‘Til your daddy takes your T-Bird away

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I’m guilty of this myself. Too much information in my articles and posts. Telling you what and how, why and when. Giving you bullet points and instructions, telling you what to do and how to do it.

There’s nothing wrong with the how-to’s, of course. It’s just that there are other things to talk about.

Suppose you and I were buds. We get together for to hang out, shoot the shite, bring each other up to speed on what’s going on.

We have a few adult beverages and share a few laughs. In other words, we have some fun.

Why can’t we do that online?

We can and we should.

When we write a blog post or article, when we record a video or podcast, when we post on social media, we don’t have to be “all business, all the time.”

That doesn’t mean being unprofessional or always going for the laugh. It means letting down our hair, speaking or writing informally, and sharing information and ideas that aren’t strictly law-related.

If you had an interesting day, tell people about it. If your son or daughter tells you something funny that happened in school, share it. If your neighbor charges his Tesla at night and you can hear that annoying electric hum through the wall of your house and it drives you crazy, mention it–like I just did about my neighbor.

We can also have fun playing with language. One way is to use phrases your readers don’t expect you to use. You feel me? Are you picking up what I’m laying down?

You know, fun.

Now, you may be wondering, why. Why should we put fun in our writing or speaking, or for those of us who do it already, why should we do it more?

Because our readers want us to.

They want to see our human side. They want us to make them smile. They want to have more fun, and and they don’t want us to give them homework every time they hear from us.

Yes, we should teach our readers something. But we can do that and also entertain them for the few minutes it takes for them to read what we write.

It’s called infotainment. A friend of mine describes it as “Education wrapped in candy.”

Give your readers their peas and carrots but also give them dessert.

You may find it difficult to do this, to loosen up in front of an audience who is used to you being straight. But you can do it (it just takes practice) and when you do, you’ll be glad you did.

You’ll enjoy writing more. You’ll get more replies and engagement from your readers. You’ll build a following instead of just a list of people who consume your content.

Which means you’ll also get more business.

Start slowly. Add a sprinkle of lighter material here and there. One way you could do that is to make your usual (boring) legal point and then use a colorful analogy or story to illustrate it.

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Give it a try. You might find you’re good at it. You might enjoy it immensely. It might give new life to your writing and speaking.

One thing’s for sure. Your subscribers will love it.

They’ll look forward to your next post or email or presentation, and they’ll tell their friends about you, because you’re not like all those other (boring) lawyers.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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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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How to fool everyone into thinking you’re smarter than you really are

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Attorney Lowell Steiger tells me he is “impressed by the fact that you come up with something new every single day”. He says my newsletter is useful and helpful, and dubs me a marketing guru who generously helps “people like me, the less talented.”

Poppycock. (I’ve been wanting to use that word for awhile now, so thanks for giving me the opportunity.)

The thing is, while I know a thing or two about a thing or two, I am not any smarter or more talented than the average bear.

Including Lowell, who I happen to know really is smarter than the average bear, and a very good writer to boot.

Anyway, most of what I write comes from subjects that interest me. I read a lot and share the ideas I find and what I think about them. I tell you about my experiences and give you my opinion about things I like and things that drive me crazy.

You could do that, too.

Trust me, if you want to write (or speak) and use that to build your practice via a newsletter or podcast or blog, you can. You know enough and have done enough, in your practice or business or personal life, to provide you with a library of material.

So stop telling yourself you don’t have anything to say. That’s a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

You also know how to write. If you’re not yet where you think you need to be on the write-o-meter, you can get there. Just keep writing (or speaking). Before you can say Joker Joker Joker, you’ll win the big prize.

What should you write about? Well, what did you do yesterday?

This week, I told you about a conversation I had with my accountant and a visit to the eye doctor. Next week, I’ll probably tell you about my gardener (again), and something he did or didn’t do. And here I am, telling you about someone who thinks I’m the bee’s knees in the marketing world, confessing to you that I’m not.

Hardly brilliant stuff. But I make it interesting, and that’s the key. It’s the one thing you need to get good at if you want people to read your stuff and keep reading it until they need your help or talk to someone they can refer.

The easy way to do that? Talk about things you know your reader is already interested in. To do that, you have to know your reader.

When you do, you know what they think about, what they want and don’t want, what they fear and what they covet.

Talk about those things. Or at least think about those things while you write about other things.

I know lawyers. It’s easy for me to talk about what’s in your head because it’s in my head, too. If I had a different market, if I was writing to physicians or engineers or real estate pros, I would research that market, to find out what they know and how they think.

I’d read what they read, listen to the speakers they listen to, talk to centers of influence in their market, and get to know what makes them tick.

That’s the easy part. But you have to do it.

The hard part, the part many lawyers have trouble with, is coming down from the ivory tower we tend to inhabit.

If you want to win friends and influence clients, you have to be yourself. Not your lawyer-self. Your human self, warts and all.

You have talk to folks, not at them. Have a conversation, not deliver a lecture or submit a brief.

You can’t connect with people by being aloof and professional and unapproachable. Just talk, like you would if they were sitting next to them having a beer or a cup of coffee.

That doesn’t mean you have to be unprofessional. Just human.

I know, I know, I get away with murder because I’m writing to you, a colleague. We’re comrades, made from the same cloth, brothers and sisters, friends with benefits. . . uh, well, you know what I mean.

When you’re a lawyer writing to clients and prospects, you can’t have a potty mouth or joke about whatever comes into your head. You need to be more decorous, so they don’t think you’re too weird to be their lawyer.

But this is only a matter of degree.

I can write “friends with benefits” and get away with you. You (probably) can’t. But you can still connect with people, by using a lighter touch, writing plainly and directly, and by not trying to impress anyone.

Don’t be the stuffy professor that puts everyone to sleep, be the cool teacher who’s smart and funny and tells great stories and makes learning fun.

Are you picking up on what I’m laying down?

One more thing.

Stop saying you don’t have time to do this. You do.

You don’t need to write every day. Once a week is great. Invest an hour writing something and sending it to the people who pay for your groceries and rent. The people who know, like, and trust you, or soon will.

Keep doing that, have fun with it, and one day, someone will call you a guru.

How to write a kickass newsletter that pays your mortgage

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Do your clients know how smart you are?

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My accountant and I recently started using a shared Dropbox folder to exchange documents. I spoke to him the other day about a bunch of things and when we were done, I asked if he wants me to keep everything in that folder, or could I remove them.

Some things I want to put elsewhere. Some things I want to trash.

He said I could do anything I wanted with those documents, they’re all copies.

One reason I asked is that every year he sends me an inch-thick booklet of “literature” to read, information about changes in tax law, recommended record-keeping practices, and various strategies for reducing taxes.

It’s a lot to read and I’m sure it’s very good but I usually don’t read it.

I always assumed it was canned material, purchased from a service that sells research and recommendations to CPAs to send to their clients. Something he and a thousand other CPAs stick in the envelope (or dropbox folder) they send to clients each year.

Boilerplate. Generic. Boring.

But I was wrong. He told me he writes all of it.

I was impressed (and told him so) and embarrassed that, at best, I only skimmed his good work.

My fault for assuming. His fault for not letting me know he wrote it.

Had I known that, I would have read (some of) it and probably found something I could use. At the very least, I would have been even more impressed at how smart he is and how hard he works for his clients.

So that’s my message to you. If you write or record something, send it to your clients and prospects, even if it’s not completely applicable to their case or situation. And make sure they know you wrote it.

You want them to know that you’re smart, good at your job, and work hard for your clients. You want them to feel good about choosing you as their attorney.

Pretty sure you want that too.

How to write a newsletter that brings in more business

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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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