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.

Happy blogging.

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18 Comments

  1. shg says:

    I had no idea that the benefits of blogging were well documented. I’ve read thousands of words, but have never seen an iota of documented benefit. Where are you hiding it?

    As for your formula for successful blogging, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. It seems I’ve been doing it terribly wrong, but now that I know the right way, I can correct my errors and become a huge success!!!

  2. Sam Glover says:

    When it comes to promoting engagement, I generally disagree with your advice to respond to every comment. That creates an atmosphere more like the end of a seminar, where a few people mob the presenter to ask questions, instead of a peer-to-peer discussion. A good blog will promote an organic conversation between commenters, not just a back-and-forth with the blogger.

    Experienced forum participants seem to understand how to facilitate a conversation without dominating it. If you aren’t sure what I mean, go join SomethingAwful or Reddit or Fark and learn how to keep a conversation going on the internet.

  3. Guest says:

    sgh:

    I read your blog because it is very entertaining. I also enjoy commenting on it sometimes.

    The best thing about Simple Justice is that I discovered Lawyerist from it. Sam: Your blog is amazing. I have learned an enormous amount about how to use information technology and how to organize my practice. Thank you for this blog. It is by far the most useful blog about running a law practice.

    • Sam Glover says:

      Scott will be disappointed in your last paragraph. He warns everyone not to come here because he thinks all we do is tell new lawyers they can make millions by posting updates about their bowel movements to Twitter and Facebook.* It’s kind of cute, really.

      *That’s not all we do. Sometimes we post about shiny gadgets or beards.

      • shg says:

        I noticed the post about beards. What I can’t figure out is how someone who is too young to grow one knows so damn much about them.

        What you fail to appreciate, my dear Glover, is how I count on the Lawyerist to attract away readers from SJ who find it entertaining so that Darwin’s survival of the species has time to work its magic. If they find Lawyerist useful about running a law practice, then I absolutely agree that they should spend as much time here as possible. Every second, in fact. Daily. The only time they should take a break is to watch Glengarry Glen Ross on Sundays.

  4. Don’t mind Greenfield, he’s just wildly jealous that his Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Document Scanner Review Post wasn’t nearly as popular on Simple Justice as here.

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