This is a list of cheap and/or free resources for online law firm marketing to accompany my presentation on 6/10/16 to the Missouri Bar Solo & Small Firm Section. #MOSOLO16 baby!
Link to today’s survey: http://goo.gl/forms/jUvoXX5NcFEmue9d2
Today’s PDF Handout: 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO JUMPSTART A CHEAP MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Have any opinions on these resources? Or your own suggestions? Add ’em in the comments.
I generally use GoDaddy (after Googling for current promo codes) if I am purchasing a standalone domain name. However, for first-time website creators, a hosting package that comes bundled with a domain name is probably a better choice — you won’t have to worry about tweaking and breaking settings like DNS (Domain Name Servers), as they come pre-configured.
Google WordPress Hosting ($1/month if you sign up through the first ad in the Google Search results and it includes a domain name.)
BlueHost WordPress Hosting ($3.95 and up and it also includes a domain name.)
WordPress Engine is not cheap, and I haven’t used it personally, but it comes highly recommended and has a great feature set that speeds up your website and backs it up regularly.
WordPress for Dummies (Via Amazon: 7th and 6th Editions). Either should suffice, as not a whole lot has changed in the past couple of years, but if you want to minimize instances of “where the #$&* did that button go?” rage, spring for the latest edition.)
Free Tutorials Online (WordPress is the most popular backend for websites so if you ever get stuck on how to do anything, just Google it and skim a couple of guides.)
Essential WordPress Plugins
WPSmush: potential clients, especially the growing populace of smartphone users, have a need for speed. WPSmush (free or paid versions) compresses images with one click. Smaller images = faster load times.
Yoast SEO: a plugin that acts as a checklist for SEO basic practices, such as using the topic (keyword) that you are targeting in the right places (title, a heading, first paragraph), typing an attractive summary of your page for the Google search results (meta description), etc.
Akismet: a plugin by WordPress itself that filters out spam comments. (Free for non-commercial use, cheap for businesses.)
Graphics and Logos
Use Canva to create sharable graphics and quick dirty logos. (Free, wrote about my love for it previously.)
Have freelancers create logos for you on Fiverr. (Fiverr is a site where every “task” is $5. Watch for the deliverable: logo designers range from providing a single static image, which may not look good if you need to resize it, to providing resizable vector images, which are helpful for sending to print shops or resizing for different web projects.)
Blog posts and other website content can be a bit dry without photos to spice it up. Here are a few free stock image websites:
The best way is to write it yourself — you are a lawyer that knows your field better than any web designer ever would, and you don’t want inaccurate or misleading statements of law, drafted by a non-lawyer, to cloud your online reputation.
If you can’t or don’t want to write, other options for getting decent content on the cheap(ish) include putting an ad up at your nearest law school or on craigslist for unemployed law graduates and those awaiting bar results. Ask for writing samples and be very specific about what you are looking for — multiple drafts, scope of each article, etc.
I wouldn’t recommend turning to Fiverr for content and/or hiring outsourced labor. Also, beware of content spinners (software that uses synonyms to paraphrase content, leaving your site with statements like: “Our legal advisors endeavor always to be down to business. They will save you money and time. They will make your life easier. Contact them now, before your finances become burdensome.” You’re not peddling viagra — you’re selling your services as an attorney.)
And no matter who writes the content, use a plagiarism checker.
Google Voice: my favorite product by any company ever. It’s useful for sending texts and making calls using your computer. It’s great for snagging a vanity phone number that routes to your existing landlines or cell number. (My current one is 562-774-1LAW, though my fax number is 530-iCHUNKY.). And it even works for ghetto call tracking. Add the ObiHai box to get a free VOIP landline for your office (and/or a fax line).
Zoho Mail (Free): Sending emails to clients from an @hotmail.com address is not only dated, but a bit unprofessional. Instead, use Zoho Mail’s free offering to set up @yourdomain.com custom email for up to 25 users (https://www.zoho.com/mail/)
Tawk.to (Free) Live Website Chat Plugin!: I tested Tawk.to previously and liked it, plus it has apps for iOS and Android for responding to inquiries while you’re on the go. I just added it to this site and will do a full blog post on it soon.