How to Find Publications, Pitch Your Guest Articles, and Make Them Both Authoritative and SEO-Effective

By The Black Fin Team

Posted:

Category: Content Marketing


As an accomplished attorney, you’ve acquired more than just a successful business and an impressive degree. You also have real expertise in an area that most people are curious about, and that lends you some publishing credibility.

Accordingly, you might consider getting into the attorney guest post game — not as a hobby or an exercise in vanity but as an effective marketing tool for growing your firm.

Guest posts are simply articles you write for someone else’s newspaper, magazine, website, or blog (mostly the latter two in today’s post-print economy).

They might be editorials, feature pieces, letters to the community, or merely a blog article that you write for someone else’s website instead of your own.

But who does the actual writing? Do you really have time for that? And how do you go about getting your articles on someone else’s website in the first place?

We answer those questions and more below, touching on everything you really need to know about attorney guest post marketing.

Why Writing Guests Posts Is a Good Idea

Attorney guest posts are becoming more and more popular in the legal marketing world, and for good reasons. They:

  • Help to establish you as a credible authority in your field
  • Extend your firm’s brand awareness to new populations and markets
  • Bolster the “Publications” entry in your résumé / C.V.
  • Link back to your law firm website, giving you an SEO-valuable backlink from a credible, high-quality domain name (Learn more about backlinking and SEO here.)
  • Can lead not only to new clients but also even higher-profile media opportunities in the future (and those are good for business too!)
  • Forge good relationships with other organizations (especially helpful with websites / blogs that focus on the legal services trade)
  • Expand the number of crawl-able pages and domains with your name, brand, and services on them (when prospective clients search for your firm, there will be more for them to find)
  • Are cost-effective. (Most reputable publications won’t charge you for publishing your article on their platform, so your primary expense will be the copywriter, editor, and/or legal marketing agency you work with — more on that below.)

Who Should Write Your Law Firm’s Guest Posts?

Before we go any further, we should note that there is a difference between a byline and a writer.

The writer is the person who does the heavy lifting. The byline is the person who gets the credit.

And now we’re going to let you in on a dirty little secret about attorney guest posts: most of them are not written by the lawyer whose name you see in the byline.

It isn’t that the attorneys themselves are lacking in writing skills. Most people with a J.D. are at least fairly competent behind a keyboard. But lawyers are also extremely busy people, especially the founding and managing partners in a firm.

…And that brings us to another point. The byline should really belong to one of the senior or managing partners, preferably one whose name is on the shingle or who is otherwise one of the “faces” for the firm.

Even if they’re good enough writers, though, most senior attorneys have neither the time nor the inclination to write guests consistently, let alone seek out publications and pitch proposals to them. And frankly, they don’t have the experience in writing specifically for the web — an art all its own. (Read why attorneys shouldn’t write their own content.)

Since the whole point here is to establish authority for the firm while also appealing to readers and boosting SEO, it makes sense to use an experienced and web-savvy ghostwriter whose work will reflect brightly on your brand.

We’ll explore some tips for finding the right copywriter toward the end of this article.  

Tips for Developing Guest Post Topics

Even if you aren’t doing the writing, you might want some input into what your article’s about. But getting a good topic together isn’t as easy as it might sound.

To get your gears turning, these are the broad and evergreen categories that define most of the web’s attorney guest blogging:

  • Current Events — Look for headlines that relate to your practice area. How controversial you get is up to you, but a hot take turns heads.
  • Local Events – If the outlet has a primarily local readership, write about something in their community. If you handle auto and pedestrian accidents, for example, you might write about the hometown cycling tournament (and tie it into your practice).
  • Safety Advisories / “Need to Know” — From child car seats to food poisoning, a recent increase in nursing home injury rates, or a string of hotel break-ins, the public will appreciate you sounding the alarm (reasonably, responsibly, and from the authoritative perspective of a seasoned attorney who has real-life experience in similar cases).
    But “advisory”-type articles aren’t just for PI firms. Criminal defense attorneys might offer a “What you need to know when you get pulled over” column, for example, while estate lawyers might write “Everything you should think about when writing a will.”
  • Recent Developments in the Law — If new legislation, regulations, or major court decisions change the way you practice law, the public would like to know about it. Most people don’t monitor legal developments on their own, so a concise and easy-to-read digest is a welcome entry.
  • Predictions — Some lawyers are understandably hesitant to make bold predictions about future legal or technological developments, and we aren’t entirely sure that readers love these articles either… but they do account for a good portion of the attorney guest blogs out there.
  • General Information — Finally, don’t underestimate the value of simple “101” piece. You aren’t writing a treatise, of course, but a brief and basic overview of your general practice area is perfectly suited to a guest post.

Think about the format too. Guest blogs come in many forms. Three of the most popular are:

  • The Tried-and-True Article — It speaks for itself, and in terms of SEO value, it’s still probably the most effective format.
  • Frequently Asked Questions — FAQs are easy to read and valuable, if dry.

Listicles — Don’t go full Buzzfeed, please. Professionalism is key to establishing credibility. The super-trendy Millennial listicle can work quite well for just about anyone else writing a guest post… but probably not a medical malpractice attorney writing about breech births or shoulder dystocia. A better example might be a real estate attorney who writes “13 things that can go wrong when closing on your house.”

Above all else, know your audience. Write about something that’ll interest them. Remember: your host publication has some skin in the game too. They’ll want your content to be of high quality and high interest to their audience.

Still struggling with topic development or don’t have the time? Don’t let that stop you. You can always ask your web marketer or ghostwriter to develop / pitch topics for you. If they’re experienced, they’ll already know the kinds of topics that tend to work in this format.

How to Choose the Right Publication or Website

This one’s easy.

The only wrong answer is a website or publication that is engaged in questionable behavior, such as salacious content or black hat SEO practices.

Certainly avoid link farms, spam sites, or any domain that appears to violate Google’s terms of service. (Backlinks from a penalized site might do more harm than good.)

Otherwise, feel free to reach out to your own personal favorite websites and blogs. Or run a Google search and find websites that already relate to your practice in some way, whether it’s subject matter, locale, overlapping demographics, or some other form of cross-appeal.

How to Pitch Your Proposed Article Effectively

Making the perfect pitch isn’t as mysterious as it might seem. Just follow these steps:

  1. Look for submission guidelines. Websites that receive a lot of pitches or requests will already have a submissions policy in place. Follow those and you’ll keep the site managers happy.
  2. If there are no guidelines, look for direct contact information. You might have to do some digging, but it’s always best to go straight to the source (that is, the webmaster or editor). If that doesn’t work, you can try contacting some of the site’s more regular columnists.
  3. Be direct, polite, and professional. Even if you are writing a straight-up masterpiece and doing the website an unfathomable favor by offering it to them for free, a little humility never hurt anyone. The right tone can open doors.
  4. Establish a connection. Demonstrate your knowledge of the website or publication, its readership, and its style. If you’re a fan or regular reader yourself, let them know.
  5. Synopsize. Offer a concise paragraph explaining what the article will be about and why it would be helpful or interesting to readers. Maybe link to an example article on another well-trafficked website.
  6. Explain why it benefits their website. This is ultimately what they care about the most.
  7. Mention what you ask for in return. While some guest blogging opportunities offer compensation, most do not. Instead, here’s what you would customarily ask for:
    • Your name in the byline
    • A brief bio/blurb about you and your firm (usually at the beginning or end of the article, sometimes including a photo)
    • A link to your law firm website
    • Featuring the article on the home page or in their next email newsletter (not all sites will be willing to agree to this, so use your discretion when including this term… the bigger the site, the less realistic this request becomes).
  1. Help them plan. Let them know the approximate length of the article and when you expect to finish it. Most publications will understand that these are merely estimates, but they’ll be encouraged to see that you’re considering their needs.
  2. Offer assurances. Remind the publication that your article will be well researched, timely, accurate, and not overly salesy. (Most publications don’t mind a call to action at the very end, though some would rather you skip that altogether and settle for a backlink and a bio.) Your credentials as an attorney should help to ameliorate any concerns about professionalism. You might also mention that you’d be open to a long-term content relationship if it proves mutually beneficial in the first go-round.

How to Choose a Ghostwriter

You’ll find no shortage of freelance writers online.

The challenge with attorney guest blogs, however, is that they’re being published under your name — Esq. and all. There’s a certain expectation of excellence that comes along with that, not to mention the ethical responsibility you have when writing to a public audience about the law.

So experience is extremely important when considering ghostwriters.

Ideally, you’ll trust this responsibility to a writer with a law license, or at least someone with a J.D., because when it comes to writing competently about the law, there is no substitute for a legal education and hands-on experience in the field of law.

Short of that, shop around for a writer with writing samples and a résumé that wow you.

Remember: the cheapest writer isn’t necessarily the right choice when your reputation is in the picture. Opt for quality instead.

If all goes well, you’ll strike up a long-term relationship with the same content creator, who can learn your style over time and help you establish an effective and marketable presence online.

Attorney Guests Posts Are Part of the Black Fin Marketing Strategy

We’re big believers in guest blogging here at Black Fin, and it’s an important part of our content marketing strategy.

Black Fin is a team of legal marketing experts who work toward one and only one goal every day: helping law firms grow into bigger cases from better clients by using the web.

Our content creation team consists of SEO experts, attorneys, and legal marketing gurus who know how to create credible and compelling attorney guest blogs. We’ll help you get them pitched and published at top-notch outlets too.

We even do this for ourselves! Gerrid Smith, our CEO, writes authoritative entries on SEO and attorney marketing for legal / digital marketing blogs all around the web! It’s a strategy that really works, and that’s why we put it into practice for our own agency too.

If you need helping building a better online presence for your law firm, drop us a line and learn more about how we can help.

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