Adapted and excepted from Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers by Ernie Svenson, now available from LPM Publishing.
Once you’ve created a blog, you want to drive traffic to it. But getting traffic isn’t enough; you also need to know how much traffic you get and where it comes from.
The best way to get attention is to write great posts about interesting topics. Most important, avoid jargon; don’t use the writing style you use for legal briefs. Write crisp, readable sentences and you’ll draw in casual readers and convert them to loyal ones.
Craft punchy headlines that entice readers to read the first sentence of the article. Then write a compelling first sentence; make it short. Edit ruthlessly. Remove all unnecessary words.
Someone once observed that the perfect blog post is a two-paragraph observation. While there are no hard-and-fast rules in blogging, a two-paragraph post is probably the sweet spot, and a good guideline for a new blogger. The first paragraph should tantalize the reader and set up the main point; the second can expand it slightly, making strategic use of hyperlinks.
The importance of hyperlinks cannot be overstated. They’re the lifeblood of all online writing, helpful for linking to sources, explanations, or definitions. Short block quotes of key passages from a text, followed by a hyperlink, are frequently used by successful bloggers, who know that people who surf the web are easily distracted. You must cultivate that awareness too, employing resources that make your points quickly.
The more often you post, the quicker you’ll get the hang of it. Study other bloggers, and keep working on improving your technique. There are no shortcuts to learning how to write compelling blog posts.
Register Your Blog
Once you’ve published a handful of posts, you’re ready to let the world know about your site. And by world I mean search engines, which will be the way most people discover your blog. If you set up a TypePad blog, then you took care of this when you checked the box that said, “yes, publicize this blog.”
If you’re on a WordPress blog, or if you just want to be sure all the key search engines know about your blog, register with these sites:
You should also register with such law blog directories as the following:
• ABAJournal.com/blawgs: the most prestigious list of U.S. law blogs
• Justia.com: 6,755 blawgs in 75 subcategories
• Blawg.com: 4,333 active blogs
• USLaw.com: asks for a voluntary post of one of their graphic linkbacks
• Lexmonitor.com/blogs: a large list of law blogs, but registration may
• BlawgRepublic.com: a real-time search engine that monitors the
legal blogging community every hour
• BlawgReview.blogspot.com: features one blog every month
The easiest way for people to get your new blog posts automatically is an e-mail newsletter, especially helpful for web-surfers who don’t know how to use RSS readers. Many new bloggers have a knee-jerk reluctance to setting up an e-mail newsletter, convinced they lack the time to put one out every week.
A service like Feedblitz.com will pull your RSS feed and generate an e-mail newsletter automatically. All you have to do is connect Feedblitz to your RSS feed and set up a delivery schedule. Usually, you’ll want to set the newsletter to go out no more than once a week, maybe even once a month in the beginning.
The price of Feedblitz varies depending on how many people you have subscribed to your blog, but it is reasonable and well worth the investment. Remember, when people subscribe to your e-mail they’re giving you their e-mail address, something extremely valuable from a marketer’s perspective. If you don’t fully appreciate this (and I certainly didn’t when I started out), read Seth Godin’s excellent book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers. It will teach you the basic theory of why e-mail marketing is so powerful.
I can’t emphasize this enough: if you’re serious about blogging, set up an e-mail newsletter.
Many people will follow your blog using an RSS reader, automatically pulling new content from your blog as it’s published. You’ll want to know how many people are following you in an RSS reader, and basic blog tools like TypePad or WordPress won’t give you that number. To get this information, you can sign up for a Feedburner account (run by Google), which will provide you detailed statistics about how many people are reading your blog using an RSS reader, what sort of RSS reader they’re using, and where in the world your RSS readers are located.
For more blogging tips, pick up a copy of Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers by Ernie Svenson.