Are you thinking about launching your own blog? Maybe you came across the idea from reading or hearing about it in the media, or when you encountered another attorney’s blog. Well, if you call up some blog providers, or if they call you up, here are some questions you may wish to ask them.
- Why should I pay for a blog when I can get one for free?
Blogging doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. In fact, Blogger and WordPress provide free blogs. Jottings by an Employer’s Lawyer is an example of an employment law blog running on the Blogger platform. Ask what added value, features or services that your future blog provider can offer.
- What blogging software will you be using to manage my blog?
Six Apart and WordPress are two highly customizable blogging solutions. The people that work on the software really focus on upgrading and improving their product. Is it possible that a blog provider has an in-house product that is more reliable, feature-rich and scalable than WordPress or Six Apart’s TypePad or MovableType Publishing Platform?
- How does your blogging software compare to Six Apart’s TypePad or MovableType?
If your blog provider is offering an in-house blogging solution, ask them to compare the feature set against TypePad or MovableType. Maybe your blog provider has never heard of MovableType. Or, maybe they are looking up MovableType right after they read this blog post.
- Does your blogging software automatically generate RSS feeds?
Although people can view your blog using their standard web browser, many prefer to subscribe to a blog’s RSS feed so that they do not have to visit a blog constantly to check for updates. Instead, the blog reader will periodically check all the blogs that the user has subscribed to and notify the user whenever a blog has been updated. The practical implication is that instead of manually checking a few blogs a day, someone can subscribe to fifty or more blogs and just view those that have been updated.
- Can I tag my blog posts?
Tagging means associating a blog post with one or more categories. If you are fortunate to have hundreds of posts on your blog, a reader may want to focus on posts of a particular topic. For example, tagging lets them read just the posts that discuss will contests on an estate planning blog.
- Can you show me some blogs that your company has designed?
Two things to look for. Do their clients post regularly? Do they write in a style that is appealing to you? See what types of training and feedback the blog provider offers its clients.
- Does anyone in your company blog?
When you ask this question, you shouldn’t hear an awkward silence coming from the other end of the telephone. The response will tell you whether the provider itself has adopted blogs as a marketing and knowledge management tool or whether this is really just another product for them to sell.
- Can I read a blog by one of your company’s executives?
If the response to the prior question was awkward, this one may be a real conversation stopper. Blogging is all about sharing knowledge, opinions and insights with others. Some readers may be clients. Some may become clients. And, some will not. But, in the mean time, you are developing your online expertise in your particular niche and enriching the community at large. If blogging carries all the great benefits that the salesperson is telling you, why aren’t the executives themselves blogging? By the way, Tim Stanley of Justia, Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, and Matt Mullenweg of WordPress all blog.
- What blogging software do they use?
It would be pretty awkward if a blog provider uses one blogging solution for their internal blogs, but sells another solution to outsiders. The other way to ask the question is, “Do you eat your own cooking?”
- How do i know if a blog is appropriate for me?
Not everone has time to blog. Not everyone possesses the writing skills to blog. Not everyone enjoys blogging. Blogging takes time. Time that you can spend working on a paying case. Time that you can spend with family and friends. If someone is selling you a blog, ask them what makes a successful blogger, and see if you meet their criteria.