Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers is one of the latest in the ABA’s “trendy topics in one hour for lawyers” series of overpriced books. This is unfortunate, because Ernie Svenson’s practical, quick-start guide to blogging, written with lawyers in mind, is actually quite good, despite its silly name (it takes more like 2 or 3 hours to read) and hefty price tag ($40, unless you get the iBook version I linked to above, which is more reasonably-priced at $20).
A practical guide to blogging
Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers is for lawyers who think they want to blog, but have not yet started. It is primarily a technical how-to guide for setting up and using a blog on the TypePad platform. Ernie walks through setting up a blog, connecting your custom domain, and creating posts and pages. If you are mystified by how someone would create a blog and publish things on the Internet, this book will walk you through that process with step-by-step guides and plenty of images to orient you.
In addition to technical how-to, Ernie throws in plenty of blogging tips throughout. He covers basics like how long your posts should be, good blogging style, and where to find things to write about. As Ernie points out, the best way to learn these things is to dive in and start blogging, so he does not go into great detail on, for example, how long your posts ought to be or what sorts of things to write about. This is, I think, the right approach, but timid would-be bloggers might wish for more. (Then again, timid would-be bloggers should probably reconsider blogging in the first place.)
TypePad v. WordPress
Ernie uses TypePad for all his examples, including walking you through how to set up a blog, draft and publish a post, and configure settings. Bob Ambrogi did not think much of this decision, and accused Ernie of giving “short shrift” to WordPress, the most-popular (because it’s the best) blogging platform. I think Ernie is wrong to recommend TypePad over WordPress, but I also think it does not really matter. If you start a blog on TypePad and later decide you want to move to WordPress, it is not too hard to do, as long as you have a custom domain (lawyerist.com, not lawyerist.typepad.com).
Why do Bob and I think WordPress is better? When you start blogging, it will probably be all you can manage just to publish a few times each week. TypePad does a fine job of putting text on the Internet. Soon, though, you will probably want to add functionality to your blog. You may want finer control over SEO, or you may want to add a cool popular posts widget like we have in our sidebar, or showcase your tweets, or add a contact form, or other stuff. Some of that you can do in TypePad, but WordPress is far more flexible. You can run anything from a one-person blog to the New York Times blogs on WordPress. When you get serious about blogging, it is often the best choice.
And I don’t actually think WordPress is any more difficult than TypePad to set up, particularly because of the vast community of WordPress users our there who are writing about how to do things on WordPress. If you want to start a blog as easily as TypePad, just use WordPress.com until you are ready to host your own copy of your blog using WordPress.org.
As I said earlier, though, I don’t think following Ernie’s advice and starting on TypePad is a bad idea, even though it is not what I would recommend. You’ll be fine.
“… for Lawyers”
Many things, from books to software, are billed as “for lawyers.” I suppose this is because lawyers like to think they are special and require lawyer-specific things, even though this is not always the case. This is definitely not the case for blogging.
Good blogging is good blogging, whether it is done by lawyers or not. As Ernie points out at the end of his book, about the only rule lawyers specifically need to follow is to not blog about active clients. He also points out that if all you are doing is promoting yourself, you may fall under some of the ethical rules on advertising, in addition to being a sucky blogger. Apart from that, this book could have been called Blogging in One Hour, but then the ABA would not have published it.
Who should buy Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers?
This is a decent practical guide for someone who wants to start a blog, but the cover price ($40) is just comical. Fortunately, you can get it from Amazon for less than $27, and there is an iBook version for a much-more-reasonable $19.99. (Keep an eye on our forum, too, where I
will be giving away my review copy .)
You should also consider Bloggers Boot Camp which is more comprehensive, focuses on WordPress instead of TypePad, and costs less. Yeah, it doesn’t have “for lawyers” at the end of the name, but it is a must-have manual for new bloggers and exprerienced bloggers alike. Whether or not you get Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers, you should definitely get Bloggers Boot Camp.
Bloggging in One Hour for Lawyers
Reviewed by Sam Glover on March 29, 2013.
Summary: Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers is a practical guide for a lawyer considering blogging — just don’t pay the ABA’s ridiculous price.
Overall score: 4 (out of 5)