Can Lawyers Market Using Fremium Models?

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I like Cory Doctorow. He’s the Che Guevara to the geek set. Cory has proven you can make money by giving away content. If you don’t know, Cory writes science fiction (he also a co-editor of BoingBoing and Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation). Cory makes his books available for free electronically via a creative commons license and also sells dead tree editions.

I know that giving away content can be profitable. I blog about how Social Security disability works and try to demystify the interconnection between regulation. My now generates about 50% of intakes at my Colorado Social Security disability law firm.

I use blogging so people can obtain general information, establish myself as an authority in this area, and let people get to know me so they want to contact me and retain my services. It is generator. You could describe it this way:

General information is free. If you want all the pieces connected and applied to the specific circumstances of your case, hire me.

However, THATS. NOT. THE. SAME. THING. I am not giving away the exact same thing I’m selling. I am not giving away legal services.

However, could I do the same thing with this book?

  • It is be good publicity.
  • It generates goodwill.
  • It is still edgy as hell in the legal space.
  • It would broaden the number of people who read the book and thereby learn about my office.

The main practical reason I am thinking of letting the book out into the wild is to crowdsource the translation of the book, possibly through a wiki. Honestly, I don’t know the wheres and what-fors of accomplishing this at this moment.

However, there is the fear of every author that free means cannibalizing sales. I am writing this book to make money. This is a for-profit venture. My blog attracts readers across the country. However, my practice is limited to Colorado. If I can convert some readers into purchasers, I might actually be able to make my mortgage payment and put something aside for retirement.

There is a fascinating episode of Triangulation in which Cory discusses his business model for his latest book.

Cory is also outsourcing the editing (and engaging his audience) by having readers submit typos. Cory updates the electronic edition and print on demand edition and puts the finder’s name in a footnote on the page. How cool is that?!

So, what business models does this offer a legal writer?

  • Well, there’s the not-free print and electronic editions of the book.
  • I have no idea how to offer “commissioned” content in a book about Social Security disability? Ideas?
  • A deluxe edition might come off as gouging for a number of reasons there is the perception that all lawyers are wealthy. A doubt a professional edition for lawyers would work as most attorneys are cheap bastards and would simply buy the non-professional edition.
  • I have some ideas which I will discuss when we get closer to publication, but for now I am keeping these close to my chest.

Stuff to read & stuff I’ll need to re-read when I’m closer to publishing:

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