How To Battle Blogger’s Malaise

Stressed man and laptop

It happens to everyone sooner or later: you lose your blogging mojo. Here’s how you can get back on the horse.

When you start blogging, you probably did so because you wanted to drum up some business. Like a kid with a new toy, you spent countless hours overseeing the design of your new blog. Then you set to work learning all you could about the mechanics of writing for the web, and crafting thoughtful pieces of content that you hoped would spread far and wide.

Eventually, your practice started to grow. Your available time got smaller and smaller, with more of the day being taken up with billable work.

By the time you got home at night, all you wanted to do was sit in front of the television or curl up in bed with a good book.

Blogger’s malaise set in.

Maybe you’ve forgotten the lean times before your marketing kicked in, or you think you’ll have a steady stream of referrals from happy clients that will prevent another dip in your bank account balance.

Perhaps you ran out of ideas, and got bored with writing yet another post about the perils of the meeting of creditors. After all, how many of those posts can you possibly write?

Luckily, there are ways of getting back into the swing of things.

Permission To Be Silent

Many bloggers, lawyers and nonlawyers alike, feel guilty when they take a break from publishing new work. As time goes by, the anxiety of having not published for awhile gets strong enough to keep them from returning to the blank page.

If you give yourself license to take a break – and give yourself a date for your blogging vacation to end – you’ll banish the anxiety and stand a better chance of getting back to writing when vacation is over.

Set Reasonable Goals

The self-appointed marketing gurus say you should blog every day, banging out hundreds of words of powerful and evocative prose for your adoring readers.

The reality is that nobody wants to hear from you every day unless you’re a news site or tech blog – and you’re likely neither.

That’s good news because writing every day is nearly impossible for most lawyers, unless they’ve got either a huge staff or no business to speak of. After all, there are only so many hours in a day.

Make a commitment to write something once a week, or even once every two weeks. If you’ve got more time, write something and schedule it out for a later date. So long as you’re committed and consistent, that’s what matters most.

Horde Ideas

Whether you scan the NACBA listserv, Avvo, Reddit, or just the mainstream news, there are tons of ideas out there that are of interest to your potential clients. Not only bankruptcy, but subjects like student loans, personal finance, credit and debt in general, and even politics.

When you run across an idea, jot it down in a notebook or save the article using a tool such as Evernote. This way you can come back to your notes when it’s time to sit down and write rather than having to think up a new idea on the fly.

With a treasure trove of ideas, it becomes easier to write something interesting without spending hours stressing over the subject matter.

Write Enough – But No More Than That

It’s said that brevity is the soul of wit, and that’s true.

When you write, don’t pay attention to the word count. Take a small enough topic, write a blog post that covers the topic, and be done with it. It doesn’t matter if you can cover a subject in 100 words or 1,000 – there’s no need to stretch your article to fill a particular number of words.

For example, check out this article I wrote on filing for bankruptcy without your spouse. It’s short, and easy read, and took me about 10 minutes to write. In spite of that, it does the trick nicely and my clients appreciate it.

Work The Muscle

Take these tips and use them to get yourself back in blogging action. At the beginning it may feel a little odd, but that’s alright – the ability to write well for the web is a muscle, and you need to work it out for awhile before you get stronger.

Don’t overdo it, though – you don’t want to hurt your chances for success by straining too hard right away.

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.