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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4 categories of newsletter content

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What kinds of content can you post in your newsletter or on your blog? Actually, there are only four types and each has a different purpose:

  1. Pure content. Providing information to your readers about legal matters or anything else they might find important, interesting, or even fun. This includes teaching them what you do and how you do it, and what they can do themselves.
  2. Stories. You might write about clients you’ve helped, prospects you’ve spoken to, cases you’ve handled, speakers you’ve heard, books you’ve read, other lawyers (and their cases or clients), and a lot more. Stories illustrate your points and provide context and relatability.
  3. Promotion. Selling your services (or products), or persuading readers to do something — sign up for an event, download a report, share a link, provide feedback, watch your video, and anything else you’d like them to do.
  4. Hybrid content combines some or all of the above. You might write about a legal situation you handled recently and use one or more stories to illustrate what happened, followed by promoting a free consultation or upcoming webinar so the reader can learn more.

You can find an example of these categories here, in this post.

What you’re reading is content, of course. Yes, content can be very basic and brief, and it doesn’t have to be unique, just informative.

I found this list when I was reading a longer post about general email marketing and adapted it for the legal market. Yes, this is a story, and stories can be about you and nothing more than a mere mention of where you heard or read something.

Finally, I will promote my newsletter course for attorneys which shows how to start a newsletter, build a list, create content that does most of your marketing (like mine does for my business), and do everything you need to do in less than an hour per week.

And that’s an example of how you can promote a product, service, or event in a single sentence and without hyperbole. Mention what it is and some benefits, and provide a link where readers can learn more.

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When blawgs ruled the earth

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Ten million years BC, before blogs ruled the earth, a few early adopters with law degrees ventured forward into the world of weblogs and brought forth something they called blawgs.

That was then and now is now and the question is, are blogs (or blawgs) still relevant for lawyers?

I’d have to say a big no to blawgs, and a really big yes to blogs.

Blogs are relevant and valuable for lawyers today more than ever. Because when someone wants to find a lawyer, or check out a lawyer they’ve found, a lawyer’s content is one of the best ways to do that.

And a blog is one of the best ways to deliver it.

When a lawyer wants to give the world a glimpse of what they know and do, posting articles is much better than merely posting a list of practice areas and bullet points.

Also known as most lawyers’ websites.

A blog can also post podcasts (and transcripts), videos (and transcripts), forms and checklists and reports visitors can download, photos depicting the lawyer’s glorious battles (and friendly staff), and a a contact form and email signup form on every page.

Lawyers with a blog get free traffic (and leads therefrom), because content (done right) is usually seen as more authoritative and valuable (and thus worthy of a search engine’s blessing) than a simple directory listing.

Clients and other professionals are also more likely to send people to a blog for the same reason.

So yeah, content is (still) king.

Competition? Too many lawyers have blogs, you say?

Really? So I suppose you don’t think too many lawyers have websites?

Do people still read, you ask?

Only those who are looking for an attorney and want to know something about what said attorney thinks and knows and can do for them (or someone they might refer).

Okay, okay, but writing a blog takes a lot of time.

Write faster. Or less often. Or get help.

Or don’t do any of that, just put up a webpage with a list of your practice areas, your bio and some fancy graphics. That’s enough, isn’t it?

If you were looking for an attorney, would that be enough for you?

How to write a blog that makes your phone ring

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Get the folks to do something

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Why does everyone talk about the importance of engagement? To get your subscribers and followers to things like respond to a question, ask you their own question, or fill out a survey?

Is it because engagement is a way of measuring the responsiveness of your list? Is it because the information they supply by replying to your request helps you better understand them—what they want, their opinion, or their experience? Is it because when you ask and they respond, it parallels a conversation, which helps foster a relationship?

Yes to all the above. But there’s something else.

Each time you ask your list to do something, however trivial, and they do it, makes it more likely that they will do something else.

When they hit reply and answer your question, or ask you one of their own, when they take two minutes to fill out your survey, even if they do that anonymously, they are that much more comfortable responding.

If they were fearful before, they are less so now. If they didn’t want to take the time before, they might now think that’s okay.

If you share the survey results with your list, or answer their question in your next post, they see how they learn something or get something by replying to you.

They didn’t get hurt or embarrassed. They responded and it was okay.

You’re training the people on your list to come a little closer to you. Which means they trust you a bit more and are more likely to respond again when you ask them to do something else.

Strangers might hesitate to sign up for your event, forward your link, or schedule an appointment. But they are no longer strangers.

So tell me, what is something you did recently to engage with your list and how did it work out?

More ideas for engaging with your list

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Should lawyers outsource content creation?

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You can hire people to write blog posts and newsletters and other content. Should you?

It depends on what you intend to do with it.

If you intend to use your content to connect with people who can hire you or refer you, the answer is no.

Write your own content. You can’t outsource you.

People connect with you and hire you because they relate to you. They hire you not just because of what you know, but because of who you are.

Let them hear your voice, not a generic voice speaking about generic legal issues. Let them hear about the cases and clients you’ve helped and what you did to help them.

Let them get a taste of your personality and a sense of what it is like to have you as their attorney.

You can have people help you with research and editing your content, but that content should come from you.

On the other hand, if you intend to use content to generate traffic and leads, for advertising and direct mail and other purposes where a “generic” you might be sufficient, it’s okay to hire people to create that content for you.

Some attorneys buy “canned” newsletters from companies that provide the same newsletters to many attorneys. The attorneys don’t pretend this content is coming from them, however. It is (or should be) positioned as “from the firm”.

Attorneys who buy canned content know (or should know) this content won’t do much more for them than allow them to put something in their subscribers’ mailboxes and remind them they are still around.

There’s nothing wrong with this.

It’s better than sending no content to clients and prospects. Much better.

Some attorneys send out a canned newsletter and also write their own content, which they publish in a separate newsletter.

Their content is by them and from them and uses stories and examples from their practice. It is this content that builds trust and relationships with readers.

Similarly, some attorneys outsource content for a blog, and use that blog to attract search traffic. They might have several such blogs, each focused on different practice areas and keywords and markets, all of which send traffic to their regular website or into their lead capture funnels.

But again, they don’t (or shouldn’t) position that blog or those blogs as having been written by them.

They might also write their own content, but, as with a newsletter, it should be separate from the outsourced lead generation blog.

Outsourcing some of your content creation might be right for your practice. But it will never do what your own content can do.

How to write an email newsletter that brings in more business

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How to blog without a blog

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If you want the benefits of a blog but don’t want to (or aren’t allowed to) set one up, guest blogging is a great option. Basically, that means posting content on other people’s blogs and other digital platforms.

You get exposure to their subscribers and visitors who hear some of your wisdom, read your brief bio, and follow a link back to your website, where they learn more about what you do and how you can help them.

Are you seeing the possibilities?

You also get the implied endorsement of the publisher who posts your article; sometimes, you get their actual endorsement. Sometimes, you build a relationship with them, which leads to more marketing opportunities.

And you’re not committed to a publishing schedule. You write if and when you choose to do that.

Why would a blog owner publish your article? Because they get some great content for their readers that they don’t have to write themselves, from a top authority (that’s you) to boot. And they know that said authority is likely to promote said content, sending traffic to said blog.

And all they have to do is say yes.

How do you start? By making a list of influential bloggers in your niche that accept guest posts. Review their content and think about how you could contribute.

If their posts allow it, you could start by commenting on their existing posts. Make sure you mention you are an attorney. Check back later to see if the blog owner responds to your comment.

So step one is to get noticed. But you can skip this step and go straight to step two.

Step two is to approach the blog publisher and offer to write a guest post. Tell them a bit about your legal background and writing experience. If you’ve published elsewhere, give them a few links.

Your goal is to get published on the top blogs in your niche. Those with lots of authority and traffic. But if you’re starting out, start anywhere.

Especially with anyone you personally know who might say yes because they know you.

Get your foot in a couple of doors and before you know it, your articles might get in front of a lot of people who need your services but didn’t know who you were.

If you’re ready to start your own blog, this will help

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Lede, follow, or go home

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If you want more people to read what you write, write a headline that flags them down as they go sailing by and “forces” them to pay attention.

Because if you don’t, they’ll won’t, and they will (probably) move on and read something else.

One way to get their attention is to write something unusual, as I did with the archaic, journalistic spelling of “lead” in the headline of this post. It makes you stop and wonder if I misspelled the word or I mean something else.

For a second or two, you’re reading and, therefore, a bit more likely to continue reading.

Remember, you can’t bore people into reading. So do something different, interesting, or fun.

But that’s not the only way to do it. You can’t go wrong promising benefits, asking a thought-provoking question, or sharing a surprising fact, statistic, or quote.

You can also win friends and influence readers by leading with a story.

People want to hear what happened to your client, your friend, your friend’s client, or you.

Your headline should be simple, make the reader curious, and give them a reason to read your first sentence. Of course, that first sentence has to be good enough to get them to read the second sentence.

You can also get attention with images and other visual elements: charts, lists, color, bullet points, sub-heads, unusual typography, and a P.S. (in a letter or email).

But while all the above is true, it’s also situational. If you’re writing to someone who knows you personally, or to your list of regular readers, to some extent, you can assume you have their attention and can get away with being clever, mysterious or weird. People who know you are probably going to read what you write because they know you and want to hear what you say.

Which is why you will find more than a few of my headlines make you question my sanity and want to see my bar card.

Just having fun. Because if it’s not fun for me, I’m pretty sure it won’t be fun for you.

And if it’s not fun, why bother?

How to write something people want to read

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Could this be true?

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I was on social media the other day. Yes, I do that occasionally. A company had surveyed a group of lawyers, asking them what they wanted out of their practice, and posted the results.

Nearly everyone said they wanted better systems and automation, to make their practice run more smoothly. They also wanted more affordable help.

Makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is that only 14% said they wanted help with marketing—“getting more good clients, more reliably.”

Why so low? Who doesn’t want more good clients? What’s going on here?

Ah, what’s going on is that the firm that conducted the survey helps lawyers automate their practice. So their clients’ and followers’ primary interest is in becoming more organized and efficient.

That’s their bias.

Go ahead and survey a cross-section of attorneys and I think your results might be a little different.

Of course my list is also biased. If I did a survey, I’m sure I’d find that most want more good clients and cases.

Because who doesn’t want more good clients?

Okay, some lessons.

  1. Before you draw any conclusions about the results of a survey, make sure you know who’s conducting it and of whom.
  2. Surveys are a great way to engage your list. People like to share their opinion and are curious to see what other people say about the subject.
  3. Surveys are an easy way to generate content for a blog or newsletter and social media. I just did that and it wasn’t even my survey.

Go forth and survey some folks. Or find someone else’s survey and talk about it.

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