Looking for ideas for your newsletter or blog? Here are 3 places to find them

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Where do you find ideas for writing interesting and relevant posts your clients and prospects look forward to reading?

Here are 3 “can’t fail” places:

1) Books

I know, you already read plenty. But if you only read about the law, or you only read short articles you find online, you’re missing out on an opportunity to create superlative content.

Read more books and talk about the ideas you learn.

Read history, philosophy, and books about business (even if you target consumers). Read books about important subjects, written by smart and accomplished people with interesting information and stories.

If it interests you, it will interest many of your readers.

Entrepreneur Patrick Collison said, “You could try to pound your head against the wall and think of original ideas or you can cheat by reading them in books.”

2) Posts written by your colleagues

Other lawyers are writing about subjects that interest their clients and prospects. There’s a good chance those same subjects will interest yours.

Read the blogs and newsletters written by professionals in your niche. Read what lawyers, accountants, consultants, and other experts are writing about and use their ideas to create your own content.

If you handle estate planning, read blogs written by other estate planners, even in other jurisdictions. Read tax experts, divorce lawyers, financial planners and others who sell to or advise the people you target.

Agree or disagree with them, amplify their article with examples from your own experience, quote them and link to them if you want, or simply use their idea as a starting point to share your own thoughts on the subject.

3) News about your target market

What’s going on in your target market and with the people in it? What are people talking about, complaining about or celebrating?

Report on trends in the market, predictions, and news. Which company or industry is in an upswing, which one is having trouble? What’s expected to happen next month or next year?

Share information and ideas on consumer issues, e.g., taxes, insurance, credit, debt, etc. If you target business clients, talk about avoiding lawsuits, protecting assets, increasing productivity and profits, and bringing in more business.

Identify prominent people in the market and write about them, interview them, review their books and profile their companies, products and services.

Share news and helpful and interesting information people want to know.

3 simple ways to get ideas for content your readers want to read.

Want more ideas? Get my email marketing course

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Nobody wants to join your email list

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You write an email newsletter and you want more subscribers. More subscribers leads to more clients, more repeat business, more referrals, and other benefits you don’t get if you don’t have a way to stay in touch with people.

When I started my newsletter 20 years ago, I said something like, “If you like the information on this site [my blog], subscribe to my newsletter to get more tips, ideas, and resources. . .”

And I got a lot of subscribers.

Today, that wouldn’t be good enough.

Everyone is overwhelmed with email and nobody wants to join your list. They have enough to read, they don’t care about you staying in touch, they don’t want to hear you pitch your services.

So, if you want more subscribers, don’t make it about your list or newsletter.

Offer them an incentive.

Something of value. Something that allows them to obtain a benefit or avoid a loss:

  • Information that helps them solve a specific problem.
  • A form or checklist that makes something easier, better or faster.
  • A video that explains how to do something they want to do.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to give away the store. A report or short ebook is fine.

Tell them what to do to get it, ie., fill out the form, and how they will benefit once they do.

Subscribers are precious. You have to earn their subscription.

If you’re building a law practice, it’s one of the smartest things you can do.

My email marketing course shows you what to do and how to do it

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You already said that

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In one of his newsletters, legendary copywriter Gary Halbert tells a story about a reader who urged him to re-read a newsletter he’d written nearly a decade earlier. When he did, he found that the earlier newsletter was “almost word-for-word the same” as his latest.

Oops? Not at all. Halbert said, “. . .what I wrote almost ten years ago is as accurate and important today… as… it was back then.”

He added:

“It Is More Important To Be Reminded Of “Core Fundamentals” Than To Be Dazzled With Some New Piece Of Contemporary Creativity!”

For those of us who write newsletters and blogs and other content, the takeaway is clear. It’s okay to say things you’ve said before.

In fact, it’s a good thing. Here’s why:

  • You continually have new subscribers and followers, reading you for the first time.
  • Most people don’t read everything you write.
  • Most people don’t remember what you said before.
  • Some people may not have needed to hear your message before but very much need to hear it now.
  • You may repeat the basic points but use a different headline, lead, examples, stories, or quotes. You may say it more persuasively or make it more memorable.
  • Some people need to hear it again (and again) before they’re willing to do something about it.

If what you say is important, if you’re writing about “core fundamentals,” the best thing you can do for your readers is to write about it often.

So don’t worry about repeating yourself. Say what you want to say, as often as you want to say it. (Just don’t make it boring.)

And, on those days when you can’t think of anything to write about, find something you wrote about before and write about it again.

The core fundamentals of a lawyer’s newsletter

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My election predictions

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I predict my side will win and this will be good for our country. If I’m wrong and the other side wins, I predict bad things will happen.

I predict everything is about to get even messier and we are unlikely to know the results any time soon.

I predict that some polling firms and media outlets are going to radically change their methods, but most won’t, at least until enough people stop listening to them.

Pretty lame predictions, huh? No specifics about who or what I favor or why.

Because if I did that, it would likely alienate half of my readers, and why do that?

Unless you regularly write or speak about political issues, you’re trying to build a following of people on one side of the spectrum, or you’re running for office, I suggest you stay away from politics, especially when things are as polarized and emotionally charged as they are in the current election.

But don’t stay away from predictions.

Predictions appeal to your reader’s curiosity. They get lots of clicks and engagement.

You’ll get more readers reading, commenting or asking questions. You’ll get more shares. And people will continue to read or listen to you and look forward to your next prediction.

People want to know what smart people like you think will happen, and why. They want you to explain what happened and what it means.

So share your predictions and explanations. Just make sure you choose the right subject.

How to build your practice with a newsletter

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Who’s on your “hot list”?

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You have contacts you want to stay in touch with. Clients, former clients, referral sources, prospective clients, centers of influence in your niche, and so on.

When you first met them or connected with them, you may have scheduled follow-up dates and stayed in touch. But you got busy, you forgot about them, or you ran out of things to talk about.

What can you do?

First, create a “hot list” of no more than 30 people you want to focus on right now–your “Focus 30” list.

Schedule time each week to look at this list. Choose one or two people and contact them.

Call, write, message them. Ask about their business, their family, their health, their latest project or their next one.

Keep notes about them and your conversations and emails. Keep a list of their websites and social platforms so you can see what they’re up to.

Keep another list of generic ideas or conversation starters, questions you can ask anyone on your list, things you can offer, things you can tell them about or invite them to.

NB: When you regularly create new content you always have something new to tell people about or offer.

Keep your list up to date. Remove people who aren’t responsive and add new ones when you find them.

Give your personal attention to your “Focus 30” and stay in touch with everyone else via your newsletter.

Here’s how to do that

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How much, how often?

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Information overload is clearly a thing.

According to a 2014 study by UC San Diego, each day we spend an average of 11.8 hours consuming media on our devices, the equivalent of 174 full newspaper’s worth of information.

That’s approximately 113,000 words per day, and this is increasing 2.4% each year.

So it’s not surprising to hear many people tell those of us who write a blog or a newsletter or produce videos or other content to cut back.

But I’m not cutting back and neither should you.

Because we have people with problems that need solving or goals they wish to achieve, and the information we send them helps begin the process.

So, let other people cut back. Not us.

When you send out valuable and/or interesting information that educates clients and prospects about their problems and the available solutions, you give them hope for a better future.

And you can’t do that too much or too often.

Where many marketers go wrong, however, is by sending out information that’s not helpful or interesting, so people stop reading it and forget your name.

Which doesn’t help anyone.

The message is simple. Write something people want to read and send it often, because you don’t know how many times they need to be reminded that you have the solutions they seek, or when they’ll be ready to take the next step.

How to write content people want to read

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Super simple way to create your next article or post

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I see you. You’re sitting in front of your computer trying to come up with something to write for your blog or newsletter.

And you’re stumped.

The well is dry, you’ve got other things to do, and you don’t want to spend all day staring at the ceiling.

No, I’m not going to lecture you about keeping a running list of ideas. Instead, I’m going to come to your rescue and give you your next idea.

All you need to do is identify a book or article you read, or video you watched recently, and tell your subscribers or readers about it.

What it was about, what you agreed with or liked, or what you found lacking.

You could write about the article about taxes or retirement or insurance you just read. Tell them what you think, what you agree with and recommend, and what you plan to do with the information yourself.

If you read an article about a productivity app, you could tell them about your experiences with that app, or why you like something else better.

If you just read a bar journal article or watched a CLE video, you could mention a few salient points and tell them how you will use this in your practice.

What is your local paper writing about your community? Crime, fires, store closings? You can write about those, too.

You could write about anything. Even the post you’re reading right now.

If you represent business clients or anyone who writes a blog or newsletter or posts on social media, you could pass along your thoughts about the idea in this very article. It’s something they can use when they’re fresh out of ideas.

So, what will you write about next?

Want more article ideas? Here

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Ten tips for writing faster

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I’ll keep this short (which is my first tip for writing faster).

Most of my posts are a few hundred words. You don’t need more than that to get my point, and I don’t want to write more than that to make it.

So there.

  1. Lower your standards. You’re not writing literature. Tell people what you want to tell them, do a quick edit, and get on with your day.
  2. Keep a well-stocked supply of ideas. For me, deciding what I want to say takes a lot longer than actually saying it.
  3. Avoid (most) research. Write what you know.
  4. Write (something) every day. You’ll get faster and better.
  5. Schedule it. Decide when you want to write and put the time on your calendar. You’ll train your brain to accept that it’s time to write, making it more likely that the words will start flowing.
  6. Time it. Give yourself 15 minutes to write a first draft. (30 minutes if you must.)
  7. Learn to type faster. You can practice here
  8. Dictate. You speak several times faster than you can type and you can do it anywhere. Editing takes longer, though.
  9. Re-cycle. Most of your readers haven’t read or don’t remember what you wrote on the subject last year so write about it again this year.

Still think you can’t write a weekly newsletter or blog post?

Think again.

How to (quickly) write an email newsletter clients want to read

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How to make marketing a habit

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A lawyer wrote and said the things he’s learned from me “really work and I see results in a very short time.”

That’s good.

He mentioned his email newsletter and said, “unfortunately, it is not yet a habit.”

I told him to commit to writing once a week and put it on his calendar.

Simple. But does it solve his problem?

Note, he didn’t say he doesn’t have time or he’s not a good writer or he doesn’t know what to write about. Those are different problems, with different solutions.

As for habits, there are countless books, articles, videos, and courses that explain the psychology and present strategies and much of it is useful.

But no strategy works if you don’t use it.

And keep using it.

Which means making it a habit, which leads us back to where we started.

My advice?

You either want to write a weekly newsletter (or create any other habit) or you don’t.

If you don’t want to do it, you won’t do it. You’ll never start or you’ll start and stop. Or force yourself to do it, be miserable, and then stop.

If you want to do it, however, you’ll do it, and you won’t have to depend on strategies or tricks or willpower.

Much better, yes?

There are many strategies that can help you start, and starting is the most important part. I encourage you to do that. You might find you like it after all.

Try lots of things. And variations. If you don’t want to write a weekly newsletter, write one every other week. Or don’t write a newsletter the way others write newsletters, share your thoughts in a few paragraphs and call it a day.

Give things a reasonable tryout. If they don’t make the cut, bench them and try something else.

The good news is you only need one. You can build a massively successful practice with just one marketing strategy.

Don’t listen to all the goo-roos who say otherwise. Just listen to yourself.

How to build a successful email newsletter

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Do you want to see something really scary?

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Lawyers sell hope and opportunity. We sell money at a discount. We sell relief.

We tell stories to show prospective clients what it will be like when they hire us to help them.

But we also tell stories of what it will be like if they don’t.

Fear is an important tool in our toolbox and we use it to motivate people to act.

We describe the worst case scenario, enumerate the potential losses, and estimate the potential expense. We dramatize this in our web copy and consultations, and it works. People sign up because they’re afraid of what might happen if they don’t.

So, use fear. Scare your prospects into taking action. You’re doing them a favor, motivating them to do something they need.

But. . . don’t overdo it.

Because if you scare them too much or too often, many people shut down.

They stop listening. They stop reading your emails. They cancel appointments.

So, how much fear is enough but not too much?

Publicly, meaning on your website, newsletter, articles or presentations, offer lots of hope and a sprinkling of fear. Let them know about potential risks or problems, share a story or two of things that went wrong for people in their situation, but don’t go into a lot of detail–or do it too often.

You want them to take the next step, not keep looking for a lawyer who offers hope and opportunity.

Privately, in a consultation or on the phone, you can give them more than a sprinkling of fear. How much, you’ll have to decide in the moment.

How much is at stake? What’s their level of sophistication? How do they feel about their current situation?

Ask lots of open-ended questions and get them talking. They usually tell you everything you need to know to get them to take the next step.

How to get more people on your list to take the next step

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