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Seven ways for a lawyer with a blog to stand out

Web Strategist, Jeremiah Owyang, a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, offers some helpful tips this morning on what a company or an individual can do to get noticed.

Owyang aptly describes the problem lawyers perceive when they launch a blog. I hear it every day.

There are so many brands now, in fact with the introduction of websites, and blogs in particular, many are developing personal brands, something not as easy to accomplish in past years. With this proliferation of brands, it becomes so much more difficult for brand to stand out from the millions of others.

Fortunately for you guys looking to strike out in a sub-niche or to stand out from the crowd, there are still followers and leaders in everything. It’s up to you whether you want to be a leader.

Here’s Owyang’s tips for standing out, with a little commentary from me, of course.

  • Have a goal. Before you do anything, think about what your objectives are.
  • If your goal is high brand recognition (for me it’s law blogs), identify the keywords that you’d most want to be associated with. Try to think of keywords that people would search for, are long-term, and aren’t some made up name that no one would seek.
  • If your goal is to network with others and to grow your reach, focus on how many quality relationships (perhaps defined by people that would help you and you’d help back) that you can grow. Happens everyday in law firms. Rather than being to go to ‘brand’ in a niche, your firm may want to serve the entire spectrum of legal needs of small businesses (100 or less employees) in your metro or area of the state. Relationships with existing business clients, business associations, and local business media will be key.
  • If your goal is to learn about a new topic and eventually master the subject material, focus on how you’ll learn by reading, then eventually writing on that topic. For lawyers sharing what you learn by following blogs, news websites, and keywords via feeds to your newsreader is a killer way to learn, showcase your intellectual capital and become an intelligence agent on a niche. That’s what I’ve done over the last 5 years.
  • Develop a unique brand. I really don’t think URLs are as important as they used to be, often folks will Google your name to find you, and the fact that we disperse to so many websites (Facebook/Twitter/Friendfeed/What’s next) is an indicator of the distributed web ruling the destination website. There are millions of blogs/companies out there, and if you’re trying to get noticed, you’re going to have to compete to stand out. Having a default blog template to your website isn’t going to be enough, you’re automatically segmenting yourself with others. Develop a unique look and feel by designing it yourself or finding someone who can help. If that’s too difficult, at least create a custom masthead image that will brand your site. Could not have said it better Jeremiah.
  • Get personal. Use your picture somewhere on your blog. Register your name at social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter et al. Use those social media sites as well as blog in a personal, yet professional tone. Develop a voice that you and your followers will gain comfort in.
  • Attend events. They may be local, state, or national. Meet folks who are passionate about the space you’re blogging in. Meet the speakers at those events – they tend to be the leaders. Like you do with people you meet online, develop a network (easily done with LinkedIn) to network with in an ongoing fashion.
  • Lead events. Blog and attend events a while and you’ll soon start to notice a gap in the events you’re going to: a particular topic isn’t being covered, or a particular style of a topic isn’t being approached (unconference, roundtable, lecture, networking). Let conference coordinators know you’d be happy to speak on a niche you’ve developed via your law blog. It can be just one topic you cover in your blog. Conference coordinators will look at your blog and know in a New York minute you’ve got the street creds to speak. They’ll also know you can draw attendees by announcing their conference in your blog. If not at someone else’s conference, do your own. 15 to 20 people attending can be a huge success when the topic is focused and tailored for your target audience.
  • Be interesting. Just quoting what others say, adding very little value, won’t cut it. Owyang suggests: conduct analysis, respectively disagree with the mainstream, break news, compare and contrast services, develop lists or indexes of companies or topics. Robert Scoble taught both Owyang and I how to be a more noticed blogger (getting referenced by A-list bloggers) Scoble’s advice: ‘Be interesting.’
  • Archive your achievements. As you develop your repertoire of speaking at events, leading events, or being quoted in articles or top blogs, start to create an archive that links to all these achievements. You don’t need to shout those achievements at people via the home page of your blog. The speaking engagements page on this blog (needs updating) is one of the more trafficked pages on my blog.
  • There you have it. 7 things you can go to work on over the next 90 days. I’m sure you can think of 10 other ways to stand out.

    But if you work at these things over the next year, you’re going to notice some dramatic changes in your professional and personal life. I guaranty it.

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