A couple of years ago, one of our clients sat next to a stranger on a plane. The two men got to talking about their work as you do when your legs are cramped and you’re stuck breathing stale air. Eventually, they exchanged business cards and a handshake, then the plane landed and they went their separate ways. They expected to never speak again.

However, our client had hope! When he got back to his office, he added his travel companion’s email address to his newsletter mailing list. Every month, the lawyer’s blogs and videos showed up in this guy’s inbox. Months later, my client got a call out of the blue. The caller said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but a year ago, we sat next to each other on a plane. I’m starting a business, and I need an attorney. I’ve been getting your newsletter, and I think you’re the guy.”

That right there is the power of content to close a client. In our experience, attorneys can market in a handful of ways: networking, email and print newsletters, pay per click, public speaking, ads on the radio, TV, social media…you get the picture. But if you were to map out all of the different types of marketing you do, then you’d realize that content is sitting at the center like a friendly spider in the middle of a big, sticky web. If you set up your marketing correctly, then no matter where someone enters your marketing system, they should eventually end up engaging your content.

Let’s go back to the airplane. When our client handed over his business card, he was networking. Then, he doubled down by sending his lead his email newsletter. But it was the content within that newsletter that convinced the entrepreneur he wanted to do business. The same is true in pay-per-click advertising. Once it drives a lead to your website, it’s your blog entries, videos, and social media posts that reveal your expertise and seal the deal. If you have the right content strategy, then even a quick skim is enough to make the difference.

At least 75% of your future clients will interact with your content before they make an appointment, and the other 25% will still check it out before coming into the office. That inevitability is the No. 1 reason content can enhance your overall marketing. Content itself doesn’t always create leads or potential new clients, but it’s the ultimate enhancer of everything else you’re doing. Great content is the middle and bottom of the funnel — it pulls leads in and brings them closer to a yes.

There’s another reason content is the most effective tool in your arsenal: It influences what people think about you and your firm. The more content you have and resources you provide, the more reputable and experienced you’ll appear. Imagine you have a basic website, while the lawyer down the street has all of the content bells and whistles: a blog, FAQ videos, a newsletter, a free resource download, and more. Who looks like a more serious, reputable lawyer?

The truth is that content builds and reinforces reputation and expertise. But what matters most is that it’s the spider in the center of the web: If your content is targeted and robust, then it will improve all of your other marketing efforts because they’re all connected. Content doesn’t live in a vacuum and neither does your other marketing!

The improvement your content creates may not translate directly to more clients. Instead, it might mean more consults, or that your clients are more confident in you, or that the leads you close are worth twice as much. Whatever the specific outcome, though, it’s sure to be positive. We’ve seen this time and time again! If you want to hear some more examples, then give us a call. We’re happy to talk numbers and show you how a good content strategy can revolutionize your business.

This article originally appeared in Forbes.com.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business, and it’s a challenge for most business owners to manage even under normal circumstances. It’s much more difficult when we’re dealing with economic uncertainty following this pandemic.

And yet, in a time like this, managing your cash flow is critical. Consistent cash flow gives you the ability to adapt and adjust to the changing economy. On the other hand, lack of available cash limits your options and puts your business at risk.

Here are four cash-flow strategies to keep your business healthy:

1. Invoice your clients on a timely basis. The sooner you ask your clients and customers to pay, the sooner the cash shows up in your bank account. Develop the discipline of invoicing your clients on a set schedule. Many of my clients are lawyers, and I coach them to send invoices on the 15th and 30th of each month. This becomes a habit, and it prevents cash flow gaps from developing.

2. Review your accounts receivable on a weekly basis. Following up with your clients who haven’t paid their invoices isn’t always pleasant… I understand! But you can’t afford to let unpaid invoices pile up. Check in with clients who are past due and help them make a plan. Covid-19 has been a disruption for everyone, and if your clients are facing cash flow challenges of their own, they may need your understanding and flexibility. Helping them to create a realistic plan increases the likelihood that they’ll eventually be able to pay in full — and, most importantly, be a longtime client.

3. Use a line of credit to fill the cash flow gaps, not to operate your business. A line of credit can be an effective tool to manage cash flow, but it can also spiral out of control if you’re not careful. I encourage my clients to use their line of credit only as a bridge until payment arrives from a client. For example, if you know that you have a $10,000 payment arriving in 30 days and you need to meet some financial obligations in the meantime, you can draw on your line of credit. When that payment arrives, replace the funds so you will have it the next time you need it. Many business owners get themselves in trouble by using their line of credit too liberally — they eventually run out of available credit, and then they are stuck. Your line of credit is a valuable tool, but it’s important that you use it carefully.

4. Credit cards: Proceed with caution. Credit cards can be a valuable tool if used wisely, but they can be detrimental to your business if they get out of hand, since interest rates are typically very high. Using credit cards wisely gives you short-term financial flexibility, and you can often earn rewards and other benefits. You must develop the discipline to reach a goal to pay your balance in full each month. This allows you to avoid paying interest, create some extra financial flexibility and earn credit card points that you can use for other things. I’ve used my credit card points to pay for many vacations over the years.

Cash flow management is an important skill that every business owner needs to master. It’s especially difficult in the wake of Covid-19. Managing your cash flow effectively could be the difference between your business surviving this crisis or closing its doors for good. These tips can help.

You have a website – great! Even better, you utilized the elements we’ve written about here and here to make a great website. Even better than that? Many of you hired us to build it for you!

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, and depending on your marketing goals, there are some things you can do to really make your website go to work for you.

1. Add Chat Functionality

Those chat boxes you see in the corner of many websites have been shown to increase conversion. Whether you use an app that allows you or someone in your office to speak to visitors, you outsource it (like our friends at Smith.ai), or you have an AI bot with predetermined codes, these have been proven to improve your website’s conversion rate.

2. Retargeting Pixel

If you’re running PPC ads or just want to target people who have visited your website with specific social media posts, you can add a pixel code to your website that will then generate an audience that will see your content. Unless you’re a marketing aficionado, this one is best left to a marketing expert, as there are several steps in this process. However, it could be a great way to continue getting in front of people who visited your website.

3. Online Scheduling

Want to make it easier for people to book consultations with you? Skip the contact forms and having your receptionist reach out to schedule a consultation. Instead, integrate your calendar with an app like Calendly, You Can Book Me, or others and streamline your booking process!

4. Optimize for Mobile

It’s absolutely shocking how many attorney websites don’t work well on mobile devices even though that’s where the bulk of web traffic comes from these days. If your website is more than five years old, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t load properly on phones or tablets. If someone is searching for an attorney and finds a clunky, broken website on their phone, they’re likely not going to hire you.

Your website can be a great marketing tool on its own, but adding these extra bells and whistles can really put it to work for you and make things easier. If you’d like to know more, contact us today!

Do you have a blog on your website? If not, you should finish this article and start writing one. If you do, close your eyes and ask yourself, “What’s the goal of my blog?” If your answer is, “To improve my website’s Google rankings,” you’re blogging for all the wrong reasons.

At this point, you likely know Spotlight Branding’s position on SEO: After years in marketing, we’ve realized it’s overrated, ineffective, and often does more harm than good. A myth has sprung up in legal circles that the purpose of blogging is to increase your SEO, and you need to include keywords, make sure to backlink, and do a thousand other things to make it happen. We’re ready to bust that myth wide open.

Which option makes more sense: blogging in order to impress a robot and hopefully convince it to send more leads to your virtual doorstep, or blogging to reassure, impress, and convert the leads already on your website? The latter, of course. That’s why instead of blogging for robots, our clients blog for people.

Blogging for people is simple. There are no tricks, secret keywords, or lines of code. You just need to write with your audience in mind, focusing on their questions and pain points. What is your ideal client worried about? What are they curious about? What could they use your help with? The answer to each of those questions contains many blog posts.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, distill your information and write it clearly in language the average reader will understand. Unless you’re marketing to other lawyers, this isn’t the place for legalese. Simply answer your ideal clients’ questions, and give them enough information so they know why they should come to you and how you can help. This will elevate your expertise and prepare your clients for the process. These posts don’t need to be perfect; they just need to be effective.

Last but not least, you need to produce and distribute this content regularly. Don’t just let it sit on your website. Post your blogs on social media, or include them in an email newsletter — put them where the people are. If you’re not sure how to do this effectively, give Spotlight Branding a call.

This is an excerpt from my book, A Lawyer’s Guide to Creating a Life, Not Just a Living: Ordinary lawyers doing extraordinary things.

Are you pre-programmed? Yes, pre-programmed, with what you should do, with no room for what you want to do? Is your comfort zone killing you?

Has complacency set in? Are you just going through the motions? Is complacency sucking the oxygen out of your dreams, your courage, and your passion?

I have the great privilege to work with lawyers and I know all too well the answer to that question isn’t good.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The legal profession is a traditional one, and consequently, it tends to create traditional environments, procedures, and expectations. Yet there are lawyers who have broken the shackles of tradition. It takes guts to swim upstream. It takes courage to believe in yourself when you have little evidence that it will be successful. It takes wisdom to apply the skills you honed practicing law in a different way or another environment.

Whether you are looking to build your practice where you are, find a new firm, or start your own firm, move from public sector to private sector or vice versa, or just stop the madness, you can make it happen!

Candace Duff has broken the shackles of tradition with guts, courage, and wisdom. You will be inspired by her journey. Candace Duff knew what she should do and knew it wasn’t enough, but she found a way to do what she wanted to do and stepped out of her comfort zone. Candace Duff is a mediator, attorney, arbitrator, and a published novelist aka L.J. Taylor.

Black: Tell me about your early influences.

Duff: Well, I decided to become a lawyer when I was twelve years old. I went from visiting nurse to spy to lawyer. There weren’t any lawyers in my family. I probably got the idea from TV and books. As a child, I was a voracious reader. I read all the books in my parents’ collection, including quite a few inappropriate ones. I used to read twenty Harlequin romances a week, when I was in high school, much to the chagrin of my math teacher.

I always had a creative side, though. I loved to sing. I loved to write. I wrote poetry and song lyrics. There are even some of my poems in the high school yearbook. And I even tried to write a science fiction novel when I was thirteen years old. It has heavily based on Star Wars—back then Star Wars was a hit and really huge, so there’s a hero, there’s a princess and all.

Black: Did your family play a strong role in guiding you?

Duff: I had a very strict mother, and she stressed education. You know, if she knew you could get an A, you couldn’t come back in that house with anything less than an A. She also stressed having a profession. You had to be a doctor or a lawyer..

She downplayed hobbies. Being a writer and being a singer—those were hobbies, those weren’t professions to her. In fact, my mother had a beautiful voice herself. She sang like Nancy Wilson. And there were a few recording studios who had courted her, but she declined, because, you know, back then you just didn’t do that. You raised your family, you finished nursing school.You didn’t go off into the sunset to try to become a singer, and she taught us the same thing.

Black: Did college fuel your creative side?

Duff: After high school, I got into Vassar College. And Vassar College opened up a whole new world to me. It allowed me to explore my creative side. I was an actress in the Ebony Theater Ensemble. I was a singer in the gospel choir. I was even a dancer back then, although I couldn’t do ballet to save my life.

After Vassar College, I went into law school, and I didn’t write while I was in law school. In fact, I couldn’t even read fiction books. In law school, all you read are legal tomes. You do so much reading it pretty much turns you off from reading anything else.

Black: So what happened after law school?

Duff: After I left law school, I ended up getting a job at Greenberg Traurig. Greenberg Traurig is an international firm—top one hundred. And so while I was there, I focused on becoming the best lawyer that I could be, because there were so few African American lawyers in the firm that I really wanted to be a good example. Later in my career, I focused on making partner and I worked a million hours, and there wasn’t time for anything else.

Black: Did you find any time to write?

Duff: I took a vacation every year and during my vacation I would go to writers’ conferences. I really liked the Maui Writers Conference, because it was in Maui, so how could you go wrong with that?

And I would dream. I would dream of writing a book.And there were so many people there, so many writers there, I would get all this intellectual stimulation while I went and I would dream about writing a book, but I just never had the time.

Black: And how was the rest of your life moving along?

Duff: I made partner at Greenberg in 2001 and I said, now what? September 11th happened later that year and I realized I had no personal life at all. All I had done was work, and I was restless. I misinterpreted my restlessness as a desire to get married. So I accepted the first proposal that I got, and married the first man who asked me. My ex wasn’t very supportive about writing. He told me that even if I became a bestselling author, I could never stop practicing law, because he wanted to make sure that money came in steady. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long, and he and I were divorced two years later.

My sister became unable to care for my niece. I ended up raising a fifteen-month-old baby by myself. Here I was, a professional woman—a single mother, suddenly—working at Greenberg with a fifteen-month-old baby. I’m surprised my niece is still alive!

I had no time to write. I had no time to go to writers’ conferences and hone my craft. I had no time for anything but to work and take care of my niece.

Black: When did things start to change?

Duff: My first “aha” moment came two years later. My niece was reunited with my sister and I had become a construction law expert and I practiced primarily real estate litigation, representing developers, but then in 2007–2008, the market crashed. Banks weren’t lending. Real estate wasn’t being sold. Condos weren’t turning over and suing developers. People who had differences in real estate and construction thought it was better to settle than to litigate the issues. The cranes had stopped.

Like so many other attorneys, I had to reinvent myself. So I started doing work that I wasn’t in love with, and I did that for a while. Until one day I asked myself, is this what you want to do for the rest of your life? And the answer was no.

Black: I bet that was eye-opening. What did you want to do? Continue Reading An Interview With Lawyer and Novelist Candace Duff

Are you missing out on easy money? We recently wrote an article about why you shouldn’t “stop feeding the beast.” As a quick recap, our point was that in today’s fast-paced digital world, people are consuming content faster than you can possibly produce it, so you should put as many articles, videos, and social media posts out there as you can. In this post, we’re going to tackle an aspect of content that we think a lot of lawyers don’t recognize: its power to generate referrals.

Referrals are the bread and butter of the legal field, and we’re sure you get a bunch of them, but you’re probably missing out on more than you realize. We’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: According to a study conducted by Texas Tech University, law firms are only getting about one-third of the referrals they should be. The study found that, on average, 83% of satisfied clients are willing to make referrals, but of those, only 29% actually do it. That means that out of all of the clients who are willing to refer you, only 1 in 3 actually takes the leap.

A great content strategy can help you solve that problem! By putting out the right content and leveraging it correctly, I’ve seen law firms increase and even double their referrals. Here’s why it works:

CONSISTENT CONTENT KEEPS YOUR FIRM TOP OF MIND
One of the biggest reasons lawyers miss out on referrals is that they aren’t consistently staying in touch with their past clients and referral partners. Your method of reaching out doesn’t necessarily need to be a newsletter. Social media, for example, was designed specifically for this purpose! Sure, you can use it to reach out to new people, but first and foremost, you should use it to keep in touch with your existing network. Every piece of content you share via social media, email, or print is a touchpoint that reminds your clients who you are and what you do, making them more likely to think of you when it’s referral time.

EDUCATIONAL CONTENT POSITIONS YOU AS AN EXPERT AND THE GO-TO LAWYER IN YOUR FIELD
To really maximize your referrals, you need to focus not only on whom your content is for, but what it’s saying about you. The content you put out should be focused specifically on the type of work you do and aim to answer common questions your clients have. In this case, being entertaining isn’t nearly as important as being informative. You can share information on cases you’ve won, for example, or updates on changes to the law in your practice areas. You can provide commentary, insights, and practical guidance in a variety of ways in your area of law, and you should take advantage of all of them!

If your content is relevant to your services, even a quick title scan should remind readers of what to refer you for. Your old clients are a lot more likely to remember that you do estate planning if they see an email about it in their inbox, and that will make it easier for the lightbulb to go off in their head when a family member, friend, or colleague needs help with it. On top of reminding readers what you do so that they know whom to point your way, educational content positions you as the expert in your field. If you’re sharing knowledge, people will perceive you as knowledgeable, and every social media post, website blog, and email newsletter will remind them of it.

That’s it! Increasing your referrals really is that simple. If you need help, get in touch with us today.

This is an excerpt from my book, A Lawyer’s Guide to Creating a Life, Not Just a Living: Ordinary lawyers doing extraordinary things.

Retirement. What does that word mean to you? Old or wise, laid back or charging ahead? Playing endless rounds of golf or attending endless board meetings?

Retirement has certainly been redefined; we’re working well beyond sixty-five. All we have to do is look to the Supreme Court as a prime example. According to Bloomberg, in an article by David Ingold, the projected age when a justice will leave the Supreme Court is now about eighty-three. That’s a ten-year increase from the 1950s. Wow, that’s ten additional years of being relevant and contributing to the decisions of our country’s most important issues.

Okay, I get it. Not many of you have an appointment for life—or do you? I think it depends on how you look at it. Have you had a lifetime of helping and mentoring, or a passion for the arts, or maybe volunteering to make life better for so many others?

My next lawyer has had a lifetime appointment. Quite frankly, I believe it’s in his DNA, and he couldn’t have done it any other way. John Kozyak was one of the founders of a bankruptcy and complex litigation firm more than thirty-six years ago, and is currently the chairman of the board of the Parkinson’s Foundation. He is the force behind the enormously successful Minority Mentoring Picnic that fosters diversity in the legal profession.

Black: John, where did your deep-seated commitment to diversity come from?

Kozyak: Well, I grew up in a totally segregated community in Southern Illinois, just a few miles from St. Louis. I graduated from high school in 1966 in a class of about nine hundred students, and not a single one of them was black. Of course, black was not a term used then, and where I grew up, I never understood the mean prejudice that was everywhere surrounding me.

My mother was the kindest, most wonderful woman I ever met. Surrounded by hate and prejudice, my mother was a quiet, small civil rights leader. Before 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was enacted, the bathrooms and restaurants in St. Louis were legally segregated. When we went there to go shopping, my mother chose to sit on the segregated side of the Woolworth’s soda fountain counter. I’ll never forget her courage when people would call her an n-lover, and that’s when it started that I thought I could make a difference, and I would try.

I never spoke to a black person or a colored person or Negro until I was in the Army after college, but some would say I made up for it since.

Black: Well, John, I certainly can attest to that. So how did you focus on diversity as a young lawyer?

Kozyak: When I became a lawyer in 1975, I got involved in recruiting, and heard far too often, “If we could only find a good one.” That was code for someone who spoke like a white person, was unbelievably bright, articulate, well-dressed, and would not make waves—in other words, somebody who was far, far better than the people we were hiring.

Black: How did you happen to start the Minority Mentoring Picnic?

Kozyak: The University of Miami Law School had a program in the nineties and I loved being a mentor. The law school dropped the program, and I decided to pick it up and expand it.

My wife, Barbara, and I hosted receptions in our backyard for black law students at UM for several years before we had our first picnic. And we didn’t initiate or invent black lawyers and black law students getting together for a picnic either; we just decided we could help.

We had two hundred people come the first year. Barbara and my law partner, Detra Shaw-Wilder, served food, cleaned up, sent my mentor out for more hot dogs and beers. People brought food. And it was my first time to get a sweet potato pie, and I knew we were on to something.

The picnic grew. When we realized that many of the lawyers signing up to be mentors werewhite women and Hispanic men and women, we decided the second year to include every minority. We actually started looking for gays, lesbians, transgenders, Muslims, Christians, Dominicans, Haitians, disabled, women, and everyone else who might need a boost.

Now I’m so very proud, and know my mother would be proud, that I feel that we have the best diversity-oriented event in Florida—maybe the country. We bring everyone together for a day, and then, maybe, a lifetime.

There are so many good stories that resulted from the picnic. You can see the young children— Muslim, white, Hispanic, Asian—all of them playing together, and their parents enjoying it, their parents meeting new people. I’ve become close friends with many of my mentees, and I know that we have made a difference.

Black: What was your vision for your third act and when did you start thinking about it?

Kozyak: Strangely, I first started talking about retirement in my early forties as a way to rationalize my crazy workaholic lifestyle. I would tell people that I’d retire by fifty, or maybe teach a few classes, to get them off my butt about working too much.

In my late fifties, my mother and then my father were both diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s then that I recognized that I didn’t control everything in my life. I decided to live my life as if I was going to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s any day.

When I was approaching sixty, I decided I could do more than bill hours and make money. I also thought I should make up for all the hours I spent at my desk, in court, or on a plane, or up in the middle of the night, worrying about clients instead of people who loved me and whom I love.

Fortunately for me, that included a number of people I had worked with my entire career. I have the best partners and staff imagined.

Black: So what did you do?

Kozyak: I also wanted to go out on top. I have boxes of plaques and awards. I don’t tout my accomplishments, which have been many. I’m one of a handful of lawyers who are Fellows in both the American College of Bankruptcy and the American College of Trial Lawyers. I decided to officially slow down and sell my equity back to the firm a year before the recession of 2008. I was tired of hustling for work, and I thought I might have lost a little off my fastball. Continue Reading An Interview With Bankruptcy Attorney John Kozyak: A Journey to a Fulfilling Third Act

There’s a stigma out there that says attorneys only care about getting every last cent they can out of people. And while that may be true if you’re an attorney who goes up against bigger corporations in court for big settlements, this notion typically doesn’t ring true for most attorneys, especially when they’re working with their own clients.

So how do you eliminate that stigma? By offering free information on your website. What does that look like? Well first, it’s easier to tell you what it doesn’t look like.

If your website is no more than a couple of pages that has your contact info, lists the areas of law you practice, and simply says “We can help,” then your website isn’t actually very helpful. It’s not highlighting your expertise and it isn’t addressing your visitors’ concerns. Instead, your website should have the following:

1. A Regularly Updated Blog

We’ve talked about this before, but having a regularly maintained blog with evergreen topics that cover your practice areas is a great way to provide information on your website. You don’t have to recreate chapters from your law school textbooks, but you can provide basic, surface-level overviews of a given issue and show that you’re the expert they can trust.

2. A Robust Video Library

For people who prefer watching videos to reading text, a video library is another great way to provide free information. Even more, video has a couple of psychological benefits that blogs can’t provide.

First, they break down any sort of barrier that exists between you and the client where they lose any intimidation they felt by you. They can now feel more comfortable around you knowing they can put a face and a sound to your name.
Second, the videos mentally prepare viewers for when they take the next step and come into your office for the consultation. Even if it’s just slightly, that extra preparedness will make your job easier.

3. A Newsletter Signup

Whether you have an email or print newsletter campaign, make sure there’s a way people can opt into it on your website. Then, if you’re doing your marketing right, they’ll receive your latest blog or video (or both!) in your next newsletter without them ever having to regularly check your website.

4. A Complimentary Download

This is a great way to capture leads on your website. Having a free download, such as a white paper or ebook, is arguably the biggest credibility booster you can have on your website. And here’s the thing: You don’t need to actually write a full-length book or legal brief. You can take one of your most evergreen blogs, expand it a little bit, and turn it into a free download. Anything more than 1,500 words becomes laborious for the reader.

If your website lacks one or all of these free resources, you risk having a website that isn’t living up to its fullest potential. If you’d like help implementing these features, give us a call today.

This is an excerpt from my book, A Lawyer’s Guide to Creating a Life, Not Just a Living: Ordinary lawyers doing extraordinary things.

When I talk to lawyers about finding a niche, there’s usually an audible groan. Most lawyers want to leave their options open. They say, “I can do a lot of things, so why not make a list that says that I can do them all?” Two reasons come to mind.

One is that a long list signals that you’re not an expert at any of them. And two, it’s hard to get referrals, because no one can remember what you do. It takes courage and vision to draw a line in the sand and declare your specialty—your little corner of the world, so to speak. And it requires tenacity to become known for that niche, so you need to enjoy it.

Not many lawyers have the courage, the vision, or the tenacity to become known for a specialty like Michelle Estlund. She will tell you how she found a niche she enjoys and became an authority in the area. Michelle Estlund is the most recognized Interpol defense lawyer in the world. Yes, I said world.

Black: Michelle, what was going on with your practice when you realized something needed to change?

Estlund: I had been practicing criminal defense for most of my career when I met you, and     I really enjoyed it, but I was also feeling complacent. I knew that I wanted to add something to my practice and grow it into a very complementary part of my life, rather than just have a job or even just a career.

And I remember that in our discussions you had told me several times about developing a niche practice and to kind of be on the lookout for that. I remember you encouraged me to focus on a very specific area. And I had heard this from other sources also, but it seemed like so many things related to criminal law were already saturated with specialty attorneys.

I knew that I loved criminal law. I loved human rights and politics. But I didn’t really honestly think I could mesh all those things together in a law practice that I both cared about and would be lucrative. I thought, that will just never happen.

Black: Explain how your “aha” moment came about.

Estlund: I remember that a client walked into my office with an Interpol case and asked if I could help. This client was wanted out of Venezuela. This was at a time when the Venezuelan government was nationalizing various industries—including the banking industry. And in order to obtain the assets being held by this particular bank, the government had issued arrest warrants for the heads of the bank and the people who were on the board of directors, including that particular client.

I started researching extensively, and what I realized was that there was no real in-depth treatment of Interpol anywhere online. I saw that even the attorneys who were advertising themselves as being experienced were in fact not, once you did a little bit of digging. Nobody was looking at this on a profound level and I realized I could do better than nobody.

Black: I remember what happened next.

Estlund: I told you, “I think I have an idea,” and I told you about the Interpol research I had done and the client that had approached me. And I remember you smiled and told me I had to give you my credit card so we could buy a URL and start a blog. I remember that I did take out my credit card and hand it to you, and I did not want to let go of it because I knew that once I did, that this thing was going to start—and that was really scary for me.

I remember that you told me, “You’ll be the leading expert on Interpol,” and I knew that you were a crazy person. And turns out that kind of ended up happening, didn’t it?

Black: What were the obstacles that almost stopped you?

Estlund: I think my primary limitation at that time was a concern or a fear of criticism. And this might sound odd coming from somebody who is a criminal defense trial attorney, who should be used to criticism and used to hearing no, but this was different for me, because it wasn’t a set of facts in a case that was presented to me, for me to protect and defend another person. This was for me, which is often more difficult. It was my writing, my thoughts, and my ideas. The idea of something that personal being critiqued was very challenging for me.

I wanted to start a blog that was geared toward other attorneys, potential clients, academics, and people like that with the goal of educating people about Interpol, establishing credibility for myself, I wanted to attract clients, of course, and I wanted to advocate for reform where it was needed. Like I said, part of what I wanted to do was advocate for reform of Interpol proceedings, and I was worried that people would think, well, who does she think she is? Why would we listen to this Miami lawyer over in Europe?

This is an international, quasi-legal organization, and I just didn’t feel that I had the gravitas that I needed in order to effect change.

Also, I was worried more personally for my practice—that if I publicized myself as being a specialist or focusing in a niche practice, people would think that that’s all I could do, that I’m a one-trick pony. So those were my concerns.

Black:What was your strategy?

Estlund: In terms of strategy, I can’t say that I had a specific strategy thought out, other than I knew who my target audience was going to be, and I knew that I wanted to serve as a source of information that wasn’t otherwise readily available. And I hoped that consistent blogging about my topic would also force me to stay on my toes, and it has.

Black: So what did you learn, and how did you muster up the courage?

Estlund: I eventually accepted that no one knows everything, even experts. And I remembered my favorite, most well respected professors and mentors throughout my life all had something in common. It was that they didn’t back away from saying “I don’t know,” because they loved what they did, and they knew how to go find out the information that they needed. I knew I could do that too.

I also realized that we can’t wait until we’re not afraid to act. It’s not brave if you’re not scared. Even the most seasoned attorneys are afraid of something. For me, it’s not judges, it’s not juries, it’s not law enforcement officers, and it’s not public speaking. For me, what I was really afraid of was writing about something I cared about and having it not be perfect in public and online. Continue Reading An Interview With Michelle Estlund: How She Found a Niche

If you’ve been following us for a while, then you know we offer our clients social media marketing. However, we also understand the drive many lawyers feel to try their hand at managing their business’s online persona themselves. If you’re tackling your firm’s social media presence alone, try these two proven strategies to make the process as easy and effective as possible.

1. ESTABLISH A BUSINESS PRESENCE

You’d be surprised just how many law firm owners neglect to make separate pages for their firms, instead relying on their personal social media accounts for marketing. We always recommend making separate business accounts, starting with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This will help you separate your business life from your personal life and give you a second way to reach people. For efficiency, we suggest starting with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn because you can share photos, videos, or text on all three platforms, making it easy to cross-post.

Pro Tip: Once you’ve established your core accounts, you can start building your firm’s presence on Instagram. Create a business account. Then, every once in a while, shoot a video or take a behind-the-scenes snapshot at the office. Stick with simple subjects and short captions—don’t overthink it!

2. CREATE A SHARING FORMULA

In a previous post, we shared our strategy for turning one piece of content into over 35 pieces. To do it, set content benchmarks for each week. How many times are you going to share your blog posts, links to your website, or inspirational quotes? Nail down numbers for each objective so you can just “plug and play” to stay consistent. Remember—you can share the same post multiple times on different platforms or with different captions. Aim for content balance with a mix of media types, and don’t forget to throw some fun posts, like inspirational quotes, in the mix for interest.

Pro Tip: Spend a couple dollars to boost every post you make on Facebook. More people will see your content, and that exposure is worth the price. Using these strategies, you’ll be able to put your brand on the map. If you’d like backup implementing them or want to take things to the next level, contact us today.