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Psst … wanna buy some blog content?

February 23, 2016

“We work with the lawyers who are too busy to blog.”

I’ve heard that countless times in the last ten years. The latest from a company who reached out to me today.

When I returned the call, after we said hello to each other, I got, “We sell content, I wanted to find out if you wanted to buy any.”

I am sure the offer was sincere and coming from someone with a strong marketing and writing background, but in hindsight it sounded a little like “I’ve got some drugs out in the car, want to buy some?”

Blogs, long before lawyers, marketers, website developers and content creators ever discovered them, enabled conversation. We’d see what each other wrote and respond with our commentary. This is why blogging was viewed as a conversation. A conversation which enabled relationships and trust to blossom.

As time went buy, blogs became a perfect vehicle for lawyers and other professionals to demonstrate that they stayed abreast of legal developments and to build a word of mouth reputation as a trusted and reliable authority.

As Google exists to get valuable and relevant information in front of people, blogs did extraordinarily well in search results. Lawyers answered common questions, shared what they were reading and offered insight. Because the posts were to the point and aptly titled, blog posts dominated search results without anything being paid for search engine optimization (SEO).

Seeing how effective blogs were in generating business for some lawyers, marketing and content companies jumped at the opportunity to get in the game — by selling content.

Nothing shows clients, prospective clients, referral sources and the media that you’re the master of the law like buying content. From one content seller:

The nuances of the law are often a mystery even to sophisticated potential clients. Moreover, developments that are considered groundbreaking among attorneys and legal academics often pass with little or no media attention and public awareness. A regularly updated, high-quality law firm blog allows your organization to demonstrate its ongoing mastery of important legal issues by presenting them to potential clients via social media.

Buying content is the best when it comes to honing your analysis of legal developments in an open and authentic way.

A legal blog produced by [XYZ Marketing Company] shows your clients you are committed to staying on the cutting edge of legal developments and are able to communicate how these developments affect them in terms they can understand. This can often be the difference that bridges the gap between an Internet search on a particular topic and a phone call to your office to schedule a consultation.

Getting in the content selling business is a good business today. With law grads struggling to get work, lawyers are available to write. Ghost writers earn an average of $78,000 according to the job website Indeed.

Content sellers are quick to tell lawyers that they don’t have time to blog. “You aren’t the type of lawyer who gets their work via relationships and a word of mouth reputation.” Just buy content.

Content sellers don’t tell lawyers that holding out the marketer’s content as the lawyer’s can land the lawyer in ethical hot water.

North Carolina attorney, K. Brooke Ottesen, who represents lawyers before her State’s Bar, explains:

Although many different professions and markets utilize ghost bloggers in an effort to increase their credibility and market development, lawyers, because of our advertising rules, should tread carefully. Although the Rules do not specifically prohibit ghost blogging, the Rules do prohibit false and misleading and deceptive communications to the public about our legal services. Rule 7.1. The Ethics Committee has opined that similar conduct is misleading and therefore prohibited if, at the heart of it, you are hiring someone to pretend to be you, or are simply buying legal content to publish under your name. 2008 Formal Ethics Opinion 14, Opinion #6.

Attorney Josh King (@joshuamking) of Avvo and Ohio legal ethics attorney, Kailee Gould (@kaileegoold) both agree that buying content for your blog raises serious ethical concerns.

Content sellers also don’t tell lawyers that ghost written content will get you mixed results — at best. Legal SEO professional Matt Green (@MChuckGreenwrites at Avvo that for legal bloggers, reputation and relationships are the big picture.

If a lawyer does not have time to blog, their money is better spent elsewhere, explains Green.

  • Blogging is not the same as writing articles
  • Blogging is about forming real relationships
  • Successful blogging requires passion
  • Blogging generates invitations to speak at conferences or seminars
  • Blogging gets you interviews with local news networks
  • Blogging is about developing on-and-offline referral networks among the leaders in one’s space

If you want to blog so as to distinguish yourselves from your competition, blog. Blogging does not take near the time content sellers represent it does.

If blogging is not right for you, don’t blog. Just don’t put your license and money at risk by buying content.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Michael Davis-Burchat

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