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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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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The law is boring. You aren’t.

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Most people who read your content aren’t interested in hearing about the law. Not all the time, anyway, and not in as much detail as might interest another lawyer.

Keep that in mind when you fashion your next blog post, article, or video.

Give ‘em a summary, the highlights, the down-and-dirty version, because if you do more, at some point, they’ll tune out.

“Yes, but. . .” you say. “What should I write about if not my area of expertise?“

Write about the reader. Their life, their business, their industry, their niche, their local market. Write about things they are experiencing and talking about and worried about, or might be soon.

Even if there’s nary a legal issue in sight.

If a legal issue applies, mention it. Explain it (briefly). Provide advice and how-to’s, to warn them, protect them, and add value to their life or business.

But your readers are more interested in themselves, so talk mostly about them.

Of course you should also write about your actual clients, since you know them best of all. Tell their stories, their problems, their cases, and how you helped them.

Real people experiencing real problems or seeking to protect themselves from harm.

Again, mention the law if it’s applicable, but sparingly. Your readers are more interested in hearing about what happened to your clients, and what to do if the same thing happens to them.

What else?

Well, your readers also want to hear about you.

Oh yes they do. Especially if they’re thinking about hiring you or referring you. Yes, you, slayer of problems, bestower of benefits, protector of rights, friend to the friendless.

People want to know about what you do and how you do it.

Tell ‘em.

To do that effectively, you might want to start documenting what you do, so you’ll have it on hand when you need it.

Keep a journal or database and, at the end of each day, make a note about what you did, who you helped, the victories, struggles, defeats, and what you think (and feel) about it all.

Then, when you’re looking for something to write about, you can go back to your log and find something worth sharing.

You may think your account would bore your readers, because to you, it’s just another day doing more of the same. You’re too close to it, my friend. Record the days, step back, come back later, and you’ll be surprised at how interesting your days will be to your readers.

The law itself might be boring; you aren’t.

But even if your stories are as boring as dry toast, your readers will still want to hear them. Because as you tell your stories, you’re also telling your clients’ stories, and to someone who is similarly situated, those stories are endlessly fascinating.

How to write interesting stories

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The best place to find ideas for your blog or newsletter

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Ideas for blog posts and articles and other content are literally everywhere.

Find a post written by an attorney or other expert in your field, for example, and write a post about the same subject.

You can even use their article as a template. Rewrite the headline and bullet points, add your own comments, recommendations, and examples, and be done in minutes.

Make sure you follow the blogs and subscribe to the newsletters published by attorneys in your field.

Yes?

It is a quick and easy source of ideas. But there’s something even better.

I’m talking about the blogs and publications written for and read by the people in your target market.

If you want to represent people in the health care industry, read what they read, and write about the things they’re doing, talking about, worried about, hoping for, or working towards.

Write about the issues, the people, and the tends, in their niche. Write about the things they care about.

Other lawyers may write about generic legal topics. When you write about topics that are specific to an industry, occupation, or niche, your content will resonate with readers in that niche.

Your content will also be completely original. And valuable to the people in your target market, which means they are more likely to see you as the go-to expert in their market, and share your content with their colleagues and contacts in that market.

Write niche-specific content and you can own your niche.

How to write content your readers what to read

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The 5-minute interview

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If you like the idea of interviewing lawyers and other people with something to say, don’t be put off by the thought that an interview will take up a lot of time because it doesn’t have to—you can do everything via email.

Including “the interview”. No need to schedule anything or talk to anyone.

Step One: Email (or call if you want to), explain that you’d like to interview them for your blog or newsletter or book, tell them why you chose them and what they get out of it, e.g., exposure, supporting a good cause, etc.

And. . . tell them everything can be done via email and should only take a few minutes of their time.

Step Two: Once they agree, send them 5 to 10 questions and provide some context about your readers—what they do, what they know, what they want to know, and why this is important to them. Thank them for helping and give them a brief window of time to reply, say, a week or so.

Generally, don’t ask yes-or-no questions or questions that invite one or two-word answers. It’s an interview, not a survey. But don’t expect them to write long, detailed answers.

On the other hand, encourage them to add any additional information or thoughts they think your readers might like to know.

Ask for their bio or a link thereto so you can properly “introduce” them. Finally, ask if they have anything they want to promote or offer to your readers.

Step Three: When they respond, do a light edit, write your post (including their intro and offer), send them a copy and thank them again. When your post appears, email a link and yes, thank them again.

Because there’s always next time.

For more about email interviews, see my book

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Blog or newsletter?

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Many ask whether they should start a blog or a newsletter to market their practice. They require different resources and workflows and it’s understandable to ask, “Which one is better?”

But that’s the wrong question. The right question is, “Which one should I start first?” because, ultimately, why wouldn’t you have both?

If you write a blog post, why not email it to your list? If you email an article to your list, why not also post it on ye old blog?

Why not also post said content on social media, record it as a video, repurpose it as an ebook, and print it for a handout?

Why indeed?

So, that’s the plan. But if you’re just starting down the content marketing road, where do you start?

I’d start with a blog. It’s easy to set up and the sooner you do that, the sooner you can get some traffic coming to visit your “store”.

Visitors will consume your content and share it. Search engines will index you and send you more eyeballs. And while folks are consuming your content, they will learn what you do and how you can help them.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Once you set up your blog and post 10 or 15 articles, start your newsletter.

And send all of your blog posts to your list.

Once a week, more often if you can, less often if you can’t, post and email something to your visitors and subscribers. Re-post that content, or links thereto, on your socials, and encourage your readers and visitors to share it on theirs.

And just like that, people are finding you, hearing about your wicked ways, and eventually, ready to contact you to ask questions or schedule an appointment.

You can set up a blog in a few minutes. Click this, choose that, and done. A newsletter might take you a weekend or two, because you have more options and decisions.

You can hire someone to set things up for you or help you, but I suggest you learn how to do it yourself so you don’t have to call someone every time you want to change something.

You should write the content yourself, or most of it, because your blog and newsletter represent you and what you would say if you were speaking to prospective clients in person.

Schedule one hour a week for writing and posting.

If you’re brandy new to all this, you can work on everything “in private” before you open to the public. Write articles, hang curtains, make everything pretty, and when you’re ready, hang up an “open for business” sign in your window.

But don’t wait too long. Clients are waiting to find you.

How to create a newsletter that does most of your marketing for you

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Not many lawyers own their niche

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Wouldn’t it be nice to be the top dog in your niche? The lawyer clients listen to and want to hire above all others?

If you do, you should set your sights on doing something most lawyers never do.

Most lawyers are content with positioning themselves as an expert in their field. But every lawyer is an “expert,“ aren’t they?

The trouble is, people follow leaders, not experts. If you want to dominate your field, you need to lead your field.

How do you do that?

You do things leaders do. You speak and write and serve on boards and panels. You teach other lawyers (CLE) and are on a first name basis with influential people in your field and in your market.

And you build a reputation that attracts lots of referrals from lawyers and other professionals who know your name even if you don’t know theirs.

You should be working towards this, but it might take a minute. If you want to shortcut the process and be seen as a leader before the twilight of your career, there is something else you can do.

You can engage with your market and get them to know your name and what you can do to help them.

Email isn’t the only way to do that, but it is the simplest. It makes it easy to connect with prospective clients and professionals in your niche, and do it often.

When you are frequently “in the minds and mailboxes” of the people in your market, they get to know you and see you as a leader. Maybe ‘the’ leader.

Most lawyers are afraid to do this. They don’t email often because they don’t want to annoy their list or get spam complaints, or they’re afraid they’ll run out of things to say.

But those are just excuses.

You may say there are many lawyers at the top of their field who don’t communicate regularly with their market, and that’s true. But what did they do to get there? And how long did it take?

If you don’t have some of the advantages they had, or you don’t want to take as long as they did, start thinking about how you can get in front of your market as often as possible to establish your leadership immediately.

Email Marketing for Attorneys makes it easy

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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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