Why Lawyers Need Blogs
In today’s revolutionized Internet age, businesses without a solid web presence will be overlooked by most prospective customers. Although traditionally old-fashioned in business and marketing practices, attorneys are no exception to the rule.
Having a basic website is the absolute bare minimum and to keep up with competitors and the “Twitter” generation, law firms will have to remain ahead of the curve. A blog is a foreign concept to many, but it is becoming a necessary tool in a law firm’s online arsenal.
There are many advantages to having a personalized blog, but the most important one is that it creates an avenue for fresh content and establishes a personal touch by the attorney. Most static websites, especially in the legal sector, are rarely updated and provide minimal information such as addresses, areas of practice and sample cases.
Setting up a blog, which would ideally be updated daily or weekly, provides fresh content plus offers a way for current and future clients to interact with the firm. With the rapid evolution of blogs over the past years, many layouts are extremely attractive and offer capability to spread content viral through RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds or Social Media buttons. Video, related blogs, updated news and much more can be incorporated easily into the blog. The capability to comment on each post enables clients and others to add to the conversation and contribute to the content.
In a profession where time definitely is money, many attorneys are intimidated or lose interest in blogging due to the presumed time commitment and need to create fresh content. For this reason, many firms would be justified in outsourcing the blog writing to a professional firm, which are plentiful across the Internet. However, once blogging becomes second nature, one could easily produce a thorough, informational blog post in a few minutes a day.
Free Blogs vs. Paid Blogs
Another important issue is the costs associated with creating and maintaining a blog. Fortunately, this is not substantial. As a matter of fact, there could be no cost at all if you choose to use a free blog provider.
Advantages of Free Blogs
The obvious primary advantage of free blogs is the price, since there is no cost for a basic setup. Although these companies do offer paid a la carte upgrades. You can create a free blog on Google’s Blogger, Wordpress.com, or numerous other free sites, and there are hundreds of templates to choose from. The setup process is very simple. All you need is an image for the firm’s logo, a description, and an email address. You can be blogging in minutes after it is set up.
Disadvantages of Free Blogs
The major disadvantage of using free blogs is that your site will see no direct traffic from the blog, as it is hosted under the blogging company’s name. Also, many Web-savvy browsers that see the Blogspot or Wordpress URL immediately assume that the blog is not as professional as a paid one. Finally, the blog’s Search Engine results pages (SERP’s) for keywords related to your firm will possibly be higher than your main site, which could push your site further down in the rankings.
Advantages of Paid Blogs
To get the most benefit out of your attorney blog, it is highly advisable to set it up through your main domain. It is a simple process to get it set up and can be completed in just a few minutes. Costs are minimal, usually about $5 to $25 per month, depending on your plan, and well worth the upgrade from a free blog.
The ultimate goal would be to have a URL such as www.examplelawfirm.com/blog, which would ensure that all visitors to your site that read your blog remain on your site. By hosting your blog yourself, you will retain all visitor traffic plus achieve a higher level of content across the board. You can also insert direct links back into the rest of your website.
Collectively, the easiest blogging system is the paid hosting service on Wordpress.org, not to be confused with wordpess.com, their free service. It is a very user-friendly interface with a clean layout and intuitive posting capability. You can choose from thousands of templates, many of which are tailored to the look and feel of a legal site. With one click, users can upload photos and videos or create a link to a worthy resource. You can also easily add “widgets”, which are additional, valuable tools that can perform a multitude of fun and interesting actions.
For example, you can add a “Share This” row of buttons to your posts, which allows users to click once to share the blog via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, StumbleUpon, Digg and dozens of other social media outlets. Every time your firm adds interesting, fresh content to your blog, there is a good chance it will spread virally throughout the Web on its own. There are many other widgets you can add to your site as well. The firm’s Web programmer would be able to quickly set up the hosting, or if you use GoDaddy or a similar hosting service, you can easily make the addition using their simple instructions. Once you have the hosting set up, your blog is ready to go.
Disadvantages of Paid Blogs
There aren’t many disadvantages to using a paid blog, and the advantages truly outweigh them. Although the cost is pretty minimal, some attorneys may be stretched too thin at the outset and would prefer using their marketing funds on other tools. Perhaps you would like to “get your feet wet” with a free blog, and when you feel a bit more confident and have gotten traffic to your website flowing well, you can switch to a paid blog.
Another possible disadvantage is the perceived complexity of setting up and maintaining your own blog. Bear in mind, though, that hosting companies have customers at all levels of computer experience and are generally ready to help you with many of the questions you may have.
In summary, the initial time investment of establishing your blog is well worth it, as your firm will develop an online personality that will attract clients over static competitors. By setting aside 15-30 minutes a day to commit to your blog, you can gain subscribers and the attention of the major Search Engines. Google, Yahoo and Bing all crawl for fresh content every day and they notice sites that add content more often than those who don’t. If used properly, your business blog will ultimately be an invaluable tool to build your firm’s business and bring in revenue.
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