Better Blogging: How to Write for the Medium

By | Please Advise | August 29, 2014
Better Blogging: How to Write for the Medium

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Good writing is good writing, right? Yes and no.

Readers’ expectations for a blog are far different than for a law journal. Blogging started as a form of an online journal so the style has always been more personal and casual. Readers expect that through a blog, they will get to know you. the writer. They also expect the content to be easily digestible and fun to read.

That’s a lot of expectation so we’ve put together a few of our favorite tips for getting it right, inspired by some of the top bloggers on the LexBlog Network.

Step 1: Adopt a conversational tone. Sometimes lawyers can be afraid to write with a casual tone because it seems less professional. But in reality, a casual tone is what helps potential clients get to know you and your personality. Plus, the more you reduce the legalese in your posts, the more your audience will be able to connect with your content. LexBlog author, Dan Schwartz (@DanielSchwartz) says he writes all his posts with his next door neighbor in mind. This keeps the legalese to a minimum and ensures your language is easy to read and comprehend. And it’s working: his blog, Connecticut Employment Law Blog is one of the most popular on our network.

A great example of writing in a conversational and engaging tone is a post from Robin Shea (@RobinEShea), former journalist, now a labor lawyer with Constangy. This post contains a funny letter to the EEOC chair.

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 Step 2: Have an opinion. Taking a stance can be scary. Won’t you alienate those with a differing opinion? Not necessarily. Two things happen when you write with strong opinions.

One, your posts get better. The passion you display for your subject shines through. This makes your post more interesting to read and more fun for you to write.

Two, choosing a side can bring you business. When you’re demonstrating your expertise on one side of an issue, those who agree will flock to you. And when legal counsel is needed on that side of the issue, you’ll be top of mind in a way that neutrality on the subject won’t offer.

Steptoe & Johnson’s Stewart Baker and Gray Reed’s Charles Sartain stand out as a couple of our network’s top examples. Stewart served as the first Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security where he set cybersecurity policy, including inward investment reviews focused on network security. His posts are highly opinionated on the topic of cybersecurity and are written in an accessible way for the general public to enjoy. Likewise, Charles Sartain writes on the hot topic of fracking and energy law with a conservative bent that keeps his audience coming back.

Step 3: Format for the web and mobile. You may have heard a lot from LexBlog about formatting your posts for easy readability, but this point bears repeating. Ensuring your post looks attractive to your reader, no matter what device they’re using when they come across your post, is key for keeping them coming back.

First, remember that your title may appear by itself on Facebook, LinkedIn and even on Twitter. So your title needs to draws readers’ attention and makes a statement right off the bat. It also should make sense outside the context of the blog. It’s important to avoid acronyms few people know, and to keep it under 70 characters so that the whole title is visible in Google and other social sites.

Second, use photos in every post. This makes your post more attractive to read but beyond that, remember the images chosen will show up when you (or anyone) who shares your content on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Third, make your post easily scannable. There is a reason why list posts or “listicles” are so popular. They are easy to scan over and get the main points without exerting a lot of energy. Your posts don’t all have to be lists, but if you format them in a similar way with sub-headings, short paragraphs or bullets, you’ll make your post much more easily digestible. This is more important now than ever with the widespread adoption of mobile technology.

Jeff Nowak of FMLA Insights has a great example. When you check out his blog, watch how nice it looks when you resize your banner–go ahead and size it down to mobile phone dimensions. This is called responsive design and Jeff’s blog looks great and is easy for his audience to read on the go.

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If you’re struggling with how to turn up the personality dial, where to draw the line in appropriateness, or just how to write better, contact your LexBlog account manager. They’re available to help you make the most of your blog!

Thank you to Colin O’Keefe for contributing his deep knowledge on this topic! For more information on writing well, visit our private Reach Community for LexBlog authors and view the recording of July webinar hosted by Colin O’Keefe on the 3 Writing Secrets of Top Legal Bloggers.

Photo credit: josef.stuefer 

The Technology Paradox or How to Do the Right Thing Wrong

By | SeytLines | August 29, 2014
The Technology Paradox or How to Do the Right Thing Wrong

Love it or hate it, technology is here to stay. If you are a lawyer, you better love it because technology will play a bigger role in what you do each day going forward. But, and this is an important “but,” there is a right way and a wrong way to do technology. In fact, there are many wrong ways to do technology.

Violence and Attorneys–Time for a Wake-up Call?

By | State Bar of Texas Blog | August 28, 2014
Violence and Attorneys–Time for a Wake-up Call?

We usually don’t consider the practice of law to be a dangerous profession, nestled as we normally are behind desks. But as the articles in the upcoming September issue of the Texas Bar Journal illustrate, violence has a very real impact on the legal profession—from the legal implications of and reactions to mass shootings to the risks faced by attorneys working in areas like family law and criminal law.

Facebook Eliminating the Junk in Your News Feed

By | Real Lawyers Have Blogs | August 27, 2014
Facebook Eliminating the Junk in Your News Feed

As reported by multiple sources this week, including Reed Albergotti (@WSJdigits) of the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is cracking down on click bait.

All too lawyers and other professionals I speak with complain about all the junk they see on Facebook. Part of the reason is that they don’t use it enough to help Facebook know what they like. At the same, Facebook acknowledges they have a problem with “click bait.”

How to Get New Business NOW!

By | Legal Marketing Blog | August 27, 2014

I was intrigued by post I ran across on Attorney at Work in which several marketing consultants offered their views on what was advertised as the “the best way to get paying client work right NOW.” Although there were many good business development tips provided, I was disappointed somewhat because only one consultant, Gerry Riskin, really offered what I consider practical advice on the “NOW” issue.  Not that the other ideas wouldn’t lead to more legal work, it’s just that most will take longer, a lot longer sometimes.