“I’ve got to start a blog.”
Those words came out of our new associate’s mouth as he walked into my office a few weeks ago. He had watched me open six new client files over the course of two days. I suspect, from his perspective (he graduated from law school last spring and joined the firm a few months ago), that blogging looks like a fast, easy way to build a book of business. But that’s not the case.
A lot of business owners — lawyers included — seem to think starting a blog is a quick-fix marketing plan. If you’re considering starting a blog, you have to think in terms of the long game. You’re not going to see results overnight. I started my own blog in 2010, and back then, I was happy if I had a double-digit readership each day. My readership has grown significantly since then, and I’ve started a second blog for my law firm’s website, as well as a YouTube channel.
It’s Hard Work, But Worth It
In case you didn’t know this, blogging (and any type of content creation) is hard work. It takes dedication. I had a great motivator when I wanted to start a blog because the friend who set up my site said he wouldn’t help me unless I promised to release at least one new post on my site every week for at least the first two years. Too many people start a blog and stop writing new posts after a few weeks. It needs to become part of your weekly schedule, so you make time both to develop ideas that you might write about and to write your posts.
And it’s not enough just to write blog posts — it has to be good content. Nobody will care what you write about unless it is interesting and helpful. Think about who your audience is and write to their needs. Here’s how blogging leads to new clients for me:
- I write blog posts that are related to my practice area that I think prospective clients will enjoy.
- Prospective clients run an Internet search on a question they have, and one or more of my posts appears in the search results.
- A prospective client sees that I have knowledge related to his problem, and I can talk about legal issues in a way that makes sense to him.
- The prospective client sends me an email or calls me asking for help.
The approach brings results: In the past year, about half of my new clients have found me via Internet searches. So, I told our new associate to think about what questions he is frequently answering for clients and what lessons he wishes they knew — those are golden ideas for blog posts.
It Can Be a Great Journey
When I say you need to think about the long game when it comes to starting a blog (or a vlog or podcast), I’m not talking about weeks or months. I’m talking about years. It takes years to build up a strong following. So if you wish to begin the journey of having a blog, make sure you are prepared to take on the obligations of releasing quality content on a regular basis and making time to promote it on social media in a non-jerky way. (Remember, please, social media is an interactive platform; don’t treat it like a digital billboard.)
Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer and speaker. She is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing her practice on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Ruth is the author of the ABA book “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” Follow her on Twitter @rbcarter.