If you want to be entertained, go to the movies
I figured the law is serious business, and cannot be written about lightly. Humor, drama, empathy, and storytelling should be left for frivolous endeavors, like watching the Dog Whisperer.
I eventually learned that a blog post doesn’t have to read like a Supreme Court decision. Can you remember your best and most interesting college and law school professors? What made them special? Was it their passion? Or, their ability to take a dry subject and make it come alive? Or both?
Is your blog as dry as the Mojave Desert, and as boring as your law school tax course (my apology to tax attorneys and tax professors)? Then it is simply a diary, to be hidden in plain sight.
Paragraphs are for high school reports
My first law blog posts resembled lumps of congealed words. Kind of like my early attempts at cooking spaghetti.
I subsequently learned paragraphs are a blogger’s friend. Use ‘em wisely and often. Remember, cyberspace is for scanners.
White space is a waste of space
My survivors guide to blogging includes an entire chapter on the wonders of white space. It entices your reader to continue reading your valuable content because of the open and airy feeling it conveys; as opposed to a crowded subway during rush hour.
Forget about headers
When my few readers were fortunate enough to get my word dumps divided into paragraphs, they never, ever got a header. Trenton Tarantino be damned. What does he know about telling a story?
A Header is a wonderful device alerting your readers to what lies ahead, and gently persuading them to read on.
- Pose a question.
- Point out the evil your post is railing against.
- Create some mystery.
Remember most readers will scan your headers, and then decide whether to dive into the valuable content below.
I write for Google Bots not real people
I’m told by the SEO guru’s to have five keywords appear in my blog posts, and not to worry if some sentences are a little awkward. Bad strategy
Keyword dumps are now Batman to Google’s Penguin. They are reviled and punished by sending your blog or website to the end of Google’s red rope line. Instead:
- Tell a story.
- Relate your content to your reader’s lives.
- Use the facts of a case to introduce the legal principle
Stay away from video
I did in the beginning because I couldn’t figure out how to properly embed it in my post.
I love the movies, and so do your readers. What better way to make a point than to relate it to a popular scene in a well-known movie.
For example, I wrote a post about the 10 Commandments of Cross-Examination and wanted to emphasize that you shouldn’t ask open-ended questions; especially when you don’t know the answer. I used a super courtroom scene to bring my point home to my readers.
Pictures are for museums
And Trix is for kids. Maybe so, but images belong in your blog post. Here’s an excellent article about why images are important.
I summarize cases and offer no commentary
I can find just about every decision online. Why would I want to read your case summary? One reason may be that you’ve established yourself as a major expert on the subject; or I’d love to read your take on the case. It may expand my perspective or open my mind to another point of view.
I try to keep my case summaries objective, and at the end provide my personal thoughts about the decision or subject. Your readers look forward to a glimpse of the real you.
I don’t need a blog, I’ll add a webpage
Webpages are repositories for keyword dumps.
I am a life long, dyed in the polyester, victim’s advocate and always check out personal injury websites.
I am amazed when I see a gazillion pages devoted to every type of personal injury claim in the universe. When I click on the page, it throws me a tiny bone about the area of law, but mainly boasts about the law firm and its virtues. A slick billboard.
When you provide valuable content in your blog, you’ll motivate your reader to find out more about you, without hitting her over the head with a slick webpage. The art of persuasion suggests leading your reader to water, but letting him decide whether or not to take a drink.
Size doesn’t matter
There’s another myth that needs some debunking. I think there’s a contest between lawyer websites on which website can use the smallest font. I hate it. Yes, I know my computer has a button that can enlarge font size. But, frankly, when I see tiny font packed onto a page, I’m out of there. Here are two articles (among many) to help you make the right choice about font size and typography.
Bonus: Is it the website content or the curb appeal ? (It’s both!)
A bisel about Larry
I retired from the private practice of law after 35 years. I blogged for the last five years of my legal lifetime, and published in excess of 1000 articles on my Lawyer Blog and NYC Parking Ticket Blog. I’ve made all these mistakes (and more) growing up as a blogger. How about you?
To err is human, learning from your mistakes divine. Please share some “divine” with us.