How to write an article or blog post in 10 minutes

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One reason lawyers tell me they don’t write a newsletter or blog (or don’t do it more often) is that they don’t have enough time.

I understand. But I disagree.

No matter how busy you are, you can write something once a week and post it on a blog or email it to a list.

You know that but you don’t do that, you say, because you don’t know what to write.

But you do.

You talk to people every day, about the law, procedure, issues, risks, problems and solutions. People ask questions, you answer them. People tell you about their situation, you tell them their options and what you can do to help them.

You’ve got so much to say, you don’t know where to start.

Start anywhere. With anything.

Make up a question prospective clients or new clients ask and answer it.

In a few minutes, you’ll have the first draft of an article.

If you can talk, you can write.

Actually, you could do that literally. Instead of writing, dictate. Speak, record and have someone else transcribe it, or use the speech-to-text function on your computer or phone.

“Yes, but writing is more difficult than speaking. Writing needs to be more structured and polished,” you say.

To some extent, that’s true. But not to the extent you think.

When you write an email to a client or a friend, how much structure and polish do you give it? My guess, not that much. Just enough to ensure your message is clear and relatively typo-free and out the door it goes.

You’re not writing an appellate brief, you’re writing an email.

And that’s precisely how you should write your newsletter or blog post.

Write (or dictate) an email, not an article. You’ll thank me later.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Don’t want to blog? Do this.

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If you don’t want to set up a blog but you’d like to use your knowledge to bring traffic to your website, guest blogging is a viable alternative.

Basically, that means offering your content to blogs that target your niche or market in return for a link to your website.

This allows you to write content when and if you feel like it, instead of sticking to a schedule.

But the biggest benefit is that this gives you the ability to leverage the traffic that visits those blogs.

And, by appearing on authority blogs, you also gain their implied endorsement; sometimes, their actual endorsement if they add some kind words about you.

You get traffic, build your authority, and get a lot of eyeballs looking at what you do when they arrive at your website.

If your website includes an opt-in feature, you can also build your email list this way.

You can even this with just a one-page website.

Start by searching for blogs in your niche that accept guest posts. Review their guidelines. Read several posts to get a sense of what they publish (subjects, length, slant). If some posts have a lot of comments or shares, see if you can figure out why.

And then, contact the publisher to offer your first post.

Blogs like to publish content written by authorities, and as an attorney, you certainly tick that box. You need to show the publisher or editor a subject they think is appropriate for and of interest to their readers, and you need to show them you can write.

As for your writing chops, link to articles you’ve published online, or send a sample or two.

Note, most blogs that publish guest posts will link to your website (or social media), but some may not be willing to do that. I once wrote a post for the ABA and they wouldn’t provide a link to my site. I wrote it anyway because it’s a nice credit, but I probably wouldn’t do that for other publications.

If you know anyone in your niche that runs a blog or other publication, start by querying them. If your practice area isn’t right for their audience, they can point you to other blogs that may be better suited, and possibly recommend you to them. They might also offer general advice about how to approach publishers.

Finally, if you know a blog that would be a good match for you but they don’t publish guest posts, contact them anyway. Yours may be their first.

How to use a blog to build your law practice

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Why your readers aren’t reading

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You work hard to produce good content. Intelligent, thoughtful, interesting articles and posts. You share valuable ideas in your newsletter or your website or content management system.

Maybe you do videos, podcasts, or webinars. Maybe you regularly interview experts and authors and other smart people with something valuable to offer.

Unfortunately, your numbers tell you the folks aren’t reading or watching. Let alone contacting you to find out more about how you can help them.

Is content marketing a failed idea?

No.

Do you need to upgrade your research, writing, and content production skills? Get a better camera, microphone, or lighting set-up?

No.

Your subscribers and followers may not be reading or watching your content simply because you make it difficult for them to do that.

I get a lot of newsletters I’d like to read but don’t because I’d have to follow a link to a website, maybe log-in, maybe download something.

Sorry, I don’t want to bother.

Almost daily, I get emails that don’t share any ideas or information, but invite me to register for yet another webinar or “summit”.

Looks like it might be great, but I don’t have time for that.

I get sent links to a lot of videos. Five minutes, I might be your boy. 20 minutes, sorry, maybe another time.

I might like to read your pdf or ebook, but I’m in the middle of something else right now. Okay, I’ll download it and read it later, but let’s face it, later usually never happens.

And hey, I don’t want to give you my email address again. I’ve been your subscriber for years. And now I’m going to get two of everything from you? Thanks, but no thanks.

Like most folks, I decide to read or watch something in a second or two. If the next step is to start reading or watching, I might do it. If the next step requires me to register for something, put something on my calendar, invest an hour or two of my time, the odds are I won’t.

Sometimes I will. But not every time.

Bottom line: if I have to spend a lot of time to get to your content before I can consume it, on most days, the answer will be a hard no.

Love ya, but I’m busy and have to move on. You set up too many hoops for me to jump through, and I’m not in the mood.

So I never see much of your best content.

My advice to anyone who wants to build their business or practice with content of any kind: make it easy for people to access that content.

More readers, more leads. More leads, more clients.

How to use a simple email newsletter to build a law practice

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Hmm, what shall I write about today?

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Continuing my quest to equip you with a never-ending supply of ideas for your blog or newsletter or other content, or rather strategies for finding ideas, comes something so simple, you might kick yourself for not thinking of it.

To wit: Amazon’s best sellers lists.

The non-fiction best sellers lists are updated daily or hourly and are an accurate indication of what people are buying and reading.

Which means, if you write about those subjects, they’ll want to read that, too. Not only that, if you post your article online, you will help readers to find your article (and you) via search engines.

Instead of trying to guess what people want to read, let Amazon (and other bookstores) tell you exactly what they want to read.

Start by looking at books about legal subjects, of course. But also look at books on subjects that might interest your target market.

For business clients, that would include topics specific to their industry or niche and the people in them. But also general business books, because every business wants to know about marketing, productivity, leadership, sales, and a ‘ho bunch more.

Consumers are interested in a long list of subjects: insurance, debt, credit, investing, and the list goes on.

You’re in business, and you are a consumer. Find something that interests you and you’ll probably have something that will interest your readers.

You can browse by category or use the search box to search by keyword. You can stick with best sellers or drill down into niche topics, but either way, look for books that are selling well.

What then?

No, you don’t have to buy the books. Or download them via Kindle Unlimited. You don’t have to read any of the books, unless you want to. You can get plenty of ideas to write about by looking at:

  • The title. What solutions does the book promise? What will the reader learn or be better able to do as a result of reading the book? You might even use a variation of the book’s title as the title of your post or article.
  • The sales page. In particular, look at the headline and the bullet points. They should supply you with a plethora of ideas and might also be suitable for the title of your post.
  • The table of contents. Use the “look inside” feature to read the chapter titles and sub-titles.
  • The introduction. You can also “look inside” and read the first few pages of the book, to see how the author approaches the topic.
  • Reviews and comments. See what readers and reviewers liked about the contents of the book, what they didn’t like, and what they wanted to know that might not have been addressed.

In a few minutes, you should have enough content ideas to keep you busy for a long time. Hell, you might even have enough ideas to write your own book.

How to write an email newsletter that brings in new business

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Quality or quantity? Yes.

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When it comes to writing a newsletter or blog, posting on social media, or otherwise connecting with prospective clients and the people who can refer them, what’s better, frequency or length?

Should you write longer posts and publish less often, or post shorter pieces more often?

Let’s think this through.

You need quality, because that’s why folks subscribe and follow you, and because you want them to see that you know what you’re doing.

You also need quantity (frequency), because you want to keep your name in front of people.

But you’re busy and can’t afford to spend all day crafting brilliant prose, and even if you have the time, you don’t want your readers and followers to think you do.

So, how about a comprise?

You might write a “longer” post, at least a few paragraphs of original thought, once a week. On other days, as you can, you fill in with brief comments, observations, quotes, and links to other people’s posts.

Quality and quantity, for the win.

If you’re not doing anything now, or you don’t publish consistently, start small. Post an inspiring quote once or twice a week, for example, to create the habit of posting; after a few weeks, you can do more.

Whatever you decide to do, put it on your calendar and/or in your task management app, because trust me, you won’t remember.

How to build a law practice with email

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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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A stupidly simple source of content ideas

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You need ideas for your blog or newsletter. No worries. Just check out your competition’s websites and see what they’re writing about.

Their sites are a potential goldmine of content ideas, written from the perspective of a lawyer speaking to prospective clients.

Read through their blogs, see if they’ve covered any topics you haven’t covered. . . and. . . cover them.

You can also look for articles on subjects you have covered and see what they did differently. You might get ideas for new posts or updates on the subject.

You might agree with a post, write a similar post, and provide your own examples or client success stories.

You might disagree with a post and explain why.

If a lawyer wrote a short post, you might write a longer one and explain things they didn’t talk about.

If they wrote a lengthy post, you might write a shorter post, or a series of short posts on each of their sub-topics.

If they are in a state or country with different laws or procedures, you might write an opinion piece on why your jurisdiction should follow suit.

While you’re on their site, check out their blog comments. See what their visitors like and the questions they ask. The odds are your visitors have the same questions.

If they have a newsletter, sign up for it. They may offer additional content to subscribers that you can’t access on the website.

In short, a visit to some of your competitor’s sites is a simple way to get content ideas. Probably more ideas than you can shake a stick at.

More ways to find ideas for content: here

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10 tips for better blog post titles

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Good blog post titles attract search traffic and social traffic and get more people reading your posts (and newsletters).

So how do you write a good title?

These10 tips should help:

  1. Write a lot of bad titles. The more bad titles you write, the more likely you are to write some good ones. Keep an idea file, mix and match phrases to create new (and better) titles.
  2. Check your stats. If one of your posts did well before, it will probably do well again. Update an old post with new information, change your opinion, show a different side of the issue, and write a new title to reflect this. Or just use the same title again.
  3. Read what other lawyers write. Agree with them, disagree, point out what they missed, use your own examples. Emulate their best titles (and subjects) and use them as prompts for your own.
  4. Numbers work well. People are drawn to specificity and order. They’re curious and want to know the “10 tips” or “7 Steps” or “5 Secrets”.
  5. Explanations and predictions work well. Readers want to know what happened and discover what’s going to happen.
  6. You can go wrong with “How to”. People use search engines to learn how to do something or find something or someone (a lawyer). A title that promises to deliver what they’re searching for is likely to draw more readers. Also good: What, When, or Why.
  7. Pain and promises. Talk about your readers’ pain, show them you understand their situation, their industry, their problems, their desires, and promise solutions and benefits,
  8. Use cultural references. Movie, song, TV and book titles, news stories, famous people, hot products, trends—things people are already thinking about, talking about, and will recognize.
  9. Mix it up. When someone visits your blog, you want them to see some variety. Use short titles and long titles, “normal” titles and “strange” titles, intriguing questions and surprising statements. Show readers you’re not like other (boring) lawyers.
  10. Have fun with it. Don’t (always) be so serious, don’t contort the title for SEO purposes, or try finding the perfect title. Write what comes into your head, play with it, twist it, kick it in the arse, be irreverent and bold. If a title makes you smile or laugh or cry, chances are it will do the same for your readers who will want to read your post to find out more.

Sometimes, the content of your post will drive your title. Sometimes, it works the other way around. I’ve written many posts with nothing more than a title.

Which means there are no rules, except one:

If you’re getting traffic, opt-ins, appointments and new business, you’re doing it right.

More ways to find and create good blog post titles

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If a guy named Howie wrote your newsletter

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Most lawyers who write a newsletter or blog or post articles on social media do something you would expect a sober professional would do. They write about serious topics and use a serious tone throughout.

While that’s generally the right call, they risk being uninteresting, predictable, and just plain boring.

All work and no play made Jack a dull boy.

Eventually, readers and followers stop reading and following.

Which kind of defeats the purpose of publishing content and staying in touch with people who can hire you and send you referrals.

If this sounds a bit like your story, take heart. The solution is simple.

Put some fun in your writing.

A dash, a dollop, a sprinkle can go a long way.

You don’t have to do a stand-up routine, just make make the occasional wry comment or play on words.

You don’t have to be silly, just report something amusing you saw or heard.

You don’t have to go completely off topic, just include a side note here and there.

You want your readers to look forward to hearing from you because they know you’re going to say something interesting or something that puts a smile on their face.

And they’ll love you for doing that because most lawyers don’t.

One place to start is in your titles and email subjects. Take what you’ve written and see if you can juice it up. Make people curious about what’s inside.

That’s what I did with the title of this post.

Start collecting interesting headlines and titles you see in the articles and emails you read, the ones that make you curious and want to continue reading. You may be able to use them by changing a word here and there to come up with something suitable for your readers.

You’ll also get better at writing your own.

You can make your articles and emails more interesting and fun to read by including things like a surprising statistic, a bold prediction, a pithy quote or a relevant story.

Give readers a taste of color or contrast, something to think about and remember. They’ll have fun reading your article and eagerly await your next.

Email marketing for attorneys

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