Not every kid has to read their dad’s law blog. But David Oxenford’s son was assigned to.
“My son went to graduate school in filmmaking,” said Oxenford. “He had to take a course on legal issues for broadcasters and filmmakers, taught by a law school professor, and a couple of the handouts were some of my articles. The professor wasn’t someone I knew, it was just a professor who was passing them out to her class.”
When Oxenford started the Broadcast Law Blog ten years ago, he wasn’t thinking about his posts being read in academic circles. In fact when he started his blog ten years ago bogs were only “just becoming a thing.”
“I had always done a newsletter and stuff for clients, but I thought a blog would be an easier way to get information out to clients, contacts, and others who were interested in info about the areas in which I practice,” said Oxenford, who’s a partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer. “So much stuff come out all the time; doing it in a newsletter you miss the ability to comment very quickly on stuff that just happened. Doing it in a blog gives you the opportunity to see something and say something, in a timely fashion. It just seemed to make sense to me.”
A decade later, his blog has clearly become an invaluable resource (he says he notices an uptick in traffic that coincides with the school year) for students, broadcasters, and other folks in the digital media industry.
Part of that is the fact that while he’s been honing his skill the industry he writes about has undergone some major changes. From the shifting face of broadcast to music downloads to copyright issues, people are in dire need of technical broadcast explainers. Even the old FCC regulatory topics that have been around forever evolve over time. That helps him mix up the topics that come around every year (your Super Bowls and March Madnesses) while still keeping his readers informed.
But mostly it’s his attention to detail. Though Oxenford has accumulated a mammoth library of material, he’s kept up with it. Newer posts on old issues connect back to another article that’s already written, putting notes in old articles that some bit of it has been corrected or developed in the months or even years since its posting.
“I try to look at an article as if I was on the other end of the internet reading it for the first time. Would I read it and would I understand what it’s talking about? What questions would I ask about the topics being covered?” asked Oxenford.
“Like the newspaper is the first draft of history, this is the first draft of the law; putting up commentary not in real time, but relatively quickly.”
Which is probably why his blog has resonated with so many people. Ten years in and Oxenford is still amazed by how many people read his blog, not to mention the people who come up to him at industry events and act as if they know him. He fields a couple calls a week from people who say they’ve read something on his blog and have a question on a legal issue for him—some of them students on a term paper deadline, but far from all. He knows he has some readership in the government.
“If they’ve heard of you through reading the blog or getting quoted in trade press articles, it provides validation that you’re really someone in the industry who knows what they’re talking about…it helps convince people that you’re an attorney worth hiring. In these industries knowing what’s going on is found valuable in that way.”
It’s a sweet reward who remembers the first year or two when he was basically blogging for himself. If he has any advice for bloggers who find themselves there it’s to remember that building an audience and getting that “psychic feedback and appreciation” takes a while; sticking with it—which, yes, means carving time out for it—is worth the build. Whether your audience is lawyers, government officials, or potential clients, your blog is a valuable stop in the internet. You’ll develop a voice, and build on your own knowledge base again and again. Eventually, as is the case with Oxenford, you may find yourself struggling to find the time.
“I’ve got a dozen topics I could write about if I had the time to do it,” he said. “I really like to do it but clients keep getting in the way.”