Put yourself in the top 2%

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Have you ever been reading an email or a blog post and forgotten who wrote it?

That’s the 98%.

Most lawyers who create content fall into that category. Forgettable.

The 2% are the ones people notice and remember. They’re also the ones people buy from and tell their friends about.

The rest fade into the woodwork. Because they all look the same.

They talk about the same subjects, use the same examples, and measure the temperature of their message with the same thermometer, meaning they don’t let things get too hot or too cold.

How about you?

If you want to get noticed, remembered, and followed, if you want clients to hire you instead of another attorney, you need to be in the top 2%.

That means being different and there’s no easier way to do that than to create content that’s different.

Different subjects, different appearance, different style.

Especially style.

When other lawyers write stilted prose and you use a bit of color and personality, when other lawyers say what’s expected and you are a contrarian, when they write about boring topics in boring ways and your content is interesting. . .

It won’t take much for you to stand out.

How do you do this?

Make your content interesting and helpful. Infuse your content with human interest (stories), details from your professional and personal life, and strong opinions. Be different, tell them what they need to do, and why.

Don’t just deliver information, speak to your readers. And don’t hold back.

You know you’re doing it right when you write something or say something that scares you a little.You should feel a little heat in the pit of your stomach—as if you’ve gone too far or are doing something wrong.

When you feel that heat, it means you’re on the right track.

If you aren’t feeling that burn, you aren’t trying hard enough. And your audience will know it. And lump you in with 98%.

You will get feedback. Some readers will love what you’re doing and tell you they read you every day. Some will tell you’ve gone too far and leave you for gentler pastures. (Ask me how I know.)

None of that matters. All that matters is that:

  1. Your list is growing, and
  2. Your practice is growing

If those two numbers are moving in the right direction, stay the course.

It’s not easy to show your market that you’re better than the competition, but it is easy to show them you’re different.

And now you know a simple way to do that.

Email marketing for attorneys

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Why you need original content and how to create it

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Many lawyers use canned content on their website and blog, articles provided by the company hired to create the site or from third parties. The problem with canned content is:

  1. It is generic, written to appeal to “everyone” instead of the specific clients you want to attract. When you appeal to everyone, you usually appeal to no one.
  2. The information might be accurate and helpful, but it is relatively bland, uninteresting and unlikely to hold readers’ attention.
  3. There is no “you” in the content, nothing to show readers what you do or how you can help them. Readers want to know what it would be like to work with you.
  4. It’s just information; there’s nothing there to engage readers and inspire them to take the next step.
  5. It doesn’t help your SEO since the same content appears on other websites.

The solution is to create original content. Fortunately, that’s a lot easier than you might think.

Original content doesn’t mean writing something that’s never been written before, as if that were even possible. You can write about the same topics and present the same information that other attorneys write about, you just do it in your own way.

In fact, you could literally take someone else’s article, canned or otherwise, and use it as a template for you own. Change the title, the words, the order, and the length, and you should have an article that qualifies as original for SEO purposes.

Of course that doesn’t mean your article will be interesting, engaging, or make readers want to learn more about you and your services.

To do that, you need to personalize the article. Here are a few simple ways to do that:

  • Use examples from your own practice—cases, clients, situations—especially those that show you “in action,” doing your job. Quote your client, the judge, or opposing counsel. Nothing canned about that.
  • Give your opinion. Tell readers what you think, what you like, what you recommend, and why.
  • Disagree with conventional wisdom. “Other lawyers tell you X; here’s why I tell you Y.”
  • Give both sides of the argument. Explain that each case is different. Use “if/then” language to protect yourself, and invite readers to contact you to ask about their situation.
  • Add details from your personal life. Even something as simple as, “The freeways were jammed this morning and I was almost late to court.”
  • Reference your other content about the subject.
  • Invite readers to comment, share their own stories, or ask questions.

Personalized content gives readers something interesting to read, shows them who you are and how you can help them, and stimulates them to take the next step. Which is kinda the point.

How to use the content on your website to get more clients

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Why you should email often

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The other day, an entrepreneur I follow wrote and said he’s emailing daily again. He says it’s easier to email daily than to remind himself to do it occasionally.

Some readers might be turned off by a daily email, he acknowledges, but he feels it is the best way to connect and stay top-of-mind.

“I like to think of my emails like a little television show, where readers want to tune-in to see what happens next,” he says.

He also pointed out that writing daily provides him with a lot of content he can use elsewhere–on social media, in reports and handouts, blog posts and books.

Needless to say, I agree with all of the above. These are some of the reasons why I now write every week day, and why I recommend emailing at least once a week.

Not everyone will open all of your emails, and that’s fine. They regularly see your name and remember who you are and what you do. When they need a lawyer, they can quickly find your contact information or the link to your site in their inbox.

Contrast that with lawyers who only write once in awhile.

People don’t remember their name or that they signed up for their newsletter and typically let everything go to spam.

These lawyers are the ones who say, “I tried email but it didn’t work.”

Take it from me and my entrepreneur friend, email works. And emailing frequently works even better.

How to use email to get more clients and build your practice

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I’d like to interview you for my newsletter

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That’s you speaking to a fellow lawyer, a business contact, a client or friend. Someone you know who might have something to say your readers might like to know.

Another lawyer sharing a few tips about their practice area. An accountant or financial planner speaking about taxes, investing, debt or credit. A real estate broker speaking about your local market. Or one of your business clients talking about how they got started and sharing some advice for someone who wants to start their own business.

You tell them you’d like to interview them for about 20 minutes, over the phone, or you can email them some questions. They get exposure for their business or practice, your readers get to learn something new, and you get the day off.

Well, almost. You still need to edit the interview and post it but the hard work is done by the interviewee.

You supply the questions, they supply the answers.

If you say “pretty please,” they’ll also supply you with some of the questions. Questions they’ve been asked in other interviews or things they think your readers would find interesting.

They’ll also tell you what they’d like you to say about them. If not, grab their bio from their website.

Interviews are incredibly easy to do. They’re also a great marketing tool for you.

How so?

For one thing, some of your interviewees will ask to interview you for their newsletter or podcast. Or invite you to speak at their event or write a guest post for their blog.

You get more traffic, more subscribers, and more clients. One interview per month can bring you a lot of business.

In addition, doing interviews gives you the perfect excuse to reach out to influential people you don’t know but would like to. You’ll make some new contacts, some of whom might provide referrals and introductions to other influential people.

Are your wheels spinning? Good. Go tell someone you’d like to interview them.

Get my ebook on how to interview experts and professionals here

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Want more free traffic? Do this

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You write a blog or post articles or other content on your website and you want more traffic.

More people reading what you write, more people inspired to contact you and hire you. The type of content people want to read and will gladly share share with friends and business contacts.

Your wish is my command.

One of the easiest and best sources of content comes from your readers themselves. Ask them what they want to know.

What questions do they want you to answer? What do they want you to write about? What feedback do they have on something you’ve already written?

Ask them what they want and then give it to them.

When you do that, your subscribers will read your articles to see how you answered their questions. Your other subscribers will also read them because they likely have similar questions. Visitors to your site will read your posts for the same reason.

You’ll get search traffic from people who type the very questions you answer into a search engine, and traffic from readers who share your content with their friends.

Plus, when you answer readers’ questions, you don’t have to scramble to come up with ideas to write about.

In addition, as you answer questions, your other readers see that they can submit questions and ideas and do just that.

Hold on, a lawyer in the back of the room has his hand up. He says he likes this idea and wants to know where to start.

Start with your email inbox. No doubt your clients and prospects have asked you many questions over the years. Now you can answer them.

Ask your blog and newsletter readers and social media connections to submit questions or ideas.

And keep your ears open.

People ask you questions all the time. You may see them as an annoyance, people looking for free advice. Instead, see them as fodder for your next post.

What’s that? You don’t have a big list of followers or subscribers? Your subscribers are bashful and don’t typically ask questions or submit ideas?

No problemo.

Visit other attorneys’ blogs in your practice area and see what their subscribers are asking them.

Well, there you have it. And easy way to create more content and get more traffic. What else would you want to know?

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You can write this type of article in 15 minutes

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In a previous post, I said the quickest and easiest type of article to write is a listicle. Ten ways to do this, five reasons you shouldn’t do that, seven steps to getting this result.

They’re easy to write because they are basically just bullet points or short paragraphs.

But while the writing is easy, if you don’t happen to know “five things” or “seven steps,” you may have to do some research to flesh out your article. Which means that this type of article may take you more time to write than you would like.

If you want to write an article in a matter of minutes, you need to write one that doesn’t require any research.

You need to write a personal recollection.

Something you did, something someone told you, something you thought.

Think about the last client you signed up who said something that made you smile, or something interesting or unusual about their case.

Think about something you did last weekend, something that happened to you when you were in college, or something you’ve been thinking about for a long time.

The idea may not come to you right away, which is why it’s important to keep a running list of ideas you can dip into. Interesting things, helpful ideas, amusing stories. Things that contain a lesson or illustrate something your readers might like (or need) to know.

But when you have the idea, you can write the article quickly, because it’s just a matter of telling the story. No research required.

Describe what happened and what you thought about it or why it’s important. Invite your readers to tell you what they think or ask them if they have had a similar experience. Make a final point and. . . you’re done.

If you’re taking more than a few minutes to write a personal recollection, you’re working too hard.

Want more ways to write faster? Get my email marketing course here

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5 easy-to-write topics for your newsletter or blog

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If you’re struggling to find topics to write about in your newsletter or blog, or to post on social media, the place to look for ideas is right under your nose.

Start with the obvious. The things you do every day. 

These also tend to be the easiest ideas to write about–the kinds of things you could write in your sleep, or in the shower as one subscriber recently told me she does.

Here you go:

1. Check your email. What questions are your clients, prospects, and subscribers asking you? Answering their questions is about as simple as it gets. 
2. Check your files. No doubt you have or have had an interesting case or client at some time. It may be nothing special to you, but it’s the kind of thing your readers would love to hear.  
3. Put on your law professor’s hat. Explain the law or procedure or legal terms in your practice area. What does it mean, how does it work, what are the steps?
4. Check your calendar. Describe a typical day in the life of a lawyer: meetings, calls, letters, research, drafting, negotiations, settlements, discovery, arbitration, or whatever else you do. 
5. Go through your reading pile. Share your thoughts about an article, book, or blog you read, or a podcast or video you heard or saw. Summarize it, give your opinion, or use the ideas presented to write your own article or post.  

Writing is easy when you write about your world. The things you do or consume daily may be mundane to you but your readers will find them fascinating. 

How to build your practice with a simple email newsletter

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How to monetize your brain farts

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A lot of people want to know where I get ideas for my newsletter and how I’m able to write something half-way intelligent every weekday without fail.

They think its alchemy. An amalgam of pixie dust, good looks, and a lot of luck.

Not at all. I’ve simply trained my mind to produce a steady stream of ideas.

How? By a daily dose of reading and watching videos and taking notes.

A good percentage of what I write comes from reflecting on what others have written or said and putting my own take on it. Someone else thought it was an idea worth writing about and that’s often good enough for me.

But sometimes, often, actually, I start with something much simpler.

I’ll see a quote I like, hear an interesting statistic or fact, or, as I did yesterday, I’ll start by asking a question.

Yesterday, I asked myself, “Is it okay to tell a client you don’t know?”

Just a question. No article to play off of, no notes, no stories, no questions from subscribers, nada. And no idea what I would say or even what I thought about the subject.

I had the question in front of me. Other than that, I was naked.

Sometimes, I realize I have nothing to say about the subject and the idea goes back into the idea pile. And sometimes, a simple question is enough to ignite the kindling and before I can say Jumpin’ Jehosafats, I’ve written hundreds of words.

After I wrote down the question, I thought that admitting you don’t know tells a client you’re honest, not trying to fake things. It shows respect for the client. And I asked myself, “What if you should know the answer?” and “Doesn’t it make you look weak if you admit you don’t know?”

I had a place to start.

Naturally, I thought about how we tell clients not to guess, that unless they’re sure of their answer they should say they don’t know or don’t remember, and I had my lead.

The rest kind of wrote itself.

Because I basically asked and answered a few simple questions, put my fingers on the keyboard, and let my thoughts spill out of my head and onto the page.

If you’re not writing as often as you’d like to, this same “seat of the britches” method might work for you, too.

Try it. Write down a question that pops into your head, or a question a client asked you recently, or a quote or story or idea that catches your attention. Something you’re curious about and think other people might be, too.

Write it down, play with it on paper, and see where it takes you.

Imagine you’re writing to your mom, a good client, or a friend. Someone who will listen to you merely because its you. Say what you think about the subject or what you’d like to know.

You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you have to say.

If nothing happens, if your brain just won’t cooperate, let it go and try something else tomorrow.

Before you know it, you’ll be writing a post about where you get so many ideas and how you’re able to write so often.

How to get more writing ideas than you can shake a stick at here

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Give people what they want? Maybe

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A YouTuber who “reacts” to musical artists posted a survey on her channel. She asked her subscribers to vote on which artist she should (continue to) react to.

87% chose one artist over the others.

As a result, she’s going to do more reactions to the fan favorite. But she’s also going to react to other artists, “out of fairness” to people who have other preferences.

Is that a good strategy? Or should she stick with what her subscribers overwhelmingly told her they want, because the customer is always right and we are all in the business of serving our customers (or clients)?

Well, if you polled your subscribers and followers, clients and prospects, and asked them what topics they wanted you to write or talk about, or what services they wanted you to provide, would you give them what they want because they want it?

Your answer should be “maybe”. Because the customer (client) isn’t always right.

Steve Jobs put it this way:

“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

If I write about a marketing method you aren’t interested in, you might tune me out. If I write about it all the time, you might find someone else to read.

On the other hand, you might hear me talk about the benefits of that method and how you can do it effectively, and change your mind.

You might not know what you want until I show it to you.

But sometimes, our subscribers want things we can’t give them. If your readers or clients ask you to write about investing in crypto currencies or precious metals and you don’t know anything about the subject, don’t be too quick to say no and don’t try to fake your way through it.

Think like a marketer, not a lawyer and invite an expert to write a guest post on the subject. Or interview them. Because we really are in the business of serving our customers.

Give people what they want. If you can’t or don’t want to, find someone who can.

How to get more referrals from other lawyers

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Captain obvious

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When I was fresh out of law school, I volunteered time at a legal clinic, speaking to indigent people, mostly about family law matters. At the time, I didn’t know squat from shinola about restraining orders.

Fortunately, the clients did.

They’d talked to friends and other people who were similarly situated. They knew what forms to file and what they would need to prove. Usually, they just needed help cleaning up their declaration.

From that day forward, I always assumed my clients and prospective clients knew more than I might think.

You should, too.

Listen to what they tell you or ask you. You’ll be able to do a better job for them when you know what they know.

On the other hand, when you write a newsletter or article or blog post, when you post something on social media, you don’t know how much your readers know.

You have to assume they know nothing, and cover the basics, even if you’ve covered them before.

You probably know much of what I share with you, because you’ve heard it before or you have personal experience with the subject.

Or because it’s just common sense.

And that’s okay. What I share with you, what you share with your readers, doesn’t have to be “news”.

Often, we write to remind our readers to do what they already know, because knowing isn’t the same as doing. Or we show them other ways or better ways to do it.

You surely know the value of staying in touch with your clients and contacts, for example, but do you do it as often as you should? Hearing me talk about it (again) might catch you at just the right time when you needed to hear it and prompt you to get back on track.

You certainly know the value of referrals, and I know you want more of them, but you might not be comfortable asking clients for referrals, until you read about a way to “ask” without speaking to them.

We remind our readers about what they already know, show them different ways to do what they know they should do, and inspire them to do it with our examples and stories.

Share new ideas when you get them. But never hesitate to share old ideas, or assume your readers already know them.

How to get referrals from your clients without asking

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