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Half of Blawgs Fail in First Year

Launch a legal blog today and there is a pretty good chance you will not still be blogging a year from now -- maybe not even four months from now. That is the conclusion -- admittedly unscientific -- arrived at by Mark Herrmann at the blog Drug and Device Law after considering the life expectancy of a newborn legal blog.

Herrmann's curiosity was fueled by the discovery that the law-professor authors of two blogs, Product Liability Prof Blog and the Civil Procedure Prof Blog, had decided to call it quits (although the blogs will continue assuming the Law Professor Blogs network succeeds in recruiting new authors).

In his own blog turf of drug and device law, Herrmann noted two recent examples of blogs that, in short order, made their debuts, attracted some interest and then closed up shop. One, Medical Devices: Law, Trends, and Oddities Blog, launched in December 2007 and went silent in March 2008 -- a lifespan of four months. Another, Consumer Class Actions and Mass Torts Blog, started in January 2009 and was gone by April -- again, a lifespan of four months.

Herrmann next looked at some of the blogs launched by lexBlog, a company that designs and hosts blogs for law firms. Herrmann randomly selected six blogs off the blogroll of lexBlog founder Kevin O'Keefe's blog and found three to which he administered last rites. Again, Herrmann emphasizes that his review can hardly be considered empirical research, but he nevertheless reaches a conclusion about the life expectancy of a legal blog:

Legal blogs are like small businesses: Half of 'em fail in the first year, and 90 percent of 'em fail in the next five.

Maybe that's a little precise, given that we didn't actually do any empirical analysis. But you get our drift. Legal blogs don't last.

They require a ton of work; they gather readership only slowly over time; and they're not the gold mine of new business that blogolaters say they are.

Unscientific though Herrmann's research may be, it rings true. I receive a number of e-mails announcing new legal blogs with great fanfare. Many times, by the time I've dug far enough through my inbox to reach one of these announcements, the blog is already dormant. I have seen blogs publish only their introductory post and then never another.

As Herrmann says, blogs require work. They do not necessarily require a "ton of work," as he says. But they require a consistent commitment of time, something lawyers never seem to have enough of as it is. Launching a blog is easy. It is the follow-through that is tough. My advice has always been to give it a test run before announcing the blog to the world. Try posting for a month or even two. If it seems like something you can stick with, then roll out the trumpets and fanfare.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 24, 2009 at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)


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