing itself, since that is what you are an expert in. I want to talk about two different aspects of content marketing, specifically. Not so much the strategy side, although maybe we’ll get into that a little bit. But first of all, how can we use content marketing in our businesses to more effectively build our audience, more effectively market our products, more effectively make sales, that part of things? And then second, how can we create this content without spending enormous amounts of time?

Gillian Perkins:

I want to focus probably more there because, as I mentioned, I run a very content-focused business. Like I said, one of our biggest bottlenecks is how do we get this content created because creating content is extremely time-consuming? But let’s start with the first thing. How can we use content marketing to more effectively market our business and increase our profits?

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. What we have to think about is content marketing is any time you’re having a conversation with a potential client in the hope that it may one day turn into a sale. Content marketing is everything you’re putting out there. It’s your tweets. It’s your TikToks. It’s your emails. It’s your blog posts. It’s your podcasts, anything you’re putting out there where you’re trying to reach your ideal customer. As you said that’s a lot. But I find to make it most effective, having a plan around how all that is working together and how it’s all creating that path to lead the customer to a sale.

Lacy Boggs:

The metaphor I like to use is that every piece of content you’re creating is like a rock in the river. Your client is on one side of the river and a sale is on the other. If you’re just throwing stuff scattershot into the river it makes it really hard to get across. But if you have a plan and you’re putting it in thoughtfully the right distance apart, the right size, et cetera, et cetera, it makes it a lot easier for your client to make it to the sale. Just having that big picture understanding of how does this tweet support my business? That feels sometimes overwhelming for people because they’re like, “Oh my God. I tweet 75 times a day or whatever.”

Lacy Boggs:

But when you have an idea of, okay, I’m using this tweet to engage people so that they will go to my blog, so that they will sign up for an email, so that I can market to them, so that they will buy my thing. Those are the rocks and when you have that clear in your head, all of a sudden, all the content becomes a lot more effective. We’re not just throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks. We’re actually testing things, seeing how it works, making sure it all works together, plays well together in an ecosystem. To me, it really is about a little bit of strategy, at least understanding what the big picture goal is and then keeping that goal in mind whenever we’re creating content.

Lacy Boggs:

Because I think a lot of times people are like, “I have a business. I’m supposed to have a blog or I’m supposed to do email marketing or I’m supposed to be on Facebook,” but then they don’t really connect the dots between how is that thing actually helping me make more sales?

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. So big picture perspective, what would the simplest step-by-step version of how to come up with that strategy look like?

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. I always say start with why. Understand what the goal is of creating the content.

Gillian Perkins:

Would an example of that be, my why is I want to make a sale of this specific course? Is that a good why in this context?

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah, totally, because we’re going to break it down. When we think about it, we break it down into sales cycles. For example, if you sell multiple courses and they have different launch dates over the course of the year, you’re focused on one or another. But even you with evergreen, I assume that you focus your marketing on one thing and then another and sort of go back and forth. So yes, I want to sell this thing in the next month or in the next six months or whatever it is.

Lacy Boggs:

And then you can also think about why, is the consumer consuming it? What are they getting out of it? Because we have to have both of those whys to make good content. The second part is how am I going to track it? How am I going to know if it works or not? A lot of times we focus on vanity metrics. If your Facebook post gets a ton of likes, that’s awesome, but did you get any sales? Did you get anybody signed up for your email list? Did it convert at all? Maybe in that context, Facebook likes are not the right metric to look at.

Lacy Boggs:

Instead, we’d want to look at what was the conversion from Facebook to email or to the website or whatever? So be sure you’re tracking the right thing and then actually track it. My husband’s a scientist, so we have to look at the scientific method a little bit and say, “Here’s my hypothesis. I think this will drive sales. Did it work?” And then-

Gillian Perkins:

I like having that mindset from the outset because I find that I often end up doing it in retrospect. TAfterwards, I’ll be like, “Hm, I think why this works was XYZ.” But it seems like if we can make that hypothesis before we make the effort, then we will be tracking the right thing and we’ll be able to have much more accurate confirmation of whether or not that’s actually what did move the needle but did create that result that we got, instead of just guessing in retrospect.

Lacy Boggs:

Yes. I’m a big fan of let’s only track the numbers we need to track, because that’s a lot of work in and of itself, collecting all the data, tracking all the numbers. Which numbers do we actually need to watch? And then from there, once we know those two things we can say, “Great, let’s work backwards to create the content strategy.” For example, if I’m launching something in two months, I want to make sure that I know when do I need to start building my list so I have enough people to sell this to to reach my goals? Maybe I need to do that 12 weeks out so I have time to nurture them before I’m asking them for a big sale, et cetera, et cetera.

Lacy Boggs:

We can work backwards once we know where the destination is. It’s like running a race. If you don’t know where the finish line is, you’re just running. You have to know what’s my finish line? What’s my goal so that I can plot my strategy in my race and get there more efficiently?

Gillian Perkins:

Because otherwise you might end up expending a lot of calories and running really fast-

Lacy Boggs:

Running in circles.

Gillian Perkins:

… and getting nowhere.

Lacy Boggs:

Exactly.

Gillian Perkins:

That’s a good metaphor.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. I mean those are kind of the three. I call this leadership marketing. It’s when you’re looking at the intersection between what I want to create for my brand and my business? What does my ideal customer want to consume? And then what is the data showing as about what’s really actually effective? That sweet spot in the middle is where you can be a leader with your marketing and actually come up with a marketing plan that works for you and not just follow some cookie cutter blueprint that you found somewhere.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I see another problem that we could run into if we don’t follow this method of starting with why and then figuring out what we’re going to track and then coming up with content strategy is, instead, we might look at this too modularly and just say, “Okay, Instagram, what’s my Instagram strategy?” Then the automatic assumption is that the objective is just to get more followers on Instagram. So then we just say, “Okay, what posts should I write? Or what pictures should I post to maximize that metric to get as many followers as possible?” Which can ultimately have nothing to do with our real business objective of making the sale of the particular course that we are really trying to sell if we have this bigger picture perspective.

Lacy Boggs:

That’s so fascinating that you brought that up because I actually wrote a blog post about that this week. It’s about how chasing engagement, engagement is the Holy Grail of content marketing. We’re always talking about, “You need more engagement. Get more engagement.” But if you only look at engagement by the numbers, sometimes that’s not effective. My most engaging post on Facebook ever was a meme about cheese and it went viral. It got 80,000 views, which is awesome. But my business has nothing to do with cheese. So if I was only looking at the engagement numbers, I’d be like, “Boom, money memes about cheese. That’s what I need to keep doing.”

Gillian Perkins:

I need to post. Yep. You can post more memes about cheese.

Lacy Boggs:

But I couldn’t tell you, I don’t think I got any business from the cheese meme. It was funny and, yeah, people saw my business but it had nothing to do with content marketing exactly. You can move the wrong needle by focusing on the wrong metric.

Gillian Perkins:

Yes, absolutely. That’s why it’s so important that we do start with why, as you said, in our three steps of how to create this big picture content marketing strategy. I don’t get 80,000 views from these posts, but my most viewed posts are normally pictures of my baby bump or pictures of my little cute kids because they’re really cute, so people tap that like button. People comment and they say, “Oh my goodness. Your kids are adorable.” While that warms my mom heart, it does not make my business money.

Lacy Boggs:

Right. There’s something to be said for those. I continue to share funny memes because it’s part of my brand and it keeps my brand top of mind. There is something to be said about priming the pump of the algorithm. I’m sure you share pictures of your family because that’s part of your brand and it creates goodwill and people like you and that’s all good. There’s a reason to do it. But yeah, it’s not driving dollar bills.

Gillian Perkins:

To everyone who’s listening, I don’t want this to come across the wrong way. We’re not saying that engagement isn’t important. Engagement is the key-

Lacy Boggs:

Super important.

Gillian Perkins:

Metric on any platform that is going to make your account do better. If you get more likes on Instagram, if you post things that get more likes, Instagram is going to show your post to more people which will help to grow your followers which will help Instagram to give you more reach on future posts as well. It is a really important metric to pay attention to, but we need to have that big picture perspective to make sure that we’re not just constantly chasing that engagement or even just chasing follower growth or video views or something like that. Because while all those are good indicators of something, we need to make sure we’re indicating the right thing.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. They’re kind of like symptoms, not the root cause of something. In theory, the more likes and engagement I get on Facebook, the more engaged my audience is and the more likely they are to buy something from me, but it’s not a direct one-to-one correlation.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. It’d be kind of like if you were always getting headaches and you’re like, “I have a problem. I’m always getting headaches, so therefore I’ll take Tylenol. Okay, that cured the symptom. Okay, so I guess that worked.” But you have to look a little bit deeper because there could be something deeper wrong or, in this case, we have this bigger objective than just getting the followers, which would be like just curing the headache.

Lacy Boggs:

Right. The other thing is for smarmy people, you can go out there and buy followers. If you have enough money, you can buy followers. Anything where you can throw money at it like that is probably not a clearcut metric, right?

How to create content for your business

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s really true. Okay. With that in mind, if we’re being more strategic about how we’re creating this content, then that means each piece of content we’re creating is very important and can actually be pulling big levers at our business. How do we actually get this content created just with working as little as possible? Because personally, I’ve created lots of different types of content, blog posts, videos, podcast episodes.

Gillian Perkins:

I imagine that most people who are listening today are, to some extent, are either content creators or else they’re planning to become one. But I think most of them are content creators, so they probably are also aware of how time-consuming it can be to write a blog post or a video or record a podcast. What are your best tips on how to get this done more efficiently?

Lacy Boggs:

The first one is because we’re doing it more strategically, we can do less but better. You don’t have to post a blog post every single day of the week. You don’t have to send out an email every single day of the week. I know people who do that, and that’s fine. That’s how they do. But I would much rather counsel my clients to say, “If you can churn out a really awesome post every other week, that’s probably sufficient.” But it has to be really high-quality. If you’re going to go down in frequency, it has to be higher in quality.

Lacy Boggs:

Less but better is the first. But then also, think about how you can use that piece of content in as many ways as possible. Part of the reason we’ve reached peak content here and people feel like they have to blog every day or whatever it is, is because the lifecycle of a piece of content is so short. When you put out a blog post or a podcast or whatever it is, we tend to promote it really hard for the week that it’s new and then we’re on to the next new thing. I always encourage my people to think of it as a hub and spoke of a wheel.

Lacy Boggs:

Whatever your hub content is, that’s where you’re putting the most effort and energy. That could be your blog, your podcast, a video, whatever it is. The spokes are all your social media content, your email maybe, whatever else you’re doing, and they’re all leading back to the hub or part of it. So cut that blog post up into snippets and use it as your posts on Facebook. Create quote graphics and put it on Instagram. Chop that video up into little pieces and put it all over the place. Use it as many ways as you can so that you’re really wringing the most juicy goodness out of each piece of content you’re spending that time and effort to create.

Lacy Boggs:

That, I think, is one of the most cost-effective and time-effective places to outsource. If you can get an assistant or something that can chop that post up into many different Facebook posts, that’s a good use of her time. But you’re still creating the thought leadership, right?

Gillian Perkins:

Yes. A little epiphany I had recently was that so I had kind of only viewed it as the hub and the spoke. I thought I have a blog post and then all the spokes are those Instagram posts, Facebook posts, Pinterest graphics, all promotional content to lead people back to my hub content. I kept trying to outsource creating that smaller form content. By creating, I mean repurposing. It kept not working. What I finally realized was that it was kind of two pieces of hub content.

Gillian Perkins:

I’m not quite sure how to turn this into an analogy. But there is the core content that is the blog post, for example. And then there’s this secondary piece of core content that is a core piece of content that promotes the blog post. For example, this might be an email newsletter and the email newsletter is telling people why they should go check out the blog post. 

Gillian Perkins:

But if the blog post is about how to start a podcast, then my email might be about why to start a podcast. So email about why to start a podcast and then it says, “So if you’re sold on this idea that you should start a podcast, then go check out the blog.” Then I realized the repurposing could be a lot more effective and could really stem from my thought leadership as the leader of my tribe if I had people instead repurpose that email-

Lacy Boggs:

The why.

Gillian Perkins:

Across all the platforms instead of having them read my blog post and then try to sell my blog post on my other forms, which did not work very well. Because as the main marketer and the main leader in my business, having other people try to figure out how to tell other people why they should read my blog post was really hard for them.

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. That makes sense because that’s not necessarily their zone of genius, right?

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah.

Lacy Boggs:

They’re not marketers. They’re VAs or whatever.

Gillian Perkins:

Exactly. Yeah. Even someone who specializes in “writing content,” if they are more of a blog writer or something like that, they don’t necessarily understand sales psychology or how to sell anything, even a free thing. When we’re trying to drive people back to a blog post or back to a video, what we’re really doing is we’re selling something that’s free. We’re selling this idea. You should go click this link and read the blog post. It really worked the best for me to, instead of trying so hard to repurpose the blog post, instead work on repurposing that piece of promotional content.

Gillian Perkins:

Like I said, I don’t have any sort of analogy. I like the hub and spoke model. I’m not quite sure how to turn this into a picture.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe that’s the axle that makes it turn. I’m not sure, but I like it too.

Gillian Perkins:

Well, we can keep thinking about that.

Don’t try to be everywhere

Lacy Boggs:

We can keep poking at it. I think the other thing to remember is that, especially if your business is new or newer and smaller, you don’t have to be everywhere all at once. I often counsel people to focus on one or two channels where they can really shine. Don’t worry about being on every social media channel right away. Don’t worry about whatever. The side to that is also if you hate something, don’t do it because people will be able to tell.

Gillian Perkins:

Yes. Yes. My audience has heard me say this a million times and to share the story of how I was trying to be everywhere because that’s what I saw other people doing, the people who I looked up to. I saw them trying to be everywhere. So I thought, “Okay, that’s what I got to do.” And it wasn’t until I stopped doing that and I focused only on YouTube and I just worked on mastering YouTube, really learning how the algorithm worked and really just pouring my heart and soul into creating my content on that platform that I was able to create the growth and get the leverage that I needed to grow my audience there.

Gillian Perkins:

It propelled my business forward, which now has allowed me to have the team that I have so I can be everywhere. I think there’s some people out there who maybe have the capacity to be everywhere. But for the rest of us, we really need to focus our efforts if we want to see that growth.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. A lot of times people will, it’s so funny because they’ll come to me as the blogging person and they’ll be like, “So I do really, really well on Instagram. Do I have to have a blog?” I’m like, “No. If this is supporting your business and you’re making the growth and the sales and whatever that you want to do, great. Stay on Instagram. You don’t need my permission.” But they sometimes feel like they’re doing something wrong if it doesn’t look like what they think it’s supposed to look like.

Lacy Boggs:

The answer is no, 100% no. Do what works for your business, what works for you, because if, for example, if writing a blog is pulling teeth for you, people are going to notice. You’re not going to get a whole lot of traction. So do a video. Do a podcast. Have it transcribed. Have it turned into an article, whatever. But you don’t have to do the thing that you hate.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. If anyone looks me up on Twitter, they’ll think I have no business.

Lacy Boggs:

Me too.

Gillian Perkins:

Well, they’ll think I have a business-

Lacy Boggs:

I’m not into Twitter.

Gillian Perkins:

… but a very, very small business.

Lacy Boggs:

Yeah. I’m not on Twitter.

Gillian Perkins:

Never been into Twitter. So with that in mind, should we get on TikTok?

Lacy Boggs:

Oh gosh. I don’t know. I’m not on TikTok. I’ve been seeing some people playing with it, which is why I brought it up. I remember, what, a year ago which is like in dog years. Internet years are like dog years. But when everybody was talking about Snapchat and should you be on Snapchat for your business? There may be some brands for whom that’s taken off, but it’s not become a thing where it’s like everybody’s on Snapchat. I think TikTok is kind of the same. I think for the right brand and the right type of content, if you enjoy it, go for it.

Lacy Boggs:

There’s opportunity there because it’s still new. But I’m never going to say that everybody should be on TikTok or anything.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I will second that. Everybody should not be on TikTok. But for some people, TikTok could be amazing. I bring it up as almost a meme of a question. It’s not about TikTok. It’s just about that platform that you’re wondering if you should be on. You have to ask yourself, and not just ask yourself, but do your research and figure out are your target customers on that platform?

Lacy Boggs:

100%.

Gillian Perkins:

And also ask yourself will you enjoy creating content on that platform? I downloaded TikTok and wasted a few hours of my life and then decided I should not be on TikTok.

Lacy Boggs:

Well, if your ideal customer is teenagers or young college students, yeah, maybe you should be on TikTok. But if your ideal customer is 30 to 50 or 30 to 60, probably not. Although us old folks are starting to take over the TikTok in quarantine, I think.

Gillian Perkins:

I’ve noticed that too. Okay. Well, we are running out of time, but this has been fantastic, Lacy. Thank you so much for everything that you’ve shared with us, both about how you built your business and how you have managed to make these different shifts while still keeping your working hours at a minimum. You’ve really found, I would say, your own version of success and just managed to build a business that lights you up. I really appreciate hearing your story, but I also appreciate your expertise on content marketing, how we can be more strategic, and how we can do it without investing too much time or letting it take over our life.

Gillian Perkins:

So thank you so much. If listeners want to hear more from you, want to learn more about your services, about content marketing, where can they go to do that?

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. Lacyboggs.com is the best place to do that. If you’re interested in learning about our services, it’s lacyboggs.com/undercover because we go undercover as you. Really, my biggest social media content right now is on Facebook. So that’s the best place to find me if you want to hang out.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay, fantastic. Everyone who’s listening, you should check out Lacy’s website because it is beautiful.

Lacy Boggs:

Thank you.

Gillian Perkins:

As I was researching you, I looked it up and I love your branding. It’s spot on.

Lacy Boggs:

Thank you.

Gillian Perkins:

Thank you again so much and I just want to just thank you for your time. Thanks for being here.

Lacy Boggs:

I enjoyed it. Thanks a lot.

Connect with me 

Gillian Perkins:

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Work Less, Earn More. Now, here’s what I want you to do next. Take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it on Instagram Stories. When you do, make sure you tag me @gillianzperkins so I can see that you’re listening. Sharing on Stories is going to help more people find this podcast so that they too can learn how to work less, earn more, and take back their lives.

Gillian Perkins:

If you really love the show, then head over to Apple Podcasts and leave a review to give it a boost. Not only will this help the show out, but it’s also going to give you the chance to win a 12-month membership to Startup Society. Each week I’ll be picking one winner. To enter, all you need to do is post a review on Apple Podcasts and be sure to include your Instagram handle so we can send you a DM if you win.

Gillian Perkins:

Okay. Now, let’s wrap this up. I’m Gillian Perkins and until next week, stay focused and take action.

    Sean McMullin

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