How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Law Firm’s Blog
According to reports from the American Bar Association Journal Blog Directory and LXBN Network, there are about 3500 legal blogs out there. Now according to an old survey by Technorati, about 95% of the blogs on their database are left abandoned after 2 to 3 months.
If those number ring true until nowand also applies to law firm blogs,it means only about 175 of the 3500 blogs will remain active in the next few months. Of course, this is only conjecture but it’s a sad one nonetheless.
If a lawyer’s hectic schedule is any indication, I don’t doubt this may come true, or is already happening right now.
Why Bloggers — with Legal Background or Not — Quit
Bloggers often quit due to lack of results, such as traffic, profits or engagement. Two to three months is hardly enough time to get results, unfortunately a lot of bloggers are impatient.
Of those who quit, there’s a subset that stops blogging not because of poor results, but because of lack of things to say.
As in all things, lack of ideas, topics, and proper planning causes premature quitting.
Save Your Law Firm Blog before it Dies
Like newspapers and magazines, your law firm’s blog needs an editorial calendar to avoid premature abandonment.
Easy 8-Step Plan to Creating an Editorial Calendar
- Set Your Goals. Why are You Blogging in the First Place?
Your blog’s purpose will be the central theme of your editorial calendar. It has to be specific enough that it identifies your target audience and main reason for blogging.
Whether that reason is to attract potential clients, build awareness around your practice, or educate readers, it has to be more specific than a generic ‘get traffic’ goal.
- How often can you Blog, Realistically?
Are you going to publish once a month, once a week or every day? Quantity isn’t all important here, not so much as quality and adherence are.
Not sure how often you can publish? Try publishing once a week and then see how it goes. If it’s too much, don’t beat yourself up. Adjust to a bi-weekly schedule and try again.
If you want more intensive results, try three times a week but only if you can keep up the quality level.
- Identify Blog Categories
Your blog probably has a few categories in place. But if my guess is right, those categories were randomly assigned as you wrote one post after another. Some websites don’t even have any categories to speak of.
Take a look at the categories for the employment law blog, HR hero. At first glance, it looks okay. But if you take a closer look, you’ll wonder who or what‘Pam Halpert’ is about and why it deserves its own distinctive category. Also, hiring and firing can be under recruiting and retention, which can also be under HR.
To create an organized editorial calendar, we’ll start from scratch based on the goals and target audience you identified in step 1. You have two options for doing this.
First, identify some of the keywords you’ll be targeting. For instance, if you’re focused on entertainment and media law, your mid-level keywords might be centered on:
- Copyright law
- Music copyright lawyers
- Artwork copyright
- Trademark attorneys
- Copyright infringement
Second, you can select broad topics that will establish your reputation as a helpful thought leader in your specific law niche. Using the example above, if you’re specializing in copyright law and helping artists, some possible categories are:
- Copyright for paintings and images
- Copyright infringement
- Selling artwork
- Note Relevant Industry Events and Holidays
People love consistency. It gives them a sense of comfort and something to look forward to, so you should strive to create that effect for your readers.
It’s the same with legal websites. Once readers know they can count on you to update them on important events, they’ll come back to you like clockwork.
Here are some of the important events you can include in your calendar:
- Annual conferences, such as the Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference or the ITech Law Conference
- Professional Association or Group Events, such as the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Annual Meeting
- Annual awards, such as the BLAWG 100 by ABA Journal
- Historical or milestone events, like milestones in Food and Drug Law
- Industry related trainings and workshops
You don’t have to write about all these events and milestones, or attend any of them for that matter. Just choose the ones relevant to your practice and write what you can about them. Think of it as a commentary on special events, or your review of a particular seminar you attended.
- Create Your Weekly or Monthly ‘Master Calendar’
The first four steps of this process gave you the categories, schedule, and defined goals you need to keep blogging. Now it’s time to put them together into a rough blogging schedule.
The simplest way is to assign a specific category or topic to a specific day of the week, or month. For example, if your schedule is M-W-F for a consumer finance law blog, then your schedule might be:
- Mondays for trending cases and industry changes
- Wednesdays for mortgage and credit lending — or whatever legal services you specialize in.
- Fridays for “Ask Me Anything”
A weekly or monthly blogging schedule works just the same, except instead of M-W-F, the spread will be wider.
Knowing what your next blog post will focus on makes it easier to come up with story ideas and research materials in advance, so you’re not wasting time thinking about what to write next.
Deviating from the master schedule is okay, as long as you don’t abandon it entirely for no reason.
- Make Your Calendar
Your editorial calendar’s design, features, and accessibility depends on your goals and resources. At minimum, however, I suggest you include the following:
- Target publication date
- Working title or headline
- Author, in case you’re not the only one writing for the blog
- Target keyword
- Target call to action — do you want people to share it, sign up for your newsletter or comment? What is the goal of that blog post?
- Notes — where you can put the rough outline or sources you’ll need to write the blog post.
- Brainstorm to Fill Up Your Calendar
Time to fill up your calendar for this month’s content! Write down the blog’s categories and brainstorm three to five ideas for each category, and then plot them into your chosen schedule. After that, choose your target keyword for each topic and fill out the rest of the fields in the calendar.
- Idea Vault
You know how the best ideas come to you in the shower, or when you’re sleeping? Sometimes, a brilliant story idea comes to you but you’re not sure what category it belongs to, or when you’ll have the time to write it. In times like this, it’s important to have an idea vault where you can ‘park’topics until you’re ready to write them.
This doesn’t need to be in your editorial calendar per se. It can just be a regular notebook, or a Google Docs file you keep to jot down ideas that come to you.
Here’s a screenshot of my idea vault for another client I write for. The ones highlighted in yellow are already published, while the URL column lists where I got the inspiration for the topic.
Don’t Make it and Forget It
Creating your own editorial calendar is just half the battle. You still have to implement it.
Make sure you regularly open your editorial calendar every time you sit down and write a blog post. Fill it up with ideas every week, stick to the schedule, and revise it when necessary.
As a busy attorney, how do you keep organized with your content creation?
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