[Note: this month’s guest post by attorney and writer Reba Kennedy focuses on an important topic for anyone using written work to market expertise and professional service online: namely, how consistently to find good topics to write about…]
Two big questions I’m asked repeatedly: how to find the time to write a blog (that’s another topic, for another day) and how to find topics for blog posts. Here are five tips for finding inspiration for consistent blog post and article writing:
1. Consider your Blog’s Theme – and Write Consistently Within It
Not placing boundaries on your blog writing not only leads to an overwhelming feeling for the blog writer, but a confused blog reader. Decide the topics upon which you will write, and stick to them. These topics should be subcategories of an overall subject that comprises your blog’s theme.
For law firms, there are certain legal practice areas that provide the firm’s theme: law firm blogs (blawgs) should parallel the areas within which the firm’s attorneys practice.
These practice areas will inform your posts’ content. They can also be phrases within any search terms (Google, Bing, Twitter) you use when researching for new blog post topics.
2. Check Trending News Stories
One of the web’s great advantages is its ability to provide up to-the-minute coverage of global events, as they happen. Informative blog posts can take breaking news stories and provide interesting content for readers by providing legal analysis or personal opinion.
Don’t cut and paste from these articles – that’s illegal (unless you pay them for the privilege). Link to them as sources, and provide your own take on what is happening.
For example, will pending legislation have a big impact upon your readers? Write about it; explain it to them. Provide links so readers can read the bill for themselves.
Another source for hot post topics is JD Supra’s Trends Report, which targets eleven specific legal practice areas (immigration, business law, bankruptcy, real estate, personal law, etc.). JD Supra Pro contributors receive a monthly digest filled with popular article topics based upon JD Supra’s own research and analytics. Suggested topics are also provided.
3. Check Top Search Engine Results
Another quick way to find something on which to write is to search the web for interesting sites via the search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo!. Using a basic search term combined with your location (“city, state”) should provide you not only with interesting web sites but as the search engines evolve (Google’s already here), links to blog posts or tweets that often provide lots of inspiration.
For example, search for “Tylenol recall” combined with “dallas, texas” and Google will give you not only news stories on the October 2010 voluntary recall of musty-smelling Tylenol by Johnson & Johnson, but also links to several mommy blogs where parents are voicing concern over yet another recall that impacts their families. How to use this?
Plaintiffs’ attorneys can write about aspects of the recall from a products liability perspective; family attorneys can write about the same subject matter from an entirely different parental responsibility viewpoint. Other links that can be included within these posts are those providing background information from government sites (e.g., the FDA) and those of non-profit or educational organizations working in this area.
4. Read What Others Are Writing About – But Don’t Duplicate Their Work
One more source of inspiration is to read other blogs with compatible themes, discovering the subject matter of their recent posts. It’s good to see what the hot topics are, and it’s wise to know what readers are finding interesting that keeps the top blogs generating that high traffic – but remember that it’s not proper to duplicate the content you find here.
Using Google Blog Search or Technorati search to find bloggers who are writing about the same topics as you. If you find an interesting post giving the Republican perspective, and you want to write about the Democratic position – go for it. If you find a great post that criticizes a reference book you find invaluable, feel free to post a glowing book review on your blog. Does the law of the blogger’s state differ radically from your state legislation? Discuss the distinctions in a post or two.
5. Monitor Twitter for Tweets and Trends
Twitter is building its reputation as a news source on the web, and with good reason. More and more, Twitter is not only a source of multiple tweets on the same topic, creating Twitter Trends, it is also a repository for news releases by any number of corporations and concerns.
Most large organizations will tweet their latest news release. For example, many law firms will tweet congratulations to their latest round of SuperLawyers™. It’s not going to trend on Twitter, but it is a bit of news that may be helpful to you in writing blog content.
What could this suggest to a blawg writer? Expand on the idea of tweeting congrats to a SuperLawyer recipient with a blog post that gives details on a firm attorney’s background and the basis for her latest accomplishment (it need not be recognition as a SuperLawyer). Include a quote from the lawyer and a link to the website’s bio. This laudatory type of post could be scheduled as a regular occurrence on the law firm blog.
Find Twitter Trends by accessing the Twitter site for either national or local trends or checking TweetStats for the latest. Research interesting tweets by searching Twitter for topics pertaining to your blog; of particular help here is What the Hashtag? – a site that organizes current hashtags, as well as reports on the most popular hashtags of the moment.
Finally, look for services that monitor trends for you. For example, JD Supra has a Twitter feed that announces JD Supra’s daily trending and hot topics in legal areas; follow it on Twitter at @JDSupraBuzz.
Reba Kennedy is an AV-preeminent™ rated 20+ year attorney and 5+
year professional writer whose work regularly appears on JD Supra,
published within her own profile and as ghostwritten or edited
publications for law firms across the country. For more information,
check out Reba’s JD Supra profile or website.