I magine being able to say “I literally wrote the book” on your favorite area of the law.
A customized attorney ebook can do a lot for your marketing. It can help you generate qualified leads and provide value to prospects before they ever call your office. Using a strategic pay-per-click campaign to drive downloads, you can connect with an effectively unlimited number of prospects. An ebook can also pay dividends for years, allowing you to score speaking engagements and become known as a thought leader. Almost no other marketing vehicle offers such a long shelf life and palette of possibilities.
Just two obstacles are in your way:
- Writing a legitimately useful, good ebook takes time and energy.
- As a working attorney who needs to balance an active case load, client and employee management, continuing legal education, other professional obligations and a personal life, you are already running a chronic time and energy deficit!
This article will give you a secret shortcut to writing and publishing your own attorney ebook, using work that you’re already doing. In other words, assuming that you already write a blog for your law firm—or have a competent writer in house or out of house writing the blog—you won’t have to do any extra work to generate an amazing ebook.
The tools and processes I’m about to describe are the exact tools and processes that my business, Virtuoso Ebooks, uses to provide this deliverable for our clients. This is not theoretical stuff. These is battle-tested and proven best practices.
1. Know Your Ideal Audience and What They Need.
Many law firm blogs are far too sprawling, in that they try to do far too much in far too little space. A blog is a tiny microphone. To make it sing, you must provide a very specific kind of value to a very specific kind of audience. In marketing parlance, experts call this process “sub-niching.” We are inundated with messages all the time, and this noise is only getting more ferocious year after year. The solution is to retrench and concentrate. Mild sunlight can be focused into a beam that can start a fire. Similarly, a dilute blog can be focused into a diamond of a marketing vehicle.
A curious but related aside—in its youth, FedEx nearly went out of business while offering three tiers of service: overnight, two-day, and three day. When FedEx decided to cut its service and focus only on overnight delivery, its business exploded, and it crushed its competitors. Understand the implications. FedEx did less, and its business shot through the roof as a direct result.
Apply this parsimony to your blog. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, for instance, stop writing about car accidents, head injuries, dangerous drugs and nursing home problems. Pick one niche and one ideal prospect—someone whom your law firm is uniquely positioned to help. You should also be passionate about helping this person. Does a purpose (greater than “making money”) animate your drive? That will help!
Lastly, zero in on one big problem that the prospect has. Not two or three. One. What’s causing this person serious pain right now? Your content should strive to address this pain. Empathize with it. Do what you can, in the copy, to address it productively.
Let’s go over some concrete, albeit fictitious, examples:
- Marion Jones, a New Jersey personal injury attorney, recasts her blog to be solely about providing insight for motorcycle accident victims who got hurt while not wearing a helmet. An avid biker, she understands why some bikers risk their lives by ignoring helmet laws. She doesn’t support this, but she understands why they do this. She also knows that there’s a sub-category of motorcycle accident victims who face unique problems (and shames) because they didn’t wear helmets. Her blog focuses relentlessly on exploring and reporting on those highly specific challenges.
- Eddie Rogers, a Texas family law attorney, would like to work with divorcing high net worth individuals, but most of his clients don’t fall into this category. So he recasts his blog to reflect this aspiration. He researches and writes about issues that only high net worth individuals in Texas would want to learn. He identifies their main concern – that the divorce will destroy their lifestyle. Over time, his pretense at expertise in this area gives way to genuine knowledge and recognition.
Picking your audience and your audience’s main problem can be tough! Odds are, for you, this will be a problem of subtraction rather than addition. As Albert Einstein famously said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Try this exercise yourself:
My blog (and ebook) will be written for what very specific audience?
The blog (and ebook) will address which single problem this audience faces?
2. Create a Title and Concept for Your Book.
Believe it or not, once you’ve done the hard work of step one, this step is pretty simple. The title and concept should call out to the target audience, almost like a dog whistle (to use a crude analogy), and make it clear to that audience that the book will solve or address the core problem you’ve identified. Don’t worry if the title and concept are clunky. It’s far better to have a bland, descriptive title than a literary but vague one.
Let’s consider our attorney examples again:
- Marion Jones comes up with the following title: “8 Steps to Take Immediately After Getting into a Motorcycle Accident Without a Helmet On”
- Eddie Rogers comes up with the following title: “Keeping the House: How to Protect Your Home and Assets During a High Net Worth Texas Divorce”
Try this exercise yourself:
Here are a few possible titles for my book, based on my audience and problem.
3. Outline Your Book.
Your ebook does not have to be a million pages—40 pages is fine. In fact, any more than 40 pages can be overkill. To calculate your timeline, we’re going to assume that you’ll be writing eight pages/blog posts a month for five months.
Don’t overcomplicate things. Based on your concept and title, brainstorm potential articles to include. You will need 40 articles. Brainstorm at least twice that many. Consider asking someone in your office to help.
Here’s a slick trick to keep things super simple. Make your book a blown-up version of a “listicle,” like you might see on a website like Buzzfeed. For instance: “40 Illinois Probate Disasters You Need to Avoid.” This way, every article or blog post functions as an independent essay for the book. This process is cool, because it eliminates your need to structure the book in a precise way, and you can follow your will-o-the-wisp.
Here’s how Marion and Eddie handled their outlines:
- Marion decided to focus on one of her “8 Steps” every month for five months. Month One’s posts/pages, for instance, focused on the theme of “getting medical attention immediately after the crash and following up with doctors and rehab specialists.”
- Eddie chose the simple “Buzzfeed” method we just discussed. He just wrote 40 essays loosely grouped under the theme of the book!
Try this exercise yourself:
Here are possible articles/essays I could include in the book.
4. Using Your Outline, Just Write the Articles as if You Were Writing Blog Posts.
If you’ve been maintaining your own blog, this should be a snap for you. In fact, it should be easier than what you’ve done in the past, because you actually know a lot about this particular topic, and you have a passion for it.
Write and upload the posts, just like normal.
5. Compile the Posts into Word, Add an Introduction, a Table of Contents, and a Conclusion.
The amount of additional writing or finagling you’ll need to do now is minimal. If you’ve done all the steps correctly (particularly step one—hint, hint!), your book should effortlessly hook together and provide excellent value to your target audience.
So that’s it! The process is a lot easier than most attorneys realize. You’re already doing the hard work of writing. This process just helps you focus and stay strategic, so that the content can be repurposed. In exchange for just a little upfront mental effort, you can generate a marketing product that can establish you as a thought leader and transform your favorite prospects into big fans of you and your firm for years to come.
About the Author
Adam Kosloff is a writer, editor, entrepreneur, and the founder of Virtuoso Ebooks: a “blog to book” writing service tailored for attorneys. Learn more at www.virtuosoebooks.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NoCarbsGo.
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