Even though they know it’s a great way to generate qualified leads, lawyers shy away from content marketing, because . . . you know: they actually have to produce content.  Whether and how to blog is a frequent subject of our consultations; and, much of that conversation surrounds notions of strategy: when, how and what to post.  One strategy question tied to blogging is whether part of the reason a lawyer blogs will be to aggregate certain of those posts into an eBook.   If you have an eye to employing that strategy, the following guest post from Adam Kosloff will send you on your way.  Adam is a Yale University-educated author and the CEO of Virtuoso Content, LLC, an eBook and blog writing service that exclusively serves attorneys.  Since 2003, Adam has written more than 38,000 pieces of content for the web, on diverse subjects – from aluminum extrusion machining (yeah, I had to look it up, too) to personal injury law.  His attorney clients’ blogs have won awards from LexisNexis and consistently rank on page one of Google for search terms as competitive as ‘Los Angeles DUI’.   In addition, Adam has also sold an original screenplay and written for television.  His credits include ‘The New Woody Woodpecker Show’ and Mel Brooks’ ‘Spaceballs: The Animated Series’.  Adam has also won acclaim for his science journalism on the subject of low carbohydrate diets, blogging at www.caloriegate.com.  (I refuse to stop eating bread!)  This post will provide you with a step-by-step guide for turning content assets into an eBook; and, Adam is happy to provide specific insights into your personal content strategy — contact him through Virtuoso.

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As an attorney who wants business from the web, you’ve probably experimented with several content strategies.

-Maybe you write your own blog, painstakingly updating it to cement your place as a thought leader. This works, but it takes a lot of effort.

-Or, maybe you produce sprawling content, like videos, enewsletters, web articles and so forth. This works, but it can be quite expensive.

-Perhaps you don’t actively produce much content at all, even though you’d like to.  You just don’t have the time or resources, on top of the million and one other things you need to do to support your practice.

Competition online, meanwhile, has never been more cutthroat, especially if you’re fighting for keyword dominance in areas such as personal injury, bankruptcy, family law, criminal defense or estate planning.

Caught between Scylla and Charybdis, lawyers choose between two evils:

-Work ever harder, producing more and more content, to fight for attention online; or,

-Abandon or curtail online marketing efforts, and find other ways to grow the firm.

Well, I’d like to suggest a third, more resourceful way to generate attention that will not require you to work more, or spend more time.  The idea is to repurpose your content into ebooks. This blog post will explain how to do that.  But first, we need to step back and see the bigger picture.

The Goal of Online Marketing Content

Have you ever asked yourself why your law firm produces blog posts, content articles, website pages and other media pieces?  What’s the point?

The goal isn’t to ‘rank high’ on Google, or to generate credibility.  Those things are important, but they’re only means to an end.  And, that end is to have a marketing system that educates prospects, in a consistent and predictable way, so that they come to desire your legal services.

The test of any marketing content, therefore, isn’t whether the copy is ‘good’ or ‘valuable’ or ‘remarkable’, but rather whether it functions to educate people who don’t know about you or your point of difference to recognize the power of your offer and come to desire it.

This perspective on what marketing content (online or otherwise) needs to accomplish changes things.  Here are three takeaways:

Focus.  Far too many attorneys try to be all things to all people.  That’s a big mistake.  Given your limited resources, focus.  Who is your ideal client?  What is that person’s biggest pain point?  How does your firm uniquely address that pain?  These answers should form the backbone of all of your marketing copy.

Create long-term assets.  Many attorneys try a spray-the-internet-with-mediocre-content strategy, because they’ve been trained to believe that more is better.  But, this leads to zero residual value, since you’re not creating residual value for your readers.  Instead, develop evergreen content.

Build systems that are repeatable and controllable.  Most attorneys attack content marketing in a desperate, spasmodic fashion, as if they’re hacking away at fire hydrant with a sledgehammer.  Even if you unleash a torrent of new business, you likely lack the capacity to service that business, or the means to replicate your initial marketing success.  Ideally, marketing works like a water faucet, and can be turned on and off at will.  (An ebook that’s tied into a pay per click (PPC) campaign can function in this faucet-like way.)

Nuts and Bolts: 7 Steps to Creating Your Ebook

Step One: Identify your ideal prospect.  What’s his or her biggest pain point?  What educational experience does this person need to recognize the value of your services and want to work with you?

Step Two: Develop a great ‘big idea’ for the ebook.  Here in Hollywood, we call this the ‘elevator pitch’.  If you had to sum up what your book is about in 30 seconds or less — the length of a typical elevator ride — will your ideal prospect get it?  Will he or she want to read it?

Step Three: Scan your current content library to see what you can salvage to create the ebook.  Maybe you’re a personal injury lawyer who’s blogged a lot about the bad things that insurance companies do.  Why not creatively rework those posts to make a book along the lines of ‘15 Terrible Things Insurance Companies Say to Injury Claimants’?  Each post could be a different chapter.

Don’t limit yourself to written content, either. Maybe you’ve created videos or podcasts that are relevant to your big idea — get those transcribed.  Then, condense and rework the content into your book.

Step Four: If you don’t have enough copy to create a full ebook, write just enough additional content to complete the project.  Here’s a fast and dirty way to do this: Rather than sweat it out over the keyboard, ask someone to interview you about a topic.  Then, transcribe that interview and add it as a bonus chapter to the book, to flesh it out.  For instance, let’s say you can only generate 15 pages of a book from your blog.  That’s not enough.  (At minimum, an ebook is 25 pages.)  No problem: Just ask your secretary to interview you about your passion, philosophy and experience, transcribe that conversation, and stick it at the end of the book.  It’s simple, and effective.

Step Five: Once you complete the copy, finalize the ebook.  Add a disclaimer, a Table of Contents and a cool-looking cover.  (I recommend that my clients use www.killercovers.com for their ebook covers.)  You can also print out hard copies of your book, to give away at speaking events (and the like), using companies like www.createspace.com.

Step Six: Integrate the ebook into your marketing efforts. Here are some strategies my clients have used to generate leads with their books:

-Print out copies and give them away at seminars or speaking events.

-Provide the book as a free download on your website, ideally using a pay per click campaign.  Follow up with a drip email campaign.

-Send your book to colleagues and other referral sources, to cement in their minds that you’re an authority on the topic.

Step Seven: Rinse and repeat.  As you generate new content, structure it to be repurposed into other ebooks, or other long-term assets.  Get creative: you might, for example, take the opposite tack and transform printed copy into video or audio assets.  Now, I don’t personally have much experience doing this, but if you run a popular legal blog, you could hire an audio engineer to turn that blog into a podcast or video series.  The possibilities are limitless.

The Big Takeaway: your content should be working harder, not you!