- Focus on a specific niche
- Choose a space that’s not crowded
- Blog on a consistent schedule
- Stay the course even when you don’t want to
- Focus on the quality of people following you–not the number
How helpful was that? If you’re like me, not so much. I need a breathing benchmark wrapped in a story.
R. David Donoghue: A Lawyer’s Lawyer.
Today, Donoghue is a patent trial attorney and partner with Holland & Knight’s IP Group in Chicago. He specializes in intellectual disputes focusing on patent litigation. Donoghue is a trusted advocate to a wide range of retail and supply chain clients. He is also authors two blogs, Retail Patent Litigation and Chicago IP Litigation Blog.
My wife, who is also a patent litigator, said that I should write a blog. At the time, I was skeptical. As a fairly young attorney, I believed that I wasn’t seasoned enough to be recognized as an expert. Then, I started researching and discovered that one of the most popular legal blogs at the time was written by a smart, second-year associate.
And so, his journey began.
Tight Focus. Passion.
Donoghue instinctively knew he needed a narrow focus for his blog; to hone in on a topic that no one else was addressing–or addressing well.
I knew that I couldn’t be a generalist; that no one was going to come to me for news he or she could get in the New York Times. I wanted to create the kind of content that readers couldn’t get anywhere else.
So, focus on a specific area; one that isn’t overcrowded. Better yet, underserved. In Donoghue words, “Above all, choose something unique that you care about.”
Why? Blogging requires steady devotion. You guarantee staying power when your blogging reflects your deep passions. Authoring engaging posts just becomes easier.
Professional Look. Strategy. Expertise.
He also knew that there was more to a successful blog than content alone.
I didn’t know coding or web design, and I didn’t want to put a blog out there that looked second rate. I wanted my blog to look as professional as the way I get dressed for work in the morning. I also needed advice on how to get the most value out of this tool, so I could do it right, from the start.
Donoghue wanted a partner with a turnkey solution to help him launch Chicago IP Litigation Blog. At the time, hiring someone was a reach, “…because I was paying for the service out of my own pocket, I’m thankful I did it. My blog is one of the two things I did early on that launched my career.”
…I would argue that managed WordPress (blog) hosting is the only way to go, unless you plan to keep a close eye on the WordPress security scene and actively manage your own site. —Larry Seltzer (technology expert and ZDNet contributing editor)
Traction. Recognition. Professional Development.
Donoghue vividly remembers the first time he knew Chicago IP Litigation Blog was “working.”
About six months into it, I went back to Chicago from Detroit; walked into an IP-related legal function and people knew me. This was a big deal–to have this kind of recognition as a relatively young lawyer in a big city. Because of my blog, I stood out.
Donoghue posts blogs three times a week for Chicago IP Litigation Blog–and has his process down to a science. Every two weeks, his admin pulls a full list of decisions, runs a conflict check and then prints out a stack. He grabs a handful of these on his way to the airport; studies them and then writes his blog posts on the plane.
The process of writing the blog has given him almost as much of a competitive advantage as the blog itself.
I’m deeply knowledgeable about local patent rules because I’ve studied them and written about them. Today, I can go to a client and say, “I’ve read every IP decision the judge who’s hearing your case has written for the past six years,” and send them a link to prove it. The fact that I have more than anecdotal knowledge gives me an edge as an attorney.
Accolades. Intrinsic Reward.
He’s also earned accolades as a writer, winning the Chicago Bar Association’s prestigious Herman Kogan Media Award in 2010 in the online category. The Kogan Award honors exemplary journalism and legal affairs reporting.
Other winners were from The Chicago Reporter and Chicago’s ABC news affiliate, so there were two sets of journalist and one blogger. It was a great honor and a very humbling experience.
Quality Clients. Real Results. ROI.
By anyone’s standards, Donoghue’s blogging approach is wildly successful. He has gained significant business from Chicago IP Litigation Blog. But here’s the gut check: no matter how good you are, business doesn’t start pouring in overnight. In the first couple years Donoghue saw one or two business opportunities from the blog.
After two or three years, you’ll start growing your business, and will continue the trajectory from there. That’s how it worked for me.
It’s not about reaching the greatest number of readers, but the right readers.
I know a lot of court employees who read my blog, which is big. I’m also well-read by law clerks and a lot of other practitioners. I posted a blog called Twenty-five things you should know about practicing in the Northern District of Chicago that’s become required reading for IP associates in other firms.
And he definitely has reached the right type of clients.
If you look at the value of business generated from clients whose initial contact came from the blog – including repeat business — that number is in the seven figures…
“Speaking of audiences,” warns Julie Neidlinger, a professional writer and blogger, “Do you know who your audience is? Don’t start blogging until you do, because your audience isn’t any and everyone. You can’t possibly know what to say if you don’t know who you’re saying it to. You can’t possibly know how to say something if you don’t know what your audience requires or wants.”
Donoghue is quick to point out that that success didn’t come easy. “You have to you have to be willing to make a long-term commitment,” he says. “There will be days, maybe months, that you don’t want to do it–but to get the results you want, you have to. Do some soul searching to make sure that you’re ready to make the commitment before you begin. There are few things worse than a dead blog.”
- Blogging since: 2006
- Blog posts: three times a week.
- Blogging results: seven-figure business growth.
- Blog sites: Retail Patent Litigation and Chicago IP Litigation Blog
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience, Dave.
Who’s helping you blog in the most effective way? How are you getting that professional look necessary for your blog to project the image you want? Who’s handling the maintenance, troubleshooting and security to ensure your blog stays up and available to readers? Do you have a partner that is amplifying your reach and making certain your blog stays at the forefront of technology?