Is a legal blog effective for business development? In Inside Straight: Business Development (Part 3), Above The Law contributor, and former prolific niche legal blogger, Mark Herrmann, concludes that “it depends on what you want.” Here are seven positives that he took away from his legal blog experience:
- He became a better lawyer.
- He influenced the law.
- He became plugged in to events in his area of the law.
- He raised his, and his firm’s, professional profile in his particular field of law.
- He received invitations that further raised his profile in the field.
- He got a book deal.
- He had fun.
But did his legal blog bring in business?
It depends on what you want. A law firm will pay a lot of money to run advertisements to raise awareness of a firm’s name. Our blog resulted in “earned media” exposure—newspapers voluntarily choosing to quote us—that would have been worth a ton if you had been forced to buy the same exposure with advertising dollars. We also “touched” clients and potential clients regularly, because those folks read our posts (and heard our on-line voices) regularly. Ultimately, that exposure and those touches are worth something—maybe a great deal—but you may not be able to tie a particular retention to your blogging work.
Ultimately, however, our (or at least my—I don’t know about Jim’s) actual, dollars and cents, return on investment was pretty thin: One flat-fee appellate brief was the monetary payoff for maybe ten hours of work every week for three years. I shoulda flipped burgers at McDonalds.
Expectations For Your Legal Blog
This is solid advice from an established and experienced legal blogging veteran. Like any other form of professional publication, whether legal blogging is right for you really depends on what you hope to get from it. The relative “effectiveness” of any legal blog will depend greatly upon reader interest in its subject matter and its writing quality. To a certain extent, it will also depend on the technical implementation of the blog and the author’s ability/desire to publicize the content.
We have seen lawyers generate considerable new business from both their legal blog, as well as, other web strategies. We have also seen many that have tried blogging fail to achieve what they had hoped. The majority of the time, this has been attributable to a combination of unrealistic expectations, poor planning, and/or poor implementation.
If a legal blog is on your 2011 resolution list, here are a couple of things to think about, and places to go to get informed:
- Schedule time for writing.
- Consider using WordPress.org
- Find and source other topically related blogs.
- Publicize your content in legal blog directories and social media platforms.
- Write for your human audience but be mindful of search engines.
- Find ways to encourage others to publicize and link to your content.
- Check out Pro Blogger.
- Get familiar with some SEO tools.
- Check out Real Lawyers Have Blogs
Spend a lot of time thinking about, planning, and researching your legal blog before you set down to start writing. Check out my legal blogging system. Don’t get hyper-focused on traffic and potential client inquiries in the first several months. Take pride in seeing your online professional reputation grow.