TypePad changed the life of this lawyer : The origins of LexBlog

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Law Blogs on TypePadPicked up Steve Rubel ‘s Tweet this morning on TypePad changing so many lives. Steve was referencing TypePad’s 5 year anniversary celebration.

Launched in October, 2003, TypePad, a web based blog publishing platform, brought blogging to the masses with an easy to use subscription based service. Prior to then techies and their friends were blogging on software they loaded to servers.

In November 2003, I was working under a workshop light off the top of a door I laid across two files in my garage. Oil-filled electric radiators kept me moderately warm.

To say I was ‘working’ would be a stretch. Having been fired by LexisNexis a year earlier after selling my previous company to them and nearing the end of my covenant not to compete, I was playing around on the net 12 or 16 hours a day trying to figure out what I was going to do.

Having been working on Internet marketing for the legal profession for 7 years, including for my own law firm from ’96 to ’98, I thought I had a gift for helping good lawyers create an effective online presence. I knew the net was about connecting with people and communicating with those with legal needs at their level, as opposed to fancy websites which firms and legal publishers kept trotting out. Rather than go back to practicing law I wanted to help other lawyers achieve their dreams.

But how to get the word out that I was good at what I did? How to let people, beyond my limited circle of friends and business associates, know that I had something to offer? I needed a tool to give me a nation wide reputation.

I had used websites, listservs, newsletters, and message boards in my own Internet marketing efforts. But there was nothing unique about them. I wanted something new to give me an edge over others. Plus I was scared to death my money would run out before I could create a consulting business to support our family of 7.

Everything changed with the November edition of Business 2.0. Sitting in may garage one cold evening I read a little blurb in a small box describing a web based solution just launched in October that expected to have 10,000 subscribers within 90 days paying $4.95 to $14.95 per month. ‘Wow,’ I was thinking, ‘That type of uptake for a paid service equaled that of AOL almost a decade before.’

This service provided by Six Apart, the producer of blog software Movable Type, was called TypePad and it provided something called a blog.

I launched a TypePad blog within days at kevinokeefe.com (still there) to give it a shot. Impressed with my blog as a web publishing tool (hated the word ‘blog’), I quickly read the only 2 books I could find on blogs and every article on blogs out there.

Then lawyers in Pittsburgh and Orlando called me for advice on Internet marketing, particularly as to consulting on blogs. An invite to speak about blogs before the Bay Area Legal Marketing Chapter followed. Mind you, I am still working out of my garage on an Island 6 miles out in the Puget Sound from Seattle.

Sold on blogs, I walked out of the garage to the dinner table and announced I was going to start a business providing a blog service to lawyers. Colin, our oldest, responded ‘Oh my God, they’re a fad just like the Segway, we’re going to go broke.’

I may not have had the personal success of Steve Rubel who started blogging on TypePad at the same time and got named as one of the top 100 influential people in media within a year or two, but LexBlog’s doing well. We’ve got a team of about 17 folks and have the honor of serving almost 1,500 lawyers around the world.

Here’s to Mena, Ben, and Anil and the other folks at Six Apart. Like hundreds of thousands of others, I couldn’t have done it without TypePad.

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