This article helps lawyers decide whether they should outsource their practices’ content marketing or continue to do it themselves.
Content marketing is far more than writing blog posts. It’s the creation and publishing of information, plus the marketing of that information to people who are most likely to read it.
It’s goal-oriented, as opposed to merely journaling with no goal in mind. There’s too much material already available online to blog without a plan. That’s one reason why so many lawyer’s blogs get so little traffic and can ultimately feel like a waste of time.
Your goal might be to attract more clients, network with other lawyers, build your solo practice brand, or strengthen your name as a practice area expert. Or, it might be a combination of things. What’s important is defining the goal and creating a plan to accomplish it.
Content marketing is a vehicle for getting your voice heard by the right people at the right time. But there’s a steep learning curve that goes well beyond writing and many lawyers simply don’t have enough time while focusing on their business. Methods and technology are always changing and that’s where a content marketing firm has its greatest impact and value.
Where Blogging Developed
Technically named “weblogs,” these online journals emerged in the early 2000s. At their inception, scores of blogs popped up, then plenty of them faded away just as quickly. It seemed like a great idea, but hopes fell flat once bloggers realized that they needed a strategy. Otherwise, it’s just an exercise in writing and hoping for the best.
Many lawyers are natural writers with ample knowledge to share. It seems almost like a match made in heaven. However, when the initial enthusiasm settled, blogging was revealed not to be a marketing miracle, but a marketing tool. Like any tool, you have to use it the right way.
If you have thought about giving it a shot or have blogged in the past with lackluster results, the problem is probably not using the tool for its maximum capability. With sporadic posts and no performance metrics to speak of, yours is just another blog in a sea of many. Content marketing firms combine writing skills with the technical knowledge of how to improve your blog’s chance of ranking high in search results.
Is There a Strong Content Writer in-House?
The writing element is one of the greatest areas of concern that lawyers have with outsourcing their blog to a content marketing firm. You know your industry, your audience, and your practice better than anyone. How could a non-lawyer, or even a freelance writer who is also a lawyer, know what you want to say and how to say it?
Unfortunately, there aren’t often enough hours in a day to write your own content regularly. Most professional writers spend at least an hour, usually more, writing one blog post.
Then there is the issue of sourcing images for the post and marketing it. You could realistically spend a full day every week writing content and promoting it. If you don’t have the time, it can lead to haphazard posting, which means competing blogs that publish regularly will get better results. Consistency is a vital element of a successful and productive blog.
It’s a challenge to hand over the content creation reins. How could they ever capture your voice and represent you effectively? Some can’t, however, in many cases, professional writers come very close. It is part of the learned skill of content creation. Writing is an art, but it is also a skill. Professional writers take what they do quite seriously.
Successful writing requires that you:
- Define your blog’s overarching message to keep blog posts on track with the theme. Do you want to educate potential clients about your area of practice? Do you want to share information with other lawyers?
- Decide whom you want to reach and how you want them to perceive you. Is your goal to attract more potential clients, or is your blog aimed at your peers?
- Determine what “success” means to you and how to recognize it. Are you striving to build out a steadier stream of clients and referrals? Do you eventually plan to write a book about your areas of practice and want to make your practice more of a “household name?”
- If outsourcing, give the content marketing firm ample access to examples of your writing. This will help them to accurately reflect the writing style you have already established.
What to Look for in a Content Marketing Firm
When shopping around for a content marketing firm it is extremely important to choose the right partner. Here are some things we suggest looking for when deciding which firm to work with:
- An extensive portfolio of satisfied clients
- Their length of time in the industry. If the firm is new, team members might have their own client portfolios from past companies.
- Proven innovation. How is the firm different from others? Can they demonstrate how they approach content marketing in a way that solves problems that other firms don’t?
- Consistent quality of writing. If the firm uses numerous writers, there will be a variety of writing styles.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPI). How does the firm measure the success of their campaigns? How do they approach corrections to fine-tune a strategy?
How to Outsource Content Marketing Effectively
Managing expectations is important. You know what you want to say and how to say it. They know how to market content. But, collaborating to achieve the expectations for your blog may take some time.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of outsourcing is trust. Content marketing firms have a process that they have developed through experience and voluminous performance analytics. However, those methods might make you uneasy because they also equal at least a small portion of shared control over your blog.Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of outsourcing is trust Click To Tweet
Generally speaking, most firms can get your blog off the ground within a week or two, including the time that it takes to write the initial content. You should expect course corrections. The company probably has a general strategic outline that works for most blogs. Nevertheless, it will require fine-tuning to make it suit your purposes.
Expect at least two to three phone calls with the content provider before the strategy kicks in. You might speak with a content creator, a marketing specialist, a high-level editor or other key players in the company.
Here’s how the partnership should play out:
- Explain the results that you want
- Communicate your budget constraints
- Familiarize yourself with the firm’s procedures and how involved you’ll need to be
- Agree on a strategy for your blog
- Provide access to writing samples to guide the writer on your voice. Expect changes, as no two people, even within the same industry, speak the same way. Considering the legal element, the learning curve might be a little longer than average.
- Receive the initial content for reviews and approval
- Advise on any updates with the content and review again
- Approve the content for publishing
- Meet with the content creation firm regularly (more often in the early stages) to review the strategy’s results and adapt as needed.
Blogging remains one of the most popular methods for online expression. For quantifiable results, it should be treated as a marketing device rather than just a journal. The competition is too intense to do otherwise.
If you partner with a highly-skilled marketing team who listens to you and wants to learn the unique concerns and nuances of legal content, your blog could become a performance dynamo that yields great rewards. That is why, just like with legal work, it takes a pro.