We recently reported on how Dallas divorce attorney Michelle May O’Neil‘s blogging led to an on-camera interview with a local news station, after a reporter sought her out for her expertise via a Google search.
"We have had an exceptional response to our blog," Michelle says. "We learned how to sync our blog with our LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. So, we have increased our readership. Many judges and lawyers have facebook profiles and routinely read our posts, increasing our presence as ‘thought leaders’ in our practice area. A lawyer stopped me at the courthouse last week and complimented our blog posts and said how informative they were for her."
We reached out to both Michelle and Nathan to find out more about their blogging strategy and what advice they give other lawyers on blogging.
See our email exchange with Michelle and Nathan, after the jump.
Lisa Kennelly: Why did you decide to start a blog?
Michelle May O’Neil: I first started blogging several years ago as a way to distinguish my website from my competitors and provide current and updated information to the website visitors. This year, we restructured our blog to focus it more tightly in connection with our practice.
Lisa Kennelly: What has been most rewarding about blogging? What has been most challenging?
Michelle May O’Neil: The most rewarding aspect of blogging is providing relevant information to those in need of the information. At first, the most challenging part of blogging was coming up with topics to write about. However, once we more narrowly defined our blogging mission, through the help of LexBlog, then finding interesting subjects became very easy.
Nathan Anderson: I think the most rewarding aspect is being viewed as a source for new information. The biggest challenge was remembering that our blog audience is diverse and adapting my writing style to reach our entire audience.
Lisa Kennelly: Do you find there is a family law blogging community or Texas law blogging community?
Michelle May O’Neil: I have found several peers that blog. I routinely read Dick Price’s blog out of Fort Worth and Jimmy Verner’s blog out of Dallas. I also read an appellate law blog by Todd Smith from Austin. There’s also family law and appellate law blogs from around the country that I read. I enjoy getting a perspective on what’s going on in other states with family law issues.
Lisa Kennelly: What has the response been like to your blog from clients, other attorneys, or anyone else?
Michelle May O’Neil: We have had an exceptional response to our blog. We learned how to sync our blog with our LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. So, we have increased our readership. Many judges and lawyers have facebook profiles and routinely read our posts, increasing our presence as "thought leaders" in our practice area. A lawyer stopped me at the courthouse last week and complimented our blog posts and said how informative they were for her. Judges and lawyers routinely make comments to the posts on Facebook. This is helpful because a portion of my practice derives directly from referrals from other lawyers.
Lisa Kennelly: What advice would you give to an attorney thinking about starting a blog?
Michelle May O’Neil: I’ve actually talked to several lawyers lately about starting a blog. I think it is essential that a new blog have a unique niche. Because one goal of blogging is to increase your reputation as a thought leader, you should find a unique perspective that someone else isn’t doing. You don’t improve your reputation by being a "me too" blogger. It is also important to remember your audience in your posts. Are you educating potential new clients about the basics of your practice area? Or, are you providing relevant information to others in your area who are already educated on the basic level?
In this economy, many lawyers are struggling for business. I have found that many of those lawyers who are floundering now are lawyers who have not kept up with the increasingly technologically literate society. I talked to a lawyer recently who was perplexed by his lack of new business. I asked him what marketing efforts he used to get business. His response was that he got most of his business from referrals and he also bought a large ad in the local yellow pages. He did not have any web presence. I suggested that, these days, even the most unsophisticated client will "google" anyone before picking up the phone to make that call, so you are losing already if you don’t have a website, much less some of the other technological bells-and-whistles like a blog.
I also visited with another lawyer about his quest to increase his reputation in his niche practice area. We discussed the concept of being a thought leader and I suggest that he would benefit from blogging because he could showcase his knowledge of his practice area and provide relevant information to his referral sources.
Nathan Anderson: Michelle points out a very good point: consumers of legal services at more techno-savvy than ever. In that regard, if an attorney is considering starting a blog, its important to post on a consistent basis so that you come across as "up to date."
Interested in hearing more? Recent LexBlog Q & A posts:
- Kenneth Odza of Food Liability Law Blog [10.29.09]
- David Shulman of South Florida Estate Planning Law [10.23.09]
- David Nelmark of Mixed Martial Arts Law Blog [10.21.09]
- John Hochfelder of New York Injury Cases Blog [10.19.09]
Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.