Passion is contagious


I don’t know what you write about on your blog or newsletter or on social media posts, but I do know that if you’re passionate about the subject, your readers will be too.

Because passion is contagious.

Is that true about esoteric legal topics, the kinds that appeal to a lawyer or allied professional but are too “heavy” for regular folks?

It can be, if you write about the people as much as you write about the law.

Write about your clients, the litigants in a case you read, or anyone else who has a connection to the subject. Tell their stories. Talk about their fears, their pain, their triumphs and tragedies. Talk about why the issues are important to them, or might be in the future.

This is also true if the protagonist of your story is you.

Why do you care about the subject? People want to know.

It doesn’t matter if your readers have never had the issues you write about, or ever will. They will relate to the characters and plot in your stories, and enjoy hearing them, for the same reason they like novels and movies.

You don’t have to have the talent of a novelist to get your readers involved in your story. If you’re passionate about the subject, they will feel that passion and get caught up in it.

And in you.


How to get 4 articles out of one idea


Leverage is my name. Content my game. If you want to play this game, behold a simple way to turn one idea for an article or blog post, video or podcast, into 4.

Choose a subject. It doesn’t matter what it is—anything you know something about. It can be as simple as “torts” or “trusts” or “the rule against perpetuities” (JK).

If you’re not sure, choose something at random.

Once you’ve got a subject, write down ways you could write about that subject based on these 4 categories:

  1. Actionable (How to Do X, How I Do X)
  2. Inspirational (You Can Do X, You Can Get X)
  3. Analytical (How X Works, The Details, The Steps)
  4. Explanatory (Why it Works This Way, How Things Used to Be, What I’d Like to See Changed About X)

Let’s say you decide to write about “negligence”. Your 4 articles might be:

  1. Actionable: How to Represent Yourself in Small Claims Court, 3 Things I Always Do Before I File a Lawsuit, How to Maximize the Value of Your Case
  2. Inspirational: You May be Entitled to A and B and C, How I won a ‘Lost’ Case, What Happened When My Client Tripped and Fell and Thought it Was His Fault
  3. Analytical: How Damages are Calculated, What You Need to Prove to Win Your Case, What is The Reasonable Person Standard?
  4. Explanatory: How Our System Developed (and Why), How to Improve Our System, Why Legal Expenses Are So High

Hold on. We’re not done.

I promised you 4 articles out of one idea, but you can use these categories to dig deeper into your subject and come up with even more ideas.

For example, if you plan to write about why legal expenses and lawyers’ fees are so high, you might come up with 4 (more) articles:

  1. Actionable: Five Ways to Reduce Your Legal Fees
  2. Inspirational: How My Client Built an 8-Figure Business Without Spending a Fortune on Lawyers
  3. Analytical: What I Spend Each Month Just to Keep My Doors Open
  4. Explanatory: Why Hiring a ‘Low Cost’ Lawyer Costs You More, Not Less

And thus, one idea may lead to dozens.

If you find yourself unable to come up a subject to write about, instead of racing around wildly searching for ideas, take something you deal with every day and know well, extrapolate concepts related to it (based on these 4 categories) and come up with 4 (or more) ideas, not one.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry; leverage means never having to say “I don’t know what to write about”.

More ways to get ideas to write about


We’re having leftovers today, k?


If you’re like me (and you are), you do too much research and have a lot of material you don’t use. And this is true of most of your writing, but especially long-form: reports, briefs, books, and presentations.

And there’s nothing wrong with this.

Question is, what do you do with the stuff you don’t use?

Do you save it to another file, in case you might need it later? Do you throw out the content but save the citations or links? Do you delete everything and not give it another thought?

What do I do? I set up a folder for each chapter or section of the work-in progress and put unused notes and my first attempts to write something in that folder. I call the folder “leftovers.”

I call it that because it reminds me of how good leftovers are the next day when you’re scrounging for something to eat in the fridge. It may be cold, but there’s nothing like day-old pizza or chicken or hamburgers, yes?

Great, now I’m getting hungry.

Anyway, call this folder whatever you like: notes, ideas, unused, snippets, research, drafts. I’m sticking with leftovers.

But here’s the thing.

While I offload anything I don’t use to this folder, I hardly ever look at what’s inside this folder.

That sounds dumb, doesn’t it? Then why do you save this stuff?

Because the point isn’t just to have a folder of unused bits-and-pieces I can go back to if necessary, and occasionally it is, it is to give me a place to put things I’m not sure about while I’m in the process of writing.

I might need this or want that; let’s put it in a safe place for now and I can decide later, my brain says.

It allows me to stay in a state of flow and write the first draft quickly, without looking over my own shoulder, thinking about how and when I might use one of these gems.

It’s all about the speed.

Yes, there are times when I realize that what I’m about to move to the leftover folder is something I will need or can use in something else I’m writing, or soon will. I put these elsewhere. No, I don’t have a name for this place. I’m open to suggestions.

Anyway, that’s what I do, and it works for me. What do you do?

Actually, I don’t have time to chat. We had pizza last night and it’s almost time for lunch.


My blog is better than your blog


Ready for some good news? You don’t have to write a better blog or newsletter.

That doesn’t mean you can write junk and call it a day. You have to deliver value and make it interesting enough for your readers to continue to read it.

Because if they stop reading you, they might forget you.

Of course, the more valuable and interesting your content is, the more likely it is that your readers will see why they should talk to you about their situation, and/or share your information with others.

You also want to attract traffic and sign-ups to your blog and newsletter.

But that still doesn’t mean you have to be better.

It means you have to be different.

If you can, write about different topics than the competition. But that’s not the only way to be different.

You can write about the same topics (cases, issues, problems, trends, ideas, methods, etc.) other attorneys write about and still make your content unique.

You can do that by offering a different opinion about the subject than other lawyers offer.

You can do that by offering additional information, examples, and resources than others offer.

But the easiest way to make your content unique is to present it in your own unique voice.

Your voice is a depiction of your unique personality. So, be yourself.

Not your lawyer self, necessarily, your authentic self.

Relax and talk to your reader (one reader, not “everyone”), like you would if you were talking to them over your favorite beverage.

Combine that with stories from your practice and your content will be original and interesting and attract the kinds of people who want to hear what you have to say. And after you’ve said it, come back to hear more.

That’s how you get and keep readers, and how you get and keep clients.

How to write an email newsletter that brings in clients


Tell me about yourself


Everyone’s favorite radio station, we’re told, is WIIFM—“What’s in it for me?” They tell us that prospective clients don’t care about you or what you want; it’s all about them.

So make it about them.

Make your content, offers, stories, and examples about your reader or prospect. Because that’s why they’re reading your article or copy and that’s why they will hire you (or won’t).

Just tell them about your services and benefits. Leave yourself out of the picture.

No, don’t do that. You will always be in the picture because you’re the one who will help them get what they want.

If you don’t tell them about yourself, if your articles and sales pages are only about your services and offers, that’s boring. And generic. And unlikely to persuade anyone to choose you.

(NB: don’t write articles or sales copy that any other attorney could grab and slap their name on.)

If you want clients to hire you instead of any other attorney, tell them about yourself.

Anyway, aside from that, the reality is, people do care about other people and that includes little ‘ol you.

Sure, they care about themselves a lot more, but don’t for a minute think nobody wants to know anything about you.

They do. They want to hear your story. Especially if they’re thinking about hiring you.

They want to hear about your experiences working with other clients. They want to know what you think about things. They want to know where you’ve been and where you are going.

Because they want to see what it would be like having you as their attorney. But they’re interested in you even if they’re not shopping for a lawyer.

Because people are interested in and care about people.

Something else.

If your reader finds your story interesting, if they relate to you, if they feel that in some way they know you, they will be more likely to hire you.

Knowing is the first step. Liking is second. Trusting may take more time, but the more you tell them about yourself, the more likely this is on the way.

Don’t overdo it. Don’t be one of those people who talks incessantly about themselves.

Me, me, me, doesn’t win friends or influence people.

But don’t hide yourself and talk only about your services. Make your articles and copy mostly about them but also about you.

Because if they hire you, it’s going to be about both of you.


Time blocking for thee and me


I’ve struggled with time blocking, aka time boxing or calendar blocking, at least the way I’ve seen others do it. I don’t want to schedule my entire day down to the minute, as some studs do, but even when I mentally block out time for writing or other projects, I still resist putting this on my calendar.

I informally dedicate my mornings (after doing email, some admin stuff and waking up my brain) to “deep work” — writing and other things that require focus and concentration. But I don’t schedule it.

When I’m ready, I go to work. When I’m not, I don’t.

This works for me, but there’s something appealing about the idea of looking at the calendar and seeing my day organized and tidy.

So I will try again.

In my quest to learn how others do it, I’ve watched some videos and picked up some suggestions. I thought I’d pass along a few of the best.

  • Time block email and admin so you can stay on top of it, and not be distracted when you’re doing other things and remember you forgot to reply to your email.
  • For “deep work”—anything that requires concentration—be specific about what you will work on (the case, file, project), and for how long, so you know exactly what to do during your time block. Specifics create clarity, clarity creates focus, and focus is how you get things done.
  • If you’re trying to block your entire day, for each block, (a) give yourself enough time to do the work; (most of us grossly underestimate how long things will take), and, (b) build in buffer time between blocks for breaks, travel, interruptions, and things that need more time than you have allowed.

If you have other suggestions, or would like to share how time blocking works for you, please let me know.


Steal this blog post


I’ve had people steal my content. One guy took one of my sales letters and published it as an ebook on Amazon.

The nerve.

But once I got over the shock of someone doing that, I realized it’s nothing to worry about, or try to stop.

You shouldn’t, either.

You shouldn’t worry about anyone stealing your content or idea. If that’s something on your mind, let it go.

You’ve got better things to do.

The time and energy you might put into stopping them could be much better used creating new content and new ideas, or building on what you’ve already done.

I know this might trigger some IP practitioners, but think about it. Even if you could stop someone from stealing and using your stuff, is it really worth the effort?

Don’t take that case.

Besides, the purloiner of your content isn’t going to do as well with it as you do because it’s your baby, not there’s.

You’re writing to and for your readers. You have a relationship with them and your content resonates with them. It has your personality and style, your stories and examples, watermarked on it, and anyone who tries to pass it off as their own is going to fall flat.

Even if someone successfully passes off your stuff as their own, even if they make a fortune with your idea, so what? If you have an abundant mindset, you know there’s plenty for everyone.

If you are worried about someone stealing your content, the best thing you can do is avoid writing generic articles and posts. Write something that carries your brand.

Spend your time creating good content, not looking over your shoulder.


Don’t write it, teach it


Sometimes, we get stuck trying to collect our thoughts and cogently express them. If you ever suffer from that affliction, you might try something I learned from another attorney who does a lot of writing.

He suggests making an outline of key points, as you might for a slide presentation, and narrating those points as if you were teaching them.

Record and transcribe your “talk” and you’ll have the skeleton of your article, if not the entire article—at least the first draft.

I’ve tried it and like it.

It’s liberating because there’s no pressure to “write”. You just talk. Your thoughts might not yet be completely fleshed out, your words might need “fixing,” but what you say (write) should flow smoothly out of you and onto the page.

This is easier to do when you know your subject well but even if you don’t, you can quickly present the basic ideas and come back for another pass to fill in the blanks and tidy things up.

The first time I heard this, I thought it was a bit simplistic, but then I realized that the best writing, mine included, is conversational, which is no doubt what is meant when we are told to write like we talk.

Give this a try. In fact, I challenge you to do it right now with a brief blog post, article or email.

Pick a topic and a working title or email subject.

Jot down 3-5 bullet points to cover and if you have examples or stories that illustrate your points, note these too.

Grab your phone or recording device and talk your way through your points for just 5 minutes.

If you’re like me, the first time you try this, you’ll be amazed at how many words you get, and how (nearly) ready they to publish they are.

More writing ideas here


What is quality content?


If you can write and publish more content than your competition, you should. But while quantity might bring more traffic to your digital door, it is the quality of your content that will convert that traffic into leads and new clients.

What is quality content? It’s content that is more likely to get someone to read it and take the next step.

Here are the key elements:

  • Benefits. Especially in the headline and lead. Show the reader you have something they want; make them curious to read your post to learn more about it.
  • Specific. Specialized content from a specialist. Talk about a specific issue or problem, and the solution, and address it to a specific reader who has that problem.
  • Interesting. Don’t bore people with boring information or overwhelm them with too much of it.
  • Stories. Tell readers about people like them with problems like theirs who came to you for help and got it.
  • Conversational. Write to them, not at them. Don’t make it all about you. Ask questions to draw them into the content.
  • Easy to read. Plain language, scannable (short sentences and paragraphs, lots of white space, sub-heads, bullet points).
  • Call(s) to action. Tell them what to do next and why. Make it easy to do that by highlighting your phone number, form, or link.
  • Email opt-in form. So you can stay in touch with them and continue to market to them, because most people don’t hire a lawyer the first time they visit their site.

Those are the basics. Get these right and you get an A.

For extra credit, consider:

  • Variety. Short and long articles for those who want them.
  • Involvement devices: quizzes, questionnaires, checklists, forms.
  • Visuals: graphics, charts, videos.
  • Service-related offers. You may not have one in every post, but when you do, promote it and limit it (time, quantity) to make it more valuable and create a fear of loss.
  • Why you: They can find this in your About page, testimonials, and other pages on your site, but if you see a place to mention something compelling about you or your practice, do it.
  • Links to related content, so they can drill down and learn more.

Ultimately, you want quality and quantity. But since most of your visitors will be first-time visitors and, statistically speaking, are unlikely to return to your site, better to have 10 great posts than 100 that don’t provide a great first impression.

This will help


Lede, follow, or go home


If you want more people to read what you write, write a headline that flags them down as they go sailing by and “forces” them to pay attention.

Because if you don’t, they’ll won’t, and they will (probably) move on and read something else.

One way to get their attention is to write something unusual, as I did with the archaic, journalistic spelling of “lead” in the headline of this post. It makes you stop and wonder if I misspelled the word or I mean something else.

For a second or two, you’re reading and, therefore, a bit more likely to continue reading.

Remember, you can’t bore people into reading. So do something different, interesting, or fun.

But that’s not the only way to do it. You can’t go wrong promising benefits, asking a thought-provoking question, or sharing a surprising fact, statistic, or quote.

You can also win friends and influence readers by leading with a story.

People want to hear what happened to your client, your friend, your friend’s client, or you.

Your headline should be simple, make the reader curious, and give them a reason to read your first sentence. Of course, that first sentence has to be good enough to get them to read the second sentence.

You can also get attention with images and other visual elements: charts, lists, color, bullet points, sub-heads, unusual typography, and a P.S. (in a letter or email).

But while all the above is true, it’s also situational. If you’re writing to someone who knows you personally, or to your list of regular readers, to some extent, you can assume you have their attention and can get away with being clever, mysterious or weird. People who know you are probably going to read what you write because they know you and want to hear what you say.

Which is why you will find more than a few of my headlines make you question my sanity and want to see my bar card.

Just having fun. Because if it’s not fun for me, I’m pretty sure it won’t be fun for you.

And if it’s not fun, why bother?

How to write something people want to read