“Keep your eyes on your own paper!”

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When I went to school it was against the rules to cheat off of your neighbor’s paper. Not sure if that’s true today. After all, if you don’t copy off of someone else, you might hurt their feelings. It’s like telling them they’re not smart enough to copy. What if they are a different race or gender? You might be guilty of racism or sexism.

But hey, I’m old. What the hell do I know?

By the way, it’s okay for me to say I’m old, but if you say it, that would be ageism. Wait. What if you’re older than I am? Can an old guy be accused of ageism for calling an older guy old?

Okay, my head hurts. I’ll stop. Wait. Did I just hurt the feelings of migraine sufferers by saying my head hurts?

Where was I?

Ah yes, assuming that cheating (and plagiarism) are still verboten, I want to point out a loophole. A way you can use what other people write to create your own content.

Here’s the thing. It’s not plagiarism to copy someone else’s idea. So if one lawyer writes a blog post about a SCOTUS opinion and says he thinks it sucks eggs, and you agree with that, you can write your own post and say the very same thing.

Don’t use their words, just their ideas.

The same goes for the post’s title. You can’t copyright titles, so go ahead and use it if you can’t come up with your own.

Of course if you don’t agree with what the other writer said, you can say that instead. (Careful, though. You don’t want to hurt their feelings.)

So there you go. You can never say you don’t know what to write about. Look at what someone else wrote and cheat off of their paper.

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Why you should recommend products and services to your clients

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Your clients want more from you than your legal advice. They want to know what you recommend in other areas of their life–banking, insurance, cars, and real estate, for example, and the vendors who market them. They may not ask for your advice on these matters but if you offer it, it will surely be welcome.

You’re advice and recommendations save them time and money and help them avoid the risk of making a bad choice. They will appreciate you for providing this information, remember you, come back to you, and tell their friends and colleagues about you.

So when lawyers ask me, “What should I write about on my blog or in my newsletter or on social media?” I tell them to think about what interests them as a consumer and as a business professional.

You don’t always have to write about legal matters. In fact, most people don’t want you to. Mix it up with a smattering of other subjects. Do you like movies? Write some reviews. Do you know something about re-financing a mortgage? Share your tips.

One topic that has legs right now is identity theft, especially in the wake of the recent theft of the personal information of more than 4 million Federal employees. Most people assume this will never happen to them but they’re living in a false paradise. They need to know the truth about their exposure to this pernicious crime, and how to protect themselves. You could supply that information.

I have experience in this field and I can tell you that you can’t “stop” or “prevent” identity theft. All you can do is protect yourself so that when it does occur, you are notified and have experts who repair the damage for you. You need to have that protection in place before the theft occurs, however, or your loss may be excluded as pre-existing.

Following my own advice, I recommend the identity theft plan I have had for the last 12 years. It offers better protection than any other plan I’ve looked at. It’s cheaper, too. But I am biased. I am an affiliate for this company and it’s other services. So are many other attorneys who market these plans to their clients and contacts.

Look at the products and services you use in your practice and in your personal life. Tell people about the ones you recommend, and why.

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And the award goes to. . .

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I won! I am the best blogger in the legal marketing arena. A NYC law firm just said so. They posted it on their blog, wrote about it in their newsletter, and sent out a press release telling the legal media why they think my blog is la creme de la creme.

Woo hoo! What an honor! I’m going to tell everyone I know!

Okay that didn’t happen. But if it did, I would certainly tell everyone I knew about it and give them a link to the firm’s website where they announced that I had won.

Wouldn’t you?

So, how could you use this idea for marketing purposes? Hmmm, let’s see. . .

What if once a month you announced your “client of the month” and featured one of your business clients on your blog or in your newsletter?

What if you announced an award to a local business or professional practice that isn’t a client but gave you or someone you know great service?

What if you let your clients or subscribers nominate local businesses and then vote on the winner?

Find people or businesses (or charities, community groups, etc.) who are doing something right and honor them with an award. Give them a certificate or a plaque, feature them on social media, interview the owner, and send out a press release.

You’ll get someone who is grateful for the attention and will probably send their customers, clients, or friends to your website to see what you said about them. You’ll get some new subscribers and followers, links to your website, and maybe some new clients.

And you’ll feel good knowing you called attention to someone who deserves it.

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How to write faster than you thought possible

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I wrote the first draft of yesterday’s blog post in 5 minutes. I also wrote the first draft of today’s post in 5 minutes.

If you want to write faster, here’s how to do it:

STEP ONE: CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC

Choose a topic you know well. If you need to research your subject, do it before you sit down to write.

What do you want to write about? What point do you want to convey? Write down your topic.

My topic yesterday was, “How to promote an event or offer”.

STEP TWO: TURN IT INTO A QUESTION

Take the topic and turn it into a question. Why? Because when it is in question form, your subconscious mind gets to work and searches for answers. The question primes your mental pump and the words start flowing.

My question was, “How can I promote an offer or event?”

STEP THREE: WRITE DOWN 3 “SEED WORDS

Think of three words related to your topic. Whatever comes to mind. These may change as you start writing but these 3 words will help you start.

My seed words yesterday were, “Excitement,” “Urgency,” and “Repetition”. They became the three points I wrote about to answer the topic question.

STEP FOUR: WRITE NON-STOP FOR 5 MINUTES

Set a timer and write. Don’t stop to correct spelling or do any editing. Just write, as quickly as you can, until the timer goes off.

I’ve heard that most people who do this will write between 200 and 400 words in 5 minutes, and that’s what I did. When the timer sounded yesterday, I had written 269 words.

The 5 minutes flew by for me. I had more to say so I continued writing for roughly another two minutes.

STEP FIVE: EDIT

Using this method, you will probably find that your first draft is quite good and won’t require a lot of editing. I found that to be true.

I did some cutting, added a thought or two, edited, and changed the title. Total time from start to finish was around 20 minutes. That included time to make notes about what I was doing, in preparation for today’s post.

Not too shabby.

By the way, although this method is meant for writing short pieces, you could also use it to write longer pieces. Yep, in 5 minute increments.

So, how many posts, articles, and emails could you write if you use this method to write your first draft in 5 minutes?

Why not try it and find out?

Need ideas for topics? Get this 

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Why didn’t you write this?

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I saw a post on Mashable this morning and thought of you. The title is How to decide whether to elect an S-corp for your business. I’m mentioning it to you because I wanted to ask, “Why didn’t you write this?”

In the five hours since it was published (as of this writing), it has 1300 shares. If you had written this, a lot of people would have seen your name, your bio, and a link to your website.

The post is around 900 words. You could have written this in less than an hour. You might not have had it published on Mashable, but maybe you would. The author isn’t an attorney. She got it published. Why not you?

You could write a basic article like this about any practice area. And there are hundreds of places to have your article published. Blogs, magazines, and newsletters galore that need content, written by authorities like you.

Maybe you haven’t written an article like this before and don’t know where to start. No problem. Start with this article (or find one in your practice area) and reverse engineer it.

Make an outline from the article, then write your article from that outline. Add different information, add stories from your clients files, write in your own voice and style, and change the title. Done.

Here’s your homework:

  1. Set up a file for this project and start adding ideas for articles you could write.
  2. Do a search with keywords appropriate for your practice area and find articles you could have written. Add the links or actual articles to your file. Use these articles to write your own version of these articles, or to get more ideas.
  3. Search for websites and blogs in your target market. Find their “editorial guidelines” (article length, topics, focus, etc.) and their submission or query process. If all of the articles appear to be staff written, you can still query the editor. You never know. Yours might be the first outside post they accept.
  4. Write your first article this week. If you’re not ready to submit it to a blog or magazine, publish it on your website.

Publishing articles brings website traffic, enhances your bio, and gives you material your can re-purpose for reports, ebooks, and presentations. It can get you invitations to speaking engagements and interviews, and opens doors to getting more articles published.

Still not sure? Write a “practice” article that you won’t show anyone. Give yourself permission to write something awful.

When I was getting started writing, that’s what I did. I told myself to just get a first draft written, no matter how bad, and I could fix it later. When that draft was done, I found it really wasn’t that bad. It was actually quite good. A little editing and I had something publishable.

I’m betting it will work out that way for you.

Need ideas for writing? Get this

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You get a lot done by consistently doing a little

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I just passed the 1000 blog post milestone. 1009 to be exact. That’s 1009 ways someone could find my blog through search engines. 1009 snippets of my wisdom that could convince a visitor to follow me. 1009 pages someone might share with their connections or link to from their blog.

It’s a body of work that brings prospective clients to my virtual door and convinces them to do business with me.

Sound good? Sure. And daunting. If you had told me a few years ago that I would write 1009 posts, I would have thought you were crazy. And yet here I am.

How do you write 1009 posts? You don’t. You write one post, and then you write another.

You get a lot done by consistently doing a little.

That’s why I say you can successfully market your practice in as little as 15 minutes a day. It’s not how much you do today necessarily, it’s what you do in the aggregate over time.

If you have some big projects you’re thinking about tackling, don’t let their immensity put you off. Any project, no matter how big, can be broken down into bite size pieces. Isn’t that how we eat an elephant?

Also, the more you do something, the better you get at it. I’d like to think I write better today than I did a few years ago. I’m also faster. I can knock out a blog post or email in just a few minutes.

What do you want to accomplish this year? Okay, hit the deck and give me 15 (minutes).

Do you know the formula for marketing your law practice? Here it is

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How much selling should a lawyer do?

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How much selling should you do in your letters and emails and blog posts?

More than you think.

The people on your list, your readers and subscribers, your friends and followers, need your help. If they’re not getting that help, if they don’t hire you, they will continue to have those problems and needs.

Your job isn’t to wait until someone taps you on the shoulder and asks you to get to work. It is to reach out to them and persuade them to hire you, or at least take the next step in that direction. If you don’t do that, you’re doing them a disservice.

Educate your prospects about the law and procedure and their options, but don’t merely deliver information. Sell them on why they need to hire you to get the solutions and benefits they want.

Pound your drum with warnings about what could happen if they don’t hire you, or if they wait too long. Share horror stories about people with the same issues who failed to act. Make your prospects feel what it was like for those people, and imagine what it will be like if they follow the same course.

Do everything in your power to convince people to hire you. Pull out the big guns. Don’t leave them to suffer their problems and pain when you can help them get relief.

Don’t be all thunder and brimstone, however. They’ll tune out. Mix things up. Share success stories. Back off the main message and talk about something else. But never stop reminding people about their problems and how you can help them.

And don’t leave it up to them to figure out what to do next. Tell them to hire you, or tell them to call with questions, schedule a consultation, fill out a form, or read more about the issue.

How much selling should you do? More than you think.

If you want to get more clients and increase your income, get this.

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How Neil Patel got to 100,000 visitors per month

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Neil Patel is a very smart, and very successful marketing guy. His blogs receive a boatload of traffic.

In a post today, he explains how he got to 100,000 visitors per month by following 7 rules for writing blog posts.

He’s an expert at SEO and social media, and I expected his rules to be oriented to those subjects. They’re not. There’s nothing technical about his rules. They are the softer side (my words) of writing blog posts to communicate with your readers.

For example, he talks about hooking your readers by framing your post properly, and writing about subjects you are passionate about. He also talks about the critical importance of headlines and building your list.

One thing he recommends that I think most lawyers intuitively understand: using data to build credibility. Citations, links, quotes from other experts, and our own opinions, backed up by our experiences, are routinely included in posts and articles by attorneys.

Often when I read Patel’s posts I come away thinking, “Okay, I don’t do that,” and “I don’t want to do that.” With this post, I was pleased to find that he and I are on the same page.

If you want to know how I handle SEO and social media, get this.

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How to write a blog post in ten seconds

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Every day, I quickly go through my blog feeds. I delete most of the articles, skim one or two, and save the rest to Instapaper to read later. I often use these saved articles as blog post ideas.

This morning, I opened an article which had an intriguing quote as the headline. It said, “Be the type of person you want to meet“.

I expected to find some advice on personal development. Or networking. Or how to “mirror and match” the people you meet.

But that was the entire article. Just the quote. Nothing else, not even the name of who said it.

Can you really use a single sentence as the entirety of a blog post? Or an email to your client list?

Why not?

If the quote inspires you or makes you think, if it’s something you’d like to share with your readers or subscribers, if you’re pressed for time and all you can come up with this week is a one sentence quote, then that’s what you should do.

Nobody will report you to the blog police.

The whole idea of staying in touch with your list is that they hear from you on a regular basis. You want to be “in their minds and their mailboxes” when they are ready to hire you or have a referral.

Sometimes you write substantive posts. Sometimes you share a story. Sometimes you promote something. And sometimes, you share a link, a photo or infographic, or a quote.

Of course if you’re like me, you’ll be forced to add something. Lawyers are windy, don’t you know. So you’ll add a comment or two about why you like the quote or whatever else you’re sharing. And sometimes, you’ll find that you’ve written 300 words. Like I found I just did in this post.

For more on how to write a blog post (or how to start a blog or newsletter), get this.

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How to make your phone ring

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Suppose that next week you get an email from another professional, a business owner, a blogger, or someone else who sells to, advises, or is otherwise influential in your target market. The email says something like this:

I want to thank you linking to my site in your post last week. I really appreciate it.

I just spent an hour reading through your site and I’ve got to tell you, you’ve really got some valuable information. I also signed up for your email list, downloaded your free report and think it’s awesome.

I’d love to interview you for my blog. I know my 10,000 subscribers would love to “meet” you. Would you be open to that? Of course I’ll also mention your website and encourage them to sign up for your list and download your report.

Could we do this some time next week? Please let me know, ASAP.

Nice. 10,000 email subscribers in your target market who will learn about you, with a strong recommendation from the owner of the list.

Do you think you might get some new clients out of this? And sign ups for your list that will lead to more clients down the road?

Fairy tale? Not at all. This kind of thing happens all of the time.

What’s that? It hasn’t happened to you? I find that hard to believe.

You do have a website with lots of good content on it, don’t you? You also have an email newsletter and a report or ebook you offer to encourage visitors to subscribe, right? I’m sure you regularly link to other sites in your niche, pointing to content your subscribers would benefit from reading, don’t you?

What do you mean, you don’t know how to do this? You do have a copy of Make The Phone Ring, don’t you?

If you want to make your phone ring, get Make the Phone Ring

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