So you decided to create a blawg. You’re a lawyer – maybe even a “practical blawger” – and you want readership. Well, what should you do? Mark Bennett has some tips and asks others to weigh in.
I’ve never written one of these posts and I figure I still don’t know enough to dispense sage advice. That’s never stopped me before, though, so here goes:
1. Identify your material – What are you going to blog about? Have three or four topics in mind. Are you going to blog about legal decisions from your jurisdiction? Are you going to comment on national legal stories? Are you going to dispense advice to other lawyers? Are you going to wax philosophical? You can do all of the above via one blog, but you have to know that’s what you want to do.
2. Link, link, link – For the most part, the topics you post about are not going to be original – especially if you’re blogging about national stories. Link to other bloggers similar to you that are also posting about that. Their readership is your readership. Make use of trackbacks and pingbacks. That lets other bloggers know that you’ve cited their post and their readers know that you’ve got something to offer on the same topic.
3. Enable trackbacks/pingbacks – The flip side of #2. If someone links to you in their post, they will send a trackback. You want that trackback. It’s an acknowledgment and common courtesy. The other person knows that you received their trackback, but will also know if you don’t accept it. They’re offering a hand; you’re slamming the door in their face.
4. Comment on others’ blogs – The best way to get yourself out there. Don’t comment and leave a link to your blog (unless it’s part of the substance of your comment and you’ve explained your position in detail on your blog). Comment on the substance of the post. It might get repetitive, sure, but after all, you’re blogging to engage in a discussion.
5. Reply to comments – I’ve always made it a point to reply to comments (as much as I can) on my blog. It generates a reader-base and lets them know you’re involved in the blog and are genuinely interested in a discussion. Also, don’t moderate comments for reasons other than spam. If you’re using WordPress and Akismet, you have no reason to moderate comments once the spam filter gets going. People know when you moderate comments and don’t post theirs.
6. Pick a name and stick with it – Your name will forever be attached to you in the blogosphere. If you’re posting anonymously, make sure it’s catchy (like Gideon – thanks Mike 😉 ). Pick a catchy blog title, too.
7. Blogrolls – Very, very important. Link to other blogs; link to many other blogs. If a few blogs reference each other all the time, link to all the blogs. Link to blogs that interest you and you think would interest your readers. Don’t wait for them to link back to you – some may not, some will eventually.
8. Cite your sources – Another important point. If you read two blog posts that talk about the same topic and reading them makes you want to post about that topic, credit both blogs. Don’t leave one out.
9. Design – A few people overlook this aspect (Sorry Shawn, but that white on black has got to go), but you shouldn’t. It’s imperative that people that come to your blog find it appealing and easy to read. You don’t want them distracted by non-essential things. Make it easy to read and easy to comment.
10. Be nice to people 🙂