Expert tips on how to crush your content strategy w/Michelle Gifford
Struggling with feeling overwhelmed by how much time you’re spending posting on social media? Then you’ll want to keep reading because I’m interviewing Michelle Gifford. Through years of experience in her own businesses and coaching other mompreneurs, like you, she has created an amazing strategy to help ease your content creation stress.
Resources mentioned in this post:
Friends, I have quite a treat for you. Today you get to hear from Michelle Gifford. I was thrilled when she agreed to let me interview her about content creation. She is a content creation expert and you are going to learn so much from her.
MISTY: I am here with Michelle Gifford from I Am Michelle Gifford. She is somebody I have long admired from afar and I am thrilled to have her on the podcast today. She is a fantastic photographer. She owns her own business. And in addition, she has a content agency.
MICHELLE: Yes. I do have an agency where I help influencers and creatives have a strategy and we also will take over their content for them. There are a lot of people creating a lot of content and there’s no strategy behind it. And so my agency will take over your blog, email, and Pinterest, so that you don’t have to worry about that. You can just create the content and we take care of the rest.
MISTY: You have your hands in so many different areas. She recently remodeled her grandma’s home. It was fun to watch that whole process. I love that you are a real person. This is one of my favorite things that I have learned since I started following Michelle about six months ago. I knew of you from Women With Fire earlier, but I didn’t re-find you until about six months ago. My favorite thing about Michelle is that she laughs a lot. You’re always laughing and it makes me laugh.
MICHELLE: If we’re not laughing, what are we doing? Even in 2020, we’re taking ourselves too seriously!
What is content creation?
MISTY: A lot of my audience is brand new to the idea of content marketing. Some of them have never even heard of the idea of content marketing, but they’re feeling called to get online. So tell us a little about what is content and can anybody create content, even somebody who sells physical products? I get that question often. So what are your thoughts?
MICHELLE: Well, the cool thing is, is that they’re probably already creating content. If you’re on Instagram, if you’re on Facebook, you’re creating content. You’re creating a piece of information that someone can consume right now. My favorite thing about content is that it used to be that we had to rely on having a lot of money and putting ads in a newspaper.
Thirty years ago, if you wanted to create an ad, you had to have money. Now we have social media. We can be online and that has really evened the playing field. And as women, that has given us a leg up because we like to be creative. We can now create content, which is an Instagram post, it’s a podcast episode, it’s a YouTube video. It’s anything that you’re creating a piece of work that someone can either read, listen to, or watch that helps them in some way.
We can teach something. We can have a podcast about content and that can really fuel our business. This accomplishes a few things:
- It sets us up as the expert.
- It allows us to get in front of more people who want our content, who are looking for answers.
- It puts some personality behind your brand.
I’m creating content and I’m teaching people how to create content and how to build a business. But I’m also creating content about my grandma’s house. I didn’t teach you anything about Instagram marketing. I didn’t teach you anything, but I did let you into my life and people want that.
Content is everywhere. You’re consuming it every day. As you create content, it can really drive sales in your business. It can drive new audience members and it can build personal relationships with your audience.
Who can create content?
MISTY: And that is amazing. I love it. I love content marketing too. It’s one of my favorite things. So let’s say somebody sells iPhone cases or they sell printables. How does somebody like that, who’s really focused on some sort of a physical product, how do they create content? If they’re not focused on teaching, they’re just focused on their product, can they create content?
MICHELLE: I actually have a really good friend and she is a plant shop owner. We talk a lot about this because you could go in and buy a plant and that would be the end. But now, with content marketing, even though she’s not selling her expertise, she can still add value to her audience with her content.
People come to her to learn about how to not kill a plant. I need that. I need that episode on her podcast. She can become the expert just because she’s sharing to an audience and then sell her product. So there’s one way.
The second way is that you do not have to teach to add value. You can be super funny. You can be entertaining. You can educate. You can be encouraging. The 4 W’s.
So you can do all these things. You don’t necessarily have to educate people, but education is an easy way to stand out because people have a problem and then you can solve that problem. You can say, “I’m going to solve this problem by giving you an iPhone case” or a plant or whatever. There is room for adding value with your content no matter what.
Ask yourself these questions, Who is your target audience? What problems do they have? Start solving them. And then selling a printable, or whatever, becomes really easy.
How to make money with your content strategy
MISTY: I completely agree. I love that. Content doesn’t have to be the core offering that you have. You could have a physical product and you could have just free content or free content, paid content, and a physical product. It’s possible to have all, and it can support your whole strategy. So tell me a little bit about how you help people make money with content.
Making money is important. I have a blog post on why making money is essential in our businesses and why Latter-day Saint women in particular need to get over themselves and be willing to make money. But let’s step away from that for just a minute and talk about why you are able to make more impact when you have a strategy behind your content.
MICHELLE: Just keep sliding me a soapbox. I’m all for it. So, what people usually do, especially at the beginning, we hear all the experts say, “you’ve got to post on Instagram every day. You’ve got to show up in your stories every day. You should start a podcast. Do you have a Facebook group?”
We have all these people saying, do this, do this, do this, and suddenly the energy that we create that content with is a little bit frazzled. We think, “I don’t even know what to say on Facebook. Who am I even talking to?” We’ve all been there.
I’m all about strategy. People will teach us the steps to do something. They teach us how to grow on Facebook or whatever, but they don’t take the next step which is to think through the strategy behind that. How do I incorporate that into my business? And then the next step is, how do I sell to make moneyBecause money is fun. I got to buy my grandma’s house because I have a business! That is the best thing ever.
And then the next step is how do you make that into a system so that it’s not starting from scratch all the time. You should create content, for sure. You should show up on Instagram if that’s your platform, for sure. But if you do not know how that fits into your overall strategy, then you’re just creating content to create content and it doesn’t have a purpose.
For example, I’m going to launch a course about creating Reels soon. So my content, for the month before that, needs to support and move people along so that when I’m ready to launch that course they’re ready to buy.
If you are going to sell plants, you’re going to have a plant sale, then the content before that plant launches needs to support and get people ready to buy. Otherwise, you’re just creating content just to create content. And then that’s a waste of time. We don’t have time to waste. I’m a mom to five. I don’t have time to waste. You don’t have time to waste. We really have to hone in on the value we provide and who we provide it for and then how can we serve them more?
That usually involves an exchange of money. Someone has to pay us eventually. So we have to be really strategic about creating content that leads people through how we can help them and into making more money.
Why you need to prepare your audience for your launch
MISTY: I love the marketing idea that we need seven touches before people are really willing to purchase from us. I think when we plan our content, like you’re saying, we know there’s a launch coming up, we know we’re going to be releasing something and we talk about that topic.
We set ourselves up to be the experts just by creating content in general, but the expert about that specific thing that you’re going to be asking them to buy later on. If you could have multiple touches on that topic, people are going to be much more likely to trust you in that specific, mini-sphere that you’re trying to launch a product in.
MICHELLE: Yeah, absolutely. I actually was working with a client to help her launch. She shows up online and she just says, “You guys, I have a surprise. I can’t wait! Can you guys guess what I’m about to tell you?” Her people started guessing these really wild things. We are not supposed to surprise our audience with a new product. We’re not supposed to do that because they’re not prepared.
When you put a thing up and say “Guess what I’m going to launch tomorrow.” That doesn’t work because people aren’t ready for it. They’re going to start thinking about all these other ideas and then be disappointed. But if you would have had content that led up to that launch, what you’re doing is you’re leading people along a path. And that’s what we have to do with our content, lead them on the path so that we can help our people.
If it’s an iPhone case, they’re down here and they’re sad because their iPhone keeps getting broken because they have five kids and they keep dropping it. And so you want to make them happy by providing them a safe, secure iPhone. So how do you get them to make that purchase? What content can you create to get them to that point?
Improving your planning game
MISTY: Fantastic. I have a really important question for you. I really am, personally, wanting to know this. Have you ever not been good at planning your content?
MICHELLE: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s probably why I really feel strongly about this. When I first started my business, I was very reactive. I usually had a couple of businesses going at the same time. I was a photographer and I had a nonprofit and then I had a podcast. I’ve usually had a couple of things going all at the same time.
I used to think that if I want to stay in front of my audience’s mind, then I have to react to what they’re doing right now. So I was letting my audience take the lead. Which is sometimes good and I still do that in some ways. I’ll explain that in a minute, but what happens is then I’m staying up till midnight or one or two hurrying and creating content so I can publish it the next day. I’m always behind and I’m always trying to catch up. And as a mom to five, that’s tricky.
There’s also a different energy when I’m creating out of lack or out of a frazzled state. But when you do it in a state of preparation thinking “This is where I want people to go” and there’s a strategy – that’s a whole different energy.
I feel like it’s so much better now. I have not always been good at this, but over the two years, I have really honed in on this because I want to take my business seriously and I don’t have time to waste and I’m ready to make money because…
Period. The end. Money is awesome.
It’s okay to want to make money
We spend a lot of time apologizing for wanting to make money and apologizing that we think we can make money, that we deserve it. That if I’m doing something besides motherhood, then I should apologize for that. I know that’s not the weeds that we were going to go into with this interview, but I do think that God is calling women to stand up like never before.
We’ve never had so much influence. We’ve never had so much access. We’ve never had so much ability to choose who we want to become and who we want to influence. We have this time and space. And it’s like God is saying, “Hey, here’s a platform. Here’s Instagram, it’s free. It’s really uniquely designed for you because you like connection and you like creating.” And then we respond with, “That’s great. I’m going to build something. But then what if I have to ask someone to give me money? I can’t, I couldn’t do that.”
And it’s a weird thing, and it’s something that I had to get over and realize that money is awesome. It’s fun to make. And it allows us to do things that we never would be able to do.
Let me just tell you the backstory of my grandma’s house. I grew up next to my grandparents and – the house that my dad grew up in. I would run over to my grandparents every day before school. My grandparents were retired teachers. They taught high school and they were no-nonsense. No nonsense. They would call me out. They would tell me if I was doing something wrong.
My grandma was an English teacher. If I had improper grammar, then she would call me out. My grandpa was a speech teacher. So, you know, junior high when you’re really awkward? I was super tall so I was slouching. Grandpa would say, “Michelle stand up and show them who you are.” And I was like, “Okay, I’m literally a foot taller than all of them. So they know who I am.”
They were just really instrumental to me as a person and to who I’ve become. My cousin has lived [in their house] for the last 12 years since my grandma passed away. And he just decided that he was going to leave and build his own house, which is awesome. He offered it to my family first and because I have a successful business, I was able to say yes.
I bought that with my business money and I feel pretty proud about that because it’s going to be a way that my kids can continue to have a connection to where I grew up. It’s a very representative link to who I am and I can give that to my kids. And I go to Utah for a month in the summer and my kids will have a place. And that happened because I have money.
MISTY: That’s great. It’s wonderful. And I agree that when we make more money, we can do more good things and we can do more fun things.
MICHELLE: It doesn’t all have to be charity. I’m providing a place for my kids to make memories with their grandparents. That’s something really important to me. And maybe yours would be something different. Maybe it’s a ski trip with your whole family. That’s awesome too. Maybe it’s paying off student loans also. Awesome.
MISTY: Done that. Great. My husband grew up with the only vacation he ever did was camping. So he has this mindset of we can’t spend money on vacations. When I started making money, eight or nine years ago, and we were able to take some more extravagant vacations that were fun, where I didn’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning, or I could just focus on being there with my kids. I didn’t have to stress out if we wanted to go to a certain restaurant. That has been huge for us.
The house I’m sitting in right now, the entire down payment was paid from my business money years ago. My husband had just graduated from law school and was making nothing. And I thought I would never own a home. We were in California at the time. I’m in Utah now, but I would look at those million-dollar homes that were not very big and think “I’ll never own a home.” And look what happened. It has opened up our lives so much.
You were talking about how you feel like God is creating this path for women and my entire business, the entire reason why I started this current business was because of the quote from originally President Kimball and now President Nelson has added again that women of the church will be seen as distinct and different in happy ways. And I love that word seen.
When he spoke that back in 1979, the internet didn’t even exist, and look at what God has created! This way for women to be seen in their own homes, staying with their children, involving their children, in those businesses, and stepping up to that calling.
And I think money magnifies. No, it does not all have to be for charity, but it magnifies what’s already inside of us. And if our goals are to spread goodness and light, money is only going to help us do that. It’s going to make it easier.
MICHELLE: Amen sister. I love it.
The Core Content Code
MISTY: All right. I have struggled personally with really planning my content for years. Even with my last business, that I sold a few years ago, and then this current one, I would plan [kind of] a month ahead, and then sometimes I’d fall a little behind and I would feel like I was recreating my strategy every month.
I knew that I was still struggling with this and I took Michelle’s course, called the Core Content Code when I had my tonsillectomy a little while back. And I loved it. I loved so much of what she said. I’ve been in content marketing for 12 years and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what that looks like. Some of what was in her course, I already knew. The idea of having a content bank, where you keep ideas for content, was familiar to me.
But there were some brand new things I learned. She talks about three different content strategies and she also encouraged me to plan content a little further out. I now have all my content planned for 2021 and really detailed content for the next quarter. And it’s making it so much easier. I’m so excited to actually start showing up on Instagram because I’m not always feeling behind.
The last four to five years, I’ve been really good at creating stellar core content, but I then feel like I have no time left over to create my extra content, my social media content, and it falls behind. And my business suffers because of that. So this is the main reason why I’ve invited Michelle here because she is a content creation expert. So tell us a little bit about why you created the core content code, who it’s meant to help, and what it’s going to actually help them accomplish.
MICHELLE: Sure. So you mentioned your core piece of content and that is the core of the core content code. It’s the idea of you creating at least one piece of really valuable content every week. So for you, it’s a podcast. You create this one piece of valuable content. And what usually happens is you create that content and then you’re like, “okay, now what do I post on Instagram?” instead of letting that core piece of content lead your content strategy.
You can take your core piece of content and then you stretch it out, you stretch it and you put it into more places. The biggest resistance I see from my people is that they’re like, “well, maybe someone will see it twice.” But, you know what? That is how we learn. We learn by repetition.
So if I do a podcast that’s 20 minutes long and it’s about the trends of 2021. And then I do an Instagram post and a Reel about it, they’re in three different mediums. And even if that person sees it more than once, it’s reinforced. My guess is that most of your people aren’t seeing your Instagram content.
The whole idea is that you really focus on the strategy behind that core piece of content, and then you create a system to stretch that core piece of content out into other areas so that you can use it more than once. And that piece of content lives longer and you just ring all the juice out of that content.
That’s kind of the basic part of the core content code, you don’t have time to create separate content for podcasts, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. And you shouldn’t because it makes you look scattered, but if you create one piece of core content with one message and then you continue that message throughout all of your other platforms, then it is easier for you. It takes less time and it’s more cohesive and makes more sense for your audience. Ultimately, I think it’s easier for your audience.
MISTY: One complaint, if you want to call it that, that I’ve gotten from my audience is that they said, “Misty, you publish so much content in so many different places, I can’t keep up with it all.” But I think they felt that way because I’m publishing on different topics in different places.
Whereas, if everywhere I’m focused on the same thing, then it’s not as big of a deal if they missed one Instagram post or if they didn’t show up for a live that I did on Facebook. That whole month or that whole week, or whatever you decide, is focused on this one topic. And so I think it’s easier for them.
They feel less like they’re missing out. And it’s more professional. You’re showing up like, you know what I’m talking about. I have a plan. I just want to be taken somewhere. Right. And so if you can show up and say, “Hey, I’m going to take you somewhere. And this is my plan to do it” then you win.
In the past, I’ve been really good at taking my core content in different places. So tell me a little bit about how this translates into social media. One thing I’ve been really excited about trying. Since going through your course is having my assistant post for me on social media.
I have really struggled with this concept because I want to be authentic, but I think if she’s simply taking quotes from my core content and adding those to social media, not that I’m going to 100% turn that over to anybody, but it makes that easier.
So in what other ways does this core content formula make social media, specifically Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, how does it make those things easier?
MICHELLE: Well, like you said, I have an assistant and if she listens to my podcasts, she’s actually getting my words and my inflections. So it makes it really easy to find my voice, because she’s actually listening to my voice. Let’s say I do a podcast on three trends to grow in 2021. That’s awesome. She can do that. That’s an easy carousel post. I didn’t even have to touch it. She can listen to my podcast or read my blog posts, whatever she wants, and then hurry and create it.
So suddenly you’re creating a system, which I love, you can message your assistant and say, “I’d love you to make a carousel post with Michelle’s four S’s so that people can see how to really take a business principle and apply it to where it’s most effective in your business.”
And that’s easy. That’s a text, it’s a voice message, or whatever. And you don’t have to worry about that being your voice or not because your voice was there at the beginning. With Instagram, I think specifically, carousel posts are easy. If you’re doing a YouTube video, then take out that part where we said, “Hey, let’s talk about the four S’s” or whatever. And now suddenly that’s a two-minute IGTV that supports what you’re saying. It highlights something and it is adding value and all the things.
You’re not creating something new, you’re just taking pieces of it and making it more digestible on Instagram. So really looking for those numbers and quick tips. Look for those things that are said in either your blog or YouTube or podcasts, and then making them digestible for Instagram is actually pretty easy if you’re paying more attention to it.
MISTY: Yeah, I think it is. It’s made it a lot easier for me. I’m so excited to plan my social media content now because I feel like I have this great strategy, so fantastic.
Will this content strategy work for everyone?
So I have just one more question for you. I’ve heard you talk about this before. It’s something I completely agree with, that just because you have a lot of followers does not mean that you’re going to make money. That’s not automatic. Just because “I’ve got 10,000 followers, so I must be making money.”
Currently, I’m a good example of this. I’m making some decent money, not as much as I was in my last business yet, but I know how to get there. I know how to make that happen. I’ve made money from day one and I have 600 or 700 followers on Instagram. So we don’t have to have a ton of followers to make money, but how does the core content code help with that? People who don’t have a lot of followers, a lot of my audience is in that place they’re just barely getting started. Is this worth the investment for them and why?
MICHELLE: Yeah. If you start out with the knowledge and the core content code and just the systems. I spent too much of my business life spinning my wheels and not enough time saying I’m going to be intentional about the content I create so that it can make money.
I love creating content. I’m just going to tell you, I love it. At the beginning, it was the love. I just did it because I loved it and there wasn’t a clear path for me to make money. I think that’s a really essential part of the core content code is just really seeing where your content fits with your overall business strategy.
Starting off like that, I kind of envy you a little bit because it’s giving you a huge giant step ahead of all these other people. I work with a lot of influencers and creatives who have massive followings. They aren’t making as much money as my friends who are consultants who don’t have as many followers, but they are very clear on who they serve and how they make money, and how their content fits into all of that.
So, yes, starting out with the Core Content Code would be awesome for you because it’s going to just show you why posting on Instagram is important. I’ve already said this but I’m really against posting just to post. Just because the social media experts said I need to post five times a week. Cool.
But if you don’t know how that content fits into your strategy, then it’s wasted energy and we don’t have very much energy anyway. You want to get the Core Content Code because you don’t have the energy to waste, because you don’t have time to waste, because you don’t have money to waste.
MISTY: I believe really strongly that we should invest money in our business in order to save time, because we can always make more money, but we can’t get that time back.
You guys, the Core Content Code is going to save you so much time and help you to make money far, far quicker. This is one of those things that I want you to invest money in so that you have more time with your family so that you can be more present with them so that you can do fun things like buy your grandma’s house or go on a really cool vacation.
I’ve been around for 12 years and I’ve taken a lot of courses and heard a lot of different experts and they’ve been helpful. But this is the first time that I really feel like it’s all clicked. Like I’ve got my system, it’s ready and I’m going to kill it with 2021. And I want you guys there with me.
Head over to TheGoodnessSquad.com/corecontentcode. You can pick this up and Michelle, you’re giving them a hundred dollars off, right?
The coupon code is Misty100 and you’ll get $100 off the Core Content Code during the month of February. So make sure that you do this now.
Michelle, I have two more questions. Can they still do this? It’s not January. Is this still going to be worth their time to grab the Core Content Code and really get planning? I know a lot of people probably started off in January with these great goals for your business and is it okay for them to start planning their content in the middle of February and plan out for the next year?
MICHELLE: Yeah, I actually think this maybe is a perfect time. We have a lot of high hopes for January 1st. And then by February, it’s more realistic. We have more realistic goals and this is a good thing to pick up any time because I teach you the right way to do it.
A lot of people, when they talk about content planning, it’s just the planning. It’s not the strategy behind it. And I believe that it’s really important to know why you’re creating this content and how it fits into the big picture. And the big picture is that it makes you money, grows your influence, your business.
MISTY: That’s awesome. I love that. You had three different content strategies. I’ve always just done launches. That’s always been my strategy and I love that you have three different strategies. I’m not going to give it all away. You guys have got to go get the course. There are other purposes for our content and that was a new thing to me. I really liked that there are two other strategies that can drive our content. Anything else that you would like to say before we call it good?
MICHELLE: Yes. I’m going to tell you that you’re doing awesome. You’re showing up, you’re listening to Misty, and you can do it. Content is amazing and the content you create will change lives. And that’s why I think we’re both so passionate about it is that it changes your life.
It changes the people’s lives that you serve. And if you can really get your mind around how content works and how it applies to your business, and then how that changes people, that’s when you get fired up about content and that’s why it’s so fun. You’re doing good things. Keep going, keep going. I’m excited for all of your people and to see them grow in their business.
Guys. Isn’t Michelle just great? Amen is the only thing I could think of to say to emphasize what she just said to you. She believes in you and so do I, and so does God. You’ve got this, God wants you here in this space and he will support you and you have so many women, like Michelle and I, who can help you and support you along your way.
Right now, I want you to stop whatever you are doing – drop it, stop it (unless you’re driving, you could pull over.) This is kind of a big deal. Michelle is willing to give you $100 off the Core Content Code. If you use code Misty100, you will save $100 off. Guys, This is worth more than what she is charging for it.
The concepts that she teaches here will change your business. And, specifically as a mompreneur, it’s going to help you better balance those two things, which is what we’ve been talking about this whole season. This is an incredible program that you do not want to miss out on. That code is good through the end of February 2021.
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This post originally aired as an episode of The Goodness Squad podcast. New episodes are no longer being recorded, but you can still listen to past episodes on your favorite podcast app.
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