Some of the best businesses are built when an entrepreneur wants to right a wrong, and today’s story is a perfect example.
As a young lawyer himself, Chris Hargreaves saw that budding lawyers were thrown into the profession with little-to-no support. They were expected to figure things out for themselves, and as a result, took longer to get up to speed with their field.
And that was bad — for their clients, their employers, and their own careers.
Chris’s story is this month’s Hero’s Journey feature. We’re tapping the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world. Read all the Hero’s Journey posts here.
Now let’s hear Chris explain what he does in his own words.
Moonlighting as a mentor
Chris Hargreaves: By day I’m a full-time lawyer, but by night (and lunchtimes, early mornings, bus trips, and any other minutes I’m not attending to my wife and kids) I create media at Tips For Lawyers.
I help train young lawyers in the essential skills that are largely forgotten by university education. I genuinely care about the development of young lawyers — for their sake, for the sake of their employers, and for the sake of their clients.
Often what these young lawyers learn is ‘how it’s always been done’ — which is a terrible reason to do something the dumb way, but something that lawyers are renowned for.
The result? Their questions go unanswered, their issues go untouched, and their stresses go unaddressed.
I believe that the legal practice doesn’t have to be a stagnate cesspool of cynicism and ego. It can be seen as something people aspire towards, look up to, and give one of their most valuable assets to — their trust.
Hopefully people see that in the way I present, interact, and engage with them. That might not be unique in all circles, but it is among this profession.
A compassionate reality check
Chris Hargreaves: A few years ago, I observed that most new lawyers had no Earthly idea what it’s like to be a lawyer in practice.
Instead, they had created a lovely little story in their heads about what life was going to be like once they graduated from law school: full of money, long lunches, clients who pay bills, and an orderly, sophisticated professional life.
That story bears little resemblance to the reality.
So I wrote an ebook.
Of course, then I realized I didn’t have anyone to sell the ebook to, and I had exhausted my personal contacts within about 34 seconds.
Coming off of that experience, I decided I should actually figure out what I’m doing and learn how to go about building a business ‘on the side.’
First stop: iTunes. I began trawling through the business podcasts, gradually realizing that there is a whole world of digital business people who aren’t in snake oil sales.
I began listening to Pat Flynn’s podcast, Smart Passive Income. From there, I went down the rabbit hole of online business and sifted the wheat from the chaff in terms of who I liked to learn from and be inspired by, and who I didn’t.
After seeing just how easy it is to build a website these days (last time I did it, it was not easy), I started Tips for Lawyers.
Then I saw the potential it had, in terms of building a tribe. As I expanded into more and more ventures (videos, podcasts, courses), I recognized that there was a real need among young professionals for the type of mentoring and guidance I offered many of my younger colleagues in person already.
And that’s what I do.
How to manage your expectations and clarify your most-important goal
Chris Hargreaves: It turns out that I am prone to dramatically overestimating how many of “Thing X” I’m actually likely to sell.
See, the issue is this: lawyers don’t like to part with their money. It’s a fairly challenging market, because I’m on an uphill battle from the very beginning.
Most recently, I experienced this with my first membership site launch: the Lawyers’ Academy. It was slow, tedious, and very disappointing from the outset.
I frequently want to give up when I realize how hard this is. After all, I’ve got a decent job that I enjoy, so why put myself through the added burden?
It also annoys me a bit to be honest, because I know what I’m offering is valuable. I want to take some people by the shoulders and shake them into realizing just how much better they could be.
When I tell you how I solved this issue, I could talk about my launch process, email funnels, opt-in magnets, marketing automation, Facebook ads, trial and error, and split-testing. I could mention trying to use language that resonates, or maybe just my charming smile.
But all of those things are secondary.
What I discovered is that it’s really about building trust.
Lawyers and law students don’t like to part with their money, but they will if they trust you.
As a lawyer, a big part of my job is to build trust, and so I place a premium on it.
As much as humanly possible, I try to ensure that my interactions with everyone are friendly, helpful, and useful. Ultimately, that builds trust on each occasion.
Gradually, the people I have built relationships with over time came to the party and joined up.
A new focus that made all the difference
Chris Hargreaves: It’s comforting to have a target, even if it is a nebulous one — build enough trust with my audience to convince them that it’s worth taking a risk on my paid products.
With a focus on trust, I can refine all of my content (free and paid) around that fundamental goal.
Obviously, I’m also glad that I didn’t waste dozens of hours on the Academy. It got less members than my rose-colored-glasses prediction but more than my “this isn’t worth the effort” bottom line.
The content library effect strikes again
Chris Hargreaves: At the risk of admitting that Copyblogger was right, I’ve had surprising success with the content library opt-in model, in terms of conversions.
Of course, I added an evil pop-up into the process that does fairly well, but I genuinely thought my email sign-ups would go down because of the higher barrier to entry. Instead, they’ve gone up.
Which Rainmaker Digital products do you use, and how do you use them?
Chris Hargreaves: My main site, Tips for Lawyers, runs on the Rainmaker Platform. That’s where you’ll find my blog posts, podcasts, courses, and membership site.
I use the content library as an opt-in, and I imagine I’ll soon transition to using the built-in email marketing as well.
Beyond that, I also have the StudioPress Pro Plus Pack, which is my starting point when I build any new sites I create (my latest is AModernProfessional.com, where I feed my inner nerd a bit more than I can at Tips for Lawyers).
How Chris is building on his initial success
Chris Hargreaves: My focus is to:
- Make the Lawyers’ Academy successful with ecstatic members who generate a few life-changing testimonials
- Expand into different revenue models, including a bit of affiliate marketing
- Create three to five books
- Add a few more targeted courses
Find Chris Hargreaves online …
Thanks to Chris for appearing in our Hero’s Journey series.
We’ll be back next month with another story to teach, inspire, and encourage you along your journey.