Although some lawyers have been blogging for quite a while now, others are just starting out. I still hear even established lawyers asking questions like, “Should I start a blog?” “What is the difference between a blog and a website?” and “How do I get started with blogging?”
All of these questions and more are answered in Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers, by Ernie Svenson, published recently by the ABA Law Practice Management Section. The book truly is, as Ernie says, “A short guide on how to start and maintain a law-related weblog.”
Ernie started his blog in 2002 and was one of the very first legal bloggers, and he’s still going strong. So I guess you could say he’s been around the blogging block. Although no book can teach you everything you need to know about starting a blog in one hour, Ernie’s book does a good job of giving you the basics and walking you through the setup, showing you how to post, how to gather information, and how to monitor and maintain your blog. And although it may take you longer than an hour to set up your blog (particularly if you want to customize design and add plug-ins or other features), you can certainly read Ernie’s book in an hour.
Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers is an easy to read, step by step guide that provides all of the information you need to know: why to start a legal blog, the important elements of a good blog, the ethical issues you need to be aware of, how to set up and customize your blog, how to find ideas for blog posts, and how to build your audience.
One of the features of the book I think many new bloggers will find exceptionally helpful is the Checklist for New Bloggers, found in the Appendix. I recommend that you read through the entire book and then use the checklist as your guide to walk you through the steps while you’re sitting at your computer setting up your new blog. If you need clarification or more detail on a particular step, you can always refer back to the more detailed chapter in the book.
When I read the book, I had the same thought blogger and law practice management expert Bob Ambrogi did (you can see his review of the book here) - with the popularity of WordPress for legal blogs, it was a bit surprising that Ernie focused on TypePad in the book. Ernie has responded to this issue by stating in the blog that accompanies the book (see below) that he now recommends WordPress for legal bloggers, but when writing the book, it was easier for him to demonstrate the blog setup using TypePad.
If your blog is currently on WordPress or you’re planning to create a new blog on WordPress, don’t let that stop you from getting Ernie’s book. This blog was created and is still hosted on TypePad, although my Lawyer Meltdown site is now hosted on WordPress, so I’ve used both. The screen shots in the book may show you TypePad’s platform, but all of the same functionality is available in WordPress and all of the same principles apply.
If you’d like to learn more about blogging, Ernie has even started a website as a companion to the book. The site includes interviews with lawyer-bloggers about their blogging experience, resources for those who want to start a WordPress blog, articles about what other activities bloggers should be engaging in, and more.