Keith Robinson, a Web standards/CSS (better way of building Web sites) guru here in Seattle, put together a great list for what makes for a successful blog. Though I’ll make a few comments, this list is a must read for lawyers and law firms already publishing a blog and those getting ready to do so.
Successful blog (or blogger)
- Well written. Good content will make or break your blog. Period. This it the #1 thing that makes a blog successful in my book.
- Frequently updated. Unless you?re a guru of some sort you really need to stay on top of it. This can be a real challenge.
- Consistent. This is kind of a combination of the first two. I like sites that are able to maintain quality and frequency overtime.
- Open. I like to read people who are honest and willing to talk about tough issues in a free and open way.
- Responsive. Those who respond to feedback and try to adapt to the wants and needs of their audience get high marks from me.
- Well designed. Yes, I do judge a blog by its design. It?s not the most important thing, but I?d be lying if I said it didn?t matter at all.
- Aware of its audience. If you don?t know your audience it?ll show.
- Varied in topic. I feel there are lots of people who would disagree with this, but I like sites that change the subject every once in awhile.
- Personal. I tend to enjoy a blog with a bit of a personality. I want to ?get to know?, to a certain degree, the person(s) behind the site. Tone and style have a lot to do with this.
- Thick skinned. With any successful site comes nay-sayers, trolls, pedants and spammers.
- Honest. Readers are smart and they can smell bullshit.
- Accountable. Mistakes are inevitable and there are times when it?s best to fess up and admit where you?re wrong.
- Funny. I like a blog that can make me laugh on occasion.
I agree with most everyone of Keith’s criteria. With a corporate law marketing blog, as opposed to an individual’s blog, there a number of things to keep on mind.
- Frequency of updates. A blog needs to updated more often than a Web site but it need not be an every day thing. Content that would go in email newsletters, client alerts and articles will do to get started. Once lawyers and law firm marketing professionals get comfortable with lawyers sharing their insight through a blog, posts will become more frequent.
- Well designed.
- Varied in topic.
Sure lexBlog is in the business of doing designs so I am biased, but law firms are judged by the way they look. Professional design picking up the firm’s branding and demonstrating the firm is top shelf is critical.
I read a comment on Keith’s blog that was right on – “Varied in topic, but consistent in subject matter.” Stay on subject, that’s why readers follow a blog. The best law blogs are limited to entries on an area of law. Clients are not necessarily interested in your random thoughts. In fact, you could unintentionally alienate them.
There’s no way lawyers and law firms are going to hit all these factors in their blogs but start hitting the majority and you’ll have a heck of a marketing tool.