Seattle Media and Technology Attorney Venkat Balasubramani, who’s been blogging for almost 4 years, asked on his blog yesterday whether he should scrap his Spam Notes Blog and re-launch another one.

I’ve been blogging here for about 3.5 years. I have enjoyed it tremendously. I started the blog as a way to focus on spam-related legal issues, but over the years, my blogging interest has broadened to include all types of legal issues raised by online communities, UGC, and online businesses in general. This has coincided with the increased attention to legal issues that have arisen out of social networking. It’s also coincided with my practice, a chunk of which has focused in this direction. That said, there’s always been a tension for me about sticking with the original focus of this blog or broadening it a bit to deal with other legal issues that I regularly read about and have an opinion on (and once in a while, insight into).

In addition to the above items, Venkat mentioned wanting to get off a GoDaddy blog platform because of its limitations and the possibility of resurrecting a law firm website so he could have one spot where he could aggregate his professional online activities.

Though Venkat is not a LexBlog client, I am often providing counsel to lawyers on social media strategy for client development . So I thought you’d appreciate the below thoughts I shared with Venkat

Keep the blog, make it your leading Internet presence (web site would add zero), change your focus so not so lawyer to lawyer (listen to and engage others), and upgrade to another platform.

The importance of the name of a blog is overhyped. Listening to your target audience and engaging them in a strategic fashion is key. You’re then known by your name (the one your Mom and Dad gave you), not the name of a blog.

If I were to ask my most loyal readers what’s the name of my blog, 90% wouldn’t know. My blog readers, as well as the people who have come to know me by my word of mouth reputation (who don’t read my blog or follow me on Twitter), know me by my name. My name is my brand, not the name of my blog. That’s the case for any professional – especially lawyers.

If you feel the need to apologize for the name of the blog or explain what you’re doing, add a better tag line. But the focus of who you engage is really what defines you.

Focus on what’s important. If you’re looking to grow professionally and from a business development standpoint in certain areas and you feel its not happening, focus on that. Not pontificating about the name of your blog, that’s a waste of energy. The name of your blog is about number 33 in the top things that are important in a lawyers building a personal brand on the Internet and growing their book of business.

Lawyers get work by word of mouth based on their reputation. That’s done by engaging one’s target audience to build relationships. If you can figure out how to engage people and build relationships via a website you’ll be the first one.

The first thing to do is clearly identify, and it appears you have begun to do so, the type of clients you wish to represent and the type of work you want to do for them. Then engage them and their influencers through the blog. Listen to them first, then reference them in your blog.

With clients and prospective clients, that means listening to the questions they ask. Then answer them on your blog. With influencers such as bloggers, reporters, association leaders, conference coordinators, business leaders, and publishers, listen to what they are saying (writing) and engage them by referencing what they are saying while adding value to the discussion. That way you are starting to build relationships with people you need to help you create an excellent word of mouth reputation.

If you want to discuss further, give me a shout and we’ll meet for coffee. We’re both in Seattle.

  • Thanks for the comments & feedback, and the offer to have coffee. I’ll take you up on that!
    This is something that has weighed me down over the past 6 months – my online presence is really disorganized and there’s no central hub. Blogging about it was great. It got something off my chest and more importantly got some helpful feedback/comments from other folks who have knowledge and experience.

  • You’re focusing on the wrong thing. There is no central hub when you are building relationships for effective client development. You are going out and engaging people. You do that online, just like you do it offline.
    You would not have been struggling to showcase in a ‘hub’ each luncheon, ball game, cocktail party, speaking engagement, and citation by reporters and authorities as a lawyer engaging their target audience to build relationships 25 years ago. Why are you struggling with that now?
    What you are looking for is one central place where everyone comes to see you and enagage you. That’s nuts. Think of your blog and your other online activities as part of your efforts to go out and engage. Just do it in a strategic way.

  • I’m not looking for a place where people come to see me and engage me, but just really something as simple as what’s my default domain name or URL I want people to see, when I leave comments, when I give presentations, when I chat with people on Twitter. I don’t think “Spam Notes” reflects the whole me so I don’t use it, and even if I redesigned it, I’m not sold that a blog necessarily should be that anchor.
    Here’s the simple question I’m looking to answer: when I interact with other people, what’s the place I want to tell them to look if they want to easily find more information about me online? It could be the blog, it could be something else.
    Some people have one consistent one – for you it’s this blog. Other people have several different blogs and switch between them. Others use their firm website or a landing page or their bio page. I think it makes sense to be consistent and just pick one.
    Let’s chat more over coffee!

  • Kevin, I have to disagree with part of the premise of your post (and I am replying in greater detail over on Bob’s blog), at least for my own situation. When I meet people at tech conferences or other places and introduce myself as Tom Mighell, many don’t know who I am – until I say “I’m Inter Alia” and they go “OHHH – Yeah!”
    So for better or worse, Inter Alia became my brand. That’s my fault, and I’ve been working to change that, through podcasts, Twitter, and other means. But the point remains that the title goes a long way to establishing a brand, so it can’t be taken entirely for granted.

  • I agree with Tom. I know you, Kevin, as the “real lawyers have blogs” guy. I had to go to your blog (I get it on google reader) to see the top where your full name was. I follow “tax-girl” that way too, and it takes me a minute or two to think of her name. Product names or trademarks are very important, and if you have one, you want to use it and cherish it. If you don’t have one, well maybe you want to make your name that trademark, or maybe you don’t, depending on how you want people to know you.

  • More on Whether to Scrap my Blog

    My musings and those of Venkat Balasubramani over whether to shut down our blogs and start afresh with

  • More on Whether to Scrap my Blog

    My musings and those of Venkat Balasubramani over whether to shut down our blogs and start afresh with

  • More on Whether to Scrap my Blog

    My musings and those of Venkat Balasubramani over whether to shut down our blogs and start afresh with

  • Kevin,
    I agree with your point about engaging with potential clients. There is no substitute for it. But, I agree with Tom and Edward on the name issue. It is important too. My lawyer, Ryan Roberts, has a blog titled “The StartUp Lawyer.” It runs on the domain name
    He has been very successful as a result of his blog. I know about your aversion to all things SEO, but he comes up first in the search engine results pages because of his blog title and domain name. This means that he can get his content out to more people, and engage with more people. Isn’t that the point?