It’s one of the most difficult parts of starting a small or solo law firm. While we spent years learning the law and how to help our clients, most attorneys don’t have any training in how to market themselves or make a website. So, we end up spending a ton of money we don’t have in order to have other people do it for us.
In this post, I’ll walk you through my exact strategy for website design and marketing for small law firms and solo lawyers.
Website design for small law firms and solos
If you’re starting a new law practice, a website is key.
Most clients are going straight to the Internet when they have legal problems, whether it’s to find the answer to their question or to find a lawyer to hire.
If you don’t have a website, you might as well not exist. I know that the first thing I do when I learn opposing counsel’s name or even just hear about a lawyer, I go to check out their site. My opinion of them is greatly colored by what I find there.
What do you need to have on your website?
Creating a website can be a simple or complex as you want. However, if you’re just starting out, you can limit what’s on your site to just a few important things:
- Your homepage, which is going to have an overview of who you are and how you can help your clients
- An About page, which tells clients about you, but mostly about how you can benefit them (don’t just brag about your accomplishments)
- A Services page, which should list the types of services you provide in a way that shows your potential clients how you can help solve their problems
- A Contact page, where clients can contact you to get your help
- A blog, where you have a number of informative articles to show that you know how to help your clients
Notice the pattern?
The point of having a website is to show potential clients that you’re the one they should hire. You need to structure the words on your site (called the website “copy”) toward this goal.
What don’t you need when you’re just starting out?
Running a solo or small law firm is always a struggle between what you want to do and what you realistically can do, given your budget or amount of free time.
When you’re just starting, there are a handful of things that you may think you need, but they just aren’t that important in the very beginning.
- A fancy logo
- A professional headshot
- A ton of blog content (especially mediocre content)
- Social media buttons
- Social media accounts
You can get all that stuff later. I’m talking about Day One – you only need the bare minimum to show clients what you’re all about and get them knocking on your virtual door.
The rest of it can come afterwards when the money starts coming in.
Seriously, if you spend a bunch of time setting up a Facebook page rather than creating amazing and useful blog content, you’re wasting your time.
It may seem like you’re doing the right thing, but you’re not accomplishing anything (unless your preliminary client research shows that Facebook is where your ideal client looks for an attorney, but I doubt it).
What makes a great law firm website?
When you’re designing your website, I generally recommend keeping two main things in mind:
These two go hand-in-hand – often, the things that complicate your website are the same things that slow it down.
If you visit a lot of law firm websites, you’re going to see some familiar trends. Many law firm sites will have some kind of fancy header (that band with an image at the top of a website), often one that changes the image every few seconds.
This is distracting nonsense that only serves to slow down your site and make the experience worse for your visitors.
Also, they don’t scale well to mobile, so if a potential client goes to your site on their phone, they’ll have a bad time. So much of people’s online activity happens on smartphones these days, so you need to be sure that it works well on these devices.
If you’re a WordPress user, you probably know that you can add plugins to do a ton of different things. However, each of these plugins has the potential to hog resources and slow your site down.
Slow load times
Another big issue with many law firm websites is general slow loading times. This can come down to a few different problems, like:
- Slow website hosting – for your business, it’s best to go with a premium provider like WPEngine or SiteGround (affiliate links)
- Giant image sizes – if you’re not compressing and resizing your images correctly, you’re adding unnecessary time to your site’s loading. Use something like Shortpixel to make sure your site’s photos and images are set up properly
- Scripts and other stuff running in the background – many websites have a lot of processes happening behind the scenes (often the result of the plugins I discussed above). You can go to a site speed analysis tool like GTMetrix to see what kind of scripts and background processes are slowing your site down. A plugin like Autoptimize can help to minimize these and speed up your site.
Once you’ve got your site running lean and mean, it’s time to concentrate on using it to market your small law firm effectively.
Effective marketing for small law firms and solo firms
The basic marketing strategy for solos and small law firms boils down to one main thing:
Be in front of your clients when they’re looking for a lawyer.
Whether this is online or offline, it’s a basic maxim that should dictate your marketing. I break this down into five main aspects:
- Your blog content
- Guest posts
- Media mentions
- Working your network for referrals
- Getting out there in front of clients online and offline
I believe that these five things will give you a holistic marketing strategy that will put you in front of your clients at the time when they’re actually looking for an attorney to help them.
Your blog content
At its core, the content you write for your blog needs to provide value to potential clients. In addition, it needs to establish you as an authority who knows how to deal with their problems.
In my courses and on my blog, I teach about ways to find the specific things that your ideal clients are looking for online. This involves a few different techniques, such as interviewing your prototypical clients, seeking them out where they reside online, and doing keyword research to plan out super targeted content to reach them when they’re searching on Google.
It sounds like a lot, but if you have a process to lead you through it, it’s not that bad! It’s the kind of thing I teach in my courses here at SparkSOLO.
What’s better than building up an audience for your own blog?
Taking advantage of someone else’s audience!
Most types of clients are going to have certain online blogs and other places where they go to find news and info about the things they’re interested in. For me, it’s video game and board game developers.
Those are the places that you want to reach out to, so that you can write an article or guest post.
This guest post will provide some valuable info from the perspective of a lawyer in that field, which is often something that these websites love.
I’ve written a bunch of them, but one of my most popular is on a video games business website. I wrote it years ago, and it still gets me new clients regularly because it’s one of the definitive articles on the topic online.
Not only do these guest posts serve to bring clients to your site, they also establish you as an authority in your particular field and help to boost your Google search results rankings. All of this is key to building a law practice online!
A related strategy for marketing yourself online is to reach out to reporters who are looking for sources on stories related to your niche.
For example, when reporters are writing up video game news stories, they will often search out “video game lawyers” online and contact them for a quote. There are a few sites that approach me semi-regularly due to me helping them in the past.
If you want to be proactive, you can use a service like HARO (Help A Reporter Out), which sends out multiple emails each day full of reporters asking for sources. Take advantage of this and you’ll get links back to your site in return for your insight.
Those links back to your site are a signal to Google that you are an authority in your field, which will help to boost your search engine rankings. This, in turn, increases the number of clients finding you on the Internet!
Working your network for referrals
This is one of the classic ways for attorneys to get new clients.
Hopefully, you put a lot of work into networking with other lawyers before you started your law firm. Either way, it’s never too late.
The best kind of lawyers to know are those in tangential practice areas – those who don’t do quite the same thing as you but have a lot of overlap in clients. Then you can refer clients to each other without a great risk of them taking the client completely.
Just having a wide base of attorneys in general that know you and trust you can be a huge source of referrals.
In addition, when you start getting clients and you do an amazing job on their matter, they will happily refer others to you. If you work in a particular industry, word can get around that you’re the go-to person for legal help.
Getting out there in front of clients
In addition to your blog and referral network, you can do more to reach clients directly both online and offline.
On the Internet, there are tons of forums, Facebook groups, and places like Reddit where potential clients are looking for help with their problems. Dropping in and demonstrating that you know how to solve that problem (without giving specific legal advice, of course) can show that you’re the authority and that they can contact you to take care of things.
Offline, there are a number of opportunities to get in front of people. Depending on the industry or type of clients you have, in-person speaking gigs are common. For example, I go to video game and board game conventions each year and speak either solo or as part of panels.
These kind of gigs serve to establish you as an expert and keep you in mind when these audiences full of potential clients have a legal problem they need taken care of. It also makes it more likely they’ll recommend you to someone they know.
Moving forward – getting your law firm online
Hopefully this overview of small law firm site design and marketing strategy showed you the path to take. Whether you’re starting right out of law school or a seasoned vet, anyone can be helped by a great content marketing strategy.
If you’re looking for comprehensive courses on getting your new law practice online, sign up for my mailing list below. You’ll get my free email course on laying the groundwork for your new law firm, and you’ll be the first to know every time I release a new video course!
Got a question? Leave it in the comments or contact me here.