On July 6, 2006 I, along with my good friend and colleague Jay Jump of Kent, WA presented a free teleseminar to our fellow consumer bankruptcy lawyers. We didn’t have much of a plan at the time, and figured we’d just do something fun for everyone; we’d just come off a heady panel discussion with Kurt O’Keefe and Alan Ramos at the NACBA convention in New Orleans, and I guess we just wanted to keep the party going.
I registered the domain name www.BKPracticePro.com for the occasion, figuring it had a nice hook to it. The thinking was to do a teleseminar and see what happened.
What happened was a lot of fun. Then we both went back to work. That is, until I got bored on August 19, 2006 and published my first blog post dealing with Windows XP shortcuts. It was all uphill from there, as the site morphed into what you see before you – a full-fledged business built around a blog dealing with online legal marketing, technology and managing a law firm.
Each one of those first posts were mere baby steps towards the current incarnation of this blog, done with tremendous hesitation and no small amount of trepidation. What if I got it wrong? What if I failed?
There were, however, a few things that gave me no small amount of freedom. A freedom, I realize now, that is bestowed upon all of us who begin a law firm blog.
Most businesses start with an idea and a way to profit from that idea by selling stuff to people. Not so with Legal Practice Pro. Though I ultimately began a coaching program and sold information to lawyers about marketing a law firm online, that didn’t happen for 2 1/2 years. That’s right – for 2 1/2 years I basically screwed around and created a blog about cool stuff that made me happy. Holy crap – talk about an abject waste of time!
Starting A Law Firm Without A Plan Is Just Plain Crazy
I mean, what would your friends and family members say if you told them that you were going to start practicing law for free? Handle any client that came into the office, work up a full file and represent that person until the end of the matter? Your spouse would divorce you, your parents would have you committed, and your friends would whisper behind your back. Well, maybe not quite so dramatic as all that – but damned close.
And they’d be right. Starting a law firm is time-intensive, money-intensive, and … well, when something sucks too much of your time and money it’s kind of hard to put food on the table. Or, for that matter, afford a table in the first place.
So you start a law firm by figuring out a niche, finding clients, and working your ass off until you can pay the bills. Maybe you pick up a side hustle, maybe you sponge off a relative for awhile. Whatever you need to do, you do it.
Starting A Law Firm Blog Is A Lot Easier Than That
Seriously, I can’t even tell you how many blogs I started and then killed. I was on Blogger, then a few of my own domains, then I consolidated them, took them down, moved them around … well, you get the point. And because the tools are so free and easy, none of it mattered. Every blog was a training ground, a way for me to pick up a few tips and get my footing in new technology. I knew I wasn’t going to break the Internet – and if I did, the Internet had more problems than just my existence.
Because starting a law firm blog costs little or no money, there’s not much to lose except your time and a bruised ego.
Not many people are going to notice when you screw up royally. Much as we might like to think otherwise, nobody’s paying attention to your law firm blogging efforts except your parents until things really take off. Your traffic will stink, your comment level will be non-existent, and pretty much you’ll be taking up dead space online.
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but your blog isn’t going to get much action coming out of the gate unless you’re a big name – a really, really big name. Everyone else just toils in anonymity for a good, long time.
And that’s the best news you’re going to get because your blog is going to start out as a different thing than what it will ultimately be. Your design will be off, the picture won’t be right (in fact, it probably won’t be there at all), and you’ll wobble like an infant taking first steps.
Don’t believe me? Some really big blogs out there were significantly different when they began. For example:
SOLD (Copyblogger – January 8, 2006)
Version 3.0 (Chris Brogan – March 22, 2004) *Note: This is clearly not the first post that Chris ever did, though it is the first one archived on this domain.
Get To The Point (Problogger – September 23, 2004)
Welcome To The Bankruptcy Law Network (Bankruptcy Law Network – January 24, 2007)
Your Fear Is An Excuse – Get Over Yourself
We’ve established that you’re just starting out, and your blog is probably going to differ significantly from what it will ultimately be. Your content may be muddy, your writing less crisp than you would like. But given the fact that not many people are out there reading it at first, you’ve got some freedom. Freedom to flex your muscles and to find your voice. After all, if it sucks then you can trash it and move on. Or you can just keep going, refining your message and honing things until they sound right and produce results for you.
What are you afraid of? And what will it take you get you off the dime?
Image credit: johnwilliamsphd (Flickr)