January 01, 2015

Marketing: To Blog or Not to Blog? That’s a Question?

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker

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With the advent of social media, law blogs or “blawgs” have become mainstream in the twenty-first century. A great blog can give a lawyer’s practice a personal voice and significant presence. But the onslaught of social media can make even veteran lawyers jumpy. With hundreds of law blogs in the blogosphere, lawyers hoping to separate their blog from the pack must learn the ins and outs of blogging.

First, what is a “blog”? A blog is more than just a publication. It’s a form of indirect marketing in the crowded landscape of social media. Meaning that, to grab attention, you should generate content that adds to the discussion in your area of law. A blog is attractive to readers and includes content that others want to share. Whether you practice family law or corporate law, personal injury or intellectual property, you need to establish your blog as the go-to place online for reliable yet unique content on current issues.

What about the format of your blog? For starters, although you may be used to writing wordy briefs and treatises, the length of a blog posting typically ranges from 300-1,500 words. This is short enough to keep the attention span of a busy reader while piquing the interest of current and potential clients.

More importantly, a blog posting should do more than just report information. Make your blog interesting. Drop the stuffy legalese for which lawyers are famous (and ridiculed). For example, if your area of expertise is estate planning, don’t simply write a post about “how to prepare a will.” Instead, blog about estate planning lessons that can be learned from recent celebrity wills. If you practice bankruptcy law or creditors’ rights, blog about Detroit’s recent bankruptcy status and what went wrong. No matter what your practice area, make sure your blog topics are fresh and give the readers enough to take away a few practical pointers.

And don’t be shy about making yourself the subject by blogging about an award you received, an article you authored, or an interview you gave discussing your insights on a recent case or event. When possible, take readers directly to the source by linking to the original site that published your article, first reported on the interview, or announced the award you received.

Another way to attract visitors is to identify and use certain keywords in your blog posts (known as search engine optimization or SEO by the techies). Using these optimal words will help your blog rank higher in searches conducted by your target audience of potential clients. Think about the online searches your potential clients are conducting and make sure those keywords appear frequently in your blog.

How can you make your post go the extra marketing mile? Repurpose it. In other words, extend its life by offering your blog content in different formats. Popular and effective ways to do this include converting your post into an article for the law firm newsletter, e-blast, or local bar journal, or even converting your blog topic into a webinar, video, or white paper. And don’t forget about other social media platforms. Fresh blog content can quickly be converted into tweets, or posted on your LinkedIn page, on your firm’s Facebook page, and even on Google+.

What about converting blog visitors into clients? Put a contact form on your blog and ask the reader what type of content they want. Create a subscriber list by collecting the email addresses of potential clients. Or utilize a more interactive approach by making sure your blog is set up to allow for reader comments. All of these methods provide access to your readers’ contact information so you can keep in touch with them, notify them about new posts, and increase the odds they’ll come back.

A final point about blogging: success requires commitment. Bloggers must commit to posting no less than twice a week, if not more. And advertising your blog, researching and selecting the right topics, and writing interesting and valuable posts all take time and patience. But aspiring bloggers who follow these tips should see a return on their “blawging” investment.

Pamela Sakowicz Menaker

The author is communications partner with Clifford Law Offices, Chicago.