10/19/17

Blogging better: how to not write a like a lawyer


Writing, posting and sharing blogs by @Lihsa


I’ve been blogging for over ten years now. And during that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about the craft.

Blogging has quite a distinctive style. There are a couple of ways I could go with this post: talk about the art of writing, posting techniques or ways to share your post. How about all three?

Blogging better: how to not write a like a lawyer


Writing a blog post


Writing a blog post is as simple as writing an email. Literally. It should be just as conversational, just as casual and just as succinct.

Not even my grandmother wants to wade through 50 densely written paragraphs about my opinions on whatever is on my mind. Never mind that no one’s grandmother would ever need to see a list of footnotes and citations to further codify my thoughts.

I try to keep paragraphs to three to four lines—not sentences—lines. And, yes, to a lawyer, a sentence-long paragraph seems ridiculous. But have you seen the length of a lawyer’s sentence? A typical sentence, written by a lawyer, is usually three lines long. Full of dependent and subordinate clauses, a diagramed lawyer’s sentence looks like an oak tree.

In blogs, we are aspiring for palm trees: a long trunk, a few frothy fronds and maybe a couple of coconuts.

In short: keep it simple. If you can’t explain your topic to your grandmother, you need to try again.

Post a blog post

Think about posting a blog like drawing a map. There are certain elements in a blog post that signal to Google where your post is located. You need to drop cookie crumbs to lead Google to your blog.

Think of these as sign posts, guiding Google: “come this way: my blog post is exactly what you’re searching for.”

What are these signposts? On this allegorical map called Google, you want to include:

1. Title: it acts like the city name on a map

2. Headings: these are the city’s sites and restaurants

3. Hyperlinks: these are the addresses to your coolest friends’ homes

If you don’t use these signposts, your blog post will be lost in the vastness of Google tundra, with a mere pinprick flagging Google to your page.

But when you add these signposts, you not only drop a pin to your post, you are adding billboards, neon arrows and flashing lights. Google is then directed to your post because you have signaled that your post is exactly what Google is searching for.

Which brings me to the all-important keyword. Think of keywords this way: how would you explain your blog post to your grandmother? If your post is about the constitutionality of the freedom of speech, then these key phrases should, in some part, be a part of your post’s title, headings and hyperlinks. Again, if you can’t explain it to you grandmother, try again.

Sharing a blog post

So you’ve finished your post and published it. I bet you think you’re done, right? Oh, no, mon frère.

You have to tell somebody about your blog post. You can’t just wait on some random cat to search on Google for you. You have to share it (which is a very nice way of saying publicize it).

The easiest way? Social media. Yes, that’s right. You have to post something about your blog on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or something. You could go the old fashioned route and email your post to a bunch of people but then you’ve just turned your blog post into an annoying emailed newsletter.

Social media is the natural sibling to blogging—there are a whole slew of legal bloggers that congregate on Twitter. Injecting yourself into that stream is great place to start to be known and engage like-minded people. My own blog sharing has led to recognition, speaking gigs and rewarding professional relationships (see @LawyerCoach , @StaceyEBurke , +Jan Rivers@beingkatie ‏ and @HaleyOdom, just to name a few).

And, who knows, you may find that when you share your post on Facebook, your grandma may share it with her Facebook friends. And one of those friends could very well lead to your next future client.

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