Perfect Writing For Imperfect Lawyers
A few days ago, I addressed some simple ways to get around writers’s block. As is often the case, I had more to say than I could fit in one post. I can usually get past that, but there is one thing I wanted to address separately:
Attorneys need to let go of perfection.
I understand why this is tough to hear. Nobody understands the effects of poorly written, subjective language better than attorneys.
But creating content for your blog or website is different. In these situations, striving for perfection can actually work against you. Here’s why:
- Perfection is difficult to achieve.
Finding exactly the right words for a given situation can derail even the most eloquent person. It’s one of the main reasons writing web content can become a slow and difficult process. My advice? Pick your battles.
Getting the perfect blog title or site headline is absolutely worth the effort. But if you’ve been fighting a single sentence within the body of your piece for ten minutes, you need to take stock of its importance. Put another way, if the wall you’re banging your head against isn’t load bearing, stop what you’re doing and move on. (I could spend more time perfecting that metaphor, but you get my point.) See what I did there?
- Perfection leads to excess.
Part of your job is to know and see all the potential outcomes of a situation. Naturally, attorneys are tempted to outline multiple scenarios or outcomes in their marketing writing. The problem is, when you write for everyone, you wind up with something no one wants to read.
Think of it this way, good marketing copy leaves room for the reader to fill in some gaps on their own. This takes confidence, but in the end it sends a clearer, simpler message than the alternative.
- Imperfections show your authenticity.
We’ve shown time and again that legal consumers hire attorneys based on emotional factors like trust and humanity. So if your writing has a few wrinkles here or there, don’t spend hours smoothing them all away. They reveal the person behind the prose.
Let me be clear, however, I’m talking about occasional, subjective imperfections like awkward turns of phrase or prose that is less than elegant. Hard errors like misspelled words, sloppy grammar or incorrect punctuation have no place on your website.
In the end, remember this much. The purpose of web marketing content isn’t to show your prowess with the English language. It’s to educate your target audience about their legal needs, and your role in addressing that need. So the next time you sit down at the keyboard, aim for excellence over perfection.
Only the former is truly achievable.