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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New clients need TLC

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They may be sharp. Sophisticated. Tough as nails. But new clients don’t yet know your wicked ways and could benefit from a little hand holding.

That goes double for clients who aren’t all of the above.

So, you give new clients lots of information, about you and how you work,and about their case and what to expect.

You tell them what’s going to happen, explain what happened, and spell out what will happen next.

And you encourage them to ask lots of questions. But you don’t wait for that, you contact them often and keep them informed.

You show them you’ve done this before and will take good care of them.

But while you want them to know everything they need to know, you don’t want to overwhelm them.

Don’t send them everything all at once.

No firehoses allowed.

One way to slow your roll is to space out your onboarding email sequence so they don’t get everything on day one.

You might send them an introductory email that thanks and welcomes them, gives them some basic information, and makes them feel good about their decision to hire you.

A follow-up email sent in a day or two can provide them with more information, a checklist or timeline, and links to articles on your website they might want to see.

Subsequent emails, over the ensuing days or weeks, can supply more details and resources, and lots of encouragement.

You might want to number the first few emails. If you plan to send them four emails in the first few days or the first week, for example, number them “1 of 4,” “2 of 4, “and so on, so they know what to expect.

Make sure the final email in your initial onboarding sequence explains when they will hear from you again about (a) their case, and (b) other information—about the law, other legal matters they need to know about, how to’s, recommended resources, and more.

You know, your newsletter.

How to use an email newsletter to build a more successful law practice

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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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So what?

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How much do your readers, followers, or audience already know about the law and other things you write or speak about?

That’s not the right question.

The question isn’t, do they know? It’s, “are they doing anything with that information?”

Information abounds. Your audience can find it in a book or video or on hundreds of websites. Countless other lawyers, writers, and other experts provide that information. You’ve probably provided that same information to them many times before.

So what? You’re not in the information delivery business. You’re in the “solving problems” and “delivering solutions” business. It’s up to you to show people the significance of the information and persuade them and guide them to do something with it.

Help them understand what the information means in their world. Tell them what could happen next, tell them the options they have available, and convince them to take action.

Use the information to scare them or inspire them and get them to make the right decision.

You’re an advocate, so advocate. Use the information as your evidence, your witnesses, and your arguments. Present the evidence, tell them what to do, and why.

Because if they do nothing with the information, and they need to, you’re not going to get the verdict you seek.

If you’re ready to take your practice to the next level, this is what you need

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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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When you don’t feel like writing anything, do this

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What do you do when you don’t feel like writing anything on your blog or in your newsletter?

Most people will tell you to suck it up and write it anyway, because you made a commitment to your subscribers or followers and they’re expecting to hear from you, and because you don’t want to break the chain.

“Figure it out,“ they tell you. So you scramble to find an idea and force yourself to get it done.

And all is right with the world.

But sometimes, you just can’t. You’re fresh out of ideas, you’re ill or recovering from surgery, you’re slammed with work, or you’re having a sad and need a day off.

Take it. Take the day off.

It’s your blog. Your newsletter. Your channel. The world won’t end if you miss a day.

If you don’t feel like writing or have nothing to say, say nothing. That’s why God created sick days and snow days and bad hair days. If you need some personal time, take it.

Or. . . go to Plan B.

Plan B is to write a very short post. Instead of hundreds of words, you write a paragraph or two.

Yes, you can.

Seth Godin does it. So do many others. Why not you?

Something else. If you still can’t think of anything to say, go ahead and post something someone else said.

You can do that, too.

A passage from a book or article. A pithy quote. Or an intriguing question you saw that’s got you thinking.

Note to self: set up a file and start collecting this kind of stuff.

If you don’t feel well, you can post this “as is” and go back to bed.

But you might find, as I often do, that a short passage or quote you dig out of your notes gets your juices flowing and you find yourself writing a “regular-sized” post.

Many of my posts start that way. I grab something I found interesting and see what I have to say about it.

In fact, that’s how I wrote this post.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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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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