Do you trust me?

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If you’ve been getting my emails for a while, there’s a good chance you trust me, at least enough to open the email and read what I say.

If I recommend a marketing idea, you’re inclined to try it. If I have something for you to buy, you’ll probably take a look. If you know someone who might need what I offer, you’re open to recommending me.

And it works the same way with you and the people on your list.

We write a newsletter, we write a blog, we post on social media, because, among other things, it helps us build trust.

And, as Seth Godin said in Permission Marketing, to be heard, you’ve got to earn trust.

Otherwise, our messages get drowned out by the messages of (so many) others.

When you get referrals, trust is part of the deal. The prospective client trusts you because his friend or advisor trusts you. When you speak at an organization’s event, the audience tends to trust you because you were invited to speak by an organization they trust.

When you advertise, there is no trust. You can point at various trust elements, e.g., your experience, etc., but there’s more doubt than trust. That’s why the rate of response is so low.

When you blog or write a newsletter, you build trust by showing up and delivering value, and by doing it consistently over time.

The nice thing about having a blog (podcast, video channel) is that all of the content you previously created is available for visitors to see. You can build trust faster that way.

We create content to attract prospective clients, and once they visit our blog or sign up for our newsletter, to build trust and encourage them to take the next step.

I have a course that shows you how to do that with email; details here

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How to write faster blog posts, emails, and articles

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What if writing was as easy (and quick) as opening a template and filling in the blanks?

You’ll still need to edit and polish but you might be able to turn out articles in minutes instead of hours.

Templates make a first draft easier because you know “what goes where”. You’ll know, for example, that after two paragraphs that introduce the subject, you need 3 points or examples, but not 5. You’ll know how many bullet points to include and where to put them. And you can insert a pre-written call to action to close.

Using templates to map out the bones of your writing will allow you to write faster and better because they let you focus on the message, not the structure.

Where do you get these templates? By reverse-engineering existing articles and posts.

When you read an article you like, save it, study it, and figure out why it works. Make notes of the elements:

  • How many words?
  • How many paragraphs?
  • How many headings and sub-heads?
  • How many bullet points?
  • What’s the lead or hook?
  • Why should the reader care (benefits)?
  • What proof is offered?
  • What examples or stories?
  • What’s the call to action?

Create a simple template that incorporates these elements. You can use it for first drafts or to improve a sloppy first draft.

You should also do this with your own writing. Add additional notes to explain why you said what you said, other options you considered, and feedback you got from your readers.

Start with one template. Use it, refine it, and use it again. You may find that one template is all you need to write most of your posts but you can always add more.

The Easy Way to Write a Book

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Writing is easier and more effective if you do this

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Everyone says we should write to and for our reader. We should have in mind an avatar of what they’re like and what they want and address ourselves to that person.

To be more relatable, we should use examples and references that conform to their life experience and world view. To get a higher response to our ideas and offers, we should talk about the benefits we know they need and want.

Yes, everyone says we should do this in our blog posts, articles, newsletter, and social media posts.

Including me.

But while this is generally good advice, it makes writing more difficult and less effective because when we appeal to one person or one ideal reader, we tend to exclude everyone else.

Sounds like a conundrum.

But there’s a solution.

Instead of writing for your ideal reader, write for yourself.

In your first draft, write what you want to write and say it the way you want to say it. Because if what you write resonates with you, it will resonate with others.

If you free your writing this way, you’ll attract your target audience organically. And it will be an audience that relates to you and likes you and tends to trust you.

Because you’re like them.

Then, write your second draft for your readers.

Tailor your message and offers to them. Add relevant examples and stories and use terminology they will recognize and understand.

The first draft is for you. The second draft is for your reader.

In case you’re wondering, the third draft is for your editor. Or someone else who’s got your back.

How to write a newsletter that brings in more business

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10 ideas for blog posts that get read (and shared)

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Is your blog post idea machine running out of gas?

No problem. Here are 10 ideas to fill your tank:

  1. “Best of”: Best articles/posts/videos/sites you read of saw this month or this year.
  2. Interviews: A great way to build relationships with influential people and get more traffic to your blog as they promote the interview.
  3. Client success stories: feature a client’s legal victory, business, charitable work, or life’s story.
  4. Surveys: survey your clients or colleagues or bloggers and post the results.
  5. Statistics: Everyone loves facts and numbers. Could be related to your practice area or your client’s industry or your local market.
  6. How-tos: Teach your readers about the law or about general consumer or business matters.
  7. Book reviews: your comments about a book you read related to your field, your client’s niche or of general interest.
  8. Awards: Choose a client or fellow professional who’s doing good things and feature them in a post.
  9. Summaries: Do a “round-up” post that summarizes and links to some of your previously published posts.
  10. Predictions: Who will win, what will change, when it will happen.

There you go.

And yes, you can (and should) share your posts with your newsletter subscribers. Which is what I’m doing as soon as this is posted.

For more ideas for your blog (or newsletter), get this:

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An easy way to get targeted traffic to your blog

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An easy way to get targeted traffic to your blog sounds good, doesn’t it?  

How about if you didn’t have to do any of the writing? Even better.

No, I’m not talking about hiring writers to create your content for you. I’m talking about leveraging other people’s writing by aggregating “clips” or blurbs from other blogs in your target market. 

Blogs written by people in your client’s industry or market. Or by vendors, consultants, and other professionals who sell to or advise that market. 

Find blog posts and articles in the niche, copy the headline, the lead paragraph or two, and the link to their post. Cobble together five or ten of these into your post.

Add your own title and call it a day. 

You’re doing your readers a favor by providing them with links to content they want to consume.

You’re doing the other bloggers or professionals a favor by promoting their content and bringing them additional traffic and readers. 

And you’re doing yourself a favor by building traffic to your site from search engines and from readers who share your posts with others. 

Do you need permission? Fair use, isn’t it? Besides, who wouldn’t want you to promote their content?

You might want to let them know after the fact, however, because that could lead to more good things.

They might reciprocate and share some of your original content with their readers. They might see what you do and ask to interview you or invite you to write a guest post. They may refer you some business. 

Since you already read deeply in your target market, (you do, don’t you), you have access to a lot of content to share. So, this shouldn’t take you much extra time. 

If you do have extra time, you could add a few comments to your posts–mentioning what you liked about the original post, offering your own stories or observations, or mentioning the writer’s other articles you recommend. 

Give this a try. Write one post and see how it goes. You can then make it a regular feature or start another blog that exclusively features the best content in your niche. 

For more blog content ideas, get this

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How do you get new subscribers?

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In response to yesterday’s post about blogging vs. newsletters, and why I don’t keyword optimize my blog posts, I received an email from a lawyer asking how to get traffic and subscribers.

Well, for starters, don’t assume that you have to obsess over SEO to bring traffic to your site.

Good content still gets found by search engines. Better to spend your time writing more of that than tinkering with keywords and meta data.

You also get found through articles and guest posts you make on authority sites, through your books, videos and podcasts, interviews you do, and through strategic alliances with influential people in your niche.

When you meet new people, in the real world and online, let them know you have something that might interest them or their clients and give them the link to your site or a landing page.

One of the best sources of new subscribers is your newsletter itself.

Your readers share your content with their friends and clients and other people they know.

Word of mouth is strong in The Force.

Paid traffic also has to be considered. If you don’t want to (or aren’t allowed to) advertise your legal services, advertise your book, report, or other tasty morsel.

But, here’s the thing.

Quality is much more important than quantity. You don’t need massive traffic or a huge subscriber list to build a successful practice.

You need the kinds of traffic and subscribers that come through referrals.

Which is what you get when you are email-centric instead of blog-centric, because you can more easily build a relationship with your list.

If you want to know how to do it right, my Email Marketing for Attorneys course shows you what to do.

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Blog vs. Newsletter

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I read an article this morning entitled, “How to Write a Blog Post: A 12-Step Guide.”

After reading it, I feel like I need a 12-Step program. It’s too much to do for those of us who can’t (or don’t want to) spend hours and hours writing blog posts.

Which is why, years ago, I switched from being blog-centric to email centric.

I used to write a blog post first (with images, if you can believe that) and then send it to my newsletter subscribers (in html, if you can believe that).

Now I write an email first, then post it to my blog.

Seems like the same thing, but it’s not.

My emails are plain text. And brief.

And they take takes mere minutes to write, send and post.

Yay me.

I’ve got nothing against blog posts. But they require a lot of time and effort I would rather invest doing other things.

What kind of effort? Here are the 12-steps in the article I mentioned:

  1. Understand your goals
  2. Understand your audience
  3. Brainstorm a list of ideas

Sure, we need to do this for every kind of marketing we do.

  1. Do keyword research

Yes, research keywords for your blog. I don’t do that for my newsletter.

  1. Organize your content into an outline

I don’t think of my emails as content and I don’t write an outline. I may write down a few notes about what I want to say but usually, I just let it fly.

  1. (Check Google and) read the top 10 posts for that keyword

Good idea for a blog post you write once a week or once in a while. Not going to happen for a short, daily email.

  1. Write the body of your blog post
  2. Write a killer intro
  3. Write an excellent headline

I don’t spend more than 30 minutes to do this.

  1. Proofread and format your post

I don’t format anything.

  1. Optimize your post

I don’t optimize anything.

  1. Publish your post

Finally! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted just reading this list.

Bottom line: a blog and a newsletter are both valuable resources for building a professional practice and should be a part of most lawyers’ marketing mix. But I’m sure you don’t want to spend hours and hours of your precious time crafting fine art.

You don’t have to do that, if you use my system.

Which you can learn more about here.

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How often should you blog?

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How often should you publish a new blog post? Often.

According to this infographic, “82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly”.

A few reasons:

  • The more you post, the more opportunities you have to get found by search engines or shared by visitors. 
  • Uncle Google tends to see frequent publishers as authorities. Prospective clients who visit your blog are likely to do the same.
  • More content gives you more chances to keep visitors reading your content. The more time they spend on your blog, the more likely they are to take the next step. 
  • More content and a more frequent publishing schedule helps others bloggers and influential sites see you as an authority, making them more likely to link to you
  • Once published, your content lives forever. Something you wrote two years ago can continue to create leads and produce clients for you. 
  • Inbound marketing is more personalized in the sense that you can tailor your content to the interests and needs of your target market. 

The infographic also shows that leads produced via inbound marketing have higher conversion rates. One reason is that prospective clients are more likely to trust you (because they found you). 

Inbound marketing also has a lower cost-per-lead.

You don’t have to publish daily to realize most of these benefits. Just more often than once a month or once in a while.

Start with once a week. As you find yourself getting more leads and more new clients, you may suddenly find the time to publish more often. 

How to use a blog to make the phone ring

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How To Come Up With a Year’s Worth of Content in One Day. Sort of.

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If you have some downtime right now, a great use of that time might be to create a backlog of content for your blog or newsletter.

If you write a weekly post, you could knock out enough content for at least the next few weeks.

If that’s too much, the next best thing is to use the time to find ideas.

Look at your competition’s content. Look at blogs written by or for your target market. Look at general consumer or business publications for ideas that might be useful or interesting to your target market.

In a few hours, you could come up with hundreds of ideas.

All you need to do is write down a sentence or two, a quote or interesting fact, a few points you want to cover, and a link to the article or post that inspired you.

But don’t stop there. Once you have one idea, think about how you could expand it into ideas for additional content.

Let’s say you come across an article about legislative changes in your field and you want to write about those changes–what they are, what they mean, what you think about them, or what the reader needs to do to comply with or take advantage of them.

You could do a second article sharing feedback about the changes from some of your clients. Or comments about the changes from a fellow lawyer or allied expert.

Another article might be about additional changes you’d like to see that weren’t addressed in the legislation.

If you like this idea but don’t have enough time right now, spend an hour making a list of possible sources you can peruse later. Explore a legal blog directory, for example, and capture links to some that look promising.

Where do you start this process? On your hard drive. Find all of your old content and think about what you could do to reuse or re-purpose it.

You might have a paper or presentation you could republish in your newsletter. You might update an old blog post, expanding on something you wrote before, amending your opinion, or providing additional examples. If it’s been awhile since you first published it, you could even re-publish it as is.

Take some time to dig and find ideas. When things get back to normal, you’ll be glad you did.

For more ideas for content than you can shake a stick at, and advice on how to use them, my email marketing course has you covered.

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“Do Not Commit Crimes With Checks”

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On the NBA on TNT Thursday night, Charles Barkley had some advice for Jussie Smollett, causing Shaq to convulse in laughter and spit out his coffee. The crew joined in, posting a mock-up of a fake check for $3,500 made out to “Muggers” with “Mugging Supplies” penned in the memo.

Everyone’s talking about the hoax and the future of the actor’s career.

Are you?

Are you using this story (the basic story or the Barkley version) in your speaking, writing, newsletter or blog?

You could. And should. Because when you talk about what everyone is talking about, people notice.

You can leverage the story without getting into politics or racism.

How?

You could review the legal issues for your readers, tell them what happened and what could happen next.

You could mention the story and then talk about one of your clients who did something stupid, got into trouble (civil or criminal) and hired you to help them.

You could quote Barkley and then talk about something else he once said (funny, pithy, strange, or otherwise) and use that other quote to segue into a story related to your practice.

Or you could do what I just did, tell your readers what Sir Charles said and then tell them what you think, e.g., it’s funny, not funny, premature, etc.

For the record: I laughed. Out loud. Especially when I saw the mock up of the check.

Good thing I wasn’t drinking coffee at the time.

How to use your website or blog to bring in more business

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