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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Making friends isn’t required

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You can be massively successful in your practice without “getting to know” more people or “building stronger relationships” with the people you already know.

I’m not saying relationships aren’t valuable. They are incredibly valuable and if you are so inclined, you should regularly meet more people and strengthen your existing relationships.

But you don’t have to. You can bring in all the business you can handle, and then some, without it.

You don’t need to “do” social media. You don’t need to network or blog or podcast. You don’t need to create content or do any of the other things the cool kids are doing. You can get new clients and increase your income by simply doing a good job for your clients and treating them well.

The old fashioned ways still work.

However, if you go that route, I suggest you also employ two additional strategies. They are easy to do, don’t take a lot of time, and could multiply your results dramatically.

First on the list: stay in touch with the people you know.

You don’t have to see them in person or do anything other than contact them regularly. Email is the easiest way to do that but you could also use regular mail.

Each time they hear from you, they’ll think about you and what you do and be prompted to talk to you about new legal issues, and/or refer people to you who might need your help.

Of all the marketing strategies in existence, staying touch with people who already know, like, and trust you is about as simple (and effective) as it gets.

The second strategy is also simple, and also likely to pay huge dividends.

No matter how much you avoid seeking out new relationships, they will occur naturally. A client or contact will give you a lot of work or send you a lot of referrals, tell people about you, send traffic to your website, and otherwise do you a solid.

Give these folks more attention.

Contract them more often. Send them an article or link you think might interest them. If you have good chemistry with them, invite them to coffee or to do something with you off the clock.

They could help your practice not just grow but multiply.

Yes, I know I said you don’t have to do anything like this. You don’t need to make new friends. You don’t, but with friends like that, you might want to make an exception.

How to use email to stay in touch with people who can hire or refer you

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Law firm newsletter vs. individual newsletters

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Is it better for each lawyer in the firm to write their own newsletter or to have one newsletter for the firm with each lawyer contributing thereto?

Having one newsletter means each attorney has less writing to do. Once a week or once a month, each attorney contributes content. That doesn’t sound so bad until one or more attorneys are late and it throws off the entire schedule.

Someone has to coordinate everything and make sure the writing gets done on time. They also have to make sure the contributors don’t duplicate content or contradict each other.

When you do your own newsletter, you don’t have to wait for anyone or be concerned about what someone else says.

The bigger issue, however, is that a firm newsletter brands the firm, not the individual lawyers. That’s okay, but clients hire and refer clients to their lawyer, not the firm. When a client hands out your business card, they say, “Call my lawyer,” don’t they? Not “Call my law firm”.

Think about the purpose of a newsletter. Yes, it is to inform and to stay in touch with clients and prospective clients, referral sources, and others, but more than that, it is to build relationships with them.

You can do that more easily when it is your newsletter, not a group effort.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do all the writing.

You can ask other lawyers in the firm, or outside the firm, to contribute “guest posts,” or you can interview each other. You can also collaborate on longer articles.

A firm newsletter is a great idea, but if you’re inclined to publish one, do it in addition to individual newsletters, not in place of them.

One way to do both is to encourage the individual attorneys to write their own newsletters and periodically submit the “best of” their content for the firm’s newsletter. That way, each attorney can build their own following, while the firm showcases its talent and cross-promotes it to the readers of the firm’s newsletter.

How to build your practice with a newsletter

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Milk it

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You like the idea of writing shorter emails and articles and using them to stay in touch with your subscribers and followers. You like being able to get your blog post or newsletter done in less than an hour.

You have time to do that. But what if you need to or want to write longer pieces?

Some content can take hours to write. Or days. You can’t do that every day or every week.

You don’t have to.

You can use all the research and writing you do to create a 5000 word article, report, podcast, or presentation to create additional content, the kind of content you can create in minutes because you’ve already done the heavy lifting.

The research is done. The writing is done. Go back to your original material and create new content:

  • A summary of the key issues or arguments
  • Profiles of the parties or stakeholders
  • Additional issues or cases related to your subject
  • A list of resources
  • Answers to FAQs
  • Additional comments by you or others
  • Additional cases or examples you didn’t use
  • Recommendations for readers in different niches
  • A PDF collection of your slides, notes, or case summaries
  • Transcripts of interviews from your research
  • And on and on

Each of these ancillary bits of content shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to put together.

You might get a month or two of additional posts out your original post or presentation.

Each post gives you another opportunity to stay in touch with and provide value to your readers and followers. Each post gives you another opportunity to be found through search and social.

And, when you think you’ve milked your original content dry and there’s nothing left to write, write one more post summarizing and linking to all of your posts, for the people who came late to your party, and for those who will come next month and next year.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Plagiarizing for fun and profit

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Yesterday, I talked about finding blog posts and articles written by other lawyers and rewriting them, as an easy and effective way to create your content.

Today, I have an even easier method.

No, I’m not going to tell you to plagiarize their content—copy it and call it your own.

You can’t do that. But you can plagiarize your own content.

You can re-post or re-send something you’ve shared in the past.

Take one of your old posts and post it again. Without changing a word.

Can you really do that?

It’s your content. You can do whatever you want with it.

But should you?

Yes. Here’s why.

You’ve got new subscribers who didn’t see your article before. You’ve got readers who saw it months or years ago and won’t remember. You’ve got readers who read it before weren’t ready to do anything with the information. And readers who did something but need to be reminded to do it again.

Do you do everything I tell you to do? No, you don’t. Which is why you’ll hear me say it again.

Sometimes I re-write, update, shorten or lengthen my old posts. Sometimes, I write a new post on the same idea. But you don’t have to do any of that and if you don’t want to or you don’t have time, don’t bother.

Click and send that puppy and get on with your day.

Now for the best part.

You can take some of your better articles or posts, load them into your autoresponder, and schedule them to go out over the course of the next few weeks or months. When the cycle ends, you can reset it and let your best stuff get sent all over again.

Automate your self-plagiarism. For the win.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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You don’t get extra credit for originality

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Nobody reads your blog, your newsletter, or your other content, and compares what you wrote to your competitor’s content.

Nobody.

But even if they did, they wouldn’t favor you because you wrote something or offered something unique, or disfavor you because you wrote about the same topic other lawyers wrote about.

So don’t worry about coming up with original ideas. You don’t have to do anything original to pass this class.

Which means your content creation problems are solved. You’ll never stare at a blank page again.

All you have to do is find out what others are doing that’s working and do the same thing (but better).

If 27 other lawyers write about a case in the news today, you can too.

Put it in your own words, use your own examples and stories, and you’re good to go.

In fact, not only is this “okay,” it is a smart approach because all those other lawyers writing about that case is “proof of concept”. They’re writing about it because they know their readers want to know about it, which means your readers do too.

Want to test this?

Do a search on your top keywords or your practice area and find another lawyer’s blog or article. They don’t have to be local to you, anywhere will do.

Go to the first article or post that catches your eye. Copy it and re-write it. Change the title or headline, give your opinion, talk about a case or client of yours to illustrate, and you will have something ready to publish.

The good news is that even though you wrote about the same subject, your article will be original.

The bad news? No extra credit.

More: Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Do you make this mistake in your newsletter?

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When you set up a new newsletter, one of the first things you’ll do is add one or more emails to the auto responder. These emails go out automatically as new subscribers sign up.

Typically, the first email will welcome them, tell them how often they can expect to receive your newsletter, provide a link to download the report or other incentive you promised, and a few other housekeeping matters.

But if that’s all it does, it’s missing the most important element.

Most people subscribe because they want the information you offer in your report. But they found your site or page because they were looking for an attorney to help them with a problem.

So, make sure your first email, and every email, tells them what to do to get your help.

Your contact information, sure, but more than that—tell them what to do and why.

Tell them to call or fill out a form. Tell them what happens when they do.

No, it’s not too soon to do that. No, you don’t need to send more information first, to warm them up and build value before you sell them on taking the next step.

They need help. They might be ready to talk to you and hire you today. So, tell them what to do.

If you don’t, their problem might get worse, or. . . they might call someone else.

You don’t have to hard sell. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail. But you should tell them what to do and why.

Show them the pathway to getting the help they need and want.

In every email.

Not everyone is ready to talk to you or hire immediately, of course, so deliver the information, too. Tell them about the law, their risks, their options.

But do that in addition to telling them to contact you, and why.

You might not need more than a sentence or two, with a phone number or a link. Sometimes, you’ll do more. But never do less.

How to build your practice with an email newsletter

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How to write an article or blog post in 10 minutes

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One reason lawyers tell me they don’t write a newsletter or blog (or don’t do it more often) is that they don’t have enough time.

I understand. But I disagree.

No matter how busy you are, you can write something once a week and post it on a blog or email it to a list.

You know that but you don’t do that, you say, because you don’t know what to write.

But you do.

You talk to people every day, about the law, procedure, issues, risks, problems and solutions. People ask questions, you answer them. People tell you about their situation, you tell them their options and what you can do to help them.

You’ve got so much to say, you don’t know where to start.

Start anywhere. With anything.

Make up a question prospective clients or new clients ask and answer it.

In a few minutes, you’ll have the first draft of an article.

If you can talk, you can write.

Actually, you could do that literally. Instead of writing, dictate. Speak, record and have someone else transcribe it, or use the speech-to-text function on your computer or phone.

“Yes, but writing is more difficult than speaking. Writing needs to be more structured and polished,” you say.

To some extent, that’s true. But not to the extent you think.

When you write an email to a client or a friend, how much structure and polish do you give it? My guess, not that much. Just enough to ensure your message is clear and relatively typo-free and out the door it goes.

You’re not writing an appellate brief, you’re writing an email.

And that’s precisely how you should write your newsletter or blog post.

Write (or dictate) an email, not an article. You’ll thank me later.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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You don’t need to be a great writer to write great emails

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You’ll never be able to write an email newsletter that brings in new clients because you aren’t a great writer.

Is that what you believe?

Sorry to bust your bubble, but it’s not true.

You don’t need to be a great writer. You also don’t need complex tools, fancy graphics, or anything else you don’t already know or do when you send an email.

You don’t need to be sales-y or push people to do things they don’t want to do.

And you don’t need a lot of time.

All you need is an hour a week and the willingness to share some information about your field of law or your services.

Not kidding.

Most of my emails are only a few hundred words of plan text. I copy and paste my words into a form supplied by my email service provider. I edit and proofread and click a button to send that email to my list.

Can you do that?

Just like that, your newsletter is out the door and in the mailboxes of people who can hire you and/or refer you, reminding them about what you do and how you can help them.

Send them a weekly tip. Tell them a story about an interesting client or case you had (or read about). Give them the link to a video or website you suggest they check out.

Can it really be that simple?

It can.

If you want your list to grow, you’ll also want to do things like adding a sign-up form to your website, creating a report or other incentive to encourage visitors to sign up, and promoting your offer anywhere prospective clients might see it.

And you should, because the bigger your list, the more opportunities you have to bring in more business.

Here’s the thing.

Even if you’re terrible at all of this, you’ll get more clients, simply because you stayed in touch with people who can hire you, send traffic to your website, and tell others about you.

They’ll do that even if you’re not a great writer.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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How to get more clients when you don’t have a big list

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Email marketing is one of the best ways to drive the growth of a law practice. And I recommend building your list immediately, if not sooner (as my grandfather used to say).

Building a list organically can take time, so while you’re doing that, there’s another way to use email to bring in clients, promote your events, or get more readers or listeners for your blog or channel.

You can leverage other people’s lists.

Get influential people in your niche to tell their subscribers about you, your seminar, your website, your book, your newsletter, or your services.

Think about this.. . .

One of the biggest reasons people hire a lawyer is because someone they know recommended them.

If you can get influential folks with a large audience (or even a small but well-targeted audience) to recommend you or something you offer, they do the selling for you.

And they’ll usually do it better than you could. . . because they’re not you.

How do you get in on this? How do you get others to promote you?

Unless they’re a personal friend, it usually takes more than just emailing and asking pretty please. You have to offer something in return.

What do you have to offer?

Well, if (when) you did have an email list or newsletter, or a robust social media following, you could offer to promote their products or services or events in exchange for them promoting yours.

But I’m assuming you don’t (yet).

Do you have a blog? You could invite other professionals to publish a “guest post”. Or you could interview them and publish that on the blog, where your readers can learn all about them.

This sounds simple, because it is. It’s also do-able.

If I was a professional, business owner, or blogger in your niche, and you offered this to me, I’d jump at the chance.

These other professionals might also be open to interviewing you or inviting you to write a guest post for their blog or newsletter. They’ll do that if they believe you have something to say their readers would like to hear.

You do, don’t you?

Talk to other professionals in your niche and see what you can work out. Immediately, if not sooner.

Okay. One more thing. Maybe I should have started with this.

You say you don’t have a prospect list (yet), a blog, or a following worth mentioning. Something you can use to promote other professionals, in exchange for their promoting you.

Ah, but you do.

You have a client list.

People who know, like, and trust you and will listen to you when you recommend something.

It might not be a big list, but it is better list than a list of prospects. Everyone on your client list knows you personally, has given you permission to contact them, and will open and read your email.

Your client list is extremely valuable.

If you write and tell them about an accountant who is conducting a seminar or has some great videos, and you recommend they check it out, they probably will.

Which means this accountant should be willing to write to his list and recommend you.

Can I get an Amen?

Email Marketing for Attorneys


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