How to Organize Content on Your Blog: Watch the Late Show
This week we are discussing the best way to use a blog as a marketing tool for attorneys. Yesterday we discussed how to add a blog to your law firm marketing plan. Today I’m going to share a guide to formatting your blog’s content.
The format of your blog does not need to be dry and academic. It also doesn’t need to be complicated. There is a template that fits well within our need to deliver information in a way that is easy to consume and also entertaining. If you want your blog to work, simply follow the template provided by late night television – specifically The Late Show with David Letterman.
Before you dismiss this idea as crazy (or at minimum, a little farfetched) give it some thought. Here are the different segments of The Late Show as they relate to your blog:
Each night David Letterman comes out and shares his thoughts on current events. He provides entertaining commentary on things that are in the news and top of mind for his audience. Some people tune into the show just to hear him make this commentary. Regular viewers can often anticipate which things Letterman is going to target with his acerbic wit. Sometimes he pushes the envelope and sometimes it’s just flat out juvenile but it is almost always worthy of conversation around the water cooler the next day.
The opinions you share on your blog should follow the same format. You should provide commentary that is topical, sometimes controversial, and always entertaining. You don’t need people to agree with you but you want them to share your information. Posting a link to your blog article on social media websites is the equivalent of discussing your content around the water cooler.
The Top Ten List
Letterman does a “top ten” list every night that almost always is quoted, shared and sometimes reviled. Yet it remains the most popular segment of his show because people love the simplicity and organization of the humorous information. Our brains are wired to effectively review and process information in a structured order.
Each week you should provide at least one list to the readers of your blog. It doesn’t need to have a set number of items. It should simply be organized information that can be easily processed.
Letterman makes his strongest joke the “number one” item on his top ten lists. Most often, when you rank things, people will only remember the item that is “Number 1” and they will quote it to others. Use your top rank in your list for making your strongest point (regardless of how many items are on your list).
Ask Tough Questions
People love gossip. That’s the reason supermarket tabloids are the bestselling magazines worldwide. We are all nosy and love to pry into the lives of others. Letterman goes right after people when he interviews them. He picks the one thing that is most sensitive and he asks about it immediately. While it may be uncomfortable for the person who is put “on the spot” the audience loves it because Letterman is asking the question that is at the forefront of their mind at that moment in time.
When writing articles for your blog you need to pose tough questions to your audience. You must address the issues that are going through their mind – even if they make you uncomfortable to discuss. Life can be messy. Jump right into the mess and take people where they want to go. Help them make sense of things.
Occasionally The Late Show will feature a segment where either people or animals do tricks. The segment for people is called “Stupid Human Tricks.” The segment for pets is called “Stupid Pet Tricks.” These segments are entertaining and sometimes they showcase something that requires real talent.
On your blog you should occasionally provide some form of novelty entertainment. Add an occasional cartoon or trivia quiz. Post a funny video from YouTube. Share a comical photo.
Adding your own form of hokey content can help break up the monotony of solid blocks of text.
Tell Them What’s Coming Next
At the end of the show the announcer always lets you know who the guests will be tomorrow night. Bloggers rarely do this. The main reason is because they have no idea what they are going to write about or post the next day.
Give this some thought. With a little planning you can come up with topics for an entire week. Once you do, let people know what is coming next. This will help them remember to “tune in” to your blog and hear what you have to say.
Keeping up with regular blog entries can be difficult. David Letterman has a team of people who book guests, write content, create videos and manage his entire production. You have a computer, your brain and about thirty minutes each day to put together some content for your blog. It can be a struggle to fit it all in. Using a successful format like the one in late night entertainment can help keep you focused. It can also help you remember that you are in the business of entertaining people as you inform them.
Each day when you sit in front of your computer imagine the announcer saying your name, the curtain parting, and the band playing your theme music. Stretch your hands out, take a deep breath, welcome the audience and start the show.
How To Add A Blog To Your Law Firm Marketing Plan
As we have often discussed, frequently updated website content is a valuable marketing tool. One of the best ways to organize and disseminate high quality educational information, on line, is by blogging.
In the past few days, we have addressed issues about blogging frequency and quality. Today I have prepared an outline for blogging effectiveness and an audio program that should help you add blogging to your law firm marketing plan.
This blogging business plan is available on my weekly podcast. Click on the player below to listen or save the file by following the attached link.
Here is an outline of the material contained in the 23 minute podcast:
The Advantages of Blogging:
- Three ways blogging can enhance your credibility.
- Blogging as a tool to improve on-line visibility
- How blogging can help differentiate you from your competition
We answer the three most commonly asked technical questions related to blogging:
- Should a blog be on a separate domain?
- Who should own the blog and the content?
- How much does blog layout and design matter?
Next we cover the three “T’s of blogging:”
- Topic: What should I write about?
- Tone: Should my blog be authoritative, educational or friendly?
- Timing: How often should I write?
Finally we wrap things up by tying everything together and helping it fit into your law firm marketing plan.
A blog is a great marketing tool for any attorney and this podcast will help you develop your content in a way that will get maximum results.
Listen today and take immediate action.
How Often Should I Update My Blog?
Some lawyers blog because they enjoy writing. Others blog because they realize educating people who visit their website is a good marketing practice. Still other lawyers blog for the search engine optimization benefits.
There is no right or wrong reason to add great content to your website. No matter what, adding high quality content is always a good thing.
One of the questions I receive most often about law firm marketing concerns frequency of blogging.
Lawyers ask: “How often should I update my blog?
The answer is: “You should update your blog as frequently as possible.”
Adding great content frequently has several benefits. Here are a few:
Building Reader Loyalty
Many bloggers (particularly lawyers) underestimate the loyalty of their readers. If you write regularly, and you provide high quality content with personality, you will develop a following of loyal readers. The best case scenario is developing a following that cannot get enough of your information.
These folks expect consistent content. Give it to them as often as possible.
Frequent Search Engine Visits
Search engines love new content. If you update your blog daily and you post links from the social media engines (particularly Google+), your website will be visited by the gods of Google more often. This means your content will have greater potential for discovery.
More Substantial Body of Work
Every blog post adds to your body of work. Continuously creating and adding high quality content to your blog adds to the knowledgebase you have created. This helps reinforce your credibility with first time visitors or people looking to use your services.
Clarity of Thought
One of the most underestimated aspects of blogging is the way regular writing can help you organize and focus your thinking. The way you write is the way you think, but organizing your writing can also assist you in organizing your thoughts. As with everything in life, practice makes perfect.
Frequent updates of content to your blog will definitely help your law firm marketing efforts. If you can fit them into your schedule, daily updates are terrific for a number of reasons – even beyond the few I listed here.
The answer to the question: “How often should I update my blog?” is “Daily or as often as possible.”
Website Not Converting? It’s Your Personality
The phone in my office rang the other day and there was a lawyer on the other end of the line complaining about his website.
He gets lots of traffic but nobody calls him.
He has an opt-in box that offers a free report and he updates his blog each day, yet…nothing.
No calls, no email, no opt-ins – in short, no love.
His question to me: Why?
Why, when he was seemingly doing everything right, did he not have the business to show for his effort?
“Hmmm.” I said. “Let me take a look.”
It turns out this lawyer’s marketing strategy was solid but his execution was poor.
This lawyer is a personal injury attorney. Typically he deals with devastating injuries, horrific accidents and gross medical errors. Due to his efforts, victims are able to live the best life possible in spite of their circumstances.
And that’s what he writes about on his website. Constantly.
Topics from the past week:
- Medical error that killed a grandma.
- Devastating car accident that left a farther of five paralyzed.
- Wrong drug dispensed in a hospital resulting in a seizure and partial paralysis.
- Compound fracture of a leg by an 8 year old in a little league game.
- Nursing home abuse of several elderly residents.
His articles go into significant detail about each case. He highlights the damages to the parties involved. He includes photos. And he invites you, the reader to call him if this happens to you.
And he follows this routine every day.
After reading one week’s worth of posts on his blog, I was ready to drink a bottle of scotch.
It was depressing.
This guy was missing the point.
Your blog is not a sterile academic environment. It is a cocktail party.
People drop by from time-to-time to engage in conversation and see what’s new. If you want to tell them a story, that’s great. Make sure you keep it light and in the language of the layman. Then move on to discussing things you have in common and things that can help them improve the quality of their own lives.
Yeah, I know, Google loves those keywords and you write about actual cases because it is a great way to naturally introduce them into your blog. But more and more, Google is moving away from your keyword stuffed content and toward author authority – which is gleaned from the context of your body of work.
So if you are the purveyor of gloom and doom, you may be confused with a mortician or an emergency room doctor. (I’m making that up to illustrate a point.)
Write for people.
If, at a cocktail party, you told someone seven stories in a row about death and medical errors, how long do you think that person would hang around you?
The most egregious website errors I see in lawyer marketing stem from misunderstanding the reader and not using your personality in your writing.
Write for people not search engines.
Lawyers Marketing Question: How Often Should I Update My Blog?
How often do you communicate with the important people in your life?
What would your relationship with your spouse be like if you only spoke with him/her once a week?
How would your sister or your mom feel if you only communicated with them once each month?
That would be awful and your relationships would suffer as a result.
Yet I meet lawyers all the time who only update their blog once or twice each month and still expect to get business as a result.
Things on the internet change rapidly but one thing remains constant: Frequent blog updates are a good thing.
What is the ideal frequency?
It depends upon your objectives for your blog. If you can write quality content with consistency, then do it as frequently as possible – at least once a week.
The key is to be able to create quality content at a consistent pace. If you settle on weekly updates as your comfort level, then update your blog on the same day, at the same time, every week. You may even want to post the day and time you update the blog right on the site.
If you increase the frequency, make sure you can maintain the new pace. If you don’t maintain a consistent pace your readers will not know what to expect. Lawyers marketing their practice with the internet as a key component should embrace this concept.
For maximum impact, daily updates are the best option.
This blog is the perfect example.
By moving from weekly updates to daily updates I doubled my traffic (mostly thanks to driving people from social media to my new content). The daily updates also improved my Alexa score quite a bit in a brief period of time.
The main reason to update your blog frequently is to build trust with your readers.
Ideally, the people who read your blog are going to be your target clients. At minimum, your readers will be referral sources. These folks are in a relationship with you. They want to communicate with you frequently. Your blog serves as a form of interaction with them. When you post new articles, you continue your conversation.
I know it can be difficult to keep up with a regular blog writing schedule. But the reasons to blog frequently far outnumber the reasons not to. Remember, frequent communication builds trust and trust is an essential element of any relationship.
Five Reasons to Include a Blog in Your Law Firm Marketing Plan
People always want my opinion on their website. They are looking for me to comment on the colors, the graphics, the layout and many of the other aesthetic features. In reality these aspects of a web site are less important than the content.
One of the best ways to be certain your website always has fresh, relevant content is to include a blog on your website (and as part of your overall legal marketing plan).
Here are the five most compelling reasons to include a blog on your legal marketing website plan.
- A blog is an ongoing conversation with your clients and prospective clients. Relationships begin with conversations. A blog that is updated regularly is a terrific way to begin a conversation with new prospective clients. People will subscribe to your blog updates via RSS and they will be alerted when you post some new information.
- Blogs are excellent educational tools. Your clients want to know if you can help them and how you can help them. Using your blog as a tool to educate them will not only help position you as an expert, it will help your prospective clients get up to speed on the issue they are facing.
- Blogs encourage frequent interaction. If you keep the content on your blog fresh (updated several times per week) people will visit your website more frequently.
- A blog is your own media outlet. You can broadcast any message you’d like on your bog. This can be helpful as your readership grows.
- Search engines love blogs. Fresh content is the name of the game when it comes to search engine optimization. If you want to boost traffic to your website you should start blogging with content relevant to your practice area.
There are many more reasons to make blogging an important part of your law firm marketing plan. This article is just a teaser to get you started.
Pick Up the Pace and Get Your Website to a Better Place
If you are interested in SEO for law firms in legal marketing listen up.
Daily blogging will get you higher rankings in search engines. Google has just made sure of this with its latest update. As I highlighted right here at Rainmaker Lawyer in this bog post on Search Engine Optimization and Law Firm Marketing, updating your blog frequently will definitely have a positive impact on your search engine rankings for your keywords. This has become particularly relevant after the June update to Google’s algorithm.
In case you need more persuading, here are the benefits of updating your blog frequently:
Interaction with Potential Clients and Referral Sources: Frequency of communication is critical to the development of any relationship. If you update your blog three to five times each week you are developing a more intimate relationship with your reader. This is a huge benefit. People do business with people they know like and trust. As communication frequency increases, so does trust.
Better Traffic: People will not read everything you write. If you produce more content, people will have more choices as to what to read. This is a good thing. With more choices, you are likely to keep people on your website longer.
In addition, the people who do read your content everyday will be great website visitors and will likely become referral sources or clients. This is because they visiting to hear what you have to say. At first they may visit your blog because they have an interest in a specific topic. After a while they may just be interested in your opinion on anything. This is how good relationships begin. Developing relationships is the object of law firm marketing.
Better thinking: Writing frequently (daily is preferred) is a great way to organize your thoughts. If you write every day, you will be forced to be organized in your thinking and in sharing your ideas. Both of these are good things for lawyers and law firms.
In many, many ways updating your website content daily will help strengthen your brand, your blog and your business. If you are serious about law firm marketing and serious about search engine optimization for law firms you must find a way to update your blog every day.
The Shift in Law Firm Marketing on the Web
In case you haven’t noticed, Google changed the algorithm they use to rank websites once again. It appears that all the ingredients necessary for a high ranking are still in place (keyword rich content, inbound links and frequent updates among about 100 other things) but the priority of them has certainly changed.
How do I know?
The sites with the most inbound links used to rank in the top five for all search results (regardless of the keywords or content on the site). That led me to believe that inbound links were heavily weighted in the algorithm.
As of the end of June 2010, this is no longer the case. Don’t get me wrong, links still appear to be weighted heavily, but content updates are also important as are subscribers, traffic and everything else that goes into your search engine ranking.
What does all this mean?
Actually, there is no conclusion that can be drawn…yet. But anecdotally, I can tell you that the website that I updated weekly in June (this one) improved in ranking while the website I could not attend to Legal Marketing For Lawyers dropped dramatically.
I am moving back to frequent updates (three times each week or more) on each website to see if it makes a difference.
Stay tuned as I conduct this law firm marketing experiment.
Lawyer Marketing and the Internet: Three Ways
There are three ways to use the internet for lawyer marketing: The Right Way, The Wrong Way and No Way at all. There are lawyers out there doing all three. Here are my brief thoughts on each way of using the Internet for Lawyer Marketing:
No Way at All
I start with the most obvious opportunity. About 50% of the lawyer population doesn’t even have a website. Maybe they think they don’t need one. Maybe they see it as an expense. Maybe they think they just can’t compete with the large law firms on the Internet.
Even if a website helps you get one more client because they read your biography on line, the website is worthwhile. Forget about lawyer marketing, how about lawyer commonsense? Every lawyer needs a website.
The Wrong Way
About 40% of attorneys have a static web page they use as their website. They put something up in the Internet a few years ago and they forgot about it. The site probably has the attorney’s biography and some photos on it. It probably has some information about where the attorney’s office is located. It may even have a photo or two. But there is nothing about the client. There’s no educational material. There’s no information about how the client can get help. The website is all about the attorney.
The Right Way
About 10% of all lawyer websites have educational information on them. They are vehicles that clients use to find out about solutions to their problems. These websites are updated regularly. Clients return to these sites again and again not only for the information but also to keep up with the lawyer’s opinions on a variety of issues.
Clients who visit these websites feel as though they have a relationship with the lawyer. They do not hesitate to call and to refer other people to him.
Lawyer marketing is about building relationships. Your website should help build and strengthen your relationships with the people who are looking for information in the area of law where you practice. If you do not have a website you are missing out on a huge segment of potential clientele. If you have a website and it stinks, you are probably driving prospective clients away.
Three Tools That Lead to Lawyer Marketing Success
Lawyer marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Attorneys often tell me they only have time to do a few things related to marketing each week. That’s fine. You don’t have to implement 100 different marketing initiatives in order to increase the number of clients that find your law firm.
Here are the three lawyer marketing initiatives I recommend you implement if you have limited time to focus on business development:
Lawyer marketing is about communication, education, differentiation and motivation. You must help your clients choose you. This starts with communication. A good blog is like a conversation. The more you speak with someone the more they will begin to know you, like you, and trust you.
If you can post a short article (between 250 and 500 words) to your blog a few times each week, you will dramatically increase the visibility of your website on the Internet. An increased frequency of posting will also improve your relationship with your readers (many of whom are potential clients).
A weekly update via email is one of the most effective lawyer marketing tactics ever invented. That is not an exaggeration. If you email your clients once a week and you provide them with a pithy anecdote (about life, about business, about sports, essentially about something you would discuss with your colleagues around the water cooler) you will grow your business dramatically.
Many attorneys believe this type of communication is too frequent. They believe they will be annoying their clients and prospective clients. They are wrong. As long as the information is interesting, weekly communication is an effective lawyer marketing tool.
Monthly Printed Newsletter
A printed newsletter mailed monthly is another highly effective tool for lawyer marketing. Once again, the information must be interesting. If it’s not, the newsletter will be thrown in the garbage. But if you engage your reader, he will welcome your monthly newsletter.
There are a number of reasons why you will not implement these three lawyer marketing tools into your law practice. Ultimately, they will provide you with a huge return on investment if you do. It’s up to you. Do you want to give in to excuses or do you want to be highly effective at lawyer marketing?