In a sea of legal blogs, how do you stand out?
We reached out to Kevin O’Keefe, CEO and Founder of LexBlog, a blogging platform for lawyers, for some of his thoughts around best practices for blogging for lawyers. His first—and most important—piece of advice was to start a niche publication.
Why lawyers should be blogging
Perhaps you’re wondering if it’s even necessary to attract people to your site. Well, you wouldn’t be the first. As a lawyer, you’re bound by strict regulations regarding advertising for your services. How do you show your clients that you’re a skilled and capable lawyer while promoting your services to an extremely diverse pool of prospective clients?
Well, there’s a way that accomplishes all this—and more. It’s simple. It makes your law firm’s website easier to find online by people who are looking for legal services. And it costs you nothing. Yes, you guessed it: it’s a blog. Whether you work with hundreds of lawyers in Big Law or work for yourself, your law firm should be actively blogging.
As Kevin explained, building one’s authority and reputation through blogging should come above all else. Focusing on a niche that you have a lot of experience in or feel strongly about is the best way to do that, and having a successful blog can come with real benefits for your legal career. Kevin puts it this way:
You get known. You get recognized. You get cited. You get invited to speak at conferences, and in time (within a couple of years) you don’t worry about the mortgage, putting the kids though college, going on nice vacations when you take time off, or getting to work with the type of clients you want on the type of matters you want to work on. You are a lawyer’s lawyer.
Here are a few tips for starting a successful niche blog for your law firm based on our exchange with Kevin.
1. Focus, focus, focus
When it comes to starting a niche blog for your law firm, it’s important to actually focus on a niche topic. The more you can narrow it down, the better. “In 13 years at LexBlog, we have never had a lawyer say what they were doing was too niche,” Kevin said.
A blog that simply focuses on a specific practice area, such as employment, tax, or environmental law, would be too broad. Focusing on a small geographical area would be better bet. For instance, Kevin pointed to Kysa Crusco of Bedford, New Hampshire, who’s done extraordinarily well building her name as a family lawyer in her small city through her New Hampshire Family Law Blog.
If you’re in a larger city, focusing on a specific passion you have within your practice area could be a winning strategy. For example, Dallas family lawyer Michelle May O’Neil doesn’t just write a family law blog: She publishes both the Dallas Divorce Law Blog and a blog titled Gay and Lesbian Family Law in Texas.
Tip: If you need more help defining a niche for your legal blog, follow the steps in this post from Kevin.
2. Put quality before SEO
Having a blog can help with your website SEO, and by extension, help potential clients find you online. However, Kevin is adamant that this isn’t what’s most important. Lawyers should worry less about SEO and more about writing quality posts.
You need not worry about search. That’s a byproduct of sharing information that’s helpful in an engaging way—information that is likely to get cited and shared because people of influence [have eventually come to] know you and trust you, and they see you giving of yourself in a real and authentic way.
3. Join the conversation
If you’re focusing on an ultra-niche area, it might sometimes seem difficult to think of a topic to write about—especially if you’ve been at it for awhile. For Kevin, however, “blogging is not about thinking of things to write … blogging is a conversation.” By keeping an eye on current events related your niche and adding your commentary, he says you’ll never be stuck for a subject to write on, even if you’re blogging about an extremely focused topic.
Kevin suggests using news aggregators or Twitter lists to keep track of what’s going on in spaces related to your area of practice, sharing the news, and adding your commentary. If you do very well at it, your side of the story may even be picked up by news outlets.
4. Write for your clients
Don’t use your blog as a megaphone to shout the merits of your firm at cyberspace. That’s probably worse than not having a blog. A good blog (and likely, the blogs that you enjoy reading) offers useful information, sometimes presented in an entertaining way.
Think of questions that your clients have asked you, whether about certain cases, or about the practice of law in general. Make yourself a resource that people who are interested in law—or who need a lawyer—would bookmark and come back to repeatedly. If you work in real estate law, try writing a post on what kind of properties your clients should avoid.
5. Get started
As with anything, one of the most important parts of starting a niche legal blog is simply to get started. Don’t worry about every post being perfect: It’s more important to start getting posts out there so that you can learn as you go. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way:
- Get a blog (WordPress is probably one of the best blogging platforms) and give it a name that makes sense. Your law firm name or practice area is a good place to start.
- Sit down with a notepad and write down your areas of expertise and law-related topics that you’re interested in. Start with five. If you actually like what you’re writing about, blogging becomes a much easier (and dare we say more fun) process. Seriously.
- Set yourself a deadline every week to get a post up. Consistency will help you keep up your writing habit.
- Get posting. Be professional and all that, but also let your personality permeate your writing. This is your blog and your space to share information with people who know nothing about you. How do you want your law firm’s brand (and your personal brand) to come across?
The benefits of a niche legal blog
When done right, starting a blog for your law firm can help build authority and trust with your potential clients, and with legal industry influencers who may share your writing more widely. And, as Kevin notes, starting a niche blog is definitely not as scary as some legal professionals may think.
The biggest mistake he sees lawyers make when it comes to blogging?
“Thinking it’s too hard to do their own blogging on a niche,” Kevin said. “Legal marketers, who have never really blogged, leave lawyers’ heads spinning when it comes to blogging. It’s not that hard—share what you are reading from your news aggregator, properly attribute the source, and provide your take.”
Take a look at your practice, choose your niche, and start writing. You won’t regret it.
Kevin O’Keefe is a trial lawyer from rural Wisconsin turned legal tech entrepreneur. Now CEO of Seattle-based LexBlog, a managed WordPress platform for the law used by over 15,000 lawyers worldwide, he is an authority on the use of blogging and social media for business development.