How to Market Your Law Blog

Good afternoon from Seattle. We’re on chapter 25 of Common Sense Legal Blogging which is 45 chapters long. We’ve been doing these more days than not, since the pandemic started, and we’ll wrap it up sometime probably at the beginning of August. What I’m trying to do is to empower lawyers and help them realize that blogging can be an apprentice way to help people by actually helping themselves. They can do this by building out niche practice areas that they really didn’t have before, or they’re identifying those opportunities for the future. So, it doesn’t take much to read the newspaper and realize that things are going to change dramatically. We have an economy that’s going to be much much different than it ever has been before. So those lawyers that are saying it’s going to be more of the same and that we just need to work hard doing more the same might be in a very privileged view. Maybe they’re gonna be successful at that but most are not going to be successful doing that. It’ll be a very privileged few. People are going to have to look for new opportunities in many things lawyers just haven’t done before, in particular niches, particular industries, etc. There’s plenty of opportunities and blogging is a great way to build a name to build relationships. I’m talking about today. Once you’ve got that blog, you can figure out your approach, how you’re going to get people to know about your blog. Maybe loosely describe it as marketing your blog. The first thing to realize is that a blog is not a toy or gimmick or a website where you’re saying “Come to this company! You have to look at this!” Some of the biggest turn offs in blogging are those blogs that post and have a chat window come across saying “if you talk to me…” or 800 numbers coming across the screen. These things scream “I care about me as a lawyer and my firm and how much money I make. I’m not overly concerned about you.”

 Now, there might be lawyers who disagree with that, but I don’t buy it. A blog is about listening to what people are concerned about, gauging the thought leaders out in the space, providing your insight and commentary. It’s not about baiting people to enter into a chat window with you, or to call your 800 number. If you’re really proud of yourself, and people believe that you’re a caring and passionate and experienced lawyer, who would be a good fit for them, they don’t find that out by you screaming at them. People find all types of restaurants and other services by just figuring it out; they don’t need to have somebody screaming at them, saying “you need to talk with me right now!” especially a lawyer that’s so insecure that they think they’re going to jump off to another lawyer’s blog or website, so it’s not that type of thing at all.

So keep in mind that this is a publication. Publications have some prowess to them, whether it’s a book or a magazine. It might be the only one in the country or the world; if you’re publishing on New York probate litigation, you might be the only one in New York State doing that, and you probably would be the only one doing that in maybe 40 something states. Lawyers don’t just seem to wake up and realize “Gee, there’s a lawyer in New York who seems to develop nice practices around for New York litigation, but I’m too busy doing estate planning. I don’t have time to go over there and develop careers for my family and build out a digital reputation by virtue of publishing in that niche.” So if you have that niche publication, think about that. That’s what you have. You may not have to market it as much as other people might have to. So, don’t do it, like you’re thinking about a website with traditional ways to drive traffic. Now, obviously there’s certain things from a technology standpoint you want to keep in mind. You want your content to be properly indexed, meaning it’s indexed on Google. If you’re as old as I am, we used car catalogs; we went to libraries, and things were in alphabetical order by subject or by author. That way we could find them. It was indexed appropriately. Well there’s some law firm websites and there are some blogs that aren’t indexed appropriately. If the page was titled “Home: Florida Probate Litigation Blog”, it’d be indexed under home at Google. That’s probably not what you want it under, so it has to be set up properly. Your titles have to be set up properly. You want to be thinking about what is stored in Google so that people can find the content. Google’s probably not going to be the leading way that people find your content. It’s going to come by virtue of people starting to cite it, then Google constructs a bubble up and works for you, but you have to have your content indexed properly; you have to have it set up properly from a technology standpoint that is going to be indexed properly for Google and is going to do well as far as speed so that Google is going to recognize your blog as a credible resource.

The best way to market your blog is to talk about others. And that seems counterintuitive, talking about others to get people to come to my blog. How many lawyers would think about that first? That would be the last thing they’d think about. They wouldn’t even think about talking about people as a way to get people to recognize me in my story; it seems kind of crazy. It’s not. If I make a list of the influencers in my particular field, let’s say when I was starting Lexblog, there were those people that knew about blogging. I didn’t know much about blogging at all. I knew nothing about blogging, but there were a number of people that did, and I followed their blogs and I shared what they wrote, and I provided my take on what I thought that meant to lawyers, and lo and behold, people started to recognize me. They were out there blogging, and they started to cite me. I started to get recognized for somebody that knew something about blogging and I did, because I was studying it and providing nice commentary. So imagine you’re a lawyer, publishing on domestic abuse in Tacoma, Washington. There might be the Tacoma newspaper; there might be a yellow newspaper; there might be bloggers anywhere in the United States, writing on domestic abuse issues. You want to be able to follow those sources and have them come into your news aggregator, so you can see which they’re skimming through. You might want to follow the subject; you may want to follow domestic abuse, just have that subject come in. You might find that there’s certain shelters and certain resources in your community. You want to follow and have them come in; you may want to follow certain people on Twitter who are sharing commentary on issues relating to domestic abuse. Why? They’re the influencers. If you start to share what they’re saying and provide your take on it, providing a link to them from your blog and letting them know that you share their insight on your publication with your readers, they’re going to start to follow you. They’re going to start sharing what you write. So now you have people out there, sharing what you’re writing as a reliable, trustworthy publication and publisher. Nothing is better than that. Nothing is better than going through others, as a way to get people to see your blog. You’re going to establish trust, you’re going to build an army of people that are going to share your insight and commentary. So when you share something on Twitter, you might find five other people retweet or like it. You’re building influence as you go, and that’s the leading way to do it. Most influencers start to realize that it’s very easy to follow things, share what other people are saying, and provide your insight and commentary. Many lawyers are too insecure to do this. That’s great for you because all those insecure lawyers aren’t going to do this. They’re about 90% of the world. Only 10% are secure enough to talk about what other people are saying and provide their insight and commentary. What you’re doing is you’re mentioning their name. They’re across the room on this subject; they’re going to see you, go over, shake your hand, get to know you and start to share information in your blog.

Look for the low hanging fruit. What’s the low hanging fruit? Your email, your email signature line. You don’t have to put “my blog”, you can put “publisher of such and such”. It’s a magazine or a book. Many people put “my blog”, which is almost like saying, I have the link to your car or dog. It’s more than a blog. There’s a whole lot of people that have crummy blogs with just enough content to get people to come to the website. They’re written by somebody else. It shows with the chat windows and that sort of thing. When your email signature says “my blog”, you fall right into that group. You want to do and say, “publisher of, contributing columnist to”. That’s panache. There’s no difference between a digital publication and a paper publication today, except there are not very many print publications left today. In fact, they’re probably worse than the digital publications. So if you’ve got a digital publication, they would say the same thing on LinkedIn, the same thing on Twitter, the same thing on Facebook, all the places that you are. You are the publisher of this publication, it might be the only publication in the world like it. It might have the most information on your niche’ it’s probably the most influential publication in your state or community. So, go for that low-hanging fruit whenever you can. It adds credibility as opposed to people just clicking to it, and following it. Send out particular blog posts to prospective clients and referral sources. “I thought you’d be interested in seeing this. Here’s the article; want to keep subscribing to my publication? Here’s how to do so.”

Take your discussion, your blog out with you. What I mean by that is you can’t sit there and just say you want everybody and all of the web traffic to come to you. Guess what? Web traffic is not the most important thing. The most important thing is for you to grow your influence and credibility and business. Blogging is a metric for web traffic. There’s nobody that’s going to say I get X amount of web traffic, you’ll get X amount of business. They’re just measuring web traffic, and they’ll sell your stats for that kind of thing. Taking your blog means taking an excerpt of your blog, and writing it up so there’s enough for me to get the gist of your blog post as it is. I can read it in entirety there; I’m not going to go to your blog to read it because I am way too busy to read content in places where people just leave a link. It’s not happening. Be courteous. Be kind. Take five or 10 minutes it takes to LinkedIn-ize your blog post. You can take that same piece and put it over on Facebook because on Facebook, it’s the same thing. So many people just put the title and the link, and they’re really expecting people to go there and read it. They’re not even going to read the New York Times, ESPN, let alone your blog. They’re just not going. Give them the synopsis of what it is, because in both of those places where you might announce it. Not only are you going to gain recognition for putting up information on a regular basis, you’re gonna have people like and comment on your post. You’re gonna meet those people as a result of that, and what’s going to happen is the algorithms in both of those places are going to start to service your content from the type of people that you want to get to know. So if you’re doing probate litigation work in New York, and you’re sharing a little synopsis of the portion on LinkedIn, people that are in the probate litigation industry are doing referrals to that space. LinkedIn is going to start to know that and put your content in front of them. The same thing is going to happen on Facebook. If you know how to use Facebook from a standpoint of a personal and professional basis. So you’re taking your blog out with you. You want to do it on Twitter. Take a little header from your blog. Put it on Twitter and give the hat tip to the person you cited first. Ideally what you’re doing on Twitter is not just putting your own stuff up, because that’s lame. People who put their own stuff up look like they’re all takers and they’re not givers. When you want to be doing is thinking “How can I maybe get 15, 20, 25, 35 other pieces that I’m sharing on Twitter to be able to meet the people whose content that I’m sharing before I share my own? So if you were doing one post a week, that’s probably not going to be a problem if you’re using a news aggregator and you’re starting to share, insight and commentary on an ongoing basis via Twitter. If you do that, people know that you’re not trying to just push stuff up at them. You’re sharing it with them for their insight and information, so you’re getting the blog and taking it out in various types of ways. Don’t push it all over the place. Just think about it from the standpoint that I can help other people by sharing this up and giving the synopsis of what it’s about. 

The last thing is niche vs. general. If you’ve got a general blog, you’d have to market the hell out of it, and if you think it’s really going to generate any work, which is like pushing the rock up the hill. Constantly at LexBlog, we’ll talk about things like that. Let’s not build something that we have to market. If we have to market it by really pushing it, maybe we don’t have the right niche. Maybe the product isn’t all that valuable. If there’s a lot of competition in that space, do we really want to put in the energy to build it, to sustain it, to improve it, and then push it up the hill, putting in all of that time before it just rolls back on top of us. If you’re doing an employment blog in a particular state, and there’s a boatload of employment blogs, and you’re insecure because, “Oh my god if I don’t cover all the cases I’m never gonna get a case because this and that and…” That’s nuts, you could be doing the most narrow niche employment and because you had such an incredible reputation and relationships that ensued, you’ll have people coming to you for all types of influence. So niches lead to bridges. Niches lead to more opportunities than saying I’m going to be broad and get more. With a good niche, you’re not going to have to really work hard in perfect marketing for your blog. Because you’re the person. You’re the woman that covers Texas. You’re the man that covers Arizona. You wrote the book on the law in California for a particular subject. There was a young lawyer who came out and published about California defamation law when there wasn’t anybody else doing it. People thought it was kind of crazy because federal law guided defamation issues. That lawyer today is doing as much, if not more work for some of the companies in Silicon Valley, such as Yelp, because he got his name out there. These companies gave him a try because he covered the issue. He wrote the book on that issue. If he’d gone broader, it never never never never would have worked. He went to a niche.

So, things to be thinking about just in general:

1) it’s not like a website where you’re thinking “I gotta get traffic traffic traffic traffic, traffic.” It’s not that. Don’t junk it up with chat things, whatever. It’ll just turn people off with your 800 numbers across the top. It just shows a sign of insecurity.”

2) Talk about others. That’s the most important thing to do. Talk about what others are writing and link to it. Provide their take in a block quote. Provide your insight  and commentary. Let them know that you shared their post and thoughts. They’ll begin to follow you.

3) Look for the low hanging fruit through you email, or LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook. Use that low hanging fruit. It’s very, very easy to do if you just have a good email signal light. Do you have your blog listed in all these places? Do you describe what it is, what you’ve covered?

4) Take the discussion, take the engagement of your blog out there. All of these social media places, they can create some engagement. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s going to happen. As long as you’re providing good insight and commentary, the algorithms are going to start to work for you.

5) Think about a niche versus a general. The wider you are, the tougher it’s going to be to market your blog.

The last thing I’m going to comment on is Blog4Good. We now have built every single state aggregation and curation engine, which you can aggregate and curate all the blogs in a particular state, all the legal blog publications. They’re all locked and loaded and ready to go. The number of states and cities are already live. Go to LexBlog Blog4Good to see. We’re contacting each state state by state. For those bar associations that have decided for whatever reason that they don’t want to do it, even though it doesn’t cost them anything to participate, we’ll do it. For those states that don’t want to do it, we’ll launch that publication to shine a light on the lawyers that are great things during a really tough time today. And then we’re providing those lawyers with a free turnkey blog solution, the likes of which people have been charged over $200 a month in the past. We’re doing everything we can to empower lawyers to leverage blogging, to help people and to help themselves during these tough times. You guys have a great day.