How to Start An Attorney Blog In 4 Easy Steps
Chris Dreyer | August 07, 2014
Step #1 Claim Your Attorney Domain
Your domain is important because it conveys to your audience what you’re all about and it’s helpful for branding. A domain name should reflect either what your brand is or what it is that you do. For most attorneys this could be a practice area or the name of your firm/private practice.
Domain names are one of those things that can be really cheap or they can be expensive depending on if someone owns the rights to the domain already. If the one you want isn’t claimed you’re in luck. If it is, you might be in for some negotiating.
1. Visit BlueHost.com and click on the big green “Get Started Now” button.
2. Enter your desired domain name in the box provided. Make sure you select the TLD (top level domain like .com or .net, etc) that you want. Note if a .com is taken you can try a .org or a .net.
3. Complete the process by entering valid account and payment information. Save this information somewhere you will remember it because it becomes important later on. You may also need to get other data from your host at a later time.
Step #2 Choose Your Firm
After you got out of law school you might have had the challenge of deciding where you wanted to start your legal career. When you start a blog, you have the similar task of picking a hosting account. Even though this is something you and your visitors won’t see (at least a lot), it’s an important decision.
You have to choose a host that supports your goals for your website and how you want to build it. For example if you go with a self-hosted WordPress solution (which is what we go over in this post), you’ll have to find (or make sure your current) host that supports that installation.
• Look for something with database support
• Look for a host that supports PHP
• Don’t go with something not well-known
BlueHost is a good solution (full disclosure I am a Bluehost affiliate) but I wouldn’t associate myself with them if I didn’t think they had a good service. There are also a variety of other hosts out there so just make sure you speak with them (or someone knowledgeable about websites) about your goals.
Hosting is pretty inexpensive. If you go with Bluehost, use the following steps to sign up:
Check to see if your domain name is available. Remember to check for .net or .org versions if your .com isn’t available. If you already have a domain name you want to use, you can enter it here as well.
Assuming your domain name is available (or you already own one), you’ll see the screen below asking for contact information.
Next you’ll pick our your package information. For the most part it probably isn’t necessary to use the default services checked but feel free to do your own research on how they might be helpful for you.
Lastly you’ll enter your billing info and click next. Then you’re ready to move on to the next phases of building your blog.
Step #3 Build Your Case
If you’ve put together a legal case, making a self-hosted WordPress site should be a no-brainer. You can accomplish this right from within most hosting provider’s interfaces. For this example we’ll use Bluehost’s interface. Using this process you don’t need any programming knowledge and it can be accomplished in an evening.
1. Start by logging into your account (Note that you’ll have to configure your domain name first before you log on).
2. Once in your control panel for your hosting account, you should see something that looks like the screenshot below. If you’re using Blue Host, this is exactly what you should be seeing. Click on the WordPress icon.
3. You should see a screen like the one below. At this point you can choose from a new installation or important an existing installation (from another domain that you may have WordPress installed on). We’ll assume you’re doing a new installation.
4. You’ll then be asked to check the domain you want to install WordPress on along with the directory you would like it on. Here you have to be careful. If you already have an existing website, you’ll want to install WordPress in a sub-directory. Type the word blog into the text box provided and Blue Host will create that directory for you. If you are installing a WordPress site as your main site, you can leave the box empty.
5. On the last screen you’ll be asked to enter your blog title, an admin user name, password and email. Be sure to write these down! You should also check the box that says “create a database automatically”. Also check that you agree to the terms of service and then click “Install Now”.
Step #4 Pick Your Practice Area
Now that you’ve got the foundation of your blog in place, it’s time to make it unique to you and your firm. One of the greatest things about WordPress is that it’s flexible. If you want to get under the hood and manipulate things you can. If you don’t want to touch anything code-related but you want to look like a superstar web designer, you can with WordPress.
Form should follow function on your blog. Most blogs have a pretty obvious purpose – to showcase your written content. We’ll assume that is one of your primary goals but maybe you also want to do other things with your blog. Give consideration to what you want your blog to do for your practice and then think of design elements that could help accomplish those goals.
For example maybe you want visitors to read your content, see you as an authority and eventually contact you for a consultation. Having a call to action at the end of blog posts or in the side-bar of the blog is a good way to accomplish that.
Maybe more of your content is video-based as opposed to text-based. There are themes available that are made for sharing more video content than anything else.
Also make sure to add the following things to your blog to promote social engagement and readership
• An RSS subscription feed
• Links to your social accounts
• A place for archived posts
• Some type of commenting plugin
Attorney Specific Themes
There is no shortage of attorney-specific WordPress themes out on the web. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are looking for a theme.
• Read reviews on themes before you download. There’s nothing worse than downloading something only to find out it’s buggy or no longer supported by the author.
• Make sure it works with your version of WordPress. Theme authors don’t always make updated versions of themes. WordPress gets updated regularly. Make sure whatever you are about to buy is compatible.
• Know what you are getting. Theme authors often dress up their themes with other plugins that may not be included. So you might see an example that looks really great but not all of the functionality may come with the theme.
Setting up an attorney blog is pretty simple using platforms like WordPress and BlueHost. A blog is a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your practice area, drive in new traffic and dominate more places in the SERPs.