Busy solo attorneys may have a tough time keeping up with the demands of a regular weekly blog. But they still may be able to get some of the benefits by organizing a blogging co-op with other local professionals.

This week’s blog continues a review of the book, Reinventing Professional Services; Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, by Ari Kaplan. In Chapter 9, “Proactive Professionals Pay Attention to Progress,” Kaplan says:

“There is an increasing value placed on trusted advisors as opposed to merely licensed professionals. This is forcing even the most conservative individuals to market in an unprecedented way.”

With the Internet putting so many self-help options at customers’ fingertips, lawyers and other professionals are having to get creative to provide something “unique and irreplaceable” to their clients.

For professionals from veterinarians to attorneys, that unique value comes from the knowledge we acquire from our education and experience. Sharing that knowledge is how we can build a reputation as an expert in our field.

Kaplan features Tony Williams, a legal industry strategist with Jomati Consultants, LLP. Williams cultivates referrals by providing existing and potential clients with periodic market reports. They cover trends in the legal industry, combining statistical information with his own commentary on the impact of these trends. Kaplan says:

“The greater availability of information has reduced the collective level of patience. There once was a certain deference to the experience and knowledge of experts, but ‘We are more wired up so we don’t expect  to wait,’ notes Williams. As a result, he uses that information and processes it in a way that demonstrates his expertise.”

While Williams writes reports, other professionals host seminars or clinics. These might help potential clients solve simple problems, or understand how the systems around them work.

When I was just launching my firm, I hosted monthly informational seminars at my local library called “Straight Talk on the Law.” They weren’t always well attended, but to this day people will say to me, “Aren’t you the one who used to talk at the library?” By committing time to that content-based marketing, I established a reputation as a local legal pert and developed name recognition within my community.

Busy Lawyers Don’t Have a Lot of Time to Blog

Marketing efforts like monthly seminars, quarterly reports, or weekly blogs all take a certain time commitment. When a solo attorney’s business begins to take off, that time can become a scarce commodity. You may find that a time comes when you can’t do it anymore and still serve your clients. If you simply don’t have time to blog, you could hire a ghostwriter to take the task off your plate. But if you aren’t yet at that point financially, a blogging co-op can give you some of the same benefits, with less commitment.

What is a Blogging Co-Op?

A blogging co-op is a multi-author blog that brings complimentary professionals together under one URL. Authors rotate blogging obligations, sharing the burden of writing while keeping the content on the site from becoming stale. Each author gets a bio page that features the work he or she does and links back to his or her professional website. Every time an author posts, a short version of that bio and a picture is connected to the post, giving the author credit and readers easy access to that author’s website and services.

Blogging Co-Op v Ghostblogging

So how can you decide whether to invest the time into a blogging co-op or the money into a ghostblogger? It really depends on several things:

  • Your marketing budget
  • Your time commitments
  • Your marketing goals
  • Your willingness to allow someone else to write on your behalf
  • Who you can find to write along with you.

Joining or creating a blogging co-op can allow you to take advantage of fresh web content and cross-linking between websites. It can help develop stronger connections between your website and others so that search engines find you more quickly. It also provides a venue for you to establish your own expertise among professionals whose work compliments your own.

But a blogging co-op is not directly connected to your website, so it doesn’t have the same effect on SEO as an imbedded blog. While integrating the two can help, this may require a significant financial investment to set up. Even then, when other members of your co-op write, the content of their posts won’t be optimized for your target market or ideal clients.

On the other hand, a ghostblogger maintains a one-on-one relationship with your firm. Each article posted is directly related to your marketing priorities and is published directly onto your website. That means the SEO effect is higher. But ghostbloggers do come with a cost, financially. And while you won’t be required to write the articles, you will be expected to review them for accuracy, and you may also need to provide topics to your writer from time to time.

A blogging co-op can be a nice middle ground between writing your own blog every week and hiring someone to write it for you. It can get you some of the same marketing benefits without the financial commitment. While it will never have the same effect as a fully optimized weekly blog on your own website, it could be enough to help you take your solo firm to the next level.

Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist. She is a ghostblogger for law firms and small businesses looking to boost their online marketing. If you are ready to take a step up online, contact Legal Linguist to schedule a meeting.