Happy national donuts day! On a day dedicated to donuts, it seems fitting to write my first post in a blog about donuts. To stick with the donut theme, I’ll be dedicating this post to a favorite GIF emoji on the LexBlog team: Donut Parrot.

The Donut Parrot!

When we have a moment to take a break from our ticket queues, many of us at LexBlog like to virtually congregate in our team chat feeds to share jokes, interesting articles, solve problems and of course – send lots of emojis! Since we’ve added Slack as our team chat app, we’ve accumulated a sizable collection of GIF based custom slack emojis. As a company of donut enthusiasts, the donut parrot is one our most frequented emoji choices. Along with donut parrot, a few other parrot emojis have been pretty popular on our slack channels as well.

 

 Meet fiesta parrot.

 

And my favorite, coffee parrot!

 

Apparently we’re not the only ones who appreciate parrot based GIF emojis. Brittany Levine Beckman shared a story in Mashable about how the Cult of the Party Parrot GIFs have taken the internet and tech company Slack channels by storm.

There’s something hypnotizing about the quirky emoji that’s gotten humans to spread his gospel far and wide. He can be found on Slack, Reddit, t-shirts, in programming terminals, in an Android mobile game, and iMessage (there’s an app). You can even turn all the images you see online into party parrots with a Chrome extension – although it’s not a good look.

 

As silly as it may seem to write a post about GIFs and emojis, it’s undeniable that sharing a good GIF can add some humor to someones day and lighten the mood. I’ve definitely appreciated seeing the latest additions to the LexBlog GIF collection. In the spirt of Donut Parrot, have a happy Friday and donut day. Go treat yourself to a good maple bar, or a funny new GIF!

This is the format of an ideal blog post. The most important part of writing an ideal blog post is to, you know, actually write it. Your thoughts are brilliant, I’m sure, but when you keep them within your head you miss out on the discussions that your ideas could generate, that could subsequently help shape your own thoughts further.

The topic can be anything – if you look at our Top 10 in Law Blogs posts you’ll see the subject matter ranges from cryptocurrency regulation to a monkey selfie lawsuit. Sometimes, if you’re having trouble narrowing down a focus, or want to generate more attention with your post, it can help to write about something current in the news.

Well-written blogs are clear, concise, and don’t take too long to get to the point. The cool thing about blog posts is that they can be as long as you want them to be, or as short as you want them to be; an amuse-bouche of insight, or an entree analysis . If your blog is on the LexBlog network, and you want it to be on the front page, it may be good to write at least 250 words for your posts. We’ll put shorter posts on the front page, too though, especially if they’re covering breaking news.

Other tips for creating an ideal blog post:

  • If you’re having trouble getting all your ideas to flow, go ahead and use some bullet points!
  • Always include some sort of title image – it will show up when you share your post on social media, and a number of social media studies have shown that you get better engagement when you include images.
  • Read over your draft before you publish – typos, or other minor grammatical errors take away from your good writing and ideas.

Last but not least, the biggest key to writing good blog posts? Be consistent. Writing blog posts, much like anything else, can become habitual, but at the beginning you’re going to need to make a concentrated effort to push yourself to write with regularity. That consistency is worth it, though, because it’s key in building up your blog and your personal brand.

Yesterday Michigan State University College of Law hosted “Building a Better Lawyer: Design Thinking, Training, and Study.” It was a workshop put on by MSU Law professor Dan Linna and his Legal RnD team, and co-led by Margaret Hagan, the founder of the Legal Design Lab at Stanford Law School. Margaret and Dan are two of the top figures within legal tech innovation, and they spent hours leading large and small group discussions about facilitating innovation, and how to build better lawyers. Lansing, Michigan is 2,289 miles away from Seattle but, thanks to Stephen Embry’s phenomenal post about the workshop, I, too, was able to learn from Margaret and Dan’s expertise.

The Oxford Dictionary defines citizen journalism quite simply as “The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the internet.” I prefer NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen’s take on the definition:

When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism.

The internet is an indelible part of our lives today and, though that may at times be problematic, it has also thrown open the doors and allowed us to access information at an unprecedented rate. Through blogging and social media anyone with an internet connection can become a journalist; sometimes it’s silly, like the people on Instagram who report on their meals by sharing pictures of their food, other times it’s tragically important, like the interviews that student journalist David Hogg conducted with his classmates during the Parkland shooting.

LexBlog has always run on citizen journalism, and it’s become even more important as we’ve opened our own doors and begun pushing towards our goal of becoming the world’s largest legal news network. We want to hear from you, because your voice matters. We want to read about your thoughts on proposed legislation changes, workshops or learning events you’ve attended, and anything and everything in between (okay, we don’t really need to hear about what you ate for lunch). As Jared Sulzdorf, our Director of Project Development, pointed out at our all-hands meeting, “The law is all about opinions, and writing helps you shape your opinions.”

When people ask me what they should do to get started on blogging, I rarely talk technology or even blogging. While those are important elements of blogging, they are next steps. Things you do after you decide you want to blog and have found your tribe and your voice.

Ask yourself this, when you decide you want to start blogging. Who am I blogging for? If your answer is everyone, you are not going to be happy. Nor is anything you are about to read going to help you.

When you are right you are looking for an audience. I want you to go online and find a person that embodies that audience for you. This should be a person, not a brand or a company. At the end of this little exercise, you should have just one name.

Now go online and learn more about that person. Look for the following things:

  • Are they reachable online?
  • Do they write online?
  • Do they use social media?
  • Do they follow other people?

If the answer to the majority of the above questions is NO. Forget that person for now and find another person until the majority of these criteria are going to be met.

This person should be your goal.

You will follow them, connect with them and ultimately get them to follow you. If you fail on that front, don’t worry, what you pick up in the meantime in terms of knowledge and other people to connect with, will make it worthwhile.

So what do you need to get started.

  • The person from above
  • An email account
  • An RSS reader like Feedly
  • A Twitter account
  • A Facebook account
  • A LinkedIn account

Check out where this person writes. Do they have a newsletter you can subscribe to? If so, sign up. If they have RSS on their blog, subscribe to it.

Now head over to social media and follow them on Twitter first. It is the easiest entry point. Do not fill your Twitter account with noise. Try and make it a useful tool. Not a reflection of who you are, but who you would like to become.

After you have checked Twitter, visit Facebook. Some people use their Facebook accounts more casually than others. See what they have publicly available. If it is not much, odds are they are using it for just family and friends. If that is the case, move on for now. You can always revisit them later and reconnect.

Facebook is a powerful tool. People use it differently than both Twitter and LinkedIn, but people are also a lot fussier about their Facebook accounts. So be thoughtful. Don’t rush to friend somewhere there unless they are appear to be very open with their friending policy.

With LinkedIn, connect with them, but make sure you tell them why. You are not using a shotgun approach here. Be thoughtful in a note with your connection request.

Alright now comes the fun part. Start to learn from what you just did. Read their work. See who they share with. Are those also people you would be interested in following? If so, repeat the above process.

Now start liking and sharing their work. Where possible make thoughtful comments.

After establishing a rapport with a person, they will most likely follow you back. If not keep at it and keep looking for people who meet the same criteria of the first person you followed and repeat the process. Eventually your tribe will begin to grow.

Congratulations! Without even typing a single post, you have taken your first step towards ensuring that when you do start blogging, you will reach the people that matter to you.

But before you do that, you should probably consider finding your voice. I will write about that in my next post.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the net neutrality regulations created during the Obama administration. These regulations were put in place primarily to stop internet service providers (ISPs) from engaging in discriminatory practices against online services/companies (a common example is Comcast manipulating the availability of Netflix – slowing it down – for its customers until Netflix paid the ISP for better speeds). They also had the delightful side-effect of ensuring that the United States would not see the cable-TVization of the internet, similar to what you see in countries like Portugal who have no net neutrality rules:

This move from treating the internet like a utility (like water or power) that all American citizens can access without the typical market concerns, to a commodity is concerning for consumers and businesses alike. When the vote was finalized a few weeks ago, one of LexBlog’s internal Slack channels came alive as we tried to parse through what this could mean for publishers and small businesses.

Continue Reading What Does Net Neutrality Mean for Digital Publications?

Nowadays marketing professionals have countless tools to communicate with their audience. Everything from YouTube videos to podcasts to Facebook Live interviews and the list keeps growing. The ability to leverage this content into written form is quite valuable but historically has been a painfully slow and expensive process.

First, you send your files in. Then, you wait for a quote. After approving the price, you wait. Again. And after a few more days of waiting, your transcription finally arrives. This timeline is not always compatible with the need to share information quickly after an event. I’ve been waiting for a better solution.

Today, I heard about Temi. Temi claimed to take a high quality, low background noise audio files and transcribe them for you in less than 5 minutes… for $.10/minute. I couldn’t believe it. Any other tool I explored online was at least 10x the price of Temi and 144x slower on the turnaround. But they offered a free trial, so I gave it a spin.

And… wow!

In less than 2 minutes my 4-minute long audio clip was delivered to me with accuracy that was spot on. In the case that it wasn’t, they offer a simple tool to clean up any issues before exporting your files. Once again, technology is helping us to achieve things we once thought were not possible. Sure, this is a rather small achievement in the grand scheme of things. But to me, it makes all the difference in the world.

If you host a great event but fail to post about it on social media, did the event actually happen?

Our CEO, Kevin, has written at-length about the importance of a social media presence for bloggers, specifically when it comes to Twitter.

Without a Twitter handle the person cannot see the recognition I gave them nor the recognition others gave them by retweeting or favoriting my tweet. With a Twitter account, the subject receives notice of the shoutout via an email and a Twitter notification.

The same is true when it comes to conferences and other events. You’ve expended time and financial resources to secure good speakers, but when you fail to post about the event on social media, you fail to fully capitalize on your investment.

Clio does a spectacular job with this, with their annual Clio Cloud Conference. They have a hashtag that they use on all posts that pertain to the event, and share quotes, pictures, and videos throughout the duration of the conference. Attendees join in, using that hashtag to talk about everything from an inspirational keynote speaker to the colorful socks they’re sporting that day. Through social media Clio is able to create a huge buzz around the conference- #ClioCloud9, their hashtag, was even trending on Twitter for the two days of the event this year!

But Clio’s a huge company, you may be thinking to yourself, there’s no way we could make things happen on that scale. But you don’t need to have a large company, world-renowned speakers, or hundreds of attendees to successfully share your event on social media. Here are a few easy-to-implement tips, regardless of the size of your event:

  • Create a hashtag, and be sure to use it whenever you post about the event. Attendees will see it, and use it in their posts too.
  • Post on social media throughout the event. This could be quotes from various speakers, a picture of the crowd at a panel, an interview with a high-profile attendee, etc. Tag them in the posts, and they’re likely to share it as well.
  • If possible, record your keynote speakers, and stream their speeches via Facebook Live. This allows others, who were unable to attend your event, to hear what your speaker has to say and increases the reach of your event.

These are simple steps, but social media coverage goes a long way towards expanding the reach of your event, and your organization itself.