Another way to beat “nothing-to-say syndrome” on your blog

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If you’re new to blogging, or you have a bad case of “bloggers block” and need some ideas to prime the pump, you could go to your favorite search engine and search for “how to get ideas for a blog”.

A better approach would be to use that search engine to find actual ideas.

With a few clicks, you’ll have a list of blog post ideas that are relevant and optimized because they are based on actual searches.

Type in a general idea, your practice area, your niche, or other keywords related to what you do. You might want to log out first, or use a private search, so your past search history doesn’t influence your results.

Then, look at the “drop-down” list of searches related to those keywords. You’ll see what people are searching for and that might be all you need to find your next blog post topic.

On Google, you can also look at the “People also ask” and “Related to” sections for more ideas.

If you’re still scratching your head, click to execute an actual search and look at the search results page. Look at the top 3 to 5 organic results (not paid). These will give you a good indication of what people are looking for, at least today, and you can use those results to write a post on one of those subjects.

Done and dusted.

You can take it a step further by clicking through to the actual posts or articles, to see how those topics were handled by other lawyers or bloggers, and get more insights into what to include or how you might slant your post.

By the way, you don’t have to limit your search to law-related keywords. You can search for anything you think might interest your readers and prospective clients.

If you represent landlords, for example, you might search for subjects related to buying, renting, and managing rental property.

You can even write something about one of your outside interests or hobbies.

Let’s say you love muscle cars but never thought to write anything about that on your legal blog. It has nothing to do with what you do professionally, so why do it?

Because there are a lot of people who share your interest and some of them might need your legal services, or know someone who does.

Write a post about the latest trends or about your favorite cars from the ’70’s and post it.

It’s your blog. You can do what you want.

Your regular readers may not be interested, but they might appreciate that you’re not always a boring attorney but actually have a life outside the office.

And you’ll get search traffic from other muscle car lovers, some of whom might like the ‘Cuda you wrote about and decide they want to talk to you about your services.

You’ll also have fun writing about something you love and maybe meet some kindred spirits.

More ways to get ideas for your blog

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Survey says. . .

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What’s a simple way to engage your subscribers, friends, and followers?

If you said “asking questions” you’re right.

Questions make people think, and whether they respond to you with answers to those questions, or respond mentally, you’ve connected with them in a deeper way than you would if you merely told them something.

You can ask questions parenthetically, like I did here, or with something a bit more formal via a questionnaire, survey, or quiz.

Quizzes, in particular, are almost irresistible. People love to test themselves, to see how much they know.

If you handle real estate closings, for example, you might ask your readers a handful of questions about the mechanics and costs of closings, about the law, or best practices for homeowners planning to sell.

Your readers get to see how “smart” they are; you get them thinking about closings and about you as the go-to expert.

You also get to report the results of your quiz or survey in another blog post or article. Survey results tend to get a lot of readership as people check to see how they did compared to others.

You can also reprint those results and offer them as a lead magnet for future subscribers.

Suppose I asked you to respond to a survey about how many times you took the bar exam before you passed. Wouldn’t you be curious to find out what other lawyers said?

If you were on the fence about subscribing to my newsletter, offering a report summarizing those survey results might make you curious enough to pull the trigger.

Want more ways to build your list? Here

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You’ve got a friend

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You can’t seem to keep up your blog or newsletter. Your marketing efforts have fallen by the wayside. You stopped writing your book months ago. The only exercise you get these days is jumping to conclusions. . .

You could hire someone to coach you and check in with you, to hold you accountable and keep you on track. Or you could call a friend and ask for help.

Cue music:

When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand. . .

Find a friend who is similarly situated and become workout partners.

Share your goals with someone—another lawyer, a business contact, writer, or anyone else who wants and needs someone to hold them accountable. Set up a time to check in with each other, once or twice a week, find out what each of you did that week, and what each of you is committed to doing in the coming week.

It’s motivating to talk with someone who is on the same or a similar journey. You can encourage each other, provide suggestions, and celebrate each other’s victories.

Sometimes, all you need is to hear someone else say ‘well done’.

And, knowing you have someone to report to, can do wonders for lighting a fire under you. You don’t want to disappoint them or embarrass yourself, so you get to work when you otherwise might say, “I’ll start next month”.

If you don’t have anyone to partner up with, search online (social media, blog comments, YouTube, Flakebook groups). Search for “accountability partner,” “workout partner,” or “work with me, write with me, study with me”.

Or, if you want to work with another lawyer, post a comment under this post.

Try out each other for a week and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work for both of you, don’t fret. There are plenty of other fish in the accountability ocean.

And, if you want to pay someone to hold you accountable. . . let me know.

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What you’re really selling as an attorney

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I hate to break it to you, but nobody wants to buy your legal services.

Ultimately, clients buy emotional states. They buy relief from pain and problems; they buy safety and security; they buy a path to a more prosperous future.

They hire you because they believe you can transform them from where they are to where they want to be.

Your services are merely the tools you use to do that.

They could get the results they seek from many other attorneys. They choose you because they believe you can deliver what they want.

Their belief comes from what they see on your website, what they read about you (or by you), and what others say about you.

If they’ve read your articles and posts, you showed them you understand their problem or desire and have the knowledge and experience needed to deliver what they want. If they met you, either casually or for a consultation, you said or did something that made them feel good about you and convinced them you were the right choice.

Your clients chose you and future clients will, too, because of the overall package you present; your services are important, but not the only element in that package.

Before you write any kind of marketing message or meet a prospective client or potential referral source, consider the experience you’re offering and make your message about that.

Start by understanding what your clients want and how they will feel when they get it. Show them you know what they want and then show them how you can help them get it.

Marketing is easy when you know The Formula

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Content marketing when you don’t know what to say

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Content marketing is a simple and effective way to market legal services. You create content, your target market consumes it, they learn something interesting or useful, and come back for more.

You build a following who come to know, like, and trust you. When they have a legal problem, they come to you for help.

You know this. But you resist doing it because:

(1) It takes a lot of time.

How much is “a lot”? Would you invest one hour a week if it meant bringing in one new client per week?

I’ll let you do the math.

You can also outsource or delegate a lot of the work. (Don’t outsource all of it, though. Your content needs to speak with your voice

(2) It’s not right for my market.

My clients don’t read, don’t watch videos, and don’t want to hear from me because it reminds them of bad times.

Fair enough. But your professional contacts can read and don’t mind hearing from you, and they can send you more business and introduce you to other professionals who can do the same

(3) I don’t know what to say.

You know a lot more than you think. And if you’ve been reading my daily word-bombs, you know you can write about almost anything.

And you can improve.

Start by reading (and watching videos, podcasts) outside your field of expertise. You’ll get more ideas than you can ever use.

Read about things that interest you. You’ll find that your audience is interested in a lot of things that interest you, too. Are you thinking about getting a new iPad or phone? Guess what? So are a good percentage of your readers and followers.

Read about your target market. You can’t go wrong talking about the people, the issues, and the news that’s a part of their world.

If you have business clients, read (and write) about business and marketing and other issues your clients deal with daily.

If you represent consumers, read and write about things consumers want and need to know (investing, debt, credit, insurance, etc.).

Read, learn new ideas and stories, and share this with your readers, along with your comments, experiences, and suggestions.

And yes, you can also talk about your kids, friends, hobbies, sports, games, and anything else that strikes your fancy.

That’s how your readers get to know and like and trust you.

How to build your practice with email content

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Pro bono as a marketing strategy

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If a client asks for a discount on your fees, don’t do it. For a lot of reasons, you’re just asking for trouble.

And if you’re ever tempted to proactively offer a discount, to an individual client or across the board, be very careful. It might be the right thing to do, but too often, it isn’t.

Instead of discounts, consider offering free services.

Whereas discounts can make you look hungry, even desperate, free services can do just the opposite. They can make you look successful, generous, ready to help people who need help but might not be able to afford it.

They can also be an effective marketing tool.

Pro bono work for a non-profit can help you build your network and get you some free publicity. It also looks good on your CV.

(NB: get a letter from the non-profit specifying how much your work was worth to them; you might get a nice tax deduction, too.)

For regular business or consumer clients, giving away an entry-level service (e.g., a basic will or incorporation), offering free consultations, a free second opinion, and “first hour free,” can bring a lot of business to your door that might have knocked on another lawyer’s door.

But again, you need to be careful.

Whenever you’re inclined to offer a free service, consider making it a short-term promotion and tying it to a holiday or other special occasion, e.g., to celebrate the opening of your second office, your firm’s anniversary, or your birthday.

You might also limit the offer to new clients, to returning clients, to members of a certain class or group or organization, or the employees or clients thereof.

Done right, free services can make you look good and bring in a lot of new business.

Start small and test your promotion. If it’s working, you can repeat it or expand it; if it’s not, you can modify it or quietly retire it.

Fee and billing strategies you need to know and use

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Being different without being weird

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You want to stand out. Show people you’re different. Help people remember you and talk about you on social media or to their friends. You’re looking for something you can do that’s different but coming up empty.

Relax. Stop trying so hard.

You don’t have to create your own practice area or provide free pizza in your waiting room. You don’t have to do anything radically different. And you shouldn’t. You’re a lawyer, and people don’t want their lawyer to be weird.

You can be different in little ways.

I just saw a video blogger who ends his videos by telling viewers to like and subscribe, as everyone else does, but then does something I’ve never seen anyone else do. He says not to bother hitting the bell for notifications, “because honestly, you have better things to do than to look out for a notification that I’ve posted a new video”.

Small, but different.

Technically, this is bad marketing. You want your viewers/subscribers/followers to know when there’s new content for them to consume. If they don’t get notified, they may never see that new content, and that’s a lost opportunity for you to connect with them and for them to share your content with others.

On the other hand, this is great marketing.

He shows his followers that he doesn’t slavishly follow the “script” everyone else follows, and that he cares about his viewers and puts himself in their shoes.

A small difference, tiny even, but you can get a lot of mileage out of small differences.

When everyone else looks and sounds and smells the same, you don’t need to do much to stand out.

And hey, if you do serve pizza in your waiting room, don’t put pineapple on it. That’s just weird.

Get more referrals by being more referrable

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Objection, calls for speculation

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I saw a video the other day that ticked all the boxes. It was clear and concise, delivered the information viewers needed to know, and didn’t waste our time with anything else. One viewer said what many of us were thinking: “Nice, simple and straight to the point.”

Which is what we should all aspire to achieve in our websites, our letters and emails, our articles, briefs, presentations, and all our communication.

William Howard Taft said, “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood.”

Clarity is equally important in our bills and invoices.

A bill shouldn’t be merely a list of how you spent your time. It should be a narrative that describes your effort.

Spell out what you did in plain English, and what it means for the client. Use active verbs and specific nouns to describe the process you used to deliver the results you obtained, even if (especially if) those results aren’t yet fully realized.

In school, teachers told us to “show your work” instead of merely reporting the answer. They wanted to see what we thought and did and why.

The same standard should apply to your bill.

Show clients your work; help them see and understand what you did and why. If there isn’t room on the actual invoice, add a cover letter and spell it out.

Don’t make clients guess what you did or what you meant. Explain it to them as if they were a child. Or your teacher.

How to write a bill your clients want to pay

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What to do when you don’t want to do something. Or anything.

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You don’t want to review that big file. You don’t want to call the adjuster. You don’t want to deliver the bad news to your client. Usually, you don’t think about it, you just do it.

But not always.

Some days, when you don’t feel like doing something that needs to get done, you avoid it and busy yourself with other things.

We all have days like that.

We also have days when we don’t feel like doing anything but sitting on the sofa and playing with our phone.

What do you do when you have a file you don’t want to look at or an article you don’t want to write? What do you do when you’re not motivated to do something you need to do?

You start.

Open the file. Find the phone number. Sharpen your pencil and write your name and room number at the top of the page.

Do something related to the task you are avoiding, however trivial, and let nature take its course.

Your brain will see you’ve started and compel you to take the next step.

Action is the solution.

“Getting started is magical,” says psychologist Thomas Pychyl. “Motivation follows action, not the other way around.”

On days when you don’t feel like doing anything, get out of the house and go to the office. If you work from home, go to your home office and sit at your desk, as if it was just another day at work.

Move your body, engage your mind, pick up a file or re-read your notes and momentum will take over.

Unless it doesn’t.

Some days, you just want to sit on the sofa and play with your phone. In which case, maybe you should take the day off.

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Being proactive about referrals

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Referrals happen, right? You don’t have to say anything or do anything other than provide great service. Happy clients tell others about you, give them your business card or your website, and magic happens.

Your business contacts do the same thing. They might say that you did a good job for some of their clients or customers, or they know you by your stellar reputation, or they know you from church or your kid’s soccer team, and you’re a nice fella or gal.

More magic.

If you get any referrals right now, you know this is true. Referrals happen this way all day, every day.

Without you doing anything extra to make that happen.

But while you don’t have to say anything or do anything, there are things you could say or do that could significantly increase the number of referrals you get.

You might double or triple them. You might increase them tenfold.

How much would it be worth to you over the course of a year to get even one additional referral each month?

Okay, enough with the sexy numbers. You want to know what you could say or do to stimulate more referrals, and you don’t want to work hard to do it.

I’ll give you 3 things you can do, starting today.

First, you can talk about referrals. No, I didn’t say ask for them. Talk about them. In your blog posts and articles, in your presentations, and in your conversations.

When you tell a story about a client with a problem, simply mention that they were referred to you by another client who had a similar problem, or by another lawyer or influential person in your community.

Every time you do that, you tell people that you (routinely) get referrals, suggesting that they might do the same.

Thing is, some people can send you referrals but don’t, primarily (according to surveys) because they “didn’t think of it”. This is a simple way to help them think of it.

The second thing you can do is to equip your clients and contacts to refer you.

Give them something they can hand out besides your business card, so that when they talk to someone who might need your help, they can give them something that tells them what you do and how you can help them.

They don’t have to explain. The handout does that for them and tells the prospective client exactly what you want them to know and what to do next.

One more.

Make a habit of asking people for referrals to other professionals.

Tell them you like to network with other attorneys, real estate or financial professionals (or whoever might make a good referral source for you), and ask if they know anyone. If they do, ask for a name, tell them you’ll call them to introduce yourself, and ask, “is it okay if I mention your name?”

You get to talk to potential referral sources who will know that you represent one of their clients or business contacts. You still have work to do, but your mutual client or contact gives you a huge head start.

And yes, it is as simple as that.

Learn more about what to do with this (for clients) and this (for professional contacts).

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