How do you feel when you get to meet a super efficient blogger, author, surrogacy expert and lawyer all in one? Starstruck!
Recently I had the honour of meeting and interviewing Stephen Page, partner at Harrington Family Law Firm, Brisbane, where he shared some insightful information about law, blogging and how it all began with one passion.
Stephen’s eleven page Curriculum Vitae reads like an interesting novel. He has been interviewed by top international media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. He has appeared on Sky News, SBS as well as The Morning Show, A Current Affair and The Project. He is an accomplished blogger, author and recognised by the media as “One of Australia’s leading surrogacy lawyers.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August, 2014)
How it All Began
Stephen has been practicing law for 29 years. He originally envisaged doing Commercial Law, but found his true calling to be dealing with ‘real people’. So decided to change direction and work in Family Law. He also discovered his natural ability to do well with basic marketing in law, and soon realised that in such a competitive industry, this gift was essential to promoting oneself within the industry.
How to Market Yourself
Over the years, Stephen has come up with 3 thoughts on marketing. Not only for legal practices, but in any industry. He believes most businesses will generally sell themselves as being:
Cheap – Which is not the best marketing strategy. While it may be easy to have the cheapest prices to get customers and clients, Stephen says, “No one wants to look cheap.”
Better – Being the best in your field is a great achievement, but can take time. After 29 years, Stephen has vast amounts of experience in the areas of surrogacy, divorce, domestic violence and with same sex cases. But proving yourself to be better than anyone else can be difficult when just starting out. So Stephen advises the best marketing strategy is to be different.
Sell Yourself As Different – Try to look at a different niche market that is within your field. One that has a market, but where there are not too many people specialising in it. Although Stephen’s general market was Family Law, he drilled down further, beginning with domestic violence. Domestic Violence was a passion of his for a long time, and this was where he began his first blog on Australian Divorce in 2007. This led to future blogs such as the Australian Gay and Lesbian Law Blog and his Australian Surrogacy and Adoption Blog.
How Blogging Led Stephen Page to Become a Leading Surrogacy Lawyer in Australia
Blogging about his interest and work in surrogacy law has been instrumental in Stephen gaining recognition from prestigious newspapers, such as the Sydney Morning Herald, which has penned him as, “Stephen Page, one of Australia’s leading surrogacy lawyers.”
Stephen acknowledged that when the case of ‘Baby Gammy’ hit headlines around the world, having his blog on the internet, as well as the work he had done regarding surrogacy (Stephen was the lawyer for the surrogate in the world precedent case as to what constituted “conception”) helped the media find him and contact him for interviews.
Your blog can be your stepping stone for the media – Stephen Page
Stephen agrees that, once you have a 3rd party (such as a media outlet) endorsing you as an expert in your field, it helps establish you as an authority, and you should advertise this on your blog to enhance your credibility.
Just When He Was Going to Give Up
Although Stephen’s blogs are now driving plenty of work his way, this hasn’t always been the case. He confided that about 18 months after he began blogging, he was considering giving it up. He was busy at work, he was presenting papers and speaking at numerous conferences. Continuing to add to his blog when he was already heavily committed, was getting to be too much.
Just as he was thinking of pulling it down, a client rang him and mentioned he had read his blog and would like to engage him. That job was worth 40 thousand dollars. Soon after that, another client rang him after following his divorce blog and that job was worth 5 times that amount.
After that, Stephen kept blogging and the work kept coming in.
What Made Clients Engage Stephen Page After Reading His Blogs?
When Stephen asked his first clients why they chose him, they answered that he came across in his blogs as down to earth, a real person, easy going and ‘not fake’.
Stephen’s blogs have reached audiences nationwide which have meant that his work has taken him beyond Brisbane. Unheard of 20 years ago.
Normally Family Law is based locally, but Stephen has been engaged by clients in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns in the last 9 months alone. Because of his strategic marketing strategies, which include blogging, his reputation reaches far beyond Brisbane.
How to Market Yourself as an Expert in Your Industry
Stephen’s been marketing himself well for nearly 3 decades, and suggests thinking about these ideas to help bloggers and businesses market themselves.
1. Ask yourself what you want to achieve and what marketing strategies you are going to employ to achieve your goals.
2. When marketing, you need word of mouth. You need to set yourself up as an expert so that others in your industry recognise that and can recommend you.
3. Get known. Speak at conferences, join networks and offer to speak about your area of expertise.
4. Keep the Momentum. Once you have written your paper and given your speech, use that presentation on your blog. Before you know it, you could have 50 blogs to use from one presentation.
5. Blog with Photos and Videos. They are a very powerful tool and speak volumes.
6. Use Social Media. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and all the other social media outlets are great ways to promote yourself and connect with your audience.
During our interview, Stephen recalls an incident that occurred about 12 years ago. He gave a presentation on the Gold Coast about child abuse and family court. He then came across a government website about domestic violence. He offered them his paper to use on their website. Out of that one paper came 100 thousand dollars worth of work.
This kind of initiative and strategy aligns nicely with guest posting. While we all would love to be paid for every single blog we write, sometimes payment may come at a later stage through avenues you didn’t dream would pay. Begin offering up your work and get known outside of your own blog.
Stephen’s Advice for Bloggers and the Law
Stephen’s advice for bloggers is simple:
1. You’re a publisher. Remember that you are publishing online. Anyone in the world can read what you write and it can easily be shared. Be careful what you say.
2. Only use fact based opinion. Keep your opinion based on facts. Don’t defame others and be very careful if you are a reviewer.
3. Be professional and let your professional and let your professional reputation shine through.
4. Make sure you attribute any photographs or material you use. Provide links to any original story you reference in your blog.
5. Be sensitive to others. If someone asks you to take down the blog you have written about them, because it defames them in some way, do it. Should they take you to court, unless you can afford to lose your house or your business, it’s a safer bet to remove the blog and you will be seen as a decent person. (and you will save yourself a lot of potential grief)
6. Know that when you put yourself out there, you can be a potential target. Ignore abusive comments. Stephen had a cyber stalker at one point, who posted abusive comments to his blog. Stephen ignored the comments and said that after about the 20th abusive comment, they stopped because he didn’t give the comments any oxygen.
7. Copyright. Know the copyright laws. Their is always the option of fair use, but read the act and know it.
Stephen’s final advice to bloggers – “As a blogger, put out preferably good stories, and positive stories. Stories where you can say, this is how things should change.”
Stephen is the voice for surrogacy and adoption matters, gay and lesbian law and matters relating to divorce. You can follow Stephen as he continues his amazing journey in law and the blogging world.
*Note: Shortly after the interview, Stephen was accepted as a member of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. www.iaml.org and accepted as a fellow- and the first international fellow- of the American Academy of Assisted Reproduction Technology Attorneys www.aaarta.org