To blog or not to blog: if you can't do it right, have someone do it for you

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Published 1/16/06

Web logs (blogs as most people now know them) are hot - or not. It depends on who you ask, what you want them to do, and what kind of "return on blogging" you expect.

I say this as a dedicated blogger because I hope you've visited my blog ( If you have, you'll know that we have links to many of the top legal blogs (blawgs) maintained by Matt Homann, Dennis Kennedy, Rick Klau and a growing number of others.

For a look at an even wider blawg universe, TechnoLawyer (www.technolawyer) has just produced a new e-book that covers more than 50 of the top blawgs. According to studies cited by TechnoLawyer, approximately 80,000 new blogs launch every day, including dozens of blawgs. Producing a blog/blawg can be a powerful marketing tool. And it can be a fabulous learning experience.

When done right by lawyers, a blog is more than a personal journal but not an electronic brochure. Blogs create a unique niche by combining personalized observation with facts and insights from the lawyer's area of focus.

Make blogs work for you. Target your market, be specific in your blog postings, be frequent and your market will learn what your value to them can be and why they need you and your services.

A blog, like all other marketing tools, must be considered in light of your entire marketing strategy, not isolated by itself. If your target audience is more the consumer type, and typically not so sophisticated that they are searching the web on a regular basis, then blogging is not so meaningful to them and may not be a worthwhile marketing strategy for you. As Harvey Mackay said, "[I]f you want to catch bass, you've got to fish where they are."

If you do decide to become a blogger, it's important to remember that you shouldn't work for your blog. Making frequent posts and answering dozens - or hundreds - of e-mail comments can take time. Let's say it's just two hours per work week. If we assume 50 work weeks per year for ease of calculation, and two hours per week, and $200 per hour billable value for an attorney (most are charging more today), the calculation is $20,000 of billable time used to maintain a blog.

This is hugely expensive! Technology is great, but it needs to be managed just as any other communication modality must. The logical way to do this is hire someone to manage your blog. The expense is far less than the time spent updating (no matter how easy with TypePad or other tools), which will take you away from other marketing activities or even from your practice.

Delegation is a principle by which I live. I want to do those things that only I can do, like coaching, consulting and marketing for more work. Other things that I need done can be done (and usually better) by someone else. The issue of cash flow is important. But, if I can market for new business, I usually can get a client (with their cash flow) before or soon after I have to pay for the service I've delegated/contracted to someone else.

If you think of the creation of a blog or other web machinations as the equivalent to working in the garden - not so much a chore as relaxing time away from the daily grind - then so be it. Cycling fills that role for me, and I get little enough time to do that. But if I did everything in my practice myself, then I would get no cycling and would always be complaining about being overworked.

The cumulative effect is what's important in blogging. A once-in-a-while post is not effective. Blogging may be worthwhile once you know how, but it is certainly not "easy" in the sense that it takes commitment to be consistent and meaningful in the posting.

I suspect it's a commitment worth making for many lawyers, but a commitment nevertheless, as are all marketing efforts. If you can't do it yourself and do it right, then have it done for you.

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