Casket with flowers image via Shutterstock.
Business blogging is alive and well, contrary to occasional reports that it is dead or that it can never work.
My business blog remains at the center of my online marketing strategy. After nearly nine years and 2,998 blog posts, I can tell you that it works as well today as it did in 2005 — maybe even better — as a way to attract business.
Please don’t read this and run out and start a blog and plan on getting rich. It definitely isn’t for everyone. Even though it can lead to a nice income, it is only one step in a process that involves meeting people, selling real estate and a lot of hard work.
Real estate practitioners who do not like to write should not consider starting a blog. It isn’t going to write itself, and it isn’t very effective without frequent updates that go beyond market statistics and marketing listings that are already being marketed on many websites.
Blogging is a journey. Writing it forces us to think about the real estate market, our clients and our businesses.
We build relationships as we go, and end up pushing some people away rather than attracting them. There is always some risk in putting yourself out there, but it’s worth it because it helps us stand out in the marketplace.
Writing for local consumers is very different from writing for the real estate industry, or for businesses. It means that we have to ignore much of the advice that’s dispensed by industry “experts,” and focus on local consumers.
Get some help and advice from experts who have a broader experience in marketing, and in Internet strategy. I don’t use a standard real estate blog theme or template because I want to stand out. I don’t want my site to look like everyone else’s — that picture of the house with the pool and palm trees and the unusual color pallets.
As a real estate agent, there is a lot of information in my head gained from working with buyers and sellers that is valuable to my readers. Those conversations in my car or over the phone, or the questions my clients ask, all provide valuable material for blog posts.
The experiences I have during real estate transactions become lessons that I can write about. What I see around me most every day becomes a photograph that I can use to show people a home or the city.
As a blogger writing about one area, I can immerse the reader in a kind of local experience while I showcase my knowledge and experience as a real estate agent. My audience is large and local. Content I wrote years ago is still out there working for me, and can easily be repurposed and reused.
Homebuyers and sellers are always on the Internet searching for answers. They don’t just search for homes or agents — they look for answers to their questions from experts.
Real estate is local. So far the national sites don’t provide the kind of local content that is exactly tailored to a specific market. They give California answers to Minnesota questions.
In general, I get far fewer leads from my blog than I would through traditional lead capture methods. But my conversion rates are much higher.
Some of my clients contact me and ask me if I will work with them. Sometimes people will read for two or three years before they even contact me. I have also had people just call me when it is time to write an offer and have me write it for them.
Over the years I have had my site redesigned and rebuilt. But it has always had the same domain name, and I own it. I have never liked the idea of putting my business content on someone else’s website.
As Google keeps changing search engine algorithms, my site has experienced some ups and downs. In general, Google wants people to find what they are looking for. I have resisted the urge to game the system, and instead focused on content generation and marketing.
I have read articles about people who have had almost instant success by writing a blog. I don’t buy it.
There are still too many people out there teaching social media and business strategy who do not really understand it. There isn’t anything quick or magical about business blogging, so just ignore any hype or promises of wealth.
Over the years, many real estate bloggers have left links on my blog to their blogs. Last year I started getting rid of dead links. I found thousands of broken links left by agents who no longer blog. Many had stopped blogging, while others had moved on to other jobs or businesses.
People who blog only when and if they have spare time are rarely successful. Writing and generating content has to be part of the business plan. Time has to be allotted to it each day.
Success doesn’t just happen — it takes time, effort, persistence, a strategy and a little luck.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.