The biggest advantage of blogging technology is the ease with which you can post content. As noted previously, it still takes time, energy and focus in order to drive great content and show off your particular expertise. For many lawyers, however, establishing and extending expertise is simply a part of their professional practice. Lawyers who are true experts almost inevitably publish articles in journals and participate in presentations. Both of these activities also take time. Compared to putting together a PowerPoint presentation, traveling and attending a conference presentation, blogging really is easy. Blogging also offers an advantage over drafting articles for legal publications. Blogging is less formal, there are no "minimum word" requirements and is less formal (i.e. an occasional typo or grammatical error is far less important).
That’s not to say that a lawyer who is spreading their tail feathers on the Internet by blogging should abandon these other activities. What I am suggesting is that a lawyer with limited time might consider one less presentation and one less formal article in order to find time to blog. There is little question that blogging reaches a wider audience than attendees at a seminar. And blogging provides a permanent footprint on the Internet, unlike a paper magazine which gets thrown out at the end of the week or month.
In watching blogs come and go over the last four years, I have noted some approaches which have been successful and ones which have been far less successful. For that category of blogs that I would label "expert blogs", the key is to "get vertical." Getting vertical means finding your expertise and showing off just that expertise. Most blogs try and do too much. You can’t have a blog about being an attorney. The category is too broad. While you theoretically could launch a blog about intellectual property, you’re much better off to launch a blog about trademark issues, or copyright cases being decided at the federal bench, or key patent decisions. I will be talking this week about what it means to "get vertical" in order to give your blogging the best chance for success. Remember, you can’t be everything to everyone. And if you are truly an expert, there is a finite list of things and topic areas which you can credibly call your own. And while having more traffic is fine, generating quality traffic is much better. A newspaper can drive a lot of online "horizontal" content. A paper can put articles online about dog shows, corrupt politicians and water treatment plants. But a newspaper isn’t showing off its expertise. It is showing off its lack of expertise. It is general and broad by nature.
An expert blogger on the other hand wants to speak to a particular type of person. An expert blogger wants a very particular visitor to visit their website. An expert blogger wants web traffic from people who will hire them, whether they are prospective clients, referral attorneys or in-house corporate counsel.
I know that a person that types in "noncompete lawyer" into Google is very likely looking for me. The chance that person might actually retain me, assuming I can prove my expertise through my blogpost, is relatively high. (Note that when you type "noncompete lawyer" into Google, our law firm website comes up on page one at the tcattorney.typepad.com/noncompete). Someone that types in "compete for food in non-Asian countries" might very well find my site but that web visitor certainly isn’t buying my expertise.