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Tech check: Not all blogs are created equal

When done right, a blog can be a living, detailed entity that rep­resents you to the world. When done wrong, a blog can be a chore, an unwelcome expense that produces little return on your effort, or even an ethical minefield. The difference lies in how well you im­plement fundamental policies.


Policies on purpose

Blogs must be considered in light of your entire strategy for reaching your target market, not as isolated produc­tions. Achieving that requires policies to define a blog’s purpose, including the following:

Blogging Laptop MAIN• Create a profile of your ideal client who will give you the kind of work that you want, and develop a marketing strat­egy that focuses on that target, not on everyone.

• Make sure that your blog supports your market and your strategy. If your target market still consists of consum­ers who do not regularly search the web, then blogging, while still a worthwhile endeavor, may take a back seat to other marketing efforts for now.

• Prepare your blog postings to visual­ize and address your market, so that re­cipients will learn what your value is and why they need you.

• Express your knowledge and opinion in your practice area. Remember: The goal is business development; this is not a personal journal.

• Write your blog posts with the inten­tion of carrying on a conversation with your ideal client whom you can’t meet face-to-face. Be informal and conversa­tional, and show that you have some­thing meaningful to say.


Policies on technology

There’s no getting around the fact that blogs require some technological exper­tise. However, you can keep the technolo­gy cost-manageable.

• Don’t go for the high-end software if you don’t need it. Purchase inexpensive, easy-to-use programs if you want to do blog posts yourself.

• Avoid fancy graphics and complex navigation. Blog posts should be in chronological order, with the most recent first. If you want to archive your older posts, group them into categories.

• Create links from your blog to your website to improve your website’s stand­ing in the search engines.

• Link your blog to other blogs and en­courage bloggers to link to you. External linkage is another key driver of search engine rankings.

• Consider hiring someone to manage the technical aspects of your blog: posting your content, tracking replies to posts, and working on search engine optimiza­tion. The expense may be far less than the time you would spend in updating and managing the blog yourself.


Policies on expense and time

Making frequent posts and answer­ing dozens, or hundreds, of email com­ments can take time and cost money. To be sure the expense is worth it, imple­ment the following policies:

• Follow up on your blogging, both by responding to inquiries and incorporat­ing your posted material into articles, speeches and client updates.

• Incorporate blogging into your daily professional routine. Occasional posts are simply not effective; you must keep content fresh.

• Leverage the efforts of others. If you use a ghostwriter or have staff mem­bers do research, incorporate their ef­forts into your blog content to free more of your time to do what you do best: practice law.


Policies on professional responsibility

Lawyers are traditionally governed by the rules of professional conduct. When you have a blog, you may be gov­erned by many more jurisdictions, i.e., those where your readers are located. That means that you must have policies in place to avoid ethical snares.

• Avoid openly giving advice and so­liciting clients.

• Maintain the final responsibility for your blog’s content.

• Remember: A blog is a public fo­rum, open to all. An online criticism of an expert witness or an adversary in a current case could become an ex parte communication if the judge hearing the case reads your criticism.

Edward Poll, a California-based law practice consultant, is the principal of LawBiz Management. He coaches law­yers and is the creator of “Life After Law,” a program that helps attorneys plan for profitable exits.

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