Careless errors in law blog posts are the grammatical equivalent of that spot of marinara on your best white shirt — simultaneously trivial and yet inimical to success. Your mother might forgive you, but your first date won’t. Proofreading is about making the best impression you possibly can on your first, and possibly last, chance encounter with the reader.
I’ve already written high-level posts on how to organize law blog posts and how to edit blog posts for readability. This article, the last one in the series, deals with the quality control component of the editorial process: proofreading.
The American Bar Association is circulating a survey soliciting the views of law bloggers on numerous topics, including a pair on questions on the credibility of law blogs.
What makes a blog credible to you? Select all that apply.
How credible do you find blogs within a law firm’s website?
The various indicia of credibility suggested by these questions intrigued me, because they’re not factors I would have guessed would influence the credibility of a law blog. I’ll be very interested to see how experienced law bloggers answer these questions when the survey results are released, likely in December when the ABA Blawg 100 List is announced.
Here’s a fun game to play. Whenever you encounter a law firm slogan or tagline, say, “Prove it.”
Most taglines crumble in the face of this command. Decades of being subjected to commercial messaging have made us wary. Whether we know it or not, at some level, when we encounter marketing, we all say, “Prove it.” Websites that can’t respond to this constant challenge will not connect with visitors.
Too many taglines are like drive-by shootings. A quick rhetorical hit before the website speeds away on other business.
Fortunately, law firms can deliver on their tagline’s promise in a number of ways. By fleshing out the tagline’s meaning in content on “About” or “Mission” pages. By using the tagline as inspiration for blog posts. As a unifying theme for a series of case studies. Through copywriting that tells stories that make the tagline meaningful and real to prospective clients. Through visual imagery or through profiles that give the firm’s attorneys opportunity to deliver on the tagline’s promise. Or simply through the design of the website. Let me show you what I mean.
My piano teacher was a patient woman. Most weeks I’d show up at her house unprepared, plodding through the assigned pieces.
“Did you practice last week?” she’d ask. “This is very rough.”
“I did,” I lied.
There was no need for further interrogation on my practice habits. My playing spoke for itself.
Many times my teacher grew exasperated and shouldered me aside, playing through the assigned piece perfectly, not as a musical performance, but as a melodic accusation against my indolence. Other weeks we would go through the motions — her pretending to teach, and me pretending to learn — until our time together concluded.
If I sincerely wanted to learn to play the piano, she repeatedly advised, I should approach practice sessions this way: Work on the difficult passages first, play assigned scales and exercises next, then return to the assigned repertoire, again emphasizing the difficult passages; finally, finish up with fun, easier pieces from past lessons. Play slowly at first, build speed later, follow the fingering notations.
Five minutes later I was on my bike headed home, thinking, "I wish I knew the trick to getting good at piano."