“Law blogs? They’re a fad like Bezos and the Segway. We’ll go broke.”

That was my son Colin’s response when I walked in from my desk in the garage and announced over the family dinner table what we’re going to do. We’re go to start a company doing blogs for lawyers.

That was almost sixteen years ago – and today officially makes sixteen years of blogging for me on ‘Real Lawyers Have Blogs.’

I was working out of my garage – literally – with an old door propped over a couple tin file cabinets under a hardware light. One night I saw a brief article in the magazine, Business 2.0, about a service, TypePad, that was anticipating 10,000 subscribers in 90 days.

It wasn’t that TypePad was a web based blogging platform that drew me to it (I had never heard of a blog). It was the AOL-like uptake of subscribers. People took money out of their pockets and put it in theirs. That was a good sign that folks saw value in what ever it was TypePad offered.

Off I went, paid my $4.95 a month, and found out TypePad was used for blogs – which appeared to be something you used for communication across the net. I did find out until later that one still used email even when they “had a blog.”

One of my goals during a running non-compete with LexisNexis, which bought my last company, was to learn to write better (stll learning). Maybe this blog thing would be a good way to practice.

I also wanted to tell lawyers how the Internet is used to communicate with people in a real and authenticate way – so as to build trust and a reputation. I knew then that websites, web ads and the like were not the vehicles for good lawyers to set themselves apart.

What I didn’t know then was that a blog was a good way to engage people in way that builds a reputation and relationships – the stuff that enables a lawyer to be a lawyer’s lawyer. That came later.

So scared out of my mind, I wrote and meticulously revised/edited a couple articles and pushed a button to send them to the Internet. I had no idea how how anyone would see what I wrote – and, if they did, why’d they care to read what I wrote.

But people did – and lawyers even called to ask me to help them.

I found a couple a books on blogs at the bookstore downtown Seattle (it’s gone now) which got my heart racing about blogs for lawyers. Of course blogs would work for business development for lawyers. Legal blogging was going to be huge.

Crazy as it sounds, and with no foundation other than a gut feeling and knowing how the net works for communication, I bet the family’s well being on blogs for lawyers.

No business plan, no funding, and no employees. LexBlog was started on a wing and a prayer – and a blog post published sixteen years ago today.

W3Techs is out with their November 2019 historical trends on the usage of content management systems (CMS).

Here’s the breakdown from the trends report for market share for website (includes blogs) CMS’s shared by Joost de Valk.

  • WordPress is the #1 CMS with a 35.0% market share, 2.8% higher than November 2018.
  • Joomla is the #2, at 2.7% market share and is down 0.3% year on the year, that’s a 10% decline.
  • Drupal is also losing, going from 1.9% to 1.7% over the course of the last 6 months.
  • The “winners” are Shopify (1.8%, up 0.5%), Squarespace (1.6%, up 0.2%) and Wix (1.3%, up 0.3%).

And a detailed look from de Volk at the top seven, today and as predicted for next year:

CMS Breakdown

And:

“If these trends continue in the same linear direction, this time next year, Shopify will be the #2 CMS in the world. Joomla will drop to the #3 position. Squarespace will be the new number #4 and Wix #5, at the expense of Drupal, which will drop from #3 to #6 over the course of the year. Combined this leads to the conclusion that outside of WordPress, all major open source CMSs are losing.”

Looking at this Google Sheet from de Valk breaking out the numbers and trends, things are even more striking.

Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Squarespace, Blogger and others are closing in irrelevance as compared to WordPress. Perhaps good businesses, but a very small market share – and declining.

The only one near WordPress, actually it leads WordPress in market share, is the category of no CMS used on the site at all. And WordPress will pass sites without a CMS by the end of next year – or close to it.

The takeaway for law firms is that for sites using a CMS (all legal blogs and virtually all law firm websites) WordPresss is running 62% of them. For new sites and blogs that number is probably 80% or above.

Think about that number. That’s higher than the percentage of lawyers who were using Word for word processing not that long ago.

Remember when we had lawyers holding onto WordPerfect, believing it was the superior software for word processing. And a good number of law firm tech consultants advising law firms to use WordPerfect. Heck, there were sessions at conference discussing word processing solutions.

There are still some law firms and government offices that use WordPerfect, but by 2000 Word had up to 95% of the market and was so dominant that WordPerfect admitted that their software needed to be compatible with Word just to survive.

We’re likely headed not far from that with lawyers and WordPress. It’s going to be ubiquitous and become the CMS of record for law firms and other businesses.

A few of the pluses in using WordPress include:

  • Reduced short term and long term costs. There are more developers available to help you with WordPress based sites than any with other CMS.
  • Superior software. WordPress is open source. Thousands of developers around the world are working on improvements and features every single day. Those efforts are constantly pulled together, vetted and tested.
  • Regular core upgrades, usually three or four times a year, something not often occurring on law firm websites.
  • Features readily available through plugins (so long as properly vetted).
  • Growing ancillary providers reducing costs. Think managed WordPress hosting or managed WordPress platforms offered in a SaaS model (LexBlog does this for blogs).

Amazing to think back on only a decade, give a year or so, when I was wondering whether WordPress could compete with the likes of other CMS’s, which have since disappeared.

Now it may be advisable to find out if those doing the web development are using WordPress.

Blogging as marketing can be one of a lawyer’s highest callings.

Marketing and business development for lawyers changed with the advent of the Internet. The best online marketing for lawyers is time spent helping others, not themselves.

As Seth Godin writes in the introduction of his book, ‘This Is Marketing,’

“Marketing has changed, but our understanding of what we’re supposed to do next hasn’t kept up. When in doubt we selfishly shout. When in a corner, we play small ball, stealing from the competition instead of broadening the market. When pressed, we assume that everyone is just like us, but uniformed.”

We can’t help it.

“Mostly, we remember growing up in a mass market world, where TV and the Top 40 defined us. As marketers, we seek to repeat the old-fashioned tricks that don’t work anymore.”

But the marketing compass now points towards earned trust, per Godin.

“The truth north, the method that works best, has flipped. Instead of selfish mass, effective marketing relies on empathy and service.”

Man, I couldn’t help but reflect on my conversation with Jeff Nowak in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon.

Ten years of blogging on the FMLA, always with the focus of helping others. Never does he blog for himself as a means of generating business.

Service to others his life time calling, and he’s found it in being a lawyer – and in blogging with others’ problems on his mind.

Work eventually came because people trusted him. He was a trusted advisor, a thought leader for the people he helped through his blogging.

Godin might as well have been talking of Nowak here.

“Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.

It‘s a chance to change the culture for the better.

Marketing involves very little in the way of shouting, hustling or coercion.

It’s a chance to serve, instead.”

For Nowak and a heck of a lot of other lawyers I know who bust their tail helping others by blogging, they’ve seized the opportunity to serve.

As Godin says, ”Marketing is one our greatest callings. It’s the work of positive change.”

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.

A jewelry artist with an online store shared on Reddit that she was considering launching a blog to drive business.

She could think of “a lot” of tutorials she could write about making jewelry. She was concerned though that if she told people how to make jewelry, they wouldn’t buy from her, they’d make their own.

She added that her work was complicated so the risk of people watching the tutorials, buying the materials and making the jewelry may be pretty low.

I responded (yep, I hang out in the blogging community on Reddit):

”People buy from those they trust, and blogging brings trust in spades. Showing or telling someone how to do something is not going to cause you to lose customers. Lawyers were afraid to blog because they were giving away their advice, and people would not call them. The exact opposite occurred. The more a lawyer blogged, the more work they got.”

Maybe it sounds obvious that lawyers give away information in their blogs. However, there are still many lawyers who fear giving away too much information will result in people doing the legal work themselves. Others stick merely to reporting legal updates and news in their blog.

Of course, lawyers are not going to want to give specific advise in a blog, but there is more than enough room to share “how to” information with people. Look around the net.

The care you show by sharing detailed information establishes trust. People who have a relevant legal need are more apt to call those they trust – and to mention you to those with a relevant need.

You’ll be showcasing how you explain legal matters to people and the tone in which you do so. People get to know you and like you.

Google will like you personally sharing information for local people on a regular basis. It’s true.

Most importantly, giving information away shows people you are interested in them.

As Dale Carnegie said about selling, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.”

Answering common questions or sharing “how tos,” rather than solely blogging legal updates, news and commentary is a good way to grow business – not to have people do the legal work themselves.

One can own a race car, but that doesn’t mean you know how to drive it.

The same is true of a blog in the case of lawyers. Law firm websites everywhere have a page titled “blog.” Large law firms have multiple blogs.

But are the lawyers blogging? Do they know how to blog?

It’s a question being kicked around a lot at LexBlog of late. If we’re going to sell a law firm a professional turnkey blog solution, we have the obligation to make sure the lawyer(s) know how to blog.

Reflecting on the state of blogging and LexBlog’s place in it, LexBlog’s COO, Gary Vander Voort, put it well in his post about customer success.

“We need to make sure that we are not just giving people a spaceship, but are showing them how to use it. Because anyone can give someone a blog, the internet is full of solutions, but not everyone can make someone a blogger. So if someone has the right stuff, we need to be able to help them slip the surly bonds of earth, and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings.”

Blogging, versus having a blog, includes an appreciation of some of the following:

  • Clear goals
  • Role of passion
  • Blogs are the unedited voice of a person
  • Tight niche
  • Listening to leaders and influencers in your niche
  • Engaging those influencers in your blogging
  • Using social media personally so as to build trust and an audience
  • Understanding that blog posts are merely currency to be used in networking through the Internet, not the end goal
  • Success is measured in reputation, relationships and revenue, not web statistics and distribution

There is so much to be gained by lawyers connecting to people – consumers, small businesses, and general counsel – in blogging. The key is going beyond having a blog.

Clara Hendrickson of the Brookings Institution writes what we’re all realizing, local journalism is in crisis.

”Thousands of local newspapers have closed in recent years. Their disappearance has left millions of Americans without a vital source of local news and deprived communities of an institution essential for exposing wrongdoing and encouraging civic engagement. Of those still surviving, many have laid off reporters, reduced coverage, and pulled back circulation.“

Newspapers don’t have the revenue to sustain themselves.

“The traditional business model that once supported local newspapers–relying on print subscribers and advertising to generate revenue–has become difficult to sustain as the audience for local news continues to shrink and advertising dollars disappear.”

And the reason is obvious. People do not consume or receive the news the way they used to.

”Few Americans today hold print subscriptions, and newspapers have struggled to amass digital subscribers. Meanwhile, news consumers have become less inclined to follow local sources of news, instead preferring to read, listen, and watch content from outlets focused on national news coverage. And, as the digital age has facilitated the emergence of a greater number of national news sources and highly specialized outlets, the reach of local news has diminished.”

At the same time the cost to become a citizen journalist and report news has never been lower. Publishing a blog and reporting on uncovered niches brings an instant audience.

Unlike newspapers, citizen journalists don’t need paid subscriptions to “make money” from blogging. The source of a blogger’s revenue needn’t be advertising either.

Lawyers make money as a result of their blogging – not from their blogging. Lawyers who blog on niche and engage influencers in the process build a strong word of mouth reputation and relationships. Clients, work and revenue follow – in amounts far greater than a niche publisher would earn from subscriptions or advertising.

Law firm published blogs covering local affairs would be widely read by a local community. Share the posts on Facebook and Twitter to extend the reach.

How so?

The blog’s coverage could be directly related to the work of a law firm, but need not.

Law blogs already cover probate litigation decisions in Florida, Chancery Court decisions in Delaware and IP cases in the Northern District of Illinois. The readers of these blogs as well as the lawyers publishing the blogs have benefited tremendously.

At the local level, maybe there’s the opportunity to cover certain types of administrative bodies, particularly matters before a court or municipal/county meetings. Could be a committee or a board.

The matters being covered may have little, if anything, to do with the type of work done by the firm. The goodwill and reputation earned in the process would be substantial.

A law firm needn’t cover everything and needn’t send over a lawyer to do the coverage. A journalism student intern or two from a local university would welcome the opportunity to report on governmental affairs of importance to the local electorate. The firm can oversee the reporting from an an editorial process.

Fifteen dollars an hour for twenty hours a week is just North of a thousand dollars a month. A publication titled in accord with what’s being covered branded as published by your law firm with interior pages about your firm’s dedication to the community and the legal services you offer is worth all of that.

Not very matter need be covered. Cover what you can, you’re doing more than others – and much more than the other law firms with no imagination. If you’d like to, cherry pick the matters based on what looks interesting.

Finally, much of what is done in courts and administrative bodies is reduced to a written or digital record. Report from there, without attending. It’s obviously what blogging lawyers commentating on cases do.

May sound crazy, but I have always thought publishing the police blotter in a small town would provide great exposure for a law firm.

Maybe a police blotter doesn’t feel right, but give some thought to picking up the growing void in municipal, county and court news coverage. After all, lawyers do – and should – play a role in educating the citizenry of the law and its role in society.

Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for Amazon’s AWS and a key player in its growth, spends 80% of his time blogging.

Not just any blog, but a blog about AWS news and answers to questions that arise internally and externally in regard to AWS. The AWS News Blog.

AWS, if you are not familiar with it, is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies, and governments, on a metered pay-as-you-go basis. AWS dominates the cloud computing market and is the fastest growing Amazon segment, representing well over half of the company’s operating income – $7.3 billion in 2018, up almost $3 billion from the year before.

Barr celebrated fifteen years on the AWS Blog with a post about why the blog, why him and the status of AWS blogging today.

Read the whole post, Barr’s story is a good one.

I found it interesting that Barr was over at Microsoft, where I first witnessed large scale corporate blogging by developers. I was trying to figure out blogging from my garage. He also had an interest in Dave Winer’s work with XML and RSS – keys to us following the blogging of others, via syndication.

Instrumental for any blogger – corporate or legal blogger – is passion for what you’re going to cover. The light bulb went on for Barr that AWS was going to big a thing for Amazon when he saw web services being made available for developers en masse. Baar’s developers relations plan included a blog from the start.

Like all of us, Barr was not a natural born blogger – nor a good writer.

“I struggled a bit with “voice” in the early days, and could not decide if I was writing as the company, the group, the service, or simply as me. After some experimentation, I found that a personal, first-person style worked best and that’s what I settled on.”

Topics came in a random way (still do for me).

“In the early days, we did not have much of a process or a blog team. Interesting topics found their way in to my inbox, and I simply wrote about them as I saw fit. I had an incredible amount of freedom to pick and choose topics, and words, and I did my best to be a strong, accurate communicator while staying afield of controversies that would simply cause more work for my colleagues in Amazon PR.”

The AWS blog has become key to AWS’ growth and developer relations. Barr’s time allocated to blogging as grown, and “now stands at about 80%.”

Blog posts are no longer done randomly.

“We now have a strong team and an equally strong production process for new blog posts. Teams request a post by creating a ticket, attaching their PRFAQ (Press Release + FAQ, another type of Amazon document) and giving the bloggers early internal access to their service. We review the materials, ask hard questions, use the service, and draft our post. We share the drafts internally, read and respond to feedback, and eagerly await the go-ahead to publish.”

Rather than press releases pushed to the media and a few bloggers, the regular practice for law firms and legal tech companies, Amazon used the blog for developer relations. It’s developers, after all, that are going to be asking the tough questions, and ultimately be influencing the purchasing of AWS services.

With over 3100 posts under his belt, and plenty more on the way, here’s what Barr focuses on when writing a post.

  • Learn & Be Curious – This is an Amazon Leadership Principle. Writing is easy once I understand what I want to say. I study each PRFAQ, ask hard questions, and am never afraid to admit that I don’t grok some seemingly obvious point. Time after time I am seemingly at the absolute limit of what I can understand and absorb, but that never stops me from trying.
  • Accuracy – I never shade the truth, and I never use weasel words that could be interpreted in more than one way to give myself an out. The Internet is the ultimate fact-checking vehicle, and I don’t want to be wrong. If I am, I am more than happy to admit it, and to fix the issue.
  • Readability – I have plenty of words in my vocabulary, but I don’t feel the need to use all of them. I would rather use the most appropriate word than the longest and most obscure one. I am also cautious with acronyms and enterprise jargon, and try hard to keep my terabytes and tebibytes (ugh) straight.
  • Frugality – This is also an Amazon Leadership Principle, and I use it in an interesting way. I know that you are busy, and that you don’t need extra words or flowery language. So I try hard (this post notwithstanding) to keep most of my posts at 700 to 800 words. I’d rather you spend the time using the service and doing something useful.

I started to publish a blog during a year long covenant not to compete with LexisNexis. I was noodling around in my garage thinking of what to do next. When I stumbled into a blog, I saw it as delivering on two fronts.

One, I wanted learn to write, something I was never very good at. Two, I needed to get passionate about something to do for work. I feared, at then 47 years old, that I would never have another good idea fueled with passion to start another company. Maybe this blog thing would take me there.

So I was struck with some of Barr’s personal thoughts on blogging.

“Writing – Although I love to write, I was definitely not a natural-born writer. In fact, my high school English teacher gave me the lowest possible passing grade and told me that my future would be better if I could only write better. I stopped trying to grasp formal English, and instead started to observe how genuine writers used words & punctuation. That (and decades of practice) made all the difference.

Career Paths – Blogging and evangelism have turned out to be a great match for my skills and interests, but I did not figure this out until I was on the far side of 40. It is perfectly OK to be 20-something, 30-something, or even 40-something before you finally figure out who you are and what you like to do. Keep that in mind, and stay open and flexible to new avenues and new opportunities throughout your career.”

So much to be learned from successful bloggers.

For lawyers and law firms, that means sticking your head up and looking at the blogging being done by corporations, professionals and businesses outside the law.

For me, I am going to revisit my blog’s focus so that at least a portion of my blogging is focused on legal blogger relations for LexBlog. Maybe get some of our developers, support and editorial people contributing.

To show you why you need to stick your head up to see who you learn from, Jeff Barr accepted my Facebook friend request a few months ago when I had no idea he was part of the AWS blog. I just knew he was the Chief Evangelist at AWS, a heck of an interesting job, and that he posted interesting items from Seattle and around the world.

I’ve picked up plenty of lessons from Barr already, and I am sure I will learn more by following the AWS News Blog from now on.

I’m sharing below the table of contents, if you will, of a guide to legal blogging. I welcome your input on what I’m missing.

Why a guide to legal blogging?

Over the years, I have been asked more than once to write a book on the basics of legal blogging.

A lawyer in a larger firm asked during a recent program of blogging I was teaching if there was a book covering the strategy and how-to’s of legal blogging. She was interested in publishing a legal blog, but confessed she had a lot to learn.

I empathized with her on two fronts.

One, blogging strategically – and effectively – so as to develop a strong word of mouth reputation and relationships so as grow your business is an art.

Two, the available resources are limited.

I haven’t seen a book covering the below information. And, unfortunately, many of the programs on blogging conducted for lawyers and legal marketing professionals contain a lot of misinformation.

I am not sure I’ll write a book on legal blogging in the true sense. I barely have enough patience to sit in a chair for an hour, let alone write a book.

But I do have the desire to share with legal professionals what I have seen work so well for lawyers and other legal professionals. And to get this information and what I know out of solely a blog format.

There’s about 7,000 blog posts in here, and though they may cover what you need to know, you’d be hard pressed to find it in a meaningful way.

My gut tells me I’ll sit down and start cranking out some video explanations, whether by myself or in an interview/discussion format. Doing Facebook Live’s for interviews I’ve grown comfortable with video on my iPhone.

I’ll share the videos as recorded, get them transcribed for publication here and as part of LexBlog’s success and support materials – and as some sort of field guide to effective blogging for legal professionals.

I expect to get underway very soon.

Here’s a whole lot of topics I pulled together off the top of my head, along with what I’ve heard from successful legal bloggers.

  1. Role of passion
  2. Identifying a niche
  3. Looking for opportunities
  4. Establishing goals
  5. Group versus individual blog
  6. Relationship to practice areas and practice groups
  7. Independent publication on a domain apart from a law firm website
  8. Titling the blog
  9. Selecting a domain (url)
  10. Branding, identification of the publisher
  11. Branding by design
  12. Substantive categories, ie table of contents
  13. Tags
  14. Relationship of blog publication to law firm website
  15. Navigation – about the publisher, publisher’s services, publisher’s contact information
  16. Alternative technology platforms, what’s needed
  17. WordPress
  18. Managed platform
  19. Turnkey solution
  20. Posting – what, when and how
  21. Images in posts
  22. Default image for social media
  23. SEO (search engine optimization) – what is it and how does a publisher optimize their posts and blog
  24. Local search
  25. Yoast’s SEO plugin
  26. Conversation versus broadcasting
  27. Perfection is not needed
  28. Write in a conversational style, as you’d talk to a friend
  29. Listening tools – news aggregator, Twitter, newsletters, and social media
  30. Influencers in your niche
  31. Engagement
  32. Engage other legal bloggers in your niche, you’re not the only one
  33. Localize
  34. Reporting style of blogging, if own niche
  35. Personal voice
  36. Length of post
  37. Frequency
  38. When to blog
  39. Marketing your blog
  40. Use of LinkedIn
  41. Use of Twitter
  42. Use of Facebook
  43. Legal blogging, as distinguished from marketing
  44. Legal blogs as secondary law
  45. Ethics and liability

I was struck reading Li Jin’s recent piece on the passion economy being the future of work by how much the concept applies to lawyers and blogging.

Jin, an investment partner with Andreessen Horowitz, a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm, writes:

“The top-earning writer on the paid newsletter platform Substack earns more than $500,000 a year from reader subscriptions. The top content creator on Podia, a platform for video courses and digital memberships, makes more than $100,000 a month. And teachers across the US are bringing in thousands of dollars a month teaching live, virtual classes on Outschool and Juni Learning.

Though blogging lawyers are not monetizing their blogs directly in the form of subscriptions, lawyers are generating new business as a direct result of their blogging. In some cases, in excess of $1M a year.

Platforms, as in this case, blogging platforms, are democratizing opportunities for the passionate individual with a niche, says Lin.

“Whereas previously, the biggest online labor marketplaces flattened the individuality of workers, new platforms allow anyone to monetize unique skills.”

Jin may as well be writing about lawyers and blogging in her discussion of differentiating oneself and building relationships.

“New digital platforms enable people to earn a livelihood in a way that highlights their individuality. These platforms give providers greater ability to build customer relationships, increased support in growing their businesses, and better tools for differentiating themselves from the competition. In the process, they’re fueling a new model of internet-powered entrepreneurship”

These new platforms share a number of commonalities, per Lin, three of which are relevant to blogging today.

  • They’re accessible to everyone, not only existing businesses and professionals
  • They view individuality as a feature, not a bug
  • They open doors to new forms of work

A lawyer in a small firm blogging on China law puts himself along side large firms in terms of visibility. Though not able to land some of the cases a larger firm may, he’s developed an international reputation and a large client base based on his passion.

A young partner in a large firm kickstart’s the firm’s publishing of a privacy law blog and is now widely considered as one of the nation’s top privacy and security lawyers. She had the passion other lawyers lacked.

A junior partner in a larger firm, with a passion founded in her family’s history in the textile industry, launches a fashion law blog publication. She now does business worldwide in fashion law with her law school hosting a fashion law symposium which she runs.

The list goes on and on. This relatively new platform enabling blog publishing is enabling any lawyer to monetize their unique skills and passion.

Andreessen Horowitz, which has bet on the likes of Facebook and Twitter and is managing over $4B in assets, and Lin, are predicting that the passion economy will only continue to grow.

“New integrated platforms empower entrepreneurs to monetize individuality and creativity. In the coming years, the passion economy will to continue to grow. We envision a future in which the value of unique skills and knowledge can be unlocked, augmented, and surfaced to consumers.”