We know that when you're busy, blogging is the last thing on your mind. However, blog posts can bring your firm attention and in turn, get you new clients - so it's imperative that your firm has a blog, and one that is active and informative. To help you make time for your blog, we prepared a 7-step guide to writing a weekly blog post for your firm in under one hour. That one hour can translate to a lot more billable hours, so it's in your best interest to get started.
Step 1: Keyword Planning
Time: 5 minutes
If you have not yet read our SEO series on planning keywords, now is a good time to catch up. Keywords are important in marketing your firm and getting your pagerank up in Google search results (so that more people can discover your content!).
If you already know which keywords you want to focus on, write down at least 4-8 of them, and keep them on top of your draft blog post. These keywords will be your guide as you choose the topic you want to cover.
It seems more intuitive to pick a topic, then find keywords that match - but if you know what keywords you need to include in your post to boost your SEO, it's actually easier to come up with a topic that can encompass all or most of them.
Step 2: Come up With Your Topic
Time: 10 minutes
Now that you know which keywords to focus on, you can either brainstorm your own topics or use this handy blog topic generator tool from HubSpot and enter they keywords to come up with catchy titles. The titles will be your topics.
We generally use an altered version of the titles they provide, and keep entering keywords until we find one that fits perfectly.
Step 3: Research
Time: 10 minutes
Researching does not have to be daunting or time-intensive. If you are writing for your clients about your chosen area of law, you are probably familiar with the process and the major concepts - so you can intelligently write at least the basics without citing any research. However, if you do need sources to cite, a quick Google search should do the trick; Google Scholar is especially useful, as it includes academic research and case law.
If you need more resources, check out our Awesome Research Tools for Lawyers post for a quick overview.
Step 4: Outline
Time: 5 minutes
Before you even write a word, constructing an outline will help guide you and make it easier and quicker to write your post. It can be as simple as creating headings, creating steps like this blog post, or simply listing key topics you want to cover. Anything to guide your writing.
When you have the bare bones outline (and, mind you, it does not have to be perfect), you can then start writing.
Step 5: Write, and Write Again
Time: 20 minutes
Now comes the fun part: Writing!
Assuming you picked your keywords and topic, and that you did your research, you can now start writing. When you write, it should begin as a brain dump of all the information you know on the topic in a somewhat coherent sentence structure. In your initial draft, don't think about word choice or grammar - instead, focus on fitting the information you have into the grid of your outline.
When you are done filling in all the space between your headers or steps, you can then go over it with a fine-toothed comb and add citations, references, examples, and tools that your readers will find useful. This is what we mean by write again. You wrote a very rough draft, and now you have to rewrite and fix all the errors. You will find a lot of them, but re-writing is almost cathartic because you're improving your blog post and fine tuning it.
Step 6: Edit
Time: 10 minutes
Editing is different from "writing again" because you are now finalizing the piece. When you write the first time, it's just a brain dump of all the information you know. When you write the second time, you are including citations and including the details or missed information. Editing means adding in all the keywords, checking your grammar and word choice, and making sure the sentences makes sense and are structured correctly.
Luckily, there are quick ways to edit your posts: Grammarly and Google Docs. Both are excellent tools for catching grammar mistakes and making changes quickly. Grammarly even has a Google Chrome extension that you can install; it edits any document (including blog posts, emails, and more) that you are working on and shows you all your grammatical mistakes.
We prefer Google Docs over MS Word because it seems to do a better job at catching mistakes, and understanding some of the technical language that Word just does not pick up. Also, Google Docs is a better tool for collaboration: you and anyone else who may be editing a blog post can see each other's edits in real time, and can chat during the editing process.
The key things to remember during the editing process are:
1. Check for grammar mistakes and spell checks;
2. Verify all links and citations are correct; and
3. Make sure all the keywords are included and are bold, italicized, or underlined.
Step 7: Publish
That's it! You are all set! Publish away and track your results.
If you follow the 7 simple steps outlined above, you should be good to go and have a powerful blog post on a weekly basis!