Finding your voice can feel like a mystery. There are clues, of course: a fingerprint of ideas here, a scrap of inspiration there, but putting all the pieces together can feel like mission impossible. Relax, Ace. Lacy Boggs, Director of the Content Agency is hot on the case.
On the Podcast
01:04 – The Important Clue that Led to Lacy's Business
03:26 – The Mysterious Life of a Ghost Blogger
05:14 – Lacy's Assignments
05:59 – How to go Undercover
09:08 – Face-Off
11:13 – Secret Agent Lacy Boggs
15:14 – Get out your Magnifying Glass & Find that Hook!
18:37 – Traffic Footprints
25:12 – Tips for Cracking the Case Faster
29:02 – On the Hunt for the Right Topic
32:34 – Mission Accomplished for Product-Based Businesses
40:50 – How Agent Lacy Completes her Mission
44:05 – Agent Lacy's Adorable Mom Moment
Press play on the podcast player below to receive your mission from Lacy, should you choose to accept it.
The Important Clue that Led to Lacy's Business
5 years ago, Lacy she was the associate editor and food editor for a local magazine in Colorado. It was a 60+ hour per week job, and when she became pregnant she realized that she wanted life with a baby to look a little different.
Lacy quit her job and started a food blog. She was able to grow an audience fairly quickly, and she landed some amazing guest posting gigs. Lacy even guest posted on one of Martha Stewart's blogs for a while! But Lacy picked the niche of moms who want to live a foodie lifestyle on a budget. She just wasn't making any money growing this particular audience.
Despite her lack of income, Lacy discovered an important clue that led to her current business: She's great at blogging! Lacy started a ghost blogging company, The Content Direction Agency, to write blog posts for other businesses and entrepreneurs. Her business took off. Now she's more than doubled her magazine salary, and she only works 20-25 hours per week, so she can spend most of her time with her four year-old daughter.
The Mysterious Life of a Ghost Blogger
Sarah and I had never heard of a ghost blogger before. What is this mysterious new role all about?
Lacy confessed that “ghost blogging” is a term she made up! Essentially, she's a ghost writer for blogs. It's more common in the corporate world, because often a large company will hire a writer to create the content for their blogs.
There's a misconception that if you're a solopreneur or small business owner, you have to write your blog content yourself. Lacy doesn't believe that's true. If you can get your message across more effectively with someone's help, why not?
A lot of Lacy's clients are lifestyle entrepreneurs. She's worked with interior designers, health coaches, personal stylists, and one client is a data analyst and strategist fora Fortune 500 company.
We were curious about how much content Lacy writes for each of her clients.
Lacy says that it really runs the gamut. She's written published books and e-books for clients, course material, email newsletters, and blog posts.
Lacy gets hired most often to write people's blogs for them, so it's generally one blog post per week.
How to go Undercover
When Lacy writes for her clients, she makes sure the content is seamless. It sounds just like that person, so that no one recognizes that they're reading content published by someone else.
Lacy has always had this undercover skill. She wanted to be a fiction writer when she was a kid, and she used to write novels as a teen. They would sound so much like whichever books she was reading at the time. She's always had a knack for taking on the voice of others.
For entrepreneurs who don't want to hire Lacy to write for them, she has a voice identification process that can help people find their own voice.
The most important thing is to find the small details that set you apart. What's your style? Are you sophisticated or conversastional? What particular words and phrases are unique to you?
Lacy gave us an example of someone who really struggled to share her authentic voice.
A woman who runs surfing camps for women in California came to Lacy for help. Her camps weren't just about surfing, but also a spiritual experience. But her blog was so corporate!
On the phone Lacy could tell right away that she was a bit “woo-woo” and used a lot of surfer lingo. Lacy encouraged the woman to use her surfing lingo, add surfing metaphors, and talk the way she would normally talk. She wasn't serving her audience or giving out a clear message by being so buttoned-up.
It can be really hard not to be two-faced when it comes to our online work. We have one voice and personality in real life, but then we take on a completely different voice online.
We're trained to write a certain way in school, and our own voice is often trained out of us. College and the corporate world strip our style away even more.
Lacy says it's hard to find your voice if you were never allowed to let go and be yourself Lacy's voice recognition process can help you uncover your missing voice.
Secret Agent Lacy Boggs
Sarah and I just love Lacy's secret agent persona on her website. You have to go check it out. We've never seen anything like it!
Sarah Ancalmo helped Lacy to define her hook and then develop her branding from there.
Both Sarah and Lacy believe that you have to come up with your hook and the content first, and then everything else flows from that.
They came up with the idea that Lacy is your secret weapon for blogging. From there, the 40's secret agent theme was born. Lacy says it's her, just dialed up to 11.
To determine your own online persona, you need to define your hook. What's that one statement, visual, or idea that everything else can hang from?
Once Lacy knew that she'd brand herself as the secret weapon for blogging, she was able to choose her first message to her audience: “Are you writing your message in disappearing ink?”
From there, the blog content came, along with pictures in that 40's secret agent style… everything on the site down to the typewriter font they used flows out of that one hook.
We talked a bit about how mom bloggers or Etsy seller blogs can often feel so similar to one another. They all have a cute, pretty type of style. Lacy has some words of wisdom: there is a huge variety of mom bloggers out there – everyone from Deuce to Jen Hatmaker. So don't be afraid to stand out and be different. Find your hook, and be unique.
Get out your Magnifying Glass & Find that Hook!
Lacy says that starting a business is like going through therapy, and finding your hook can be the same way!
You have to look inside, learn about yourself, and learn what you really want in order to find the hook that helps you to stand out.
For Lacy it comes down to figuring out your big why, and that's two-fold.
- Why are you doing this? What are you passionate about? What makes you come to work every day?
- What is your audience getting out of this? In what way are you serving your people?
Lacy believes that having the right kind of traffic is better than having a ton of traffic.
For example, Lacy has a client who sells weighted blankets for the special needs community. This client could write a great list post on 70 ways to make bedtime easier. Maybe it would go viral and she'd get 100,000 hits. But what percentage of those hits are really going to be in her niche? There might be a few customers in that group, but it would be a very low percentage.
If, on the other hand, she got a guest post on a major mom blog that talked about children with special needs, that traffic would be much more qualified. Every one of those potential site visitors is pre-qualified to become a customer of hers.
Lacy says that creating content for the masses is not necessarily everyone's best game plan for business growth.
Lacy shared another experience from her own blogging career. When she was invited to guest blog on a Martha Stewart website she thought she was made!! She wrote 6 posts before the magazine went under. With those 6 blog posts, she was not able to track a single opt-in to her email list.
On the other hand, she wrote one guest post for a blog called And then we Saved and from that single post she got over 600 opt-ins. Her guest post was targeted, and she was speaking to just the right audience.
The social proof that comes from posting on a big site can be great, but keep in mind that it's just that – social proof, and not necessarily a great way to grow your list, traffic, or business.
Tips for Cracking the Case Faster
Bloggers are busy people. How can we crack the case of writing blog posts faster and move on to the next mission?
Lacy's number one tip for being a more efficient blogger is to start using an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar helps you to plan out your product and business promotions. For example, if you have a product that sells well around back-to-school, then you want to plan out your blog posts 6-8 weeks before that time. Blog about the summer brain drain or getting kids back on a schedule before school starts. By blogging on your topic well in advance of your launch, you'll start to generate desire and build anticipation around an event or launch.
Even if you have a service, you can create sales cycles to promote different services at different times of the year. You don't have to discount your services – it's just a natural rhythm of promoting yourself through your content
For example, Lacy has a course called Blog Storm. The course helps people to strategically fill out their editorial calendars. It's a product that people can buy year-round, but by writing specific blog posts in June, people were ready to buy and sign up for July so that they'd have their editorial calendar planned out for the rest of the year.
Lacy generated almost $2,000 in unplanned revenue from writing 2 blog posts and 2 emails full of content related to her course.
An editorial calendar lets you keep the big picture in mind and create a plan to drive revenue. As Lacy says, “If you're not blogging to support your business, then what are you doing it for?”
On the Hunt for the Right Topic
The best way to discover what to write about is to ask your followers or subscribers what they're struggling with the most. You can even add it to that thank you email that you send to new subscribers.
Even if the answers you receive don't have anything to do with your industry, you're still learning more about your audience and customers.
Then, use the language your clients are using to talk about the problems they're facing and devise your solution.
Mission Accomplished for Product-Based Businesses
It's often difficult for product-based businesses to figure out what to topics to blog about. They don't want to just share new jewelry photos each day, so what should they do?
Lacy recommends a method called Thinking Sideways.
Shift your perspective from your product to where that product fits into your customer's bigger lifestyle.
Whatever your industry, there's something that your client or customer aspires to. Pick topics that are tangentially related to your product but help your customer reach their aspirations.
For example, Lacy worked with an Etsy seller who created cool jewelry in a Rockabilly type of style. She started thinking about the lifestyle of her customers and realized she could talk about things such as macrame coming back or coloring books for grown-ups. She can go beyond jewelry but describe the lifestyle her jewelry customers would be aspiring to.
One point to remember: Always keep your followers in mind. Talk to your audience – not to other experts. For example, if a photographer wants to start blogging, they'll think, “what do I know about? I got it. I know about photography!” So they'll start sharing what lenses they use and their set-up, and other photographers will love that post. But other photographers aren't hiring them for photography work. Instead, they need to write about how to pick out the outfits to wear to a photo shoot, or 6 poses you should ask for at your next toddler shoot. Then you'll attract the audience that will actually hire you for work.
How Agent Lacy Completes her Mission
As a mom who prioritizes time with her daughter, we were curious about how Lacy manages to work just 25 hours per week!
- Learn how to say no. And the crazy thing was as soon as Lacy started saying no, she had a backlog for clients. She's now booked out months in advance for special projects, and she had to hire two additional writers to help her.
- Charge more to make your time worth it. Lacy's business coach told her to set little mini goals for herself. For example, every time she gets 3 new clients, she raises her rates by $25. Lacy gets a bit uncomfortable thinking about what she's worth, so setting those little baby steps in between really helped.
- Embrace the value of the service or product you offer. Lacy had to embrace the fact that what she does is luxury service. You can get a blog on Fiverr for five dollars…that's not what she does. She had to own her business as being a luxury.
Agent Lacy's Adorable Mom Moment
You'll have to tune in to hear how Lacy knows she made the right choice to become an entrepreneur. The moment she had between her and her daughter is just so sweet.
Stay in Touch with Lacy!
For loads of free tools from Lacy head to LacyBoggs.com/library