Managing Online Information & Creating Inspiration

There are a fair number of lawyers who ask me how I find or discover content to write about for this blog, or my firm’s blog (which is seriously lacking). The short answer is always, “it’s tough.”

One of the difficult things about blogging is that it takes time. Lots of time. Many newbie lawyers make the mistake of going head strong for awhile, then get burned out having to discover and create content, constantly.

I find content for the blog in two, maybe three ways.

First, Google Reader. Probably 75% of the content for this blog, as well as my information about the world, current events, and progress in areas of the law comes from other blogs. I use Google Reader to manage the RSS feeds. I find that because Google Reader is easy to use, with a few clicks and swipes, I can easily add or remove RSS feeds. Some people use Outlook to store and manage their feeds, but since I only use Outlook at the office, it’s more convenient to use Google.

I also love the integration with my Android phone or tablet, since the Google Reader app allows me to read, review, and save articles for later. Subscriptions flow in and out of my Reader with ease. Gathering information is equally easy. I can pick and choose stories, or elaborate on smaller ones.

For lawyers, RSS feeds can be a bastion of information. Since the people who blog try to keep up on the “latest and greatest,” it’s even easier for you to do the same. Also, don’t worry about reading anything. Pick and choose (hopefully the other guys’ blogs) articles that sound appealing and contain pithy comments on the subject.

The second 20% of my ideas come from my Google Alerts subscriptions. Google Alerts act as you own personal, 24/7 search engine, dutifully scouring the internet for key words that become “alerts.” I send my Alerts to Google Reader, to plow through later, but you can easily subscribe with email. This is the lazy lawyer’s way to constantly monitor your web presence or another subject, without too much work.

The third part of my “what-to-blog-about” puzzle is you, the reader. About 3.99% of the ideas for my posts come from my readers. Simple questions, conversations I have with people, or even full-blown “I need to know how to do this emergencies.” I appreciate your assistance in this endeavor.

Finally, the remaining portion comes from my own experience. I guess Edison was right, there is about 1% inspiration in a work of genius. Sometimes, you just get lucky and scoop everyone.

The point is, lawyers can learn a lot from this quad-fecta of online marketing. First, let technology be your combustion engine for getting information. Since you’re probably going to need a “how to” before the next CLE, blogs and websites are a great way to get first-step primers.

Second, don’t be afraid to piggy-back on others. Essentially, we’re all in the same game, playing for the same team, and the only difference we’re providing is the medium or take. Don’t be afraid to copy (not plagiarize  someone’s idea or subject, just add your own spin or insight. Heck, the best form of flattery for anyone who really cares about their and understands the internet environment, is to become famous by being copied.

Third, it’s okay to use your own experiences, or those of people you’re in contact with, to create content. Chances are, if one person’s asked you for an answer, there are 25 more standing silently in the background. Give the information.

Finally, don’t be afraid to give away more than you’re getting. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive, but we’re talking about the law, we’re not talking thermonuclear war (unless you’re Apple, then I think you’ve misunderstood the concept). Any monkey with a keyboard (look, you’re doing it now) can find an answer to their question. The hard part is the application or finite subtleties involved. Don’t make people work for the simple answer, make them believe you can give them the subtle answer or finite resolution they’re seeking.

As always, thanks for reading.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.