Should I Blog? A Two Prong Test.

“A great resume can only deliver confidence in your ability to deliver solutions, but it never provides the solution.”

You’ve heard the advice. Keep your website active. Add new material. Blog about topics of interest to your clients. Be the “go to” resource for cutting edge information. Sounds good, but it also sounds like a lot of work. So is it worth your time? Ultimately, will it bring in business?

Whether you should blog depends on two primary areas of consideration: First, do you like writing and are you good at it? Second, what impact would it likely have, if any, on the buying decisions of your targeted clients?

While most lawyers have at least a reasonable level of writing skill, being able to draft pleadings, motions or briefs does not necessarily equate to being an effective blogger. Effective blogging isn’t just about putting a decent sentence together. It requires identifying topics of current interest to the targeted client, and providing useful or interesting information presented in an easy-to-read and at least semi-entertaining style. If you find yourself spending hours on end writing a marginal, half page blog post, chances are it is not your thing. And of course if you do a poor job, it could actually do damage (although damage is unlikely for most lawyers making a reasonable effort). In short, you have to want to do it, enjoy it and be pretty good at it.

Once you determine that you can be successful writing blog posts, you next must consider whether blogging has a reasonable chance of generating business with the clients you want. To meet this prong, there has to be some measurable benefit or return on your investment of time. So how do lawyers benefit from blogging?

First, and most obvious, blogging can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge on subjects of interest to your targeted client and may actually provide value added services on the spot. Nothing demonstrates expertise better than, well, demonstrating it. Prospective clients expect that your firm bio will be written in a way to make you look qualified. Having a list of references or successes can help too. But to actually see the expertise in action can be the most powerful proof of your knowledge and experience. Also, a well written blog provides instant useful information and possibly even solutions for your targeted clients. Ultimately that is what they want, solutions. A great resume can only deliver confidence in your ability to deliver solutions, but it never provides the solution.

Second, regular blogging can improve your visibility on the Internet, possibly driving valuable traffic to your website. If your site has quality content on the subjects and important terms relevant to your business, it will improve your placement with the search engines on those topics. Likewise, if your website enjoys a significant traffic flow, it will also improve your site’s placement in response to search engine queries. One feeds off the other. Content leads to traffic, which leads to more traffic.

But will the benefits turn into business? It all goes back to basic marketing principles. Who is your target, where do they get their information, and how do they make their purchasing decisions? Clients seeking attorneys for personal injury plaintiff’s claims, criminal law or family law matters commonly use the Internet for locating potential lawyers. Therefore, high placement in response to search engine queries will help lead prospective clients to your site. They may not read your blog, but your blog may still be responsible for the business if the blog delivered the high placement that brought them to your site.

On the other hand, commercial clients are much less likely to use a search engine to find a lawyer, but instead are more inclined to rely on personal referrals. However, even if they don’t begin their search on the Internet, they will likely use the Internet to research a referred lawyer. Once under consideration, they will go to your website to answer one question: What is the likelihood this lawyer can successfully provide the solution I need? If your blog answers that question, it will benefit you. Your blog might not bring them to your site, but it might sell them on your qualifications.

So, should you blog? If you are good at it, and your analysis of your client’s decision making process suggests it will positively impact their decision, then it is a viable option. Once you meet these first two prongs, then it is a matter of how this particular marketing strategy weighs against the other marketing strategies available to you. Most lawyers have a very limited amount of time to market. Choosing the strategy that best fits your skills and your client’s needs is the key to effective marketing. But if you don’t meet the first two prongs for blogging, then don’t blog for business.