Saturday, January 12, 2008

Proving Your Own Thesis ("Blogging Lessons Learned")

One of us argued in print this week -- in the January 7 National Law Journal -- that blogs are, in may ways, more powerful tools than the print media. That article was later posted on-line, and the results of that dual publication have proven the article's thesis.

Blogs, unlike print media, can induce an immediate response. For example, although book reviews that appear in print can gradually increase sales, a book review published in a blog is an entirely different creature. People flip through journals, glancing at headlines and ignoring the rest. But folks who visit blogs are making an effort -- choosing to click -- and are thus truly interested readers; they are motivated eyeballs. And, if an on-line book review links to Amazon.com, those motivated eyeballs are just two more clicks away from owning a book. As we explained in the NLJ, on-line book reviews are more potent than print media reviews.

Here's how the article proved its own thesis: The print edition of The National Law Journal is a pretty effective way to reach lawyers. The paper has a huge paid circulation among lawyers, and it's passed down routing lists to reach more lawyers than the paid circulation alone would suggest. Our printed article plainly invited folks to visit our blog: we gave the name of the blog (so anyone could find it through Google) and even included the url. (Yes, we're shameless.) Despite all that, when the article about blogging hit the streets, we didn't see any noticeable reaction: No spike in traffic to our blog; no blogs commenting on the printed article; no influx of e-mails from folks who noticed the publication.

On Thursday, January 10, however, the NLJ chose to post that same article -- verbatim -- as one of the rotating headlines at law.com. (Here's a link to the on-line version of the article.) The on-line article naturally provided a direct link to this blog.

Unlike the response to the print edition, when our article hit the web, the world noticed.

Law.com sent us 75 new visitors on January 10 alone.

And the blogosphere instantly picked up on an on-line article about blogging. For example, Howard Bashman, at How Appealing, did no more than note the existence of the article; that drove traffic our way. Robert Ambrogi, at the Legal Blog Watch, summarized the article and added his reaction. Francis Pileggi, at the Delaware Corporate and Commercial Litigation Blog, went off-topic to suggest that the article might be of interest to other big firm lawyers considering blogging. Kevin Lacroix, at the D and O Diary, said that the article was the very piece about blogging that he would have written, if he'd put pen to paper. (But Kevin's an old friend. We're flattered by the compliment, but take it with a grain of salt.) And Paula Lawhon, at the San Francisco Mediation Blog, notes the challenge of publishing posts even once a week, let alone the several times each week for which we strive here.

And that's just a sampling of the reaction in the blogosphere. Other bloggers discussed the article (a Vault Blog (sorry for the inadvertent slight, guys); Adjunct Law Prof Blog; Barco 2.0; etc.); newsfeeds picked up law.com and republished the article; and commenters and discussion groups kept the conversation going.

We're not abandoning the print media as a way of communicating with the world, but we're increasingly convinced of the potency of the web.

We've also received several interesting e-mails in response to the on-line version of the article. Perhaps the most noteworthy was from a big firm blogger who launched his blog without any support from, or affiliation with, his law firm, but now finds that his firm is urging other lawyers to start blogging and is asking him to affiliate his blog with the firm. That's an issue that will surely recur as younger -- more tech-savvy and blog-wise -- lawyers displace the old guard in law firm management over time.

But enough of this blogging self-analysis.

We've been blogging for only a year, and we're still learning as we go.

Now, it's back to drug and device products cases, which we've been doing for decades (although, we concede, also still learning as we go).

2 comments:

Greg May said...

Wow, great article.

I have been blogging about California and Ninth Circuit appellate practice only since April 30, 2007. I have found it to be a tremendous amount of work.

I had the good fortune to share the podium recently with prominent law blogger Denise Powell, and she offered a blogging tip that can substantially reduce the workload -- if it fits with the nature of your blog. That tip is to "blog your work," i.e., to blog about things that arise during the course of your "day job" (without disclosing work product or confidential information, of course).

It don't think it will work for all bloggers. I wouldn't be able to do that without significantly changing the nature of my blog, and it sounds like it might not work for you, either. But anyone thinking of starting a blog should take that advice to heart, and perhaps start that way. Easier to start by "blogging your work" and then to expand, than to start at the wider scope.

Bob Klass said...

I second Greg May's observation. As an information technology blogger (and Drug and Device Law's technical advisor), my experience has been that the content on my blog (http://bobklass.blogspot.com) has benefitted from my documenting the day to day activities that I think may be important to preserve for posterity.