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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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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When it comes to writing, law school messed us up

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We present the facts. We present the law. We argue our side, or both sides, and report what happened.

That works when you’re briefing cases, but if your blog and newsletter readers wanted to learn the law, they would have gone to law school.

So, you tell stories. And that helps. You write about what your client said or did. And how they felt.

You talk about how they were scared and worried. How they tossed and turned the night before court. How they gave you a big hug after they won.

But what about you?

How did you feel?

Did the case make you tear your hair out? Did the outcome make you smile ear to ear? Did you have tears in your eyes when the client said you saved his life?

Attorneys rarely talk about their feelings. In fact, it seems we usually go out of our way to hide them, perhaps thinking they make us look weak.

Not so.

When we share our feelings, it humanizes us and endears us to our readers and listeners, clients and colleagues. It shows that we care about what we do, and the people for whom we do it.

Have you ever had a client who made you so angry you wanted to throw their file at them? I remember one such client in particular who, in the middle of mediation, on a case that should have settled, changed her mind about what she’d previously told me she would accept.

Okay, that happens, But then, in front of the mediator, she blamed me for not getting her what she wanted, and told me I didn’t know how to do my job.

What? Where did this come from?

I suggested she find another attorney, she did, and life went on. But today, decades later, I still remember her name.

Something tells me you can relate.

Want more referrals? Here’s how to get them

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You’re more interesting than Steve Jobs

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I’ve written my share of articles and posts that mention something Steve Jobs said or did. At least one of those posts, around the time of his death, went viral.

I got a lot of traffic and feedback. So did others who wrote about him.

And that’s the problem.

When everyone writes about the same people, news stories, issues, or subjects, nobody stands out or is remembered.

People might remember the anecdote or quote from Jobs you shared, but unless you’re telling about a time you met him or did something you learned by reading about his life, they won’t remember YOU.

Traffic is nice. Feedback can be interesting or helpful. But the primary reason we write is to help people get to “know, like, and trust” us.

That’s why you must write about yourself.

Write about your practice, your life, how you work with your clients, interesting cases and what you did with them, the world the way you see it, things that make you angry.

Write about conversations you’ve had with the people you work with, your professional contacts, friends, family, experts, and vendors.

Write about what you do, what you think, and what you’re like. Because that’s what people are interested in and will remember.

Because that’s how you build a practice.

Don’t make everything all about you, of course. Just make sure you’re in the picture somewhere, sometimes as a protagonist, sometimes as a bit player, and sometimes as a passionate narrator, but your presence should be felt.

You don’t have to do this in everything your write. I didn’t do it in this article. But do it often enough so that, like the bar on Cheers, everyone knows your name.

How to write interesting emails that bring in clients

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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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If you want more clients, don’t use your thesaurus

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Yeah, we’re smart folks. We can research the hell out of a subject, wrangle all the facts, present cogent arguments, and persuade other smart people to change their minds.

When you visit many lawyer’s blogs, read their articles, or hear them speak, you have to be impressed by their acumen. And their vocabulary.

The problem is, when a lawyer does this in their marketing, they usually shoot themselves in the foot.

If you want to get more clients and increase your income, keep things simple and short. Focus on the basics, not the minutia.

On the web, people tend to search for general information about their legal situation. If you try to impress them, they often wind up leaving. If you give them what they’re looking for, you get more traffic, more leads, more subscribers, and more clients.

In addition, when you write simply, you don’t have to do much research or spend a lot of time crafting fine prose. You already know this stuff and you can spit it out in a few minutes.

When you stick with the basics, more people will read and understand you. You’re helping them get to know, like, and trust you.

Finally, your goal in marketing is to make people curious, not satisfy their curiosity. So don’t tell them everything. Stick to the basics and if they want more, they have to hire you.

Which is kind of the point.

If you want to make your phone ring, here’s what to put on your website

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If they don’t understand, they won’t click

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William Howard Taft said, “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”

Clarity is key to effective writing. That’s true for legal documents, demand letters, presentations, articles, and just about everything else we write.

When you write a blog post, email, or ad, the headline or subject line must instantly communicate what your article or ad is all about. If you want them to open your email or read your blog post, you have to give them a reason why.

How do you know you’ve done it right?

One idea is to use “The Blank Sheet of Paper Test”. Ask yourself, “If you wrote this text on a piece of paper and showed it to a stranger, would they understand the meaning?”

You need a bit of room for creative license, however, or you might turn out clear and accurate but utterly boring prose. So use this idea as a place to start, not the be-all-and-end-all.

Note that the rule applies to strangers–visitors to your blog, readers of your articles, networking emails–where people don’t know you from Adam (or Eve). You don’t need to use it when writing to clients or subscribers to your newsletter. They’ll open and read your message because they recognize your name.

So, have I made myself clear? If not, that’s okay. No doubt you’ll open my next email or read my next post anyway, to see what stuff and nonsense I have for you.

How to write email subject lines that get clicks

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How to write faster blog posts, emails, and articles

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What if writing was as easy (and quick) as opening a template and filling in the blanks?

You’ll still need to edit and polish but you might be able to turn out articles in minutes instead of hours.

Templates make a first draft easier because you know “what goes where”. You’ll know, for example, that after two paragraphs that introduce the subject, you need 3 points or examples, but not 5. You’ll know how many bullet points to include and where to put them. And you can insert a pre-written call to action to close.

Using templates to map out the bones of your writing will allow you to write faster and better because they let you focus on the message, not the structure.

Where do you get these templates? By reverse-engineering existing articles and posts.

When you read an article you like, save it, study it, and figure out why it works. Make notes of the elements:

  • How many words?
  • How many paragraphs?
  • How many headings and sub-heads?
  • How many bullet points?
  • What’s the lead or hook?
  • Why should the reader care (benefits)?
  • What proof is offered?
  • What examples or stories?
  • What’s the call to action?

Create a simple template that incorporates these elements. You can use it for first drafts or to improve a sloppy first draft.

You should also do this with your own writing. Add additional notes to explain why you said what you said, other options you considered, and feedback you got from your readers.

Start with one template. Use it, refine it, and use it again. You may find that one template is all you need to write most of your posts but you can always add more.

The Easy Way to Write a Book

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How to use clickbait to instantly get dozens of new clients

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If you’re reading this, my evil plan is working. I wrote something that made you curious and you wanted to know more.

Despite the obvious clickbait-y headline.

But my point isn’t to use trickery to fool people into reading your message. It is to illustrate the power of curiosity for getting attention.

When it comes to marketing, copywriting legend Gary Halbert said curiosity is even more powerful than self-interest.

Done right, your reader or audience “has to” know more.

How do you arouse curiosity? How do you compel the reader to open your email, play your video, or read your article?

You do it, ironically, by hinting at something that plays to their self-interest.

Mention something they care about, need or want. Give them a taste of something that will help them avoid pain or achieve gain. Add a touch of specificity that let’s them know “this is for them”.

For extra oomph, hint at something that sounds impossible or too good to be true. Make the reader “torture” themselves trying to figure out how this is done.

Example? Sure. Let’s say you’re a personal injury attorney writing a post or ad that offers a free report about increasing the settlement value of a case. You could make prospective clients curious with a headline like this:

“Injured? Free report reveals 5 easy ways to increase the value of your case (and ONE common mistake that can destroy it)”

What are those 5 easy ways? What is the one common mistake? Yep, they have to read the report to find out.

Of course, when they read the report, you make them curious to know if they have a good case (and how much it’s worth).

Yep, they have to hire you to find out.

Want to get more referrals without asking for referrals? Here’s how

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The TRUTH about practicing law

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One of the simplest ways to get more people reading and sharing your posts, especially on social, is to make them controversial.

Challenge them, shock them, anger them–because everyone loves a good fight.

They most popular TV shows and online videos feature emotional content: anger and outrage, sex and love, pleasant surprises and massive disappointments.

People love conflict. And the algorithms promote posts and videos that feature it.

Platforms like Twitter have their entire business model built around people being angry at something. Or someone.

If you want to get more eyeballs and engagement and shares, write posts that “expose” the truth about something, including your practice area (especially your practice area).

Write about issues you know people disagree with, and tell them why YOU disagree with what other lawyers say or do: “Why I don’t agree with. . .” or “Why I don’t like/use/do. . .”

“Force” prospective clients who are searching for a lawyer to read your post with a title like, “Is [legal service] worth it?” or “What most [practice area] lawyers get wrong.”

Cruise through social media and record the titles of videos and posts that are being promoted or shared or that catch your eye, and adapt those titles and themes to your posts.

Throw some raw meat to the lions and watch them stick around for more.

There are more ways to attract and engage clients and prospects. In Email Marketing for Attorneys, I break these down and show you what to do.

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