Why Reddit Is My Content Creation Ace In The Hole

Reddit home page

I’ve been creating content on various platforms since 1997 my first website launched.

Back then, all I did was write a few paragraphs to describe each portion of my law practice – not tricky at all. But things kicked into high gear in 2004 when I started blogging and podcasting.

In 2005, creating content was easy because there were massive changes in the bankruptcy laws that everyone was trying to understand. The news was spouting a constant stream of headlines, and my colleagues and I were poring over the new bankruptcy laws in an effort to get a handle on how we were going to keep helping people once things changed.

In the years following, various news cycles have provided fodder for my blogging and podcasting efforts. And though student loan issues now consume so much of our time, there’s always a need to create content that matters to the real world.

Enter Reddit.

Reddit, in case you’ve never visited, is an odd little world. Founded some years ago, it’s the most rudimentary of social networks in some ways yet fascinatingly complex on other levels.

Users submit stories, ask questions, or make a statement – just like other social networks. The difference, however, is that other users not only comment on the status update but also vote the submission up or down, giving it more or less prominence on the home page of Reddit.

Then there’s the home page it. Reddit, unlike other social networks, doesn’t have a single home page. Instead, there are hundreds of subreddits; these are separate areas of Reddit that focus on particular topics of interest.

The User Is The Key

Before looking at the Subreddits, it’s important to let you know about the users of Reddit.

Most of them are anonymous. That’s what sets Reddit apart from other social networks or even Q&A sites like Avvo (which you know I love).

When you’re anonymous, your true thoughts come out more freely. You’re not afraid of recrimination, and can speak your mind without worrying that someone else will find out your dirty little secrets (this, by the way, is one of the reasons why sites such as Whisper and apps like Secret are so popular).

In the context of content creation for your law firm, this is gold.

People are using the words they use in real life to describe their problems, and seeking honest advice from other people. Nobody has to reveal their name, age or background.  They share information and commiserate with one another, all without social constraints.

Create Content Based On Questions

As I write this, the following questions and discussions are on a student loan Subreddit:

  • My parents are trying to convince me that 100k-200k of debt is ok for an architecture major. I want to transfer abroad to a cheaper school.
  • Do only payments made to FedLoan count towards PSLF?
  • Student loan cosigner filed bankruptcy. Now my credit is trashed.

One of the reasons why people put these sorts of questions on Reddit is that they’re looking for unfiltered answers and haven’t had much success elsewhere.

And if one person has the question, like so do thousands of others.

If you go out and create a blog post, podcast, or video clip dealing with these questions you’ll be the one who answers the question, and the one who gets the traffic to your site.

A Note Of Caution Before Responding On Reddit

Reddit users are notoriously “no bullshit” sorts of folks. That means your legal answers may not be well received if your decide to respond on the site.

No promotion, no backpedalling, no “lawyer talk”, and no disclaimers are going to be taken lightly. The Reddit community is historically made of tech-aware 20-something males, which is a population that takes no prisoners and suffers no fools.

Feel like dropping a link to your website on Reddit as a way to get new visitors? Unless you’re a trusted member of the community with a long track record of being helpful and useful, don’t bother- you’ll get mocked, downvoted, possibly even thrown out of the community.

Handle With Care

Reddit can be a powerful platform as well as a fountain of blog and podcast fodder for your content creation efforts.

Used wisely, it’s an incredible tool. But if you misuse Reddit, you’ll find yourself facing the pointy end of a very sharp virtual stick.

Be careful, but don’t ignore it.

Here’s The Best Time To Publish New Content On Your Blog

Generally speaking, new content is best published when visitors are most likely to visit.

New information is seen as more reliable than something days or even months old. Blogs that lay dormant for more than a few days at a time are discounted as being less useful than those with regularly updated articles.

If all of your visitors were showing up to your site in the morning, it wouldn’t make sense for you to publish your new blog posts in the afternoon. Rather, you’d want the fresh content ready to go in time for your visitors to arrive.

And if the site is active only during weekdays, why bother taking the time to publish on the weekend?

Web marketing experts will give you their opinions of the best time and day to publish, but why take their word for it when you can look to your website’s existing traffic?

So long as you’ve got Google Analytics installed on your website, the information is a click away.

Courtesy of the folks at Terrapin Marketing comes two invaluable custom reports.

Busiest Day of the Week (click here)

Busiest Time Of Day (click here)

All you need to do is click on the link you want to use, which will take you to this screen (in the picture, I’ve clicked onto the Busiest Time of Day link):

Screenshot 2014-10-15 at 10.29.45 PM

You’ll then be taken to a page with the information on your visitors broken down by time of day.

Busiest Time Of Day

Once you have the data you’ll know which days and times are the hottest on your website or blog. From there, you can set your publication schedule to suit your visitors’ needs.

If You Want Your Website To Bring Clients, Organic Isn’t Enough

wanamaker quote
Working hard to get your website to perform well in the search engines? It’s important, but it’s not the whole story.

That’s the point made by Tina Kelleher in her article, Why PPC Advertising Is the ROI Rock Star of Search Engine Marketing. Looking not only at the current state of online marketing but also the history of the direct response industry, it’s difficult to argue with her point.

For years we’ve been exposed to news, information, and ads about products and services. Radio and television, to say nothing of newspapers, built entire business models on making money from advertisers eager to push their wares on the public.

But where did the sale come from? Which radio or TV ad moved the needle? Was it the full-page ad in the newspaper, or was it the Yellow Pages listing?

There was no way of knowing how many people took action as a result of reading a particular article or hearing a review. There was no way to determine what was working and what was falling flat.

All of this is what inspired the quote by John Wanamaker.

It’s The Same With Organic Rankings

When you spend hours each month pounding out blog posts, videos or podcasts you’re working hard to build your authority in the online world.

Over time, the search engines reward you with better rankings. That improved exposure allows prospective clients to find your website, learn more about your services, and possibly make the decision to hire you.

But as with the old world ads, it’s impossible for you to know which blog post or video led directly to the new client. There’s no metric or tracking tool that helps draw the line between this article and that client, which means you’re left at best with educated guesses on what to write about on your website.

You Need The Metrics

These days we’ve got pay-per-click ads such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads that give you precise information about your efforts in real-time. Which ads generate clicks to your website, and which of those clicks result in actual phone calls gives you the data you need to make decisions about your marketing and advertising.

For example, when you place an ad on Google AdWords the system will tell you which keyword gets the most exposure, the most clicks, and the most conversions that matter to you. Facebook provides detailed audience statistics as well.

These metrics give you a powerful tool when creating new ads, new content and blog posts for your website, or compelling audio and video content. After all, once you know what works you can focus on creating more of it.

Can’t Have One Without The Other

As with love and marriage, organic and pay-per-click go hand-in-hand for your law firm’s efforts.

Content building and search engine optimization efforts provide a depth of information that a potential client can read at their leisure until they get to a buying decision. Information can be reviewed, notes taken, and options weighed.

The pay-per-click ads complement those organic search efforts to drive the buying decision towards your firm when the potential client is ready to hire a lawyer.

When you use one to fuel the other, you’ve got a powerful combination.

One Simple Tweak That Can Make Or Break Your Facebook Page

Consumer Help Central Facebook Header

You finally got around to creating a Facebook Page for your law firm.

You asked your friends (the real ones as well as the Facebook ones) to Like your Page to help you along, and they did.

You spent time adding content as well as a stellar Cover image. You added a graphic to your website to let people know where to find you.

Still, your Page hasn’t generated the torrent of Likes you’d hoped for.

Maybe the reason is simpler than you think.

A Rose By Any Other Name

Do you really think someone wants to admit to Liking a page titled, “Bob Smith, The Affordable Bankruptcy Lawyer”?

For that matter, do you think someone wants to cop to Liking any Page that indicates it’s connected with a lawyer?

Of course not. People want to maintain a modicum of privacy, and don’t relish the fact that their need for bankruptcy services is going to be broadcast to the world.

And that’s a major reason why your Page is dormant.

Naming Your Page For Maximum Firepower

You can choose to name your Page after your law firm or simply with you name. Denote it as a local business and you’re good to go.

In the alternative, you can create a Page name that functions as a non-threatening descriptor for your office. Populate the Page with a mix of fun and interesting content from around the web to increase engagement.

For example, take my firm’s primary Facebook Page called Consumer Help Central. It’s not threatening, and having it show up in your stream doesn’t immediately tip your friends off to the fact that you are somehow involved with a lawyer who helps people with bill problems.

The name makes it easier for people to Like it on Facebook. If someone finds a post on the Page particularly useful or interesting, they can share it without fearing a stigma.

The Song Can’t Remain The Same

Of course, the name takes you only so far when it comes to your Facebook Page.

Your content needs to be engaging and varied, encompassing more than simply your own bankruptcy content. Add enough for people to see that you’ve got more to say than bankruptcy-related information, and remember to make them laugh now and again. After all, this is Facebook – land of LOLcatz and George Takei.

One thing is for sure, though: you’ll never gain traction on Facebook if you don’t think creatively and expansively.

5 Considerations For Bankruptcy Lawyers Adding A New Practice Area

expand beyond bankruptcy

Getting involved in a new field of law involves more than just getting some new books.

With the continued sharp downturn in bankruptcy filings, most of us have kicked around thoughts of adding a practice area. I did that first during the post-2005 drop in filings when I added Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act work, and again in 2012 when I dove head first into the world of student loan law.

Before you add a practice area, you need to step back and evaluate your decision as a business person, not as a lawyer desperate to bring in enough money to cover the rent.

When I made the jump into student loan law, here are some of the considerations I kept in mind before making the change. Answering them for yourself will help you decide whether expanding your offerings makes sense to your office.

Is This A Problem Your Clients Have? I’ve got a friend of mine who decided to expand his bankruptcy practice into criminal law, only to experience complete financial failure because none of his existing or prior clients were of the sort who got into trouble with the law. Expanding into a field that will help your client base makes it easier to help the same people in new ways.

Are There Ways To Learn The New Field Quickly? When I began offering help with credit reporting errors, I did so knowing that there was a NACA conference to help me learn the field. So, too, with student loan law – I decided to begin helping student loan borrowers in part because there was an in-depth student loan law workshop available to me. Without a means of learning the nuts-and-bolts of your field of choice, you may be left without a base of knowledge upon which to draw.

Does It Fill A Gap? When adding a new practice area, you should be looking to fill gaps because they represent missed opportunities for helping your clients. Bankruptcy can provide significant relief to people, but it doesn’t help with all debt problems. If you’ve got a lot of clients who are divorced and have gone through financial hardship, consider learning how to negotiate modifications of domestic support obligations. For practices that see clients with significant nondischargeable tax obligations, learning tax resolution fills a gap.

Can Your Staff Handle The Work? Once you’ve figured out how to do the work and recognized that your clients need the help, look to your staff members to determine whether they can incorporate it into their existing workflow. Bankruptcy involves a step of discrete tasks, so handling new matters of an administrative nature may be a perfect fit. If the workflow doesn’t follow a consistent pattern, you may need to think about changing the makeup of your office.

Can You Price The Solution? This is probably the most frustrating part of the equation for people who expand beyond the bounds of bankruptcy law. Bankruptcy is primarily a flat fee practice area, so going into a new field that involves hourly billing may not work for you without a significant amount of retooling of your office. You’ll need to decide whether the long-term profitability of the new field warrants the investment before making expansion plans.

Entering a new field of law can be exciting and challenging, waking up your brain and pushing your intellect. Adding new practice areas is also good for your firm’s profitability. But every new practice idea shouldn’t make it to the light of day. Using these considerations as a guide can help you expand in a way that makes sense for your practice.