If Ernest Hemingway wrote your blog

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Hemingway was a master of lean writing. If he was in charge of your newsletter or blog, he would probably tell you that ‘less is more’—that you will often be more effective in your “story telling” and persuasion by writing fewer words.

As long as you choose the right words.

To prove his point, it was rumored that Hemingway wrote the following short story, consisting of only six words:

“For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

A powerful and poignant story that captures the readers’ imagination and makes them want to know more.

In just six words.

My posts and articles aren’t that brief, or that good, and I’m not suggesting you should use this as the standard for yours. My point is that your blog posts and articles can convey big ideas in small spaces.

A few hundred words are plenty. A few paragraphs might be all that you need.

Make most of your posts short enough that they can be read in a minute or two. If you use the right words, your readers will gobble them up and hunger for more.

How to write newsletters that bring in repeat business and referrals

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More ways to get traffic to your blog

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Yesterday, I said there are other ways to get traffic to your blog besides search. Paid advertising should be considered, but there are others that are free (other than the time it takes to use them, but you can have an assistant do most of this for you) and, arguably, better.

For starters, you should routinely ask your clients, professional contacts, and newsletter subscribers to share your content with their friends, clients, customers, and others who might need help or be interested in your (great) content.

Your blog should also prominently display share icons so visitors can easily share your content on social.

Simple. And smart. When someone who knows you or follows you shares your content, they are referring people to your digital door and implying that you’re good at what you do.

That’s a referral, isn’t it?

What else. . .

Mention your blog and link to it everywhere:

  • In your email “signature” and the signature at the bottom of articles you publish elsewhere
  • In your bio, when you are introduced at a speaking event
  • In interviews, when the host asks you how people can learn more about you
  • Print copies of some of your content for the table in your waiting room and the table at the back of the room at speaking events
  • Put print and/or digital copies in your “new client welcome kit” to share with friends and family

You have access to an army of people who know, like, and trust you. Use them.

What about the rest of the universe?

Social media (if that’s your thing) can be a good source of traffic. Flakebook, Quora, Reddit, Linkedin, and many others have groups you can join or discussions about subjects within your area of expertise you can take part in.

Answer questions or comment on the answers provided by others, and link to your blog.

You can do the same thing in consumer or business forums.

You can share your content on sites like Medium and direct readers to your blog for more of your wisdom about the subject.

You can find small blogs in your niche, even those written by other attorneys (or perhaps especially those), and comment on their posts, with a link to your blog. You can also offer to write guest posts for those blogs.

And, when you have enough content, you can gather up your posts and create an ebook, which you can sell on Amazon, and/or offer to visitors to your site, as an incentive to sign up for your newsletter.

There, that should keep you busy for a while. Busy with new clients, that is.

Email (and blog) marketing for attorneys

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2 ways a blog brings you business

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There are two ways a blog can bring you new clients. The first way is to attract prospective clients via search. Your posts get indexed, people search for the information your posts deliver, and/or for lawyers who do what you do, they come and read and contact you to get started or to get more information.

Frankly, it’s a lot of work.

You have to choose the right keywords and use other strategies to help your posts rank higher than the competition. And you have to continue to do it to stay ahead of that competition.

Do it if you have the time or hire someone to do it for you.

But you don’t have to do that. There are other ways to get traffic that don’t take a lot of time or money or expertise.

Which is why I suggest you concentrate on the other way your blog can bring you business: writing posts that visitors want to read.

Posts that help them get answers to questions they’re asking about the law and how a lawyer can help them and persuade them to choose you.

You may get fewer visitors than blogs that focus on keywords, but the visitors you get will be much more likely to see that you deliver value, and much more likely to take the next step.

Which means you don’t need to be a blog post factory. You don’t have to write 10 posts a day as I saw one “expert” recently recommend.

Write a total of 10 or 15 quality posts that answer prospective clients’ frequently asked questions and demonstrate your ability to help them, and your blog can become a client-getting factory.

Once you have this in place, you can write additional posts if you want to, or you can do other things to get more people to read your posts.

In the end, quality trumps quantity. And takes a lot less effort.

How to create a blog that makes the phone ring

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6 things I learned from writing 2,853 blog posts

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I’ve written a lot of blog posts and thought I’d share some things I’ve learned along the way, to encourage you to either start or re-start your blog:

  1. It gets easier. The more you write, the easier it becomes to write—to find ideas, get the words down, edit, and publish. And the more you write, the better you get at writing, which helps with your other writing and speaking.
  2. It gets faster. The more you write, the faster you get at writing. You can write and post something in less than 30 minutes and get on with your day.
  3. Ideas are everywhere. Everything I read, everywhere I go, everyone I talk to provides me with ideas to write about. The idea for this post came from reading a similar post by a guy who started a blog to build his business.
  4. You can write whatever you want and have fun with it. You don’t have to use your formal lawyer voice if you don’t want to, or spend time finding images, formatting, responding to comments, adding citations or links. Your blog, your rules.
  5. Marketing gets easier. People find you—not just clients and customers, but people who want to interview you for their blog or podcast or present other opportunities (to speak, network, etc.).
  6. It works. My blog brings me a steady stream of (free) traffic, subscribers, clients, and customers. Each post gets indexed and brings more of the same.

And, having a blog means you can also have a newsletter—just copy and paste your blog posts and email them to your list.

You can add a blog to your website or on a separate domain. You can start by posting a handful of articles or anything you’ve written in the past, or answer 5 or 10 frequently asked questions you get from prospective clients (or new clients).

The technology is easy. You can set up a blog in a matter of minutes. And your blog can help you Make the Phone Ring

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You will be judged

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Prospective clients (and referral sources) who encounter you for the first time usually don’t know a lot about you. They don’t know if you are competent, honest, fair, or someone they’d like to work with or represent their friend or client.

And they only have a few ways to find out.

They can read your bio. They can look at your online reviews or see what others say about you on social media. They can talk to the person who refers them to you. Or they can take you up on your offer for a free consultation, ask questions, and see for themselves.

But there’s one more thing they can and will do to “check you out” and it can be the deciding factor. Especially when your background appears so similar to that of many other attorneys.

What is this difference maker?

Your content.

Your blog posts and articles, audios and videos, books and reports and presentations.

They read or listen and see what you say and how you say it.

And judge you by it.

If they think you know what you’re doing and are confident, thoughtful, and want to help people, that’s good. If they can’t deduce these things because you provide little information, don’t show them (with examples and stories) how you’ve helped others, or they think you’re arrogant because of the way you talk about yourself, that’s not so good.

If you are generous with the information you provide, if you teach them something or help them do something better or faster, help them make better decisions, or inspire them to take action, they appreciate that and are more likely to take the next step.

If your content lacks substance, if it makes you sound boring, close-minded, or hard to work with, people may (and often do) move on.

Your content doesn’t need to be great. But it needs to be good. Because what you say and how you say it helps people decide how they feel about you.

And how they feel is much more important than what they think.

Recently, I found a guy online who creates content (and sells his products and services) on a subject that interests me. I signed up for his newsletter and downloaded his free report.

And I was very disappointed.

It looked like he spent ten minutes throwing it together.

He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know. He didn’t show me how to do anything better or faster. He didn’t inspire me or show me something that made me think, “I want to hear more from this guy”.

That first impression told me everything I needed to know. And I moved on.

Our content speaks to prospective clients for us. It either convinces them to take the next step or convinces them not to.

Our content doesn’t have to be great. But it has to be good.

How to create good content for your blog or newsletter

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5 tips for writing quicker blog posts and newsletters

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Notice the word “tips” in the title of this post? I recently said I rarely use that word to describe things I write because it suggests something common and of lesser value. I’m using it here to illustrate that there are exceptions.

It’s okay to use the word when you’re sharing quick ideas, short bits of information, a list of resources or recommendations.

It’s also okay to use the word because you want to.

But always consider when you might use a more powerful alternative.

Today, I’m using the word because it fits this article—simple practices that allow you to write brief articles in less time.

As you know, I write an article every weekday. Here’s how I do it:

  1. No research. Write from your knowledge and experience, from something in your notes or files, something you read, watched, observed, or thought.
  2. Collect ideas. Set up a file and save articles, notes, observations, quotes, and fleeting ideas you find or think of throughout your day. When you have hundreds of ideas at your fingertips, you never want for something to write about.
  3. Choose your topic the night before. Your subconscious mind will “work” on the idea overnight and the next day, you won’t have to decide what to write. You can sit down and write it.
  4. Short and simple. A few paragraphs are fine. A few hundred words are plenty. Don’t obsess over images, SEO, link building, or formatting.
  5. Watch the time. Give yourself 20 or 30 minutes to finish (at least the first draft). Train yourself to write, publish, and get on with your day. Adopt the motto: “Done is better than perfect.”

    Bonus tip: write often. The more you write, the quicker you get.

    For more ways to write quicker (and better), get this
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I know you won’t read this

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Most people don’t have time to read your blog posts and articles. That includes mine. At best, they’ll give you a few seconds and skim.

But that’s enough.

It’s enough to give them a nugget or two of information they can tuck away in their minds or their notes. It’s enough to show them you know what you’re doing and deserve a return visit. It’s enough to let them know you’ve helped others like them and you can help them, too.

It’s enough, but only if you do a few things.

First, avoid the “wall of text”. Make your article look inviting and easy to scan:

  • Headlines that get attention and pique curiosity
  • Short articles that look like they can be consumed in a few minutes
  • Short paragraphs and sentences
  • Bullet points, numbered lists, sub-heads
  • Bold, CAPS, indents, and other visual cues
  • Images, graphics, simple charts or tables
  • Minimal citations/hyperlinks, if any

Second, make it interesting to read and relevant to your reader:

  • Get to the point—and stay there
  • Ask questions, to draw them in, make them think, and keep them reading to find out the answer
  • Include surprising statements, statistics, inside information, opinions
  • Stories about people like your reader
  • Quotes from clients, experts, influential people
  • Imagery—show what happened or what will happen
  • Conversational tone; active voice
  • Repetition to clarify and sell your points
  • Simple language, vocabulary; even for a sophisticated audience
  • Point out the risks but be mostly positive
  • A light touch, where appropriate
  • Share contrasting views, arguments, stories
  • Involvement—ask them to do something (while reading)
  • Call to action—ask them to do something (when they’re done)

There’s more you can do to make your articles interesting (and easy to skim) but if you do only some of the above, you’ll find more people consuming your articles and eager to hear more.

How to write a newsletter that brings in clients

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19 ideas for your blog or newsletter

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Looking for something to write about? Here are a few ideas to prime your pump:

Share the good news

Talk about good things happening in your world, for you, your firm, and your clients. Awards, settlements or judgements, new hires, new offices, being quoted in a news story, anniversaries or milestones (subscribers, followers), exciting new projects.

Business changes your clients need to know about

Are you modifying your billing practices? Changing office hours, opening a new office, adding technology, expanding into a new practice area or market, or doing anything new that clients need to know about?

Monthly recap

Tell folks what you’ve done and what you plan to do or focus on in the coming weeks or months. Are you writing a book? Creating a series of videos? What have you done? What are you planning to do?

Upcoming dates people need to know

Deadlines, reminders (e.g., to update documents), upcoming changes to law and procedure, holiday closings, and other dates clients and prospects need to be aware of.

New content

Anytime you create new content——articles, reports, checklists, forms, videos—alert your readers and followers, tell them how to access it, and how they will benefit from consuming it.

Success stories, testimonials, endorsements, reviews, mentions

What positive things are people saying about you? Don’t keep them a secret.

Tip of the day/week/month

What do your readers need to know? What do you recommend? How can readers do something better or faster, save time or money?

Recommended resources

Your content can simply be a recommendation and link to other content: websites, software, tools, businesses, professionals, productivity methods, books, videos, channels, courses. . .

Market news

What’s happening locally or in your niche your readers might like to know? Is there a new business in town? Is something shutting down? Expanding? Adding new products or services? New laws or regs? Petitions to be signed? Meetings, networking events, opportunities to socialize?

Great deals

Are any of your business clients or referral sources offering a discount or special offer? Any new loyalty programs? Spread the word.

Promote their event

Do you have a client or referral source who will be speaking, signing books, or conducting a webinar? Share the details with your list and encourage them to watch, listen, or attend.

A survey or poll, or results thereof

It doesn’t have to be your survey or poll, just something that might interest or affect your clients and readers. Invite them to give their opinion, vote for their preferred choice, or see what their colleagues or neighbors have to say.

Statistics

How many do, how many don’t, what are the trends, and what does it mean? Could be for your practice, your state or county, or your field. it could be your own findings or re-posting from another source.

Social media updates

Have you added or removed any channels? Changed your bio, or added new photos? Are you planning to do a “live”? Did you interview anyone notable? Were you interviewed? Is there someone you suggest your followers follow?

A roundup of your most popular articles or posts

Give readers a chance to consume content they might not know about. Let them know what others are clicking on, commenting on, or sharing.

Get personal

Share your opinion about world events, changes in the law, trends in your target market’s industry. What’s going on in your practice or personal life readers might be curious about?

Answers to FAQs

What do clients and prospects and new clients ask you? What does your audience ask you when you speak?

Case studies

Problem, action, solution. What did a client want or need? What did you do? How did it turn out?

Where will you be?

Announce your upcoming speaking engagements, networking events, panel discussions, webinars. Promote the event, encourage readers to attend and to tell others.

Save this list, add to it, and use it when you need ideas.

For even more ideas, go here

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Choosing your topic

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“What should I write about?” asks many an attorney.

“That’s simple,” comes the answer. “Write what you know.“

Here’s the thing. What’s obvious and basic to you is obscure and complicated to your readers. They don’t know what you know. If they did, they wouldn’t be reading you or hiring you.

Write about something that’s obvious to you, because it’s not obvious to them.

Unless you’re writing to other lawyers, of course.

In which case, write about the kinds of things you would talk to them about if you were speaking to them. Shop talk—strategy, interesting cases, new laws, or your thoughts about something that might interest them because it interests you.

But if you’re writing to lay people, however sophisticated and intelligent they may be, you don’t need to give it much thought. Write about something you know well, something you could rattle off the top of your head in less time than it takes to ask, “What should I write about?”

You know this stuff, remember?

It might help to imagine you’re writing to a specific client, teaching him something about the law, procedure, or process. Or telling him about an interesting case you had (or heard about), explaining what happened and why it could be important to him.

You could give him a peek behind the curtain and show him what you do when you meet with a new client. What do you ask? What do you tell him? Do you fill out any forms? What’s on them? What do you do with the information?

Do you explain “what happens next?” Give him a quick rundown now so he can see what it will be like to work with you.

It doesn’t really matter what you write because your reader doesn’t know any of this and you know everything. He will see you as the expert and the solution to his problem, so make sure you also tell him what to do to get started.

How to write a newsletter that brings in business

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Milk it

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You like the idea of writing shorter emails and articles and using them to stay in touch with your subscribers and followers. You like being able to get your blog post or newsletter done in less than an hour.

You have time to do that. But what if you need to or want to write longer pieces?

Some content can take hours to write. Or days. You can’t do that every day or every week.

You don’t have to.

You can use all the research and writing you do to create a 5000 word article, report, podcast, or presentation to create additional content, the kind of content you can create in minutes because you’ve already done the heavy lifting.

The research is done. The writing is done. Go back to your original material and create new content:

  • A summary of the key issues or arguments
  • Profiles of the parties or stakeholders
  • Additional issues or cases related to your subject
  • A list of resources
  • Answers to FAQs
  • Additional comments by you or others
  • Additional cases or examples you didn’t use
  • Recommendations for readers in different niches
  • A PDF collection of your slides, notes, or case summaries
  • Transcripts of interviews from your research
  • And on and on

Each of these ancillary bits of content shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to put together.

You might get a month or two of additional posts out your original post or presentation.

Each post gives you another opportunity to stay in touch with and provide value to your readers and followers. Each post gives you another opportunity to be found through search and social.

And, when you think you’ve milked your original content dry and there’s nothing left to write, write one more post summarizing and linking to all of your posts, for the people who came late to your party, and for those who will come next month and next year.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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