Recently, I broke the passenger side mirror on my inherited luxury car. As frustrating as that is, I should have known better. Seattle loves to define their parking spaces. They love to put signs that say “Electric Cars Only”, “Expecting Mother’s Only”, “Compact”, “Reserved for customers of…”, “Reserved for monthly customers”, and of course “Handicap”. I’ve learned that my full-size sedan just doesn’t belong and I’m constantly aware of its size. So, after living here for almost a year, it was about time that I ran into something. That something was my garage door. My garage should have a sign that reads, “You’re seriously going to try and park that?”. The situation was more complicated than a simple oopsie-daisy, but whatever. The point I want to make with this post is simple. We love defining our parking spaces. Sometimes we try to fit cars into spaces where the car just doesn’t belong. Other times, our car seems to fit perfectly, but in reality that spot is reserved for someone else.
I have been going through blog after blog and website after website. For a while in this process I would quickly read a blog post or two and determine the quality. Now, I scan a website looking for certain markers. Are they already on LexBlog? Is this is larger law firm? Do they have multiple authors? Do they have an email somewhere? The entire time I am looking at the quality and rhetoric of the design. At this point, I can tell the difference between Squarespace, Justia, Wix, and LexBlog designs. These designs offer a nice little space for content to park. Just by the design, most of the time, I can determine the quality of a blog before I even start reading. It’s like looking at a compact parking sign and guessing that a compact car will park there.
I have seen a multitude of unnamed author posts, all with the same font, color schemes, no date, SEO scripted, and ends with “If you or a loved one needs (fill in type of law) then call (Law firm) for your Free Consultation and one of our expert attorneys will assist you.. Blah.. blah”. Side note, “Free Consultation” is a buzz term that most people have become wise to the real meaning. I digress. My point is that these posts were most likely written by someone other than an attorney to drive some form of traffic. These types of posts will almost certainly have the exact same design. In fact, last week I found exactly that. I found two websites by two different lawyers in the exact same design, same homepage image, and the same style of blog posts. I have considered emailing each of them to let them know they have a doppelganger. It’s like seeing two identical pickups with the same gun rack and camo cover at Cabela’s. No one is surprised to see them and no one cares to give them more attention than they deserve.
The process continues. I filter through the websites and have been holding a list off to the side of bloggers I intend to email. I don’t waste my time reading blogs that I can’t email and in return, the last hour of my day is stacked with great reads. If a pulled website turns out to be terrible, I throw it back. Otherwise, I email the ones I have. I enjoy it.
Every so often I get a surprise. I get a surprise so shocking, I feel that I need to email the blogger right there on the spot. Like seeing a Lamborghini and wanting to take your picture with it. I’m not that kind of guy by the way. However, when I come across a blog of that quality and calibre that I feel compelled to let them know, I feel genuine excitement. I came across a blog exactly like that last week. A DUI attorney in Arizona posted in December about the death of a pregnant woman and the pictures her widower took of her. The blogger was upset and rightly so, but the post added one thing that many posts seem to forget: humanity. The attorney, also known as the blogger, became real. Their content fit into the parking spot reserved for quality blogs even though their website used some parking spot reserved for terrible blogging.
I have felt exceedingly lucky since I read that post. That’s what good writing does, it moves the reader. Sometimes it moves the reader to feel, think, or act, but in any case, there is an effect on the reader. I feel lucky that it was only my mirror and not a life.
Before I publish this post I wanted to make one last point for the bloggers out there. Don’t park your content in a reserved space. Your great blog deserves to be on a great design. You might have to park it a way away from the front door, but trust me, more people will notice the Ferrari sitting out by itself than Geo at the front.