Engineering News Record

I coach many lawyers who are blogging and I read blogs posted by many other lawyers. I can usually get a sense whether the lawyer blogger is achieving any success from blogging. If you are blogging and it hasn’t led to business, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Blogging Questions.jpgWho is your ideal reader? The first giveaway for me that a blog is not likely attracting business is when I can’t figure out who the blogger is targeting.  If I was still practicing construction law, my ideal reader would begin with the executives of the many state and national construction associations. My second ideal reader would be contractors and in-house lawyers of the large contractors who have them.
  2. What do you want your ideal reader to do? Even though it occasionally happens, I think it is very unrealistic to think you will get a new client just because of your blog. If I was still practicing construction law, I would want my ideal reader to recommend me to others and include with his recommendation the link to my blog. I also would use my blog as the primary tool to get asked to speak at contractor association meetings.
  3. How can you attract your ideal reader? If your ideal reader is not reading your blog, you won’t achieve your goals. The first step to attract your ideal reader is to create valuable content that addresses a need.
  4. How do you find valuable content? You have to be insatiable to look for and find information that impacts your potential clients. You should be reading a variety of industry publications and other business publications. If I was practicing construction law I would be using the ENR feed, Feedly and Netvibes to find ideas.
  5. How do you know when you have found valuable content? Each article you read you have to look for the legal implications or even the business implications of the facts in the article. You have to see what others are missing.

In my Thursday post, I will share with you the questions to ask after you have answered these.

 A friend sent me Debra Cassens Weiss‘  ABA article: Lawyer Warns of Blogging Burden, Even as Top Law Firms Embrace It. It was interesting. On the one hand, Debra pointed out that 96 of the nation’s top 200 law firms have blogs, a 149 percent increase from August 2007. On the other hand, she mentioned that Mark Herrmann and his colleague felt they had exhausted their initial ideas and themselves after six weeks writing their Drug and Device Law Blog.

I can understand the problem. In certain areas of law changes may not be regularly occurring. I never found that problem in my niche industry based transportation construction law practice when I wrote my Law: The Contractor’s Side monthly column for Roads and Bridges magazine. 

I agree it is a burden to blog or write a monthly column as I did. The burden is to find topics that readers actually care about and will take time to read. I tell lawyers I coach that I spent more time coming up with a topic for my monthly column than I did writing the column.

How did I keep my columns fresh? I  realized that my highway/bridge construction clients did not care about what I did as a lawyer. What they cared about was increasing their revenue, decreasing their costs, increasing certainty and decreasing risk.  So I searched for those topics. 

I researched all the new highway and bridge construction cases. I kept track of USDOT regulation  changes. I found any changes the Federal Highway Administration was making. I attended industry meetings and listened to the contractors. I stayed in touch with construction association executives, asking what their contractor members were asking them. Finally, I regularly read industry publications like Engineering News Record

When I went to the current Engineering News Record webpage, I found these articles that if I was still writing my column could lead to topics:

  • Manslaughter Charge in Crane Case: A Wake-Up Call for Contractors?
  • Dispute Flares, Accusations Fly Over Claims in Pipe Lawsuit
  • Stopgap Through Dec. 31 Sought for Highways, Transit
  • Indiana Legislature Paves Way For $1.1-Billion Link With Illinois
  • State DOTs Continue To Move Highway Funds Out
  • Massive Boulders in Rock Slide Shut Down Colorado’s I-70

If I was still writing my column or blogging, I  would look deeper into each of those topics and ask myself, what would my contractor readers want to learn from this topic.

Yes, it is a burden to blog regularly. The beauty of this burden is that it forces you to stay on top of what is going on in your clients’ world. If you really do it well, you will see things other lawyers miss and then be "first to market" when you blog about it.

 I will blog about how you can use the  "first to market" strategy in a subsequent post.