2020 taught us much about resilience, strength, and adaptability. The obstacles that each of us faced throw us off our game, and sometimes the stress was unbearable. But—we adapted, and some of you actually flourished in many ways.

I had clients that…

  • Grew their revenue by 40%
  • Hired a team of contract lawyers, paralegals, or assistants
  • Spent good quality time with their family like never before
  • Wrote the book they had intended to write for years
  • Became skilled on zoom to give speeches, conduct depositions, and appear in court
  • Received honors and awards
  • Picked up the guitar again and finally took lessons

And they had lots of moments that touched their heart…

  • When he took the vow… “to have and to hold—till death do us part.”
  • She heard her son giggle with delight to have mommy read a story in the middle of the day.
  • A couple stopped in the middle of the day to dance salsa before going back to their desks to work.

Every one of my clients found a silver lining in the darkness, as I’m sure you have too. View the video filled with inspiration and actionable steps to help you build upon everything you learned and the challenges you overcame to help you thrive in 2021.

 

It’s January, baby! We can finally wave the disaster of 2020 goodbye and start fresh. For us, that means making some business-focused New Year’s resolutions to put our company on track for greater success. If you’re chomping at the bit to get started in 2021, we’d suggest doing the same for your firm. These would be our top four resolutions for you based on our experience.

If you do all four of these things, 2021 will not only kick last year’s butt, but it just might be your business’s best year ever.

1. DECREASE YOUR WORKLOAD

As Spotlight Branding has gotten busier and busier, I, as the founder, have found myself with less and less to do. And we think that’s how it should be! No one becomes an entrepreneur because they want to work themselves to death and have a terrible work-life balance. To lighten his load, along the way, I am constantly looking for opportunities to delegate and build trust in others. This year, we have a challenge for you: Grow your firm in a way that makes your personal workload go down.

There are a few ways to do this. First, you can look around at your team and see who might be able to take on your least favorite tasks. Then, if there aren’t any good candidates, either create a new system or process to make the task easy enough to pass off or hire someone who would be able to take it on.

2. LOSE THE (DEAD) WEIGHT

Almost everyone resolves to lose a few pounds on January 1st, but while we’re focused on our waistlines, we often forget to lean out our businesses. Think about the people in your office. Is there anyone on staff who wasn’t a team player last year? Have you found yourself making excuses in your head for why you shouldn’t fire Person A or Person B?

Let’s get real. Very few business owners get an adrenaline rush out of firing someone. It’s almost always an awful experience. But as much as we hate to admit it, sometimes an employee becomes “dead weight” and needs to be let go for the good of the company. This year, resolve to lose that weight before it drags your business down.

3. MAKE MORE (AND FASTER!) DECISIONS

One of the biggest lessons we learned in 2020 was that while being diligent and thoughtful has its place, more often than not, the thing holding you back from progress is the speed at which you make decisions. The longer you take to consider a course of action, the longer it takes to actually accomplish something. Think about Thomas Edison. It famously took him more than 1,000 tries to make a working light bulb, but he did it!

To succeed, you need to be willing to take leaps and make mistakes. Start thinking of your decisions in terms of quantity rather than quality. If you try two solutions in a week and fail both times, but your third attempt in week two succeeds, you’ll still reach your goal faster than someone who thought for three weeks before choosing the successful path. Ultimately, when you stop talking about things and just try them, the results are net positive.

4. INCREASE YOUR MARKETING CONTENT

Three things trended up last year: Zoom stock, mask sales, and the demand for content. Content continues to be king, and social media platforms are growing around the world. Last year, people trapped at home because of the pandemic consumed ads, blogs, videos, podcasts, and social media posts at a record pace. TikTok burst onto the scene, and thousands of large businesses added content and editorial teams to their marketing divisions. Content is still trending upward, and it’s not too late to get on the bandwagon! This year, resolve to crank up your content creation (with our help or on your own) to reach more people and generate more leads, referrals, and revenue.

If you do all four of these things, 2021 will not only kick last year’s butt, but it just might be your business’s best year ever.

Recently I was featured on Spotlight Branding’s newest venture—the podcast CENTER STAGE.

John Hinson and I had a great conversation about the importance of social media for lawyers and finding a way to embrace it. I have to admit that I certainly was not an early adaptor. Find out how I eventually found the value of social media and even have fun doing it.

I am honored to announce that I am the winner of the Daily Business Review—Best of Awards for Legal Business Development Coach. I’m thrilled! Why this year? Let’s take a closer look.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the impact of our business development initiatives. It took some refocusing and connecting the dots.

For the past 4 years, I have received recognition from the voters in the Daily Business Review—Best of Awards for Legal Business Development Coach. (I never did any campaigning as some do.) For 3 years, I received #3, #2, #3. And because I received recognized as one of the top 3, three years in a row, they have a Hall of Fame designation. So, my big question is—Why did I win this year? What was the difference?

  1. My client base has been growing, but not at some enormous rate that could have made the difference.
  2. I made 12 speeches or podcasts to groups of lawyers at Bar Associations— in past years: 9-10. Undoubtedly not significant enough to make the difference.
  3. I wrote 15 articles— in past years: 8-10. Surely not significant enough to make the difference.
  4. I have posted 3060 social media posts— in past years; I averaged 360. Now THAT is significant!

Once I recognized that social media could be the difference, I also looked closely at the speeches I made. They were no longer in person. They were online. One of the lectures I gave was to the Florida Bar Senior Section, which had 1001 registrants! Wow! I have never had that many registrants for my live speeches.

So, back to my original questions. Why did I win this year? What was the difference? Answer: My online presence!

What will this mean to my practice in 2021? Daily Business Review—Best of Award of Legal Business Development Coach, reinforces credibility with potential clients, like awards such as Super Lawyer. And it keeps our names “top-of-mind,” which is essential when potential clients are searching for people to do what we do.

In conclusion, the ROI on your business development initiatives may not be so easy to recognize. You will need to ask the questions and be open-minded to see the possible answers. I have clients who found me via my online presence in the past. With all the things I’m doing online and the recognition that the award adds, hopefully, 2021 will be the best year ever!

I wouldn’t be a good business development coach if I didn’t make the “ASK.” Here it goes—If you or anyone you know would like to build a successful practice without sacrificing everything else in your life, shoot me an email at paula@paulablack.com.

Here’s to a fabulous 2021!

If looking at your email inbox makes you feel overwhelmed and anxious, then you’re in the same boat as most of the lawyers we work with. Good email management is an underrated skill, but it can free your mind up for more important pursuits. However, if you’ve never tried to come up with a system of organization for your inbox, it’s difficult to know where to start. This post can help!

Our team gets a boatload of emails. As a digital marketing company, the majority of our communications come over the web. So, in order to manage that digital flow over the years, we have come up with two simple strategies that make the process of managing emails simple.

Email is a system that delivers other people’s priorities to your attention. It’s up to you to decide when that priority should be managed into your world. It’s not the other way around.” —Chris Brogan

STRATEGY NO. 1: Set a designated time to check your email. 

When your email inbox is open all day long, it becomes a distraction. So instead of letting it monopolize your time with constant notifications, close the window while you’re working on your to-do list. Then, set designated times throughout the day to open your inbox and deal with all of the messages at once. After all, no one who emails you is expecting you to get back to them within an hour. If something is truly urgent, they’ll call. Try out this strategy and watch your productivity soar.

STRATEGY NO. 2: Separate your inbox from your to-do list.

When you open new emails with requests for assistance inside and then let them sit in your inbox until you complete those requests, you’re turning your inbox into a to-do list — which is not what it’s designed to be. See, email platforms aren’t task managers. They don’t allow you to set due dates or effectively prioritize things. So, instead of using your inbox as a to-do list, invest in some task management software (if you don’t have it already).

Once you do that, if you get an email about a task that will take more than five minutes, you can transfer that task into your task management system. This will help you keep your priorities straight, and make you feel less scattered.m

 

Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Are you familiar with the concept of “door law”? If not, it’s the oldest trap in the lawyer book and a myth that’s run many freshly minted attorneys into the ground before they even got started. Practicing “door law” means leaving your door open to any client who wants to walk through it. Door law lawyers practice family law one day, personal injury the next, and real estate law the day after that. Instead of specializing, they take every call, attempting to be everything to everyone in a desperate bid for steady cash flow.

I know that description makes door law sound awful — and that’s because I truly believe it is. However, I also know it’s a strategy many lawyers have used at some point in their careers in order to get by. I completely understand why people choose door law. If you’re a solo practitioner or just starting your firm, the simple truth is you need money, and someone has probably told you that door law is the key to earning it. It’s a common belief that the best way to maximize profits is to cast the net of potential clients as wide as possible. But in my experience, the opposite is true: The best way to maximize your profitability is to choose a niche.

Discarding the majority of your practice areas might seem counterintuitive, but in my years of working with lawyers, I’ve seen proof it’s the most effective strategy for growth. When you niche down, these five things will happen to boost your revenue:

YOUR CREDIBILITY WILL GO UP

People want to work with specialists, and if you specialize, your experience will heighten your reputation and credibility in your field. Think of it this way: Who would you rather have fix your roof? A dedicated roof repairman who spends 40 hours a week with shingles or an all-around handyman who would be just as happy unclogging your sink? Odds are you’d choose the roof repairman because you’d trust them to do the job right.

YOU’LL HAVE A BASIS TO RAISE YOUR RATES

This goes hand in hand with point No. 1. If you’re a specialist, you’ll command higher rates because you’ll be seen as more experienced, unique, and trustworthy. Scrap the roof repair analogy and ask yourself, “If I needed brain surgery, how much more money would I pay to have a brain surgeon do it instead of a general practitioner?” I’ll bet the answer was “a heck of a lot.”

YOU’LL HAVE LESS COMPETITION

If you try to practice every area of law, you’ll be competing with every other lawyer in your city. However, if you niche down, you’ll cut that competition. Depending on where you practice and how wisely you choose your specialty, you could even eliminate competition altogether by becoming the only specialist in your field.

YOUR MARKETING WILL GET EASIER

When you serve everyone, “everyone” becomes your target demographic. This makes advertising difficult as you can’t tailor your campaigns to the needs, fears, and desires of a particular group, or use the resources provided by other specialists to find them (as discussed in last month’s newsletter). Choose a niche, and your marketing becomes much more efficient. You’ll know exactly whom to target and won’t waste money catering to people who aren’t interested in your services.

YOU’LL EARN MORE REFERRALS

If you met someone who loved cooking and talked your ear off about it, odds are you’d be more likely to think of them when the word “cooking” came up in conversation than you’d be to think about someone who only mentioned the hobby. The same thing works for law. Specialists are more memorable and more likely to pop into the minds of their past clients when their niche comes up. Because of that, if you specialize, odds are your referrals will increase.

If you’re struggling to choose your niche or have just niched down and aren’t sure how to proceed, my team and I can help — marketing for lawyers is our specialty. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” —Estel Percy Andrus

It is a season to give thanks for what we DO have and show our appreciation for those that make life worth living. Thank you to all my family, clients, and colleagues. Thank you to those of you that have confidence in me and refer your friends. Thank you to all those that attend my webinars and speeches, read my blogs, newsletters, and thousands of social media posts.

YOU make this life of mine—meaningful, fun and worth living! Thank you!

In addition to being a coach, author, and speaker— I am an amateur photographer, a lover of travel, and words that inspire. Today I want to share a dozen of “my children” with you. I hope they touch your heart like they do mine. I invite you to share them with your circle of loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

    

All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” —Tom Peters in Fast Company

We’ve said it many times – video is a great way to break down barriers and show off your expertise. The best part is that you don’t have to be an on-camera professional like your local news anchor in order to make great videos. Here are a few easy tips that will make your next set of videos look great!

1. Think about the background

You don’t necessarily need to place yourself in front of a sprawling bookshelf full of thick legal encyclopedias. However, you may also want to reconsider sitting in front of a blank white wall. Find a good spot in your office, home, or elsewhere that provides an aesthetically pleasing background. If you shoot your videos outdoors, make sure you have a good microphone that filters out all of the background noise!

2. Think about how you look

As with the background, you don’t need to wear your courthouse attire for the video. People already know you’re a lawyer, so unless your firm’s personality calls for the suit and tie, you don’t need to feel pressured to wear one. Instead, wear something casual, almost as if you weren’t making a video, but you were just talking to someone on the street. Speaking of, that brings us to our next point…

3. Don’t script your content

Videos that are scripted and recited from memory feel robotic and make you look disconnected from your audience. Instead, just imagine that someone has approached you on the street (or maybe one of your golfing buddies asked you a legal question on the seventh hole). How would you respond in that scenario? Those are the kinds of off-the-cuff answers that make videos better to watch.

4. Don’t overthink your technology

While there’s certainly value in investing in a videographer with a good camera and microphone, people actually don’t mind watching a video where you’ve pulled out your iPhone and shot a quick message. Phones today are so technologically advanced that the recording systems on there are actually pretty good. You’ll get high-quality video from them, so don’t be afraid to shoot your next video on your phone and upload it straight to social media!

Hopefully you can see that shooting a set of videos isn’t that difficult. Just figure out what your videos will be about, think about the tips listed above, and hit the record button. If you still need help with videos, we provide that as a service! Contact us today to learn more.

This article originally appeared in Forbes.com.

Kobe Bryant tragically passed away in January. He was one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and beyond his skill on the court, he was a gifted artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

After Kobe’s passing, I was watching the news and heard sportswriter Rick Reilly say, “Kobe didn’t just live life — he swallowed it whole!”

I love that statement. And it gets me thinking: Why shouldn’t we all want to swallow life whole? Why shouldn’t we all build a life that we love?

It sounds nice… but it’s not always easy to get there.

I have the privilege of coaching high-performing professionals. And I’ve discovered that even the smartest, most ambitious, most successful individuals struggle to create a meaningful life that they truly enjoy.

So many get stuck earning a living rather than creating a life.

So, with Kobe’s legacy as an example, here are three tips to help you swallow life whole.

1. Find Your North Star.

What are you passionate about? I mean, really passionate? Think long and hard about this. What calls to you? What keeps crossing your path, trying to get your attention?

If you’re stuck, think about the dreams and passions you had as a kid or even as a young adult. Are there dreams and passions that you’ve buried long ago?

Don’t worry about how impractical it may feel or what people might think. What are your passions? What makes you feel alive?

2. Examine Your Assumptions.

So many of us live life governed by assumptions or ideas that aren’t even true.

It’s impossible to have a great job and still make time for my family.”

“There’s not enough time in the day to run a business and still make time for my hobbies.”

“My job is incompatible with the lifestyle I want.”

Let me tell you… anything is possible. Don’t hold yourself back with limiting beliefs and assumptions.

Lin-Manuel Miranda could have assumed that a rapping musical about Hamilton would not win a Pulitzer, Grammy or 11 Tony Awards.

Susan B. Anthony could have assumed that women would never have the right to vote.

Neil Armstrong and the team at NASA could have assumed that walking on the moon could never happen.

But they examined their assumptions and they asked why not… and then they made magic happen.

3. Focus On Solutions, Not Obstacles.

Find the bridge over the obstacles. There’s a simple exercise I share with my clients: When presented with a new idea or a challenge, don’t allow yourself to focus on all of the reasons that it won’t work. Instead, train yourself to start by looking for the possibilities. How can you make this work?

My mother is the cornerstone of my happiness. I moved away from Denver when I was 19, and we’ve talked on the phone 3-4 times a week ever since. But as my mom got older, I knew I had to figure out how to spend more time with her. My coaching practice is based in Miami, and so I started to think…

Maybe I’ll take the summer off and spend it with her in Denver. But that wouldn’t work.

So I thought, maybe I’ll have her come to Miami. But she hates the heat!

Finally, I thought, I can develop a coaching practice in Denver, as well. So I committed to that solution… and until the pandemic hit, I’ve been able to go home to Denver every other month for the past seven years! The time I’ve spent with my mother is truly priceless, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

There are solutions to every problem. There are possibilities in every situation. But — you won’t find them if you don’t look for them.

Don’t focus on the obstacles. Focus on the solutions!

Swallow Life Whole

If there’s one thing I’ve seen in my career, it’s that anything is possible. You cancreate a life that you love… and you can enjoy a successful career at the same time. You don’t have to choose between your paycheck and your passions. You don’t have to choose between your business and your family.

Don’t settle. Don’t just earn a living. Swallow life whole!

Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!”—Maya Angelou

We have a secret to share with you. It’s a big secret — something even lawyers who have worked decades in the business don’t know. Are you ready? Here it is: You don’t have to take cases you hate in order to keep your firm afloat.

There, we said it. Are you surprised? A lot of the solo and small law firms that Spotlight Branding help have struggled with this issue for years. It’s tempting to practice “door law” and take any client who walks in, but the truth is that you don’t need to take cases you dread to make ends meet. In fact, specialization is not only possible, it’s preferable, too. The more you specialize, the more of an expert you’ll appear to be and the more revenue you’ll bring in.

To leave behind the practice areas you hate and start hooking your dream clients, the first thing you need to do is think about your ideal case. Maybe it’s in the area of law you enjoy most. Maybe it’s something you’re fantastic at. Or maybe it’s what’s most profitable. The definition is up to you — what’s important is that you have a profile in mind.

Next, you need to center your marketing messages and content around that profile. There are a lot of different ways to do this from an advertising and lead-generation standpoint, but your best tool for attracting the cases you want is your content. All the content marketing you do, whether it’s via your blog, videos, podcast, or social media, should focus on the cases you prefer.

Cater your articles to your dream clients. Ask yourself, “What circumstances are they in? What are their questions and concerns? What should they know about this area of law?” Then, answer those questions with content. The more attention you pay to a particular type of client or case in your marketing, the more you’re going to attract it. It’s not rocket science, but you wouldn’t believe how many attorneys leave this strategy on the table!

Here’s an example: Say you’re an estate planning attorney and, until now, you’ve taken every client who walks through the door looking for an estate plan. However, you’d really like to specialize in high net worth estate planning. To get there, start focusing on that demographic in your content. Don’t put out blogs about affordable estate planning options for low-income households. Instead, talk about how an estate plan can help someone pass on their wealth or how to include provisions for assets like income properties. By discussing these things, it will look like you specialize in them — and that’s the first step to making specialization a reality. Once you appear to be the expert, you’ll draw in clients looking to work with the best.

That said, we’re not actually living in “Field of Dreams.” It’s not always true that “if you build it, they will come.”

You still need to pursue other avenues to leave those undesirable cases behind for good, like networking with referral sources and finding new ways to reach your audience. These extra strategies are the middle of the equation, but content is both the beginning and the end. It’s how you reach people, and, as we discussed last month, it’s where new leads always end up landing.

We hope you realize now that you don’t have to settle. The idea that there won’t be enough business for you if you specialize is a total myth. If you still need proof, consider this: One of our clients works only tractor-trailer accident cases, and their business is booming. Another left behind family law because it made them miserable. Since they had the right marketing, their business didn’t suffer. You can make this pivot yourself. But if you’d like some help along the way, reach out to my team. We’ll free you up to focus on your work.