Can content alone create the intimate relationship of trust that blogs do?

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I’m on record that blogging for lawyers is more than creating content.

I’ve wondered more than once if I may be creating a straw man argument on which to make a stand. But I always come back to blogging being a conversation, a way to engage one’s audience in a real and authentic way.

After all, the seminal book on corporate blogging from the early days of blogging, written in 2006, was entitled, Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers.

The authors, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, talked about how blogs, bloggers and the blogosphere were changing how businesses communicate with their consumers and other stakeholders. Robert and Shel presented more than 50 case studies of companies and business leaders as leaders interacting with their audience. (emphasis added)

Effective legal bloggers tell me that when a new client comes in the client feels like they know the lawyer. They’ve heard the lawyer ‘talk’ to them via their blog. They thought the lawyer understood them and their problem. They liked the way the lawyer “talked.”

Often the client came from other than the blog itself. It was because of the lawyer’s word of mouth reputaton or a referral. The lawyer’s blog, when found on a Google search, LinkedIn, the lawyer’s website or the referral, put them over the top. The blog created an intimate relationship of trust.

When I first started blogging, I imagined I was talking to an audience of one – me. After a few posts I envisioned talking as a late night radio talk show host who must be reaching a few listeners in town.

I always envisioned people asking questions or wanting to know something. I talked to them on my blog the way I would over coffee at the local coffee shop or over a beer at the local pub.

Everything came from me, personally. Whether information or a perspective I picked up from a personal experience or something I read with a word as to why I shared the piece, it was always personal.

The first lawyer who called me about blogging, back in 2003, a Harvard and Northwestern grad, asked me how he could use blogging to develop work. He wondered if he should do what he saw a lawyer or two doing on their blogs – talking about movies, food etc.

I explained, no. Listen to your clients and prospective clients and respond to their inquires. What are the questions they ask? Take out a legal pad and write “Blog” at the top. Write down all the questions clients and prospective clients ask and answer them on your blog,

He responded, “that’s exactly what I do and how I get work.” Not on a blog, but in emails and on phone calls.

The lawyer blogged in a conversational and personal way based on the law he knew and his experiences as a lawyer. He increased his asset protection business expoetentinally as a national audience picked up on his “call in radio talk show.” A show with a national reach.

Sure, content in the form of legal information can be valuable. Done well, it’ll attract attention via Google and people to one’s blog or website.

But a lawyer still needs to close the deal – to establish trust as both a trusted and reliable authority and someone a prospective client, maybe one who has never contacted a lawyer before, feels comfortable contacting.

An intimate relationship of trust just seems more likely to come from blogging to engage, versus content alone.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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