Does legal blogging add up for Partners?

A conversation last month at LegalEX reminded me of a discussion I had when I wrote a piece called ‘If you are blogging it isn’t working’ a while back.  I was immediately assailed by a partner boasting about how successful his firm’s blogging is… It went like this….

He considered that the proof that my premise was wrong came from the fact (well, let’s accept it as fact) that one of his colleagues had received £50,000 in new instructions in the last year as a result of his blog. Leaving aside the fact that the conversation after the prospect read the blog might have had something to do with it. The blog might have been read only because the person already had some attachment to the firm (i.e. it was a step but not the sole initiator of the work).  It was still clearly a creditable effort and worthy of some exploration.

Here’s a slight paraphrase of the ensuing conversation:

So, I asked,

“How much time does he spend blogging per week?”

“About an hour a day”

“And what is his charge-out rate?”

“£270 an hour”

“So, he spent £59,000* worth of time to get £50,000 worth of fees?”

* I again ignored all the related ‘selling costs’ involved in converting the prospect into a client. I am a nice guy and don’t like to upset people more than necessary’.

 “Well, if you put it like that…”

“And whilst blogging he most certainly wasn’t attending to client work, so there must be a detriment to the client service delivered compared with what might have been delivered.”

 “I see what you mean”.

…and now the coup de grace…

“If he spent 220 hours a year:

  • cross-marketing
  • setting up and giving seminars; or
  • doing 1 to 1 networking, etc…

what would the value of new instructions be?”

Silence.

And that, of course, was the firm’s most successful blogger… I just didn’t have the heart to go there.

That is the point: if you spend that much time on any of these, you’d expect to drive in a heck of a lot more work than that. If you don’t there are people who can train you how to make sure you do.

Making a positive return

You MAY produce a positive return on investment on this sort of activity. It is, in most cases, unlikely. But that’s not the point.

The question to ask is not ‘ Do we make a positive return on this?’ but is ‘Will this give us the BEST return on investment for the time spent?’

And that is where (IMHO) at least 95% of all law firm bloggers will fail.

And the level crossing metaphor? When the warning lights flash, don’t go there. What are the warning lights for writers? If you are not getting approached to write for other people, especially if you have a big social reach, then it’s because other people don’t want you to write for them. If we stopped getting a steady flow of requests to write bespoke content (which we don’t normally do and never look for), the warning signs would be flashing.

Blogging MIGHT be the best use of your fee-earner time. It isn’t likely. Not likely at all.

Joe Reevy, LegalRSS and Crosselerator

* 44 weeks x 5 hrs x £270 = £59,400

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