So what is a blog, why should you blog, and where is the best place to get a free blog. Here are the answers:
Q: What is a blog?
A: A blog is a Web site that is made up of posts that are arranged chronologically, and are archived by date and category. [ Blogger Blog Definition | LexBlog’s legal blog definition ]
Q: Why should you blog?
A: Blogging gives law firms an easy way to highlight news items and publish commentary on what is happening in the legal world. In addition, most blogs have news RSS and ATOM feeds that summarize their authors posts and are aggregated in new news feed search engines like Feedster and Technorati. News journalists are using these blog search engines to find sources and information for their stories (and stories are breaking on the blogs, such as the CBS news documents, and the Whitehouse reporter with the false name and… :). As many news stories concern law, blogs are a great way to get in front of reporters. Many established law firms are doing it, such as Preston Gates & Ellis and Stark & Stark.
Q: Where is the best place to get a free blog?
A: Google’s Blogger is the best place to get a free blog. There are many other places for free blogs (eg LiveJournal – for teens with style or MSN Spaces – for teens without style), but Blogger has the cleanest interface, and is very easy to use.
You enter in your contact information, choose a subdomain, choose a template, and you are ready to post. You can take a tour of Blogger here.
Blogger has a lot of information about the service online. Rather than repeat their tutorials and instructions, here are the links to information that will help you set up your own Blogger Blog.
- Blogger Tutorial
- Blogger Help – FAQs and support
- Blogger’s Blog (Blogger Knowledge)
- About.com’s Blogger articles and resources
- Molly Holzschlag has an online video on learning Blogger (part of it is online for free, the full video requires a subscription or you can purchase the CD ROM of the video for $29.95).
Blogger hosts blogs at blogspot.com. Blogs hosted there have a required strip at the top of your blog that includes a Google site search. The one downside is there is a link in the upper right to the “next blog”. Periodically this may link to blogs that are…. not child friendly or client appropriate (feel free to let you imagination run wild here). If you FTP and host the blog yourself, then you do not have to have this strip (although you can have it if you wish, or create your own, with non “next blog” link).
blogspot.com also allows one to upload photos using Google’s Picasa software (only available for Windows) and the hello.com photo hosting/sharing service. It is takes a little bit of time to get used to posting photos on Blogger, but it works.
An example FTP/remotely hosted Blogger blog is Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites. Blogger blogspot.com blogs include the new Legal Sales and Service Organization blog and my puppy Sheba’s photo blog that I made last summer (in Oakland Raider black and gray).
There are a number of other limitations with Blogger, but some of these can be overcome. For example for new users Google only produces an ATOM feed, but you can pass your ATOM feed to FeedBurner and produce an RSS feed. Others, such as no categories require more work on the part of the user to produce with third party sites and tools (categories workaround – use Technorati categories and del.icio.us shared bookmarks as a substitute) and the flexibility of the CSS templates, especially if you want different templates or ATOM feeds for different sections of your blog. But for a basic free blog, it is the best out there.
If you want more flexibility for free, you could install WordPress (like Ken Chan’s Contracts Blog and Roy the Pug) or for a small amount of money host on TypePad (like Larry Bodine, Sheba the Hug Pug (screen shot below) and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown) or install and use MovableType software. The downside I see with TypePad is their bandwidth limitation, my puppy Sheba’s blog is already over 100% usage of our TypePad Pro plan (for that blog alone), although they are not charging for extra bandwidth usage… yet. Jerry’s blog had 20,000 hits in his first 6 days!.
For law firms that want a professional blog fully setup for them, LexBlog provides law firms a professionally designed blog that is search engine optimized, has RSS & ATOM feed submissions and pings and is promoted from the start. Justia also can take the RSS feeds from a LexBlog blogs and integrate them into a Justia law firm Web site. Kevin also has his own lawyer marketing blog that covers the blogging world and how it applies to law firm marketing.
But if you want a free solution, then Blogger is your best bet. And then link your free blog and your free Justia Web site to each other (or your pay blog and pay site) to connect and integrate your Web law firm marketing properties.
Next up – Free Mailing Lists with Google Groups
Peace – Tim