By Kevin O'Keefe

New WordPress.com Recurring Payments Feature Not of Value to Legal Bloggers

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Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, announced last week a new way to make money on WordPress.com. Subscription payments.

Though valuable to some website owners and bloggers, I don’t see the subscription revenue feature of value to legal bloggers.

From Artur Pizek, a chief architect at Automattic, introducing the subscription feature:

It’s hard to be creative when you’re worried about money. Running ads on your site helps, but for many creators, ad revenue isn’t enough. Top publishers and creators sustain their businesses by building reliable income streams through ongoing contributions.

Our new Recurring Payments feature for WordPress.com and Jetpack-powered sites lets you do just that: it’s a monetization tool for content creators who want to collect repeat contributions from their supporters, and it’s available with any paid plan on WordPress.com.“

There are thousands of underemployed journalists, citizens journalists and laid off traditional journalists, who writing on niches for which they are passionate. Some are able to charge subscriptions.

Legal professionals blog for other reasons, or at least they should.

  • To build a strong name and reputation in a niche
  • To build relationships with influencers in their niche and/or locale – reporters, leading bloggers, association leaders, referral sources
  • To grow revenue – make money
  • To learn
  • To advance the law
  • To share insight and commentary with others

If a lawyer does the above, the lawyer need not worry about subscriptions.

I met with a lawyer this afternoon in Chicago who publishes two blogs. Beyond establishing him as a thought leader and a highly respected lawyer with the judiciary and fellow lawyers, his blogs are key to generating and retaining business. It’s not an exaggeration to say his blogs support his family.

Unlike some other journalists and businesses, lawyers already have a business model for publishing. It’s practicing law.

A lawyer who gets to do what they love for the people they’d love to work for as clients need not worry about subscriptions. They are already making money – in an amount far greater than subscription revenue.

Subscriptions would also backfire for a blogging lawyer. Legal blogging requires a publication to be open, indexed by Google and easily shareable by email and social media.

Limiting access to those who will pay a subscription will decrease the influence of the blogging lawyers and diminish business development.

Beyond publishing subscription revenue, the “Recurring Payments” feature does enable a site owner to accept ongoing payments from visitors directly on their site for any purpose.

Perhaps this could apply to legal publishers looking to sell forms, other content than blog posts and the like. For most legal professionals, using this feature will be more of a distraction than anything.

As mentioned above, the “Recurring Payments” feature is only available on WordPress.com sites and WordPress sites using Jetpack.

As way of background, WordPress is the open source web publishing software that is used by close to 70% of all websites (blog sites and other sites) using a content management system. WordPress.com, owned by Automattic, is the largest install of WordPress sites.

Jetpack is a plug-in that Automattic owns that is run on WordPress.com sites and other WordPress sites that are using the plug-in.

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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