What’s the secret to sticking with a blog?

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(Opinion) -- To take the full advantage of the opportunities that digital platforms offer your law firm, you really need to be blogging. Or, at the very least, offering some valuable content for your audience.
 
Blogs can do some great things for you. They will:
  • Help non-customers to find you, especially if your content is conscientiously shared
  • Help people to feel that you are trustworthy before they speak to you
  • Educate people
  • Help people solve or avoid problems
  • Function as lead-generators for your business
  • Gradually build an intangible asset base that can add financial value to your firm
 
… and much more besides.
 
Many firms don’t have websites, let alone blogs
If you don’t have a website, the idea of blogging is way too much. But for law firms that do have websites, a huge number haven’t yet ventured into blogging.
 
Why not? There are lots of reasons. Some don’t know where to start. Others, once started, don’t know how to make it stick. Still others get tangled in a difficult combination of time, poorly considered approval workflows, and exhaustion.
 
Once you have sorted out the workflows, you have some capacity, and you want to get your blog back on the track and keep it there, what do you do?
 
Sticking with a blog is simpler than it seems
The secret to sticking with a blog is so obvious it’s not even amusing. It’s as simple as scheduling everything, and having good administration practices. Many people skip over these things as unnecessary, when they are in fact the critical elements to blogging consistently.
 
The hardest part of running an effective blog, in fact, is the up-front administration. The planning and thinking before a word is written is the hardest of all.
 
Here is how to do it
The process only has three parts:
  1. Plan ahead
  2. Schedule everything
  3. Close the loop.
 
Plan ahead
A successful blogging project has a comprehensive plan. That plan includes a list of topics, which a proposed title, a proposed summary, and a description of what you envision it covering.
 
When you’re just starting out, plan for one per month. This makes creating a plan for the entire year simple and easy: It’s just 12 topics! If you have already started but want to blog once per fortnight, create a plan for six months - and it’s still just 12 topics.
 
Then, give every topic a couple of dates. Common sense tells us to put in the date on which we want to publish. But what we actually need is the date that the draft is due, plus any dates for review and approval deadlines.
 
In a law firm, it will be rare that some kind of approval and review won’t be necessary. Working backwards from the intended publication date, be realistic about the timeframes required. Whatever those dates are, put them into your content calendar.
 
Schedule everything
When your content plan is done, get everyone on board and put the dates (and time to write and/or approve) into their diaries. What’s not scheduled gets forgotten, and due diligence in administration is what makes the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful blogging project. As time goes on, you will get a greater sense for the capacity of your team and will be able to adjust your plan accordingly.
 
If over time you determine that your team is capable of delivering a new blog every fortnight, create a calendar to capture it. It doesn’t mean you have to publish them every fortnight. Instead, it means that you will have full set of blogs scheduled forwards. This alone can be a saving grace in a busy firm, and will help you to ride out the times when you’re too busy to think. Your blog will continue to publish itself anyway, and by the time you can start writing again, you’ll be glad you took the time to set it up right.
 
Close the loop
The smallest piece is the easiest to forget. And that is to close the loop. Book in a few hours 4 weeks before the content calendar is completed, in which to review the six months. Note what worked, what was a challenge, what you would like to try differently.
 
Over time your topics will evolve, and after your first six months you will start to understand which metrics are important for you to track. Good ones to start with are views and comments.
 
Once your review is done, you will be able to spend the second half of your scheduled time writing out your next calendar… and so the process starts again.
 
Sticking with your blog isn’t hard. Making it a logical, administrative process is a little bit tricker. But as they say, six minutes of thinking will save you six weeks of work. And at the end, you will have a blogging project that leaves the competition a long way behind.

 
About the Author
Leticia Mooney is an Australian-based content strategist whose company specialises in helping law firms to communicate better online.
 
 
By Leticia Mooney, director of legal content strategy company Brutal Pixie.

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