$20,000 of billable time used to maintain a blog

Edwardpoll_1My esteemed colleague Ed Poll of Venice, CA, author of the LawBiz Blog, calculated what may be the true cost of a lawyer writing a blog: $20K a year in time.  Here's his anaylsis from his June 2006 monthly Ezine, reprinted with permission:

Blogging Revisited - A Note of Caution on the Tail Wagging the Dog

"Regular readers know that I am a dedicated blogger, and that blogging has been a highly effective marketing tool for the services I provide. The premise of effective blogging is easily stated: Target your market, be specific in your blog postings, be frequent and your market will learn what your value to them can be and why they need you and your services.

"It's easy, however, to get enamored of blogging's potential and to ignore the practical side of what a blog should do. The real key to marketing is the creation of one-on-one personal relationships in order to increase business. Blogs are best used in a marketing sense when they support the creation of these relationships. If your target audience is more the consumer type, and typically not so sophisticated that they are searching the web on a regular basis, then blogging is not so meaningful to them and may not be a worthwhile marketing strategy for you. Speaking to a local civic group may bring you more potential clients than blogging on the worldwide web.

"Making frequent posts and answering dozens, or hundreds, of email comments, can take time. As I observed in this newsletter a year ago, a minimal amount of necessary time might be 2 hours per work week. If we assume 50 work weeks per year for ease of calculation, and 2 hours per week (a rather low number once you get started) and $200 per hour billable value for an attorney (most lawyers charge more today), the calculation is $20,000 of billable time used to maintain a blog.

"The logical way to control such a major expense is hire someone to manage the physical aspects of maintaining your blog. The cost is far less than the time spent updating (no matter how easy with TypePad or other tools), which will take you away from other marketing activities or even from your practice. Remember, however, that delegating the work does not mean abdicating the responsibility. To be effective, posts must be your personal and frequent input.

"Blogging is certainly not "easy" in the sense that it takes commitment to be consistent and meaningful in the posting. I suspect it's a commitment worth making for many lawyers, but a commitment nevertheless, as is any marketing effort. Measuring the return on investment - ROI - of blogging is difficult. But never forget that there should be a return in order to make your blog work for you, and not the other way around."

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