By Kevin O'Keefe

Ads on lawyer blogs? reports Jeralyn Merritt, a Denver criminal defense lawyer who uses her TalkLeft Web log to promote her liberal views about the criminal justice system has started selling ads on her blog. Jeralyn, who I know to be a fine lawyer who would go out of her way to help people, never considered selling space to advertisers. Then she got a call from Henry Copeland. Since then the Democratic National Committee, presidential candidate John Kerry and congressional candidates have advertised on her blog. In March, the ads generated $1,000 in revenue. “I feel I’m doing good at the same time I am making money,” Merritt said.

Read on to learn more about the report and my take on selling ads on blogs and buying ads on other blogs.

The report continues:

Chapel Hill-based Blogads, which Copeland started in 2002, is pioneering the idea of advertising on blogs, Web sites that are online journals, regularly updated and usually devoted to a single topic or person.

Blogads had a slow start, but business has surged this year. Copeland declined to discuss specifics, saying only, “Last year’s numbers were painful. This year’s numbers are verging on pleasant. … I really thought by year-end we would be doing the numbers we’re doing now.”

Blogads represents about 200 blogs, many of which are politically oriented. They are popular ad sites for political candidates, political causes and T-shirt companies, Copeland said.

After all, Copeland added, “It was the bloggers who dragged [former presidential candidate Howard] Dean out of obscurity. If the journalists and opinion makers are reading these folks, it is a no-brainer for advertising.”

It is also reported that blogs may offer an advertising opportunity:

…[A]ds in blogs cost much less than in established media, he said. “If you buy an ad on a blog, there is just one mouth to feed. Buy an ad on the and there are thousands of mouths to feed.”

Blogads gets a 20 percent cut of what each each advertiser spends; the rest goes to the bloggers.

Should lawyers sell advertising on their blogs? I think not.

Unless you have huge traffic and you are running a generic ‘magazine type’ blog as opposed to one focused on your practice area which you are using to market yourself, forget it. First the money you will generate will be peanuts. Remember when everyone sold books off their Web site for Amazon – vast majority of folks never sold enough to qualify for a check. Is it worth getting a few hundred dollars a year? If it is, you have some serious problems with your practice.

Second, advertising on your blog diminishes your reputation. A good lawyer blog is providing valuable information on a niche area to the public, media, colleagues and prospective clients. Such a blog says you are knowledgeable and care – the blog will garner new clients based on this online reputation you are establishing. If people think you are blogging to sell ads as opposed to providing free information, your reputation will take a hit.

Should lawyers buy ads on blogs to get traffic? Again, I think not.

First, one would need to find a very niche oriented blog with huge traffic that is focused on your practice area and locale. I have not seen many, if any, of those blogs.

Second, I think a lawyers marketing time and expense can be better used. Just blogging along and making certain you are making effective use of title tags and body text in your blog will push a lawyer to the top of search results. Second, if you want to spend money on sponsored links, localized ad buys on Yahoo/Overture and Google/Adwords are a better buy.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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