Monday, January 28, 2013

How Much Should I Actually be Spending on a Law Blog?

None of us have an endless stream of money to pump into our business.  Even then, those who actually might have virtually limitless resources (think Google) must make reasoned choices about where to spend and why.  These spending decisions obviously apply to law firms of all sizes.  Solo and mid-size practices must be particularly vigilant, because there is simply not enough lee-way to throw limited resources away on things that serve no function.

Difficult decisions about resource allocation is most often applied to marketing dollars.  How much money should you spend on marketing and how should it be divided up?  Obviously our perspective is that online efforts constitute--far and away--the most prudent way to focus on marketing efforts.  Various recent surveys have found that most law firms agree.  The percentage of legal marketing dollars devoted to internet-based projects has grown incredibly quickly with no sign of slowing down.

The Legal Blog: Don't Pay Too Much for the Technical Details
If your firm is spending time and money online then part of it must be focused on legal blogs and blog writing.  This is becoming a non-negotiable aspect of a firm's online presence.  A website is one thing, but without engagement and frequent updating (via a blog) it is no different than an expired billboard on the side of the road that has been destroyed by the weather.

But how much should you spend on a blog?

There are no easy answers to this, and as legal content writers, we are tempted to blurt out: the more, the better.  But it is important to be realistic.  There are two general types of expenses for blog writing: the "tech" side of it (creating the blog, hosting it, etc.) and the "writing" side of it.  One of the biggest mistakes that law firms continue to make is spending way too much on the tech side and far too little on the writing side.

Preying on the unfamiliarity of many attorneys, various companies have sprung up which offer "packages" to create a blog and provide technical support.  These companies often combine the blog with a website.  Most attorney blogs are created in just this way.  They hire a well-known team to create a website, and they are sold on a blog as well.

This is logical and efficient, but there is one problem.  The company usually charges FAR more than necessary to create and maintain that blog.  That is particularly true considering virtually all of these companies are only repackaging free blog programs created elsewhere.  If your blog is run on Wordpress, Moveable Type, or Blogger, then your web company did not design the software themselves.  They simply took it from elsewhere and sold it to you at a premium.

Even worse, many of these companies charge considerable sums per month to maintain the blog.  Many firms are paying $150, $200, $500, and more per month for virtually nothing.  Once the blog is created, there is simply no reason to pay a monthly fee to maintain it.  That is because you can maintain it on your own for free.

Instead, it is imminently more sensible (and financially prudent) to devote that money for assistance actually writing the blog.  After all, it is the writing of the blog that makes it worthwhile.  If you are going to spend a couple hundred bucks a month a blog, spend it on the actual writing instead of filtering it to a web company that does virtually nothing to earn it.  Sending out weekly emails or providing "blogging tips" are of little value.  There is some merit to being a part of a legal blogging network with some shared links.  However, that value is vastly overrated, and certainly not worth the money that most spend on these companies. 

To Summarize: You can create a legal blog with Wordpress, Moveable Type, or other services at virtually no cost.  It takes about 30 minutes to create and about $10-$14 per year to buy a domain name (ie. www.yourlawfirmblog.com).  That's it.  Don't pay money each month for no reason.  Put those resources into writing assistance. 

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