Marketing for Lawyers

What Should I Blog About?

Once you have decided to start a law blog, the obvious next question is what do I blog about? If your purpose is to create a platform to express your ideas to the world, the answer is simple: blog about whatever is on your mind. On the other hand, if you are trying to build your online presence for your firm or solo practice, there are some basic formats that you can follow while you find your voice and gain your sea legs.

Blog About Recent Caselaw

Whether you are writing your own content or using a ghost writer, regularly blogging about new caselaw relevant to your practice areas should be one of the staples of your blogging material. The benefits include:

  • Staying abreast of recent developments and learning new law as it appears in appellate opinions.
  • Demonstrating your knowledge of new developments and nuances in the law related to your firm’s practice areas.
  • Keyword rich blog posts that flow naturally without sounding forced. If one of your goals is to rise in the search engines, blogging about caselaw can get you there with scholarly articles that do not turn off potential readers with blatant marketing.

On my own criminal defense blogs, at first I regularly blogged about caselaw because I did not want to miss anything. In trial, I would often refer to my own blog and pull cases on the fly as issues arose. Years later, I realized that some of the biggest cases we were retained on came from blog posts about caselaw whether directly or indirectly. It is not enough to simply brief a case in the blog post – talk about your opinion, how the ruling affects your practice, and what implications an appellate opinion may have for future cases.

Blog About the Daily Challenges in Your Law Practice

There are issues that arise on a regular basis in your law practice, and you have your own methods of navigating them. You can blog about those issues and your best practices in general terms while being careful to safeguard individual clients’ confidentiality. If you are a criminal defense lawyer, how do you approach the issue of handling preliminary hearings when police, prosecutors, and judges all insist that you waive the hearing? Are there systemic issues with Brady violations in your area and how does your office handle them? As a plaintiff’s attorney, what is your experience with defense counsel and how does your office handle common issues that arise?

The issues that arise most often and that you feel the most strongly about make some of the best topics, and you may be surprised to find that other attorneys and potential clients may be searching for keywords that appear naturally in these blog posts. Only you can say what these topics are based on your own experiences over time. Because the topic is based on your own experience and practices, you are the expert and this type of blog post should easily flow for you.

Other suggestions for topics:

  • Current events that are relevant to your practice area. News about local events, high-profile trials, or pending legislation can all spark ideas and provide blogging material relevant to your practice areas.
  • Topics chosen by other bloggers. You can be inspired by the commentary of other writers, respond to their opinions, and provide a link to their posts to start or join a conversation about important issues.
  • Question and answers. Write about the most common questions that current or prospective clients ask you and your staff, or answer the questions that brought people to your website. Either way, you have a topic that you know prospective clients are interested in and want to learn more about.
  • How-to guides. A short how-to guide about an area of law that you regularly handle can show your knowledge and expertise, provide a source for natural keyword placement in your article, and could become a resource that other legal professionals return to for guidance.
  • Blog about controversial issues. If you only blog about boring, vanilla topics, your blog may help potential clients find you through keyword searches, but you will probably not build a base of regular readers. If you want people to actually read your blog, write about something interesting that people care about and do not shy away from controversy.

Why Should I Have a Blog?

If you are just starting out with a new blog or considering it, there are a few questions you should be asking yourself before you begin. Why am I blogging? What should I blog about? Who is my audience? If you have the answers to these questions, you are ready to begin…

There are two main reasons that people start blogs: 1) I want a platform to share my opinions and commentary; and 2) I want to market and bring in more business. When blogs first appeared online, they were primarily a way for people to share their thoughts and even daily activities online (web-log). The format later developed into a marketing tool much to the dismay of the “real” bloggers. They are not mutually exclusive. If you think of it as a continuum, most attorney blogs fall somewhere inbetween the two extremes.

Blog for Yourself

If you love writing and want to create a platform for yourself to express your opinions to the world, a blog is the perfect medium. I recommend giving it a try on your own if you are motivated and have the time. If you have the time to invest, you can research online and learn how to set up and host a wordpress blog. You don’t have to hire a company to do it for you and you don’t have to hire a ghost-writer to write the content. You can do this without spending a dime apart from your time investment. There are many different ways to go about doing this, but I recommend starting with wordpress.com where you can set up a free hosting account. If it goes well, you find you that you love blogging, and you are able to stick with it consistently, you can move your domain from wordpress to a private server.

I understand that not everyone has the time or motivation to learn about blogging and to write regular updates themselves. Obviously, if you choose to hire someone to ghostwrite your blog and maintain it for your firm, I approve and that is what I do. Nevertheless, if you are someone who loves to write and can spare the time, I recommend that you do it on your own and ignore the blather of the multitude of “marketing experts” who only want to sell you a product.

Blogging as a Marketing Tool

Most law firms use blogs as a marketing tool. The topics on these blogs tend to be more focused on specific practice areas to maximize the relevant keywords and search engine results. The goal shifts from 1) expressing my personal views to 2) driving traffic to the firm’s website. A well-written “real” blog can also drive traffic to your website through links from other blogs and social media; on the other hand, a well-written but purely marketing-oriented blog directly sends traffic to your site through regularly updated, relevant content that will appear in online searches. It is a fact that regularly updated, relevant content will increase your website’s exposure in online searches and the sites with the most well-written content are at the top of the search engines. More is better provided it is well written and professional.

The “call to action” is a sure sign of a marketing-oriented blog and is recommended by most marketing experts. It’s a trade-off between credibility as a blogger and effectiveness as a marketing tool. It may be effective when your target audience is solely prospective clients who find your website through online searches, but it is also a turn-off for other attorneys or anyone who is looking for interesting legitimate content to read.

If you have a lawblog or are considering starting one, contact Quality Legal Writing now to find out how we can help you increase your firm’s online exposure with quality, regularly updated original content.  (See… you didn’t really want to read that, did you?)