Why didn’t you write this?

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I saw a post on Mashable this morning and thought of you. The title is How to decide whether to elect an S-corp for your business. I’m mentioning it to you because I wanted to ask, “Why didn’t you write this?”

In the five hours since it was published (as of this writing), it has 1300 shares. If you had written this, a lot of people would have seen your name, your bio, and a link to your website.

The post is around 900 words. You could have written this in less than an hour. You might not have had it published on Mashable, but maybe you would. The author isn’t an attorney. She got it published. Why not you?

You could write a basic article like this about any practice area. And there are hundreds of places to have your article published. Blogs, magazines, and newsletters galore that need content, written by authorities like you.

Maybe you haven’t written an article like this before and don’t know where to start. No problem. Start with this article (or find one in your practice area) and reverse engineer it.

Make an outline from the article, then write your article from that outline. Add different information, add stories from your clients files, write in your own voice and style, and change the title. Done.

Here’s your homework:

  1. Set up a file for this project and start adding ideas for articles you could write.
  2. Do a search with keywords appropriate for your practice area and find articles you could have written. Add the links or actual articles to your file. Use these articles to write your own version of these articles, or to get more ideas.
  3. Search for websites and blogs in your target market. Find their “editorial guidelines” (article length, topics, focus, etc.) and their submission or query process. If all of the articles appear to be staff written, you can still query the editor. You never know. Yours might be the first outside post they accept.
  4. Write your first article this week. If you’re not ready to submit it to a blog or magazine, publish it on your website.

Publishing articles brings website traffic, enhances your bio, and gives you material your can re-purpose for reports, ebooks, and presentations. It can get you invitations to speaking engagements and interviews, and opens doors to getting more articles published.

Still not sure? Write a “practice” article that you won’t show anyone. Give yourself permission to write something awful.

When I was getting started writing, that’s what I did. I told myself to just get a first draft written, no matter how bad, and I could fix it later. When that draft was done, I found it really wasn’t that bad. It was actually quite good. A little editing and I had something publishable.

I’m betting it will work out that way for you.

Need ideas for writing? Get this

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The biggest mistake lawyers make with online marketing

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Last week I referenced an article about “lethal mistakes” lawyers make with their online marketing. I agreed with some of the mistakes, disagreed with some, and was mystified by the absence of others.

I asked what you thought was missing, and by your responses, you showed me that you are paying attention.

Your list of mistakes included things like

  • The absence of fresh content
  • Too much about “the firm” and not enough about the client/visitor and his problems
  •  No call to action (telling visitors what to do)
  • Too impersonal, formal, unapproachable

Correctamundo.

You get it.

Why weren’t these in the article?

I don’t know.

Anyway, before I reveal to you the number one lethal mistake lawyers make with their website, I want to mention another article about lawyers’ websites that provided some alarming, but not surprising, statistics:

According to this article

  • Nearly 40% of small law firms don’t have websites
  • 70% don’t have a call to action on their home page
  • 97% of law firm websites fail to deliver any kind of personalized content
  • Only 35% have been updated in the last three years
  • 68% don’t have an email address on their home page [see my comments below]
  • 27% don’t have a phone number on their home page
  • Only one-third are optimized for mobile devices

The last issue is especially noteworthy in view of Google’s recent announcement about penalizing sites that aren’t mobile friendly.

The article also said that “only 14% of law firms send a triggered email to a visitor who submits a form online”. That number is skewed, I am sure, because most law firm sites don’t even have a form that allows visitors to email them.

Your site needs a contact form, so visitors who aren’t ready to call you can communicate with you by email. Posting your email is good, but using a form is better. It makes it easier for visitors to contact you, and that means more will (and that’s a good thing, yo.). A form can also reduce spam and allow you to direct visitors to supply information you will need when you reply.

That form should send an automated reply so people will immediately know “message received” and what will happen next. Without this, visitors are likely to keep looking.

Okay, now for the biggest mistake.

Your emails to me mentioned it. So you know it’s important. I’m not sure if you realize how important, however.

The biggest mistake is not having a form for visitors to subscribe to your email list or newsletter.

You need a form and you need to tell people to subscribe. Tell them on every page. And give them reasons why they should. Tell them how they will benefit by filling out your form. What will they get, learn, or avoid?

Why is it so important to get people to subscribe? Because most people who visit your website for the first time

(a) aren’t ready to hire you,
(b) aren’t ready to contact you to ask questions or schedule an appointment, and
(c) aren’t likely to return to your website.

First time visitors are gathering information, about the law and procedure and their options, and about lawyers who can help them.

News flash: yours isn’t the only website they visit.

If you don’t capture their name and email on the first visit, and use that to stay in touch with them, the odds are you will never hear from them again.

Which means you’re losing business. A lot more than you may realize.

When visitors subscribe to your email list, you can continue to send them information, remind them about the solutions you offer, and show them why they should choose you instead of any other lawyer. You can continue to sell yourself and your services.

Six days, six weeks, or six months from now, you can continue having that conversation and convert more people into paying clients.

Even if they’re not ready to hire you, even if they never hire you, they can send you referrals and traffic and promote your events and share your content and help you build your email list further.

But none of that will occur if you don’t know who they are.

Without a list, you can’t stay in touch with visitors, earn their trust, seek their feedback, ask for their testimonials, invite them to your seminars, tell them about updates to your site, or do anything else to build a relationship with them.

And that’s why building a list is numero uno.

Your website’s content is critically important. But if that’s all you focus on, you’re asking your site to do too much.

You could take away my blog, my social media accounts, remove any mention of me from search engines, and cancel anything else I do to promote my products and services, and I would survive because I would still have my list.

Building a list is the most important thing a lawyer can do to market their practice, and most lawyers don’t do it.

Learn how to build your list and market your practice online.

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Superbowl commercials: spending millions and getting pennies

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Last night, I watched almost all of the Superbowl commercials back to back. I had heard that they were mostly a poor lot, with a handful of standouts, and that’s pretty much what I found.

But I didn’t watch merely for entertainment value. I wanted to see if any of these multi-million dollar creations did something that is essential in advertising. On this, they all failed miserably.

Toyota ran a good ad, about a man driving his daughter to the airport. Visually and emotionally effective. If they asked for my opinion before they ran it, here’s what I would have said:

Okay, Toyota, this ad is going to be seen by hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Many viewers will associate your name and brand with a positive message (what it means to be a father), and that’s good.

In addition to that, how would you like to have the names and email addresses (and zip codes) of a million future car buyers who saw that spot and wanted more information about your vehicles?

That would be cool, wouldn’t it? You could send them an online brochure, more videos, and an invitation to come in to their local dealer for a test drive.

You could also notify them when their dealer is having a sale, remind them when the new models are in, and send them special offers on maintenance and accessories.

On holiday weekends, you could invite them to come get free hot dogs and hamburgers and balloons for the kids. While they are in your dealer’s parking lot, they can get a free assessment of the trade-in value of their current vehicle, and take a test drive of the new model.

If you had this list and did these things, do you think you might sell more cars?

I think so, too.

So, here’s what I suggest. Instead of ending the ad on an emotional note and hoping for the best, put an offer in the ad. Offer viewers something they might want, like a $500 discount coupon on their next Toyota, and tell them how to get it. Tell them to go to a specific page on your site, provide their name and email and you’ll send it to them.

You’ll easily spend $500 per head on newspaper and TV ads to bring in prospective customers, but that’s money down the drain if they don’t buy. With a coupon offer like this, it costs you nothing unless someone buys a car.

Alas, they didn’t hire me and there was no offer in the ad. They missed out on a prime opportunity, and so did all of the other advertisers.

Many ads had a website, but in small letters at the bottom of the screen, almost as an afterthought. None had an offer. No incentive to visit the website and no call to action telling viewers what to do, and why. I watched the Victoria’s Secret spot several times, just to make sure I didn’t miss it, but no dice.

A few ads came close. They said things like, “To see more. . .”, and directed viewers to a specific page, but didn’t provide enough specifics or incentives to get anyone to take action.

I saw a lot of hashtags. Great. More people who know your name but don’t go to your website or sign up on your list.

These are billion dollar companies who spend millions on ads that don’t accomplish a fraction of what they could.

Why? Is it because they don’t know what they could do? In many cases, yes. They are so caught up in image and brand, and so far removed from actually selling anything, they are clueless about how to increase their bottom line. Others know but think that direct response advertising is beneath them.

Foolishness.

The lesson is simple. In every ad, in every piece of marketing collateral you circulate, offer something prospective clients or customers would want enough to identify themselves to you, and tell them what to do to get it.

It’s okay to use puppies and beautiful women to get their attention, but once you have it, get them to your site and onto your list so you can stay in touch with them and actually sell them something.

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7 ways to write faster

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My goals this year require me to do more writing. To accomplish this, I plan to write faster.

The faster I write, the more work product I will get out the door producing more income, bringing more traffic, generating more leads, and building my brand.

Here’s how I plan to accomplish this:

(1) Stick with what I know

One of the biggest causes of writers’ block is not knowing what you want to say. When you write about what you know, writing is easier and faster.

You also don’t have to do a lot of research. If I do need to research a particular subject, I’ll either do it before I write, so as to not interrupt the flow, or “write around it,” i.e., leave a blank and come back to the subject later.

(2) Create more detailed outlines

I often find myself going down rabbit holes and off on side roads in my writing because I haven’t done enough advance planning. More detailed outlines will allow me to know what I’m going to say before I say it. That will allow me to not only write faster, but avoid wasting time on topics that are off subject.

(3) Write shorter

I’m working on a book now that will be less than one-third the length of the previous one. Shorter writing means more readers coming into my funnel. It also means I can get onto the next project that much quicker.

To write shorter, I’ll (a) choose narrower topics and (b) leave out some details, explanations, and examples.

(4) Bigger daily word count

I write every day, but I don’t crank out as many words as I know I could. This year, I’m committed to a bigger daily word count. I’ll do that by using the AIC method (“ass in chair”).

(5) Dictate more

I wrote most of the first draft of the book I’m working on now in a few hours. How? By looking at my outline and dictating it. I’ll transcribe it myself and flesh it out as I do so.

I’ll also try working more with Dragon Naturally Speaking, which I haven’t yet been able to master.

(6) More music to tame my inner teenager

After about 15 minutes of writing, I feel the urge to check email or do something else on the Internet. It gets me out of “flow” and takes me longer to get back on track.

Music helps me write for longer periods of time. Classical or new age; nothing with lyrics.

(7) Reward myself

Yes, the work product, and the income it will generate, is its own reward. Nevertheless, I’ve got a couple of new books I’m itching to crack open, digitally speaking. I’m looking forward to finishing my work for the day so I can get my reward.

So, no more time to chat. I’ve got words to write before I rest, and miles to go before I sleep.

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What to do when you have nothing new to offer

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What’s new?

Unfortunately, for most attorneys, the answer is “nothing”. They offer the same services today that they offered last year, and the year before that.

The clients change, the cases have different elements, but for most attorneys, same old same old. Even if they offer a menu of services, the menu rarely, if ever, changes.

Worse, many of their clients need them only once in their lifetime.

If attorneys owned any other type of business, they would regularly offer new products or services. Their business would always be growing.

But if a client doesn’t need another divorce, or doesn’t get in another accident, it’s game over.

It would be great to be able to offer the client another service, wouldn’t it? But if you specialize (as you should), you probably don’t have anything else.

Some attorneys offer updated documents, reviews, and modifications, and that’s good. But what about everyone else?

Well, there are a couple of things every attorney can do.

First, you can partner with other attorneys and promote their services to your clients. In return, your partner promotes your services to their clients. You can also do joint ventures with other types of professionals, and businesses, too.

Your clients have problems and needs that go beyond what you can do for them. They need help finding high quality professionals and vendors. They would love to get a good deal, or at least know they aren’t getting a bad one.

You can help them, and in so doing, help yourself.

Think “clients” not “cases” or “engagements”. Continually look for ways to help your clients with their other business or personal needs.

See The Attorney Marketing Formula for different ways you can work with joint venture partners.

Second, no matter what kind of practice you have, you should continually be creating new content.

Every article, blog post, report, seminar, video, or ebook you produce and put out into the market place can bring you new clients.

They can bring traffic to your website via search and social sharing. You can ask your clients and contacts, (and joint venture partners), to share our content with their clients and lists. You can offer them for sale on Kindle and other venues, where millions of prospective clients can find them.

Each piece of content you create educates prospects about what you do and how you can help them. It pre-sells them on the need for an attorney, and why that attorney should be you. And it prompts them to contact you to ask questions, make an appointment, or sign up for your list.

New services, albeit someone else’s, and new content. These are your new products and services. This is what you should continually create and offer.

Then, when someone asks, “What’s new?” you’ll be able to show them.

To learn more about joint ventures, get this

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What’s wrong with your website?

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My wife is nesting. Getting the house ready for Christmas company. Cleaning, polishing, making sure everything is ship shape. You know the drill.

I am amazed at the little things she finds that need repair. A chip in the paint that needs touching up, for example. I walk by it every day but never noticed. Why? Because I walk by it every day.

I’m used to it. So it doesn’t stand out. If you came to the house, having never been here, that chip would probably be the first thing you’d notice.

My wife is also proofreading my latest book. I’ve been through it more times than I can count. To my eye, it’s done. She spots typos on almost every page.

We all need fresh eyes to look at our work. We’re too close to it. We can’t see what’s obvious to others.

Take your website for example. Do you know what’s wrong with it? Can you spot the things that are missing or need improvement?

Even if you know what you’re doing, there’s a good chance you’re missing things, simply because you’re too close to it.

You need someone else to look at your website. You need fresh eyes.

Have a client go through your site with you. Have them narrate what they see and what they’re doing. Note the pages they go to first, and where they go after that.

Have them find and fill out the contact form. Have them find your bio, your list of services, and the directions to your office. Have them follow you on Twitter or Like your Facebook page. Have them share one of your posts.

You’ll see how others see and use your site. I promise you, it will be an eye opener.

You should also have an expert look at your site. They’ll find more things that need fixing. They can show you how to get more traffic, more subscribers and more social media followers. They can show you how to get more visitors to see you as the lawyer they should choose, and get them to call or email to hire you or take the next step.

You can hire me to do that. I’ll go through the site with you and tell you what to do. Or, you can have me do this for free.

Remember, when you order The Quantum Leap Marketing System, you get a free coaching session with me as a bonus. You can use that session to have me go through your site with you.

What’s wrong with your website? Have me take a look and help you fix it.

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How Neil Patel got to 100,000 visitors per month

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Neil Patel is a very smart, and very successful marketing guy. His blogs receive a boatload of traffic.

In a post today, he explains how he got to 100,000 visitors per month by following 7 rules for writing blog posts.

He’s an expert at SEO and social media, and I expected his rules to be oriented to those subjects. They’re not. There’s nothing technical about his rules. They are the softer side (my words) of writing blog posts to communicate with your readers.

For example, he talks about hooking your readers by framing your post properly, and writing about subjects you are passionate about. He also talks about the critical importance of headlines and building your list.

One thing he recommends that I think most lawyers intuitively understand: using data to build credibility. Citations, links, quotes from other experts, and our own opinions, backed up by our experiences, are routinely included in posts and articles by attorneys.

Often when I read Patel’s posts I come away thinking, “Okay, I don’t do that,” and “I don’t want to do that.” With this post, I was pleased to find that he and I are on the same page.

If you want to know how I handle SEO and social media, get this.

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How to make your phone ring

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Suppose that next week you get an email from another professional, a business owner, a blogger, or someone else who sells to, advises, or is otherwise influential in your target market. The email says something like this:

I want to thank you linking to my site in your post last week. I really appreciate it.

I just spent an hour reading through your site and I’ve got to tell you, you’ve really got some valuable information. I also signed up for your email list, downloaded your free report and think it’s awesome.

I’d love to interview you for my blog. I know my 10,000 subscribers would love to “meet” you. Would you be open to that? Of course I’ll also mention your website and encourage them to sign up for your list and download your report.

Could we do this some time next week? Please let me know, ASAP.

Nice. 10,000 email subscribers in your target market who will learn about you, with a strong recommendation from the owner of the list.

Do you think you might get some new clients out of this? And sign ups for your list that will lead to more clients down the road?

Fairy tale? Not at all. This kind of thing happens all of the time.

What’s that? It hasn’t happened to you? I find that hard to believe.

You do have a website with lots of good content on it, don’t you? You also have an email newsletter and a report or ebook you offer to encourage visitors to subscribe, right? I’m sure you regularly link to other sites in your niche, pointing to content your subscribers would benefit from reading, don’t you?

What do you mean, you don’t know how to do this? You do have a copy of Make The Phone Ring, don’t you?

If you want to make your phone ring, get Make the Phone Ring

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Why you should tell prospective clients to talk to other lawyers

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I read an article this morning written for people looking for a lawyer on how to find the right one for the job. I’ll summarize it:

  • Attorneys specialize and it’s important to find someone who handles your type of case; [examples]
  • Keyword searches are a good way to find some candidates; avoid referral sites and directories, you don’t need a middleman
  • Check out their websites and choose three or four attorneys who handle your type of case; [examples]
  • Call all of them and ask questions about them (how long practicing, what percentage of their practice is this type of matter?), and about your case (what are the options, how much will they charge?)
  • Meet with them, ask more about the case, about how they will work with you, accessibility, fees, etc.
  • Most people looking for a client won’t do half of this, they will hire the first attorney they speak to, and that’s not wise. You have many lawyers to choose from so take your time and choose the one that is most qualified and “feels” right

Twelve paragraphs. Basic stuff. Something any attorney could write.

Including you.

Have you written an article like this and submitted it to blogs and websites in your target market? You should. It will bring visitors to your website who like your information and the honesty with which you presented it. They’ll want to learn more about you and put your name on their short list of candidates.

But here’s the thing. They probably won’t call other attorneys, as you advised, or if they do, there’s a good chance they will come back to you. They “met” you first. You helped them. You know what you’re doing.

And let’s face it, if they wind up hiring someone else instead of you, they were probably going to do that anyway.

One more thing. After you write an article like this, post it on your website, too. Yes, tell visitors that they should call other lawyers who do what you do, and tell them what to ask. Crazy? Not at all. They will respect you for being so forthcoming. They will see your confidence, and like it, and like you.

Just do it. You’ll thank me later. You’ll get lots of traffic from people searching for “how to find a _____ attorney,” and a good percentage of them will hire you.

Marketing online is simple when you know what to do

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Even more ideas for writing quick blog posts

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This week, you learned three ways to write quick blog posts. You learned the three point model (with opening and summary), you learned about commenting on someone else’s post, and you learned the question and answer post. Today, I want to talk about the another method of writing quick blog posts: the series.

Writing a series means taking a bigger topic and breaking it up into a series of smaller posts. This week, I could have written about the subject of writing quick blog posts in one long post. Instead, I wrote a series of short posts.

You might write a series about litigation, for example. You could write short posts about liability, damages, filing a complaint, statutes of limitations, discovery, motions, trial, and appeal. You could undoubtedly break down most of these topics into multiple posts.

With some series topics, you’ll have enough material for many weeks of posts, and yet each post will only take you a few minutes to write.

One advantage of a series of short posts is that each post represents another point of entry to your website for prospective clients who are searching for information about one of your topics. Put links in each post to the other posts in the series and you’ll get more visitors reading more of your content.

What’s that? You want even more ideas for writing quick blog posts? Your wish is my command:

  • Update old posts. Add new information, new links, new or revised comments, and links to other resources, including your other posts
  • Round up posts. Grab five or ten of your old posts on a given topic and write a new post that simply links to each of them. Add a sentence or two describing each post
  • Graphic post. Photos, infographics, charts, survey results, videos, and the like, don’t require a lot of writing.
  • Re-purpose other content. Post excerpts or entire transcripts of your articles, slides, presentations, white papers, books, reports, videos, audios, and so on. You can also break these up and create a series.
  • Resource post. A list of websites, apps, books, blogs, and other resources you recommend relative to a theme.
  • News. One paragraph summaries of recent news stories, appellate decisions, or upcoming events.
  • Interviews. Interviews with professionals, bloggers, authors, speakers, and other subject matter experts, make good posts and are easy to write. Ask questions (over the phone, via email) and let them supply the material for your post. You can post a video or audio, a transcript, a summary, or any combinations thereof.
  • Guest posts. Let others write posts for you. They get exposure to your subscribers, you get good content. You may also open the door for writing a guest post on their blog.

The more content on your site, the more opportunities you have to show visitors how much you know and how you can help them. I hope you can see that there are many ways to write quick blog posts and you are encouraged to do so.

For more ways to use content to get more traffic, more subscribers, and more clients, get this

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