David’s web site diary

My First Week as a Blogger

I launched The Attorney Marketing Center web site in 1998. It was crude (I made it myself with Front Page and zero technical skills) and while many people told me they liked the site, I’m sure it was the content they appreciated.

I re-launched The Attorney Marketing Center on August 27, 2007. I choose a blog format because it makes it easy for visitors to navigate and easy for me to update. It also makes it much more likely to get search engine traffic than a static web site.

If you were familiar with the original version of this web site, you’ll notice things are still simple and content-oriented. My original site had no graphics, other than a logo I had made for $25 at www.gotlogos.com. I’m re-using it here, and it works, but I may replace it with something more dramatic. (What do you think?) [update–no longer using that logo but I have had other logs made by that company; same low price]. It’s the content that’s important to me, and, I presume, to you. Visuals are good if they contribute something to the message, and I will add them if appropriate. Pictures, audio, video–it’s incredibly easy to update a blog.

Prior to the re-launch, I had spent a couple of weeks poking around other sites looking for ideas on format, content, and options. I wanted to know what other bloggers were doing (and why), and I wanted to learn how to promote the web site once it was finished.

I had already decided on using WordPress as a platform, since I had used their free, hosted version for a private blog I had created for communicating with business partners in another venture. You can go to WordPress.com and have a blog up and running a minutes, but I wanted the flexibility of “self-hosting” the site and since I already had a web site, it made sense to simply convert it to a blog.

I had watched a free video tutorial [update: the original video is now outdated] and had my web host install WordPress on my site. Although the tutorial was very well done, I thought I needed a bit more help getting things up and running and I went looking to see if there was anything out there that could help me.

I finally settled on a software product a lot of pros use to create WordPress blogs. It allows you to create more functional, easier to use blogs. I also liked that it creates “search-engine-optimized” blogs. Free search engine traffic is better than paid search engine traffic! I downloaded the free version of the software and started playing with it. The next day, I bought the “pro” version, and I’m glad I did. I’ll post a full review in the near future, but you can read about the features of the paid version here.

Once the software was installed, here’s what I did:

  • I already had a lot of content, and I began posting it. With each page or post, the software pings the search engines and blog directories automatically, and I immediately started getting traffic to the site.
  • I set up (free) accounts with Feedburner and Google Analytics (which now owns Feedburner), to manage feed delivery and stats.
  • I found a blog I liked and used the layout of its front page as a model. (It’s a very popular, non-legal site; see if you can figure out which one it is!)
  • I started making lists of other law-related blogs.
  • I researched blog directories where I could submit the “feed” to my blog, and started doing so.
  • I looked at various advertising options. At some point, I will test these (and report my results).[Update: I’ve done a little pay-per-click advertising on google, but this is not a primary focus.]
  • I set up “re-directs” from my old web pages to their corresponding pages on the new blog.
  • I re-named the newsletter to reflect its expanded scope and set up my email service with the new name and a new welcome email.

This week, the second week, I have continued to post articles, in preparation for my Grand Re-Opening next week.

Here’s what I have planned for next week:

  1. Submit the site to search engines and additional blog directories
  2. Send out a press release, announcing the Re-Opening
  3. Email my newsletter list, telling them about the new site and re-named newsletter, inviting them to visit, comment, and register for the RSS feed.
  4. Contact other bloggers: (a) link to their blogs, and (b) invite them to come take a look at mine.
  5. Continuing posting.

I will continue to share my experiences, but I can tell you this right now: If you would like to get more clients through the Internet, a blog is a great way to do that. It takes a little effort to set it up, but once you have, an hour or two a week is all you need to keep things going.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

  • If you don’t have one, start with a domain name.
  • If you’re looking for something quick and simple, check out wordpress.com. [Update: You can get set up in a few minutes, learn about wordpress, and get comfortable with the process. However, for a more flexible solution, use wordpress.org and your own hosting.]
  • If you’re ready for something more advanced, start with a web hosting account–this one is recommended.
  • And, once again, here’s the software I used to set up this blog. [Update: There are thousands of free wordpress themes available and many other paid themes, too.]
  • If you have any questions about starting your own blog, or suggestions for new bloggers who might be reading this, please let me know by commenting below or by contacting me directly.

I’ll update this page as things progress.