Creating content: is it worth the investment?

by Adrian Dayton

Adrian Dayton

Is it worth it for firms to create content? Is it worth it to take fee-earners off billable projects to write blog posts, white papers, and articles for newsletters?

The answer is a resounding yes, if the content is created in a strategic way and if the firm buys in on the value.

Before we break down the worth of this content, let’s clear up an important distinction between professional services firms.

There are currently two types of professional services firms:

1) Those who believe in the power of content and marketing through thought leadership

2) Those firms who are so old-school that they still consider marketing to be uncouth and unbecoming of their learned profession.

This post is not meant for the second group.  

This is meant for the first group—the firm that has committed to building their reputation based on leveraging their brainpower through strategic content. We call this first type of content-marketing-focused firm “content creators.”

How much content does a firm need to create to fit into the content-creator category?

For a firm of 100 or more professionals, they need to create content at least weekly. For a firm that is even larger, there may be content created daily.

What does it cost to create great content?

In a law firm, for example, you need to look at opportunity costs. If a partner billing at $500/hour spend three hours writing a blog post, that blog post just cost the firm at least $1,500. If an associate spent a few hours researching for a post and then a partner spent a couple of hours writing the post, the cost of the content may be more like $3,000.

A CMO at a major white-shoe law firm in New York City shared with me that they estimate an email newsletter they created, taking into account all of the time spent by attorneys, marketing professionals and designers costs the firm $15,000, at a minimum.

Is it worth it?

Yes, but it is a qualified yes.

I have found that, if the content is leveraged correctly, it can bring a ten-times return or more.


Professionals have a time problem. They are limited by the number of hours in the day so, when they aren’t billing, they need to participate in activities that have a multiplicative effect. Basically, they need to get a three-to-ten-times return on any time spent on marketing. Because all billable time will only have a one-time return (unless, of course, you have shady business practices), your content can market for you while you sleep (or, ahem, work on other projects) because your content persists.

What do I mean by content persists?

Anything posted online lives forever in the internet world. And this can be terrifying! But content persistence can also work to your benefit—your expertise and knowledge will now be accessible 24/7 to a worldwide audience.

The cost of creating content is somewhat established—meaning that time and expenses are somewhat fixed. Depending on the time it takes to create the content and the creator’s billable rate, the opportunity cost of creating the content may be anywhere from $1,000 to tens of thousands of dollars for more elaborate white papers of e-books.

What isn’t fixed? The value we can extract from the content.

Below, I have estimated the value of various manners of leveraging content. Please note, these numbers are estimates based on well-established market values of clicks. Google has created a massive marketplace for clicks and can tell you down to the penny what companies will pay to get a potential customer to click on content or on a webpage. We won’t go deep into the discussion of earned media value here, but a single click may be worth anywhere from $5 to $250 depending on the expected value of a deal.

Email blast: What is it worth when you send a mass email out to your known connections with your latest blog post? Assuming you have a strong open rate of twenty-five to thirty-five percent, having 200-300 of your trusted relationships take time out of their schedule to read something of value that you created is likely worth hundreds of dollars. If an existing client reads the email and calls you to give you a major new project, it could be worth tens of thousands of dollars. The bottom line is that if all you do is send an email blast out with the new article you wrote, you will likely get your money’s worth from the article. Let’s be conservative and peg the value at $1,500.

Personal emails: Take thirty minutes to send the new blog post you have written to five or ten high-value contacts who you either have a relationship with or who you are building a relationship with. They may not hire you immediately, but this is a high-value touch with someone you see a lot of long-term potential in. $500

Share the article to your personal social networks: It’s a no-brainer that you should share your own articles to LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook if you have built up these accounts. Most casual social media users don’t have an incredibly engaged network so the value here could range from $50-$500. Let’s meet in the middle: $250

Have other members of your team share your blog post: Having others share your post can be accomplished by using software like ClearView Social or by simply sending an email to your team to share the article you have written. Assuming that twenty of your team members share your article, and their networks are less than half as focused as yours, the number is still going to be fairly large. Let’s say one hundred dollars multiplied by twenty networks. $2,000

Utilize a professional distribution service: In the legal world, JD Supra, Lexology, and Mondaq are three professional content distribution services and each uses a different method to get your content read by prospective clients. JD Supra has the impressive ability to get your blog post in front of buyers through search engine optimization (SEO) as well as influential social media among other methods, while Lexology has access to the powerful ACC list of in-house counsel. You create the blog post, they share it to a highly qualified list of potential buyers. Mondaq has their own list, but a fairly extensive reach. There are other forms of paid distribution that are also powerful but, in my opinion, they are all a bargain compared to the cost of creating the content itself. The average article I share on JD Supra gets more than 1,000 clicks. If an article really hits on one of these platforms it may get 10,000+ clicks. The value for a hit like that could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. And, if you use all three distribution tools, as some smart firms do, this will triple or quadruple the reach of a single article. $250-$10,000

Pitch the article to news media: This often requires help from a PR professional, but now you can you gain “earned media” from this article. A published article from a third party news outlet will create a more long-term notoriety that is more valuable than an ad that would likely cost thousands of dollars from the same publication. $2,000

A note to skeptics . . . 

I can already hear your argument: “We don’t care about clicks, we just want more clients.”

Remember, every client follows a path to your door. Nobody wakes up in the morning with the knowledge of who you are and how your company can help them.

You can argue that the values I’ve estimated in the article are too high, but what you can’t argue is that the values should be zero. Every single touch you have with a potential client helps you stay top-of-mind with that client.

The other argument I can already hear: “We don’t get clients from the internet, we get them through referrals.”

Let’s break that down. How do the referrals know you? What helped them remember you? Why did they refer the business to you and not to someone else?

The most powerful way we can get attention online is by giving of our knowledge and expertise freely.

Many will read these posts and continue to ignore content marketing and thought leadership, but they will do so at their own peril.


Creating great content is costly and time-consuming, but if we look at the massive return on your investment gained by sharing your content through various channels, it may be the very best investment in marketing your firm can make.

What is the worst investment? Creating the content, posting it on your site, and doing nothing else to promote it. Or even worse yet, creating content in a PDF-only form, emailing it out, and having it become easily forgotten.

Written by:

Adrian Dayton

ClearView Social on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at:

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.