I had had a long day. After staring at the blank page for far too long trying to decide what to write, I decided to pack it up and try again tomorrow. Writer’s block had struck. But when I got home, my husband inadvertently reminded me of exactly what had been missing from my blogging efforts: storytelling. Continue reading
You may not know the term “Newsjacking,” but you probably know it when you see it. Blogs, social media accounts, and even cable news networks will use top trending news stories to get readers’ attention and build their audience. Continue reading
You are an interesting person. There are very few truly boring people in the world, and if you are one of them, then congratulations, being boring has just made you interesting. So why does your website’s bio (or About page) read like a resume? What can you do about it? Continue reading
This week I went to a writer’s meet-up and, as often happens, as soon as people found out I was a lawyer, the questions started rolling. While I’m not one to give out free legal advice (it is how I make a living, after all), a couple of things became very clear. So here are my two cents.
Yes, You Need a Contract
Ghostwriting for a friend? Negotiating with an agent or a publisher? Cooperating with other writers on an anthology? You need a written contract. If you are working with friends you trust, a contract makes explicit what each person is assuming is true and can avoid “but I thought…” issues later on. If your friends turn out to be frenemies, that written contract will protect you and your hard work.
Consider this: even if you and your friends agree 100 percent on who gets what, will your friend’s creditor? If one of your co-writers owes child support or a medical debt, the collections agencies will try to garnish any money he or she earns. You need a contract to show the courts what part of that money belongs to you and get your money back.
Get Your Contract Signed
It’s not enough to present your collaborator with a draft of a contract. Be persistent and get it signed. Stand up for yourself and your rights – don’t start writing until the contract is done! If there’s a dispute later, the fact that you jumped into the project could be used to show you gave up on your terms.
Stop Taking Legal Advice from CPAs
Several writers reported that they had been advised by accountants not to incorporate because it is a red flag for the IRS. Avoiding an audit is one thing, but there are lots of reasons why you may want to incorporate that have nothing to do with tax. Before discarding the LLC concept entirely, sit down with a competent business lawyer and discuss your risks and your options. CPAs know a lot about tax, but they aren’t trained to recognize the possibility of lawsuits and liability the way lawyers are.
Nothing says being a freelance writer is an easy job, but there’s no reason to make it harder by avoiding the legal protections available. Paying for a bit of a lawyer’s time could help you appear more professional, earn more from your writing, and protect you from future lawsuits.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist and a lawyer for Schmidt Law Services in Ferndale, Michigan. She prepares professional web content for lawyers and other professionals seeking to improve their online visibility. If you or someone you know is looking for a new marketing strategy, contact Legal Linguist today.
You blog regularly. You publish on a set schedule designed to reach your target audience. And now that schedule is telling you to post on Christmas. What do you do?
Let’s face it, very few people will be scrolling through their RSS or social media feeds on Christmas or New Year’s morning, looking for a thought-provoking article on business or the law. So how do you deal with the scheduling conflict. There are a few options.
Post with Christmas Cheer!
If you are a stickler for schedules, you could decide to post anyway. People often may not find your blog until the next day, but you can show your dedication to consistency. If you are going to post on December 25 (or January 1 or any other holiday, for that matter), be sure to acknowledge what you are doing. Don’t just put up a generic “top tips” post because, let’s face it, you’re phoning it in while your kids open up their stockings to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Instead, craft a blog that is in the holiday spirit. There are very few topics that can’t be connected to Christmas or New Year’s Resolutions or at least year end. Let your readers know that you are paying attention rather than just posting for the sake of posting.
Your readers may be busy on Christmas morning, but they probably will have some down time on Christmas Eve or the day after the holiday. Adjusting your schedule so your post goes out just before or just after a holiday can be a good idea, particularly if you are targeting consumers. You may still want to use a holiday theme, but people probably won’t fault you for a fall-back post either. Instead they will be thanking you for giving them something to read to avoid unwanted in-laws.
Skip the Post
Every business (except possibly emergency rooms) has some holidays when they are closed. Despite the importance of new and fresh content, your readers won’t lynch you because your office, and your blog, are closed for the holidays. The more often you blog, the less likely skipping Christmas will negatively affect your SEO. So relax and enjoy the egg nog, knowing you’ll jump right back into blogging in the new year.
Which holiday strategy is best for you depends largely on how often you post and who your target market is. Ask yourself whether your readers will be at their desks or whether they may want a distraction. Then decide whether to target, dodge, or skip this holiday season.
Lisa Schmidt is a ghostblogger and blogging coach for Legal Linguist. She helps small businesses and law firms create professional web content and improve their online marketing return on investment. If you need help giving your website a boost in the New Year, contact Legal Linguist today.
If you work in a service-based industry like law, one of the things that sets you apart from your competition is you – your personality and demeanor. Make sure that personality shines through in your blog so potential clients get a glimpse of what to expect.
One of the best uses of an initial consultation in the legal world is for lawyer and client to get to know each other’s personality. Is the attorney a bulldog or a conciliator? Is the client practical or emotional? Do they get along?
As a blogging lawyer, you can help facilitate this investigation and weed out clients that are looking for a different personality just by letting your style shine through in your articles. A good blog is conversational in tone, but for many lawyers there is an urge to sound professional or aggressive, even when you are writing to an Internet audience.
But if your bark is worse than your bite, it could bring in the wrong kind of clients. Your aggressive blog will attract people looking for a fight. If in person, you prefer an easygoing approach you could find yourself wasting your time on potential clients that are looking for something you would rather not provide.
You will be far better off resisting the urge to put on a mask in your writing. Instead, write from what you know to convey your natural personality in your work. If you are a tough litigator, let your blog focus on your successes in court and your strong argument skills. If you are a laid back negotiator, focus on tactics to minimize stress in the litigation process and your ability to get the other side to compromise.
By allowing your blog to showcase your real personality you will attract clients of like minds. You will spend less time with potential clients who are mismatched to your style and spend more time building rapport with people who are more likely to sign your retainer agreement. If you need help creating a blog to feature your personality, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt with Legal Linguist.
For the last 3 years in November I have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). But what this year’s experience is teaching me is how much easier it is to write what you know.
In the first 2 years, of NaNoWriMo, I slogged my way through science fiction or fantasy novels – genre fiction where I had to create everything from characters to cultures. It wasn’t easy going, and I didn’t meet my 50,000 word goal either time.
But this year I’m writing about students’ rights in schools, a topic I have covered repeatedly on the blog for Schmidt Law Services, PLLC. Even though now I have facts and figures to contend with, the writing itself is far easier. Why? Because I am writing from what I know.
Everyone is an expert in something, whether it be the bankruptcy code or craft beers. By tapping in to and building up that expertise, you can create something more robust and interesting to your readers than you ever could on a foreign issue.
I see this in my ghost-blogging too. When I first bring on a new client, the articles take far longer to research and the topics can be somewhat safe. But as I become more familiar with the client’s perspective, opinions, and subject matter, I become braver and the writing becomes easier.
If you are just delving into the world of professional writing, either through a blog or a book, write from what you know. Develop your writing skills in familiar waters before diving in to the heavy duty research involved in a new intellectual area. The writing will be faster, easier, and better than if you start from scratch.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist, specializing in providing custom content for legal websites. If you want Lisa to help you write a blog or a book, contact Legal Linguist for an appointment today.
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This month writers across the country and internationally will be scrambling to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Most bloggers are afraid of anything long-form. But NaNoWriMo and it’s non-fiction counterpart, National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo) can inspire bloggers to do more with their archived articles, even publish a book.
If you are like many bloggers, you are convinced you don’t have time to write anything longer than your weekly 500 word blog post. Maybe you have trouble even finding that much time to write. So when your readers tell you “you should write a book” you cringe in fear.
Bloggers and short-story writers have the same take on this: there’s no way they have it in them to write something that long. Sure, 500 words a week may be easy enough, but who could possibly create whole chapters of original content?
The thing is, you may have already done just that. The average non-fiction book runs 50,000 to 75,000 words. But an eBook could be as little as 3,000. That’s 6 blog posts. If you look back at your blogging archive it’s a safe bet you have 6 or 10 or maybe even 20 posts all on the same topic. With a little editing, there is your book.
Books and eBooks can also be a great way to repurpose your hard-wrote blogs and even make a little money. By re-editing your blog series on weathering a bankruptcy, you could create a self-help book that earns you money while you sleep.
Being a published author can also boost your reputation and distinguish you from your competition. Imagine being able to offer potential clients a free copy of a book with your name on the cover and your picture on the fly-leaf. Pretty impressive. Why would they go with any other lawyer when you literally wrote the book on their issue?
You may not think you have the time to write a book, but the organizations that run NaNoWriMo and NaNonFiWriMo beg to differ. And when you already have the content written in your blog, what do you have to lose? Join the thousands of writers dedicated to creating a book this November. You may thank yourself later.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Southfield, Michigan. She can offer you and your firm writing services from ghost-blogging to brief writing, to ghostwriting a book based on your blog content. If you don’t have time to write it yourself, contact Legal Linguist to reach a ghost writer today.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
We live in a fast-paced culture. Our average attention span is 8 seconds. Goldfishes’ are 9. The key to writing blogs that catch and hold your readers’ attention is to keep them short and focused on a catchy topic. Here are some tips to guard against rambling:
Use Subheadings to Prevent Topic Drift
Subheadings can help break up your page and make it easier for the reader to follow along. They can also help you stay on target. If you can’t figure out how to tie your subheading to your title, you probably are off course. Subheadings give you a chance to check your heading and stay on target.
Reference Your Header Paragraph
You spend extra time on your header paragraph, making sure it is tight and attractive to your readers. Don’t be afraid to go back to the metaphor you used at the start and mention that goldfish again. Doing so will help you tie everything together and keep you from drifting off on a tangent.
Refine Your Topic
If you are having trouble keeping your post short and sweet, it’s probably because your topic is too broad. Take the time to distill your topic to its purest form. What is the one point you are trying to make? If you’re making 2 points, you’re writing 2 posts. Refine your topic and increase your focus – honing in on the one main thing you’re trying to say.
Tie It All Together In the End
Your closing paragraph is just as important as your header. It gives you a chance to call your reader to action and drive your point home. Make sure that closing paragraph connects to your header and all the headings. Just like you learned in high school writing class: Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, tell ’em, and then tell ’em what you told ’em – then give them something to do with it.
You have 8 seconds to catch and hold your readers’ attention. If you go on too long or stray from your topic, you’ll lose them. Stay focused, use subheadings, and tie everything together to get your readers from beginning to end.
Lisa Schmidt is a ghost-blogger and blogging coach for LegalLinguist.com. If you need help creating your professional blog, contact Legal Linguist today for customized writing and editing assistance.
It sits there, staring at you, taunting you with your inability to fill it. But I assure you, you are mightier than the blank page and it is easily vanquished once you set aside your terror. Continue reading