Freelance Writing Solutions

May 27, 2010

Attorney Advertising, Ethics Rules, and Freelance Writers

Filed under: Uncategorized — vlbock @ 6:10 am

If you are an attorney  or other professional marketing your services on the Internet, who should be writing your website content?

Ethics rules prohibiting false or misleading advertising in your attorney website content may compel you to carefully select freelance writers who are well-versed in your specific profession.

Ten years ago, if you ran an Internet search for attorneys, the results would likely be a simple list of names, addresses, and contact phone numbers.  The concept of advertising via attorney websites or law firm websites hadn’t really caught on, and the idea of the virtual law office was just a glimmer in the eye of a few enterprising lawyers who could foresee the enormous potential of the Internet. 

Aside from the fact that Internet usage among the client base had not yet risen to its current level of prevalence, one major factor hindering attorney advertising on the world-wide web was attorney ethics rules, designed to prevent public exposure to any kind of false, misleading, or deceptive attorney advertisements.

Ethics rules, often called Rules of Professional Conduct, closely regulate the activity of attorneys and many other professionals.  In the case of lawyer advertising, lawyer ethics rules can strictly constrain the content of attorney ads, published on the Internet or elsewhere.  In many states, attorneys must still seek bar association approval of all advertising prior to publication. 

Other state bar associations have reached out to embrace the information revolution, and attorneys in such forward-thinking states have been allowed to develop Internet advertising methods that incorporate all the best Internet marketing principles, like search engine optimization (SEO) of content, to improve ranking in the search engine results that bring readers to a website.   Many attorney websites attempt to then keep people reading with devices like blogs or informative articles, often written by freelance writers.

Even in the most progressive states, the Rules of Professional Conduct continue to mandate caution when it comes to advertising through your law firm website.  You should take care to select writers with an appropriate legal background, who are familiar with the requirements imposed on attorney advertising.

Freelance writers willing to work for ridiculously low prices are proliferating on the Internet these days, many of them hailing from English-speaking foreign countries or even the trenches of our own recession-ravaged America.  As tempting as it may seem to hire blog writers at $10/article to keep your website active enough to earn high search engine rankings, lawyers must remain vigilant about the substance of the writing being published under their names

Freelance writers inexperienced with legal advertising, who are accustomed to huffing and puffing in advertorial writing about products and less-regulated services, could inadvertently make statements in your website content, website articles, and blog posts that run afoul of the “false and misleading” standard. 

You can hire cheap blog writers from a variety of sources on the Internet, but you’ll spend hours of your own time re-writing and “fixing” their work prior to publication.  If you had that much time to put into it, wouldn’t you just have written it yourself to begin with?  Isn’t the point of the whole thing to bring you clients, so you can spend your time performing legal services, not writing advertising copy?

Fortunately, you can find qualified freelance writers with a legal background who want to write your advertising copy.  Visit a reputable freelancing website, like www.Elance.com, which offers literally thousands of freelancers able and willing to do the work you need, with the quality you have to have.  You can search for providers using keywords relevant to your project, view profiles and portfolios of sample work, and review service ratings given by prior buyers.  There’s even an escrow service, to protect both parties in the event of a problem with the transaction.

Browse the providers you find, and check out their qualifications.  You may be surprised to find a number of J.D.s and experienced attorneys who have chosen the new freelancing way of life, reliable freelance writers who can write interesting, relevant content that will keep your website hopping with activity.  Most importantly, you’ll find freelancers who understand the special requirements of your attorney advertising copy.

Start off small, posting a minor project and inviting qualified providers to bid on your project.  You might even post several small projects, like 3 or 5 blog posts or articles each, and award each project to a different provider you’re interested in. 

This is a great way to get to know different freelance writers with different styles, one of whom is bound to suit you.  It is also a great way to gain exposure to new ideas and perfect your vision for your project.  Best of all, you’ll be able to feel confident about the professional quality and care that goes into creating your attorney website content!

For an example of a freelance legal writer’s profile, visit my professional profile at vbock.elance.com.

For faster results, contact me directly at bockvl@yahoo.com, to request writing samples or to discuss your next legal advertising copywriting project.

May 26, 2010

Hiring a Freelance Writer for Law Firm, Attorney Website

Are you an attorney or other small businessperson spending too much time writing for your own website? This is not an uncommon problem, but it is one with an easy solution.

Hiring a good freelance writer to help you with your website is not as difficult or as expensive as you probably think it is. A freelance writer can write articles and blog entries that keep your website active and draw search engine attention. Instead of poring over the wording of your most recent blog entry, you could be focusing your energies on billable time.

How do you find the right person? Just adhere to these simple principles, and you can find a legal writer or technical writer with the qualifications and writing style you want, at a price that you can afford.

1. Finding writers. These days, finding writers is a piece of cake. They are everywhere on the Internet. The question is whether they are qualified to do the kind of writing you want, or whether you are going to wind up having to “fix” everything they write before you can publish it. Keep this in mind when faced with unreasonably low quotes for writing. By paying a fair, but not crazily high price, you can obtain the help you need to make you a more productive attorney or small business owner, allowing you to spend your time doing what you do best.

Check reputable websites, like http://www.elance.com, where you can then search for writers with the exact qualifications that you desire.  Websites like Elance are great, as well, because they offer structured relationships and escrow programs that protect both the buyer and the provider in each transaction.  For an example, check out this author’s Elance profile at vbock.elance.com.

2. Qualifications. When you get to a website like Elance, you must first post a project.  Then, you can search for the kind of writer you want, and invite those you find to place a “bid” or proposal on your project.  Organize a list of qualifications, like education (do you want someone with a J.D. or other degree?), experience (are you looking for a writer who’s been doing this for years?), and industry knowledge (encompassing both knowledge of your industry, like someone who has experience practicing law, and also knowledge of the writing industry, like someone who is familiar with Internet marketing principles).

3. Contact. Contact the writers who indicate interest in your project, and ask questions. Carry on a conversation to find out whether a particular writer would be a good fit for you. In most cases, you’ll be able to tell within a few exchanges whether you like this person or whether the two of you clash like water and oil. Also check out portfolios, samples provided by the writer, and service ratings from other buyers who have used that writer, to determine whether the person you’re talking to would be a valuable assistant for you.

4. Communicate. Once you’ve hired a writer, communicate with him or her frequently. Respond to questions – the answers help your writer assess your needs, just as your clients’ answers help you assess theirs. With good communication, you should be able to quickly develop a relationship with a writer, in which your writer can anticipate what you will want, with only cursory information from you. Once your writer is familiar with your situation, he or she may even begin to make suggestions about what you need.

If you stick with these suggested rules, you should have no problem finding a freelance writer who can address the subjects you want to see addressed, in a way that makes you feel as though you wrote the material. You’ll gain insight from your writer and valuable time that you can use for your own purposes. After all, isn’t your time too precious to spend writing blog entries?

December 29, 2009

Got Copywriting Problems?

Filed under: Uncategorized — vlbock @ 5:52 pm

Maybe you need to seek out a Freelance Writing Solution!

Not everyone was born to be a writer.  Even among the most educated, the most successful, and the most celebrated in their fields, many people just don’t feel comfortable with writing their own copy for website content.  Then, there are many who simply don’t have the time to sit down and write keyword-enhanced articles to promote their businesses online.  Frustrations may mount, when the company website hasn’t seen a new blog post in four months.  The problem is that all of these situations can seriously impair the ability to attract new web hits (i.e., potential new customers/clients!), because search engines look for web sites with lots of activity, lots of the right keywords, and recent additions of new information.

Maybe it’s time to seek a little help.  The solution may be as simple as finding a competent freelance writer to assist you with your writing, editing, or research needs.  Freelance writers are independent contractors; they are less expensive and less of a hassle than regular employees.  No matter whether you need copywriting, editing, research, or some combination of these skills, freelance writers are available who specialize in the kinds of writing tasks that may be giving you a bit of trouble.

With the massive and rapid expansion of the Internet, many well-educated and highly-qualified freelance writers have left paper-wasting magazines and newspapers behind, preferring to work in an “office environment” that can follow them anywhere that a laptop can go, and on a schedule that accommodates all those wonderful things in life (like children, for example) that professional workers used to believe they had to sacrifice, in order to succeed.  With low overhead, good freelance writing from these on-the-go writers is normally more affordable and easier to find than you might think.

Many websites promote freelance writers, but two of our favorites are Elance (www.elance.com) and iFreelance (www.ifreelance.com).  Elance even offers an escrow service for payment funds, protecting both the buyer from non-production and the provider from non-payment.  Both websites allow buyers to review a provider’s portfolio of work samples, a listing of past projects/experience areas, and most importantly, the provider’s service ratings, received from other buyers.  These features go a long way toward soothing that nagging feeling that it is scary to hire someone via the internet.

If you’ve got copywriting problems, why not check into the possibility of a freelance writing solution today?  Browse one of the websites mentioned above, or run your own internet search for other websites.  Before you hire, though, make sure to read tomorrow’s post on what to expect when you hire a freelance writer, including tips on the entire procedure, from posting your project description to setting up a work schedule with milestone payments!

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Valerie Bock is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher, who works online from a physical home base in western Kentucky.  She holds a law degree from the University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law (1995), and a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Kentucky State University (1991).

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