The how and the why of law blogs
These days, there’s a lot more to law firm management than simply running the day-to-day business. In addition to troubleshooting IT issues, finding time for face-to-face professional networking, and keeping up with CLE requirements, lawyers are tasked with finding ways to market their firms and stand out in today’s competitive landscape.
Unfortunately, choosing how to market your law firm in the 21st century isn’t always easy. After all, there are so many venues to choose from: print media, the Yellow Pages, television and radio commercials, billboards, and the many different forms of online advertising.
Of all those options, online advertising is often the most confusing for lawyers since, all things considered, it’s a fairly new medium. To complicate things further, there are so many methods to choose from, including creating a website for your law firm, investing in online ads, participating in social media, and blogging.
Of those options, blogging is often the least appealing for many lawyers since it requires a regular time commitment. That being said, you just may find that once you get into the habit of blogging regularly, it can be an affordable, effective and enjoyable way to market your law practice.
This is because publishing a legal blog is one of the best ways to create a memorable and search-engine-friendly online presence. Simply put, blogs are a great way for lawyers to showcase legal expertise while increasing their firms’ search engine optimization—all while helping them to stay on top of changes in their areas of practice by writing about them on their firm’s blog.
At first blush, the idea of starting a law blog may seem like a complicated endeavor. But rest assured, it’s not as difficult as you might think. The first step is to decide whether you’d like a stand-alone blog or one that is part of your firm’s website. I would suggest that for most law firms, a blog that is part of your law firm’s website makes the most sense for brand consistency and SEO purposes, although reasonable minds differ on that issue.
I used to believe that stand-alone blogs made sense for lawyers, but my thinking has changed over time. When I first started blogging in 2005, stand-alone blogs were the norm. But over time that trend has shifted, and business blogs are usually part of a company’s website. As a result, I now believe that law firms benefit from having a blog embedded in their firm’s website for the reasons set forth in this post, and because that’s what consumers are accustomed to and have come to expect from business blogs.
PICKING A PLATFORM
Once you’ve determined whether or not to embed your blog on your law firm’s website, you’ll need to choose your blogging platform. There are many different blogging platforms available. Some are free, and others are not. I recommend that lawyers avoid the free platforms. After all, you get what you pay for, and one of the top benefits that comes with any paid online tool, including blogging platforms, is consistent, accessible customer service. That alone will be worth the small price you pay for your blogging platform.
You have a few different options when it comes to blogging platforms. Some blogging platforms are specifically designed for lawyers. LexBlog is a great example. LexBlog has been providing lawyers with a blogging platform for more than a decade now, and its CEO, Kevin O’Keefe, has been a strong proponent of the benefits of legal blogging ever since he founded the company in 2004. Justia also provides stand-alone legal blogs in addition to its website design services for lawyers.
Other legal-specific options are the legal website providers I discussed last month, including AttorneySync, Uptime JurisPage, Paperstreet, ZolaCreative, and MyCase (note that I am the legal technology evangelist with MyCase). In addition to law firm websites, these companies also provide blogs as part of their website design packages.
Another option is to consider one of the popular website design and blogging platforms that are not specifically targeted at lawyers. Some of the most popular options include WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix. All three companies offer both website and blog design tools at various price points, depending on your needs. Squarespace and Wix offer very user-friendly blog interfaces, but minimal customization is available. In comparison, Wordpress blogs are more easily customizable, but with that benefit comes increased complexity.
As is the case with any software product, which platform you choose 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? If possible, test out a few different blogging platforms and see which one works best for your law firm and your needs.
STARTING TO WRITE
Once you’ve chosen your platform, start blogging! 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.
Write about legal topics that interest you and about which you have a passion. And make sure to blog regularly. Some experts suggest two to three times per week, but I believe once per week is sufficient as long as you’re able to commit to that goal.
Finally, every time you publish a blog post, share it on social media. How to effectively use social media is an article (or two) 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.
So now that you’re armed with the knowledge you need to start a legal blog, what are you waiting for? Put pen to paper, so to speak, and write your very first post. For the right lawyer, blogging can be a fulfilling and worthwhile endeavor. But you won’t know until you give it a try!
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York, attorney, author, journalist and the legal technology evangelist at MyCase, legal practice management software for small firms. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers and is co-author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She also is co-author of Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for ABAJournal.com, Above the Law and the Daily Record, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Follow her on Twitter @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].