Blogging has been around for over a decade now, but many lawyers still aren’t on board. The reasons are many. Some aren’t sure what to write about. Others aren’t sure which blogging platform to use. And some aren’t convinced that the hours spent blogging will be time well spent.
For some lawyers, those concerns are valid. Blogging isn’t for everyone. But for many lawyers, blogging can be an important part of their online presence. The trick is to think things through before you start. Decide why you want to blog, how to reach your desired audience, and then create a plan to help you stay on track.
At first, the idea of starting a law blog may seem to be a complicated endeavor. But it doesn’t need to be that way, as long as you plan ahead and blog strategically. Here are 5 tips to help you get started on the path to a successful law blog.
1. Determine your goals
The very first thing you need to do is decide on your goals. Are you blogging to reach potential clients, potential referral sources, or to establish your expertise in a particular area? It might even be a combination of all three or perhaps you have an entirely different goal. In some cases, you may be able to achieve all of your goals through blogging, but oftentimes it helps to limit your goals since one blog can only achieve so much and if your goals are too diverse, you may end up with a blog that lacks focus.
It’s important to make this determination at the outset, before you begin blogging. This is because your goals will necessarily affect the topics that you write about, your tone, and the ways that you share your blog posts online. So think this through carefully and once you’ve decided what your goals are, it’s time to start blogging.
2. Choose your blogging platform
There are many different blogging platforms available. Some are free and others are not. Some are specifically designed for lawyers, like Lexblog or the blogging platform built into MyCase’s Websites, while others are not. Popular blogging platforms that are not targeted at lawyers include WordPress, Medium, and Typepad (which is what I use for my personal blogs).
As is the case with any software product, your choice will depend on your personal preferences. How much customization and branding do you want built into your blog? Is 24/7 customer service a priority? How user-friendly is the blogging interface? Test out a few and see which one works best for your law firm and your needs.
3. Decide on your target audience
Decide who you are trying to reach with your blog. Is it potential clients? Or is it other attorneys or professionals who might be referral sources? Are you trying to establish your expertise in a particular practice area? Your target audience will determine the subject matter and tone of your posts. Your audience will also affect how you’ll disseminate your blog posts online. So it’s important to decide at the very outset who you’re writing for.
For example, blog posts written for legal consumers should contain far less legalese than those targeted at other lawyers and professionals and should address topics that will be of interest to your potential legal clients. The posts should answer questions they might have about the types of cases that you handle. That being said, it’s important to avoid giving legal advice online and you should always include an appropriate disclaimer on your blog to that effect that is consistent with your jurisdiction’s ethical rules.
4. Blog regularly and with passion
Once you’ve decided on your goals and your target audience, you need to choose the topics that you’ll be writing about. Make sure that you will be writing about issues that are of interest to your target audience. Think about what they want to know and how you can provide them with that information.
It’s important to blog regularly. Some experts suggest 2-3 times per week, but I believe once per week is sufficient, as long as you’re able to commit to that goal.
One of the biggest challenges bloggers face is coming up with ideas for posts. There are lots of ways to find topics for your posts. Ideas include: 1) writing about a recent news story as it relates to your practice areas, 2) writing about new cases as they are issued and include your take on the case, 3) writing about another blogger’s recent post and provide an opposing, or alternate, viewpoint, or 4) answering questions about the legal process that clients typically ask you, such as what types of information they should bring to the first appointment or how long a jury trial might last.
Of course, no matter what topics you choose to write about on your blog, you absolutely must have a passion for both the subject matter and for writing. For starters, if you don’t enjoy writing, then blogging isn’t for you. Find another medium, whether it’s podcasts, video, or social media, and share information through those platforms instead. Second, if you don’t have a passion for what you’re writing about, it will undoubtedly show. Blogging will be painful for both you and your readers. So make sure you enjoy the subject matter, the process of blogging, and that you blog regularly, since those elements are the building blocks of a good blog.
5. Share on social media
Finally, every time you publish a blog post, share it on social media. How to effectively use social media is a blog post (or even a book) in and of itself, but generally speaking the same rules apply to social media as they do to your blog. Consider your target audience(s) and where they spend time online. Then make sure to regularly share your blog posts on those social media sites.
Conversations about blog posts used to occur in the comment sections of blogs, but over time those conversations have shifted to social media platforms. So when you share your blog posts on social media, make sure to check back and respond to anyone who has commented on your post.
Hopefully those 5 tips help get you started on a path to a successful law blog. For even more tips on blogging and social media, make sure to check out the recordings of some of our past webinars: 1) Beers, Blogs & Brands: An Approach to Law Firm Marketing with Sam Glover, 2) Networking Online – Using Social Media and Blogging to Build Relationships with Kevin O’Keefe, and 3) Build Your Practice Through Blogging with Cordell Parvin.