Blogging has always been a way for Judy Selby to get the answers. Even when they’re not there yet.
“I’m particularly interested in information-related issues, as I call them,” said Selby, a partner at BakerHostetler. “[Things like] cyber-insurance, big data; it’s such a cutting edge field right now. There are no real answers, no real treatises to questions that are arriving today. I just started researching and if I had questions of things I figured other people had questions about them too.”
Throughout approximately half a decade of blogging, that has remained Selby’s guiding principle: put out good content on things that would interest and aid people.
Typically that means gearing her content more towards people who may be struggling with the issues, instead of fellow lawyers. Selby, who has blogged on numerous BakerHostetler blogs—including IP Intelligence, Class Action Lawsuit Defense, Data Privacy Monitor—believes that law firms and companies should remember the value of maximizing that data available to compete in the global marketplace.
“I try to give [readers] content that’s easily understandable, and that can alert them to any issues…because avoiding problems is so much better than dealing with problems,” said Selby. “I’m a real proponent of that; I like to write things in a pretty straightforward way, get rid of the legalese. Because if it’s not understandable it’s not useful.”
Over time she’s developed a style that works for her—including remembering that not every blog post has to be 800 or more words.
“I realize that people out there are bombarded with content, and if somebody chooses to click on your piece you want it to be worth their while. Don’t waste their time, and definitely don’t make it hard work for them to read it,” said Selby.
It’s similar to the process Selby said BakerHostetler went through when deciding to adopt blogs. But like many firms, the advantages of blogging far outweigh any potential cons the practice may bring.
As Selby puts it, it’s what your competitors are doing, as well as your clients and potential clients.
“Having a presence in social media and putting out quality content is good business,” said Selby. “People are looking for that kind of content, and I think that’s just the evolution of thinking…people want information by quickly jumping online. So you want your content to be available like that, to demonstrate that you’re responsive and current.”
And that feedback loop can keep on giving, according to Selby. Though her goal started as spreading the word on things she was interested in, she’s found that there are plenty of other people who are looking for insight on information-related law.
Selby might not have found out about how cyberinsurance policies dealt with mergers and acquisitions until one day she happened upon something surprising after reading through a stack of policies. As it turns out, others were just as intrigued as she was, and her article was “very, very well received.”
And by sharing the information along with insights she’s derived from her research, Selby has made connections with people she wouldn’t have had before—which have led to more conversations around ethical issues and big data, where lawyers and bloggers like Selby are stepping in where legislation can’t.
“I wrote a piece years ago and got a response from a gentleman in California, and his comments were so insightful I reached out to him,” said Selby. “I told him if he ever wanted to partner on an article [that would be something I was interested in,] and he said he’d love to. We’ve still never met each other in person, but we’ve put out a couple of strong articles together.”
Of course, Selby knows that doesn’t just happen overnight. Blogs require patience and hard work, even when you’d rather come home and kick your shoes off instead of blog about the one (or two or three) developments that just happened.
“You have to be consistent; you can’t put something out twice a year and expect to see any type of results from that,” said Selby. “And you have to be patient: there’s different results, [such as] lifting up your firm profile and your personal profile, making connections, building relationships, developing business, becoming a thought leader—there’s so many different outcomes and some are more quickly realized than others.”
Selby also notes that it’s important that bloggers get their facts straight, and make sure they know what they’re talking about. There’s always been recent developments. But her first piece of advice for struggling bloggers?
“You can learn a lot…[but] get started. It’s not as hard as you think.”