Making Web Sites: Blogs

Adding fresh content to your site on a regular basis through blogging is important because, well, because Google thinks it’s important. With each update to Google’s algorithms, which determine how a site will be placed in search results, Google gives more priority to sites that offer consistently updated, useful, and relevant content. And one of the clearest ways to offer this content is to write regularly on a blog. As long as you’re not revealing specific confidential information about your clients, write about how you answer the general questions that people ask you every day about the law and their cases. Write about any interesting courtroom experiences. Write summaries of what you’ve heard at presentations and lectures. In future lessons, I’m going to offer a lot more material on how to keep your blog humming. But for now, the idea is to just get comfortable with starting a blog and using it.

At https://medium.com you’ll find a blogging service that has become very popular with the techie crowd and focuses on the blog posts themselves in a very minimalistic user-friendly way. Take a look at the story “How to Market a Boring Business” at https://medium.com/p/15d118b3e6b1 and you’ll quickly see the characteristics of a Medium post. An interesting but not scandalous headline, the text in a big font, a couple images, and a one-column layout with a white background. Yes, it’s practically the large-print version of Reader’s Digest put on the web. With Medium, you just sign in with a Twitter account and start an article. Unlike the web site creators you’ve had a little practice with, here you don’t have to worry about choosing from a million different themes or deciding which of many elements you’re going to drag around. And plus, with this story, you might take away some ideas on how to give your law firm some unique branding, not that I’m not calling the legal profession boring of course ;)

Well, actually at http://lawyersareboring.tumblr.com they are calling lawyers boring. But I use this site to show that even at https://www.tumblr.com, that billion-dollar-valued site that mainly features picture blogs, you can still make a blog that plainly gets your words across. Normally though, Tumblr sites are naturally ideal for those who like to have a good dose of rebellious visual whimsy in their content, as expressed in http://lifeinbiglaw.tumblr.com.

Now you can take a little refresher course at https://infinite.ly. Through this service you can choose whether you want to want to a make a site that is a profile page, a more traditional brochure site, or a blog. Or, to really put your skills together, you can have several of those formats combined in one page. Try incorporating and editing a blog on this service to get more practice on how blog posts are created and maintained. Become especially familiar with working with drafts, tags, archives, appearance settings, and comments. These are standard admin elements in a blogging service, and when you make your big push to your main WordPress site, you’ll recognize this kind of interface right away.

Blogspot, formally known as the Blogger service, is probably the oldest mainstream blogging service. Although you can pick different themes, the traditional layout on a Blogspot blog can be seen at a lawyer’s site at http://seattlecondoattorney.blogspot.com. There’s usually a standard blogspot bar at the top of the page where you search or browse for other blogs. Below that is the title of blog, then two columns. The left column features the blog posts. The right column features a short bio with a picture and contact info, a chronological archive of older posts, a list of other blogs selected by the blogger, and categories or popular keyword tags from the blog posts. It’s a pretty safe choice for a blog, assuming one of your readers doesn’t hit the “next blog” link at the top of the page and end up at a really crazy random site.

Finally, its time to take a look at the platform that a great many web site creators settle on to build their dream web home all by themselves. Yes, it’s WordPress, and like the other services you’ve used, there’s a version at http://wordpress.com that lets you develop your blog in a more limited environment.  Like all the other services you’ve tried here, it’s a totally free option, and of course iattorney.wordpress.com is one of those sites!  Eventually you will probably want to have full control over the WordPress software and rent hosting space in order to do that. Take a quick read at http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/ to see what having full control of the WordPress software (under the WordPress.org option) amounts to.

For now, give the free WordPress.com option a try so that you will have a good understanding of how the framework is used. You’ve already tried out other blogging services so the basic techniques of writing and organizing your blog posts should be easy. If down the road you you choose to adopt and learn the advanced WordPress.org option, which I humbly recommend and will discuss more in another lesson, you will be able to use the WordPress system to do far more than make a blog.

Hopefully you now have a few web sites that you feel comfortable making and laying out lots of content in (remember, you can always use more than one service for different purposes!). By being able to put up the foundation of a serviceable web page for yourself, whether it be a blog, a pinterest clone, a simple brochure site, or a combination, you can further learn to make and market content to put in your web site that will generate lots of visitors and business leads. Making and marketing cool content is what we’re going to begin to do next.

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