When it comes to doing business, we buy from people we know, like, and trust.
A solid personal brand helps us build this connection with people we haven’t even met yet, and results in more inbound opportunities and billable work.
But most lawyers rely on organic personal brand building, which extends mostly to reputational clout within existing networks, occasionally speaking at a conference, and the rare media appearance.
There are many more effective methods lawyers can use to cultivate a personal brand that will put them head and shoulders above the crowd.
The old adage that content is king still rings true. The king isn’t dead. He’s alive and kicking and more influential than ever.
Below you’ll find 12 types of content ideas, from least time-consuming to most time-consuming, designed to help you cultivate a more powerful personal brand. As with most things, you get out of it what you put in.
For example, at my consultancy Collective Campus, we wrote ourselves to the top of Google rankings for key terms such as ‘corporate innovation consulting’. It only took a couple of hundred articles on topics related to our domain, but we now enjoy several hundred inbound leads each month. Given that our average deal size is mid-five figures, and sometimes ventures up into mid six-figure territory, calling this a huge boon for our business is an understatement.
Perhaps the easiest way to start using content to build your personal brand is to post daily tips or insights to social media. This might not sound like a big deal, but a cursory look at LinkedIn shows that, of 4 million people who have the keyword ‘lawyer’ in their profile, only 300,000 (7.5%) posted on LinkedIn tin the past 30 days.
Simply posting every day is going to distinguish you from over 90% of lawyers.
Accredited family lawyer, Clarissa Rayward, is fairly active on LinkedIn, and has amassed over 8,000 followers as a result. She shares recent podcast appearances (on other shows as well as her own), as well as her thoughts on all things family law.
Of course there are other formats you can use - video, images, quote tiles, and the like.
LinkedIn’s new Story feature essentially mimics Instagram’s, and can help you develop a more intimate relationship with your connections and followers.
And finally, you could start your own LinkedIn Group, and invite target audience members to join. There, you’ll can share insights on your area of domain expertise, and connect with prospective clients on a more intimate and exclusive level than simply sharing to your public news feed.
While LinkedIn might be the platform of choice for professional business development, your efforts could also extend to novel uses of Instagram and Twitter as well, depending on your domain and target audience.
For example, immigration lawyer Greg Siskind has built up a large following on Twitter (by the average lawyer’s standard), and as a result was named to ABC News’ Top 20 People to Follow for Immigration News list, making him not only more visible, but likely to win more work than his peers in this space.
He typically tweets about immigration matters, but also lets his individuality shine with posts about baseball. Guest blog on third party publications
Instead of committing to starting your own blog (and keeping it updated), you could first dip your toe in the water by writing for other publications. This offers three benefits - there’s no ongoing commitment, it’s easier to get started, and you’re tapping into an existing audience that a third party publication has already established.
If you are a lawyer who specializes in IPOs for Australian tech companies, you might want to write for publications that Australian entrepreneurs are reading. Typically, if you enter the publication name or type, along with the search term ‘write for us’ or ‘submit article’, you’ll find guest writing opportunities at your disposal. See below.
Before you submit your post, you might want to see just how influential the publication is by checking out a) their follower count on social media, b) engagement on social media, and c) monthly unique visitors. The last thing you want is to commit brainpower and time to writing an article that nobody sees.
You can check how many monthly unique visitors the site gets by visiting Website IQ. As you can see below, SmartCompany generates a healthy half a million visits per month, so it would seem to be a worthwhile publication to write for if wanting to get in front of a large number of Australia’s business and entrepreneurship community.
You could step it up a notch by starting your own blog. This needn’t be technically difficult to implement, as there are numerous off-the-shelf platforms that can have you up and running today, such as Wordpress, Substack, and Medium.
Lawyer David Lat, best known as founder of Above the Law (ATL), one of the largest legal news websites, launched his own Substack blog and newsletter, Original Jurisdiction, in 2020.
You can start by sharing your blog with your existing clients, and build your audience from there.
If you’re already running a blog, then a logical next step is to leverage your content in a regular newsletter. This also ensures that your existing clients and contacts actually read it, or are at least aware of it. Platforms like SubStack and Medium both offer this functionality (in addition to the ability to monetize your newsletter).
As with blogging, before you think about starting a podcast of your own, hop on to somebody else’s - especially if they have access to a large number of people in your target audience.
Not sure how to get booked on podcasts? Turn to your existing networks and ask around, Google shows in your domain and email the hosts directly, or use a platform like Interview Valet to get booked onto shows.
This requires a little more work, but not as much as you might think. You can outsource all of the rudimentary and technical aspects of hosting a podcast for as little as US$10 an hour (or about US$25 to US$50 per episode) via Upwork or Fiverr, and simply focus on the fun of recording episodes.
Episodes could take the form of interviews, or of you solo riffing on topics of interest to your audience.
My first podcast, Future Squared, developed a modest audience of corporate executives in the innovation space. One of these executives happened to be working with mid-tier law firm Mills Oakley. Long story short, my voice in his ear all that time ultimately led to us winning a $500,000 engagement to run the Mills Oakley Accelerator.
Podcasts are also a great way to build relationships with existing and prospective clients, by inviting them to appear on your show.
You can get up and running today using podcast hosting platforms such as LibSyn, Podbean, Megaphone, or Whooshkaa.
Alternatively, companies like BrandedContent build media empires for brands and individuals, making it easy for you to rise above the crowd.
Now we’re getting deep in the weeds in terms of effort, but that also means most people would have checked out, leaving you with less competition. As the old adage goes, fish where the fishermen are few.
For example, personal injury lawyer Charles E Boyk has generated over 11,300 subscribers for his channel, with an average of about 1,000 views per episode. His content mostly features client stories that are both moving, and also hint at Boyk and his firm’s lawyering ability.
If you have domain expertise in an emerging topic and its legal implications (for example, non fungible tokens), writing a short ebook on the ins and outs, and putting this behind a registration wall, is a great way to build your mailing list and generate new leads.
You might prefer to offer it freely to people, sans wall, to get your content and brand out there and spreading faster as well.
You can find countless ebook templates that look the part on Canva, and focus on writing.
Pro tip: Once your ebook is published online, you can use a tool like LinkedHelper to automatically reach out to hundreds of people in your target audience on LinkedIn with personalized messages to let them know about the ebook and where they can download it.
So you’ve published an ebook, and perhaps it has been downloaded several thousand times. You an use this clout to get a legitimate book deal with a legitimate publishing house. Whether or not the book becomes a bestseller is (almost) irrelevant.
As a lawyer with a published book, it gives you significant brand edge. Giving prospective clients a copy of your book is an awesome way to build social proof, trust, and credibility.
I actually applied this strategy myself, and self published an ebook back in 2016 called The Innovation Manager’s Handbook, before securing a book deal with Wiley in 2018 to write Employee to Entrepreneur. It helped open the door to writing opportunities for Harvard Business Review, speaking slots at SXSW, and a lot more inbound business.
Webinars have increased in popularity since the pandemic changed the world. Typically, news stories that relate to your domain trigger audience curiosity or concern, and the need for a format like a webinar to transfer knowledge.
You can simply use Zoom to run the webinar, and collect registrants using a tool such as EventBrite.
Building upon #11, you can use LinkedIn events to get the word out about your forthcoming webinar. LinkedIn Events provides members with an easy way to create and join professional events that interest them, such as meetups, online workshops, seminars, and more.
Perhaps one of the most involved types of content you can produce is an online course on your domain. However, the beauty of this is it s a great way to build a connection with your audience, build credibility and trust, and also, to generate income online ahead of any legal engagements.
Lawyer, Mark Addington, created a course on employment law compliance on Udemy, attracting 4,000 students. In the event that they need legal counsel on matters relating to employment law, they’re likely to turn to Mark, having completed his course and given it, on average, 4.5 stars.
You can use platforms like Teachable, Kajabi, or Udemy to get started. Nowadays, using a later model iPhone and a lavalier mic alone, you can record some decent quality videos.
As tech investor Naval Ravikant puts it, product and media are the leverage of the new wealthy. Product and media are permissionless. And anybody can create content. But doing so gives you massive leverage and scale in a connected world, and one that can leave you far ahead of the chasing pack.
Want us to build a content and media empire for your law firm? Learn more at brandedcontent.io
Steve Glaveski is the CEO and Co-Founder of Collective Campus which he established to help companies and their employees to create a more meaningful impact in the world in an age of rapid change and increasing uncertainty. Steve also founded Lemonade Stand - a children's entrepreneurship program, author of Wiley book, Employee to Entrepreneur: How to Earn Your Freedom and do Work That Matters, Harvard Business Review contributor, author of the Innovation Manager's Handbook vol 1 and 2, host of the Future Squared podcast, and keynote speaker. He previously founded HOTDESK, an office sharing platform and has worked for the likes of Westpac, Dun & Bradstreet, the Victorian Auditor General's Office, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Macquarie Bank. Follow him at @steveglaveski