How One Simple Question Leads to 3 Months of Solid Writing Ideas for Attorney Bloggers

by JD Supra Perspectives

Here's a quick exercise with great results for any attorney-writer hard-pressed for new content ideas. I've described this short, painless process (should take you five minutes, max) in a handful of recent presentations and, typically, this is the moment when I see audience members put their heads down and start taking notes.

Usually I'm talking to a roomful of busy marketing professionals looking for ways to support attorneys who are writing for business development. I start by saying: "Stand at the threshold of your attorney's office and say..." If you are a lawyer reading this - someone who understands the value of writing for business reasons, but whose blog is languishing, or whose blog is yet to launch (because: content!) - well, then imagine I am standing at your door as I say this:

I am often asked...

Take out a single sheet of paper. Write at the top of it: "I am often asked..." Draw six lines underneath that, each under the other, so that you're using the entire piece of paper.

Now, without lingering  on any one answer too much, complete that opening line six times - in six different ways. What are you often asked. Write it out. Quickly. Write what comes to mind first.

Don't: overthink it. These are not titles for blog posts. This is simply you completing the sentence "I am often asked..." six times. As though you're talking to someone standing at the door to your office who just happens to have asked. The more you consider this exercise as writing, the more you'll start fussing over the way you say it - and that's not the point when generating ideas. 

Keep it basic and quick.

Do: think back (again without lingering too much on one idea) to client telephone conversations, meetings with prospective clients, hallway discussions at conferences, polite small talk at cocktail receptions, lunches with colleagues, webinar Q&A sessions, moments when the stranger you just met learns you are an attorney and poses that question they've always wanted to ask but didn't know anyone to answer it. Until now. 

Evergreen versus timely...

Whether you use these terms or not, you're undoubtedly aware of the difference between evergreen and timely content. In short, timely is a piece of writing that matters most today and, as such, in the context of legal writing, often is analysis of a breaking news story, mainstream or industry-specific. "Here's what just happened; here's why it matters to you; here's how you should respond..."

Evergreen topics tend not to lose their significance over time. Generally speaking, looking at recent headlines, "Uber agrees to pay $100M to drivers in settlement. What this means for all employers" is a timely approach. "What's the difference between an independent contractor and full time employee?" is evergreen. (Both have tremendous value as you seek to engage readers with your work.)

You now have the start of an editorial calendar...

I make the evergreen-timely distinction because - with your responses to "I am often asked..." - you now have the solid start to an editorial calendar with six topic ideas that are, more likely than not, evergreen in nature. People will always be interested in your answer. That's why they keep asking.

The schedule is yours to set, but for this exercise let's assume you are building a three month calendar, starting next Monday and moving forward through, roughly, twelve weeks. Grab a new sheet of paper now and draw lines representing each week, starting on Monday, through three months from now.

Now, schedule yourself a new writing assignment, due every other week. That is a reasonable burden. Keep it short; make each post a written answer/exploration of a topic identified in your "Often asked..." list. ("I am often asked XYZ, and here's what I say...")

Six topics, treated to a post every other week, has you writing regularly for the next three months. And, most importantly, writing about something you actually know people care about. You're often asked.

(Google has a version of this: it's the drop-down menu that appears as you write your search query - a compilation of the most frequent searches that complete the words you've started to write. The lesson - Google's and yours: the best way to connect with an audience is to give them what you know they want.)

What to do on your off weeks...

If you're busy, as we all are, running an exercise that gives you an interesting writing topic due every other week is a terrific place to start. Worth doing, no question. However, if you'd prefer to be writing weekly, here's how to fill in the blanks on those off weeks, when you have no writing assigned.

Although I suspect you already do this daily, give yourself one morning early in the week to scan news headlines. Peruse the mainstream press, read the niche periodicals that cover your clients' industries. Customize a JD Supra daily email digest covering the industries and topics you practice in (where you'll find the hot topics of the moment).

Look for news that requires explaining to your clients - the type of analysis you are best at. Don't be at all concerned if you think it's already been done. Maybe it has, but you have your own good take - and, anyway, it may have been written, but it can always be more read.

In short, in the weeks when you are not addressing an evergreen topic as ID'd by this original exercise, address timely topics. Find a news item whose impact should be explained. By you.

With this one-two punch, you're setting yourself up for one article a week for the next three months. And as we know from the successful writers profiled in JD Supra's Write Stuff Q&A series, that's how you make it. 

Show up and write.


How do you come up with writing ideas? Share below...



comments powered by Disqus

Learn how to become a JD Supra contributor - it's easy:

"JD Supra builds a readership I wouldn't normally reach..."
Adam Stock
-Adam Stock, CMO Allen Matkins

Written by:

JD Supra Perspectives

JD Supra Perspectives 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:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. 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. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the 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 shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this 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 the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.