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Have you given any thought to hanging your own shingle lately? Here at Lawyerist, we continue to advise lawyers, both young and old, to start their own niche market law practices. However, in this Internet age where lawyers are being replaced by computers, the idea of hanging your own shingle doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to opening a new law practice. Instead, why not launch your own law blog and hang your shingle there?
I recently spoke with BL1Y, a pseudonymous law blogger, whose posts have been featured on popular law blogs, such as Above the Law and Bitter Lawyer. BL1Y started his own law blog, BL1Y | The Life and Adventures of a Defunct Big Law Associate, after having been laid off from his BigLaw job in New York City in early 2010. BL1Y recently launched Constitutional Daily, a new law blog whose masthead includes other well-known, pseudonymous law bloggers, namely, The Philadelphia Lawyer and The Namby Pamby.
An Interview with BL1Y
During my conversation with BL1Y, I asked him several questions about the decision to hang his own shingle at Constitutional Daily. If you, too, are interested in hanging your own shingle at a law blog, BL1Y’s insights on the subject may prove useful to you.
STACI: Why did you choose to start this new law blog?
BL1Y: After getting laid off and not being able to find work right away, I spent a lot of time thinking about what my career choices were. People say that we should just hang up a shingle and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Well, malpractice insurance is expensive, and even a virtual office isn’t free. Launching a new website, though? That took about $22. The way I look at it, I’m hanging up my own shingle. No reason that shingle has to say Attorney at Law instead of Editor in Chief.
STACI: Other than collaborating with other writers, what makes Constitutional Daily different from what you have been doing?
BL1Y: BL1Y.com was just a personal blog where I wrote about anything that interested me, like a journal that’s just open to anyone to read. One day it’s law school, the next it’s Harry Potter. That’s very different from what I’m doing now with Constitutional Daily. Con Daily operates much more like a traditional publication, but with the internet as its medium. The writers each have their own focus—there’s a somewhat firm publication schedule, and we pitch ideas to each other. It requires a more serious approach. The old site was just a hobby and a bit of a creative outlet. I treat Con Daily as a start-up business.
STACI: How do you plan on making money?
BL1Y: The plan for making money is pretty much the same as most other websites: advertising. Of course, until we have money coming in, the trick is to keep expenses to a minimum. Fortunately, that’s pretty easy to do online. Our biggest expense is our monthly hosting fee, which is about $8.
STACI: How are you going to attract your advertisers?
BL1Y: The first step is working on the site content and building up a large readership. Starting with several writers who already have their own fan base gives us a running start. A site that has a big enough following should naturally get on the radar of potential advertisers. I managed a print publication in undergrad that relied a lot on advertising. While this is a very different thing, I think the first step is the same, which is creating something that advertisers will want to buy space in.
STACI: How long do you think it will be until you actually make money off the site?
BL1Y: Anywhere from weeks to months. It’s possible to start getting a small amount of money through third party advertisers, like Google AdSense. But, any ad campaign has to be weighed against the harm it does to the site. Most people find advertisements obnoxious, and so putting on ads too early will make it harder to build traffic.
STACI: Web site design isn’t part of the normal law school curriculum. Have you had much trouble with the technical side of the site?
BL1Y: Tons. Most people won’t, though. If you use a service like WordPress or Blogspot, it’s very simple. You make an account and you’re up and running in less than an hour. But, I decided to go with Joomla, which gives you more freedom and has a few other features I like, but it’s also much more complex. The good news is that there are tons of free resources out there, from the software itself (Joomla, like WordPress and others, is free), to video tutorials, and even tech support. Some developers will help you use their products, and there are plenty of forums where you can ask your questions. It’s a bit intimidating at first, but so was the Erie doctrine.
STACI: I know the site has only been around for a few weeks, but how is Constitutional Daily doing as far as traffic is concerned?
BL1Y: This is where we started strong, with about 25-30% of what I’d like to see us at in 6 months. That’s a very good place to be.
We here at Lawyerist wish BL1Y and the rest of his staff the very best of luck. I’m sure that Constitutional Daily‘s readership, and eventually its advertising revenue, will continue to increase in the days, weeks, and months to come!
How to Launch Your Own Law Blog
If my interview with Constitutional Daily’s BL1Y has piqued your interest in launching your own law blog, Lawyerist has several tips and tricks on how you can begin the journey of hanging your own blogging shingle:
- What Is a “Blawg,” and Why Does It Matter?
- Blogging 101: Why Blog?
- Finding a Blog Niche
- Create a Successful Law Blog
- Make Time for Blogging
- Enhance Your Law Blog
- Legal Blogging: The G.Y.I. System
- Blogging Provides Publishing Platform and Offers Control
- Write Great Blog Posts
If you’d like even more information on starting and maintaining your own law blog, please read on at the following links:
- 10 Tips for Starting Your Law Blog
- Blogging Helps Lawyers Match Their Passion and Aspiration
- How to Get More Blog Hits
- Niches Lead to Riches in Legal Blogosphere
- Law Blogs Remain the One Constant Among Social Media
I recently started my own law blog, Haute Couture Law, because I am very interested in the thread between fashion and intellectual property law. Both Lawyerist and the Lawyerist LAB have helped me to get a very firm footing in understanding the many intricacies of launching a law blog. Thanks to these useful tools, I hope to start adding more content to my blog in the near future.
Will you be hanging your own shingle at a law blog? Please let us know in the comments.