Small but tasty morsels versus a huge buffet


As I’ve mentioned, I’m a beta tester for a plain text writing app under development. The app still has a way to go, but I’m excited about its future.

I don’t use the app every day, however. I’m using another new plain text app which is further along in the development curve. In fact, I’m using it right now to write this post.

The two apps approach releases differently. With the first app, months go by with no news and then we get a big update.

The second app provides small updates almost every week.

When I get notified that the next update is available, I get excited. Even though the updates are usually minor, I can’t wait to download the app and try it out.

But this isn’t about writing apps or software development. It’s about the psychological effect of frequent updates and why you should use them to connect with your clients and contacts.

Don’t save up all your news and information and send a big newsletter once or twice a year, as many lawyers do. Send shorter messages more often.

A few paragraphs is all you need. Mention the new article on your website. Offer a legal tip. Talk about an interesting case or client. Recommend a book, website, or app.

Say something interesting or entertaining and your clients will look forward to hearing from you.

No, they probably won’t get as excited about your news as I get about updates to writing apps. But whatever level of interest they have will be enhanced by hearing from you often instead of once in awhile.

How to get more clients online


Your future clients are only a click away


Justin is an attorney in Australia and a long-time subscriber and client of yours truly. In response to yesterday’s post (about doing less so you can do more of what’s important), Justin wrote:

Love this – so many blogs and “success” tips out there but I always read yours and delete virtually all the others.

You are spot on! Big fan of DW over here.

Thank you, Justin. Mission accomplished.

When it comes to legal marketing, I’m Justin’s “one and only”. He reads me and no one else. What does that mean? It means that when Justin needs help with marketing his practice, the odds are he’ll look to me.

Imagine that happening to you. Imagine that you are the only lawyer your subscribers read.

When they need legal help, do you think they’re going to go to a search engine, drag out the yellow pages, or rifle through a drawer looking for the business card of a lawyer they met at a party three years ago? Do you think they’ll ask their friends if they know a good lawyer who does what you do?

Or do you think they’ll simply check their email, find your number, and call?

How about referrals? If someone asks them if they know a lawyer who does what you do, who do you think they’ll recommend?

You. Because they know, like, and trust you. They may have never spoken to you but they have a relationship with you.

So, how do you get there? How do you become their one and only, or at least one of the few?

By delivering value. Helpful information, presented in an interesting and/or entertaining way.

And doing it frequently. Emailing often, keeping your name in front of them, reminding them about what you do and how you can help them.

The people on your email list are the future of your practice. You owe it to yourself to stay in touch with them and email is the simplest way to do that.

To learn how to do it, go here


Attorneys should be paid by the word


Many attorneys tell me they don’t write a newsletter or a blog because they don’t have anything to say.

I cry foul.

Have you ever spoken to an attorney?

Give them a minute and they’ll talk non-stop about their latest case, complain endlessly about a client who drives them crazy, or tell you all about a jerk attorney who makes their life miserable.

They’ll brag about a big case they just settled or a prestigious client they just signed up. They’ll opine about the law in their field or about an appellate case that is about to be heard.

If they’ve been ill or injured, they’ll share all the gory details. If they bought a new snowmobile or boat, they’ll go on and on about their new toy. If they just came back from Italy, they’ll tell you why you need to go.

Blah blah blah–it’s almost like they’re getting paid by the word.

No, attorneys have lots to say, about a lot of subjects. Fortunately, we can use our verbal alacrity to write a newsletter.

The trick is to have something to say that your clients and prospects want to hear.

Here are some ways to find out what that is:

  • Go through your email inbox and see what they’re asking you
  • Send them an email and ask them to submit questions; invite them to do the same thing on social media
  • Visit sites like Quora where people ask questions and lawyers answer them
  • Visit other lawyers’ blogs and see what they write about
  • Visit other lawyers’ blogs and social media profiles and look at comments and questions posted by readers and followers

You can supplement this by writing about things like what you like about being a lawyer, and what gives you pause. You can educate your readers about the law and procedure in your practice areas. You can share news about their industry or local market.

You can write profiles of your business clients. You can interview other professionals who work in your niche market. You can comment on articles and posts written by others who write about topics similar to your own, agreeing or disagreeing with them, and sharing your experience with the same subject.

You can also share a smattering of personal information about yourself, your hobbies and outside interests, movies you like, restaurants and books and software you recommend. Your readers want to know about you, the person, not just you, the lawyer.

There is no shortage of subjects you can write about that your clients and prospects would like to know.

If you ever feel that you’ve run out of things to say, you can repost what you’ve written before. You can do that because you will always have new people joining your list who haven’t read anything you wrote in the past. And because the people who have read your previous posts won’t remember most of the details. And because your prior opinions, experiences, and observations may have changed.

I don’t buy the “nothing to say” argument and you shouldn’t, either. Pretend you are getting paid by the word and I’ll bet you never run out of things to say.

How to build your practice with a blog and/or newsletter


Thinking like a lawyer? Fine. Just don’t write like one


Stop. Really, just stop. Stop writing like a lawyer when you communicate with your clients and prospects. You cannot bore anyone into hiring you or sending you referrals.

And let’s face it, most legal writing is boring, even to other lawyers.

Write the way you must in your briefs, motions, and memoranda. Shovel in the prophylactic latinate phrases and legal terms of art in your contracts, leases, and trusts. Write the way lawyers write when you’re being a lawyer.

Just don’t do it in your emails or newsletter.

I know it can be difficult to switch roles. But if you want to attract business, you have to know when to put the law dictionary back on the shelf.

It takes practice. It takes a fair amount of re-writing. Having someone edit your early drafts is a good idea.

But you can do it.

Actually, it’s easier than you think.

You already know what to do. “Write like you talk” and “Imagine you’re speaking to a client sitting in the office” will get you most of the way there.

The hard part? Letting go. Unclenching your sphincter muscles because your brain is telling you that writing naturally and informally isn’t professional.

The solution? A stiff drink.

Hemmingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober”. You probably shouldn’t follow that advice literally, but you can do the next best thing by giving yourself permission to write a crappy first draft.

Write quickly. Pour it out. Let your fingers fly. Get it down on paper any way it wants to come out and don’t give it another thought because nobody is going to see your first draft.

The first draft is just for you.

Write every day. You will get better, and quicker. Eventually, you’ll be able to flip a mental switch and instantly turn off the legal draftsman and turn on the communicator.

You need both, of course. You need the lawyer to do the work, of course. But you need the communicator to bring in the work.

How to use your communication skills to get more referrals


$80,000 with one letter


Yesterday, I (once again) danced up and down on my keyboard in an effort to convince you to use email for marketing your legal services. I suggested that a simple weekly email to clients and prospects might bring in enough repeat business and referrals to make you a very happy camper.

A subscriber, an attorney friend who no longer practices, wrote and said my email reminded him of a time when he sent a letter to all of his former clients:

“Back when I practiced law, my New Years resolution one year was to create a new profit center for my practice. So I wrote a letter to all of my old clients – about 200 people — announcing that I was now also handling wills and trusts.

That one letter made me about $80K the next year.”

Waaay better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

As far as I know, my friend didn’t make any crazy-special offer. He merely contacted people who knew, liked, and trusted him and shared his news.

And, as far as I know, he only sent one letter. Would he have earned more if he had written again? No doubt. Because some people may not have received his first letter. Some might not have read it. Some might not have been ready to take action. A second (or twenty-second) letter may have arrived at precisely the time when they were ready to say, “take my money”.

You’re thinking: “Okay, this sounds good but what if I’m not starting a new practice area?”

Well, how about partnering up with other lawyers in other practice areas and recommending their services, in return for them doing the same for you? Know any good accountants, financial planners, insurance or real estate brokers? Business owners with products or services you like?

Yep, you can do the same thing with them. But only if you have a list.

If you don’t want to recommend anyone else’s services for some reason, just keep your name in front of your peeps. When they need your services (again), or know someone they can refer, well, there you are–in their email inbox, a click or a dial away.

Hold on. You’re thinking, “If they need me, they’ll call me. They’ll look up my phone number or go to my website. I don’t have to stay in touch with them, they’ll find me.”

Some will. Most won’t.

I know. I signed up hundreds (thousand?) of clients who, when asked for the name of the attorney who represented them in their prior matter said they didn’t remember. And that’s why they were sitting in my office instead of the office of their former attorney who didn’t stay in touch.

Email is easy when you know how. Here’s how


Getting paid to write a weekly email


I know you don’t have a lot of time but would you write and send out a weekly email if you were paid $1000 per week to do it? How about $2000? $5000?

Would you find the time to send an email every week if it meant increasing your income by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year?

You betcha.

Well guess what? Although nobody is going to pay you that much to write a weekly email, if you write that email to your clients and prospects (and referral sources), you’ll be able to pay yourself.

Yeah, it’s called marketing. And email is about as simple as it gets.

You have to build a list. You can use your website to do that. Add a form and invite visitors to sign up.

You have to have something to say. You’re a lawyer. You have something to say about everything.

You have to be disciplined. That’s why God created the calendar.

You have to start. That’s the hard part. And the most important.

Do me a favor. And by me, I mean yourself. Send an email to some people you know and say something.

Where to start? How about telling them you’re thinking about starting an email newsletter and asking them to submit a legal question? How about summarizing (or copying) something you wrote in the past and sending that? How about wishing them Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, happy holidays, or whatever floats your boat?

Just say something. Anything. And watch what happens.

Here’s how to start


3 reasons your email newsletter isn’t working


As you can imagine, I get to see a lot of attorney’s email newsletters. Most have “problems”. If your newsletter isn’t working for you, if it’s not bringing in business or it’s taking up too much of your time, here are 3 probable reasons and what to do about them.

You’re writing a “newsletter” instead of an email

You can call it a newsletter but you’ll be much better off sending simple emails. Most newsletters get deleted. Or they are set aside to be read later but forgotten. That’s because most newsletters (especially from attorneys) are too long and too dry.

Instead, send an email. Short and sweet. 300-400 words, not 1500. An email from you (not your firm). Tell them what you’re doing. Tell them about your clients. Weave in a few words about the law, but focus on people, not statutes and decisions.

Use your emails to help your readers get to know you better. Show them how you can help them but keep it light and interesting and personal.

And forget about making it pretty. Graphics get in the way and take time to find and use. Just send text. Like a real email. When every other lawyer and vendor is sending “pretty” emails, yours will stand out.

You don’t email often enough

Once a month isn’t enough. People need to hear from you or they forget about you. If you’re writing interesting emails and delivering value (tips, resources, recommendations, etc.) they’ll want to hear from you.

Weekly isn’t too often. Even daily isn’t too often, if you’re up to it. And if you send short and simple emails, instead of trying to cram “articles” and “news” into one long missive, you’ll have the time to email more often.

No, your subscribers might need you right now (or ever) but they know people who do. Write often and you’ll get more referrals.

You’re expecting too much, too soon

Give it time. Your readers need to get to know and trust you. They need their problems to mature and get painful enough to decide to call you. They need time to save the money to pay you or to convince another decision maker that you’re the one to hire.

You also need time for your list to grow big enough so that there are enough “ready to go” prospective clients on it at any given time.

The biggest problem with email “newsletters”? Not having one. Done right, they can bring you all of the business you can handle, and then some.

If you don’t have an email list, start one. If you have one but it’s not working for you, you can fix it.

Learn more about using email to build your practice here


Direct mail or email newsletters?


A subscriber wants to know what I think about print newsletters sent by postal mail versus email newsletters. “Is print better and worth the additional cost?”

My answer is that the dynamics of print and email are completely different and can’t readily be compared.

No question email provides an incredible ROI for any lawyer. Don’t even think about it, just do it.

As for print, the question isn’t “is it worth it” it is “is it worth it for YOUR practice?”

There are many variables, ranging from your practice area and market, how long after a prospect gets on your list will he need your services, frequency of repeat business, your margins, print and mailing costs, how often you mail, and more, especially the quality of your content. And by quality, I mean how good it is as selling you and your services.

The only way to find out if a print newsletter will show a profit for you is to try it. After a suitable period of time, add up your pennies and see if you come out ahead.

Of course, before we had email, I would have said, “Yes, do it, it’s well worth the investment,” because compared to doing nothing to stay in touch with your clients and prospects, a print newsletter is a fabulous resource. Now that we have email, the decision isn’t so clear.

Can you do both? Sure. But start with email. You may never want to do anything else.

Note, we’re talking about a newsletter, not using direct mail for any other marketing purpose.

Also note, the subscriber who asked this question referenced companies that tout the benefits of print newsletters (and sell services related thereto). If you do go with print, you might use companies like these to handle list management, printing, and mailing (although you may get better pricing if you source these separately), but whatever you do, don’t use them for content. Write your own.

How to build your practice with an email newsletter


How to never run out of ideas to write about


Think about your target market and answer me a few questions:

  • What is the market’s biggest problem right now? The one that keeps people up at night?
  • What’s the latest news in that market? What are people talking about?
  • Name three websites, podcasts, or newsletters that focus on this market.
  • Who is the top lawyer, CPA, insurance or real estate professional in that market?
  • Name two organizations dedicated to that market that have networking functions in your area.
  • Name three profitable keywords for blog posts, books, or ads for that market.

Okay, that’s enough to make my point, which is that if you can’t answer these questions, you probably don’t know your target market well enough.

Or you don’t have one.

Which is why, when you set out to write an email or article, you “don’t know what to write about”. Which is why you aren’t writing, or if you are, your writing is too general and doesn’t stand out.

If your last blog post or article or email is written to appeal to “anyone,” there’s a good chance it appeals to “no one”.

When you know your target market well, which you must if you want to dominate it, you won’t have that problem. You’ll have plenty of things to write about, specific to that market. In fact, you’ll have so many ideas, your biggest problem will be deciding which one to write about.

Which is a nice problem to have, don’t you think?

Need help choosing a target market? Use this


The paper is due a week from Friday and is worth one-third of your grade


Remember in school when you were assigned a paper to write that had to be turned in by a specific date? You were given a topic, a word or page count, and a deadline, and somehow you managed to turn in the paper on time.

You may not have known anything about the topic. You may have hated the topic and wished you could write about something (anything) else. You might have put it off until the night before it was due. But you got it done.

Because you had to. Your grade depended on it.

Today, you want to write something for your newsletter or blog, but if I’m right, too often you don’t do it. You don’t because you don’t have to.

No due date. No grade. If you don’t do it, nobody will notice.

The solution? Give yourself a due date. Decide in advance a posting schedule and put it on your calendar. Even better, announce it to your subscribers: “I post a new article every Tuesday”. If you don’t post as promised, they’ll notice.

You can also assign yourself a topic to write about.

In 30 minutes, you can brainstorm enough topics to keep you busy for a year. Start with the ten or twenty “frequently asked questions” posed to you by prospects and new clients.

You can also set up a notebook and collect articles and notes and ideas as you go about your business day. I have more than 1000 “blog post ideas” I’ve collected and stored in Evernote.

You could work with a writing partner and give each other assignments. “Okay, this week, I want you to write about that client you told me about. . .”

Another way to get ideas is to use “writing prompts”. A search on that keyword will reveal a plethora of books and websites that can provide you with an almost endless supply of writing ideas.

I went to a website this morning and was given the prompt, “Why I love to. . .” I thought I could easily write a post about why I love marketing. I would talk about how gratifying it is to be able to use my skills to help people get solutions and benefits they otherwise might not get, and make a nice living doing it.

You could use the same writing prompt. Write about why you love helping your clients.

In school, writing assignments trained us to write “on demand,” a valuable skill to be sure. If you’re struggling to do that in your practice, a writing schedule and writing prompts can help you get there.

You can get lots of ideas for article and posts with this