I read Steve Matthew's Slaw.ca column today Web Law Predictions for 2012 with great interest. I noted especially the prediction that "Firms Abandon Content, Blame Subsequent Failures on Social Media," with the implication that firms can't just by-pass creating great blog content and expect to get traction and otherwise build their reputations online.
One great start to blogging is to think about commentary that would have previously gone out via newsletter or email to clients, and make that available on the internet via a blog. However, writing for the printed text and writing for the web are two different things.
Write for your audience
First, you must consider your audience. Who are you writing for–lawyers? Or clients? Lawyers tend to like text-heavy documents, but most other audiences do not. If you are writing for clients, do not assume they will have time or the inclination to read long tracts.
Have a look at what else your audience reads and figure out what appeals to them. Perhaps video is the way to go instead with the audience you are trying to appeal to? It is very possible that clients in different industries consume content in different ways and prefer their content in different formats.
Make blog posts more readable
It can be more difficult to parse text online, and so we use a number of techniques to break up text for a blog:
- Consider breaking up a longer written article into a few smaller blog posts. You will get more mileage out of the content, and it will be easier for your audience to dip into.
- Use smaller paragraphs. I am always surprised at how a standard paragraph looks so long in a blog post. You will likely need to break these down more than you otherwise would think necessary. For example, the first two paragraphs in this blog post were originally one, but when I previewed them as a blog post, looked far too dense and so I broke them up.
- Use headings and bulleted or numbered lists inside longer blog posts to help the reader easily scan the content.
- Consider putting key words or phrases into bold to make them stand out, as I have done with this bulleted list.
- Use images to make blog posts more visually interesting. There is an interesting post today from Problogger: How to Use Images in Your Blog Posts. It is a nice introduction to using images.
- Use other media such as audio and video to lend some variety to your content. Selecting a video from another source, dropping it into your blog post with the "embed code," and then adding your own commentary to it is a nice way to change things up. If you get daring, you can try creating your own audio or video content. However, for a professional setting I suggest getting professional assistance to learn this part since it can be difficult to do well and is therefore time-consuming to get started on your own.
Vary the content
You need to keep the audience interested and engaged. Writing just commentary about recent case law is probably not going to keep them coming back for more. (I am assuming you want them to come back!) Don't forget to add a personal touch, lending a human voice with some personality. As audiences, we relate far better to other people than we do to faceless organizations.
Here are some additional ideas for content, and no doubt you can think of many more:
- discussion of newly introduced legislation
- other developments in the industry, such as new requirements from government
- what you learned at a conference or seminar
- a summary of recent surveys or report findings
- upcoming events
- a good, related article you read and your additional comments
- a review of a related book
- an interview with someone in the industry
What other types of blog posts do you like to read or write?
Image: courtesy of brainloc via stock.xchng