The blogosphere is a noisy place. It seems like everyone is writing blogs – personal, professional, and otherwise. As a lawyer, should you have a personal blog? That depends on how you use it.
I was recently at a meeting of young lawyers. One member mentioned that he had blogged about a cutting edge area of employment law on his personal blog. But should he really be using a personal blog for professional editorials and marketing?
What Does a Personal Blog Mean?
I’m not here to criticize personal blogs. They can be valuable outlet for self-expression, and to build your personal reputation and brand. As Sabina Stoiciu on ProBlogger.com explains:
Personal blogging means having your own little corner of the web, where you express everything from your personal beliefs, ideas, tips for spending free time, preferences, hobbies; to relating personal stories from your everyday life.
Your personal blog could include anything from your favorite recipes, to parenting moments, to professional stories.
But what you gain in scope, you lose in focus. A personal blog is intentionally broad – allowing for a range of topics that speak to all the different followers of your life. A personal blog can speak to any number of personas. But that makes it a weak marketing tool.
Personal Blogs v Professional Blogs
When you are writing a professional blog for your law firm, all your content should relate to your ideal client. Whether a particular article is designed to sell, inform, or build your professional reputation, it all works together to bring you more and better business. Stoiciu says it well:
[B]usiness blogs offer valuable, useful content, engage and advertise at the same time. Perhaps ‘advertise’ is not the most appropriate term, but business blogs do provide information on the product or service behind the business. Common sense asks for this information not to be overly promotional, but to present additional advice on how to make the most out of the product, how to benefit of the product’s partnerships and others.
For a lawyer interested in writing, that laser focus may leave you with things you want to say that just won’t fit into your professional blog. That’s where the personal blog comes in. It can give writer-attorneys a venue to express all those things that don’t fit as part of the marketing plan.
What Not to Blog
A lawyer is a lawyer 24/7/365. Ethical rules and professional obligations extend well beyond the office or the courtroom. So even if no clients follow your personal blog, you still need to be careful about what not to blog:
- Client information (Many lawyers use initials or false names to protect clients’ sensitive information.);
- Unprofessional behavior;
- Rants against employers, opposing counsel, or judges;
- Anything that will damage your professional reputation.
My lawyer friend who published his interpretation of a new law didn’t do anything wrong, per se. Professional commentary can fit into a personal blog without a problem. But it may not be the best way to take advantage of that expertise. He may have more success in marketing his business if he saves that kind of high-value content for a business blog directing potential clients straight back to his business. A personal blog should be in addition to, not in place of your business’s online marketing strategies.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She provides blog coaching for lawyers looking to improve their online marketing efforts. If you are ready to start a professional blog, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.