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My daughter dreams of being 3 things when she grows up:
She’s 51% tomboy so Spider-Man doesn't surprise me. To get the Spider-Man-thing rolling, I climbed into my attic, choked on the dust, and found a yellowing box stuffed with comic books. I dug out Marvel Team-Up / Issue #134 (featuring Spider-Man), thinking it’d make a good bed time story (yeah, I’m that dad).
My daughter flipped through the comic book's colorful pages and said, “This smells weird. It smells like the ‘80s.” (no joke). Not sure how a 7-year-old knows the odor of the ‘80s, nor can I attest to that particular smell (maybe parachute pants or the hair sprayed locks of Poison and Whitesnake). Anyways, the story – which was published in October of 1983 - put her to sleep after about 10 pages.
An exciting Spider-Man story, it isn't, but legal bloggers can learn a couple lessons from Issue #134.
#1. Don't Educate an ‘80s Audience
Towards the end of Issue #134, there's this Kool Aid© ad:
Thirty years ago, the “Kool-Aid Man™ Video Game” (with its cutting edge graphics (“Ohh Yeah!!”)) could've been mine for “FREE!” ... well, sort of (125 Kool Aid© Proof-of-Purchase Points or 30 Kool Aid© Proof-of-Purchase Points and $10.00). To the readers of 1983, the “Kool-Aid Man™ Video Game” probably looked like today’s “Call of Duty” or “Mario Kart 8.” But to the readers of 2015, it looks like 1983.
Are You Blogging Like It’s 1983?
You are if you’re only blogging about basic legal questions - topics like “How to hire a lawyer” or “How to find a good attorney.” In 1983, these “how-tos” were important to the uninformed, but in 2015, everyone’s informed. The “how-tos” have now been written to death, and they’re easily answered with a simple internet search. Go ahead and Google “How to hire a lawyer.” The results - approximately 89,400,000 hits (329,000 with quotation marks).
Basic legal questions look a lot like the “Kool-Aid Man™ Video Game.“ In 1983, the Kool-Aid Man’s™ graphics might’ve blow you away, but compared to today’s games, those graphics resemble cave paintings. Likewise, you’re cave painting if you're only blogging about legal basics. The basics don’t add much to the conversation, and there’s a 2nd setback too: your peers will ignore you. To them, Legal 101 isn’t worth sharing with their social media audiences.
If you’re answering basic questions, be sure to buttress those questions with your deeper, thought leadership. Or, in blogging about legal basics, bring something new to the table, something novel and creative. Take for instance the collision between blogging and the law. Plenty’s been written on the subject, but attorney Ruth Carter voices something novel by writing specifically to daddy bloggers.
#2. Think “Super-Attorney,” But Beware “Me! Me! Me!”
The rules of comic book reading aren't self-evident to 7-year-olds. To understand hero banter, they have to understand the difference between thought bubbles and speech balloons.
Don't Overkill with Your Thought Bubbles
Be confident in thinking you’re a “super-attorney,” but when those thought bubbles start dominating your speech balloons, it’s time to rethink your blog. For example, a little of this goes a long way:
If you’ve got too much, you’re constructing a legal billboard, not writing a legal blog. Sure, tooting your own horn is human nature, but you have to ask yourself: “How does it help my readers? My followers? My clients?” Highlighting your "wins" is fine but better to highlight them on your law firm website than on your legal blog.
Bury Your Inner Batman & Blog Your Inner Robin
Corny as it sounds, make your clients the superheroes, with you in the background as sidekick. As with any good sidekick, you’re blogging to better your readers and your clients. Take employment attorney Jon Hyman for example. The guy’s a super blogger, and he rarely (if ever) talks about his triumphs. Instead, he digs deep into employment law and always in an interesting and creative way. Here’s one of his most recent posts: “Should it matter if your employee thinks hand scanners are tools of Satan?”
Another super blogger – attorney Steve Young, who blogs at “Young on Trials.” In his blog, “Would you have gone to jail for a client?”, Steve writes about himself but not to toot his own horn. It’s to make this powerful point – “Do what is right, let the consequences follow.”