Why You are Your Firm’s Best (and Worst) Content Writer
Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. I picked up this cliché in business school, but it’s a cliché for a reason.
So here’s what I’m going to tell you: you are your firm’s best content writer.
Inevitably, some of you will fail to read past the first few paragraphs of this post, but there are a few things I don’t want you to miss this. Here is the 21-word summary for why you are your best content writer:
- You know your industry.
- You know your audience.
- You know your company.
- You care.
You are your firm’s best content writer for these 4 simple reasons.
You know your industry
Yes, some content writers can probably pump out 5 or 6 pages by the time you’ve read through a single motion (or whatever painstaking task is a must-do in your industry). However, content writers likely don’t know the industry like you do. If you’ve been doing something hands on for 30 years it’s a safe bet that you have a wider breadth of knowledge than a 25-year-old writer.
Use your wealth of industry knowledge, experience, and familiarity to create content that’s relevant and helpful. Use your writing to convey not only your expertise, but also your personality and brand. Your audience already knows that you are a lawyer – time to let them know who you are as a person.
You know your audience
Who knows your market better than you? Nobody.
An English major sitting in a swanky office space in Portland, while intelligent and well written, does not play in the dirt. Unlike you, they aren’t dealing with clients face to face. They don’t share that direct connection with your audience and they never will. You are in the dirt everyday, you know exactly what your clients are up against, and you know the questions they will ask. You provide guidance, reason, and confidence to your clients everyday in a face-to-face setting. Why not establish that same presence and voice through your website?
Not sure what this looks like? Check out this excerpt from Daniel Gershburg’s “Our Firm” page:
“The lawyer you pick shouldn’t just be a bunch of smiley faces and ratings on a bunch of different websites whose main job it is to make money off of ratings and advertising. The lawyer you pick should be someone your confident will get the job done efficiently, and whom you trust (and who will earn that trust every day). He/She should be responsive and not short in their responses to you, no matter the question you ask or the way you ask it. He/She should be someone who will value what you say and guide you through the process, rather than someone who thinks you’re a number.” – Daniel Gershburg, New York Bankruptcy and Real Estate Attorney
Gershburg’s prose is a shining counterexample to the typical vapid law firm About Us drivel. He inspires confidence and trustworthiness through his unique, personal and humorous writing –
You can do this too!
You know your company
Who is the first to know if you win a big case? You are. Who is the first to know that you hired a new attorney? You are. Who is the first to know that you’re expanding your offices to a new city? You are.
Updating content writers on such developments creates an unavoidable cycle of back and forth emails, sometimes taking weeks to get the point across. Why not attack the opportunity immediately? As the business owner or employee, you can jump on these content-worthy events and experiences right now. Someone from the outside looking in cannot.
Also, every business has a distinct company culture or collective personality. You work in the office with your employees everyday. You know what makes your business tick and you know why clients love to work with you. Write about that. Let your writing reflect your brand, your positioning and yourself instead of droning on about “Boston Speeding Ticket, Attorney, blah blah blah blah blah . . .”
You care more
This is your life; this is what you do. Some of you put 70+ hours a week into work. Many lawyers still get the same joy out of fighting for your thousandth client as you did your first. Why let someone else explain that for you?
Why you are your WORST content writer
While they have the potential to be the best, lawyers (and small business owners in general) are often the worst content writers. I am not bashing or bad-mouthing lawyers – we love lawyers! (Seriously, it’s number 1 on Mockingbird’s 10 commandments). However, as an owner or employee, you are often the absolute worst content writers for one simple reason: you don’t do it.
Whatever the reason (too busy, too much of a perfectionist, writer’s block) here are a few strategies to overcome your content standstill.
Get something up!
“Done is better than perfect.” That’s our mantra here at Mockingbird.
The words that go on your site do not need to sound like Hemingway; they just have to be there!
If your site has thin content, or lacks content all together, focus on getting something live on the site. Start by rewriting the boilerplate practice areas pages that could be interchangeable with the 5 competitors across the street. It’s imperative to have something – even if it’s just to let potential clients know what you practice.
Google is not a fan of empty sites and it’s important to remember websites are not concrete. They are fluid projects that you can and should work on continuously. If you know you are missing content then try and take 30 minutes out of your day to write something. Remember, done is better than perfect.
Outsource the work
Let me be clear: I am not saying you should completely avoid outsourcing. Although much of my life revolves around the Internet, I know your life does not. It would be ignorant to suggest that everyone, and especially attorneys, have extra time to pour into writing for their website. Additionally, some attorneys have had all the flair and creativity beaten out of them through three years studying the fine art of legal writing at law school.
For example, there’s a lawyer in Seattle we know who also happens to be an FAA certified pilot, former African safari guide, and world record holding fisherman. Okay, we get it, you might not have time to write your own website content.
If you don’t have the time, the first step is to admit it. Then, find someone who can create it for you. If you find yourself in the market for some content, we suggest WDWC (We Do Web Content).
- You are your firm’s best content writer
- Focus on getting content live; done is better than perfect
- If you don’t have time, outsource it
Congratulations! You made it to the end of the longest blog post I’ve ever written. Hopefully you walk away with a sense of understanding, and more importantly, inspiration.
Now, stop reading and start writing.