Marketing your Law Firm – 5 Secrets to Building your Online Presence

How important is your firm’s client base? If this question seems like a no-brainer, it’s because it is. Fostering a steadily growing client base is a vital ingredient for any successful law firm. Growth equals profits. Yet despite this, legal marketing is often perceived within the industry as the proverbial ugly step child.

The reasons are obvious. Marketing takes lawyers out of their comfort zone. Good lawyers do not necessarily make good marketers. And time spent on a marketing campaign that bombs is time wasted! Imagine how much case work could have been completed in that time…

While these issues may be valid, the fact is that your firm isn’t going to grow on its own. So you can either accept legal marketing as a necessary evil, or watch your profits flatline.

For those brave enough to embrace it, welcome aboard. Marketing your firm won’t be easy, but it’s also not as difficult as you might think. Many of the road blocks inherent to legal marketing are being broken down, particularly with technological advancements in the online arena.

So open your mind as we explore the road blocks most firms encounter, and discuss the new technologies that are helping to break them down.

Road block 1 – Resource limitations

Lawyers work hard! A work conditions report conducted in 2003 found that your typical lawyer works around 48 hours a week. To compound this fact, almost 90% of Australian law firms employ less than 5 lawyers. The end result…? Resource shortage and time depravation!

Many firms would argue that they just don’t have the time, nor the manpower to implement effective marketing activities. Yes… common business development tactics such as attending & contributing to seminars, brochure development and mail out campaigns are resource heavy. But you have options. It’s time to take your thinking beyond the ‘old school’.


Modern marketing techniques can be light on both your time and resources. In fact, a number of online opportunities allow you to adopt a ‘set & forget’ approach to marketing.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an example. SEO is the practice of improving your web sites ranking within the search engine results in order to drive more traffic to your firm’s site. The effect of good SEO is dramatic. Data released by AOL revealed that the site attaining top spot in the search results draws almost half of the traffic for that search term. Second spot draws less than 15%!

A number of factors affect your sites ability to rank well within the search engines, including:

1. The quality of your content

2. The number of external sites that link to you

3. Your page titles

4. The age of your site

5. The frequency of content updates

6. The cleanliness of web site design and coding… and more

In fact, Google claims to use up to 200 different factors to measure a sites quality. Consequently, SEO isn’t a task you can take on yourself. You’ll need the help of a specialist, of which there are plenty! A Google search on SEO will reveal a wide range of agencies and consultants providing the expertise you need.

The real beauty of SEO is that once your site is optimised for the search engines, you can essentially sit back and watch the traffic come to you. And while semi regular site tweaks may be necessary (the search engines constantly update their site ranking factors to avoid abuse), the majority of the hard work will be done at the outset. And best of all… the traffic you receive via the search engines comes free of charge!!

To extend your marketing reach beyond the search engines and into the web stratosphere you could try Google Adsense or affiliate marketing (with providers like Commission Junction). Both allow you to hook into established web networks and place ads for your firm on thousands of web pages, while dealing with just the one provider. This form of advertising will give your firm good exposure, but the traffic is a little less qualified than from search engine marketing (as they are not specifically looking for legal aid).

Online directories are another alternative for low maintenance marketing. Whether it’s generic directories, or specialist legal directories such as Lawyer Centric, directory marketing can ensure a steady flow of client leads. For what it’s worth, specialised legal directories tend to be cheaper and are more likely to draw truly qualified client leads (as they target a very specific audience).

Road block 2 – Lack of marketing expertise

Lawyers are trained & hired to practice the law. You probably spent 4+ years studying it at university. But what your law degree didn’t teach you was how to market you firm and build your client base. And if you’re anything like your American counterparts (God forbid!) you’re not happy about it.

A recent survey by Buy Laws found that 91% of American lawyers are unhappy with the lack of marketing training at law schools. The study also found that 37% of respondents only just manage to generate enough business to stay alive, and 41% either don’t get good marketing results or don’t bother at all due to lack of knowledge.


While it is true that you probably haven’t received the training needed to be considered a marketing guru, it doesn’t mean good help isn’t out there. And better yet, it’s free! If you’re truly interested in improving your marketing skills there are a plethora of marketing sites that offer free expert advice in the form of articles & regular newsletters. The following sites are some of the best marketing resources providing free expert commentary:

General Marketing

1. Marketing Profs

2. Marketing Today

Online Marketing

1. Marketing Sherpa

2. Clickz

If you’re genuine about enhancing your marketing skills, the information is out there. All you need to do is go and get it.

Road block 3 – Networking is hard!

Building relationships and a solid network of professional acquaintances is critical to your ability to increase your client base. After all, it’s not what you know, but who you know right? That’s probably why you go to all those industry conferences & luncheons. But do you really get full value from those conferences? How many meaningful new business relationships do you take away from each one?

Many people believe that when it comes to ‘working the room’ you’ve either got the gift or you don’t. But what if you don’t? How can you add value to your firm and build meaningful business relationships?


You’ve probably heard of MySpace and Facebook before. They’re social networks that give people an online platform to connect with their current friends and meet new people. But have you heard of LinkedIn? It follows a similar premise, except that it is targeted towards business professionals.

At the most basic level you can use the service to store your personal business connections. But the real value comes in the networking capabilities. Members can extend their personal network by accessing second degree connections (the network pool of each of their personal contacts) and third degree connections (the network pool of each second degree connection).

The existence of a mutual contact essentially gives you a virtual ‘foot in the door’. And furthermore, it can be done on your own time. For those without the ‘gift of the gab’, this may be your ideal networking solution.

Road block 4 – Limitations of traditional marketing techniques

Marketing a law firm presents unique challenges. Legal choices are heavily considered decisions. New clients want detailed information in order to achieve a level of confidence that your firm has the necessary expertise to manage their case effectively. Questions from new clients will typically include:

1. What areas of law does your firm specialise in?

2. What experience do you have managing similar cases?

3. Who are your current clients and what would they say about your firm?

In order to address these questions, you need the opportunity to speak to clients in a detailed & specific manner. But how can that be achieved? Unless you have the budget to develop a comprehensive firm brochure, or buy a full page print ad, your marketing messages are likely to lack the detail to convert prospects into clients. Standard print ads, directory ads, radio ads, online banner ads (and others) all place restrictions on your ability to communicate with clients in any manner of detail.


Your web site need not be your only rich source of information. You have options. More and more online platforms are emerging that provide you with the opportunity to publish detailed information. Blogs are perhaps the most common. Blogs are free to set up from providers like Blogger and provide a basic web site framework for you to work with. The key advantage of blogs is that they allow content to be updated quickly and easily (unlike web sites which require technical expertise to update).

While most blogs are non commercial in nature, many ‘bloggers’ have realised that they can use the medium to position themselves as experts in a particular industry. The field of law is no exception. Blogs are a natural communication tool for law firms as they allow easy publication of articles, case studies and commentary of legal issues. A small number of Australian lawyers and law firms have embraced blogs, yet the potential remains largely untapped in the legal industry.

Online directories present another marketing opportunity for savvy law firms. And no we’re not talking about the Yellow Pages. The ‘one size fits all’ model applied by multi-industry directories typically limits the type & quantity of content advertisers can publish. We are in fact talking about niche directories that are tailor made for a specific industry.

Lawyer Centric is an example. It is a directory designed by lawyers specifically for the legal industry, and offers a number of promotional services for firms, including:

1. An advertisement in the legal directory.

2. The ability to receive client emails directly to a nominated email address.

3. The ability to create a customised web page to promote your firm’s practice areas, technical knowledge, articles & client testimonials.

4. Unlimited access to publish articles to a legal article database.

5. Unlimited access to post vacancies on the legal job boards.

Members are able to choose between free & paid membership.

Road block 5 – Cost

In all honesty, our last road block is probably the first that sprung to your mind. Money! Traditional forms of advertising/marketing are far from cheap. Whether it’s newspaper, radio, Yellow Pages or online ads, the cumulative cost of advertising can be in the thousands each year (if not tens of thousands). That’s a lot of money!

Naturally, you want the best return on investment for your firm. And that’s probably the best part about each solution we’ve proposed so far. They’re all cheap! Let’s revisit each solution one last time to review what implementation will cost you:

1. SEO consultancy can be pricey, but is an excellent long term marketing investment. Remember, after the initial cost of optimising your site all traffic you receive is free. Google Adsense & affiliate marketing operate on a pay per click basis. You’ll only pay each time someone clicks through to your web site. Most clicks will cost you less than a dollar!

2. Each marketing newsletter is delivered to you free of charge. You just need to find the time to read them.

3. LinkedIn is a free networking service.

4. Blogs are free to set up and maintain. Of course, your cost is the time it takes to generate regular content. But if you are already writing articles and case analyses…

5. Lawyer Centric offers both free & paid membership. The cost of a paid membership is just $250 annually.

And now, it is over to you. The seeds have been sown. The question is whether you choose to embrace them or not.

Newer technology means that legal marketing no longer needs to be the ugly step child of the legal industry. In fact, with a little research and some smart implementation, you could create a Cinderella story of your very own.

Harley starter problems, Identify it properly!

Identify Harley starter problems by going online and get your new starter by finding right online shop.

Understanding Harley starter problems is not a difficult task if you understand mechanical functioning process of your Harley automobile. If you are able to recognize the problem then finding appropriate solution to it can become an easy task. Technical problems can be related to anything like automobile engine starter, starter solenoid etc. Engine is the soul of your automobile and its functionality highly depends on the function of the starter. If the starter is not in the proper working condition then definitely it can affect the performance of engine. So it is advisable to identify the starter problem and get solution to it accordingly in order to get good Harley ride.

How will you identify Harley starter problems? May be answer to this question is by getting in touch with expert technician. If you have incomplete technical knowledge related to Harley starter then technical expert can guide you aptly.

What are the other ways to identify starter related issues? You can consider checking your automobile on your own but this is only possible when you have technical knowledge. What can you do if your knowledge is not up to the mark related to Harley starter drive? Go online! Yes, carrying out web search can prove to be useful. Look out for the website that can guide you with the technicalities related to the Harley starter drive and can make it easy for you to take decision related to the Harley starter replacement. Carrying out proper search work online can make it easy for you to understand the ways to diagnosis starter problems. Thus, you can find it easy to take starter replacement related decision.

Once you are done with identifying Harley starter problems, your next step will be to find solution related to the existing starter problems. If your starter cannot be repaired then it is advisable to get it replaced as soon as possible. There is no point is spending money over the starter repairing if the problem related to it is quite severe. If you have taken starter replacement related decision then your next step will be to search for the best available starter in the market.

Again, to find good quality of starter you can consider going online. Online shops can make it easy for you to find the starter related to your Harley automobile model number. Get the starter after comparing its features and rates by visiting several online shops like

How Much Does It Cost To Get Listed On Google

It doesn’t cost you any money to get listed on google. What it will cost you is your time though. It will take you time to create backlinks and content for your website and it will also take you time to create videos and articles and get them submitted to directories and video sites. Web 2.0 sites take time as well to create if you plan on really making a good effort at promoting your site. But if you don’t want to do the hard work you can always pay for someone else today it or try a paid service.

You can hire someone else to do the tedious work by outsourcing everything. You can hire someone form the Philippines or India to create Web 2.0 sites or to write articles for you then you can have them submit the articles for you and bookmark them using Social Bookmarking sites and they will do all for about $2.50 an hour. The people that you can hire are actual people with college degrees that will bid on jobs that you need done and because our dollar worth more in there country so the labor is cheaper.

Now some people may not like the idea of outsourcing but if you are on a tight budget or your just starting out this is perfect for you. And if there were people in the US that would work for that amount of money then I hire them in a heartbeat. If you want to find workers that you can outsource these types of tasks to you can visit It will allow to post the job and hire someone from there website. You can also watch them while they do they’re work right from the website.

Another thing that will cost you money but can save you time is the different services and software that are available. You can pay for backlinks to your site. There are alot of websites that sell backlinks as a package or sell a monthly service that will continually create backlinks to your site for you. These are actually good services but they are kind of on the expensive side. If you want high quality backlinks you will end up paying around $150 to $300 dollars. Some of these services will guarantee results though so sometimes it is actually work it.

Auto submission software and website are another cost that you will run into if you decide to use them. You can get most of them for around $100. Some of them are monthly subscriptions and others are not. I have used SE Nuke and Xgen. They both will create Web 2.0 sites and submit videos and articles to different directories and video sites. Most of these auto submitters have a free trial period so that you can try before you buy. I would check out the ones that have trials before actually investing any money.

Google Cash Sniper – Review

Google Cash Sniper is the new product by Chris Fox, an underground SEO mastermind who has finally decided to expose all his secrets on how to rank number 1 in Google every time and with every niche.

His focus is on Web 2.0 and with his easy to follow Google Cash Sniper blueprint which takes the form of 6 modules, he delivers outstandingly valuable information that will have you dominating Google for free! Forget PPC advertising, this will have you ranking top each time for sure!

Now I will be the first to admit that I hate every internet marketer who launches a new product hyping it up for every cash hungry visitor to think that money can be made so easily online with ‘little’ work and at no cost!

So how is Google Cash Sniper any different?

Well for a start….I have personally used Chris Fox’s methods and I myself have had great success in my niches. His expertise is priceless and everything is laid out clear and simple.

From teaching me how to set up my blog to mastering Web 2.0 promotional methods, I have to say hats off to Chris in that the information and knowledge in this guy’s brain will truly help you to succeed and profit big online.

The Google Cash Sniper system has been proven to work and has produced top search engine results every time no matter who is using it.

Google Cash Sniper is going to be released on Tuesday 7th July 12PM EST (5PM UK time) and already people are talking about how valuable this product is going to be for those struggling online.

I have never come across a product that delves so deep into every aspect of what is being taught. Chris Fox has made this an all inclusive product which makes Web 2.0 and dominating search engines each time so easy.

The six modules of Google Cash Sniper focus on;

1 – Keyword Research Analysis

2 – Copy And Paste Content Creation

3 – Competitor Websites Annihilation

4 – Link Building Process

5 – Web 2.0 Annihilation

6 – New Tools And Training Every Month

Software to Track an IP Location

Many people use the IP location of a computer to find out where a person is located. In most cases they will only come to know the rough area where they are located. The exact location of the home or the office will only be known to the Internet service provider. Many people use geo-location technology to find this information. However, such technology can never be a hundred percent accurate. This is especially true if the IP address is a proxy server and does not hold the user’s real location. Many people do not know their own IP location. They can easily find this information. The command “what is my IP” helps them get the required details.

IP addresses are used not just for computers but for all other online devices as well. A domain name system allows an IP address to be identified with words in order to be remembered more easily. Many websites offer software that can help track an IP address. People can log on to these websites to acquire knowledge about all the features about this software. Users can set up multiple computers to work with the IP alert software. They will also receive alerts when the IP address of a device changes.

Every computer has what is known as an IP location. Each computer is assigned a different number that effectively becomes its own unique address. Many users want to know what their IP address is. They can easily find this information by doing an IP lookup. They can simply enter the query in any search engine. The answer will give the user his IP geo-location information. Every IP address has four sets of numbers that are separated by a period. These addresses are used by Internet service providers to find the location of a computer anywhere in the world.

Initially many Internet service providers gave static IP addresses to the computers. But over the years the number of people using computers has kept on increasing. It has now become necessary to assign more dynamic IP addresses to computers. These addresses are issued from a pool and limit the ability of users to host FTP servers, websites and mail servers. This also helps users who want to connect to the Internet through virtual hosting. Dynamic IP addresses allow for multiple addresses to be used at one time. The best example of this method is the wireless Internet in a home, which allows the personal computer, tablet and cell phone to be used at the same time to surf the Internet.  

Knowing the IP location is very beneficial for a user. It enables him to access various forums on the Internet. It also helps him with speed checks, e-mail tracing and proxy detection. Having this information also helps the user with greater safety in all his online activities. The IP location is a lot like the mailing address of a home or an office. Just like these unique addresses identify a home or an office anywhere in the real world IP addresses perform the same function in the virtual world.

Simple Psychological Tips for Learning Languages

by Philip Yaffe

Native English-speakers are increasingly exhorted to learn foreign languages to play a more effective role in globalization. However, we tend not to learn foreign languages for three very valid reasons.

1. Many other peoples in the world are not just exhorted to learn English, they are required to do so. Thus, you can find English virtually everywhere you go.

2. The grammar of most other languages, certainly most European languages, is much more complex than English. Thus, native Anglophones often view language learning as a daunting, and even demoralizing task.

3. Most native Anglophones, especially in North America, live in almost exclusively English-speaking environments. We virtually never hear other languages spoken live, on radio or television, and virtually never see them written in newspapers, magazines, books, etc. This is hardly motivating.

The fact is, the world conspires against Anglophones learning other languages. So if you speak only English, you have no reason to be ashamed.

Nevertheless, while these factors explain why so few Anglophones know other languages, they are not valid excuses for not learning them when the situation calls for it. For example, you are sent to open or manage a foreign subsidiary, you are assigned to negotiate or maintain working relationships with a foreign partner, etc.

How should you go about learning a foreign language with the least pain and most gain? In my experience, the secret lies in changing your mindset.

I live in Brussels, Belgium. I speak French fluently, understand and can more-or-less get around in Dutch and German, and I am now rapidly acquiring Spanish. But the first language I mastered was none of these. It was Swahili, which I learned when I spent two-and-a-half years working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania.

Like many (probably most) Americans growing up in an essentially English-speaking environment, I thought the ability to speak another language required superior intelligence; only people endowed with this unique talent could actually achieve it. Shortly after I got to Tanzania, I visited in a remote tribal area where virtually everyone spoke three languages. Moreover, virtually none of them had ever seen the inside of a school (there just weren’t any schools), let alone graduated from a prestigious university (UCLA).

I therefore had to radically rethink my attitude towards language learning. This new mindset has significantly helped me master the languages I now regularly use. I will illustrate with French, the language I know best. But remember, these same tips and techniques apply to learning virtually any language

Seeing Is Learning

If you are studying French, it is probably for one of two reasons. Either you are required to do so for school or for your job. Or because French is “a language of culture,” i.e. no properly educated person should be without it.

Whatever your reason, here is some good news. Learning to speak French is perhaps the easiest part of the task.


I know you may have thought that speaking is the most difficult part. However, I would argue that most people can learn to speak French reasonably well within 5-7 months.

Writing French is quite a different story. French is one of the most complex written languages in the world. In fact, written French and spoken French are almost two separate languages. If your objective is to speak French, you should first concentrate on speaking, then let the written language follow at a more leisurely pace.

In some quarters this may sound like heresy, because the majority of language courses try to teach both speaking and writing at the same time. I believe this is a mistake. Also, I am not advocating “total immersion.” Few of us have the luxury of spending a week, or preferably several weeks, totally concentrating on learning a language.

What I am advocating is doing things in the proper psychological order.

Most people can master enough basic grammar to be able to speak (poorly but nevertheless coherently), and to understand what is being said to them, really quite quickly. This is because the major obstacle to acquiring another language is not grammar; it’s vocabulary.

If you don’t know the verb you need, it doesn’t matter that you know how to conjugate French verbs; you still cannot speak. If you don’t know the adjective you need, it doesn’t matter that you know how to decline French adjectives; you still cannot speak. And so on. 

I therefore suggest that the most effective order for learning would be:

1. Basic French grammar — the minimum necessary to put together an intelligible (if incorrect) sentence

2. Basic French vocabulary — the minimum necessary to begin using the basic grammar

3. Elaborated French grammar and vocabulary — building on basic grammar and vocabulary as soon as you can actually use them

4. Writing in French — tackling the daunting task of putting French on paper.

If vocabulary is crucial, then the largely unrecognized key to learning to speak French is: Learn to read it.

There is nothing like being able to sit down with a French newspaper, magazine, or even a novel to reinforce both grammar and vocabulary. The more you read, the more your vocabulary will expand. And the more some of French’s apparently bizarre ways of doing things will seem increasingly normal.

For best results, the novel should contain a maximum of dialogue and a minimum of description. With dialogue, you can more or less anticipate and interpret what the characters are saying; with description you haven’t a clue. When I was learning French, I used mystery novels by Agatha Christie and Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs because they are about 90 percent dialogue and 10 percent description. However, any novels with a strong emphasis of dialogue will do.

The problem is, as in English the words you see written in many, many cases will be spelled quite differently from how they are pronounced. So if you are going to improve your spoken vocabulary by reading, you will need some way of translating what is written into what is said.

You will find some important tips on how to do this at the end of the article (“How to Pronounce Silent Letters”). However, if you are lucky enough to know a native French speaker, don’t hesitate to ask him or her for help. Not to carry on a conversation, but to ensure that you are properly pronouncing what you are seeing in print. If you don’t have the luxury of a French-speaking friend, try the Internet. Put into any search engine French + audio to access an almost endless number of websites with audio examples to help you.

It’s All in the Mind

If French is your first foreign language, let me assure you that while learning it is not easy, it is far from impossible. And you don’t have to be either a genius or have a “natural talent” for languages to achieve it.

As noted above, most of the people I met in Tanzania spoke at least two languages and often three or more, even those in remote bush areas untouched by formal education. This was nothing exceptional. People in similar circumstances in virtually every country of the world speak two or more languages as a matter of course. Here in Belgium, around Brussels even burger-flippers at McDonald’s are expected to speak both Dutch and French, two of the countries three official national languages (German is the third), plus English.

If they can master other languages, certainly you can, too. Admittedly, it is never easy; however, it is far from impossible — and the rewards can be astounding.

When I first arrived in Tanzania, I was speaking in Swahili by translating through English. However, one magic day I suddenly realized that I was no longer translating through English. I was speaking in Swahili directly. It was like being released from prison. Although this happened more than 40 years ago, the picture of my cell door flying open and my mind flying free is as vivid now as the day it happened. It’s an experience not to be missed!

The process of learning another language is greatly facilitated by understanding and bearing in mind two key psychological principles.

1.   Facility Principle: What you don’t have to do is always easier than what you do have to do

In other words, the less you have to think about in learning French, the more rapidly you will learn it. And the fewer mistakes you will make. Believe it or not, French (both written and spoken) has certain features and characteristics that make it objectively easier than English. Pronunciation provides a perfect example.

Most people are largely unaware of how seriously difficult their own native language could be to a foreigner. As a native Anglophone, you probably find that English is quite easy to pronounce. But the fact is, French is even easier.

What! With its nasalization, trilled “r” and other difficult sounds? Yes, and I can prove it!

First, it is important to understand that no sounds, in any language, are inherently difficult to pronounce. If they were, they wouldn’t exist because the native speakers never would have accepted them into their language in the first place.

Learning foreign sounds is never easy; French speakers learning English have a terrible time with the “th” sound in words such as “the,” “they,” “through,” “throw,” etc. Because there is no equivalent sound in French, they have great difficulty in mastering it. But it certainly isn’t impossible. Just as it may be difficult, but certainly not impossible, for you to master unfamiliar sounds in French.

Where French pronunciation has an undeniable advantage over English (and most other European languages) is its virtual lack of a “tonic accent.”

Tonic accent simply means that certain syllables in a word are given more stress than are others. For example, “difficult” is pronounced “dif-fi-cult”; the first syllable carries the tonic accent. It could just as easily be pronounced dif-fi-cult,” which is what the Spanish prefer (dif--cil). Or even “dif-fi-cult.”

Technically, the tonic accent does exist in French, but it is very hard to hear it. For example, in English we say “un-i-ver-sal.” In French, this is “un-i-ver-sel,” with no apparent stress anywhere. Likewise with “restau-rant,which in French is “rest-au-rant.” And so on.Thus, you never have to guess where the tonic accent should go, so you can never make a mistake

As a native Anglophone, you have grown up with the tonic accent, so you might not immediately recognize what a blessing this is. However, if you have had any dealings with foreigners speaking English, you know that if they put the tonic accent on the wrong syllable, you might not understand the word at all. By foreigners, I don’t necessarily mean non-native English speakers. If you are American, try conversing with an Australian or an Englishman; you are likely to have the same problem. And vice versa.

2.   Familiarity Principle: Familiar habits and patterns of thought are often hard to break

Paradoxically, some of the aspects of French that are easier than English at first glance will appear to be strange — and therefore falsely difficult. Although it may take you some time to accept them, once you begin to think in French, you will rapidly come to appreciate them and enjoy their benefits. Here are a couple of anecdotes to illustrate the point.

  A.  Straight is more difficult than zigzag

One time I was talking with a Dutch-speaking friend. He agreed that English is fundamentally simpler than his own language; nevertheless, he complained that he just couldn’t get used to English’s simpler sentence structure. In certain instances, Dutch grammar requires the order of the words of the sentence to suddenly reverse; this never happens in English. Objectively, then, English sentence structure should be easier than Dutch. But to him, not reversing the word order just didn’t seem natural

B.  Never overlook the obvious

One day I was telling a French-speaking friend of mine about my experiences in Tanzania. I mentioned that Swahili has the interesting characteristic of forming plurals with a prefix rather than a suffix. For example, the Swahili word for book is kitabu; the plural is vitabu. So to go from the singular to the plural, you change the beginning of the word rather than the end. His reaction was swift and surprising.

He:  They can’t do that! They can’t form plurals with a prefix!

Me:  It’s their language. They can form plurals anyway they want.

He:  But it makes no sense. And I can prove it. Which is more important, what a word means or whether it is singular or plural?

Me:  What a word means.

He:  Then announcing that a word is plural before saying the word is illogical.

Me:  I agree. So why do you do the same thing in French?

He:  We don’t do that in French!

Me:  Of course you do. And I can prove it.

You need to understand that in French, as in many other languages, the definite article (“the”) has both a singular and plural form. Why? I don’t know, that’s just how it is. In French you say le livre to mean “the book,” but you say les livres to mean “the books.” The definite article le (pronounced “luh”) changes to les (pronounced “lay”). So just as in Swahili, French requires you first to announce whether the following word is singular or plural, then say what it is.

My friend was astounded. What he had found so strange, and even absurd, in another language turned out to be exactly what he was doing in his own. Suddenly Swahili no longer seemed quite so bizarre.

Context and Comprehension

Before proceeding, it is necessary to make a fundamental observation.

No amount of grammar and vocabulary can fully cover every situation that may arise in using a language, your native language or a foreign one.

Language is used to communicate meaning, but meaning often depends on context. Therefore, what you say may be grammatically correct, but still not communicate the meaning you have in mind.

The importance of context in communication can be demonstrated by a simple example. J’ai besoin d’un avocat / I need an avocat. How would you interpret this sentence? Avocat means both “avocado” and “lawyer,” so you could interpret it in two ways: 1) I am making a Mexican salad and I need this particular fruit, 2) I am having legal problems and I need professional help.

Without knowing what preceded the statement, there is no way of deciding which interpretation is correct. It is only within context that we can know.

According to the celebrated dictum, “Translation is treason.” In other words, when you go from one language to another, chances are you will fail to transfer some important nuances. I would like to propose a new dictum. Within the same language, “Context is comprehension.” In other words, many apparent problems of English or French (or any other language) tend to disappear within the context of their use.

Context is vital; it must always be taken into account.

How to Pronounce Silent Letters

If this sounds like a contradiction in terms, it really isn’t. Remember, you will be doing a lot of reading to improve your vocabulary and to get used to thinking in French. The problem is, the words you will see written in many, many cases will be spelled quite differently from how they are pronounced. So if you are going to improve your spoken vocabulary by reading, you will need some way of converting what is written into what is said. Fortunately, with many other languages (e.g. Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Swahili), this is much less of a problem.

The major part of the disconnection between spoken and written French has to do with silent letters. French is littered with them. However, there are some strategies you can use to help you pronounce what you see.

Silent letters that do Not affect pronunciation

Most silent letters come at the end of words. The two letters “s” and “x” almost never affect pronunciation.

The silent “s” is the ubiquitous ending for plural nouns, articles and adjectives. It is not pronounced. Neither is “x”, which also sometimes indicates a plural and is often the ending on masculine adjectives. For example: chien – chiens, grand – grands, élegant – élegants, pou – poux, jeu – jeux, peureux (adjective), fâcheux (adjective), etc.

The silent “s” is also often found at the end of words for no apparent reason other than to be decorative. For example: cas (kah), pas (pah), souris (sooree), tapis (tahpee), héros (eeroh), sans (sahn), moins (mwehn), pis (pee), etc. The words bus (bewss), as (ahss), fils (feess), non-sens (nahn-sahnss), sens (sahnss), tournevis (toornahveess), and vis (veess) are important exceptions.

The silent “x” is also often found at the end of words for no apparent reason: prix (pree), voix (vwah), noix (nwah),paix (pay), croix (krwah), taux (toh), toux (too),etc.

Words ending in a silent “s” or a silent “x” have the same pronunciations and spellings in both the singular and the plural. 

Silent letters that Do affect pronunciation

The silent “e”

The silent “e” is the ubiquitous ending indicating a feminine noun or adjective. It itself is never pronounced, but it may change the pronunciation of the syllable to which it is attached. For example: vrai – vraie, bleu – bleue, cru – crue(no change of pronunciation). But boulanger (masculine), pronounced boo-lahn-zhay; boulangère (feminine), pronounced boo-lahn-zhair. Caissier (masculine), pronounced kay-see-ay, caissière (feminine), pronounced kay-see-air. Port (masculine), pronounced por, porte (feminine), pronounced port.

Silent letters that affect pronunciation in verbs

Silent letters that change pronunciation occur mainly in conjugated verb forms, and specifically in the imperfect and conditional tenses.

Imperfect tense

Je parlais, tu parlais: The “s” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “ais” is pronounced “eh.”

Example:  parlai = par-lay. parlais = par-leh.

Il/elle parlait: The “t” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “ait” is pronounced “eh.”

Example:  parlai = par-lay. parlait = par-leh

Ils/elles parlaient:The “ent” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “aient” is pronounced “eh.”

Example:  parlai = par-lay.  parlaient = par-leh

Conditional tense

The conditional tense uses the same endings as the imperfect tense, so the effects of the silent letters are the same.

Je parlerais, tu parlerais: The “s” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “ais” is pronounced “eh.”

Example:  parlerai = par-ler-ay.  parlerais = par-ler-eh.

Il/elle parlerait: The “t” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “ait” is pronounced “eh.”

Example:  parlerai = par-ler-ay.  parlerait = par-ler-eh.

Ils/elles parleraient:The “ent” itself is not pronounced. Without it, the ending “ai” would be pronounced “ay.” With it, the ending “aient” is pronounced “eh.”

Example:  parlerai = par-ler-ay.  parleraient = par-ler-eh.

Pronouncing nouns and adjectives with silent endings

French writing is characterized by its enormous number of nouns and adjectives with silent endings that are pronounced nothing like how they are spelled. Therefore, in order to use reading as a basis for speaking, you must be able to determine their pronunciation. This is not always easy, but there are some generalizations that can help.

Words ending in a silent “t” 

Most nouns and adjectives with a silent ending other than “s” or “x” will end in a silent “t”. The combinations are:

a. ait: This combination is pronounced “ay.” Examples: attrait (ah-tray), fait (fay), lait (lay), portrait (por-tray).

b. art: This combination is pronounced “ahr.” Examples: art (ahr), part (pahr), rempart (rahm-pahr).

  1. at, ât: These are both pronounced “ah”; the accent circonflexe (^) has no effect on the pronunciation. Examples: dégât (day-gah), état (ay-tah), plat (plah), rat (rah).

d. ert: This combination is pronounced “air.” Examples: couvert (coo-vair), ouvert (oo-vair), pivert (pee-vair)

e. et, êt: This combination is pronounced “ay”; the accent circonflexe (^) has no effect on the pronunciation. Examples: billet (bee-yay), complet (com-play), filet (fee-lay), forêt (for-ay), intérêt (ehn-ter-ay).

  1. ort: This combination is pronounced “or.” Examples: fort (for), effort (eh-for), mort (mor), port (por), sort (sor), tort (tor).

g. ot: This combination is pronounced “oh.” Examples: boulot (boo-loh), complot (com-ploh), lot (loh), rigolot (ree-goh-loh)

  1. out, oût: These are both pronounced “oo”; the accent circonflexe (^) has no effect on the pronunciation. Examples: bout (boo), goût (goo), tout (too),
  1. ut: This combination is pronounced “ew” as in “few.” Examples: début (day-bew), rebut (reh-bew), statut (stah-tew), substitut (sub-stee-tew). The word but (goal, objective) is an important exception, being pronounced “bewt.” The word scorbut (scurvy), pronounced “skor-bewt” is also an exception, but you will probably have little use for it in normal conversation.



There is no equivalent of the French “u” sound in English. It comes close to the “u” sound in “few” if you tighten your lips while saying it, This book uses “ew” to indicate the sound in writing. However, the only way to really get the sound is to listen to a French speaker — and then practice. Free online French courses with sound files are excellent for this purpose.

Words ending in “er”

The ending “er” is extremely important. It is the infinitive ending on a major class of verbs, where it is pronounced “ay.” Examples: assister (ah-sees-tay), fermer (fehr-may), manger (mahn-zhay), participer (pahr-tee-see-pay), etc.

It is also the ending on numerous nouns and adjectives, where is it also pronounced “ay.”

Examples: chantier (shan-tee-ay), fermier (fehr-mee-ay), héritier (eer-it-ee-ay), premier (pray-mee-ay), etc.

Words ending in other silent letters 

Silent endings other than “s”, “x”, “r” or “t” are relatively rare. But some of these words are rather important, so you will need to know how to pronounce them when you see them written. Here are a few of the most common ones.

  • · accord (ah-cor): agreement
  • · corps (cor): body, as in the expression ésprit de corps
  • · coup (coo): hit, strike, or blow, as in coup d’état
  • · nez (nay): nose
  • · pied (pee-ay): foot
  • · riz (ree): rice
  • · trop (troh): too much

Je vous souhaite bonne chance et bon amusement (Zhe voo soo-ate bone shance ay bon ahmusmahn) / I wish you good luck and good fun.

This article is excerpted from the author’s book Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it.


Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s daily student newspaper.

He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974.

Books by this Author

The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional

The Gettysburg Collection:

A comprehensive companion to The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional

Actual English: English grammar as native speakers really use it

Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it

What’d You Say? / Que Dites-Vous?

Fun with homophones, proverbs, expressions, false friends, and other linguistic oddities in English and French

Science for the Concerned Citizen: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You.

The Little Book of BIG Mistakes

The Eighth Decade: Reflections on a Life

Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists: Human Biology

Books in “The Essential Ten Percent” Series

(at August 2012)

College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent

Logical Thinking: The Essential Ten Percent

Public Speaking: The Essential Ten Percent

The Human Body: The Essential Ten Percent

Wise Humor: The Essential Ten Percent

Word for Windows: The Essential Ten Percent

Workplace Dispute Resolution

Dispute occurs between individuals or groups, often when they are competing for the same resources or when one group thinks that another has blocked its ability to reach its goal. On the other hand, conflict develops when one group appears to jeopardize the goals of another, becomes openly antagonistic to another, and is not governed by organizational rules. Once conflict develops, it is likely to get worse, as antagonism grows, the goals become even more important to the two groups and the groups begin violating the organization’s rules in an attempt to reach their goals. (Porter, L.W., W.J. Crampan, and F.J. Smith 1989)

An organization that is complacent may become lazy; if every one agrees about every thing, no one is motivated to do exceptional work to prove the value of an idea. Such an organization can quickly get into trouble if it competes with other organizations in a rapidly changing environment.   A manager of a relatively stagnant or complacent organization may stimulate conflict to get the organization out of its ruts.   When properly managed, conflict can lead to creativity and productive change in an organization. For instance a moderate amount of conflict between two people who are interested in the same issue can lead the people to raise new questions, new doubts and perhaps new solutions. People in conflict may acknowledge the existence of problems that complacent people would have ignored. To stimulate this type of productive conflict, a manager can take number of actions. He or she can change the relationships between people by, for instance, forcing people to compete more for scarce resources or moving them closer together physically, he or she can train people to recognize the value of conflicts and avoid easy, superficial agreement (Stein, L, May, 1995).   A manager may even enter discussions with the purpose of playing ‘devil advocates’, opposing the generally accepted ideas stirring up trouble to try to uncover opposition to the accepted goals or methods. Compaq Computer uses this approach in making most major decisions.   Conflict between groups can raise specific kinds of problems that require specific resolution techniques. The compatibility of two groups and the importance of their interaction for attaining the groups’ goal determine which of the following strategies are useful:   Accommodation is recommended approach when two groups have compatible goals but do not need to interact in order to reach their goals (Porter, L.W., W.J. Crampan, and F.J. Smith. 1989). The two groups will typically have friendly meeting to decide how they can both work towards their goal accomplish their inter-dependent task while spending the least time and energy.   When two groups are incompatible and neither groups need interaction with the other in order to achieve its goal, the two groups may simply avoid each other. The research and the financial departments of the company may have different ideas about how the company should spend its money and these differences many lead to a good deal of conflict when the two departments discuss the issues. However, because a third department in the organization actually makes the decision about how to allocate funds, direct interaction between the two groups may infect the unnecessary. Competition is the likely outcome of the group conflict. When the group goals are not compatible but the group needs to interact in order to reach their goals. In properly manage competition the organization always benefits, although usually only one of the groups actually wins.   Collaboration occurs when groups are working toward compatible goals and the interaction between them is important. This does not necessarily means that the groups work hand in hand to everyone’s mutual benefits. Often the groups’ goal, though compatible, are different, and they will have different ideas about which goals are most important and how to achieve the goals. Collaboration can therefore be difficult to achieve but often yields innovative (Stein, L, May, 1995).    When interaction is moderately useful to both groups and their goals are somewhat compatible, the groups are like to compromise. Compromise has some of the characteristics of all other approaches. The groups do not need to collaborate, but they cannot afford to avoid each other. Each group may have to give something in compromise but because they are working towards somewhat similar goals, the groups are not likely to compete about who gives up what.      “Skillful manager can make conflict productive by carefully managing conflict and getting groups to collaborate or compromise” (Stein, L., Xue, B.G., & Belluzzi, J. D. 1993). On the other hand Mediation and other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programs now exist in many organizations to address such issues as supervisor-supervisee conflicts, management union disputes, and team/workgroup problems.   In mediation, a neutral person trained in resolving conflicts helps both parties approach up with a resolution by helping them to negotiate and discuss the real issues.   In mediation, as an alternative of an outside arbitrator, the two parties, with or without an attorney, settle on the conclusion, which can consist of a public act of contrition, a change in company policy or monetary reimbursement.   To get the most out of mediation, experts give this advice:

  • Have explicit dates, times, places and information concerning your case so you can speak with precision.
  • Brainstorm potential solutions you’d be happy with and be ready to confer them.
  • Keep an open mind and make certain you comprehend the constraints the employer may have.
  • Be optimistic and consider that an equally acceptable solution can be worked out.

Like mediation, arbitration is a figure of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that can be used to resolve disputes sooner as well as less expensively than going to court. But though mediation involves hiring a neutral mediator to assist you and the other party work out your own solution, arbitration is for those times when you just can’t reach conformity even with the assist of a mediator. Lots of companies have suppliers; employees as well as major customers sign agreements stating that every dispute that cannot be resolved through conciliation or mediation will go to obligatory arbitration. The parties concur on the arbitrators, characteristically people familiar with the industry, and efficiently hire these people to serve as judges. The decisions they make are ultimate (Stein, L., Xue, B.G., & Belluzzi, J. D. 1993).   Companies where the senior executives have signed employment agreements frequently turn to arbitration to resolve disputes regarding compensation when a manager leaves the company, such as whether the company met assured goals that would activate certain bonuses. Internet startup firms characteristically arbitrate disputes with departing employees where the compensation package might have included assets, such as stock options, that are complicated to enumerate. Lots of businesses have suppliers and customers sign arbitration agreements as a stipulation of doing business. And now, even employment prejudice and sexual harassment claims are sometimes submitted to arbitration.


Porter, L.W., W.J. Crampan, and F.J. Smith. (1989), “Organizational Commitment and Managerial Turnover,” Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 15, 87-98.

Stein, L. (1995, May). Skinner’s Behavioral Atom: A cellular analogue of operant conditioning and its implications. Paper presented at the 21st annual meeting of the Association for Behavior Analysis, Washington, DC.

Stein, L., Xue, B.G., & Belluzzi, J. D. (1993). A cellular analogue of operant conditioning. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 60, 41-53.

The Best Affiliate Marketing Training Online

Are you looking for the best affiliate marketing training online? Overwhelmed by the enormous amount of information available? Affiliate marketing training programs, tutorials, eBooks and websites abound, and most promise to show you the way to Internet riches, however, not many will actually help you make money online. In this article we will discuss what kind of affiliate marketing training you need to get in order to survive in this highly competitive industry. In the end I will tell you where to find the absolute best affiliate marketing training online.

Affiliate marketing is an increasingly competitive industry and most of training products you find on the net only skim the surface of what you need to know.  Also, most affiliate  training products are glorified sales tools, that only want to sell you something else. For instance, imagine you just purchased an eBook that promises to teach you all that you need to know to make a fortune online. You will encounter many industry terms such as “keyword optimization” or “niche marketing” “article submission software”, etc.  Naturally, the book would not be designed to teach you these vital skills, as these are not the topic of the book.  However, once you are convinced of how important it is to understand these concepts, the author of the eBook is more than happy to “recommend” a great product that will help you earn you yet more thousands!  Of course the author’s affiliate link is embedded in the pages for your purchasing convenience, and before you know it, you are buying again. And then again. And then again. But would you be any closer to making money? No, you would find that you have more questions than answers, and the pile of “must read” getting bigger.  This can become extremely confusing, discouraging, and expensive.

A good affiliate marketing training program needs to teach you the entire workings of the industry, (not just one tiny segment) including:

  • how to choose an affiliate program and niche,
  • the different types of affiliate marketing,
  • how to perform market and keyword research,
  • analysis and using your research to your benefit
  • how to build a blog or site,
  • Search Engine Optimization,
  • converting traffic into sales
  • the most important part of the buying cycle and where the dollars are
  • the importance of relevancy,
  • tracking your ads,
  • and so much more…

The best affiliate marketing training should also provide various form of training, as well as the marketing tools you will need to run your business. The training should consist of various: eBooks, audio and video files, tutorials, private forums, and one-on-one coaching. The marketing tools that the affiliate will need to be successful, includes: website builder and hosting, keyword analysis tool, competition spyware, rapid-writer article writing software, complete niche research, and more.

The best affiliate marketing training online is an Affiliate Marketing University, which provides all that which has been discussed in this article, plus a lot more. Certainly the best affiliate marketing training programs are not stand alone programs, eBooks or courses. There is simply too much to learn to be successful in the field, than can be gleaned from these kinds of products. This membership based, educational website provides EVERYTHING the affiliate needs to become successful and will save you time and money. Affiliate Marketing University is definitely the best affiliate training available online. And it will help you get the edge that is necessary in this competitive, lucrative, industry.

How to Generate Traffic with Internet Article Marketing

Article marketing is a type of advertising in which businesses write short articles related to their respective industry.  Internet article marketing is an internet marketing technique to subtly advertise products and services via online article directories.  Most directories receive a high volume of traffic and are considered authority sites by search engines, which often results in submitted articles receiving substantial free traffic. 

Article marketing uses article directories as a free host and receives traffic through organic searches due to the directory’s search engine authority.  This can be very useful to new internet marketers as it does not require a big budget.

All you need to do is write articles and provide a link in your article to your website.  You then submit your article to the various free article directories.  People will then read your articles and click the link and then visit your website.  The idea then is that they purchase an item or product you are promoting and you will earn a commission from that purchase.

Articles you write can also be used as content in your blog. 

Article writing is a popular way of generating traffic to your website or blog.  It is a free, simple to do and it works. 

Create a title that will catch the reader’s eye and curiosity.  Make sure it solves a problem for the reader as most people on the internet are looking for answers to problems. 

Your article should provide value to the reader.  Remember, people want to know what’s in it for them.  The whole concept of internet article marketing is to drive traffic to your website so you can increase your leads and generate more sales.  Your article content should be of quality.  Your reputation depends upon you providing quality information to your readers.  Once you have branded yourself, and are consistently providing value to your readers, the number of readers to your site will increase. 

You can promote your articles, by either Tweeting them or by pinging them in social media settings. 

When writing articles, your first paragraph should state a problem. You should then explain how your article is going to solve the problem. 

Try making an outline first, covering the points you want to make in your article.  This way you do not forget to cover specific points in your article.  When writing your article, make sure you are writing with the reader in mind.  It may help to define terms you are using if you believe any of the readers may not know exactly what you are writing about.  Try to make paragraphs short.  People are more apt to read shorter paragraphs than longer ones. 

More is sometimes better.  If you provide more information than is needed in your article, readers will see that you are being open and willing to provide more information than is needed.  They will see that you really do understand what you are writing about and not afraid to tell all. 

People like to read stories.  If you can relate a personal story to something in your article, people will see that you are a real person. 

Your final paragraph should summarize your article.  Have it say what your first paragraph started out covering.

To Remove Blog Name From Page Title In Blogger

It is very easy to use with a lot of code built in to the template making the more user friendly, especially for those of us not overladen with technical skills.

But this advantage could be a draw back with regards to some aspects of SEO. The problem being that when you publish a new post, the title page reads ‘name of blog then title of post’.

We all know that for the purposes of search engine optimization, the keywords should appear early in your title.

So how do you stop the blog name appearing in the title of every post.

How do you change the search engine listing of your blogger posts from the format indicated by the red arrow to the format indicated by the green arrow ?

It’s surprising how easy this is

  • Log in to your blogger account and go to your layout page
  • Click on edit HTML
  • Back up your current template [there is a prompt to do this on your edit HTML page]
  • Click on ‘expand widget templates’
  • Look near the top of the html page and find this code


  • Replace it with the code below

<b:if cond= ‘data:blog.pageType == &quot;index&quot;’><title><data:blog.title/></title><b:else/><title><data:blog.pageName/></title></b:if>

  • Make sure that before editing the code you MUST back up your template
  • Once you have finished save

It takes a few days for your changes to show in your blogs title in the search engine listings. The changes occur when the search engine bots have crawled and re-cached your posts

Here’s the code for those of you who want to copy and paste

<b:if cond= ‘data:blog.pageType == &quot;index&quot;’><title><data:blog.title/></title><b:else/><title><data:blog.pageName/></title></b:if>

Hope this helps.