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Lawyer blogs can be a strong marketing tool with numerous potential benefits for your practice. Check out this post for a few of our tips for developing content that maximizes the marketing benefits for your law firm.
Many lawyers have (or want to have) a blog for their practice, but many are unaware of the bigger picture “why” for their blog. The truth is you can certainly build a practice without a blog, and some lawyers do. However, operating a blog can be one of the most effective legal marketing strategies for your law firm. Blogging presents lawyers with many interrelated opportunities for reaching prospective clients, building the firm’s brand, and managing the practice’s digital presence.
Your blog has the potential to become a leading resource on the law and key issues in your practice area. If the blog is done well, i.e. it is informative and well written, it is likely to draw repeat visitors and receive social shares. This helps build brand awareness and establish your firm as an authority in your practice area. Authoritative blogs are especially good at producing lawyer to lawyer referrals.
Related to the branding benefits are the reputational benefits lawyers receive from a strong blog. Sharing your expertise online builds greater trust in your legal abilities and, as mentioned above, helps establish you as a leader in your practice area. Having blog posts that are visible in various places across the web also helps you more effectively manage your digital reputation.
On the topic of visibility, operating a lawyer blog can help you achieve heightened visibility for your practice and your website through SEO (search engine optimization). When your blog is effectively optimized for search engines and has high-quality content, your firm can have greater command of the search engine results page and/or appear higher in the search rankings. Moreover, your blog can drive additional traffic to various places on your law firm website, ultimately resulting in more leads for your firm.
You can learn more about the relationship between various types of legal blogs, SEO, and visibility in this previous Justia Onward post.
Blogs do not only impact your search visibility. Your blog posts can also be great content to repurpose for your law firm newsletters and official firm social media accounts. Readers can readily share these posts with their followers, friends, and family members. This expands your audience and helps you reach potential clients across different channels. The expanded reach ultimately drives more traffic to your blog and law firm website.
All of these benefits are maximized when you implement best practices into your blogging efforts and work to craft effective blog posts. Keep reading for our tips for developing content that will help your lawyer blog posts reach their full potential.
1. Plan Your Posts
The number one tip we can give you for creating an effective blog post is plan, plan, plan. Certainly, there are times where something new, exciting, and unexpected happens in your practice area and warrants an unexpected update on your blog. However, by our rough estimate, 95% of the time your blog will have better quality (and perform better) if you have taken the time to do some upfront planning to help guide you on the right track.
You should develop a rough schedule for your blog. Yes, this schedule can be flexible especially since the actual practice of law can be demanding and somewhat unexpected. However, you should strive to stick to your schedule if possible.
Having this schedule will help you block time for actually drafting your blog posts and help you ensure you keep your blog regularly updated, which is important for both search rankings and reader experience. Google wants to keep fresh, relevant content at the top of their results pages (though quality, relevant older content can still perform well) and readers do not want to continuously visit a site that does not have any new information.
We also suggest keeping a running list of topics that you may want to address on your blog. This ensures that you always have something new to write about and helps you avoid the dreaded writer’s block. Your topic list should include evergreen topics that are always relevant, hot topics in your practice area, interesting information about the law, and, of course, breaking news and changing areas of the law.
Start by asking yourself what the most common questions are that you receive from your clients. Also, consider what legal problems you encounter most frequently. What are mistakes you see in your cases that could easily be avoided if the parties had known the law ahead of time?
The answers to these questions are a great place to start creating content. You can also plan to post legislative summaries for changes in the law that come out of each session. Asking members of your team for their ideas is also a great way to expand your list. Once you have a rough list of topics, it makes selecting something to write about much easier and allows you to focus on diving right into the writing process when the time comes.
2. Understand Your Purpose & Audience
When it is time to start writing, the first thing you need to do is understand the purpose of your post. What is your goal when sharing this content? What should your readers do?
You may be thinking that the point of your posts is always to drive business and reach more potential clients. While that is likely the overall goal of your law firm, not every post has a purely promotional purpose on a more granular level.
We suggest considering three broad categories for your content purpose: advertising & promotion, knowledge-sharing & resources, reputation & brand awareness. Promotional posts are focused on advertising your professional services and perhaps any deals you may be offering, such as free consultations or flat-fee divorces. Knowledge-sharing or resourceful posts are intended primarily to update people about a specific issue or topic. Reputational or brand awareness posts are public accolades, awards won, and community involvement, as well as evergreen content that helps establish your law firm as knowledgeable about the issues impacting your clients and community.
Once you know your purpose, you should consider your audience. Ideally, who is reading this post? Are they the leaders at large businesses? People going through a divorce? Someone who recently lost a loved one? You want to keep this audience in mind throughout the drafting process to ensure you are conveying your intended message in an accessible way.
3. Start Writing
Once you have determined the basic purpose of your post and your intended audience, you are ready to start the drafting process. However, we do not suggest you immediately start typing out full paragraphs.
Instead, you should begin by outlining the post you want to write. This basic framework is important for making sure your content is easily understood, cohesive, and sending your intended message. As part of this outlining process, you may need to research the current law around your topic. The law can rapidly change, and you want to ensure your content is accurate. Additionally, you will want to link to appropriate statutes and similar resources in your final post (more on that later).
You may also need to research the typical experience of your clients when they encounter a specific issue or circumstance. For example, you may be well-versed in the legal aspects of a DUI. However, if you are writing a post about what an intoxicated individual should do after being pulled over, then you likely want to do some background research on what individuals typically encounter from the moment those blue lights come on until they contact you.
After you finish outlining and researching your post, you can start the drafting process. The number one thing to remember throughout the drafting process is that you want the finished product to be well-written, original content. It may go without saying but do not borrow content you found elsewhere online. Also, make sure to utilize tools, such as spellcheck and Grammarly to check for typos and spelling mistakes.
While writing, remember that you want to hook your audience into your post. Try incorporating statistics or sharing an anecdote. Examples also help improve the readability of your posts. Throughout the writing process, stay focused on your “takeaways”. These are the pieces of information you want your readers to remember when they finish reading your blog post.
You should include links within your content to resources and applicable statutes. This gives your content greater credibility, allows readers to review additional resources, and is a good SEO practice. Try limiting your anchor text (linked words) to four or less. You should also avoid linking the same resource more than once in the same post, especially using different words.
One question we frequently encounter from lawyers that are new to blogging is how long a post should be. For most posts, you should try to write at least 500 words, but you ideally want at least 650. Longer posts are always fine, although if it becomes exceptionally lengthy you might want to split the content into multiple posts. You can also always have some shorter posts, but most of your posts should be more substantive.
As a final note to remember, you want to stay aware of the blog posts you have published. If something changes in the law, make every effort to update your content. Having inaccurate or out-of-date content can harm your marketing efforts. To mitigate this potential, you can include a “last updated” note on all of your posts, so readers will know if it has not been revisited in several years.
4. Incorporate Visuals
Once your post is written, you need to incorporate visuals. This can be photos, infographics, or even embedded videos. However, you should not publish a post – especially a lengthy one – without including visual elements. Visual elements improve readability by breaking up large blocks of text. They also make the reader experience more pleasant and engaging.
When you add in your visuals, make sure they are of good quality. A blurry photo will detract from the perceived quality of your blog post. Also, be aware of any copyright concerns and make sure you properly attribute any images when necessary.
Once you have written your post, you need to ensure it is distributed to readers. Obviously, your first step in the distribution process is to publish your content on your chosen blogging platform. If you don’t have a blogging platform, Justia handles the development and design of legal blogs.
However, distribution does not stop once you have hit the publish button. To help your content reach its full potential, you should share it on other platforms. Share your blog posts on your social media accounts. Posts can also be shared and distributed on platforms like LexBlog and JD Supra. Send emails to your newsletter subscribers. Ask your colleagues to share the content across their personal channels. You want to get as many eyes on your blog posts as possible to increase their effectiveness as a marketing tool.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
Your time spent blogging is wasted if you do not receive any return on that investment. Whether you are aiming for intangible benefits (such as brand awareness) or tangible benefits (such as more clients) from your blogging efforts, you want to ensure you set yourself up for success. Taking the time to effectively write and distribute blog posts according to a few best practices will go a long way in helping you reach your marketing goals.
Want an example of a well-done lawyer blog to inspire you on your blogging journey? We suggest checking out The Employer Handbook by Eric B. Meyer.