Becoming a successful legal blogger doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without intentionality and effort behind it. Perhaps no one knows this better than Stefanie Marrone who has become one of the LexBlog community’s most prolific bloggers and, in doing so, has established herself as the go-to resource for all things legal marketing.
It wasn’t just the act of starting a blog that got Marrone consistent readership and all those LinkedIn connections. Marrone advises law firms and others in the legal industry on marketing and social media strategy and writes about this on her blog, The Social Media Butterfly. Drawing on her knowledge of legal marketing, Marrone has grown her blog into a highly-trafficked resource and has been able to build a reputation for herself that sustainably generates new business.
Always generous with her legal marketing wisdom, Marrone served as the guest host of the latest LexBlog Learns webinar. She spoke to fellow LexBloggers from experience as a blogger and a CMO about the best ways to market and grow a blog.
Weren’t able to attend the live webinar? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find a full recording of the webinar and the key takeaways from the presentation.
If you build it…will they come?
Even if you haven’t seen the classic 1989 film, Field of Dreams, you’ve likely heard the film’s most iconic line “if you build it, they will come.” While that may prove true in the film, Marrone says this line doesn’t apply to starting a legal blog.
Just having a blog isn’t enough these days. The legal blogging space has become oversaturated and it’s no longer enough to just be a well-known firm. Likewise, it’s not enough to just have great blog content. If you want your blog to succeed and start bringing in business, you must take the time to implement marketing strategies both on and off your blog.
But why should lawyers blog? In Marrone’s words, “Content marketing helps you stay top of mind and positions your firm and lawyers as thought leaders.” Blogging allows lawyers and firms to position themselves as thought leaders. Content also gives you a great way to network and nurture existing client relationships. There’s never a bad time to share one of your blog posts directly with someone who may be helped by it or just find it interesting.
How often should your blog be posting new content in order to remain ‘top of mind?’ Marrone says at least two times a month, but she would push for once a week. She often tells clients who are thinking of starting a blog, but only plan on writing once a month, that it’s just not enough to justify it.
In order to keep up a consistent content schedule Marrone recommends creating an editorial calendar and, if you’re at a firm large enough to support it, forming a full-fledged editorial team. Accountability plays a big role in keeping a blog running, so don’t be afraid to assign people responsibilities. However, before you enlist attorneys to write, start by showing them what’s in it for them. Marrone says one way to convince attorneys of the value of blogging is to show them success stories. There are plenty of examples of lawyers gaining business as a direct result of their blogs—just take your pick of any episode of This Week in Legal Blogging where the guests regularly talk about this.
Building a better blog post
Your marketing strategy has to begin with your blog post. Quality writing, user-friendly formatting and being conscious of SEO factors will set your content apart in the crowded field of law blogging. Here’s some of the easy things Marrone says you can do to improve all of the above:
- Publish while the topic of your post is timely
- Always write in your clients’ language, avoid legalese
- Write short/concise headlines and use numbers in the title (ex. The Three Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Post Anything to Social Media)
- Write timeless “Why and “How-To” evergreen pieces that you can republish
- Get to the point – fast
- Write like a news story, placing the most important information at the top
- Provide practical advice using your legal expertise
- Include a simple call to action at the end of your posts and make it easy for people to follow you on all your social media platforms
- Include outbound links to the sources you use for SEO and for networking opportunities with the people you reference
- Include inbound links to other posts on your blog to boost SEO and get people to stay on your site
- Ensure each page on your site has a keyword strategy
- Choose a phrase that you believe people would use to look for that post
- Once you’ve got one, sprinkle it throughout the post
- Put the phrase in your title, the content (at least a couple of times), in the featured image and as a part of the page’s url
A picture is worth…a whole lot of SEO
Not only do images make posts more visually appealing, but as Marrone points out, they can help with SEO. Including keywords in your alt-image tags makes your post more accessible while also improving your SEO, and most people just don’t do it. For some added SEO juice, don’t forget to rename the image file something similar to your post’s title before your upload it.
Another note about pictures, it may seem obvious but it bears repeating: you can’t just take images from Google. We recently wrote about this over on our Resource Center, and Marrone echoed this. What you can do is go to sites that house royalty-free photos like Unsplash or create your own graphics using a service like Canva.
Keeping tabs on the competition
It’s marketing 101 that you should always be paying attention to what your competitors are doing and Marrone says this absolutely applies to law blogging. Track what your competitors are writing about and then ask yourself: how can I do this better?
There’s a number of ways you can accomplish this:
- Follow your competitors blogs
- Set up Google alerts for these firms
- Follow their company pages on LinkedIn
- Sign up for their newsletters
And just because your competitors have written on a specific topic does not mean you can’t too, in fact, that’s all the more reason to write on that subject:
Absence is not a good thing. Sometimes people will say to me ‘Why should we write about it when our competitors wrote about it?’… The reason is your clients care about what you have to say on an issue and are waiting for you to write about it. They also want to know why you’re not [writing about it].
Marrone recounted a recent instance where one of the attorneys she works with sent a client an alert authored by a competing firm. That, of course, was a mistake. Do not give your competitors publicity when you can just as easily write your own client alert or post on the same topic.
Use LinkedIn to promote your blog
When it comes to marketing outside your blog, LinkedIn is Marrone’s social media platform of choice. Even if you’re regularly sharing your blog posts on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, there’s a chance you are not taking full advantage of the tools these sites give you. Here are some of the features and tricks Marrone uses and recommends to others:
- LinkedIn quietly made a change recently—you can now put links in your bio. Make sure you put a link to your blog in yours. These links can’t be viewed in the desktop version of LinkedIn (though they can be added from desktop), but they do show up on the mobile version which is used by a lot of users.
- Relatedly, LinkedIn gives you the option to include up to three links in your contact section. Oftentimes lawyers need more than this. Other social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram are even more limited and only allow you to include one link. The solution? A handy (and free) tool called Linktree which generates a url for you which you can customize and store all your personal links to share with others. Marrone uses it, we use it and you should too.
- Marrone shared her LinkedIn profile QR code at the beginning and end of her presentation. QR codes had a bit of a resurgence in use over the last couple of years. Many restaurants used them throughout the pandemic to deliver customers “contactless menus.” Those who were unfamiliar with QR codes before likely have seen and know how to use them now. Take advantage of this and, as Marrone suggests, put the code in your own presentations, just like she does. Not sure where to find it? Check out Marrone’s helpful post on the topic.
Email marketing is a tried and true marketing strategy and there are more options than ever for starting one, or multiple. In fact, Marrone recommends utilizing all of these newsletter platforms:
- Email digest through LexBlog which shares snippets from recent blog posts
- Using mailchimp or similar service to create an email newsletter in which your blog content can play a major role
- Be an early adopter of LinkedIn newsletters
This webinar and all others are completely free and open to LexBlog clients and non-clients alike—all you have to do is head over to our webinars page and register via Zoom. We also stream all of these webinars in real-time on our social media, but if you want to be able to directly participate and ask questions, you’ll need to register in advance.
Our next webinar will be held in April so be sure to follow LexBlog’s social media for an announcement on that soon.
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