Cheap Legal Marketing Shopping List

offers free private registrationThis is a list of cheap and/or free resources for online law firm marketing that was originally intended to accompany my presentation on 6/10/16 to the Missouri Bar Solo & Small Firm Section.

A 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.

Domain Names:

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.

NameSilo is cheap (less than $10) and offers free private registration, which is awesome and cuts down on spam.

CloudFlare recently launched their own domain registration service which they promise will be at-cost (they charge nothing, the international registry ICANN, which regulates domain names, has its own fees). It should be the cheapest option for renewing existing domain names – NameSilo and GoDaddy usually have promos for new registration.

Hosting:

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.

Learning WordPress

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

If you are using WordPress (and you should), there are a few plugins that can greatly enhance your site in terms of user experience and search engine optimization (SEO a.k.a. making it easier for Google to index your site). Find these in the WordPress plugins section (the menu on the left side of WordPress’s dashboard):

Webcraftic Robin image optimizer: this plugin shrinks images on your site so that they will load faster for users. Faster load speed is proven to enhance the percentage of users who call (to become clients) and it makes google happy when it comes to rankings.

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.

Elementor Page Builder: A bit complicated for new users, but it adds a drag-and-drop design interface to make WordPress prettier. It has an excellent free version.

PageSpeed Ninja: a plugin that is absurdly easy to use. It optimizes the code behind the site, making your site super fast. Again, speed makes people more likely to stick to your site and convert to clients. It also helps SEO.

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.)

A few others I’m looking forward to trying include Desygner, Illustrio, and this list.

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.)

Stock Images

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:

Website Content

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.

Communications Tools

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.

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