Lawyer and blogger-am I crazy? Nope, just love writing and reading and learning new stuff. But here’s where it gets interesting. The overlap between the two. You might be saying, “What??? No way are they similar.” They seem to be two entirely different realms. But I’ll tell you, I’m starting to take what I’ve learned from lawyering and apply it to my blogging. I’ll let you in on these little legal tips for bloggers and see if you agree.
Most parents wear many diverse hats. Two of mine include lawyer and blogger. Often, it’s tricky trying to juggle the two. I think for a while I was approaching them as though they were polar opposites, like left brain and right brain. That got me to thinking: what if the things that make me a good lawyer can be put into practice in my blogging? Aha! Lightbulb going off!
Don’t worry, this isn’t gonna be a legal lesson or me giving legal advice because 1) that’s not how I roll; and 2) if you want me to do that, I can get paid for it!
Legal Tips for Bloggers
My lawyer brain has come up with 4 legal tips for bloggers, or what I call “B-L-O-G.”
B: Brand Your Site So You Stand Out
The starting point for creating an LLC is the name, and you can’t choose one that’s already taken. That means searching the business filings in your state for the name you’ve chosen to see if someone beat you to the punch. And interestingly enough, you can’t pick a name that’s being used as an “Inc.” and change the ending to “LLC.”
Similarly, you want your name to represent your blog and your brand. Have fun with it. Be unique! See if someone else has the name you are wanting because you don’t want any confusion there. That’s a “no bueno” for branding.
Take a look at your blog and your social media and see if they need some fine tuning. Are they all in sync? Do you take killer photos but don’t use Instagram? Figure out what you are good at and focus on those.
I jumped on the bandwagon of every new social media website as they rolled out. And I became more and more busy as I flitted from one to the other. So when Pinterest came along, I said, “I’m not doing it. I can’t do any more.” Which was a good decision for me at that moment. But when I eventually caved and tried it, I realized that it was a great resource and fun to create pins that correspond to and enhance my blog posts. And now Pinterest is the main driver to my blog! Isn’t that poetic?!
Am I where I need to be? Heck no. I have tons more to learn. My habit is to sit back and wait until I’ve mastered something before I do it. That doesn’t work with blogging or lawyering. (Heck, they don’t call it “practicing” law for nothing!) Don’t sit on the sidelines and hope that someday you’ll learn more about Pinterest. Sign up for a course like one I found on Blog Clarity called Pinning Perfect. It’s helping me up my Pinterest game, and it’s like a blogger’s version of continuing education that I’m required to do to continue practicing law.
It doesn’t have to be Pinterest. It can be Facebook or Snapchat or Youtube or whatever. But find your niche and find a way to stand out!
L: Listen to Your Inner Voice
Lawyers are notorious for not reinventing the wheel and using a memo or brief for inspiration and simply tweaking it to make it work for their clients. That’s not always a good idea because each client’s needs are different. But more important, your voice is not coming through to the court. You are losing your edge on persuading the court on your position and advocating fully for your client.
Don’t we deserve to also do that as bloggers?
Number one, taking something from another blogger is plagiarism. End of story. Don’t do it. Not just because it’s wrong but also because it’s actionable and you could get in big time trouble.
Besides, that’s not YOU.
You’ve probably heard this quote by Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” By being unique, you stand out. Sometimes a post I resisted writing turns out to be the most rewarding or gets the most comments because it resonates with people. Sharing that I have a bum thyroid was hard for me because I want to keep my health private. But I took a leap and found that being private about something may keep other from hearing your story and relating to you or what you are going through.
“To thine own self be true.”
Which raises another important point on sharing about your kids. My litmus test is would I want my mom, my neighbor, and a relative stranger to know that about my child? If no, then don’t share it.
Second rule is: would I want my kids reading it? I have a teen who is online and a tween who isn’t there yet. But what I write is archived and out there for them to see. So if it would embarrass or harm them, I opt to not say anything. What’s right for me may not be what’s right for you. You do you, I’ll do me.
O: Outline Where You Want to Go and Simply Follow Through
I got on fire about my blog, made all these improvements, and then…I stopped writing. Life got busy, and I lost momentum. Or I went to the effort of having someone review my blog an give me fabulous feedback. I took crazy good notes and did a few of the suggestions. And then, by the following week, I was sidetracked. Those ideas remained scribbles in a notebook of great ideas unimplemented.
Here’s the takeaway: get it done. Complete the task. If you say you’re going to focus on ads for your site, then do it! My problem was I identified all these areas I needed to improve on and set out to do them all. At the same time. Bad idea. That’s where realistic goal setting and making to do lists come in as your helpers. And for goodness sake, don’t let your inbox or the distractions of messages derail you from your list of action items for the day. On this point, I need to take my own advice!
Which dovetails nicely with the final letter:
G: Get Help
You must learn what you can do yourself vs. when you need to hire someone else to do it for you. Last year, I didn’t like the look of my blog, but I didn’t have the skills to transform my blog on my own. So guess what I did? I worked on what I’m good at to make some money, then used that cash to HIRE someone who could make my blog all new and pretty. If you need that, I HIGHLY recommend Carol Jones with All Mommy Wants. She is a miracle worker!
Here’s the message: You Don’t Have to Be Superwoman or Superman. Read that again.
I’m serious. Just because you could theoretically sit at your computer all day to figure out which plugins to install on your WordPress doesn’t mean you should!
Case in point: Carol made this image for my blog. I ADORE it. She nailed it, right down to the globe and paper airplane. When I first saw it, I was happier than a kid at Christmas. I would NEVER in a million years been able to do this. And I’m okay with that.
The point is: identify what you can do and what you’d be better off asking someone else to do. Even if it costs money, it’s an investment in your blog and perhaps also your sanity! Notice how this also benefits me as an attorney. I can tell potential clients that I can help them with a real estate closing or setting up an LLC and there is a value to paying me for my skills and experience. But it’s true. Sometimes the best favor you can do for yourself is get out of your own way and have someone else help you.
I’m all about getting others help if I don’t have the requisite knowledge. So in that same spirit, if you need to know more about law as it relates to blogging and social media, Sara F Hawkins has carved out an excellent niche as the go to person for law and social media. I’d recommend her in a heartbeat.
I hope this list has proven that when you B-L-O-G when you blog, good things will happen!