When New Jersey attorney Deirdre Wheatley-Liss started her New Jersey Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog, she didn’t have a set expectations for the response she’d see. She didn’t sit down and say "Unless this blog generates x number of clients, it’s a failure." Instead, she took an honest and straightforward approach: just offering advice and sharing knowledge.
"I’ve got all these things coming across my desk everyday that I at least think that, you know, are very interesting and that people would want to hear about so I just started doing my own blog just so I could see what it was all about," said Wheatley-Liss, "and I have to say, I got a bit addicted."
An attorney’s approach to blogging can vary greatly based on one’s practice area. For Wheatley-Liss, whose practice is more consumer-oriented, simply sharing knowledge and advising individuals on relevant subjects and potential problems has worked well. Much of Wheatley-Liss’ clients are either individuals or businesses that are closely held, she said.
"I think that one of the values that I bring to them is the ability to explain the legal terms in ways that are immediately accessible to them," said Wheatley-Liss, "and the blog really allows me to do in writing the same thing that I would do in a client meeting—which is to take something that either may seem foreign to people or too complicated or too difficult, and talk to them about it in a way that made it relevant to them."
Wheatley-Liss’ ability to write in a conversational and straightforward manner takes care of one of the three most-common problems faced by blogging attorneys. The other two? Figuring out what to write about and making the time to do it.
"I think what you have to do, and it is, you have to make the time, not take the time, because if you take the time it’s never going to happen," Wheatley-Liss said. "I actually have blogging scheduled into my week and I usually do the blogging first thing in the morning or over lunch because those tend to be the times when I’m skimming all these internet source resources where something’s going to be able to then come to mind for me."
Wheatley-Liss also makes things easier on herself as a majority of the posts are pretty short, between two and seven paragraphs, "because the purpose is to get the information out there, not necessarily to create a dissertation on the issue."
She said scheduling time to blog is an easy time investment to make due to the leverage and longevity she gets out of the posts. Just recently she was interviewed for an article because of a post she’d written years ago.
"So knowing that that client development isn’t just for today, but is for years to come, really makes that time very valuable and makes it easier to make that time in your calendar," said Wheatley-Liss, who’s built multiple practice areas based on the response she’s received for some posts.
"The great thing about the blog is that when the people who could potentially be your client need the information, and they’re searching for it, the information is new and fresh and right in front of them."
For Wheatley-Liss, there’s been a lot of these people who have sought the information she’s put out. And they don’t leave it at the blog, often times using the information they find on the site as a reason to reach out to her.
"I’m getting three to five phone calls per week easily because of the blog," Wheatley-Liss said. "And those people, there’s a percentage of those that turn into clients. Now there’s a percentage of those that don’t need our services, or really need to speak to somebody else but I’m always happy to speak to them."
"It’s taken years of investment to be able to do that but I don’t know of many other things that you can do as an attorney while you’re sitting at your computer behind your desk to be able to generate that kind of interest with people that you’ve never met before."
You can listen to my full interview with Deirdre by downloading it using this link or streaming it using the player below.