When you started your legal career, you never expected writer’s block to be such a problem. Still, many a legal professional has spent frustrated hours over this question: what on Earth do I write on my law firm blog?
This common conundrum is the cause of death for lots of legal blogs.
Managing a blog is a lot of work, and it’s disheartening when you’ve put in all that effort to create articles that few people ever read. You might be wondering if it’s even worth continuing.
The good news is this: with a little refresh on your strategy, you can come up with lots of valuable topics that actually create positive ROI for your firm.
Regardless of whether you create your law firm blog yourself or hire a content professional to manage it for you, blogging is an effective way to reach potential clients. It’s also a great way for you to stay current on trending legal issues within your practice area.
In this article, you’ll explore some basics of blogging strategy to help you discover the right topics to cover. Then, we’ll talk about how to actually get that writing done.
DO this on your law firm blog:
Before we dive into the most common mistakes, let’s talk about best practices. These good habits will set you up for success and make it much easier to come up with specific topics.
#1: DO have clarity around your intended audience
Before you even start writing your blog, sit down and visualize the actual people you want to read it. Then, ask yourself this all-important question:
Why will they want to read your blog?
A successful blog focuses on what your ideal readers want, not what you want from them. Using your blog as a platform to talk about your practice and services is generally a waste of time and energy because nobody wants to read about you.
Think about it — do you ever read your junk mail for fun?
Start with the intention to publish stuff that people will actually want to read. Then, think about writing those posts in a way that connects with the reader.
If your ideal clients are in-house attorneys for large companies, for example, then your blog should be highly professional in tone. It should present complex, targeted legal concepts.
If, on the other hand, your ideal clients are just everyday folks with simpler legal problems, then write your blog in a more relatable, conversational tone. Legalese is a turn-off for average people who just want a clear answer.
Remember that the blog exists more for potential clients than anyone else. That’s why it is so important to give thought to what that particular group wants and needs to hear from you.
#2: DO strive to be more valuable than the competition
Unless you practice in a rather obscure area of the law, there are lots and lots of other lawyers publishing blogs similar to yours. What makes your articles more worth the read than theirs?
If you’re just publishing the same things as your competitors in different words, there’s no reason for anyone to choose to read your posts. Moreover, if you’re one of many lawyers saying the same thing in slightly different words, you’re telling potential clients that you’re the type of attorney to put forth minimum effort.
Every time you post a new article, you should know what makes it valuable. Most often, that means you’ve accomplished one or more of these things in your blog post:
- It’s entertaining
- It’s highly informative
- It gives readers a new insight or shows them how to think about something in a new way
- It’s actionable so readers can use the information to solve a problem
Most law firm blogs are informative. You can try to give more information than other blogs, but you’re probably better off adding a different type of value to your articles.
For example, if you read almost any family law blog, you’ll see at least one post about the best ways to share child custody.
By late March 2020, however, one clever firm in Los Angeles quickly published a blog about sharing custody during the pandemic. While many law firms would go on to write similar articles, theirs was thought-provoking, necessary, and one of the first at the time it was published. They added more value by giving readers new insights.
A note about thought leadership
You might hear a lot about a strategy called thought leadership.
The whole point of trying to become a thought leader is that you want to publish the articles that other legal minds talk about. You become a driving force in the general online discussion, and you build a reputation for being an authoritative voice in your field.
That sounds appealing to most law firms, and it’s currently very trendy advice for bloggers everywhere. You’ll find thousands of marketing influencers to encourage you to become a thought leader.
For most law firms, though, that’s not a great strategy.
Why? Look back at the first best practice in this section. Do your potential clients need a thought leader, or do they need a competent attorney?
Building a reputation for thought leadership takes years of focused, highly strategic work. These brands treat their blog as a business in itself, and they spend their time and money on that goal accordingly.
For most law firms, that simply doesn’t make sense. By all means, be original and valuable to your readers, but don’t get too hung up on the idea of becoming a thought leader if that won’t serve your law firm well.
#3: DO answer the most common client questions
For decades, clients have been complaining about how much lawyers charge. Often, clients are afraid to call their attorneys with simple questions for fear that the almighty clock is constantly ticking.
Nonetheless, those questions are still important.
A blog is a great way to give your clients value without charging them.
For instance, if you’re a civil litigation attorney, every new client inevitably asks “how much is this lawsuit going to cost me?” You inevitably end up giving the same “it depends” answer based on the particulars of each case and your practice style.
What if you could answer that question (and others) in a well-crafted, entertaining blog post?
At the very least, you could give your clients the baseline information they need in order to understand litigation costs and fees. They’re still going to ask you, but they’ll have the option to find that article for themselves and come to you with more informed questions.
These kinds of posts have another benefit for your firm: they can be found by people who aren’t your legal clients yet, and they show those people that you care about their concerns.
Obviously, you’re not going to share legal advice in these blog posts. There’s plenty of other information you can share, though. Keep notes of common questions you hear from new clients and use that list when you’re choosing topics for blog posts.
DON’T do this on your law firm blog:
It’s frustrating to waste hours on a blog that doesn’t do you any good, isn’t it?
If you struggle to get people to read your posts, or if you’re just not seeing any benefit from all the work you’ve put in, you’re not alone. These common law firm blog mistakes are some of the biggest culprits.
#1: DON’T make your blog into a sales pitch
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes.
When you set out to learn about a new topic — skydiving, for example — do you want to read a bunch of blog posts that are trying to sell you expensive skydiving packages?
You want to know what skydiving is like, what equipment you need, where to go for the first time, and how to get started safely. At first, you might not even know if you really want to go skydiving at all. You’re looking for information, and you’re definitely not ready for a sales pitch.
Making your blog too salesy is a huge mistake. There’s no value for the reader, and you can earn yourself a reputation as a spammer while you try to promote your salesy posts.
#2: DON’T ignore your blog page
As someone who writes blogs for law firms all the time, I can’t tell you how many times I have visited law firm websites where the most “current” blog post is over two years old.
That looks so bad to the consumer. If you’re not going to use your blog, you might be better off removing it from your website.
Industry experts tell us that marketers who prioritize marketing efforts are 13x more likely to see positive ROI from their blog than those who don’t.
They also suggest that one or two blogs per week are optimal while you’re starting to build your online brand. If you can’t keep up with that cadence, you should plan to publish a really good new article at least twice per month.
If you don’t have time to write (or hire someone to write) regular blog posts, it’s probably better not to have a blog page on your website at all. People will notice that you release new articles sporadically, and they’ll definitely notice if your latest posts are many months or years out of date.
#3: DON’T subscribe to a canned blog service
Finally, if you’ve looked into this legal blogging thing at all previously, you probably already know that you can subscribe to “services” that will produce cheap blog articles for your firm on a regular basis.
Don’t even think about it.
First of all, they tend to be poorly written by people (or machines) with no legal background.
Secondly, scores of other firms purchase that same content. What does it say to a potential client when you’re posting the same low-quality blogs as seven other attorneys in your town? You might think they won’t notice, but odds are good that someone who is looking for an answer is going to read multiple articles online.
This strategy can seriously hurt your other marketing efforts, too.
Having these articles on your website sends a signal to search engines like Google that your website is low quality, so their algorithm automatically makes it harder for people to find you in search results. They don’t just penalize that article — the penalty is on your whole website.
In other words, when someone searches for “family attorneys in Lincoln, Nebraska” and you are a family attorney in Lincoln, Nebraska, you’re a lot less likely to show up on the map.
Some websites get removed from search results entirely because they publish so much questionable content.
Plus, using this kind of cheap, canned content can open you up to plagiarism risks and intellectual property issues that can get your website taken down for copyright infringement. Ultra-cheap content services are notorious for copying articles and images without permission.
When it comes to legal blog writing, it’s best to do it yourself or hire a professional.
And on that topic:
How to find a professional legal blogger
Finding the time to write your own blog posts can be tough, and publishing those new articles on a consistent schedule is a real challenge.
That’s why many law firms hire someone to handle blog content.
Working with a dedicated blogger also pays off because that person can also be responsible for important tasks like promoting your posts, tracking success metrics, and keeping an eye on industry news that might impact your practice.
There are several ways you can go about hiring a professional legal blogger. Here are the three most common ways firms handle their content needs:
Assign the task to a paralegal or junior associate
Chances are these are the people in your firm who are already tasked with following legal developments in your practice area. If they’re interested in writing and have a good grasp of what it takes to create a successful blog, you can assign this task to them.
Be warned, though: since legal professionals rarely have marketing experience, this strategy often leads to a legal blog that doesn’t connect with potential clients.
Use a freelance service
Trust me when I tell you that I’m not the only former lawyer who now makes a living as a professional writer. There are hundreds of us available for hire on freelancing websites like Upwork or Freelancer.
Writers without much experience may create entire blog posts for your firm for as little as $100 per (unresearched) post.
More seasoned legal professionals will charge upwards of $125 per page for more sophisticated legal content, and content experts who have experience in subjects like search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization, and social media promotion will generally charge more.
Freelance writers, like other independent contractors, survive on word of mouth. If you see another firm’s website that has quality blog content, find out who they use (hint: check the byline). A true professional will never recycle content and will happily create unique blog posts for your firm for a fair price.
How much should it cost to hire a legal blogger?
If hiring a professional seems like a big investment, consider this: how much time do you spend right now writing blog posts that don’t do any good for your business? If you charged that in billable hours, how much would you be spending on blog articles?
It’s much more cost-effective to pay a professional to write posts that have the potential to attract new clients.
Here’s one final tip: give your blog time to grow and succeed.
You’re probably not going to see a sharp spike in new business right away, but you should see a little bit of internet traffic and some indicators that people are actually reading your posts and clicking on things once they’re on your site.
This might take a few months, so be patient and consistent. Growing your online audience is worth the time and effort.