In the world of blogging for lawyers we've got a fascinating issue – we buy into all sorts of stuff that simply doesn't make any sense.
Admittedly, 17 is a weird number, right? Honestly, that's just where I landed – normally I go for 7 or something like that, but I can't help but think it's been overused.
So let's get into it: what are the most common blogging myths that lawyers tend to assume are right without really thinking about?
Blogging Helps SEO
No it doesn't. At least, not automatically.
Simply writing words and throwing them onto a website, in a world that produces more than 4 million blog posts a day, isn't part of a good SEO strategy that lawyers should be adopting.
Now it's true that your blog might form a piece of your firm's SEO strategy, but the act of blogging, without more, is unlikely to help your search visibility.
Blogs Should be Short – 300 to 500 words
This one is a hang on from the old days, so it makes sense that lots of lawyers still think it's true – many of us are stuck a few years in the digital past.
But while short articles are certainly respecters of time, it's pretty hard to deal properly (even if you're writing well) with a wisely chosen topic inside 500 words. Most likely, what you're right is something so high level that it doesn't offer any value at all.
Blogs Should be Super Long
The flip side is that blogs shouldn't necessarily all be 10,000 word monster guides. Of course, there is a place for those in most good content strategies, and these might be fairly SEO friendly if you know what you're doing, but that doesn't mean every piece needs to be super-sized.
You Can Outsource Blogging Successfully
No you can't.
A key part of a successful blog strategy is having a bit of personality – ideally your own or at least someone who is part of your firm.
Can you do that if you outsource it? No. No you can't.*
*OK a slight footnote here – there is room in my heart for engaging a good copywriter for your firm, but it's got to be a careful decision based on work samples and a proven agreeable tone and style.
Lawyers Are Naturally Good Writers
Whatever we learned at law school, it wasn't how to write for marketing purposes.
Case Notes = Blogs
A common blogging method is to have your clerks go through the law lists, find interesting decisions and write case notes on them.
With rare exceptions case notes make for terrible blogs. They have the reading appeal of alpaca spit.
Branding = Blanding
When many firms say they want to “maintain a professional image” what they normally mean is that nothing you write should possibly offend anyone, ever.
So phrases like “alpaca spit” aren't likely to find their way into many firm blogs, in order to protect their brand.
And while I understand, to an extent, the brand protection policies that many firms have built, I think the legal blogging world is the worse for it.
Every Blog Needs a Call to Action
This might be controversial, and I could even get kicked out of the marketing guru club, but I don't think every single thing you write needs a call to action.
The chances are that your identity and your contact details are somewhere on the blog… so do you really need to end with “if you need more information about [insert topic] call [insert partner who probably didn't write the article] on [number].”?
A degree of elegance exists in simply ending an article where it's supposed to end.
If You Blog, They Will Come
By now, probably (hopefully?) most people understand that blogging is not a sure-fire single-strategy method of obtaining a bunch of clients.
Blogging is “Dead”
Social media is way more sexy than sitting down and producing a 17 heading listicle about blogging myths, right?
I mean – I can't make this text do that boomerang thingo that Instagram has, and the blogging world is poorer for it.
But done right, blogging for lawyers remains a fantastic way of being personal, pithy, helpful and regular in the industries or areas that you're trying to develop your reputation in.
Admittedly done wrong it's mostly a waste of time.
I'll Get Better the More I Do It
This is a partial truth at best. Most likely, you'll just keep making the same mistakes because nobody is kind enough or honest enough to point out things that you could do better to actually make your blog work more effectively.
After all, if you unwittingly practice something wrong and nobody corrects you, why would you change?
Blogging is Only About Information
Lawyers are suckers for this, because we're convinced that if we remain logical, calculated and militantly informative then our clients will be convinced of our brilliance and send us their money in non-sequential 20s and 50s.
Beyond value through information, blogging can also be about personality, about trust, about fun, about entertainment.
Sure our practice can be fairly dry sometimes, but that doesn't mean we need to be dry too.
It's All About the Views
Let me guess – if you're lucky enough to have a marketing department that reports to you on your blogging efforts, they mostly tell you about article views right?
But views are kind of meaningless, although they might tell us if our headline was any good.
Did anyone get to the end of your article? Did anyone send an enquiry from your article? Did anyone comment on your article? Did people share your article on social media? If so – what did they say when they did?
Views are a tiny piece of a large puzzle when it comes to metrics.
The Headline Doesn't Matter
Given any thought, most people know this isn't true… if only from their own reading habits.
But judging by what I see every day, most people give precisely 0.2 seconds thought when it comes to their headline.
If your headline won't raise the chance that somebody relevant to your audience will click – then it's bad.
You Can't Repeat a Topic Ever
Sure you can. Just find a new angle, a new way of approaching it, a new explanation. Heck you're going to run out of material pretty fast if you can't deal with things in multiple different ways.
Perfect is Better than Done
Gotta hit that publish button folks. I know it's tempting to rub, and rub, and rub that lamp until it's polished and pretty, but you've got other things to do too.
And to prove it, I've only done 16 points in this article. Did you notice?
What blogging myths did I miss? Anything you've learned over the years that people need to know?
Tell us in the comments!