One of the goals of blogging is to produce web content which performs well in search engines for long-tail keywords, potentially resulting in organic website traffic, social shares, natural links, and possibly even leads for your firm.
I imagine, however, that most successful bloggers will agree that these benefits pale in comparison to:
- Forming relationships with influencers
- Invitations to speak at conferences or seminars
- Invitations to contribute articles on popular sites
- Interviews with local news networks
- Establishing on-and-offline referral networks among the leaders in one’s space
For legal bloggers, reputation and relationships are the big picture.
There has been much written about whether or not attorney ghost blogging is ethical. Here, I’d like to put ethics aside (although you may find those arguments compelling enough) and instead stick to the question, can legal ghost blogging be effective for attorneys?
My answer: probably not. Here’s why:
Blogging is Not the Same as Writing Articles
Blogging and writing articles are two different things entirely. An article is static. It is often meant to end a conversation around a topic rather than foster one. The success of an article is measured by its circulation and the number of views it receives. If your goal is to publish articles on legal topics, then hiring a competent writer to write the article on behalf of your firm may be effective.
Blog posts are not static. They are meant to spark ongoing debate and conversation around topics of interest to an online community. The success of a blog post is measured in relationships and reputation, not simply page views.
Blogging is About Forming Real Relationships
One of the KPI’s for successful blogging is that real people consistently engage with the posts. The author of those posts should be the one responding to comments, answering questions on social media — fostering real relationships through discussion and engagement.
Even if your ghost blogger writes such compelling content that readers are actively engaging with it by commenting and sharing (which is unlikely), what have you really achieved? What happens when one of those influencers who has been engaging with “your” writing gives you a call and wants you to speak at their conference based on a topic that “you” wrote about, or wants to refer you to a client, or even just wants to take a conversation that “you” have had online, offline?
No matter how good the ghost blogger, it is simply impossible to form real relationships without participating in the process, which is one of the primary, big-picture benefits of blogging.
Successful Blogging Requires Passion
Before you can even have the luxury to consider how to engage with your blog’s audience, you have to produce valuable, entertaining, or controversial blog posts. That requires real passion. This is not to say that if you aren’t blogging you don’t have passion. Some people just aren’t writers; fair enough.
Is it possible for a ghost blogger to write as passionately as you can about your work? The sad truth is that passion for one’s own work is a rare thing in this world. What does that say that about one’s ability to have real passion on behalf of someone else’s work?
The Gist: Your Money is Better Spent Elsewhere
Successful bloggers understand that relationships and reputation are the big picture. Outsourcing one’s reputation building and networking probably won’t work out well.
I don’t believe that attorneys must blog in order to have success marketing their services online. However, if the attorney is not the one doing the blogging, they’ll be far better served not investing in it at all.
Instead, attorneys should consider investing in talented legal writers who can develop an article strategy. An effective article strategy can help establish your site as the authoritative voice on topics in your field.
Attorneys should also consider investing in other types of digital content assets such as video, graphics (infographics, quick reference guides, etc.), and tools (such as a settlement calculator for personal injury attorneys).
And remember, no matter how awesome your firm is, Google is in the business of serving up awesome websites. Invest in making your website awesome, and good things will follow.
Image courtesy of Flickr by Jon Feinstein