LexBlog started out as a company at a timer when no one had heard of blogs. We claimed “We build blogs for lawyers?”
I envisioned that blogs would become a vehicle for lawyers to connect with people in a real and authentic fashion. A way of building a name, relationships and a book of business. Marketing, if you will.
Well, blogs stuck. Enough so that I see LexBlog as a publishing company today. A publisher that empowers and inspires independent writers – the bloggers. More merely a company selling a “content marketing solution.”
But what is publishing today? (Feel free to read this as me thinking out loud)
- Traditional mainstream magazines remain, but main steam publications have declined and those that have survived have in large part moved online, many sharing revenues with distributors such as Amazon’s Kindle or Apple.
- Trade publications such as bar publications seemed to have survived, perhaps because of legal’s slow adaption rate and some advertisers lack of creativeness in reaching their audience. No question these publications, including the ABA Journal, have taken a hit.
- Law journals and reviews filled law school libraries and were and are the bastion of articles written by law professors seeking tenure and status. They are buttressed by law school rankings based in part by publishing in these publications, which are little read.
- Proprietary books and treatises published by large publishers who have thrived on a closed model of “you give us your content for free, we’ll publish it and sell access to it (including back to you.” Done first in books and now digitally.
- Blogs now represent as much, if not more, legal insight from private legal practitioners than any other form of legal publishing. Blogs can publish on a niche, successfully reaching a viable small audience out on the “long tail,” something that traditional publishers cannot viably do. Blogs have a business model that does not require paying writers and editors, something all of the above publishers are required to do, and thus don’t need to sell advertising.
- Aggregated and curated content from self publishers. As we’ve seen with articles shared socially – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, getting content to a relevant audience can be key for circulation. A writer’s content need not be read on their site or in their magazine. Illinois Lawyer Now, CEB’s Golden State Lawyer, Wisconsin’s WisLawNow, Arizona Attorney Daily, and Sheppard Mullin’s In the Know and Coronavirus Insights have had good success using LexBlog’s Syndication Portal to publish aggregated and curated content from independent publications.
- Medium launched almost ten years ago to fan fair that it could be the premier platform for independent writers. As I wrote last week, its business models of spellings ads followed by publishing niche publications with hired writers and editors have largely failed.
- Newsletters seem to the rage these days. Substack, an online platform that provides publishing, payment, analytics, and design infrastructure to support subscription newsletters, just reported it is raising $65 million on a valuation of around $650 million. Is it a viable solution for independent writers? Hard to say as I am not sure that many newsletters will generate a subscription base to live on and I suspect Medium once had a valuation exceeding $650 million.
I am probably missing some publishing mediums, books being one I can already think of.
But I wanted to get in front of me what I see as a bit of the lay of the land in publishing and then where LexBlog fits as a publisher – especially in this day where publishing is being reinvented.
- LexBlog is nearing thirty thousand legal bloggers contributing to our body of aggregated and curated legal content. Some of the writing coming from bloggers publishing on our platform and some writing coming from legal bloggers whose content we aggregate and curate for free.
- With the the LexBlog.com site we inspire legal bloggers by showcasing their writing and highlighting the bloggers, their publications and organizations with profiles of each. Keeps the content flowing on the independent publications – blogs – which is where we believe the focus should be.
- Rather than work on getting people to “our place,” the LexBlog site, to read, we’re also working to deliver content where relevant, whether by locale, organization or subject – via software that aggregates and curates content and run by a partner. Think law school, bar association, law firms or other organizations, as mentioned above. These partners pay an annual subscription fee for the software that aggregates and curates content “fed” by LexBlog.
- For independent writers – bloggers – who need a platform for writing, we provide a SaaS publishing platform for which they pay an annual subscription. These “publishers” may be an independent lawyers, a law firm or other organizations in the legal vertical.
- Independent writers – bloggers – do not pay anything for the increased visibility they and their publishing receive by virtue of LexBlog.com and LexBlog’s partners.
- LexBlog’s revenue is generated by licensing software solutions as a service with a total focus on independent publishers – bloggers – knowing that these independent publishers have their own existing business model that warrants paying for a SaaS publishing solution. It’s business model that does not require writers and publishers to generate revenue from their content, directly, nor anyone, us or writers, to generate revenue from advertising or subscriptions.
We’re just getting started on the aggregation model by recruiting independent publishers – bloggers – to join the LexBlog community, at no cost.
By increasing the volume of contributions from these independent publishers it’s our expectation that we’ll able to both increase subscriptions of our SaaS publishing platform, via folks becoming aware of our offering, and subscriptions of our SaaS aggregation and curation solution.
One of the greatest things of working in a small entrepreneurial company is finding markets ripe for disruption and developing solutions for a new way of doing things.
Legal publishing is such a place. It will be fun to see how things play out.