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For a services business, like a law firm, a blog trumps a website

Martin Zwilling, a veteran startup mentor, executive, author, and angel investor, has a good post at Business Insider this morning entitled, For a Services Business, a Blog Trumps a Website.

Zwilliing’s point is that blogging has a come a long way in the past few years.

…[F]rom a social release for narcissists, to today’s required vehicle for promoting your consulting business and gaining valuable online exposure. Even with product businesses, it’s the ultimate way to build your brand credibility, bring in customer leads, and get feedback from your target market.

Lawyers, like other services business, need to have a web presence or risk being non-competive when it comes to people wanting to ‘check them out.’ This is true even if, like most good lawyers, your clients come by word of mouth and your reputation as a good lawyer.

If you can’t justify the cost of a blog and website, Zwilling’s advice is to skip the old fashioned website, and make your blog do double duty.

This makes a ton of sense for solo’s and small law firms, especially in the case of those lawyers and firms who tend to focus on one area of the law or who serve a particular industry.

It’s what I advise everyday — and it’s not because I’m all ginned up to sell blogs to lawyers. I’m driven by helping lawyers achieve as much as they as they can. In many cases,  a blog just trumps a website.

Take a look at some of the points Zwilling makes for how a blog, without a website, may work for you. Note I have grabbed Zwilling’s bullets and copy and then liberally annotated how they may apply to you as a lawyer.

  • Lead with your blog. As you develop relationships and a reputation in a niche area of the law or locale, you should start blogging to establish your credibility. Blogs are so flexible that they may be configured to provide information on your background, the services you offer, and contact info, just like a website.
  • Add content regularly. Lawyers want their website to appear high in search engine results from a relevant search (Search Engine Optimization). Blogs help because sites that update data frequently and garner incoming links get higher rankings on Google.
  • Conversational style. Search the Internet for good law blogs (The LexBlog Network can be a good start) and do a little research before you start. Studying other lawyer’s blogs will help you identify what you like and don’t like, and how you want yours to look and feel. An informal writing style is generally recommended.
  • Add outgoing links. For example, if you mention an article you read in XYZ magazine, make sure to include a hyperlink to the article. Your readers will appreciate the option to view the sites you reference. Having links pointing to other sites will further improve your search engine rankings as well as let the source (party you linked to) know that you did link to them. Smart people follow their blog or publication’s name, the url address, and their own name via Google Blog Search — they’ll set up an RSS feed of these searches so they can see in their RSS reader (usually Google Reader) who is ‘talking about them.’
  • Create incoming links. Promote your blog by including your blog link in your e-mail signature, on your website (if you have one), in social networking profiles, and by providing signed comments to other blogs. You should also submit your blog name to directories such as the ABA Blawg Directory, LexBlog’s LexMonitor, and Justia’s Blawg Search.
  • Leverage blog content. It doesn’t take long to build up a sizable amount of blog content. You can repurpose your posts into articles, books and reports. You can share in a proactive way relevant blog posts with clients and prospective clients by dropping someone an email with a link to a blog post after a meeting. Sharing blog posts via an email to an existing client lets them know you were thinking of them.

I’m in total agreement with Zwilling, “To be successful, you have to get your message out there, and make your company stand out above all the clutter.”

A blog allows you, as a lawyer, to do this far better than a website.

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