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The Blogger Diaries | Stepping onto the Cutting Edge

 

FROM: July / August 2005 , PAGE 64 BY: Larry Bodine

It took about 10 minutes for lawyer Andrew W. Ewalt to set up a Weblog and step onto the cutting edge of marketing. For Andrew, a solo practitioner in Storrs, Connecticut, starting up a blog was no sweat. “It was easy. I’m computer-savvy enough to see a button online and click it to see what it does.” You can find “Andrew Ewalt’s
Law Blog” online at http://andrewewaltslawblog.blogs.com.

Although he admits to spending 18 hours a day in front of a computer, Andrew is not a hair-tinted techno-geek. This is a real lawyer who practices in probate and estate administration, life and estate planning, business law, taxation law, elder law, bankruptcy, and residential and commercial real estate. All that made Andrew seem a perfect subject for the magazine’s new series “The Blogger Diaries.”

Law Practice will chronicle Andrew’s blog and his online marketing efforts over the next year, providing updates in every other issue. You’ll get to see what he tries, what works and what doesn’t. And to help him avoid missteps, the magazine has appointed me to be his blog coach—because I am a hair-tinted techno-geek (and a lawyer to boot).

Why track how a blog works for a lawyer? Blogs are absolutely red hot in marketing circles. Fortune magazine declared them the number one technology trend in the country. The Wall Street Journal carried an article, “Blogs Keep Internet Customers Coming Back.” And BusinessWeek made blogs its cover story.

As of May 2005, 27 percent of U.S. adults online read blogs—which factors out to 32 million people, according to Pew Internet. But there are still fewer than 1,000 lawyer blogs, according to www.blawg.org. The world is blogging and the legal profession is standing on the sidelines. This is a major marketing mistake, especially when setting up a blog is so easy.

Day One: The Starter Steps

For Andrew’s blog, I recommended he sign up for a TypePad account at www.typepad.com. He chose the $14.95 per-month service (and the first two months are free). It’s a better alternative than Blogger, which I consider a kid’s option. It’s also less complicated than Movable Type, which must be installed on a server.

Andrew chose the three-column layout and “classy” design for his blog. Then he switched on the commenting feature, which allows his readers to join in a two-way conversation with him. At my suggestion, he put his tagline under the blog title and turned on the calendar feature, so readers will be able to easily locate past posts. He also put his photo, Web site address and phone numbers in the “About” section.

Then he created his “blogroll,” a list of other, related blogs to which he’s offering links. Remember, the blogosphere is all about linking. You want lots of people to link to you, and you get them by linking to other blogs. Plus, it helps you rank high in Google and Yahoo searches.

In general, search engines favor blogs because they are primarily text and are frequently updated (just what search engines like). In fact, many blogs rank higher in searches than law firm sites, because traditional Web sites are junked up with flash, animation, frames and other search-engine repellent.

Andrew’s first post, “Ideas for Preventing Identity Theft,” went online on May 13, followed by a May 16 post, “Good News for Individuals Facing Long-Term Care.”

Stay tuned. It only gets better from here.


Larry Bodine ( lbodine@lawmarketing.com) is a strategic Web and marketing consultant based in Glen Ellyn, IL. He runs the LawMarketing Listserv ( www.LawMarketing.biz), the LawMarketing Portal ( www.LawMarketing.com), the PM Forum Web site ( www.PMForumNA.org) and, oh yes, his own Professional Marketing Blog at http://blog.larrybodine.com.