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The benefits of blogging are well documented, but too many start a blog, only to have it go dark within months. If you’re going to take the plunge, you’ve got to make a long-term commitment in order to have a successful blog and rewarding experience. Whether you’re blogging about technology for lawyers or prosecutorial misconduct, here are a few general practices that can make the journey less burdensome, more productive and even enjoyable.
A post per day?
Some lawyers can crank out one or more quality posts per day. Lawyers Scott Greenfield and Kevin O’Keefe come to mind. But they are few and far in between. Be realistic about how long it’ll take you to write, edit, and publish a post. After years of blogging, I still set aside two hours for each post. Some posts may take 30 minutes to write and others a laborious, research intensive time suck (try to limit these), but I’ve found two hours to be a happy medium.
Start with a manageable goal and commit to getting out one post per week or every other week. Blogging is not to the swift, but the steady.
Store and develop ideas in Evernote
Ideas for posts can strike at any time and from myraid sources, including other blogs, Twitter conversations, Quora and Avvo Q&A’s, reading a book or even while watching television. Having a centralized place to store ideas as they occur is essential, and in my experience, Evernote is one of the best applications to handle this. You can quickly enter a note, image, web copy or URL into the application via Evernote on the web or its mobile or desktop applications, and your work is immediately saved and synched across all devices and platforms. Doesn’t get any better than that.
You can then develop your ideas and even collaborate with others within the application before transferring the draft to your blogging platform.
Create a Template
“Lawyers never do anything without a template“, writes Victoria Pynchon, in a recent Forbes piece, and provides a quick 7-step template that allows you to Create a Great Blog Post in Less Than an Hour. Among the steps are:
- Think of a broad topic inside your mission or expertise
- State the problem that your knowledge or services can resolve, and
- State your solution.
There are other templates you can use like the one detailed by Michael Hyatt in How to Use Evernote as a Blogger. Or eventually, create your own.
A picture is (not always) worth a thousand words
Sure, images can draw readers in and may enhance search engine optimization and page rank, but trying to find that perfect illustration can often take a lot more time than anticipated. If you’re starting to churn posts out at a brisk pace and locating images become burdensome, skip it. A quality thousands words is worth more than an exhaustive Flickr search.
Schedule your posts
Completed a bunch of posts in a burst of inspiration? Unless they’re time sensitive, don’t hit the publish button on all of them. Instead, schedule each to go out over the next few days or weeks. You’ll be thankful you did on those inevitable writer’s-block or hectic days. The terrific WordPress platform provides a two-step process for scheduling posts in seconds.
And finally, stop obsession over trying to be too complete with each post, and just hit the publish button. I’m still occasionally struggle with this. Posts can serve as an opportunity to crowdsource an idea or question with feedback from the community via blog comments and the social networks.
Quick Tip: You’re not writing a tome. Keep posts to a snappy 500-700 words.
Quick Tip 2: Increase engagement on your blog and literally double the comments by responding to every comment.