December 14, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - Use Blog Commenting Wisely

What are you hoping to achieve when you comment on a blog? 

  • Is it to continue a conversation with an author because they have engaged you and inspired you to answer? 
  • Is it because the blog has high traffic and you hope to get a little of that traffic directed to your site (providing you give a URL when prompted)? 
  • Are you simply doing so to get noticed by the blog author regardless their traffic?
  • Or is it a combination of all of the above in varying degrees depending upon the blog?


I would venture to say most commenters are moved by all three in varying degrees.  I know I am. So I'd like to make a few recommendations:

1.  Only comment when you have something of genuine value to add to the conversation.
2.  If you have a blog, don't just link back to your main page.  Link back to either your About page which lets the author and her readers know who you are or link to a particular post you are quite proud of and/or got high readership and comments.
3. In addition, depending upon the sophistication of the blog, quite often the author will have enabled a widget which will also grab your most recent blog post.
4. Go to Gravatar.com if you haven't already and sign up for a universal gravatar.  This way, if the blog (or any site for that matter) is gravatar enabled, every time you post a comment your picture automatically comes up when you use the associated e-mail address.   The picture which you use will hopefully be one you use elsewhere and this creates a subtle, 'I know her' effect.

For example, depending upon the blog author's site, I will either sign in with a relevant post from this blog or from Solo Practice University, but it will be one that makes sense for that readership.

But most importantly, make comments that are meaningful and add value.  This is what reflects most upon you and is the single most important factor contributing to your online reputation.  The rest is just an added bonus.

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

October 03, 2008

What Lawyers Can Learn About Marketing from the Presidential Election

(Update: 11/8/08 - Entrepreneurs can learn social media strategy from the Obama campaign.  I feel vindicated for those who thought I was just stumping for Obama.)

(UPDATE: 11/3/08 New York Times article on how technology has changed election (marketing) strategy...great lessons for solos.

(UPDATE: I wrote this post in February, 2007 to highlight brilliant marketing, not to endorse one candidate over another - at that time he was vying for the democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton.  However, the Obama campaign has show marketing genius to reach its desired demographic and done it, again, with an Iphone application.  The genius of his marketing gurus cannot be denied.  They are in touch with those who would see him elected.  10/2/08)

In marketing it is known that the "client doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care...about them and their problems."  This cornerstone of marketing wisdom was made famous by the founder of the National Speaker's Association, the late Cavett Robert, who said it not only first but best. Yet we talk about our inability to effectively reach our potential client base and then we search out the 'marketing gurus', primarily those who are in the legal community as if somehow they alone hold within their professional hands the secret to all that is holy in the legal marketing world. (Am I poking some fun at myself, too?  Of course.)

The reality is there are universal marketing principles, universal human needs that must be addressed when marketing to "human beings" regardless the product or service.  Once you understand them, then they can be redefined, redesigned, manipulated, massaged, reworked, reworded and applied for your intended audience and their specific problems. 

However, in my opinion, never has an example of "the essence of marketing" been produced that lays bare the core of this universal wisdom, shucks the oyster, gets rid of the slime and exposes that perfect 10mm pearl, until this powerful grassroots campaign launched by presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

    • Whether he is your new president of choice is irrelevant. 

      In one fell swoop he has defined his targeted demographic as those who feel disenfranchised and powerless in this country and penetrated the soft underbelly of each one of them with surgical precision.

      His message to that demographic is:

      "This Campaign is About You."

      Message: "You have felt disenfranchised during the term of this last administration, helpless, on the sidelines, your voice not heard. I am your man and I will help you to help yourself.  I will give you the tools to help you empower yourself and by empowering yourself you will put me in office so you are no longer disenfranchised."   

      Logic:  I want something. So I am going to help you get what you want so you give me what I want.  And in turn I will continue to give you what you want....and the cycle repeats itself over and over, again. It's not a 50/50 win, either.  It is a 100/100 win...the perfect win.

      Call to Action: "It's your job to put me in office if you want to retake your country and be heard and here are the marketing tools to help you put me in office."

      "The Obama Principle." He is hoping to achieve his goal of becoming President by helping identified potential voters to achieve their goal of no longer feeling helpless and disenfranchised.  This is the heart of his campaign.

      To date:(2/2007)

      • 70,000 members signed up;
      • 4,000 blogs started
      • 3,000 fundraising pages started
      • 2,400 groups started

      He identified the "problem" of the disenfranchised in the current administration.  He is turning each and every one of them into his personal ambassador or evangelist.  If every one of them knows 250 people and he already has 70,000 people signed up on this site, over 4000 new blogs created spreading the word of Obama, that's 17,500,000 possible voters right there.  And with the power of effective blogging, the spidery web woven reaches even more potential voters. He is giving each potential voter both the tools and the manual on how to empower themselves and effect change, to solve their problem of feeling helpless within the current Administration.

      He is involving each and everyone of them in a grass roots campaign through the use of technology, using technology to address their overwhelming need to be empowered, again, to not feel so helpless. And in his blog posts are newsy anecdotes about John and Mary Doe taking charge of their own campaigning efforts, reinforcing the newsworthiness and value of self-empowerment. He publicizes their efforts, encourages them to submit photos to his blog of their campaigning efforts.  From a marketing perspective, it's a beautiful thing to watch.

      Now the creators of his marketing campaign are the real gurus and we should be taking lessons from them because they loaded that bow and shot the a bullseye straight into the heart of these voters and it will have profound results.

      How do we utilize this lesson in our own practice?  Start by defining the real need of your client.  And don't make the mistake of thinking slick, cute, "play on words" nonsense.  When you are talking and manipulating you can't be listening. Listen to your potential client's words, their word choice, the tone and emotion conveyed when they discuss their problems that need solving and then serve their words back to them consistently in every form of communication you utilize helping them to repeatedly identify your services as the only solution to their problem.  Applaud their efforts, then give them the tools to help them tell others how you are the only solution to the next person's problem.

      I'm going to dub it "The Obama Principle" because never has this marketing principle been so readily observable to those hungry to learn the essence of brilliant marketing....and a textbook lesson in the power of language as a tool.

      My favorite language lesson is one taught to me by a friend from Australia.  He was gifted gabber in any crowd.  No matter what type of group we were socializing with he always fit in and I noticed the manner in which he spoke subtly shifted, too.  Finally, I said , "how do you do that?  You are almost chameleon-like and no one is the wiser for it.  You can blend in with any crowd."  His answer was "language is like clothing.  Don't wear a ballgown to a picnic and expect to fit in."

      It's the same with word choice.  Whether your website, blog, literature or conversations with your clients. You don't have to dummy down or inflate yourself with bloated verbiage. Just speak the language of your clients.

      And continue to watch the "The Obama Principle" in action regardless of your affiliation.  It is a very expensive Ivy League education offered to you for free courtesy of the internet.

      September 22, 2008

      Have Blogging Platforms Become Antiquated....Already?

      This provocative title is in response to a post by Stephanie West Allen where she discusses blogging and references back to a post by Alex Manchester who in turn responds to a post by James Dellow's Blogging Manifesto.

      In James Dellow's Blogging Manifesto he states:

      ...the key difference between blogging and content management is the intent of the blogger to engage their readers on some level over a period of time, rather than simply broadcasting information. And that to me is best described as a conversation, although a hyper-connected one at that.

      https://www.anythingaboutcars.com/images/1929_Desoto_Blue.jpgThe crux of Dellow's manifesto is that the intention of blogging (conversation) pre-dates blogging platforms and that conversation has now blown past current blogging platforms to other social media.  Blogging platforms evolved to fulfill the need to converse with readers.  So, if conversation has now moved to other web-based applications has blogging become antiquated for conversation and now simply a platform for content management?  And does a platform for content management still make sense?

      Alex Manchester comments:

      For me these days a blog is little more than a sophisticated, easy-to-use website platform. A place where an individual or a department/function can have their own site quickly and easily. Simplistic that may be, but whether news posts or thought articles, the commenting or conversation aspect of blogging appears to by dying down in many places (just recently there was a flurry of blog posts suggesting that "comments were dead" - a scary thought for many companies just flicking the "On" switch on their corporate blogging initiatives....).

      Yet blogs without comment aren't necessarily lacking in readership - or even participation. This is where the "intent" aspect of James D's manifesto falls down for me. I don't think conversations necessarily make a blog. To me they're a component, a module that can or cannot be there (and increasingly are not there).

      Wow.  Just as people are starting to finally wrap their heads around the idea they actually need a blog someone comes along and says it's a great place to manage your content and present your expertise to the world versus a more static platform but if you want to have a conversation, not so much.

      Well, I'll weigh in. The blogging platform is not antiquated as it remains the best internet attraction tool for the solo practitioner. Attraction of potential clients is the number one reason you will have a web presence and the best web presence for a potential client or referrer of clients (even other lawyers) is one built on software which supports blogging.  However, I do agree the conversational element of blogging has diminished.  Why? Because people are going where it's actually easier to connect and converse.  And if they can converse with you in an easier way, they are going to give you their comments through that same environment instead of leaving it on your blog.

      If a blog author I know is on Twitter chances are I will contact them on Twitter (give them GREATER publicity for their post by putting the comment in the Twitter stream with a link to spread the word to those who follow me) and let them know I enjoyed the post.  It's better publicity for the author.  And it's faster, too.

      If the author is not on Twitter, of course, I will leave a comment on their blog.  And those who have multiple-thousands of followers still get a voluminous amount of comments on their blogs (but I venture to say mainly because those commenting are not Tweeting yet).

      Has the conversation moved?  I believe it's starting to.  Does that mean you should bypass building a blogging platform for content management and conversation with readers? Absolutely not. You do not exist today without a web presence and the best web presence is a robust blogging platform capable of evolving with you...whatever the evolution may be.

      What do you think? When's the last time you left a comment on a blog? 

      June 27, 2008

      What Should You Pay For Website/Blog Design with Support and Hosting Package?

      https://www.bloggingtricks.com/uploaded_images/iStock_000001627298Small-737898.jpgThis post idea has been percolating in my mind for a while because of client questions about what is a fair cost for the complete construction of a website/blog which includes quality design, security, support, education and monthly carrying costs for hosting, customer support and education.  This post was still languishing until I received a phone call from someone telling me an absolutely outrageous quote he was given at a 'conference.'  I nearly fell off my chair...except it has side arms and prevented this :-)

      So, I'm going to share with you what I have learned over the past two years as well as my opinions.  But, remember, they remain my opinions but they are some of the very same opinions I share with my clients.

      If you choose to hire an 'expert' to design your web presence on a blogging platform which can include multiple static pages with other types of functionality, you should anticipate paying between $1,500 - $3,000 for the site alone.  (This is in contrast to a Typepad, Terapad, Blogger or Wordpress with pre-designed templates)

      The price range noted turns on the components: the number of landing pages such as your "About" "Practice Areas" "Contact", and all the 'moving parts' you require to make the site a valuable go-to resource for potential clients and current clients.  It is an attraction marketing tool and needs to be substantial enough to present the necessary attractors to give clients what they need to make a decision about hiring you.  You are paying for their time to do this, not necessarily for the software as if a company is well established they have long since paid for basic templates which they design off of or are using free blogging software platforms.  Remember, you are buying their time. (You are lawyers..you get that, right?)

      After your up front costs for creation and production, there is generally a carrying cost which includes hosting of the site, security, backups, customer support and education.  Based upon feedback from across the profession, and my personal investigation of numerous services, in my opinion, this should not cost you more than $50.00 per month.  For someone to host your site is literally pennies per month.  So, the bulk of the monthly cost is projected for the occasional technical support and early education. Since you won't need this every month averaging it out to $50.00 per month is not unreasonable. You shouldn't begrudge any company these fees if you are comfortable and happy with what you will be provided for this fee and the company delivers in a customer-friendly way.  In some ways, the monthly carrying cost serves as an insurance policy for your very important marketing presence.

      However, some people still choose to move their newly designed webpresence to their own host because maybe they are more tech savvy and don't want the monthly carrying cost because for them it doesn't provide value.  And this is okay, too.  The option should always be yours once the website has been produced and the company should allow for this in their contract.

      So, let me tell you the story which had me outraged.  I received a phone call on this very subject from someone who had been in attendance at a well-promoted seminar weekend on growing your legal practice.  As makes good sense, vendors were selected to be present to provide a complete solution for the needs of the attendees.  These attendees were presented with a vendor who would provide a website with a blog component for...are you sitting down....$16,000!  THAT'S INSANE! It should be considered a felony.  What's worse, is by having this vendor in attendance, the host of the seminar was endorsing the vendor and the prices.  (I won't go any further on this.)

      And do not let others sell you their overpriced product by drawing comparison to other marketing tools.  If you currently spend outrageous sums on yellow pages and want to switch over to an internet presence do not look at what you will save compared to yellow page advertising.  That creates a false economy and you will be inclined to overpay for a web presence.  It's a great sales tactic.  But you should be smarter than that. Compare apples and apples; not apples and gorillas.

      Now, lawyers have a reputation for spending because they can if they think they are going to get something no one else has.  So, here's my proposal to you: If you've got $13,000 extra dollars to throw away on a product which you shouldn't pay more than $3,000 for at the high end...please donate it to Solo Practice University so we can set up a couple of new solos in their own practices from soup to nuts, instead.  You'll certainly feel better for it, I promise. 

      Related Links:  What I've Learned About Blogging These Past 18 Months

                             Free Blogs at Solo Practice University

                             If You're Serious About Marketing,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      March 28, 2008

      What I've Learned About Blogging These Past 18 Months

      Coming up on eighteen months of blogging, I realize I have developed some very definite opinions about blogging as it pertains to content, frequency, design and its use as a marketing tool.  It has been a learning curve for me, a deliberate decision to start from scratch, literally.  It took me five minutes to set up and endless hours to build content and reader loyalty which has converted to a viable (inter)national business. I've paid attention to the experts but also made many of my decisions intuitively based upon my background in marketing, advertising, promotion, sales and interpersonal relationships.

      And from this experience I can share some perspectives, not as an expert on the subject of blogging, one who designs blogs or teaches about blogging, but from one who has experienced the power of blogging as a blogger...learned what to do and what not to do and achieved a certain level of success I'm comfortable with as my business keeps growing with this platform as well as my presence on the internet.

      So, what I've learned (from the perspective of an entrepreneur...an individual trying to build a presence, create a following and earn a living):

      Content is king.  This is indisputable.  You may catch me once with a snappy headline.  You may intrigue me to come back one or two more times because I want to like you. But if you don't follow through with the same high quality content and focus, respect my time as a reader, I will not come back. Those who read blogs want to know you value their time and will not waste it with off-topic nonsense, personal meanderings without relevance.

      Define the mission of your blog and stick to it.  There is no denying I talk about Building A Solo Practice.  I never waiver.  Every post is related on some level to the issues surrounding solo practice.  Have I been tempted to discuss off-topic matters?  Absolutely.  I always have to refrain because I recognize if I meander I defeat my purpose for this blog and risk annoying and alienating those who have been long-time readers.  It doesn't mean I'm not human.  It doesn't mean I don't write on topics which allow me to interject personal experiences...but they all relate back to the main theme of this blog....issues facing solo practitioners.  I can't tell you how many times decent blogs I used to read started to meander and I ended up taking them off my feeder.  And once they start meandering, they don't seem to be able to find their way back to their stated purpose. Create a personal, private blog if you must.  But don't dilute your business blog.  Just don't. 

      If you are going to change the core focus of your blog....start a new blogThe experts may disagree with me on this.  However, as a reader of blogs nothing irks me more, makes me distrust a blogger and their purported authority, than when someone starts with one focus, self-analyzes themselves on their blog and then tells me they are going to switch focus over and over, again.  Please don't subject us to your growing pains unless your growth is relevant to your mission. Our time is valuable. It's also unprofessional. If you are unsure of your practice area or focus, wait until things crystalize for you so you can blog going forward with certainty.  And if you do shift gears, either create a new blog for that focus or very specifically announce on your current blog that you are shifting gears....give your blog a visual facelift then state your new mission with conviction thereby showing you respect your reader's time and their loyalty.... and then blog away in your new direction.

      Frequency of postings mattersYou will hear quite often that when you first start blogging you should post quite frequently for SEO while buildling blog content.  This will also help you develop good blogging habits. But it is also a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears; blog too little, not good.  Blog too much, it can become overwhelming for you to continue producing quality content and overwhelming to the reader to read. Even if you are on their RSS feeder, your good blog posts get glossed over in the reader's rush to skim all your new headlines.  Posts you may have spent hours working on don't get the mileage they deserve. 

      There is a 'just right' amount of blogging for each blogger.  I have found a rhythm which works for me, three or four posts per week with particular categories unique to my blog:  I post original lengthy posts on Mondays and Fridays.  I reserve Sundays for my "Tip of the Week" and Thursdays for "Passed the Bar - Hung A Shingle" and "Going Solo; Confessions and Inspirations".  Periodically, I'll have a flurry of activity just to mix it up or because it was a particularly newsworthy week on the blogosphere and I feel compelled to comment.  But my readership has come to rely on this blog's rhythm and I'm personally comfortable with the frequency as I am running a business just like yourself.

      Design is critical.  Ironically, eighteen months ago, when I first started blogging on Typepad for $8.95 a month with a pre-set theme, I didn't think design was as important even though I understood it needed to be readable and relatively easy on the eye. And I certainly didn't want to spend vast sums of money on something brand new to me until I was sure of its value and that I mentally had the staying power to do it correctly.

      I was concentrating on content, linking to relevant thought leaders, commenting on blogs, doing trackbacks and more as I learned the basics of having my voice heard.  Clearly, I wanted to drive quality traffic which had the potential to create loyal readers and attract those who desired my services.  Basically I spent fifty percent of my time 'conversing' which is the beauty of blogging.  I wanted to explore this wonderful world of blogging to see it's value as a marketing tool.  Readership grew.  Links abounded.  Comments increased. And the personal connectivity was especially gratifying. It was doing wonders for my business, presentation and authority.  And it also produced unexpected opportunities because I did not limit my expectations.  I kept an open mind.  Blogging is kind of like going into outerspace.  You know there are going to be stars and planets, some asteroids.  But in the largest part the universe is still the great unknown.  So is putting yourself out there through blogging.

      But 18 months on the internet is the equivalent of five dog years.  Technology changes at warp speed, and your blog has to keep up with the technologies or it looks and functions like an old staion wagon plugging along on the autobahn. This can reflect back upon you as a service provider.  You don't want your potential clients to see you as dated and not up to speed.

      After a few months I got bored with the look of my own blog and frustrated at its technological limitations.  So, I would change from one Typepad theme to another every few months.  The colors stayed the same but I realized it simply didn't reflect my personality or my mission.  I had conquered the content mandate as my readership grew and loyalty increased, but my site was visually uninspired. (I'm neither visually dull nor cookie cutter (lol)). It was then I understood I needed to showcase my individuality as well as my mission, make it different from others, not take on someone else's persona.  I didn't want to reflect the personality of Typepad.  I wanted to reflect my personality within the context of my blog's mission.  And this required customized design. Design that utilized appropriate colors, had visual appeal, elements which encouraged reading and was both unique and contemporary. I can't tell you how many blogs I am attracted to for their content but I am unable to read them because the design, font style and size, color choice, contrast between type color and background is so poor it is offputting.

      I recognized I had maxed out my interest in conquering technologies and it was no longer a good use of my time.  I understood the actual act of blogging and I wanted to concentrate on content and other profitable enterprises. Therefore, I got myself a web-designer. Fortunately, my designer was wonderful even though he was somewhat handicapped working within Typepad's limitations. (Due to the number of links I enjoy, I chose not to risk disrupting them by switching blogging platforms).  However, if I was to start blogging today I would use Wordpress because it allows greater customization and is the gold standard from which your blog can evolve easily as technologies improve.  The new Solo Practice University will use Wordpress for its blog.

      Improved design increased my readership, connectivity and business by 50%.  You read that correctly, fifty percent.  Yes, I timed the introduction of Solo Practice University E-zine with the launch of my new design but when you improve design (properly) clients respond on an unconscious level.  It's a fact.  Visual cues are very important.  And as bloggers fight for readership, visual appeal and easy navigability will be a huge factor.  And visual differentiation will be even more critical.  I take issue with solos sacrificing their individuality (the cornerstone of being solo) by getting stamped with another's assembly-line design.  If you are ready to spend money on upgrading your blog, find a designer who will help you express your uniqueness, not corral you into their existing format.  Readers want to feel as if they've discovered a new voice wrapped in a unique presentation.  Don't deprive them of originality.  The internet is not about sameness.  It's about breaking out.

      While there is clearly so much more to blogging, these are some of my honest observations of blogging as a marketing tool as I have experienced them as an entrepreneur building her presence on the internet.  I hope it helps you with your blogging decisions.  I would love you to share your experiences as blogging is rapidly becoming the cornerstone of most solos' marketing campaigns and there are many trials and tribulations every blogger experiences.

      Why Do You Blog?

      (I resurrected this post to compliment the following post: What I've Learned From Blogging These Past 18 Months)

      Lorelle von Fossen over at the Blog Herald asks a very interesting question:  Why Do You Blog?  She is an excellent writer and really nails the question.  Also read the comments as they expand upon the content of the post.

      It's fair to say most lawyers blog to create business for their firms, present authority in a niche.  They employ tried and true strategies to work the system for positioning. Yet it is also fair to say there are lawyer bloggers who take their natural desire to write and advocate and use it for personal expression on a myriad of topics that move them beyond the practice of law.  This could be in addition to their professional practice-area based blogs.

      The side benefits of blogging is creating an extended community for ourselves, meeting like-minded people, not so like minded people, make friends, acquaintances, new business partners.

      So, it is only appropriate for me to say why I blog.  I started blogging because on a business level I felt if I didn't get on the train now, I'd be forever choking in its dust behind the caboose wondering what great adventure I missed.  And because I am one always ready to explore new frontiers I knew there would be unexpected adventures waiting for me if I kept my eyes and ears open.

      Then I discovered it went beyond business.  It became a forum for me to express ideas which apparently resonated with others plus I love stimulating debate and blue-skying about the next adventure over the horizon.  These internet conversations presented opportunities to meet people, wonderful people, intelligent, business savvy people who proposed ideas for collaboration beyond my original expectations for this blog, opportunities I would never have had otherwise.

      I've learned with blogging you must remain open to the opportunities that present themselves when you least expect it.  Stick to your mission, whatever that mission is, and ultimately your personality will come through.  I've said before that you cannot be a fraud on the internet.  You cannot maintain a facade for long; it's exhausting and you ultimately fail once you are 'outed.'  You miss out on all the benefits you could have had if you had just stayed true to yourself.

      And interestingly, there is no competition with your voice if you understand you are uniquely you.  That's not new age thinking; it is the reality. Others may 'get there first' whatever first is because they have their own mission for their blog and employ various strategies to further their mission.  But you are not racing with or against them.  You are steadily plugging away at your mission, whatever you've defined that to be. 

      December 30, 2007

      "Tip of the Week" - Need Help Meeting Blogging Goals? Get a Blogging Buddy.

      217721272_47bde7fd841 I came across this article in Kiplinger which talked about how one young man overcame his debt by blogging and had blogging buddies who encouraged him to stick to his debt-reduction resolutions.

      It reminded me how often those who wish to lose weight or stick to an exercise regime often seem to do better with support from a friend or relative when trying to achieve their health goals.

      This got me to thinking about the common challenges bloggers face, fear they will not be able to make the commitment and be disciplined enough in order to achieve any meaningful success for their efforts.  So, why not get a blogging buddy?

      How would it work?  Each of you commit to a certain number of posts per week and keep each other on track.  You can find interesting articles or tidbits to send each other's way to inspire them with related practice areas topics. Guest post on each other's sites. You may even expand this to a blogging club among your fellow solos friends, each in different areas of practice. But you keep to a schedule which includes encouragement and accountability until it becomes second nature for you to blog and you start to see a result for your efforts.

      There is nothing more exciting then converting your first client from your web presence and being able to tell someone about it.  I know I have a special buddy or two and we share our excitement when we know we've connected in a meaningful way with our intended audience.  It's a satisfaction like no other.

      And if you already do this or plan to do so, please let me know.  Would love to know your experience.

      October 11, 2007

      "You Ask...I Answer" - I'm Still In Law School. Should I Be Blogging?

      This question fresh in from a law student who wonders the following:

      What if you're not practicing yet?  I'll be taking the bar in Feb, and although I kinda like the idea of a blog (I just started one, but I'm still playing around with it), are there any advantages to having one if you haven't started practicing?  I can't get clients at this point, and I can't really call myself a specialist of anything, either (although I have an idea as to what I want to do)...

      I've been meaning to post on this for quite some time because it is an important question.  Should you be blogging while you are in law school?  Because this question was asked of me I'm assuming the author wants to know the value if she is going to open a solo practice.  On the other hand, should you be blogging if you know you want to work for another?  So, I'm going to give the answer to all law students regardless their ambitions.  In one word..... 

      YES!  And the sooner the better!

      And here is why.  Blogging is the least expensive, most productive and powerful marketing tool available to law students today to market...you guessed it....themselves! 

      Through blogging you get a variety of benefits at low to no cost which were unavailable to law students years ago.  You can self-publish and market who you are long before you try to get that job or look to be hired by clients as you open your own solo practice.

      Imagine, you are a student interested in criminal law. But clearly you are not a lawyer so you are not going to positioning yourself as such. As a lay person and a law student and a human being functioning in this society you have the absolute right to comment on criminal cases posing thoughtful questions from the position of analysis.  For example: Britney Spears (oh, g-d..I'm using her as an example!).  She is in a custody battle for her children.  You have a gut reaction but can try to view it from an analytical point of view if you are interested in family law and have some externship or internship experience, or even personal experience.  Comment on the news, like the Jena 6 not just as a law student but a human being in this country impacted by the same.  You can blog from a passion other than the law to get practice on the art of blogging. And here is what will happen.

      • You will be developing a skill (blogging), learning the platform, developing comfort with the latest technologies, and building community all without the pressure of earning a living simultaneously.
      • You will have created an 'about' page with your photo describing who you are, your undergraduate degree, your work history, hobbies, etc. and your expected date of graduation from law school as well as when you anticipate passing the bar
      • With proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you will hopefully have relegated any indiscretions you might have circulating on the web to the 97th page on Google and controlled your internet presence long before you seek out that all important summer or post-graduation job.
      • You show potential employers your internet savvyiness PLUS
      • When you circulate your resumes and the HR department or practitioner searches you out, they see a blog, a personality, a well-connected young man or woman AND
      • Someone who could probably teach them how to blog for success themselves.
      • You will be light years ahead of your peers in the job search because you will have already shown your authenticity, likeability, intelligence, thoughtfullness, progressiveness and smiling face to your potential employers.

      If you are going solo upon graduation:

      • You will have developed the number one all important marketing tool for your solo practice;
      • Depending upon the blogging content you chose you could conceivably immediately change a few words next to your name, add the Law Offices of and ESQ.
      • Change your About page to include Date of Admission to the Bar (or not)
      • Put your URL on your business cards...all within 10 minutes of being sworn in.
      • Just purchase your domain names (if you haven't already parked them in anticipation of) and forward your URLs to your blog...and VOILA!  You are up and running the number one tool to reaching clients and establishing your authority in your chosen areas of practice.

      In any endeavor, getting employment, getting clients, building relationships of any type, you need to cultivate the trifecta.  What is the trifecta?  Relationships are based upon three things.  People need to  1) know you; 2) like you, and; 3) trust you.  And studies show after six or seven exposures to you they feel like they do know you.

      So, how does this work with blogging?  Well, if you are writing consistent quality content on topics of your choice and you have gained some readership you are creating exposures.  Whether they get to 'know you' in the true sense is a philosophical matter but let's assume for business purposes they do know you because of the persona you are projecting.  Your content attracts others to link to you.  Then readers start to comment.  You thank them for their comment and encourage conversation.  Some do so through direct e-mail to the reader, others create the dialogue in the commentary on their blog and still others do both.  Now they are starting to like you because they feel valued.  And when your content remains consistent, your message consistent, readers start to trust what you have to say.  It's that simple and that challenging.  (But there is so much more on this particular topic...we'll stop here.)

      I can't tell you how many long time solos are struggling to get their blogs up and running while practicing and after throwing hard-earned money at traditional advertising and marketing that no longer cuts it.  You could have this powerful tool functional and recognized the minute your admitted to the bar, ready to go.

      An internet presence is no longer an option when it comes to reaching clients or potential referrers of clients.  Blogging is inexpensive in terms of dollars; a little more investment in terms of time.  But when you are talking about running lean and mean, maximizing return on all your investments blogging is the way to go for all the reasons described above.  Learn it while you are in school.  There are several well known student bloggers who are doing quite well and showing their industriousness while understanding the time and energy they are expending now will give them a leg up professionally.

      We all know how competitive the job market is.  Everyone could use an advantage whether getting that all important summer associate's position or post-graduation job or opening their own solo practice.  This is the advantage you've been looking for.  And if you are student blogger, please share your experiences.

      October 07, 2007

      Win a Free Blawgging Course from "Blawg for Profit"

      The long awaited Blawg for Profit products and services are kicking off with a bang as you can win a free Blawg For Profit package just by leaving a comment on the Blawg For Profit website by Thursday October 11th saying why you should win this highly valued prize from those who know how to blog their way to profits.

      I would encourage all my readers to enter...you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  I would encourage all my clients, whether you have a blog presence already or not, to enter because free knowledge from those who know the technical ins and outs of successful blogging is frosting on the cake.  And it doesn't matter if you are a law student, lawyer waiting to pass the bar, just heard you passed the bar or a practicing attorney; this is a value from a company and bloggers I respect for their dedication and commitment to an excellent product and service at a good price.

      So, go here, and enter to win a prize which will prove priceless.  And make sure you sit in on the free teleseminar because anything from Grant Griffiths and Michael Sherman is always worthwhile.

      "Tip of the Week" - Learn How Your Website Ranks

      I found a neat little website called Marketleap.  This website lets you know where website ranks with your competition, how your key search words are or are not working and if your site is placed within the top three pages of the top six search engines when potential clients use those key search words. And there are many more informative reports.  All free.

      This tool can be very valuable for niche practices in a competitive market as you can compare your site to your competition and see if they, in fact, have optimized their site and are coming up on the first three pages of the major search engines, too.

      Check it out.