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Converting a newsletter into a blog

The task of turning a newsletter into a blog was not as easy as one would think, posts Lorelle VanFossen at the The Blog Herhald.

The first challenge was to determine which of these would become posts, article information published on the blog in chronological order, and which of these would become pages, pseudo-static web pages with the information most commonly needed by members and visitors.

Wrong way to go about it. Don’t focus on the features of an email newsletter and try to develop a blog that includes each of those features.

Blogs are different animals than newsletters. Having various constituents at the law firm (marketing, lawyers etc.) who know little about blogs and how they work force a square peg in a round whole is an effort in futility.

Focus on the underlying mission of the email newsletter and make sure the blog accomplishes that mission and more.

Law firms send out email newsletters, many by practice groups, to maintain face-time, share legal information, and showcase the expertise of the lawyers writing the content. Blogs can do the same – and more. So relax, though your blog may not have the same features, you’ll be okay.

LexBlog has ‘converted’ law firm practice group email newsletters into blogs for email lists with as many has 2,800 recipients. In addition to client face-time, sharing legal information, and showcasing legal expertise, the results:

  • Cost savings in reduced time and non recurring graphic & formating expense.
  • Brief content made it easy and enjoyable for lawyers creating content.
  • Content was distributed when done, rather than at monthly or quarterly intervals.
  • Reduced marketing department time with lawyers posting content directly to blog.
  • Content is indexed on search engines so content is now seen by broader audience than with newsletter.
  • Content distributed by RSS and email, with users selecting their preference.
  • RSS distribution gets content into Google Blog Search and Technorati so that Internet users monitoring content by keywords and key phrases will receive your relevant blog posts; especially key for media who regularly do this.
  • Index by topic of archived content that’s fully searchable.

Newsletters may still have their role, but conversion to a blog is possible so long as you appreciate the advantages of blogs and do not try to force the blog to include every feature of your old newsletter.

  • http://attorneymarketing.com David Ward

    I just started a blog and wrestled with the same issues (and commented on this post today). I haven’t lived in Chicago for four decades and still miss Italian Beef and Deep Dish. Please write about them.

  • http://lorelle.wordpress.com/ Lorelle

    While I agree with many of your points, I don’t see what’s wrong with the paragraph you featured?
    Exploring the content of a newsletter to find the “redundant” content to go into Pages is part of the process. Pulling out the timeless information is easy, the easiest part of the process of converting. It also helps to introduce the newsletter editors to the concept of how a blog works with timeless Pages and chronological posts.
    It sounds like you handle newsletter conversions to blogs for customers who don’t get their hands dirty with the details. My article series is for those who will be doing this themselves and setting newsletter-to-blog conversions for their clients to do the work and maintain. Familiarity with the blog concepts is a must from the start.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin

    Lorelle, I don’t know that I am disagreeing so much but if I understad what you’re saying about going through the process of trying to create something more than a blog because you’re converting from a newsletter, I don’t see why you want to do that. A blog is a blog, maybe it does not have everything a newsletter has but the advantages may well offset anything you’re losing with the newsletter.
    The clients we’re detailing with are very hands on and have spent very significant sums on marketing through their ‘intellectual capital.’ In the case of moving from a newsletter to a blog, many of them are just ready to make a clean break from the newsletter and move on.

  • http://www.stemlegal.com/strategyblog/ Steve Matthews

    Lorelle & Kevin, let me split the difference here. First, there’s nothing wrong with moving some static content into page structures, and Lorelle is correct in saying this content is easy to identify and important not to lose in the process. Blog posts can also highlight where these static pages are to help readers.
    But I’d also agree with Kevin that the greater you can distinguish between a blog & newsletter, the better. Most newsletter author’s believe they can continue to write their blog like they used to write their newsletter. And the voices are completely different.
    Writing a blog in third person is a big networking blunder, and in essence creates a CMS enabled newsletter. No personality and no opinions often equals no links, no google juice, no contacts, and no readers.
    I would transition the static content, but after that advise the group or person creating things to forget the newsletter ever existed.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin

    I understand Lorelle’s point after reading David’s post about static content serving as evergreen content – items that will stand the test of time. There are ways that content can be built into the blog as I have done here with the resource center.

  • http://lorelle.wordpress.com/ Lorelle

    I’d just like to reiterate my original point of my series on converting a newsletter into a blog: it’s about converting a newsletter into a blog. It’s about replacing the newsletter.
    Newsletters are newsletters and have their place. Blogs are blogs, and have their place. You can also combine the two easily. However, if an organization, business, or individual wants to stop the newsletter and put all their energy on a blog, then my article series takes them through the process of helping them convert past newsletter content into blog content, leaving the costs of mailing and printing behind them and embracing new technology.