Welcome back to our blog series, in which we talk legal marketing with real law professionals. In this edition, we talk with Ruth Carter, an Arizona attorney who focuses on intellectual property, business law and internet law, and has gotten many new clients as a result of online content creation efforts.
We hope hearing the thoughts and ideas shared by the people in these blog posts, will inspire you to make positive changes to your marketing strategies. We also know that marketing legal services these days is more complex and challenging now than ever before, and hope that some of our readers may identify with some of the marketing struggles presented here, and perhaps be able to offer solutions.
The biggest goal of this blog series is to get the conversation going, so let’s dive in.
Our Marketing Conversation With Ruth Carter
Ruth Carter is a practicing attorney at the Carter Law Firm, and has also authored three best selling books on social media law and guerrilla marketing. While successful in many areas, one of the biggest reasons we wanted to highlight Ruth in our blog series was because of her success in creating original blog posts and videos for her firm. Content creation is an area where many attorneys struggle, so we were excited to learn from a legal professional who has actually seen real results from the content she’s made. In our below chat with Ruth Carter, we discuss ways to reach new clients through content, how long it takes to see real results from content creation and the video creation process.
Answering Legal: First off, is it true that you get about half of your new clients as a result of your blogging and YouTube videos? If so, how did you go about building up such a high level of engagement for your blog and video content?
Ruth: Yes, that’s true. There’s no magic formula for what I do. I try to create content that will be helpful to my audience and related to the areas of law I practice.
I started by asking common questions related to my practice areas and deciphering the legalese into English. Now, I try to respond to recent events related to my areas of law and I answer questions that come from my audience. These are general questions I get from clients, people I meet at events, people who respond to my posts and videos, and people who email me because they “just have a quick question.” All of those questions are fodder for blogs and videos. I also have a survey that’s only available to people who are subscribed to my newsletter called “Hey Ruth, I Have a Question” where they can ask me anything and I’ll consider it for an upcoming blog post or video.
Answering Legal: What types of content topics seem to be the most effective when it comes to drawing in new clients?
Ruth: Think about what a prospective client might search on Google if they had a legal question that you can help with, and create content related to the questions they might have or the problem they’re trying to solve.
For example, I’ve gotten quite a few clients because of a post I wrote about how to move your LLC to Arizona. The post contains information about what is required, and clients call me because they’d rather I help them with this, rather than try to do it themselves (which they could do).
Answering Legal: What are some of the major differences about the way you approach developing topic ideas for your written and video content? Are you trying to reach different audiences?
Ruth: I try to pick the right format for the message I’m trying to convey. I use a “Question of the Day” format for my videos. In most of those, I respond to a situational question from a real person – like a legal Dear Abby. I try to keep these videos to four minutes or less. When I write a blog post, I go much deeper into a topic and I usually address a more general legal question. These posts are up to 750 words typically and may include a more detailed description of a legal issue or how-to information.
Overall, I think my audience for both types of content is relatively the same, but their needs at the moment might be somewhat different.
Answering Legal: It can be easy for lawyers to grow frustrated when they don’t see immediate results from their blogs and videos. How long did it take you to start seeing real results from your content efforts?
Ruth: Oh geez. It’s been so long, I don’t remember. When I started Carter Law Firm, I didn’t get much traffic to my site for months, despite blogging every week. (I started the YouTube channel during my second year in practice.) I tell people don’t plan to see results for at least six months, if not a year. Having an audience is a privilege which is contingent upon consistently creating quality content.
When I joined Venjuris as an Of Counsel attorney, I helped them with their blog. We started by having a conversation about the focus of the posts and what the goal would be. At the time, the site ranked on page seven of Google results for “Phoenix patent lawyer.” We decided our goal would be to get to page two by the end of a year where we would publish a blog post that focused on patent law each week. In less than one year, we were ranking on page one.
Answering Legal: Often lawyers may avoid creating video, because it seems like it would be difficult. Was it challenging for you in the beginning, and how much time and effort actually goes into creating your videos?
Ruth: It wasn’t that challenging, actually. I just had to be willing to try.
I use the camera on my laptop, shoot in one take typically, and edit using Microsoft Photos. I create videos in batches, usually 12-16 at a time. (You can tell when my videos change from one batch to the next by changes in my hair.)
I’m always building my list of potential questions to answer in a video. I collect them in a Word document that’s on my desktop. A week before I record, I go through the list and decide which questions I want to answer and print out the list.
I record the videos over 2-3 days, 4-6 videos each day, usually, first thing in the morning when the office is quieter. One of my challenges is I start tripping over my words when I start to get tired, so that’s why I only shoot a few videos a day.
Once all the videos are recorded, the following weekend, I edit and upload them to my YouTube channel, scheduled to be released one per week. I have a template for the verbiage I use with each videos about the question, additional resources, and information about me, my books, my law practice, and the disclaimer that watching a video by an attorney does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship with any viewer.