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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Why I email every day

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Comes this question from a subscriber: “Do you notice you sell more courses by emailing every day? Just curious how effective it is.”

The answer is, “Yes, of course. That’s the point.”

It’s why I do it and why I suggest you do it, too.

You don’t have to mail every day, but the more often you do, the more products or services you will sell.

Provided you write something your subscribers want to read, meaning something they can use or something they find interesting.

I write for attorneys who want to earn more and work less. So, I write about that. If you’re interested in those subjects, and you like the way I write, you read my emails–because you want to.

The more people read your emails, the more they come to know, like and trust you. They see that you understand them and know what they want, and you develop a relationship with them, which leads to more clients or sales.

Those clients or sales come from your subscribers, from the people they refer, and from the traffic they send to your website. Because, when you write something helpful or interesting, people share it. The more you write, the more they share.

Start with once a week. Do more, if and when you want to, but don’t do less. Your competition writes once or twice a month, or once in awhile, and are soon forgotten.

When you write infrequently, people forget who you are or that they subscribed to your newsletter, and off you go to their spam file.

When they see your name in their inbox on a regular basis, however, they know who you are. Even if they don’t read everything you write, if and when they need your services, or have a referral, they know where to find you.

Okay, I have time for one more question. . yes, the guy in the back row who desperately needs a haircut . .

“If you write too often, don’t people un-subscribe?”

Sure. For a lot of reasons. But they un-subscribe for a lot of reasons even when you don’t write often.

Don’t worry about the ones who don’t stick or don’t hire you. Write for the ones who do.

I don’t have a massive email list. And a lot of my subscribers come and go. It doesn’t matter, because the ones who come and stay are the ones who buy and refer.

I get most of my business through email. You could, too.If you want to know how, sign up for my Email Marketing for Attorneys course.

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Do you talk too much?

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Many lawyers are verbose. They use 100 words to explain something when five or ten will do. They “bury the lead” under paragraphs or pages of background information. They clear their throat for ten minutes before they get to their first point.

Early in my career, I did this. I’d like to think I’ve nipped that habit in the bud.

Why are lawyers like this?

Could be because we were taught to be thorough, to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to persuade.

I’m sure some lawyers want to impress people with the depth of their knowledge, the breadth of their experience, or the thoroughness of their research.

Some want to display their intelligence. Some want to hide their shortcomings behind a wall of words.

And, in a profession that often equates value in terms of time, more words or pages or minutes can mean more income.

But most people, especially high-achieving, busy people, don’t want or need all the details. They want their lawyer to get to the point.

They want us to be more concise.

How do you do that? How do you write an email, memo, or article, or do a presentation, that clearly and concisely says what you want to say, and no more?

How do you persuade someone to do something or believe something, without taking them to school?

Knowing your audience helps. What do they already know about the subject? What questions are they likely to have? What problems do they want to solve, and what’s in it for them if they follow your advice?

Confine yourself to what you know your reader or listener wants or needs to know and leave the scholarship on the bookshelf.

Providing examples and stories helps. Help the reader understand what you mean, with fewer words, by showing instead of telling.

Re-writing and editing help. Cut out the fluff, use shorter sentences and paragraphs, and make the page scannable with lots of white space, bullet points and numbering.

More than anything, see if you can boil down your message to a single idea.

Ask yourself, “What’s the ONE thing I want my reader (or listener) to take away from this?”

What do you want them to know, believe, or do?

Use that as the lead to your presentation, the subject line in your email, or the conclusion of your article.

And once you’ve delivered that takeaway, stop talking.

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Why I don’t have an email signature

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At the end of my emails, after I “sign” my name, you won’t find anything more than a link to my website.

No social media links, logos, or images. No list of my credentials, disclaimers, or anything else.

This is true for both my newsletter and personal email.

Why do I do this?

One reason: I don’t want to look like everyone else.

When everything is pretty, you stand out by being ugly. When everyone’s email looks like an ad, a magazine article, or a web page, you stand out by looking like someone who banged out some words (to a friend) and clicked send.

I don’t want to look like I’m trying to impress anyone, or pushing products or services like a carnival barker.

That doesn’t mean I don’t promote anything. I do that in almost every email. But unless I’m writing a full-on sales pitch, my promotional efforts lean more towards “informing” or “recommending” rather than selling.

Email is a medium of personal communication. Even if it is sent to thousands, it’s just the two of us spillin some tea.

If you like what you read, if you’re interested in learning more, you can follow the link to my website, or follow the second link I provide to the applicable sales page, and see what it’s all about.

Like this: If you want to learn more about using email to build your practice, check out my email marketing for attorneys course.

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Timeless or Timely?

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If you produce content for a blog, a newsletter, a podcast, or anywhere else, one question you need to answer is how much of that content should be evergreen.

Evergreen content is important because that’s what first-time visitors to your blog and new subscribers to your newsletter are looking for. They have questions or a problem and they’re looking for answers.

If you’re starting a new blog, make sure you have at least 10 or 15 evergreen posts to start out.

Talk about the kinds of things clients typically ask you about. Talk about problems and solutions, risks and benefits, frequently asked questions about your services, and the like.

These serve as the foundation of your blog, attracting visitors though search and sharing, and helping them to understand their situation and learn what you do and how you can help them.

Once you have some evergreen content posted, you can write about anything else, whether timeless or timely.

Write about your interesting cases or clients, news in your target market’s industry or niche, trends, ideas, and more.

Yes?

One more thing.

On a blog, you have the option to indicate the date each post was published, something I’ve done since I started and still do today. Some visitors, however, see an older date and conclude that the information is out of date, even if it’s not.

Omitting the date, on the other hand, as many bloggers do, may cause visitors to wonder how current the information is, and reject it if no date can be found.

If you’re wondering what you should do, take a gander at what Darren Rowse of Problogger.com says about the pros and cons of timestamping blog posts.

And, for more about the kinds of content to include on your blog or website–what to write about, where to get ideas–check out my course on online marketing.

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How long did it take you to read this?

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I’ve seen a lot of attorney’s newsletters. Some provide excellent content. Many don’t.

Some are interesting and are well-written. Many aren’t.

Some reflect the personality of the writer. Most don’t. Especially the “store-bought” (canned) newsletters.

Some are written in html and look “pretty”. Some (like mine) are plain text and look ugly as hell.

But despite these differences, most of these newsletters share one trait that makes it much less likely anyone will read them: they’re too long.

They have too much information, too many links, too many calls-to-action. They ask you to read too much and do too much and most people who get these missives do none-of-the-above.

Most people (even now) are busy. They don’t have time to read a long newsletter, even if they’re interested in the subject(s). What do they do? The same thing you and I do when we don’t have time to read something, we save it for later (which almost never arrives) or we delete the sucker.

Yes, there is value in having people see that you wrote them, even if they don’t open the email. They see your name and are reminded that you’re still around. When and if they need your services, they’ll go find one of your archived emails and read it.

(So don’t stop emailing.)

But, let’s face it, having people read your newsletter is a ‘ho lot better. They get to know you and trust you and feel a kinship with you. They get to hear about how you’ve helped other clients. They find out about other matters you handle.

All of which results in more clients for you.

So, if you want people to read your emails, keep ’em short. Short enough that they can read them in a minute or two.

Like this one.

Want to know how to write emails that get read (and acted upon)? Get my Email Marketing for Attorneys video course.

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The simplest way to get more referrals

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I built my practice with referrals, prrimarily from my clients. What was my secret?

No, it wasn’t asking for referrals, although I did that and it’s a lot easier (and more productive) than you may think.

It wasn’t giving them something I call “referral devices”–a report, brochure, or referral card they could pass along to friends and family. But that works, too.

And it wasn’t doing good work for my clients, exceeding their expectations, and treating them exceptionally well, although that always has been, and always will be, the foundation of repeat business and referrals.

These strategies work, but I promised to tell you the simplest way to get more referrals. My secret, only it’s not a secret at all. You hear me talk about it all the time.

The simplest way to get more referrals is to stay in touch with your clients, past and present, because while they may never need to hire you again, they can and will send you referrals, and they’ll do that more often when you stay in touch with them.

Stay in touch with the people who already know, like, and trust you and they will lead you to other people. It really is that simple.

What’s the simplest way to stay in touch with people? You already know the answer to that, too. Email is easy, inexpensive, and massively effective. And because you can automate your email stay-in-touch efforts, it doesn’t take up much time.

Would you be willing to invest 30 minutes a week writing an email to your list if it allowed you to triple your referrals?

What do you write? How do you get started?

I show you everything you need to know and do in my Email Marketing for Attorneys program.

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Why subscribers leave, and how to get them back

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If you want to drive yourself crazy, look at the number of email “unsubscribes” you get each week.

Yeah, don’t do that. People come and people go. Don’t obsess over your numbers.

People leave for all kinds of reasons:

  • They satisfied their legal need or their problem went away
  • They thought you did X and didn’t know you really did Y
  • They forgot who you were or that they signed up, (probably because you mail too infrequently)
  • They think you email too often (NB: you probably don’t)
  • They only signed up to get your “freebie”
  • They don’t see the value in your newsletter or posts
  • You said something they didn’t like

Who knows?

Sure, you’d prefer them to stay. They may hire you someday or refer someone. They may share your content or promote your events. They may provide you with useful questions, feedback, and ideas for content.

The best way to keep people from leaving is to write things people want to read. Something valuable and interesting.

But people will still leave.

Can you get them back? Maybe.

Continue writing valuable content and encouraging your subscribers to share it. They may share it with someone who used to be on your list.

Keep promoting your sign-up page. Some lapsed subscribers may see it.

Keep doing what you’ve been doing and some of your subscribers will come back.

They may have a new legal problem. they see your name somewhere and realize they miss your pithy missives.

But let’s face it. It’s much easier to get new subscribers than to figure out how to get lapsed subscribers to return.

Here’s how to do that

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