A Summing Up of Eight Years’ of Blogging
My serious blogging began March 1, 2009. I had posted an article a year before, and then I rested.
In searching Google for what was happening on this day 8 years ago, I just now learned that Mardi Gras began in New Orleans on this day, in 1827. 190 years! But no quick answers about eight years ago.
My best recollection from back then is that Barack Obama had beaten Hillary and then John to replace George as our President, and we were seriously worried the economy of the world was falling off of a high cliff. I was already into my 60’s; healthy, happy, but concerned for my family, my practice, and my country. There were no assurances that bailing out the banking and auto industries was going to pan out as well as it has.
So, I was girding myself for a very tough 8 years for my practice. At least I am still here.
I believed that President Obama was much more liberal than advertised, and I voted against him, Four years later, I voted against Mitt, and was relieved that Barack was more moderate than I feared. I wish he had been more assertive and innovative in the Middle East, and that he had made a better show of caring for the displaced coal miners of WV.
I remain puzzled that the “energy story” and story of our environment have not been reported on with clarity. I think it is a miracle that we became energy independent, largely because of Marcellus Shale gas and new oil well drilling.
I think it is a national scandal that the drug industry successfully pushed its message, “The medical profession doesn’t understand how to deal with pain.” , a message that led to the tsunami of prescription opiate pain medications and the resultant revival of heroin.
What a quadruple whammy for our state;
1. Natural gas helps push WV Coal to the periphery;
2. Coal diminishes;
3. Drugs and depression drive a poor State deeper into poverty and despair.
4. Add to that the gas boom going bust, and we have one sad State.
My Decision to Blog and Engage on Social Media
My theory 8 years ago was that I would buck the trend by riding my own tsunami of technical innovation, blog writing, sharing of information, and social media marketing.
How did that work out for me? Here’s my story:
- Since then I wrote over 1300 pages and 300 blog articles on many subjects, marketing, family law, divorce, custody, modification, personal injury law, how a personal injury claim is processed, how I run my office, my thoughts on professionalism and collegiality, myriad insurance issues, bad faith, “deliberate intent” industrial injury law, alternate dispute resolution, e.g. mediation, arbitration, ethics, civil disputes and litigation, religion, politics, philosophy, and history.
- If I could wave a magic wand, I would edit out 25%-30% of 1300 pages. I would ease up on the lecturing tone and the appearance of condescension.
- Am I ashamed of my writing? No! I can delete any article I want to, and I have not deleted many. Much of it, say 80%, is “rich content” meaning that you can read it and get something useful out of most of it.
- Remember that my blog has a search engine. Search terms such as “nuts and bolts”, “mediation”, “family court” “insurance”, “deliberate intent” or “obesity” will bring up myriad articles and my views and knowledge on the subject.
- Cost has been the deterrent for my becoming the owner of a 1300 page “coffee table” door stop!
- About 5 years in, three years ago, my assessment was that WV is 5 years behind the rest of the nation, and I realized that rather than “riding the crest”, I had started paddling my metaphorical surfboard too early.
- That means that by shifting my marketing from the Yellow Pages to Internet marketing, a shift of perhaps $1500/mo. in advertising dollars, I probably lost more than I gained.
- As a result, I invested in my own website, on a WordPress platform, unloaded the $1400/mo. burden of a Findlaw hosted site, reduced the monthly cost of my site to a $200 maintenance fee to my programmer, and put $800/month back into the phone book.
- Three years later, I can roughly state that 1/3 (33 1/3%) of my business comes from word of mouth, 1/3 from print ads, and 1/3 from the Internet.
- That’s deceiving of course, because “word of mouth” and my reputation with the public and colleagues, often lead to a Google search of my name. It hasn’t hurt to become known as “the tech guy” to my colleagues.
- Please don’t forget to come back to para. # 12, but here is what you find if you Google J. Burton Hunter III: https://www.google.com/#q=J.+Burton+Hunter+III&* .
- According to Google, that’s 1,000,500 ‘hits” in .8 seconds!
- Being a somewhat “assertive” lawyer in an emotionally charged practice area, I discovered, maybe five years ago, that a disgruntled or abusive former client can make me look pretty bad. Once I figured out who my 3 detractors were, I was happy to be “defined by my enemies”. Two had been very abusive husbands, and one gal had a bad case of buyer’s remorse after we achieved a “global settlement”, property, debts and children, in her divorce. She testified under oath that she was satisfied with the settlement and asked the Court to approve it, which it did.
- In self-defense, I developed an incentive system, not to the client, but to my staff, to approach our better clients. They were the ones who “got it”, who followed my instructions, and mostly got good results. Such people can be quite happy with our services and yet never think of writing a review of their lawyer. One only need ask.
- Now we have several dozen excellent reviews on many websites, and we have updated my profile on every site. For example, just by listing my experience and awards on AVVO.com I went from a 6.5, “Hasn’t been disbarred yet.” rating to 10.0 “Superb”.
- As a result, over the last three years, we gently “buried” the detractors. I hope that JaynaJane eventually came to realize that achieving a global settlement at the first mediation session was a good thing.
- I also tried to increase my impact on my profession in four ways:
- I was delighted to be asked to present seminars topics to the Kanawha County Family Law Bar, the WVU College of Law “Annual Small Firm Conference”, The WVU CLE Family Law Seminar, and the WV Assoc. For Justice Annual Conference.
- Here are my 2 blog articles of my seminar materials: http://hunterlawfirm.net/suggestions-for-operating-and-marketing-a-small-firm-efficiently-and-on-a-budget/ and http://hunterlawfirm.net/some-hot-tips/
- I agreed to run for, and was elected to the WV State Bar Board of Governors.
- I accepted appointment as the Chair of the WV State Bar Board of Governors’ “Video Competition Committee” and the “Future of the Law Committee”.
- I ante’d up $1100, plus travel expenses, for the first annual TDBLaw legal tech conference in St. Louis sponsored by “The Lawyerist” podcast.
- Of course I was pleased to receive good ratings from my CLE audiences, 4.2 to 4.7 out of five.
- But the feedback and interaction were disappointing. People listened to the ideas, which go from “bread and butter no brainers” such as claim your sites on the top ten social media platforms, Google +, Twitter, Linked Inn, AVVO, Justia, Martindale-Hubbell, FB Professional, Merchants Circle, YEXT, etc, to “more challenging” suggestions like purchasing and learning document assembly software like Pathagoras.
- My video competition efforts were difficult, @ 125 hours, but we went from 7 submissions to 28! And we were so proud of “our kids”. I treasure that assignment.
- Here is my account of our annual meeting, May 2016, at the Greenbrier. Skeptical at first, I came down strongly for the symbolism of WV attorneys celebrating our profession in such “nice digs” http://hunterlawfirm.net/ok-wv-lawyers-live-greenbrier/ .
- But, unfortunately in 2016, all of my e-mails and calls went unanswered by my contacts at the WV Dept. of Education, leading to a quiet disbanding of our committee. Bummer! Not sure why “higher powers” could not communicate on such a symbolic project for intellectual excellence.
- In 2016, I was excited to chair the “Future of the Law Committee” and to attend TDB1 Conference in St. Louis, Mo. and to meet so many bright lawyers and “The Lawyerist” podcasts hosts Sam Glover and Matt Holman. In retrospect, I was Goldilocks without the “just right” bed.
- In Saint Louis, I was the oldest attendee, and my blending of 44 years’ experienc with the future seemed to the “40 somethings” who came from all over the country ,as outmoded (at least that was my impression), and my “Futures” Comttee and the State Bar Board seemed to react as if my message was unwanted and threatening, perhaps even dangerous. I was “too hot” for one group and “too cold” for the other!
- So, what’s next?
- I have posted four video messages to my blog, which I will imbed below. They contain my messages to:
- a. Potential Clients;
- b. Colleagues;
- c. Adversaries; and
- d. The people who are running the show, Judges, Law Makers, Educators, and Professional Associations.
- Total time? @ 7 minutes: 1.5 to 3.5 minutes each.
- I have moved on, so no TDB2 for me, and no more “Future of the Law Committee”.
- I will stay open to possibilities, but I can’t say the 500 hours I committed to my profession over @ 18 months has produced much that is tangible, except the 28 wonderful videos. They were terrific.
- Am I:
- Disappointed: Yes.
- Surprised? No.
- Bitter? Absolutely not!
- If just a few people benefit from what I chooose to give away, based on 45 years, (as of May) of learning, failing, succeeding, and trying again, I will be very happy.
- And, in ten years, for those who want things to stay as they are right, they will have my writing as evidence I was wrong.
- If it turns our that I am right, I will have my proof.
- Here are my four messages. I hope some of it resonates with you:
- `a. Burton Hunter’s Promise to Potential Clients: https://youtu.be/sgaWtuVjgoo ;
- b. Mr. Hunter’s Message to His Adversaries: https://youtu.be/zKZ0ZEALMQo
- c Mr. Hunter’s Message to His Colleagues: https://youtu.be/oypl1X0fLj4 ; and;
- Mr. Hunter’s Message to People in Authority: https://youtu.be/-jyB2vVNRco .
- Please subscribe to my blog and give me feedback as you see fit.
This post was written by Burton Hunter