Blogging is tough. Anyone can start one, but keeping it up – and getting anyone else to read it – is difficult. I’ve been blogging for approximately three years now, on a variety of legal and quasi-legal topics, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are my top five tips for other lawyers who want to blog.
See the Bigger Picture
As I mentioned above, starting a blog is easy, but keeping it up is tough. Work, family, hobbies, and generally having a life get in the way of blogging. Viewing your blog as part of your bigger career picture can help motivate you to find the time to write. Lawyers already have an obligation to keep up with the latest developments in our areas of practice, so the reading and writing required to keep up a blog on legal issues is part of our ongoing obligation to keep educated. Writing on specific legal topics also can help you solidify your reputation as an expert within the profession. Thanks to my e-discoverymatters.com blog, for example, I’ve been contacted to speak and write on e-discovery issues by other lawyers and corporations.
Get a Blogging Buddy
At the end of the day, it’s often easier to turn on the TV for an hour before bedtime than to work on a blog post. But, just as with exercise, having a blogging partner or friend can help motivate you when nothing else will. I’ve neglected my e-discovery blog at times when the rest of life got crazy, even when I knew I shouldn’t.
5 Tips for Sustained Blogging
- See the bigger picture.
- Get a blogging buddy.
- Write what you like.
- Become comfortable with social media.
- Be clever and creative.
But I’m better about posting on thelegalgeeks.com, because I do that blog with another lawyer, Josh Gilliland (the e-discovery expert behind bowtielaw.com). Knowing that I will be letting down someone else if I don’t post has often been an effective motivator for me when I’d otherwise be too tired to blog. Of course, I’ve still had times when work and life have just been too busy and so I haven’t posted as much as I should on thelegalgeeks.com. But that’s another reason it’s good to have a blogging buddy: he or she can step in when life gets too hectic for you.
Write What You Like
Perseverance in blogging is essential, but it’s also one of the biggest challenges you face as a blogger. To counter that, you must be sure you’re interested in what you’re writing about – personally, professionally, or (even better) both. Being interested keeps you blogging day to day and week to week.
Not only do you need to keep providing new content on a frequent basis, you also should keep blogging over the months and years. One article I read claimed it takes at least 14 months for a blog to gain any online credibility. At the Legal Geeks, we definitely received much more attention and credibility (including being listed as one of AmLaw’s Top 100 blawgs!) in our second year. So if you’re going to blog, you should find a topic that you’ll want to write on over a number of years. In addition, if you’re not interested, your readers will sense your disinterest. They’re interested, which is why they’re checking out your blog, so you had better be interested, too.
Become Comfortable with Social Media
Gettting Started with Little Cost
Starting a blog, with little to no cost, is pretty easy these days. You just need to find a good website name that’s available and figure out who you want to host your domain (I used Bluehost and have been happy with them). You can either go right through a hosting site like Bluehost to get your website up and running or you can check out wikihow.com’s article on “how to start a blog” for the steps you’ll need to take. You can also set up a quick, easy, and free blog on blogger.com or one of the other free blogging services – they just don’t give you as many design and layout options to make your blog look professional.
Okay, you get it, you need to write – write often and write over the long term. But that’s not all you must do. Today, electronic communication is all about social media … Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and so on. Obviously, depending on the type of blog you’re doing, certain outlets are more appropriate than others. For lawyers, LinkedIn and Twitter are two of the more obvious professional outlets (and the ones I rely on). LinkedIn has a variety of communities you can join, where you can start discussions, answer questions, and otherwise establish more online credibility, but I prefer Twitter. I’ve met several other e-discovery lawyers on Twitter, as they retweet my posts and I retweet theirs. In fact, I’ve actually been at e-discovery conferences since I joined Twitter where I’m having conversations on Twitter with other conference attendees (I’m old enough that I then try to make face-to-face contact with my Twitter contacts in such situations!). Twitter has its own language and its own tools, but fortunately now there are enough online resources (such as twittonary.com) that even novices can master the basics.
Be Clever and Creative
This is an area I’m still working on – I’m not very creative. I think (I hope!) I’m clever, but creativity isn’t a strong suit for me, especially visually. My blogging buddy, Josh, on the other hand, is very creative, a trait that can keep folks interested in your blog posts. He uses funny props, adds videos, and even creates dummy demonstratives, all of which make his blog posts a ton of fun. Certainly, if you’re discussing a serious legal issue (as opposed to judges who quote Star Trek), toys and cartoon thought bubbles might not be the appropriate creative choice, but you can still use visual images or graphics that catch the viewers’ eyes. After all, we’re talking about the Internet, where competition for readers is vicious, nonstop, and very, very visual. So even we lawyers have to acknowledge that words alone aren’t enough online.
That’s it – my top five tips. I’ll be the first to admit that blogging is hard – finding time to write at the end of a long day is a frequent challenge (too often I can’t resist the temptation of a favorite sitcom on my DVR) – but it’s also a great way to develop your legal knowledge, meet other people with similar interests, and establish your expertise on certain legal topics. So pick a topic, start blogging, and tweet away (we can even become Twitter buddies!).