Should Your Brand Use “I” “We” or “They”?

Whether you are rewriting your website, drafting your next blog, or posting on social media, choosing the right pronouns can be surprisingly complicated. Deciding whether to use “I” “we” or “they” can set the tone for all kinds of brand decisions. But which one is best for you may not be as clear as you initially suspect. Continue reading

Writing in Monotone: Using Purpose to Set Tone

Last week, I got the chance to participate in a writer’s retreat on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. The retreat taught me a couple of things: (1) Not all seminars need to resemble studying for the bar; and (2) Literary writers are as susceptible to group think as the rest of us. Continue reading

3 Tips for Effective Client Letters

Not all of your writing goes to the courts or the web. No matter what your practice area, eventually you will have to write a letter to your client. So take the time to make them effective and add quality to your customer experience. Continue reading

Is Your Bio Boring?

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

A New Year’s Resolution: Keep Social Media Personal

There aren’t many people who choose to send New Year’s Eve alone. That’s because the holidays are social events – times to connect with family and friends and strengthen old bonds. So why do so many businesses treat social media networks so much differently?

Far too many business owners treat their follows on social media like the the masses at professional networking events – they collect as many contacts as they can, but never do any follow up. But social media is about relationships.

On its most basic level, social media is one of several ways for business owners to keep in contact with past and potential clients and referral sources. And it can be a platform for publicizing new blogs and news items. But if you stop there, you may as well be using mailers.

Instead, small business owners need to commit to making personal connections with their social media followers. That means engaging with them and giving them a glimpse at the man behind the curtain. So, in 2015, business owners should resolve to:

Reply to Followers

Inevitably, someone will comment on one of your posts. In fact, you want them to. That’s how you can develop organic reach for your social media posts. Thank new followers, like or favorite responses and shares and retweets. And engage in your followers’ conversations. It will build brand loyalty and grow organic reach.

Be Personal

In between blog posts and product photos, take the time to post something personal. That doesn’t mean posting a picture of your lunch, but maybe you could post a shot of you and the crew on the job. Let them see who you are and what they are paying for behind the marketing pitch. It will help your loyal fans recommend you better to their contacts.

Have Conversations

Particularly on Twitter, one of the best ways to improve visibility and teach your followers about your business is to have conversations with them. Consider asking open-ended questions and being prepared to respond to the answers. Or set up a Tweet-chat or “Ask Me Anything” – dedicated times when you will engage and respond to your followers’ questions.

2015 will give you a chance for a whole new take on your social media strategy. Make a New Year’s resolution to take it more personally and to engage with your followers. What you invest in time, you will get back in organic growth and dedicated followers. If you need help developing a social media strategy, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt at Legal Linguist today.

 

Your Blog Is a Personality Snapshot

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.

Writing Simply: Avoid Legalese

Lawyers and other highly trained professionals are in danger. They don’t know how talk to their clients, and so in the world of social media they risk losing followers by talking over their heads. So how can you fight the disease of legalese? Here are some tips:

Drop the Dictionary

Every lawyer has developed an elaborate vocabulary of legal terms, in both latin and English. But using those terms in your blog doesn’t make you sound smart. Instead it confuses your readers and makes your blog hard to read. Drop the dictionary and cut out anything you might have to define if that same client walked into your office. If you’re not sure, ask a non-lawyer friend what they think a word means. You may be surprised what counts as legalese.

Shorten Your Sentences

One of the symptoms of legalese is long, wandering sentences with lots of commas. Particularly when viewed on a mobile device, these sentences can seem to go on forever. Your readers will get lost in the maze of clauses and eventually just give up. Befriend the period. Break up your sentences into easily digestible pieces. Your readers will thank you for it.

Check Your Tone

One sure way to avoid a legalese infection is to read your blog posts aloud. Blogs should be conversational, so if your article sounds more like a lecture you know you have a problem. Take your formality down a notch and change up your style. You’re not teaching a class, you’re writing to a friend. Tone can be tough to manage, but with some practice you can develop a style that is compelling and conversational.

The last thing your followers are looking for on your blog is a legal brief. So if you find yourself at risk of spouting legalese, stop, look, and listen. Walk away from your blog post for at least an hour. Come back and read it anew. And if you aren’t sure about your tone read it aloud to a non-lawyer. If you still need help managing your tone, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt for a meeting.

Catching Your Reader’s Attention

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.

The Terror of the Blank Page

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