Newsjacking To Build Your Audience

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

eBooks Are Marketing Too

Has anyone ever told you that you should write a book? Maybe you have a strong opinion on an aspect of your business, or have a unique way of explaining a difficult concept. An eBook could be a great way to put your thoughts in order and market your expertise at the same time. Continue reading

Skipping Christmas?

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.

Dodge Christmas

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.

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

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.

Top 5 Reasons to Use Numbered Lists

Why you should be using top 5 lists

“Wooden Numeric 5” by Stoonn on freedigitalphotos.net

Top 10 lists are extremely popular within the blogosphere. Someone is probably writing a new one even as you read this. But can numbered list posts be useful to a blogging lawyer? Aren’t the issues we deal with too complicated to explain that way? Here are 5 reasons I say no:

5. Built-In Structure

Creating a Top 10 (or 5 or 3) list automatically breaks your blog post up into manageable pieces with natural headings. This makes it easier for the casual browser to get the gist of your blog and decide whether he wants to read on.

4. Enforced Brevity

If you are monitoring your word count, you will notice you don’t have many words to explain each of your Top 10 points. This forces you to get to the point and be compelling.

3. Cohesiveness of Ideas

For your regular subscribers, Top 10 lists are a great way to show how some of your other, more in-depth posts fit together. Whether they are all “top tips” or different stages in the same process, you can use a numbered list to bring the ideas together in one place.

2. Teasers and Links

You’ll never be able to fully explain each of your Top 10 items in one post. But don’t despair, you just created teasers for 10 great new posts! As you publish them, go back and add links to your Top 10 to give readers instant access to more information.

1. Trends on Social Media

No matter how accurate your explanation of Michigan No-Fault Insurance may be, it is not likely to get shared on any of your social media platforms. But a Top 10 list that includes mention of that explanation could be. Why? Because social media is enamored with easy reads and bite size information. Sure, many readers will just scan your list and be done with it, but the real potential clients will find something in that Top 10 that speaks to their need and will click on links to read more.

Numbered lists are a great way to connect with casual readers through social media and on your blog. Use them to create gateways to your other blog content, and to your door. If you need help creating content for your blog, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt for help.

Blogging From The Headlines

Taking inspiration from the headlines will increase hits.Some of the most compelling blog posts stem from the hot topics of the day. While the nation’s attention was wrapped up in the Trayvon Martin case many criminal lawyers took advantage of the limelight to write about “stand your ground” laws in their own states. Even when the headlines aren’t quite so directly on target, you can still use them to guide your blog posts and take advantage of heightened web traffic on particular issues.

People look for different things on the Internet at different times. You can see evidence of this in Twitter’s “trends” and in the articles that circulate on Facebook. Once an idea has taken hold, searches for the topic spike on popular search engines and on social media. But you have to be ready to post relevant new content at the right time.

Take Christmas, for example. Very few people are searching the web for Christmas articles in May. But if you post an article in December about how the Christmas shopping rush affects business planning strategies or what to do to streamline holiday parenting time, your fresh content is far more likely to appear in web search results.

Interest in particular topics on the Internet ebbs and flows. By targeting the trends of the day, whether they be holidays, the change in seasons, or big news items, you can increase your visibility and drive traffic to your blog, and your door. If you need help planning how to write from the headlines and increase your visibility, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt.

Authenticity and Credibility

Photo by by Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by by Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.net

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about bringing in readers from search results and from building your reputation with referral partners. But the problem with reputation is it is a double edged sword. More than quantity, the quality of your content is what will push people to pick up the phone, or not.

Initially, this gets back to choosing your topic. You need to choose a content area that is broad enough to give you lots of ideas to write about, but narrow enough to keep subscribers’ attention. More importantly, you need to write from what you know. If you have never handled a class action lawsuit, then a post on the intricacies of class certification may not be the best idea.

Instead, try to focus your blog on the types of law you are familiar with, or at least the areas you’ve read the most about. Your practice history and the research you have done over the years will give you an air of authenticity. You will be able to draw connections between topics that a layperson or newer lawyer might have missed. This will help your readers to trust you as an authority on the topic.

Second, always check your sources. Whenever possible, go back to the statute or court opinion itself. If you can’t do that, rely on reputable news sources rather than opinion articles. Avoid writing articles based on articles that are based on articles. Instead, dig down to the source. By linking directly to primary sources you give your blog credibility. Your readers will know they can rely on what you’ve said, and that your blog is free from unnecessary layers of bias and interpretation.

Your blog is one way you can educate potential clients and referral partners about your expertise in the field. By writing about what you know and relying on primary sources, you can give yourself and your posts more authenticity and credibility in the eyes of your readers.

Increase Your Circles of Influence

MP900316787A few weeks ago, I discussed how you can use your blog to increase your reputation in the eyes of your referral partners. But your friends and business colleagues are also a great sources of web traffic. The key is to make them curious about what your blog has to offer.

Continue reading