As you might imagine, I read dozens of blogs written by lawyers at least one time. What causes  your dream potential client to go back and read a second, third, fourth post and subscribe?

If we’ve worked together, you already know the answer.  Your potential client is looking for three things when he or she reads a blog written by a lawyer:

  1. Does the blog help him with his business?
  2. Does the blogger know her stuff?
  3. Is the blogger someone he or she would like to know?

Seth Godin posted recently: Microcopy in the age of a glance It’s worth a moment to read it. He points out that today, most people rarely get to the end of what you have written. He’s right.

If you read on, you’ll find he describes the importance of being human and being confident.

If your dream client read your blog for the first time today, would he or she see those two important elements?

On Tuesday I gave you the five questions to ask yourself if you are blogging and it hasn’t led to business. After you have answered the first five, you will be ready to answer these:

  1. Blogging Questions.jpgHow should you write your post? Your headline is the starting point. Each time you draft one assume that is all your potential reader will see before deciding to read any further. Do not bury the lead. The first sentence and first paragraph are essential. Once again you must answer your potential readers question: “Why should I read this?”
  2. How long should your post be? I believe it should be no longer than 250-400 words. If you need to write in greater detail, link to a more detailed document.
  3. What should your style be like? Your paragraphs should be short. Consider posting with a list. I know contractors all like check-lists and I believe other businesses do as well. Make your post conversational as if you were having coffee with the reader. Consider telling a story. I like to add an image to break up the text and make it easier to read.
  4. What links should you include in your post? As lawyers we like to prove a point. Our clients like support for a point as well. You can find the support in the news, cases or other supporting documents.
  5. What you should do to get your blog to more potential readers? When you begin blogging, send the first posts to your existing clients and referral sources. Also talk about your blog with your partners and colleagues who have clients who might be interested. If I was still practicing law I would send my blog to each construction association executive I knew personally and ask them to let their members know about the blog. Hopefully you are on LinkedIn and have linked to as many clients, referral sources and those who influence your clients. Post the link to your blog on your LinkedIn page. Post the link with a description on Twitter. Post the link to groups on LinkedIn. I read this great quote on Twitter last Saturday: “If I can’t comment, click a retweet button, or “Like” your blog, it’s called an article.”
  6. Are you building trust relationships through your blog?  Client development is all about building trust based relationships with potential clients. I define that type of relationship from the client’s perspective: He or she is asking: “Can I trust this lawyer to handle my matter?”  “What will it be like to work with this lawyer?” Your blog is your opportunity to demonstrate expertise and show potential clients a personal side of you.

I coach many lawyers who are blogging and I read blogs posted by many other lawyers. I can usually get a sense whether the lawyer blogger is achieving any success from blogging. If you are blogging and it hasn’t led to business, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Blogging Questions.jpgWho is your ideal reader? The first giveaway for me that a blog is not likely attracting business is when I can’t figure out who the blogger is targeting.  If I was still practicing construction law, my ideal reader would begin with the executives of the many state and national construction associations. My second ideal reader would be contractors and in-house lawyers of the large contractors who have them.
  2. What do you want your ideal reader to do? Even though it occasionally happens, I think it is very unrealistic to think you will get a new client just because of your blog. If I was still practicing construction law, I would want my ideal reader to recommend me to others and include with his recommendation the link to my blog. I also would use my blog as the primary tool to get asked to speak at contractor association meetings.
  3. How can you attract your ideal reader? If your ideal reader is not reading your blog, you won’t achieve your goals. The first step to attract your ideal reader is to create valuable content that addresses a need.
  4. How do you find valuable content? You have to be insatiable to look for and find information that impacts your potential clients. You should be reading a variety of industry publications and other business publications. If I was practicing construction law I would be using the ENR feed, Feedly and Netvibes to find ideas.
  5. How do you know when you have found valuable content? Each article you read you have to look for the legal implications or even the business implications of the facts in the article. You have to see what others are missing.

In my Thursday post, I will share with you the questions to ask after you have answered these.

I have spent a career reading non-fiction. I haven’t updated it recently, but here is my  Recommended Reading 2016. (Really 2013)

In 2013 I wrote There’s a Book For That with short summaries of several of my favorites.

Why do authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Daniel Pink and so many others appeal to me? They entertain me, primarily with stories and in the process I learn something.

Boy-with-books

For example, have you read Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, or his book Outliers? Especially if you haven’t read it, here is my article: Tipping Point for Lawyers article.

Have you read Daniel Pink’s: To Sell is Human? Especially if you haven’t here is my blog: Recommended Reading: To Sell is Human.

Have you read Seth Godin’s book Linchpin? In the book he talks about our Lizard Brain to sabotages us. I wrote about it in Client Development: Self Sabotage.

The writers are writing on different subjects, but they share one thing in common. They are master storytellers and that is why we keep reading.

I’ve written about that skill many times. Here’s just one example: Client Development: One Incredibly Important Skill to Work On.

If you want readers to keep reading your blog, become a master storyteller. If you are a lawyer I coach, I’ve shared with you blogs I like because I feel like I just met the blogger for coffee after reading his or her blog post.

Do you want to dive into this subject further? Read: The Story Grid Spreadsheet for The Tipping Point and the follow on blog posts where Shawn Coyne explains why The Tipping Point works as a series of stories.

Finally, you may know I did a Webinar last week for MyCase.  Here is a link to Webinar Recap: Build Your Practice Through Blogging.

Years ago, I coached a lawyer who was writing an ERISA Law Blog. In one of our coaching sessions he explained.

I enjoy writing the blog, but my target clients are not finding it. The only calls I have received are from employees.

I looked at the blog. At the time he was essentially reporting the ERISA news. I couldn’t tell from his posts that he represented employers. He had not targeted his readers and picked topics he hoped would bring them to him.

As some of you know, I began writing a column in Roads and Bridges magazine in the early 80s. I purposely named the column: Law: The Contractor’s Side. Here is a column I wrote in 2000: The ‘ripple effect’ of change orders.

My target readers were contractors and in the linked column I wanted to demonstrate my understanding and expertise of the ripple effect of change orders in the hope I would be top of mind if a contractor faced that issue.

Writing strategically to reach and intended target reader is one topic I will address in a webinar I am presenting on August 25 for MyCase. The title is Build Your Practice Through Blogging. Click on the title and you can sign up for it.

If you are a blogger and don’t feel your posts are attracting clients or referral sources, I urge you to take the hour on the 25th and learn how to start blogging more strategically and take a look at my Social Media Blogging eBook.

Blogging Tips

I tell lawyers I coach that with each blog, they should:

  1. Identify the intended reader-potential clients, shares, SEO.
  2. Figure out why that reader cares about the topic
  3. Decide what they want the reader to take away from the blog post
  4. Decide what they want the reader to think about them or their firm

Ok, once you have figured out those things, you are ready to draft. Start with a great, “google searchable” headline. You want to choose one that potential clients will find if they did a search of the legal topic.

Second, write a great first line. Think like a journalist. Don’t bury the lead.

Third, write short paragraphs. You want to have a lot of white space to make your blog easy to read on line.

Fourth, include a visual. There are many places where you can find free photographs that do not require attribution. One source I use is Pexels.

When you finish your first draft, look and see if you can shorten the post. Take out any fluff or unnecessary words.

After you post your blog, use Buffer  or Hootsuite to deliver it to your social media sites at the time you think would be most likely read. (I say around 1-2 in the afternoon Central Time is not bad.)

If you want to learn more about getting readers to your blog, I found: 39 Top Bloggers Reveal How They Get More Blog Traffic. Which one do you think would get you potential clients and referral sources readers?

You have heard me talk about building your brand.

What does that mean?

In 2016, it’s not what you know, it’s not who you know. It’s who knows what you know. The goal of client development is to increase the number of influencers who know what you know and recommend you to potential clients.

In my career, I wanted to be known as the go-to lawyer for highway and bridge contractors. Every major new client/matter came to me because an influencer recommended me. I worked hard to become known by those influencers.

I coached Shawn Tuma several years ago and continue to work with him and share ideas. Recently he sent me a video from a presentation he recently gave that captured what I have been suggesting in my coaching.

Take 5 minutes and watch.

I hear it all the time.

No one has ever hired be from reading a blog post.

I wrote a column for Roads and Bridges Magazine for 25 years. I’m not sure anyone ever said:

Read your column on… and I want to hire you.

Yesterday, Shawn Tuma and I gave a presentation on Blogging and Social Media to the Collin County Bar Association.

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I started coaching Shawn over five years ago, after he met me first on Twitter. I invite you to fast forward in Prezi to his part of the presentation.

Why? Because Shawn actually has had new clients find him because of his blogging and social media. Shawn has actually written for some top publications after the editors found his blog through social media.

While, I don’t think blogging is for everyone or every type of law practice, Shawn is living proof that at least for the Computer Fraud Act and Data Privacy, blogging and social media can be amazing tools.

You may know Shawn did a three part series on how to blog and use social media in an hour. Here is the Link to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

I have coached 100s of lawyer bloggers. Some are doing it really well. Others have found it challenging. They aren’t attracting the readers they desire.

Over the years several law firms have asked me to come in and do what I call a Bloggers Bootcamp for their lawyers. If your firm has bloggers, please either consider having me to a bootcamp for them, or at the least have them check out the slides from one bootcamp here.

Blogging Tips

When I coach bloggers, I suggest that the first key is to make their blog easy to read on a computer, tablet and even a smart phone. If you are a regular reader, you might recall last August I posted: Blog: Is Yours SEO and Reader Friendly?

Unfortunately, in spite of my suggestions in that post, most lawyer blogs I see are not easy to read because:

  • The blog is too long
  • The font is too small and not easy to read
  • The paragraphs are too long
  • There’s not enough whitespace
  • They don’t use visuals

I can go on, but you get the idea.

Just to show I’m not the only one harping on readability, I want you to check out: 8 Reasons Why Your Blog Posts Are Hard to Read (And How to Fix ‘Em).

If you are a lawyer blogging, I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to see what are the 8 reasons. I think you will see the suggestions are remarkably similar to some I made in my Practical Lawyer Column: Practical Tips To Make Your Blog More Valuable what I have been pushing you to do for many years.

I’m curious: Look at your last blog post. How many of the 8 reasons your blog is hard to read would apply to your blog post?

 

I have coached 25 lawyers over the last two weeks, and the most frequent questions I received, especially from the younger lawyers, was how can I more effectively use social media.

I posted this blog last year, but given the questions I thought it was worth posting again,

On Tuesday this week Shawn Tuma and I did a webinar for the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) titled: Simple Ways to Effectively Use Social Media to Help Build Your Law Practice.

I focused on blogging and Shawn showed participants how to use the social media tools to share blog posts, engage and build relationships.

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Here is a link to our Prezi slides.

In 2010, a national law firm marketing department asked me to go cross country and spend a day in four of their offices giving a presentation on blogging and social media and then meeting with practice groups in those offices.  I knew I had been asked to do this task because of the color of my hair (white) and my experience practicing law (35 plus years).

At the time, the firm was not blogging and only a handful of lawyers were using any of the social media tools. Now, the firm has 11 blogs and several lawyers in leadership positions are using social media very effectively. So, I must have made an impression on a few lawyers over 50.

In one of the offices, during a meeting with a practice group, the youngest partner asked:

Cordell, suppose we tell you we do not want to blog or use social media. In five years will we be behind our competitors?

I replied:

Suppose in the 90s your practice group told firm leaders. We do not want to have our group on the firm webpage and we do not want to use email. Do you think in five years you would have been behind your competitors?

The LMA members use social media effectively. I have met several of their members on Twitter.  I thought I might  share with you some of the tweets that members generated during my part of the presentation.

Gail Lamarche @gaillamarche
blogging is different than any other legal writing — @cordellparvin sharing tips/best practices #LMAMKT 3 potential audiences

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Who are your blogging audiences? Your clients, social media sharers, Google search engines — @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Think before you post: Who is your intended reader? Why should they care? What is the takeaway for reader? #lmamkt @cordellparvin

Lindsay Griffiths @LindsayGriffith
A blog is a conversation with your reader whereby you are trying to build a trust-based relationship (YES!!) per @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Gail Lamarche @gaillamarche
your blog is a conversation with your reader and trying to build a trust based relationship #LMAMKT via @cordellparvin build a connection

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Lawyers, your blog readers skim your posts. They read down, not across. High % never finish. Do’t bury the lead. — @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Lawyers, you need a great headline for your blog posts. Will it be found if someone searches for that legal topic? @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Lawyers tend to write linearly. Your clients don’t need the entire history. — @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Lindsay Griffiths @LindsayGriffith
“Clients don’t care about the history of Swiss watch making; they just want to know what time it is” – GREAT metaphor @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
“Use persuasive words when blogging. The words ‘you’ and ‘because’ are incredibly important.” — @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Laura Toledo @lalaland999
Start w/ your lead: the inverted pyramid – alluded to by @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Lance Godard @lancegodard
RT @lalaland999: Start w/ your lead: the inverted pyramid – alluded to by @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Thanks to each of the LMA members listed above for sharing their thoughts during the presentation. As a quick aside, I have never met any of them in person, but have gotten to know them on social media.

If you are interested, you can find the slides Shawn and I used here. Look carefully at Shawn’s slides and you will learn how his strategic use of social media generated new clients and writing opportunities.

Are your struggling to connect with your clients and dream clients with your blog? I may have some help for you today.

If you are a regular reader, you know I have been working on a novel since January 2014. I’ve taken courses at Collin County Community College. I’ve taken on-line courses offered  by University of North Texas. I’ve attended a DFW Writers Conference and I’ve read many books on writing.

Just for an update, I want you to know that I’ve actually completed one version of my novel and thought it could be much better. I’m working on versions 7 and 8 now.

Gina has gone from being Italian (last name Caruso, granddaughter of a mobster from Galveston) to being Hispanic (last name Sanchez, daughter of the lawyer who represents crooked politicians from the Rio Grande Valley). I made that change to be able to highlight how few partners in major US law firms in the US are Hispanic women.

Gina Caruso is married to Tony. Gina Sanchez is single. Gina Caruso was the female version of some powerful man you have read about (think a President, a golfer, a general). I read many articles. One was titled:  Powerful people are the most likely to have an affair… be they men OR women. The point in the article was:

But scientists now believe that it is a person’s power, rather than gender, that plays the greatest role in infidelity.

I wanted to convey in my novel that if that is true, powerful women are judged and treated differently. But, one of my favorite women readers read my draft and told me she hated Gina for being married and cheating on Tony.

Since women make up the majority of readers, at least for my current version, Gina is single.

So, what is the power of 3 in writing and why should you consider it while blogging?

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Novels, plays, movies tell a story in three acts. That’s the universal structure. Maybe a blog should have three parts.

Recently I read a blog post Trinities by Shawn Coyne,  a writing guru. In it he describes advising a friend who had sent him a problematic manuscript. Shawn’s advice:

Break your thing into THREE PARTS…a Beginning that introduces the dilemma that your reader is facing…a Middle that explains to them how he can combat and defeat the problem practically…and an Ending that shows him how the practical tasks are repeatable and reliable, capable of being integrated into his daily life.

Read that quote again and think about your potential client reader and a blog you are writing. I will say it for you.

Break your blog into THREE PARTS…a Beginning that introduces the potential problem, opportunity or change your client or potential client reader is facing…a Middle that explains to them how they can deal with the problem or change or take advantage of the opportunity…and an Ending that shows the client or potential client that your solution will work for them.

There’s more to this Blogging in THREE PARTS. Check out: How to Use the ‘Rule of Three’ to Create Engaging Content. Brian Clark suggests:

It all comes down to the way we humans process information. We have become proficient at pattern recognition by necessity, and three is the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern.

This combination of pattern and brevity results in memorable content, and that’s why the Rule of Three will make you a more engaging writer.

Back to my writing, I would like to hear from you. If you have a moment share with me:

  • Your favorite novel written in the last five years. Make this the book you could not put down even when you wanted to go to sleep
  • Your favorite legal novel. What captured your attention?
  • Your most memorable character
  • Your most memorable female character
  • The ending to a novel that most surprised you.