My Struggle With Content

I’ve mentioned before that I’d rather not write boring posts. I’m inclined to educate clients, but not to regurgitate what is already on the web. The only problem, of course, is that clients have questions and expect the Google Machine to answer them.

I think you and I need to decide what our content should do.

The Purpose Of Content

Content does more than satisfy search engines. Done well, it can establish authority and communicate empathy. These are the benchmarks clients actually use to justify hiring an attorney. All of the other stuff – the plaques, the networking group memberships, the team sponsorships – just support the authority and empathy components.

That means that we have to make meaningful content.

Successful businesses can be built on meaningful content. Take a weekend and read Joe Pulizzi’s book Content Inc. and you’ll see several examples of companies that exist because someone created something important. But, man, his process is long.

Pulizzi maps out 6 steps when building a content-focused business:

  1. Finding your “sweet spot,” or the intersection of passion and knowledge
  2. Identifying your “content tilt,” or the way you’ll talk about your subject that’s unique
  3. “Building the base,” which is attracting your early audience
  4. “Harvesting audience,” meaning finding more people to join your tribe
  5. “Diversification” of your content, or using multiple media formats
  6. And, finally, monetization

If you notice, there’s a ton of work to do before step 6. Pulizzi envisions quite a buildup to making any cash, and I don’t think my wife would allow that for this little firm.

How do we bridge the gap between the content that builds authority but takes time and the content that attracts clients right away while educating? In my case, I’m working on the good stuff while hiring out for the rest.

Doing The Good Stuff

Yesterday I started a blog on my firm site. I know, welcome to 1999.

It’s called the “Own Your Drama” blog. The stated mission is to discuss self-help in an over-regulated world. I want to explore how we all can take more control of our lives, even as outside forces encroach on our ability to make independent choices.

This blog will relate to law, yes, but it’s almost a missionary project. I want to help people to control what they can, then let go of the rest. There will be posts about things legal, but also things emotional, spiritual, financial, educational (all with appropriate and obvious “this ain’t legal advice” disclaimers).

The broader mission of the Own Your Drama blog helps me create meaningful content. I can bring in experts from other substantive areas to share their thoughts on the blog. I’m considering turning it into a podcast, or even a radio show. I want to speak to people who need to take more control.

That’s consistent with the unique work of my firm, and it also happens to be something that I care about. I know that as I communicate empathy and authority through this content, work will come.

I just also need to be found right now. So…

Hiring Out The Rest

There are many options for content created by others. In principle I’m against outsourcing content, but I also know I can’t create the kind of information that turns into immediate clients. Nor do I want to.

The Q&A 300 word blog post is my archenemy. I don’t want to mess with it. So I’m willing to hire someone else to create that stuff.

Today I found what could be a cool option: Scroll Digital. I don’t know if it’s any good. We have a demo scheduled for later in the week. I’ll let you know. But I know I’m going to find a good option.

The Work You Must Do, And The Rest

In every law practice, we are tempted to do too much. Every small firm has a jumble of things to do and we believe we could do it best. Usually that’s not true (we can’t actually be good at everything), but sometimes it is (who could create our unique voice like we could?).

Rather than pursuing an either/or approach with your content, you might try doing both. Write the things that matter to you, but make sure your firm has a healthy way to generate useful content throughout the year. That may mean repurposing recordings from a seminar you hosted, or it may mean paying an agency to create Q&A content.

Whatever works for you, know that you’re responsible for communicating your authority and empathy. Prospective clients can’t hear a word you say until you establish those things.

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