3 simple ways to grow your email list

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“The money is in the list” is a classic marketing truism.

Ignore it to your peril.

Because without a list, and regularly staying in touch with it, you’re relying on “one-step” marketing, which is more difficult, more expensive, and slower.

How do you build a list? How do you get people to give you their email and permission to stay in touch?

There are many ways. Here are 3 of the simplest.

Start a blog

High-quality content will establish your authority and attract traffic from search engines and social sharing. Prospective clients come, see that you know what you’re doing and that you offer a newsletter with more valuable content, and an incentive to sign up.

NB: It is the incentive that will get the most sign-ups.

Make sure you add a prompt to fill out your opt-in form on every post and page.

Leverage OPL

One of the quickest and most effective ways to build your list is to leverage other people’s lists.

You know people who know people. People with friends and followers and subscribers who are a good match for you. When your friend mentions your newsletter or free report and provides a link to it, some of their subscribers will follow that link and join your list.

Your contact will tell their list about your information because you’ve shown them said information will benefit their clients and subscribers. They’ll also tell them because they like you. And because they would like you to tell your list about something they offer.

You can also leverage other people’s lists by publishing guest posts and doing interviews on blogs and podcasts that target your market.

At the end of the post or interview, you get to mention your free report.

Tell everyone

Wherever you go, whatever you do, make sure people know you offer free information that can help them, their friends, or their clients or customers.

Mention your free report in the footer of your emails. Mention it when someone you meet asks you a legal question. Promote it at your speaking engagements. Add a link on your social media bios, groups, and posts.

Promote your information and let your information promote your services.

Bonus

You can promote your newsletter with ads.

You may not be allowed to advertise your services, or want to, but if you can (and want to) advertise your free report, ebook, or checklist, you can drive a lot of targeted traffic to your newsletter incentive offer.

Promote your information (with ads) and let your information promote your services.

The key to making everything work? Good content. Valuable information that helps people.

And the willingness to tell people about that information.

How to start and promote an email list

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Write your content for two people

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Yesterday, we talked about creating the kinds of content your audience wants to read. But the subject isn’t the entire story.

Your readers also have preferences regarding how you present your content.

They might prefer you to write formally, like the good lawyer you are, or more casually and conversationally.

They might like in-depth pieces or prefer something more basic. Or perhaps a mix of each.

How about what your content “looks” like? Does your audience like brief articles, 200-500 words, or something longer, perhaps 1000-2000 words? Do they want images or illustrations or is plain text just fine?

Do they want videos or audios they can listen to on the go or do they prefer being able to skim and highlight written text?

One of your most important questions is how frequently your audience wants to hear from you. Is daily too often? Is quarterly not often enough? Would they prefer to hear from you once a month with longer pieces or once a week with something they can consume in a few minutes?

Perhaps a mix of shorter pieces and the occasional longer one is just right.

But here’s the thing. Just like the subject of your content, people don’t always know what they want until they see it. And just because they’re used to consuming other content a certain way doesn’t mean they expect or demand yours to be the same.

If you have the time and resources to research how your readers want to consume the content you provide them, and you are willing to fine-tune your content to suit them, this might be worth exploring.

But you can also go another route. Give them what you want to give them and let them to adapt to you.

Because people do adapt.

Besides, if you’re giving them interesting and helpful content, how you dress it up and deliver it isn’t really that important, is it?

To some on your list, it is important. But you’ll never please everyone, nor should you try.

Instead, write for two people. Write for your ideal reader. The people who love what you do and how you do it.

And write for yourself.

Write what you want, package and deliver it the way you want to.

Because if you’re not happy, if you don’t enjoy writing your newsletter or blog or other content, if it is a chore instead of a labor of love, it’s going to show.

Give people what they want, but don’t sacrifice yourself to do that.

How to write a newsletter people want to read and you want to write

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What kind of content does your audience want?

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You need to know what your readers want you to write about because if you don’t give what they want, or you give them things they don’t want, they might not continue to be your readers.

People want what they want.

And leave clues about what that is.

Think about your previous content that produced a response and look for ways to provide more like that. If you’re not sure, if you don’t have enough metadata to know what they like or share or comment on, ask them. Either directly in your emails and posts or via surveys.

Do they want updates on specific developments in the law? Cases, legislation, trends, and the impact on them or their business?

Do they want you to explain how you do what you do or do they want more do-it-yourself information, so they can do some things themself?

Do they want more hard information or more stories about people like them who (with your help) have solved their problems and achieved their goals? (Yeah, give that to them even if they don’t tell you they want this; they do.)

Do they want you to interview other professionals occasionally? Do they want guest posts? Do they want information about your practice area or speciality or about allied areas as well?

What are they interested in? What do they care about? What do they want to hear from you?

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell them what you want to tell them. Say what you want to say, even if they’re not ready to hear it.

When they sign up for your newsletter or subscribe to your posts, they’re telling you they want to know what you think and recommend. They want interesting and helpful information. But, as Steve Jobs said, “customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them”.

So show them what you want to show them. But don’t ignore what their replies, comments, shares, questions, or your research tells you to give them.

What to write about in your newsletter

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In my humble (but accurate) opinion

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Risk and reward. That’s what’s at stake today when you publicly state your opinion. You risk offending people who hold a different opinion, losing followers, and even losing clients who didn’t know you thought that way.

On the other hand, you might gain the allegiance of clients and followers who never knew how you felt about an issue and love you more because you do.

Opinion-based blog posts can help you win friends and influence people, or they can explode in your face.

So, lawyers, where do you draw the line?

You draw it on the side of expressing your opinion.

Because that’s why people read your blog or social posts.

If they just want straight news and information, they can get it anywhere. They follow you because they want to know what you think.

They want you to guide them, warn them, and lead them. They want to know how you see things and what you recommend.

They want your opinion.

That doesn’t mean you have to light fires and watch them burn.

Tell them what you recommend, and why. Tell them what you do, or would do if you were in their situation. But also show them both sides, contrary views, and other factors they should consider.

Because that’s what a good advisor does.

But you also convey your opinion without coming right out and stating it.

You do that every time you publish something, by the topics you choose to write about and the examples you use to illustrate them. You also do that by the subjects you choose to avoid.

Your readers might not know precisely what you think about every subject, but they get a sense of what’s important in your world, and for many subjects, a sense is enough.

Finally, while you might eventually choose to play it safe regarding a certain opinion or topic, your default should be to do the opposite.

Be edgy. Go out on a few limbs. Take some chances.

Yes, you might lose 10 followers if you go too far; I’ve done that. But you might gain 100 because you did. I’ve done that, too.

That’s what makes it interesting.

A successful life doesn’t require the complete avoidance of risk. It requires the intelligent management of risk.

Of course, that’s just my opinion.

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Let me entertain you

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Most people read your blog or newsletter because they are looking for information. But you can also use your content to entertain them.

It’s a great way to connect with your audience. Make people smile or think about something besides their problems and they’ll like you and come back next time to hear more.

But it depends on how you define entertainment.

Humor is fine, if it is appropriate and you don’t overdo it. A sprinkling of puns, turns of phrase, wry observations, and colorful asides can show your audience that you are down to earth. Not just a legal machine, but a person they can talk to and might like to know.

But you have to be careful. Especially today, where it’s difficult to know what is and isn’t acceptable.

You have to know your audience. And maybe have an editor or someone who can tell you when you’ve gone too far.

But entertainment isn’t just about humor. Sports, games, books, and music are also entertaining. Use them, either to make a point or add context or color to your information.

If you’re writing about winning a case, for example, and you’re in a hockey town, go ahead and use phrases like “hat trick” or “shutout”. Or talk about something you saw or heard when you were at a game.

What we’re really talking about isn’t so much about being entertaining, it’s about being interesting.

Not just the facts. Not just the law. Something else people will recognize and relate to or like hearing about because it’s different.

Speaking of different, did you see Heidi’s latest Halloween costume? Girlfriend did it again.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of a way to fit that into a blog post for lawyers. Wait, I just did.

How to write interesting articles and blog posts

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Hope

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We’re really good with the how-to’s, you and I. We know our stuff and we’re good at explaining it to our readers and listeners.

We’re also good at sounding alarms, warning them to watch out for things, protecting our flock so they don’t get eaten by the big, bad wolves of the world, and letting them know how we can help them when those wolves come around.

But we can do more.

We can inspire our readers and show them a better and safer future. We can tell them what we see (and predict), and share quotes and stories and words of wisdom from other smart people.

We can make our readers feel better and glad to have us in their life.

We can do this by reframing the bad news and putting it in perspective. And share things they don’t ordinarily see because they’re too busy worrying about their problems and working to pay their bills.

Distract them from their troubles. Comfort them and give them hope.

You may say this is not your province, you should stick to the things people look to lawyers for and not wander off that path.

But you would be wrong.

Because the people who follow us want, more than anything, to hear that everything is going to be okay.

Use your credibility, knowledge and persuasive skills to show people why they should be excited about the future. You’ll make a lot of people happy and want to hear more.

How to use a newsletter to build your practice

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Passion is contagious

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I don’t know what you write about on your blog or newsletter or on social media posts, but I do know that if you’re passionate about the subject, your readers will be too.

Because passion is contagious.

Is that true about esoteric legal topics, the kinds that appeal to a lawyer or allied professional but are too “heavy” for regular folks?

It can be, if you write about the people as much as you write about the law.

Write about your clients, the litigants in a case you read, or anyone else who has a connection to the subject. Tell their stories. Talk about their fears, their pain, their triumphs and tragedies. Talk about why the issues are important to them, or might be in the future.

This is also true if the protagonist of your story is you.

Why do you care about the subject? People want to know.

It doesn’t matter if your readers have never had the issues you write about, or ever will. They will relate to the characters and plot in your stories, and enjoy hearing them, for the same reason they like novels and movies.

You don’t have to have the talent of a novelist to get your readers involved in your story. If you’re passionate about the subject, they will feel that passion and get caught up in it.

And in you.

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My blog is better than your blog

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Ready for some good news? You don’t have to write a better blog or newsletter.

That doesn’t mean you can write junk and call it a day. You have to deliver value and make it interesting enough for your readers to continue to read it.

Because if they stop reading you, they might forget you.

Of course, the more valuable and interesting your content is, the more likely it is that your readers will see why they should talk to you about their situation, and/or share your information with others.

You also want to attract traffic and sign-ups to your blog and newsletter.

But that still doesn’t mean you have to be better.

It means you have to be different.

If you can, write about different topics than the competition. But that’s not the only way to be different.

You can write about the same topics (cases, issues, problems, trends, ideas, methods, etc.) other attorneys write about and still make your content unique.

You can do that by offering a different opinion about the subject than other lawyers offer.

You can do that by offering additional information, examples, and resources than others offer.

But the easiest way to make your content unique is to present it in your own unique voice.

Your voice is a depiction of your unique personality. So, be yourself.

Not your lawyer self, necessarily, your authentic self.

Relax and talk to your reader (one reader, not “everyone”), like you would if you were talking to them over your favorite beverage.

Combine that with stories from your practice and your content will be original and interesting and attract the kinds of people who want to hear what you have to say. And after you’ve said it, come back to hear more.

That’s how you get and keep readers, and how you get and keep clients.

How to write an email newsletter that brings in clients

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Steal this blog post

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I’ve had people steal my content. One guy took one of my sales letters and published it as an ebook on Amazon.

The nerve.

But once I got over the shock of someone doing that, I realized it’s nothing to worry about, or try to stop.

You shouldn’t, either.

You shouldn’t worry about anyone stealing your content or idea. If that’s something on your mind, let it go.

You’ve got better things to do.

The time and energy you might put into stopping them could be much better used creating new content and new ideas, or building on what you’ve already done.

I know this might trigger some IP practitioners, but think about it. Even if you could stop someone from stealing and using your stuff, is it really worth the effort?

Don’t take that case.

Besides, the purloiner of your content isn’t going to do as well with it as you do because it’s your baby, not there’s.

You’re writing to and for your readers. You have a relationship with them and your content resonates with them. It has your personality and style, your stories and examples, watermarked on it, and anyone who tries to pass it off as their own is going to fall flat.

Even if someone successfully passes off your stuff as their own, even if they make a fortune with your idea, so what? If you have an abundant mindset, you know there’s plenty for everyone.

If you are worried about someone stealing your content, the best thing you can do is avoid writing generic articles and posts. Write something that carries your brand.

Spend your time creating good content, not looking over your shoulder.

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Batch and grow rich

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Just about every productivity book or article today talks about the value of batching or bunching tasks. Don’t respond to one email, they say, answer most or all of them in one sitting. Or designate “theme days”—one day a week to work on one of your projects or areas of focus.

Tuesday might be marketing day. Thursday afternoon might be time to catch up on your reading or research.

It’s more efficient this way because instead of starting from scratch each time, we can leverage the different states of mind and pacing of different activities . Sometimes, you also benefit from the economy of scale, meaning you get more out of each task because you’re doing them in batches, alongside other, similar tasks.

One area this is true is in content creation.

If you write a weekly blog or newsletter, each time you sit down to come up with a topic, you’re starting from scratch. You have other things on your mind, and switching contexts to do something different can be difficult, especially if you’re behind.

It’s much easier to write when you don’t have to find a topic, you already have one lined up.

That’s where batching comes in.

The next time you brainstorm a topic, brainstorm several. Don’t limit yourself to just today’s topic, find topics for the next week or month or longer.

Not only will this save time and allow to write without pressure, it also allows you to develop themes for your blog or newsletter, making your content creation even easier, and arguably easier.

For example, this month you might write a series of posts about trending issues in your field. Each post could talk about a different case or argument or one of the stakeholders. One post might talk about the history, another post about the future.

One idea, several topics.

Another example would be a series of posts about the stages of handling a case:

  • Intake
  • Investigation
  • Liability
  • Damages
  • Demand
  • Negotiation
  • Settlement
  • Litigation, discovery, trial, post-trial. . .

You could get one or several posts about each of these stages. If you do a weekly blog or article, you could get three months’ worth of topics around that one theme.

Note, you don’t have to publish those posts sequentially. You could instead spread them out over six months and fill in the other weeks with content around a different theme.

Another way to create topics in batches might be to make a list of resources you recommend to your readers or clients—consumer tips or agencies or business organizations, for example.

Dedicate each post to sharing one or more of those resources, along with your experiences, observations, or explanations.

Another idea might be a series featuring some of your business clients’ businesses or products. Or a series based on war stories from several notable cases you’ve had.

Once you have a list of topics, put them on a content calendar or in your reminders app, and the next time you have a post due, you won’t have to scramble to find a topic.

You might also want to schedule your next brainstorming session, to come up with your next theme or bunch of topics.

Where to get more ideas and how to use them

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