Our last blog featuring Attorney Lisa Schmidt, the Legal Linguist, asked whether you should be blogging? Lisa’s research on best marketing techniques and strategies revealed that while advertising professionals laud the power and success of the blog, it was virtually absent from legal marketing discussions until recently.”The problem is that blogging takes time, and delegating the work to paralegals or receptionists presents ethical problems. Attorneys just didn’t want to take that time away from representing their clients, so they weren’t blogging. I created the Legal Linguist to give busy attorneys an affordable and effective blogging presence,” states Lisa.
This blog features some additional blogging tips from the Legal Linguist for those professionals who wish to forge ahead and create their own blog for their business:
KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL:
There is no shortage of SEO sites courting your business and promising to put you on the first page of Google. These companies typically have no legal background, yet offer to write your web content for a low cost. As a result, the web content they create lacks the necessary degree of legal authority and appears unprofessional. By using a licensed attorney (in-house or outsourced) to generate blog content, law firms can ensure that ethical standards are adhered to and that the content appears professional and appropriate to their field of law.
A BLOG ISN’T LEGAL ADVICE:
A blog is not intended to provide legal advice. Similarly, a magazine article or book about a legal topic is not intended to provide legal advice to the person who reads it. Content marketing (including blogging) gives the public snippets of real legal knowledge, so they can see that the professional featured in the blog is authentic, credible, and someone who can help them with their legal need. In the current market lawyers are having to justify their fees in the face of free websites like LegalZoom. Lawyers can’t effectively complete with free legal websites, without showing the public that the are going to get their money’s worth if they hire a lawyer instead of handling the legal matter themselves.
WAYS TO MEASURE YOUR R.O.I. OF TIME/MONEY SPENT ON BLOGGING:
1. SEO and Web Presence: As you continue to add new and relevant content to your blog, your website will start to creep up the Google search results. This makes you more visible to new clients browsing the web for attorneys in your field.
2. Website Hits: You can track how many people visit your website, blog, or a particular article. You can also see if people viewed multiple pages, or multiple times. This will help you determine the best topics to focus on, and generate the kind of content that people are looking for.
3. Pingbacks and Quotes: If you are trying to be seen as an expert in a particular field, look at how often your blog is cited. This can be tracked on your website and will show the increased value of your reputation. Be aware, this kind of ROI is a long-term investment. You won’t see much in the way of citations or pingbacks for a while, but once your blog gains popularity you will see this aspect pick up steam.
4. Referral Sources: Ask your clients how they heard about you. If they say “the web” ask for more. Did they read an article? Find you on Facebook? Learning how your clients find you will help you focus your efforts.
5. Dollars and cents: Once you start asking about referral sources you can track that directly to closed business. You may even find that you can track business right to a particular article on a unique area of the law. For example, Lisa’s summary of the 2012 Revocation of Paternity Act is her most highly visited article on her website, having been viewed by over 2,100 people to date. It also resulted in over $13,000 of billable work to her so far.
WRITING STYLE MATTERS:
1. Keep the language simple and the sentences short. If you have children, picture them reading your blog. If they would stumble over the words, rewrite it. Don’t slip into industry specific technical jargon, you’ll lose the lay person who is reading the blog. How you speak to/write to a colleague is different than how you should address the public. You are the expert, but need to make it understandable for the reader.
2. Break up your paragraphs. White space makes articles easier to read. Readers can digest the ideas in smaller chunks rather than plowing through long paragraphs. In a blog, the ideal paragraph has 3 sentences.
3. Don’t use legal citations. The long case citations that we all learned to skim past in law school are like quicksand to lay-readers. Instead, use hyperlinks to free publications like Google Scholar.
4. Use catchy titles and images to get the reader started off right. Believe it or not, I spend more time crafting a title than on any other paragraph in the blog. Use the most popular words for your topic and don’t waste space going into detail.
Lisa J. Schmidt is a licensed attorney with a long history of creative and professional writing experience. Lisa practices family law, students’ rights, and criminal defense throughout Metro-Detroit, and owns Schmidt Law Services, PLLC. She also provides blogging services for attorneys through the Legal Linguist, a division of Schmidt Law Services, PLLC, based in Southfield, MI.