Become An Expert By Blogging

Become an Expert by BloggingIf you are a new attorney, or just reaching out into an area of law, there will certainly be a lot you don’t know. This can make you feel like you shouldn’t be blogging. After all, you’re no expert. But by putting a little extra research behind your posts, you can become an expert and better serve your clients while also creating solid web content.

No one starts out with all the answers. Even the most seasoned lawyers have to refresh their knowledge from time to time. But it can be intimidating to set out to provide information when you don’t feel like you have it in the first place. Here are some tips to improving your knowledge while creating credible content:

1. Use What You Learn

If you have to research an issue for a client, whether that be international child custody disputes or a contractor’s trust, use what you learn for your next blog. Research is part of a lawyer’s job. While confidentiality will prevent you from sharing your client’s particular situation, there is nothing stopping you from talking about the topic. Speak from your point of strength. Your readers will appreciate your new-found knowledge.

2. Remember, Your Readers Know Less Than You Do

Unless your blog is designed to appeal to your direct competition – which would not be an ideal target market – your readers are going to be less educated about your practice area than you are. Even if you are trying to sort out a basic legal question, your answer is going to be better than what your readers had before. So don’t be afraid to blog on something as simple as the elements of a contract or habitual offender laws. Your articles will still make you seem like an expert.

3. Find a Niche

There are very few areas of the law that don’t have niche markets within them. Find one that fascinates you and read everything you can on it. You will be surprised how quickly you will become an expert. Then focus a series of blogs on that niche and share them with other attorneys looking to refer clients. Suddenly, you will become the go-to person for that sub-specialty, all because you chose to learn about it for your blog.

Researching your blog articles may sometimes feel a bit like writing a book report. But if you think of it as building your expertise, suddenly blogging becomes even more valuable by simultaneously serving as continuing legal education. Learn from what you blog and blog from what you learn and soon you will find that you really are an expert in your field.

If you need help identifying your niche or building your blog, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt to help you on your way.

Is Anybody Actually Reading What You Write?

ID-100168853Sometimes when you are blogging, it can feel like you are spinning words into a vacuum and no one in the world is actually interested in what you have to say. This can be especially true for lawyers because, let’s face it, what we have to say simply isn’t as likely to go viral as the latest puppy video. But click rate and page views aren’t everything. The bigger question is how long people stay.

Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, a company that measures real-time traffic for websites recently tweeted, “We’ve found effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.” Particularly when it comes to Twitter, the number of shares and retweets does not correlate to longer stays on the website. That means people are actually tweeting articles that they haven’t read.

But it also means that people are reading articles that they aren’t sharing. Remember, social media is only one of many online avenues to your blog. Your most engaged readers probably did not stumble upon your article in their Facebook news feed. They probably found you through Google, Bing, or some other search engine because they are looking for just the information you are providing.

That is not to say you should give up on social media. Some of those casual clickers may find something that tickles their curiosity and become regular subscribers. Others may stumble upon something that helps someone they know. You never know exactly where your next big client will come from.

As you hear so often in marketing, it really is a question of balance. Make a point to keep your blog accessible for those people who click, scan, and share by using a captivating summary paragraph to start and concise section titles or bulleted lists. These strategies will help casual readers understand what you’re writing and encourage them to share.

At the same time, keep your content authentic and give real information so that your deep readers are engaged all the way to the end of the page. Then they, too, could share what they have read or take up your call to action and contact you for services.

Social media has been made to seem all about scope, but content marketing is really a compromise between breadth and depth. Take care to respect that balance and you will find that people are actually reading your content, not just giving you a quick “like” or retweet and moving on.

Should You Be Vlogging?

file000173629408Video blogging or “vlogging” is catching on. There are companies and consultants who will be quick to say what your website needs is a good video. So could vlogging be the next big wave? Should you jump on now and be ahead of the curve?

Don’t let the lack of videos on this site fool you. Vlogging can be an excellent form of content marketing. But before taking the plunge you should carefully consider which medium will best convey your content to your target market.

Is your personality part of your brand?

If your personality is what sets you apart from your competition then vlogging is a great way to convey that value. Whether you are a compassionate lawyer or a perky HR consultant, your look and behavior will say far more than the words alone.

Are you a compelling speaker?
Are you a compelling speaker?

Ben Stein in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

You might  turn to vlogging because, once you get all the right equipment, it is easier to speak your mind than put your thoughts down in words. But before you commit to sharing that video with the world, make sure it is interesting to listen to. The best vloggers are high-energy, passionate speakers. The worst sound like Ben Stein’s economics teacher in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Before you commit yourself to YouTube posterity, take an honest listen to see how you will sound to potential clients.

Is your content easy to understand?

Vlogging on complicated topics like physics or law is an art form. You have to be able to break your concept down far enough so that anyone watching can understand in just the few minutes it takes to watch the video. So if you are explaining what to do when you get pulled over by the police, a video may be perfect. But if you are trying to describe preemption, text may be a wiser choice. In writing, your reader can review your ideas as often as he or she needs to in order to understand your point.

Who is your target audience?

Who you are trying to reach will play a big part in making the decision to vlog. In general, the younger your audience is, the more likely they will prefer video to text. But if your tech-savvy, young client tends to visit your blog in his or her office, a video with sound may not be the first choice. Decide whether your audience is looking to connect quickly or deeply. The first suggests video, the latter, text.

Even if you decide that a written blog is best for you, nothing is stopping you from mixing in a video when the content is right. So the next time you are sitting down to write a how-to blog article or a list of top tips, consider grabbing your camera instead of your keyboard.

If you are setting up your blog, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt for help.

Tooting Your Own Horn With News and Testimonials

Should You Post Your Accomplishments?

“Oscar – Golden Trophy” by Danilo Rizzuti on freedigitalphotos.net

Sure, we’ve all known someone who talks about themselves too much. But just because some people go too far with self-praise doesn’t mean there is no place for it on your website. Strategic use of testimonials and news of your accomplishments can boost your credibility and help distinguish you from the rest of your field.

I recently had a conversation with a ghost-blogging client who was hesitant to use testimonials in his blog. He was concerned that it might seem tacky or self-serving. To an extent, he was right. If you rely on these kinds of posts too much, your blog or website could feel more like an ego-building exercise than an informational service. But done right, these kinds of posts make you seem more authoritative and help your readers trust you.

So how do you do it right?

  • Identify key victories. You don’t need to post every time you settle a routine case. But when it’s cutting edge, or a big win, celebrate! Let people know that you are a winner through tweets, news items, or even blog posts celebrating your big wins.
  • Use guest posts. Praise for your work will sound a lot stronger when it doesn’t come from you. If you’ve got a star client, ask them to give you a quote, write a guest post about their case, or even record a quick 30 second video to use on your website. Their voice added to yours will give you instant credibility because it’s not just coming from you.
  • Focus on the giver. Writing a post is celebrating the new award you just received doesn’t give you the right to write a long victory speech. Instead of droning on about your accomplishments, focus on the entity giving the award. Then post a picture of you accepting the award and make sure to update your profile. Grace is key when expounding on your own accomplishments.

Your website is a snapshot of your business. If you would hang an award on your wall, then you probably should be blogging about it, too. Your big wins are news, not just to you but to your clients and referral partners. By addressing these these topics graciously and in moderation you can bolster your credibility and help readers see you as the expert you really are.