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October 15, 2008

Why Do I Blog? The Perspective of a New Solo Practitioner - Joe Dane

This guest post is actually featured on Grant Griffith's Blog For Profit, but since I know Joe and Grant I feel totally comfortable 'snagging' it for my readers.

Joe Dane was a Reserve Deputy Sheriff, working uniformed patrol for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.  With his law enforcement background and having been named Prosecutor of the Year twice, Joe has taught extensively.  He currently teaches all aspects of criminal law, including laws of arrest, search and seizure (Fourth Amendment) law and the law of Miranda at a California state-approved police academy.  He has also instructed for the California District Attorney's Association on the topics of jury selection, trial tactics and crimes against children.  He has written training manuals and conducted in-house training for two DA's offices.

Now, as a new solo, free from the marketing limitations and advertising anonymity of government work, he understands he needs to be progressive and aggressive with a web presence.

Like every other attorney, I had my own personal reasons for going out on my own. I spent 12 years as a prosecutor before deciding to make the move. I had handled everything from assault and battery through homicide and I knew the law. Yet I knew very little about the big question - when I hang out my shingle, where does the business come from? I was walking away from a steady every-two-week paycheck. Even with my experience, the question remained: How does a new solo practitioner market himself against the established attorneys and big firms?

I knew that in some markets and fields, the yellow pages can be effective advertising. In southern California, however, the attorney section of the yellow pages is about an inch thick and everyone I spoke to agreed - it is horribly expensive and doesn’t pay off. I consider myself fairly tech-savvy and use Google to find everything, so naturally I thought a website was the way to go. After all, everybody has one, right? Having my own domain name and custom e-mail address certainly added the touch of professionalism I wanted. So how did I go from the “standard” static website to a blog?

While I was seriously thinking about going out on my own, I subscribed to Susan Cartier Liebel’s blog at “Build A Solo Practice” and struck up a conversation with her about her other amazing project - Solo Practice University.  She asked a simple question - “What are you doing to build up your web presence?” 

Huh? I knew about websites. I had messed around with Twitter as a way to connect with my family, but had no idea what she meant by “web presence.” I remember mumbling something about having a website built. “Trust me,” she said. “Let me give you the name of a guy who can talk to you about blogging. It’ll open your eyes.” I hung up, Googled Grant and G2WebMedia. I called Grant and in our first conversation, 45 minutes went by before you knew it. Grant was talking to me like we were old friends. I learned more in that one call about blogging than I ever could have imagined. I was sold on the concept of blogging as a way to effectively optimize my website and make me findable by those looking for me. It’s true. After I add blog posts, I’ll do random searches on Google and Yahoo a few days later. I type in general concepts and keywords a person might use when searching the web for a criminal defense attorney. For the topics I’ve posted about, I find myself ranking fairly highly, even in the first few weeks since my site went live. Those kind of results without spending thousands and thousands of dollars on traditional SEO techniques are incredible to me.

It’s exciting to watch the site’s statistics climb as I get more hits and visitors. I can track what keywords lead people to the blogs and can focus additional marketing by way of blog posts on the topics that generate the most interest. I’ve been up and running for about a month now and am getting tremendous feedback on the site and the content. Don’t get me wrong - I did the traditional things, too. I sent out announcements for the new practice to business contacts, friends and relatives. I’ve been handing out business cards like they’re candy. It’s all paying off, and I know that my website - and most importantly the blog aspect - will continue to be a strong force in my marketing campaign.

(You may just see Joe gracing the virtual halls of Solo Practice University.....Shhhhhh. :-)


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Grant D Griffiths

Susan -- Of course you can snag Joe's great guest post about blogging as a solo. He is doing an outstanding job blogging and he tells me he has seen results from it too.

As I say in my intro to Joe's guest post, he is one of those guys who just gets it. He truly understands how to post, what to post about and who his audience is.

Thanks for telling your readers about Joe's story.

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